August 5, 2020

A Right of Publicity Bill in New York State Has Finally Passed and Is Awaiting Governor Cuomo's Signature

By Judith B. Bass
Member, EASL Executive Committee
Member, NYSBA Media Law Committee
Thanks to the members of the New York State Bar Association Committee on Media Law subgroup under the leadership of Sandra Baron and Daniel Kummer who had a role in reviewing and commenting on the legislation.

Both houses of the New York State Legislature have now passed a bill establishing a right of publicity in New York for the first time. The bill also provides for a private right of action for unlawful dissemination of sexually explicit depictions of individuals. A copy of the final bill, S. 5959, is attached here: NewYorkFinalRightOfPublicityBillS5959D (1).pdf. The vote was unanimous in the New York State Senate (60-0) and almost unanimous in the New York State Assembly (140-1). The legislation has been sent to the Governor for signature.

The passage of this bill follows several years of legislative sessions when an earlier (and potentially more problematic) version of the bill failed to pass or come up for a vote. There were also a number of ongoing prior efforts to have New York join the list of states that recognize a deceased person's right of publicity in some fashion.

The bill provides for a new Section 50-f to be added to the New York Civil Rights Law entitled "Right of publicity." It applies to deceased persons domiciled in New York State at the time of death. Violations of Section 50-f are compensable by damages equal to the greater of $2,000 or the amount of compensatory damages suffered by the injured party, plus profits attributable to such use, and punitive damages. It is to take effect 180 days after it is signed into law, and apply to deceased individuals who die on or after that date.

The bill deals with two categories of deceased persons: "deceased personalities" and "deceased performers."

Right of Action for Deceased Personalities

Under Section 50-f (2)(a), the bill provides for a right of action on behalf of "deceased personalities" for the use of their names, voices, signatures, photographs or likenesses for commercial purposes without consent, i.e., on or in products, merchandise or goods, or for purposes of advertising those goods. A "deceased personality" is defined as a person "whose name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness has commercial value at the time of his or her death or because of his or her death..." The right of action extends for 40 years after the death of the deceased personality. Persons claiming to represent the rights of a deceased personality are required to register with the New York Secretary of State before any claim can be made.

Importantly, the bill provides for a number of exceptions to the prohibited uses. Pursuant to Section 50-f (2) (d) (i), it is not a violation if the use of a deceased personality's name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness is in a play, book, magazine, newspaper or other literary work, a musical work, art work or other visual work (like photography), or in a work of political, public interest, educational or newsworthy value, including for purposes of comment, criticism, parody or satire, or in an audio or audiovisual work that is fictional or nonfictional entertainment (or an advertisement or commercial announcement of any of the foregoing.)

Deceased Performers' Digital Replica Right

Under Section 50-f (2) (b), the bill provides for damages for the use of a "deceased performer's digital replica" in a "scripted audiovisual work as a fictional character" or in the "live performance of a musical work" without consent when the use "is likely to deceive the public into thinking it was authorized." A "deceased performer" is defined as a person who "for gain or livelihood was regularly engaged in acting, singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument." A "digital replica" is defined as a computer-generated, electronic performance in which the person did not actually perform "that is so realistic that a reasonable observer would believe it is a performance by the individual." The use will not be considered "likely to deceive" if there is a conspicuous disclaimer provided in the credits of the scripted audiovisual work and any related advertisement saying it has not been authorized. A "digital replica" does not include remastering or reproduction of a sound recording or other audiovisual work.

There are strong exceptions to this section as well. Under Section 50-f (2) (d) (ii), it is not a violation if the work is a parody, satire, commentary, criticism, or a work of political or newsworthy value, including a documentary, docudrama, historical or biographical work "regardless of the degree of fictionalization" -- except in a live performance of a musical work. In Section 50-f (2) (d) (iii), it also specifically provides that it is not a violation if the use of the name or likeness is in connection with a news, public affairs or sports program, or in any political campaign.

Right of Action for Dissemination of Sexually Explicit Depictions

A separate Section 52-c has also been added to the law providing for a private right of action for unlawful "dissemination or publication of a sexually explicit depiction of an individual." This section addresses the troubling practice of works known as "deepfakes" being distributed without approval of performers. It applies to a "depicted individual" who, through digitization, appears to be giving a performance he/she/they did not actually perform or whose actual performance was subsequently altered in violation of the section. "Digitization" includes realistically depicting nude body parts of another human being or computer-generated nude body parts as those of the depicted individual, or making it appear that the depicted individual is engaging in sexual conduct in which he/she/they did not engage. The depicted individual has a cause of action against whomever distributed such a depiction unless the depicted individual has signed an agreement consenting to the disclosure of such depiction; a disclaimer is not sufficient. Damages for dissemination of sexually explicit material include injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees.

Significantly, under Section 52-c (4)(a), there is no liability for disclosure or dissemination of sexually explicit material if such disclosure is (i) in the course of reporting unlawful activity, exercising law enforcement duties, or in hearings, trials or other legal proceedings; or (ii) the material is a "matter of legitimate public concern, a work of political or newsworthy value, or commentary, criticism" or otherwise protected constitutionally, provided that such material is not newsworthy "solely because the depicted individual is a public figure."


On its website, SAG-AFTRA praised the passing of the bill as a "milestone in the union's continued efforts to protect performers against digital image and voice exploitation." It also stated that, in prohibiting the use of a deceased individual's voice and image in advertising and trade, a "glaring oversight in right of publicity jurisprudence has finally been fixed thanks to the work of our members in New York."

Professor Jennifer E. Rothman, a leading expert on the right of publicity, commented shortly before passage of the legislation as follows: "A welcome improvement over the prior few iterations of this proposed legislation, this bill leaves intact current Civil Rights Law Sections 50 and 51 ( which have been protecting the right of publicity for the living in New York since 1903. This means that the law will stay as it currently is for the living and will not upset more than 100 years of established legal precedents and jurisprudence."

Professor Rothman also stated that "[n]o effort has been made to justify exactly why a forty-year postmortem period is needed in New York for deceased celebrities...But given the much more thoughtful and targeted approach of this postmortem provision and its capacious exceptions, the harm to free expression is likely to be fairly minimal--especially if it is made prospective."

August 3, 2020

Week In Review

By La-Vaughnda A. Taylor
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, and General News:


Olivia de Havilland 104, Who Starred in 'Gone With the Wind,' Dies

Olivia de Havilland, who is best known for her role in "Gone With the Wind,", died in Paris from natural causes at the age of 104. de Havilland was one of the last remaining actresses from Hollywood's Golden Age and a 2-time Academy Award winner. In her later years, she stayed mostly out of the limelight and preferred to live a quiet life in France. de Havilland is remembered for her strength in challenging the studios to liberate actors from contracts that exploited them. The actress has a famously tempestuous relationship with her sister, actress Joan Fontaine, and she mounted a lawsuit against the producers of the 2017 series "Feud" over her portrayal by Catherine Zeta-Jones. She argued that producers did not have her approval over her depiction and that the show damaged her "professional reputation for integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity." The case was rejected by California's high court in July 2018, but she vowed to take it to the Supreme Court. In 1943 when her contract with Warner Brothers ended, the studio tried to keep her on, claiming that she had six months left due to various suspensions. She fought the case in court and spent $13,000 of her own money. The suit was based on an old California law that put a 7-year limit on the period for which an employer can enforce a contract against an employee. The "anti-peonage law" forbade employers to reduce workers to serfdom. The victory, known as "the de Havilland decision," freed many actors from uncompromising contracts and allowed for negotiations with the studios for much more favorable terms. It also proved to be another nail in the coffin for the old studio system.

Venice Plans to Hold Its Film Festival

The Venice Film Festival is set to be one of the only large-scale events in the entertainment world to go ahead this year. This week, Luca Zaia, the governor of the Veneto region in Italy, announced plans for the festival to go ahead on its scheduled dates of September 2-12. The festival will have a reduced slate with 2 outdoor screening locations to ensure social distancing.


Humanities Grants Funded

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced $30 million in grants for 238 humanities projects across the country. The last round of funding for fiscal year 2020 "will support vital research, education, preservation and public programs in the humanities." The peer-reviewed grants were awarded in addition to $50 million in annual operational support provided to the national network of state and jurisdictional humanities councils.

U.S. Backs Down in Battle to Stop President's Former Fixer From Writing a Tell-All

The Trump administration has dropped its attempt to stop Michael Cohen, the president's former fixer and personal attorney, from writing a tell-all book. Last month, after tweeting that his book was nearly complete, Cohen was returned to prison. The American Civil Liberties Union joined a suit on his behalf and a judge in New York ordered his return to home confinement, saying that the government had retaliated against him by putting him back behind bars. Last week, U.S. attorneys told the same judge that the government had dropped its support for a gag order to stop Cohen from publishing a book. The government does not "intend to further litigate or appeal the court's rulings."

Black Plays Knocking on Stage Door

Interviews with artists and producers suggest that there are more than a dozen plays and musicals with Black writers circling Broadway--meaning, in most cases, that the shows have been written, have had promising productions elsewhere, and have support from commercial producers or nonprofit presenters. However, bringing these shows to Broadway would mean making room for producers and artists who often have less experience in commercial theatre than the powerful industry regulars who most often book theatres.

T. Rex Isn't Required to Wear a Mask, However

The American Museum of Natural History plans to open on September 9th at 25% capacity. Visitors will need to reserve time-entry tickets online in advance, and face masks will be required for everyone 2 and older. Staff members will also be subject to daily temperature checks. The museum will be open 5 days a week instead of its typical 7, from Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. While it previously had a pay what-you-wish admission policy for all visitors, it will implement a fixed admission fee for visitors from outside the tristate area--$23 for adults, $18 for students and seniors and $13 for children ages 3 to 12.

The Drama Will Be Enhanced by Testing

The Salzburg Festival is unfolding its abbreviated centennial season with an elaborate coronavirus protection plan, supported by political and financial resources. Bucking the coronavirus-trend, Salzburg is going ahead with performances featuring casts interacting closely and full orchestras in the pit. The 44-day anniversary program had been mostly postponed until next year. It was replaced with a reduced, 30-day schedule, through August 30th, with concerts, plays, and 2 (instead of 7) staged operas that were planned over the past few months, almost unheard-of short notice for opera on this level. The festival has put in place stricter measures than the Austrian government has mandated. The festival's theatres will each be capped at about half their capacities; audiences will sit in a staggered, chessboard-like formation and will be asked to wear masks as they enter and leave, but can remove them during performances. Intermissions will be eliminated, and attendees will provide their contact information with the purchase of each nontransferable ticket, so that they can be informed if it turns out they attended a performance with an infected person. Artists and staff have been divided into 3 groups, depending on their ability to socially distance. Singers, orchestra musicians, and others who need to interact with one another closely are in the "red" group and are tested weekly, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Picasso Mural Taken Down in Norway

Activists protested the removal of art from government offices that faced demolition in Oslo. The removal of a pair of concrete murals by Pablo Picasso was completed last week from a government building in the Norwegian capital. Opinions were divided over whether to spare what some considered an architectural masterpiece, while others considered it as ugly. The so-called Y-block will be replaced by a modern and safer construction after the government headquarters were targeted in June 2011 by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. For some, the building dating to 1969 stands as a painful reminder of the terror attack, when it suffered some structural damage. To others, it's a post-modernist masterpiece by Norwegian architect Erling Viksjoe. Some also say that by razing the building, officials are symbolically finishing Breivik's job. The demolition had been at a standstill since 2014 due to a series of postponements, chiefly because of the protests.

Church Volunteer Confesses to Starting Fire at Nantes Cathedral

A church volunteer admitted to starting a fire that devasted the cathedral in the French city of Nantes. The Rwandan refugee, who worked as a warden at the cathedral, was rearrested on Saturday night. His lawyer told reporters his client felt "relief" after confessing. No motive for the fire, which destroyed the cathedral's 17th century organ as well as historic stained-glass windows, was given.


For National Basketball Association, a Safe, Strange Haven in a Hot Spot

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has transported 22 of its 30 teams to a complex at Disney World in Florida to play out the season in a worsening pandemic. NBA players have gathered for the most extraordinary experiment in league history to play out the rest of the season without fans on a confined campus and must abide by a thick book of rules that includes assigned seats on the bench and prohibitions on postgame showers until players return to a team hotel. The Womens National Basketball Association is engaged in a similar experiment in Bradenton, Florida.

National Football League's Message Against Sexism and Racism is Undercut in Owner's Suites

The National Football League (NFL) has taken strides to repair its image as being insensitive to issues facing women and people of color. However, the league continues to be confronted by an uncomfortable reality: its efforts can be undercut by reports of toxic behavior at the tops of its franchises. Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets and U.S. ambassador to Britain, was accused of making comments to embassy colleagues were found to be racist or sexist, complaints that State Department investigators included in a report filed in February. The accusations against Johnson have surfaced as the NFL grapples with 2 other crises of racism and sexism that reached recent turning points, including Daniel Snyder and the Washington Football Team's name change and investigation of charges in the team's front office of widespread harassment of women. The reemergence of issues of discrimination involving 2 of the league's most prominent team owners comes as the nation confronts systemic racism in many of its institutions, including sports teams and leagues.

Including Transgender Athletes Breaks Law, Trump Administration Says

A high school sports policy in Connecticut that allows transgender students to participate in athletics based on their gender identity violates federal law and could cost the state federal education funding, the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has found. The finding comes after the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization, filed complaints against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the Glastonbury school board on behalf of 3 high school student-athletes. The Conference and school officials have 20 days to resolve the violation.

Games Postponed After Two Cardinals Players Test Positive for Coronavirus

Major League Baseball's (MLB) season is just more than a week old, yet the schedule continues to change due to COVID-19 cases. As many as 20 members of the Miami Marlins, including 18 players, have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days. Multiple Cardinals players and staffers tested positive as well, forcing the postponement of St. Louis' games in Milwaukee this past weekend. As of Saturday, 17 different MLB games had been postponed due to COVID-19 cases and three of the league's 15 games (20%) originally on the slate for this past weekend were not played as scheduled. MLB will try to make up all postponed games later in the season via doubleheaders and eliminating off-days. If that is not possible, then MLB is prepared to allow teams to finish the season with an unequal number of games played, and determine the postseason field with winning percentage. That would not be ideal, but there is precedent from the 1981 strike.

FIFA President Faces Criminal Inquiry

A federal prosecutor in Switzerland has said that he had opened a criminal investigation into Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, after concluding that there were "indications of criminal conduct" in meetings between Infantino and an official overseeing an investigation into soccer corruption. The investigation follows the resignation last week of Switzerland's attorney general, Michael Lauber, who stepped down after a federal court upheld allegations that he had lied about meeting with Infantino. Lauber had been overseeing an investigation of the 2015 corruption scandal that led to criminal indictments against some of the top leaders at FIFA.

Worse Than the Bastille: Litigation Looms in France

France made the decision to truncate its soccer season rather than try to resume it. The teams in first place of each division were declared champions, and the teams at the bottom were relegated. Most people were not happy and 2 teams, Amiens and Toulouse, which were relegated from the top division, have threatened legal action.

Media and Technology

U.S. 'Intelligence' Reports on Journalists Are Halted

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf has ordered an investigation into agency's intelligence unit that assembled reports on journalists covering the unrest in Portland. The reports focused on the reporters' use of leaked information about the agency's operations in Portland, where the federal deployment was denounced by local leaders and officers had clashed nightly with protesters. The Department of Homeland Security Intelligence and Analysis Directorate was ordered to halt the information collection, after Wolf was notified of the work, first disclosed by the Washington Post.

Facebook, Fighting False News in Ukraine, Faces Accusations of Biased Fact-Checking

Facebook hired a Ukrainian group battling Russian disinformation to flag misleading posts. However, critics say that the fact checkers' work veers into activism. Earlier this year, Facebook hired StopFake to help curb the flow of Russian propaganda and other false news across its platform in Ukraine. Like all of Facebook's outside fact checkers, StopFake signed a pledge to be nonpartisan and not to focus its checks "on any one side." In recent weeks, StopFake has been battling accusations of ties to the Ukrainian far right and of bias in its fact-checking. The episode has raised thorny questions for Facebook over who it allows to separate truth from lies--and who is considered a neutral fact checker in a country at war.

Teen Charged with Leading Twitter Breach

Many celebrity Twitter accounts posted the same strange message last week, including Former President Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Kanye West. They, and dozens of others, were being hacked, and Twitter appeared powerless to stop it. Initially, it was thought that the hack was the work of professionals, but it turned out the "mastermind" was 17 year old Graham Ivan Clark. The Florida teen and 2 others were arrested and charged with communications fraud and fraudulent use of personal information. The breach sparked a massive outcry from Capitol Hill, with lawmakers demanding that the social media giant quickly come clean about the circumstances around the breach. Several Senate panels, including Intelligence, Commerce, and Homeland Security, have been weighing if they should launch their own investigations into the incident.

Murdoch Son Quits Board of Papers

James Murdoch resigned from the board of directors of News Corp., the publishing arm of his family's media empire, in a very public sign of dissent that typically plays out behind closed doors. The rupture capped a period of intensifying criticism of the coverage and views offered by the news empire created by his father Rupert Murdoch. Such criticism has come from outside observers, current news staffers for the Wall St. Journal and Fox, and James himself. On Friday, James released a letter to the board signaling a broad philosophical clash between his father and older brother, although he did not divulge details.

Europe Tries New Strategy to Limit Tech

The region's lawmakers and regulators are taking direct aim at Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple in a series of proposed laws. EU leaders are pursuing a new law to make it illegal for Amazon and Apple to give their own products preferential treatment over those of rivals that are sold on their online stores. Officials are drawing up a law to force Facebook to make its services work more easily with rival social networks and to push Google to share some search data with smaller competitors. In Germany, authorities are debating a rule that would let regulators essentially halt certain business practices at the tech companies during an antitrust investigation.

General News

Justices Uphold Limits on Religious Services During Health Crisis

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court denied a rural Nevada church's request to strike down as unconstitutional a 50-person cap on worship services as part of the state's ongoing response to the coronavirus. In a 5-4 decision, the high Court refused to grant the request from the Christian church east of Reno to be subjected to the same COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada that allow casinos, restaurants, and other businesses to operate at 50% capacity with proper social distancing. Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley argued that the hard cap on religious gatherings was an unconstitutional violation of its parishioners' First Amendment right to express and exercise their beliefs. Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberal majority in denying the request without explanation.

Justices Let Wall Construction Continue

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to let lower court rulings go into effect that would stop the Trump administration from spending any more Pentagon money on the border wall. The Court denied a request from the Sierra Club. Four of the Justices, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan would have granted the request. In May of 2019, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to put a hold on a ruling by a federal judge in California that blocked the use of $2.5 billion of Pentagon counter-drug program money to build more than 100 miles of boarder wall. The judge said that only Congress could approve such a transfer. The Supreme Court issued the stay after questioning whether the groups opposed to the wall had the proper legal status to challenge the transfer in court. A federal appeals court found that the groups did have standing in a ruling last month.

Court Voids Death Penalty for Bomber of Marathon

A federal appeals court overturned Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's death sentence in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, saying that the trial judge did not adequately screen jurors for potential biases. A 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ordered a new penalty phase trial on whether the 27-year-old Tsarvaev should be executed for the attack that killed 3 people and wounded more than 260 others. It is now up to the government to determine whether to put the victims and Boston through a second trial, or to allow closure to this terrible tragedy by permitting a sentence of life without parole.

Appellate Court Erases Dismissal of Flynn Case

The entire Federal Appeals Court in Washington said last week that it would take up a case involving Attorney General Barr's decision to drop the prosecution of Trump's former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, erasing a split decision by a 3-judge panel in June ordering an immediate end to the case. Oral arguments are set for August 11th before the full Court.

Astronauts Reach Space Station for Open-Ended Stay

After 2 months on the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have completed the first crewed flight of the Crew Dragon capsule. The astronauts completed a fiery, high-speed journey back from the International Space Station splashing down in calm Gulf of Mexico waters off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, hundreds of miles from a churning Tropical Storm Isaias in the Atlantic in a triumphal denouement to a historic mission. It was the first time in the 59-year history of crewed American space travel that astronauts had used the Gulf as a landing site, adding to other firsts that marked a new chapter in NASA's human spaceflight program: the first launch of American astronauts to orbit from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011 and the first launch into orbit of humans on vehicles owned and operated by a private company, SpaceX.

Trump's Attacks on Mail Service Sow Voting Fears

President Trump escalated his ongoing attacks on the mail-in voting process, suggesting in a tweet that the November election should be delayed. The statement came 5 days before a primary election in Michigan which would be marked by a huge number of absentee ballots due to fears of spreading coronavirus at polling places. His suggestions have garnered a massive and immediate backlash from Republicans and Democrats. The President went on to say that 2020 will be the "most inaccurate and fraudulent Election in history." His rhetoric appears to be an attempt to sow doubt in the eventual outcome of the presidential vote. Trump has repeatedly attacked mail-in voting, implying that Democrats have created a system that exacerbates fraud without providing any evidence. The president does not have the power to delay any federal election. This power is reserved to the states or Congress, according to the National Constitution Center.

Diplomat is Said to Tie Tariffs to Elections

The Trump administration has been accused of attempting to pressure another foreign country into helping Trump's reelection prospects, according to a letter from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The letter cities Brazilian news articles that report U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman pressured members of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's administration to lower ethanol tariffs in order to support President Donald Trump's reelection efforts. Another Brazilian outlet published a similar story finding that he had made the request, and was rebuffed by government officials. Engel has called for Chapman to respond to the reports by August 4th. If the reports are accurate, Chapman's actions could be in violation of the Hatch Act, which prevents federal employees from engaging in certain political activities, such as partisan campaigning for candidates.

Senate Fails to Agree on Extension of $600 Weekly Aid

In late-night negotiations with congressional Democrats on Thursday, White House officials offered a short-term extension of the popular unemployment benefit paying out-of-work Americans $600 per week, a CARES Act provision that formally expired last Friday. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer rejected the offer, arguing that Republicans don't understand that the situation requires a solution that is larger in scope. Pelosi noted that it had been 10 weeks since House Democrats passed a $3 trillion bill in May that would have extended the benefits for those without work at the current level of $600 per week, in addition to their weekly unemployment insurance checks. She condemned congressional Republicans and the White House for not coming to the negotiating table earlier.

Army Officer Who Clashed with Trump Vows to Speak Out on U.S. Security

The Army officer who was a key witness during the impeachment inquiry into Trump last year and later retired after what he called a campaign of bullying and intimidation by the president and his allies, sharply criticized the administration last week and said he would use his new civilian status to champion national security issues ahead of the elections in November. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran who served on the staff of the White House's National Security Council, accused the administration in an op-ed in the Washington Post of using Soviet-style tactics to punish dissenters.

Parent of Slain Student Takes on Smith & Wesson

The father of a mass shooting victim and 2 gun safety groups petitioned the federal government to stop the firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson from using what they described as "deceptive and unfair" marketing to promote assault-style rifles. As part of the complaint, it is alleged that Smith & Wesson mimicked first-person-shooter video games in its advertising materials to attract adolescents and young adults. They added that the marketing of the company's AR-15-style guns "attracts, encourages and facilitates mass shooter." Many feel that the Federal Trade Commission may not do much, but other potentially will, such as elected officials. The 34-page complaint accuses Smith & Wesson of cultivating a "halo" of credibility by running ads that appeared to feature active members of the military carrying firearms resembling M&P rifles. Most of the rifles are sold to civilians rather than to military or law enforcement.

Misogyny Fed Lawyer's Rage Against Judge

Law enforcement officials believe that Roy Den Hollander killed the 20-year-old son of a federal judge in New Jersey. De Hollander was a self-described "anti-feminist" lawyer known for his misogynistic tirades and the dozens of frivolous lawsuits he filed. A Manhattan judge dismissed one of them in May, and a few weeks later, New Jersey federal judge Esther Salas canceled a scheduled hearing in a different suit. Den Hollander's rage turned to violence last month when he showed up at Judge Salas's home, posing as a FedEx deliveryman and opened fire, killing her 20-year-old son and wounding her husband. The judge, who was in the basement at the time, was not injured. Days before, Den Hollander, 72, had traveled by train to San Bernardino County, California, where he shot and killed a rival men's rights lawyer at his home. Hours after the shooting in New Jersey, the police found Den Hollander's body off a road in upstate New York with a single gunshot to the head. In his nearby rental car, investigators found a list naming more than a dozen possible targets.

Blood Test is 'Big Step Forward' In Early Detection Alzheimer's

Finding an easy way to diagnose the brain-robbing disease could be a game changer in helping manage Alzheimer's. Last week, doctors announced an experimental blood test that is highly accurate and is eliciting a great deal of hope in the field.

Barr's U.S. Attorney Pick for Brooklyn is Facing Scrutiny From All Sides

Attorney General Barr's choice, Seth D. DuCharme, was not a purely political appointee. DuCharme is stepping into the position at a fraught time for any U.S. attorney whose office has the jurisdiction to investigate Trump's associates. With the election just over 3 months away, and as political polarization intensifies across the country, DuCharme is facing scrutiny from all sides. This was a promotion of one of Barr's closest advisers in Washington.

A Virginia Town Rethinks Its Confederate Pillars

For 150 years Lexington, a picturesque city nestled in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, has been known to the outside world as the final resting place of Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy's commanding general during the Civil War and Stonewall Jackson, whom Lee referred to as his "right arm." They form the basis of a daily existence here that has long been tethered to the iconography of the Civil War and its 2 most famous Confederate generals, whose legacy has seeped into the town's culture like the July humidity. However, Lexington is no longer a bastion of conservatism. It's a liberal college town of about 7,000 people that voted 60% for Hillary Clinton 4 years ago and in 2018 gave 70% of its vote to the Democratic Senate candidate, Tim Kaine. Black Lives Matter signs dot the windows of downtown stores, and residents haven't backed a Republican for president since Ronald Reagan. These dueling sensibilities place Lexington at particularly delicate intersection of the national debate over Confederate monuments and emblems.

Officer Won't Be Charged in 2014 Brown Killing

Prosecutors in St. Louis have said they will not bring charges against a former police officer who shot dead a black teenager in 2014. The killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson triggered weeks of protests.

Trump Lawyers Call Demand for Taxes 'Wildly Overbroad'

President Trump's lawyers filed fresh arguments last week to block a criminal subpoena for his tax records, saying that it was issued in bad faith, might be politically motivated, and calling it a harassment of the president. They asked a judge to declare it "invalid and unenforceable." The high Court ruled earlier last month that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. could subpoena tax records from Trump's accountant over his objections.

European Union Punishes Polish Towns That Say They're 'L.G.B.T.-Free'

The European Commission rejected funding for 6 Polish towns that declared themselves to be "LGBT-free," a growing local trend where municipalities issue resolutions declaring themselves unwelcoming toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. A European Commission spokesperson told NBC News in an email that the commission would not name the towns, but said that there is "a fundamental principle of equality of treatment that is at the heart of our selection process." The decision means that these 6 undisclosed towns' applications to "twin" with other European Union cities--similar to "sister cities" in the United States--were rejected. Applications can unlock up to 25,000 euros in funding for conferences and other group-building activities.

Hong Kong Disqualifies Pro-Democracy Hopefuls from Legislative Races

Weeks after the Chinese government imposed a new national security law on Hong Kong, raising fears of a broader crackdown on the semi-autonomous territory, the city's authorities took aggressive steps against the pro-democracy opposition. Officials last week barred 12 candidates, including well-known pro-democracy figures, from the September legislative election. The disqualifications came a day after the police made what appeared to be the first targeted arrests of 4 activists ((3 men and 1 woman aged 16 to 21) accused of posting pro-independence messages online.

Torrent of Rain Floods a Fourth of Bangladesh

Torrential rains have submerged at least a quarter of Bangladesh, washing away the few things that count as assets for some of the world's poorest people. The country's latest calamity illustrates a striking inequity of our time: the people least responsible for climate change are among those most hurt by its consequences.


Brief Reprieve, Then the Virus Charges Back

First, the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast were hit hardest as the coronavirus tore through the nation. Then it surged across the South. Now the virus is again picking up dangerous speed in much of the Midwest--and in states from Mississippi to Florida to California that thought they had already seen the worst of it. As the U.S. rides what amounts to a second wave of cases, with daily new infections leveling off at an alarming higher mark, there is a deepening national sense that the progress made in fighting the pandemic is coming undone and that no patch of America is safe.

Virus Wipes Out 5 Years of Economic Growth

The second-quarter contraction set a grim record, and it would have been worse without government aid that is expiring. The coronavirus pandemic's toll on the nation's economy became emphatically clearer last week, as the government detailed the most devastating 3-month collapse on record, which wiped away nearly 5 years of growth. Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced, fell 9.5% in the second quarter of the year as consumers cut back spending, businesses pared investments, and global trade dried up. The drop--the equivalent of 32.9% annual rate of decline--would have been even more severe without trillions of dollars in government aid to households and businesses.

Contact Tracing Has Largely Failed in the U.S.

Contact tracing, a cornerstone of the public health arsenal to tamp down the coronavirus across the world, has largely failed in the U.S.: the virus' pervasiveness and major lags in testing have rendered the system almost pointless. In some regions, large swaths of the population have refused to participate or cannot even be located, further hampering health care workers.

U.S. Deaths Top 150,000 Shattering Forecasts

The U.S. surged past 150,000 COVID-19 fatalities as states battle a resurgence of the virus with differing attitudes about how to stop the spread. The bleak milestone comes on the heels of the U.S. hitting 4 million confirmed infections by July 23rd, without relief in sight. The 3 most populous states--California, Texas and Florida--were among several that set 7-day records for virus deaths.

Testing Chief Concedes that Turnaround of 2 to 3 Days is Out of Reach

With the reopening plans of schools and businesses hinging on rapid test results, the Trump administration's testing czar says that a 2-to-3-day turnaround "is not a possible benchmark we can achieve today." The assessment from Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary of health, most likely did not fully reflect the mounting frustration among patients and health professionals just as the school year starts. During a lengthy House hearing with top government health officials, Dr. Giroir told lawmakers that the nation was averaging about 820,000 tests daily, up from 550,000 earlier this month. Yet the raw numbers belie the testing crunch that officials around the country are facing amid soaring caseloads, particularly in the South and West. He went on to say that "turnaround times are definitely improving", adding that it was "very atypical" to wait more than 12 days for results.

Texas Lawmaker's Positive Diagnosis Stokes Safety Concerns in Congress

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and officials at the Capitol issued broad new face covering requirements after a Republican member of Congress from Texas tested positive for the coronavirus. The member, Rep. Louie Gohmert, often shunned wearing masks and was known to vote without one.

Mass Protests Bring Fear of Hot Spots

Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people out of their homes and onto the street in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians, and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. Many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, but urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread the virus.

Analysis Shows Infections on Campus Before Classes Begin

As college students and professors decide whether to head back to class, and as universities weigh how and whether to re-open, the coronavirus is already on campus. A New York Times survey of every public 4-year college in the country, as well as every private institution that competes in Division I sports or is a member of an elite group of research universities, revealed at least 6,600 cases tied to about 270 colleges over the course of the pandemic. This is even before the academic year begins at most schools.

First Day Back, Indiana School Finds Infection

As more schools abandon plans for in-person classes, one that opened in Indiana had to quarantine students within hours. Just hours into the first day of classes, a call from the county health department notified Greenfield Central Junior High School in Indiana that a student who had walked the halls and sat in various classrooms had tested positive for the coronavirus. Administrators began an emergency protocol, isolating the student and ordering everyone who had come into close contact with the person, including other students, to quarantine for 14 days. It is unclear whether the student infected anyone else.

Release Rate of Black Youth in Detention Centers Lags

After an initial burst, the rush to release people from jail amid the coronavirus pandemic has slowed. As a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation reveals, that's particularly true among young people, and especially true when it comes to Black youth. The report finds that after an increase in releases in March, young people were less likely to be released from detention in April and May. While the population of detained young people has decreased by 27% since the pandemic began, it nonetheless grew slightly in May.

Program Helped Reduce Child Hunger, Study Says

Research by the Brookings Institution found evidence that a new payment program, Pandemic-EBT, aimed to help the 30 million children who were at risk for child hunger. In the week after each state issued its payments, child hunger fell by about 30%.

U.S. and Oregon Agree to a Deal on Agents' Exit

Oregon Governor Kate Brown released a statement last week announcing that the federal government agreed to begin withdrawing its officers from downtown Portland. They will also clean up the courthouse, removing the graffiti. The agreement includes Oregon State Police troopers and other local officers replacing federal officers at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse. Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf offered a different view of the agreement, however, saying that federal officers will remain in Portland "until the violence toward our federal facilities ends." Oregon State Police will coordinate with Federal Protective Service officers to ensure that all federal facilities remain protected and secure.

Virus Cuts Off Global Lifeline Aiding Millions

As the pandemic destroys paychecks, migrant workers are sending less money home, threatening an increase in poverty from South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to Eastern Europe and Latin America.

July 26, 2020

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, and General News:


Producer Takes Academy to Task in Lawsuit

Producer Michael Shamberg has filed an action in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, claiming that the Academy "did not adhere to its rules when its 54-member board declined to vote on bylaw amendments" that Shamberg proposed. He ran for a board seat in June, which was unsuccessful, and he then "publicly admonished the organization, a rarity for a member of the Hollywood establishment."

A Rare Look Inside Trump's Immigration Crackdown Draws Legal Threats

A documentary "peers inside the secretive world of immigration enforcement," and filmmakers "faced demands to delete scenes and delay broadcast until after the election." The Trump administration has "fought mightily to keep it from being released until after the 2020 election," including threats of legal action and seeking "to block parts of it from seeing the light of day."

Clint Eastwood Sues, Says He Has Nothing to Do With CBD Products

Clint Eastwood has filed two lawsuits against retailers alleging that "they falsely claimed he had endorsed their goods." In the filing, it states, "Mr. Eastwood has no connection of any kind whatsoever to any CBD products and never gave such an interview" after it came to light that three CBD manufacturers posted articles "falsely claiming that he endorsed CBD products and 10 online retailers whom he alleged had manipulated search results to make it look like he had done so."

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's Courtroom Face-Off: An Explainer

Johnny Depp sued the owners of The Sun, a British tabloid, and its editor, for libel in relation to an article that deemed Depp a "wife beater" and said that there was "overwhelming evidence" of his assaulting his wife, actress Amber Heard. He has denied all of the claims, and the newspaper has maintained that the statements were "entirely accurate and true." Both actors have testified, and under English law, the burden is placed on the publisher to establish that it was not libelous in its publication.


5Pointz Graffiti Art Case Affords Supreme Court Opportunity to Interpret Rarely Tested Copyright Law

G&M Realty, a real estate development company, has asked the Supreme Court to reverse a $6.75 million damages award that the Eastern District of New York entered in favor of the group of graffiti artists who had turned the 5Pointz warehouse "into an exhibition space for artists." G&M Realty had, "without warning, whitewashed the artists' work, which had been displayed" on the warehouses known as 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens. The graffiti artists sued under the Visual Artists Rights Act, "a rarely litigated copyright law," to prevent destruction of the site, and that law affords authors "additional rights in the works, regardless of any subsequent physical ownership of the work itself or who holds the copyright to the work."

A Rush to Use Black Art Leaves the Artists Feeling Used

With protests around the country creating momentum for hiring people of color in creative professions, many black creative professionals now "say they have been used to lend legitimacy to diversity campaigns while being underpaid and pigeonholed." Many have reported that while "major companies" have publicly supported the protests "against racism and police brutality," those companies' efforts "have rung hollow" as they failed to "live up to principles of diversity and inclusion."

Marciano Foundation Settles Lawsuit Over Layoffs

In Los Angeles, the Marciano Foundation announced that it settled a lawsuit that had alleged that the foundation "broke the law by laying off 70 part-time employees." The dismissals came in November, and the union filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board "seeking to represent docents and visitor services employees at the privately owned museum." The settlement will provide the affected workers with approximately 10 weeks of pay, according to the lawyer that represented them.

Southern District of New York Decides Photographer's Case Against Mashable

The Southern District of New York granted photographer Stephanie Sinclar's motion for reconsideration and reversed its prior grant of the motion to dismiss as to defendant Mashable. The court maintained its dismissal as to Ziff Davis for failure to state a claim and found that its prior decision "did not give full force to the requirement that a license must convey the licensor's 'explicit consent' to use a copyrighted work."

House Votes to Remove Confederate Statues From U.S. Capitol

In a bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives voted "to banish the statues from display" in the "latest step in a nationwide push to remove historical symbols of racism and oppression from public places." The vote, 305 to 113, came one month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered "that the portraits of four speakers who served the Confederacy be removed from the ornate hall just outside the House chamber."

Opera Foundation Removes Trustee Over Offensive Comments

The Richard Tucker Music Foundation has removed Richard Tucker's son from the board following offensive comments posted on a singer's Facebook page in reference to protestors in Portland: "Good. Get rid of these thugs and I don't care where you send them. They are a Pox on our society." He also wrote, "About time someone tough will try to crush the mob before they destroy and kill more innocent people. Bravo to Trump to send in Federal troops."

Ailey II Drops Director, Citing 'Inappropriate' Communications

Troy Powell, the leader of the Ailey II, the junior troupe of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, was fired following "an inquiry by an outside investigator hired by the organization." The inquiry concluded that Powell had "inappropriate communications" with adult students in the company's training program, according to the company's statement.

Michael Cohen Claims in Suit That He Was Imprisoned to Stop Trump Book

A federal judge ruled that "federal officials had returned Michael D. Cohen to prison because he wanted to publish a book this fall about President Trump." When probation officers presented him with paperwork that "would have barred him from publishing a book during the rest of his sentence," he balked and returned to prison as he is planning to release a "tell-all memoir about his former" client, the president.

Demolition of Historic Vietnam Cathedral Is Underway

In Vietnam, demolition is underway on the historic Bui Chu Cathedral, "a 135-year-old church considered by many an architectural gem." Efforts to save the cathedral failed in the weeks leading up to the planned demolition, and it has been announced that following the demolition, which will be completed in early August, there will be a bigger cathedral erected in its place.

Firing of Museum Director Stirs Debate and an Official Inquiry

Quebec's government is investigating the termination of Nathalie Bondil, the head of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for years and its first female director. The debate "over why she was let go has led to such confusion and rancor that the government has stepped in to investigate" as the museum announced it had terminated her contract effective immediately after an investigation.

Erdogan Fulfills Cherished Goal, Opening Hagia Sophia to Prayers

To the dismay of architectural conservators, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has succeeded in transforming the historic Hagia Sophia as a working mosque. The sixth century structure had been the world's largest cathedral, but Friday brought the first Muslim prayer manifesting the president's "long-stated desire to restore the historic" structure "as a working mosque."


Prominent U.S. Figure Skating Coach Accused of Sex Abuse in Lawsuit

A prominent coach, Craig Maurizi, has filed an action in Buffalo against Richard Callaghan, who coached Tara Lipinski to Olympic gold in 1998, and accused him of sexual abuse. He also alleged that the national governing body was liable for knowing of the sexual abuse and not taking sufficient action to stop the abuse. Last August, the U.S. Center for SafeSport barred Callaghan from figure skating, and four male skaters have publicly accused him of improper behavior during the 1990s and early 2000s.

New Women's Soccer Team, Founded by Women, Will Press for Equal Pay

The National Women's Soccer League continues to expand and has gained the support of figures in tech and finance as well as stars Serena Williams, Mia Hamm, and Abby Wambach. The League plans to add a team in Louisville next year and a second team in 2022 that will be based in Los Angeles.

More Resignations but No Sign Yet of a Change in Gaming Culture

A "stream of reports of sexual harassment and assault in the gaming industry" began in June and has continued with women and men coming forward "with accusations of mistreatment." However, despite those reports, "gaming experts say they are hesitant to call the moment an inflection point", as there have been such moments before and those were not followed by systemic change.

Juan Soto's Positive Test Casts Shadow on Yankees-Nationals Opener as Baseball Returns

Baseball is back, and it has looked different as "players and coaches knelt before the national anthem, and teams played a message of unity at the first two games of the 2020 season." Major League Baseball (MLB) had separated itself from other major leagues such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA), and National Football League (NFL), where players had "been demonstrating before and during the national anthem for years."

Senators Say NCAA Needs Broad Reform

The president of the NCAA has said that he doesn't believe the NCAA should be the sole entity enforcing name, image, and likeness rules, and after appealing for a federal policy addressing the issue, senators have criticized "the organization's handling of amateurism rules and the return of sports amid the pandemic." Florida, California, and Colorado have passed laws that touch on allowing college athletes "to make money through sponsorships and by promoting themselves," and similar laws are being considered in 28 other states, but it remains unclear whether there will be a federal policy (rather than a patchwork of state laws) that clarify the issue.

Washington's NFL Team Will Retire Its Logo and Adopt a Temporary New Name

In the short term, Washington's NFL team will bear the name Washington Football Team. The team dropped its mascot, the Redskins, after having used it for nearly 90 years, and the team announced that it will "roll out an aesthetic that would reflect the direction of the new franchise" as it changes.

The WNBA Is Out to Reclaim 'Tremendous Momentum' in New Season

With a "dramatic free agency period, a new collective bargaining agreement, and a leading voice on social justice", the WNBA is set to start its season and have its players "capture the spotlight". The new collective bargaining agreement allows "the average WNBA players to earn six figures for the first time, including base salary and incentives", which may help to alleviate the common practice of players competing "year-round by going overseas in the off-season to make additional money."

Trump's Request of an Ambassador: Get the British Open for Me

Robert Wood Johnson IV, the ambassador to Britain, is facing scrutiny after it emerged that the pharmaceutical heir and NFL team owner had received instruction from President Trump to secure the British Open for the Trump golf course located in Scotland. While President Trump has denied asking Johnson to lobby the British government for the Open, an aide to Johnson has said that Johnson attempted to and may have contacted members in the British government to have the Open moved.


Two Women Sue Fox News, Claiming Misconduct by Ed Henry and Others

Cathy Areu and Jennifer Eckhart have sued Fox News and claimed that an anchor, Ed Henry, and others engaged in misconduct. Areu described exchanges with other anchors, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Howard Kurtz, having the nature of being "inappropriate and sexually charged" whereas Eckhart alleged that Henry "had coerced her into a sexual relationship by promising to advance her career."

Disney Cuts Ties With ABC News Executive Over 'Racially Insensitive' Remarks

ABC News executive Barbara Fedida left the company "after an investigation supported complaints about her workplace comments." She held the position of senior vice president of talent relations and business affairs and allegedly made "insensitive statements, including racist comments, at work."

Big Tech Has a Big Climate Problem, and Now It Is Being Forced to Clean Up

Apple announced this week that it would be "carbon-neutral by 2030, making it the latest tech giant to ramp up voluntary climate targets." Microsoft and Amazon have also "announced plans to reduce their climate footprints."

Social Media Grapples with Anti-Asian Harassment and QAnon

A public service announcement premiered last week, informing viewers that "Asian-Americans are facing a surge of harassment linked to fears about the coronavirus pandemic." Twitter has had to grapple with QAnon accounts as the movement has spread its messages and "conspiracy theories," and Twitter has removed thousands of accounts for spreading messages that "lead to harm and violated Twitter policy."

Hearst Employees Say Magazine Boss Led Toxic Culture

Troy Young, the head of Hearst Magazines, resigned following a report that he "had made lewd, sexist remarks at work." He joined Hearst in 2013 as the head of digital media and rose to the president's office in the company, but resigned following the revelation that he emailed pornography and made lewd comments in the office.

Washington Post Settles Lawsuit With Student in Viral Protest Video

The Washington Post settled a defamation lawsuit related to its coverage of a Kentucky teenager's encounter with a Native American protestor in Washington, DC. The terms were not disclosed, but a spokeswoman for the Post said, "We are pleased that we have been able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the remaining claims in this lawsuit."

At Wall Street Journal, News Staff and Opinion Side Clash

A rare moment occurred at the Wall Street Journal: the public caught a glimpse of the "internal strife" between the newspaper's opinion section and its newsroom. The opinion department published "a tersely worded note to readers just days after it found itself on the receiving end of a sharply worded critique signed by hundreds of newsroom employees." The newsroom's criticism consisted of the opinion desk having a "lack of fact-checking and transparency."

Big Tech Funds a Think Tank Pushing for Fewer Rules. For Big Tech.

A George Mason University institute has taught "a hands-off approach to antitrust regulators and judges," and big tech, including Google, Amazon, and Qualcomm have financed the think tank in an effort to preserve their dominance in their respective industries. Regulators have become cozy with the institute's staff and have attended lavish conferences, but critics have said that the "sessions were more about delivering a clear message to international officials that benefited the companies paying for the event: The best way to foster competition is to maintain a hands-off approach to antitrust law."

Hungary's Independent Press Takes Another Blow and Reporters Quit

The Hungarian government is overseeing a "concentration of control of the media" that resembles "a troubling pattern in Central Europe, where Poland's press also faces pressure following a presidential election." The editor in chief of the most popular news site was fired and dozens of journalists have quit in protest of the government's move to have Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ally take over the most popular site's advertising unit as "part of a broader effort to limit dissenting voices and silence critics."

Slack Accuses Microsoft of Illegally Crushing Competition

Slack filed a complaint in Europe and accused Microsoft of illegally using its market power to crush Slack. Slack has claimed that Microsoft "illegally tied its collaboration software, Microsoft Teams, to its dominant suite of productivity programs, Microsoft Office," which, according to Slack, "is part of a pattern of anticompetitive behavior by Microsoft."

General News

The Americans With Disabilities Act After 30 Years

With the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) turning 30, the New York Times, which called the ADA "the most sweeping anti-discrimination measure since the Civil Rights Act of 1964," is exploring "what it means to live with a disability in America" in a series of articles. Below is a link with those articles.

John Lewis, Towering Figure of Civil Rights Era, Dies at 80

Memorials and remembrances of John Lewis, a towering figure of the civil rights era, have permeated this week. In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, Senator Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor that Lewis was a "monumental figure" who made "huge personal sacrifices to help our nation move past the sin of racism," and that bipartisanship may lead to the renaming of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, "the site of a turning point in the fight for civil rights" that Lewis spearheaded.

Federal Officers Deployed in Portland Didn't Have Proper Training, Said Department of Homeland Security Memo

As President Trump has promised to deploy federal troops to cities throughout the country on the basis that there has been a spike in crime in recent weeks, dramatic scenes have played out in Portland, including federal agents flooding blocks with tear gas. Oregon's attorney general has said that it is "absolutely improper" and "beyond their authority", as the justification for the deployment was to protect federal property, including federal courthouses, and agents were seen moving on protestors at least two blocks from the nearest federal property. Local officials in cities such as Chicago, Albuquerque, and New York have continued to insist that they do not need federal help to control their city's crime rates, and some have said that the deployment of federal troops has itself caused many more protestors to come out into the streets.

Trump's Covid Failures Reshape Race and Lift Biden

President Trump's "cancellation of the convention in Florida and sudden embrace of masks may signal his acceptance of a political landscape transformed by the pandemic." He had attacked Democratic presumptive nominee Joseph Biden for "cowering in the basement in a mask" but last week shows that the president's reality has started to change after sinking polls show him in a precarious position for an incumbent just 100 days before Election Day.

Defying Trump, Lawmakers Move to Strip Military Bases of Confederate Names

In a bipartisan move, Congress has set up an "election-year veto fight with the president" as it considers a bill to rename the military bases bearing the names of Confederate soldiers and officers. The Trump administration has isolated itself on the issue, "even from members of [its] own party who rarely break with [it]," and this particular issue is one that "has come to the forefront of the political debate amid a national outcry for racial justice."

Trump Seeks to Stop Counting Unauthorized Immigrants in Drawing House Districts

The Trump administration has announced that it will stop counting unauthorized immigrants when drawing districts for the House of Representatives, and critics have called the move "unconstitutional and a transparent attempt to help Republicans." The directive "would exclude millions of people when determining how many House seats each state should have based on the once-a-decade census, reversing the longstanding policy of counting everyone regardless of citizenship or legal status."

Trump Administration Is Bypassing Arms Control Pact to Sell Large Armed Drones

The Trump administration has announced "that it would allow the sale of advanced armed drones to other nations and bypass part of an international weapons export control agreement," the Missile Technology Control Regime. The United States helped forge the agreement over 30 years ago, and the agreement prevents its 35 members from taking this action.

President Presses Limits on Transgender Rights Over Supreme Court Ruling

The Trump administration published a rule on Friday "allowing single-sex homeless shelters to exclude transgender people from facilities that correspond with their gender identity", which came at the same time the Supreme Court "extended civil rights protection to transgender people." The administration's new rule "will go into effect after a 60-day comment period," and officials have argued that "it will make women's shelters safer by preventing men from gaining access to abuse or attack women seeking protection."

Watchdog Faults Medicare Agency's Use of Communications Contractors

An inspector general report has concluded that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service "used communications contractors for work that should have been performed by public servants." The three contracts that the Centers used totaled over $6 million and were in place from 2017 to 2019, and those contracts contained "significant deficiencies" and placed contractors in positions where they were managing government employees.

Trump Moves to Roll Back Obama Program Addressing Housing Discrimination

The Trump administration moved "to eliminate an Obama-era program intended to combat racial segregation in suburban housing, saying it amounted to federal overreach into local communities." The rule required "cities and towns to identify patterns of discrimination, implement corrective plans, and report results."

A Timely Case on Police Violence at the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in October "over whether excessive force claims against the police are barred when the people they shoot get away." The Supreme Court refused last month "to hear eight cases on qualified immunity, a doctrine that makes it hard to sue police officers and other officials for misconduct and, as a result, has become a flash point in the nationwide uproar over police brutality."

Trump Administration Continues to Roll Back Environmental Protection as Studies Find Polar Bears May Become Extinct

Scientists said that by the end of the century, polar bears worldwide "could become nearly extinct as a result of shrinking sea ice in the Arctic if climate change continues unabated." The Trump administration has "unilaterally weakened one of the nation's bedrock conservation laws, the National Environmental Policy Act, limiting public review of federal infrastructure projects to speed up the permitting of freeways, power plants, and pipelines." Emails emerged last week that showed the Environmental Protection Agency "rescinded a requirement on methane at the behest of an executive just weeks after President Trump took office." Congress, however, sent a landmark conservation bill to the president, which "for the first time guarantees money for land acquisition and preservation, but conservatives denounced it as a federal land grab."

Tensions Escalate Between China and the U.S.

Tensions further rose between China and the U.S. Researches "found a potential vulnerability in an app that helps power" DJI drones, "highlighting US officials' concerns that Beijing could get access to information about Americans." The U.S. imposed sanctions on 11 Chinese companies over human rights violations, and those companies may affect "suppliers to major international brands such as Apple, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger" and may force companies "to sever some ties to China." The Trump administration accused Chinese citizens of "stealing scientific research and told the country's diplomats in Texas to leave," which prompted retaliation in the same form for American diplomats at an outpost in China.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Unleashes a Viral Condemnation of Sexism in Congress

Following Representative Ted Yoho, a Florida Republican, using "a sexist vulgarity" toward Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), a New York Democrat, AOC took to the House of Representatives' floor "to denounce the abuse faced by women in Congress and across the nation."

Homeland Security Department Admits Making False Statements in Fight With New York

The Department of Homeland Security has admitted that it "made false statements in a bid to justify expelling New York residents from programs that let United States travelers speed through borders and airport lines." The admission was contained in a court filing and undermine the argument that the Trump administration has put forth that "barring New Yorkers from the programs" was related to New Yorkers having laws in place that enabled "undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses."

Sheldon Silver, Former New York State Assembly Speaker, Will Finally Go to Prison

The former New York State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, lost the final attempt to avoid prison and is set to begin his 78-month sentence. He had asked "for home confinement, arguing that he was vulnerable to the coronavirus," but the Southern District of New York denied the request and noted that "his time has come. He needs to go to jail." Albany itself is likely to change in the coming election as those in the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party have found themselves at an advantage in primaries in the state.

Planned Parenthood in New York Disavows Margaret Sanger Over Eugenics

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York has announced that it will "remove the name of Margaret Sanger, a founder of the national organization, from its Manhattan health clinic because of her 'harmful connections to the eugenics movement.'" She was a public health nurse "who opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in Brooklyn in 1916," but she had also supported "eugenics, a discredited belief in improving the human race through selective breeding, often targeted at poor people, those with disabilities, immigrants, and people of color."

Powerful Ohio Republican Is Arrested in $60 Million Corruption Scheme

The Republican House speaker in Ohio, Larry Householder, was arrested in a $60 million corruption scheme. Householder was "connected with a conspiracy to enact a $1.3 billion bailout of an energy company," the FBI announced. The criminal complaint described "a wide-ranging conspiracy in which the energy company helped finance the election of the House speaker, Larry Householder, in 2018," and then "allegedly bankrolled an effort led by Householder to pass a $1.3 billion bill subsidizing two troubled nuclear power plants and a campaign to defeat a 2019 referendum to repeal that bill."

'Anti-Feminist' Lawyer Is Suspect in Killing of Son of Federal Judge in New Jersey

Roy Den Hollander, an "anti-feminist" lawyer, is suspected in the killing of Judge Esther Salas' son in New Jersey. After the shooting, authorities found him "dead in an apparent suicide." He had been known for filing "seemingly frivolous lawsuits that sought to eliminate women's studies programs and prohibit nightclubs from holding 'ladies' nights.'"

Trial Begins in Germany Over Synagogue Attack on Yom Kippur as Trial Ends for Former Nazi Guard

Former Nazi guard Bruno Dey was convicted of 5,230 counts of accessory to murder, one count for each person believed to be killed during the time he served as a guard at Stutthof concentration camp. He was tried in juvenile court, as he was 17 years old at the time when he served as a guard, and the judge gave a two-year suspended sentence, "reflecting the prosecutors' acknowledgement of his contrition and willingness to cooperate with authorities." Survivors and those representing them disagreed with the leniency shown by the judge.

A trial has started in Germany for a young German man who is charged with killing two people last fall "after his plan to blast his way into a synagogue filled with Jews observing Yom Kippur failed." He said to the court this week that he was "inspired by the white supremacist who had killed 51 worshipers at two mosques in New Zealand earlier last year."

Three Decades After Coup, Sudan's Former Ruler Is Held to Account

Following his ouster last year, autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir is facing trial "for his role in the bloodless 1989 coup that toppled the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi." al-Bashir was sentenced last year "to two years imprisonment" for "corruption charges" and faces the death penalty if he is convicted.

Coronavirus News

Coronavirus Pandemic Continues as More Aid is Called For

The coronavirus pandemic has continued and brought the death count in the United States past 145,000, with a total of over 4.2 million cases. While sporting leagues around the country and the world have their plans set to begin and continue their seasons into the pandemic, there remain significant questions as to what aid ordinary Americans will need. Congress has continued to debate a bill that may contain a stimulus comparable to that given to Americans in the spring, and the European Union passed its own additional stimulus package to bolster its economy. Regardless of what bill Congress devises in the coming days and weeks, the end of July means the end of the extra $600 in unemployment benefits for Americans. The pandemic's impact continues to be felt: scientists reported that the shutdowns have led to "the longest and most coherent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history," and landlords have been desperate to evict non-paying tenants, even skirting the CARES Act's prohibition on evictions proceedings. The CDC changed its tone regarding opening schools this fall and called for reopening all schools, but there remains a conflict with state and local municipalities, which insist that they will not reopen their classrooms.

July 20, 2020

U.S. Copyright Office to Allow for Group Registrations of Short Online Literary Works

By Shanti Sadtler Conway

In August, the US Copyright Office (USCO) will allow group registrations of short online literary works, including social media posts and blog entries. The new scheme, GRTX, will allow applicants to register up to 50 online literary works, as short as 50 words each, under a single application and fee.

The USCO has slowly transitioned to allowing group registrations in the past decade. In 2016, the USCO allowed group registrations for works published in periodicals, known as GRCP. This narrow category allowed for group registrations of "a collective work published on an established schedule in successive issues." Websites were excluded from this, primarily because they are continually updated and do not represent discrete, self-contained issues. Several writers' organizations petitioned for an amendment to this scheme, because under the GRCP they would need to complete a separate application every time they posted a new work or the website was updated. Ultimately, they were successful and the GRTX was created.

The GRTX imposes eight eligibility requirements that are strictly applied:
1. The GRTX group may include up to 50 separate literary works, each containing at least 50 but no more than 17,500 words. These works must be text, and may not include computer programs, audiobooks, podcasts, or emails.
2. All the works in the group must be published within a three month period.
3. All works must be written by the same author or jointly by the same authors.
4. The works cannot be made for hire. This is designed to benefit individual authors.
5. The applicant must provide a title for each work and a title for the group as a whole.
6. The requisite GRTX application must be submitted.
7. One complete copy of each work must be submitted.
8. The applicant must submit a numbered list containing a file name for each work in the group, including the publication date and word count for each work.

Although registration is not required for a copyright to arise, the US is unusual among Berne Convention Countries in that it still operates a widely used public copyright directory. The GRTX will further encourage broad participation in the registration system. Moreover, while the new GRTX rule may benefit an author, it is unclear to what extent such claims will be ultimately pursued.

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, and General News:


Judge Rejects Harvey Weinstein Settlement Related to Numerous Civil Cases

A federal judge rejected Weinstein's $19 million settlement, questioning whether the women involved in the proposed agreement constituted a legal class given their varied experiences and interactions with Weinstein. One of the terms would pay out $12 million toward Weinstein's legal fees; the judge called the idea of Weinstein getting a defense fund ahead of the claimants "obnoxious."

Disney World Opens Its Gates Despite Surging Cases of the Coronavirus

The Florida resort reopened last week, likely facing considerable costs to provide employees with protective gear, set up hand-sanitizing stations, and install plexiglass partitions to prove it could operate safely. According to the New York Times, media coverage on opening day was tightly managed; a marketing video posted to Twitter became a target for criticism and parody and was removed by the company.

University of Texas at Austin Will Not Drop Song with Racist History

The university announced that "The Eyes of Texas" will remain a campus anthem and that the school can "reclaim and redefine what this song stands for by first owning and acknowledging its history in a way that is open and transparent." The song was sung at minstrel shows and was inspired, in part, by the words of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The school said that it would take action on other things, like rename a building named after a racist professor and commission a monument to its first Black undergraduates.

Hollywood Noticeably Silent on Facebook Advertising Boycott

The film industry is a big advertiser on Facebook but has been largely silent on the issue even as other industries (such as news media, banking, and travel) boycott Facebook over its handling of hate speech and other questionable content on its platform.

Billboard Changes Rules on How Bundled Ticket-and-Album Sales Count Toward Chart Placement

Artists who included their new albums as a redeemable bonus with purchase of concert tickets have typically had those numbers counted toward their Billboard chart placements. Billboard is now tweaking the rules that apply to these bundles, stating that if albums are sold with merchandise and concert tickets, the music must be promoted as an explicit add-on and needs to cost at least $3.49 to count on the chart. The policy will go into effect this fall.


Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Reviewing Staff Complaints of Racism

Signatories of a letter addressed to Smithsonian leadership expressed outrage that the National Museum of African Art "has recruited, retained and promoted a predominantly white staff" and accused leadership of turning a blind eye to the culture of racism there. Lonnie G. Bunch III, the first Black secretary of the Smithsonian said he is reviewing the complaints and that concerns about racism has informed his decision to appoint a Black administrator as interim director of the museum.

Conflict of Interest at the Detroit Institute of Arts

A whistleblower complaint filed with the Internal Revenue Service and the Michigan attorney general says that the museum director violated conflict of interest rules that prevent self-dealing when he hung his in-laws' El Greco painting at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Employees say that the lack of transparency could financially benefit the director and his family, since exhibiting the painting could increase its value. The director says that he followed the museum's loan procedures, as approved by its board. Ethics experts say that if the work is ultimately sold, the loan would give rise to the appearance of impropriety, since the museum used its resources to enrich the official.

Marano v The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Southern District of New York dismissed on an order to show cause in the copyright suit brought by a photographer against the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The court held that the use of a photograph of Van Halen on the museum's website in connection with a rock music exhibition constituted fair use because it was being used in a scholarly context.

Mary Trump's Book Cleared for Publication

A New York judge ruled that the president's niece, Mary Trump, could go ahead with the publication of her tell-all memoir. The president's younger brother sought to stop the author and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, from releasing it, arguing that a confidentiality agreement signed by the author prohibited her from revealing family secrets. The judge ruled that the secrecy provision was narrow and only covered disagreements about the estate matters that were settled when the agreement was signed.

Publishing Industry in a Rare Moment of Transformation

A recent wave of deaths, retirements, and executive reshuffling has led to new and more diverse leadership in the publishing industry, which now has the opportunity to change its culture, recruit new authors and editorial talent, and diversify both its workforce and the titles it acquires.

Opera Can No Longer Ignore its Race Problem

The article tracks recent discussions by Black opera singers about the issue of representation in the industry and about the opportunity to reform opera's culture as the industry rebuilds itself post-coronavirus closures.

Washington Town Takes Tough Stance on Chalk Drawings of "Black Lives Matter"

Selah, Washington residents have been warned by police that they would be charged with a crime for drawing chalk art on public sidewalks, with the city using pressure washers to remove the messages. There is a history of this type of action in Washington state, as officials rely on the "malicious mischief" law that prohibits writing on public buildings to press charges. However, a federal judge previously ruled that the law does not directly address public walkways.


Yielding to Pressure from Corporate Sponsors, Washington Redskins Will Drop Team Name

Following its annual general meeting, the National Football League (NFL) team announced that it will be retiring the "Redskins" logo and name. The team has faced criticism for decades for retaining a name that has long been considered a racial slur. The decision came after pressure from major corporate sponsors, including FedEx, which threatened to end its naming rights sponsorship of the team's stadium.

Sprawling Accusations of Sexual Harassment and Toxic Workplace Culture Against Washington NFL Team

More than a dozen women allege sexual harassment and verbal abuse by former executives and football personnel of the Washington Redskins. They allege that male executives commented on their appearances, sent them inappropriate text messages, and pursued unwanted relationships. They also say that the team's understaffed human resources department was incapable of proper oversight. Washington D.C.-based lawyer Beth Wilkinson has been hired by the team to conduct an "independent review of the team's culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct."

Diversity and inclusion advocates say that experiences of sexual harassment within NFL franchises will continue to be all too common if the league does not address its workplace culture and toxic relationship with women by installing mechanism to report harassment and abuse, as an example.

The Process of Rebranding for Professional Franchises

The article recounts the experience of other professional teams who have undertaken a rebranding process, including that of the National Basketball Associations's Washington Bullets in 1995, which owner rebranded the team voluntarily and independent of a new acquisition or relocation (it was done so out of concern for the gun violence that affected Washington communities at that time). The team solicited input from the public at two different junctures - it first ran a renaming contest that yielded 3,000 submissions; of those, five were selected and put to a public vote, but the decision ultimately rested with the team owner, Abe Pollin. Pollin's first choice, the Washington Monuments, was rejected because of trademark issues and the team landed on the Wizards. The article also notes that altering a team's identity has obvious implications for logos, trademarks, and merchandising, and points out that the NFL has a creative service division that helps teams with branding.

Two Former NFL Players Sue the League and Union Over Cuts in Disability Payments

The players are challenging terms of the latest collective bargaining agreement *CBA), which reduced disability payments received by as many as 400 former players by tens of thousands of dollars a year. Starting in January 2021, the $138,000/year that the players currently receive will be reduced by the value of their Social Security disability benefits. The players contend that the language in the CBA was altered after it was signed, to the detriment of former players on disability.

Saquon Barkley Renegotiated Nike Deal Ahead of New Product Line

Right before launching his own apparel and footwear line, Giants running back Saquon Barkley renegotiated a four-year $25-million contract with Nike (the largest amount guaranteed to a player on a renegotiation while under contract). The terms reportedly include a 5% merchandise royalty rate, "twice the industry standard," ownership of all his created intellectual property, and more significantly, permission to work with another company to develop and wear an alternate branded product.

Women's National Basketball Association Denies Elena Delle Donne's Opt-out Request

Delle Donne's request for a medical exemption from playing in the 2020 season was denied by Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) physicians. Donne's personal physician advised her not to play, citing increased risk of contracting and suffering complications from COVID-19. Her request was denied by a panel of doctors jointly selected by the WNBA and the players' union. The waiver would have allowed Donne to sit out the season with pay. In an essay for The Players' Tribune, the WNBA star wrote about the lengths she has gone through to keep herself healthy as she battles Lyme disease.

Major League Soccer Delaying Timelines for Several Expansion Franchises Due to COVID-19

Major League Soccer (MLS0 is postponing the inaugural seasons of three expansion clubs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on stadium construction and business operations. Austin FC will enter MLS in 2021, as originally planned, but Charlotte will now enter the league in 2022 instead of 2021. Sacramento and St. Louis' entries are also being pushed back to 2023.

Female Athletes and Parenting in the Bubble

Certain leagues, including professional soccer, have taken steps to make it easier on female athletes to take care of their children while living in so-called bubble environments now that some sports have resumed play. Some women's leagues have arranged for caregivers at their sites and put in place special testing protocols for young children. It is a stark contract to the world of men's professional sports, where children and families are not allowed, partly due to concerns over the size of the operation and its costs - but also a reflection of societal values treating child-rearing as a woman's responsibility.

Arkansas Racing Commission Suspend Trainer After 15 Horses Test Positive for Banned Substance

Trainer Bob Baffert was suspended for 15 days and two of his horses were disqualified from races they won after testing positive for lidocaine. The rules state that a trainer is ultimately responsible for the condition of the horse regardless of any third party involvement.

National Collegiate Athletic Association Announces Testing Guidelines

While the prospect of a fall sports season looks grim, the recommendations were issued in an effort to add uniformity to virus testing protocols and response procedures. They were developed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA's) COVID-19 Advisory Panel and a number of other medical groups, and consist of the following requirements: individuals with high-risk exposure must be quarantined for 14 days; test results should be obtained within 72 hours of competition for athletes in high-contact sports; face shields should be integrated when feasible; and marks should be worn by everyone on the sideline.

Canadian Football League Team to Change Name from Eskimos

The Edmonton Eskimos announced that the team will be changing its name. Canadian Football League sponsors had recently expressed a desire to see such a change. Insurance company Bel Air Direct had threatened to drop its sponsorship if a name change did not occur.

Toronto Blue Jays Denied Federal Government Approval to Play Home Games in Toronto

The federal government cited health and safety of Canadians in denying Major League Baseball (MLB) a cross-border travel exemption. Municipal and provincial health authorities had previously approved the Jays' return to Toronto for preseason training, as long as staff remained isolated within the Rogers Center and adjacent facilities. The federal government distinguished regular season games, which would require repeated cross-border travel of players and staff, as well as opponent teams in and out of Canada. The team is said to be in the process of finalizing a home location for the 2020 season, which could be Buffalo or its training facility in Dunedin, Florida.

International Olympic Committee President Confirms Run for Re-Election

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, who began his tenure in 2013, will seek re-election next year. If re-elected, IOC rules will limit him to a second eight-year term. The Beijing Winter Olympics scheduled for February 2022 will be a potential test of Bach's second term, as China's human rights record is an expected target ahead of those Games. Bach recently warned against Olympic boycotts, saying that they only punish the athletes of the boycotting country.

World Surf League Cancels 2020 Season

The sport's governing body has cancelled the 2020 World Championship Tour this year and is planning an early start to the 2021 tour in case the pandemic continues to cause scheduling changes going forward.


Prominent Twitter Users Hacked in Bitcoin Scam, and the Hackers Tell the Story of the Twitter Attack from the Inside

High-profile Twitter users had their accounts hacked lacked week. The hackers posted similar messages on Twitter, asking users to send Bitcoin and promised that the famous people would send back double their money. The scam targeted the accounts of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates, among others. Twitter's investigation revealed that several of its employees with access to internal systems had their accounts compromised. The hackers then used the internal systems to tweet from the accounts.

Although the investigation is still in its early stages, the New York Times reports that four young hackers were behind the security breach after being put in touch with them by a security researcher in California and seeing corroborating evidence of their involvement.

ESPN Employees Say Racism Endures Behind the Camera

The nationwide conversation over systemic racism and equality has not spared ESPN. In recent meetings with leadership, Black employees have been speaking out about the everyday racism and barriers that undermine career advancement at ESPN. Despite the company acknowledging hiring shortfalls and changing its approach to covering racial unrest among athletes, "employees expressed mixed opinions about the prospect for change."

ViacomCBS Fires Nick Cannon, Citing Anti-Semitic Podcast Remarks

The network said that Cannon had promoted hateful speech on an episode of Cannon's Class, his YouTube podcast, in which he discussed conspiracy theories about Jewish people and said it was a shame that Louis Farrakhan, a minister known for his anti-Semitic comments, had been silenced on Facebook.

USA Today Says Op-Ed Critical of Anthony Fauci Fell Short of Standards

The editorial page editor of USA Today wrote that aspects of White House trade advisor Peter Navarro's article, in which he criticized Anthony Fauci as "being wrong on everything," "were misleading or lacked context" and did not meet the paper's fact-checking standards. In the article, Navarro was critical of Fauci's stance on masks and his position on the risks of the coronavirus.

Chatham Hedge Fund Has Winning Bid for Newspaper Publisher McClatchy

Newspaper publisher McClatchy Company announced that it expects to be bought by hedge fund Chatham Asset Management, the owner of The National Enquirer, following a bankruptcy sale. The sale marks the end of 163 years of family ownership and shows the growing influence of the finance industry on American newspapers.

New York Times Will Move Part of Hong Kong Office to Seoul

The move comes after a sweeping national security law passed by China "unsettled news organizations and created uncertainty about the city's prospects as a hub for journalism in Asia." Some employees have had difficulties securing work permits and the paper felt that it needed an additional base of operations in the region.

European Union Court Nullifies U.S. Data-Sharing Agreement

The Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) declared the Privacy Shield agreement between the U.S. and EU invalid over concerns with U.S. surveillance laws and consumer data access for national security reasons. The decision could require EU regulators to vet businesses' data transfers to the U.S. to ensure that Europeans' personal information is protected in accordance with EU standards.

Britain's BBC Announces More Job Cuts

British broadcaster BBC announced it will cut 520 jobs in its news operation, 70 more than originally announced.

United Kingdom Bans Huawei from 5G Network

The United Kingdom (UK) banned the use of the Chinese tech giant's equipment in its high-speed wireless network, reversing an earlier decision that said it could use the equipment only on a limited basis. The UK seems to share the concern of other western states that Huawei's close ties to the Chinese government make its equipment vulnerable for state use and espionage.

General News

Supreme Court Allows Florida to Limit Voting by Former Felons

The decision permits Florida to bar people with felony convictions from voting if they have not paid court fines and fees. The dissenting judges said that the order "continues a trend of condoning disenfranchisement" by preventing "eligible voters from participating in Florida's primary election simply because they are poor." The state's Constitution, amended in 2018, ended disenfranchisement of people convicted of felonies (with the exception of murder and rape), "upon completion of all terms of sentence, including parole or probation." The legislature subsequently enacted a law that defined these "terms" to include payment of fines, restitution, costs, and fees.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says Her Cancer Has Returned

Justice Ginsburg said that she is once again receiving chemotherapy but has no plans to retire from the Supreme Court and remains fully able to "do the job full steam." Justice Ginsburg recently underwent a gallbladder procedure and participated in oral arguments from the hospital.

17 States Sue Federal Government Over Student Visa Rules; Government Rescinds Plan

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia joined some of America's top universities in challenging the Trump administration's effort to force foreign college students to take in-person classes or lose their visas. Earlier this year, the government allowed foreign students to take more online classes and the universities argued that as the state of emergency remains in effect, so too should the waived visa rules. Following broad pushback, the administration then announced that it would no longer require foreign students to attend in-person classes during the pandemic in order to remain in the country.

Asylum Officers Condemn Trump Administration's Overhaul of the Asylum System

The union representing federal asylum officers commented on the proposed regulation by saying that it would effectively deny migrants the right to have their claims of fear or persecution assessed. The proposal put forward by the Trump administration last month raises the standard that migrants would have to meet to show they have a claim for protection. Applicants would not be entitled to a full hearing and officers would have expanded authority to declare applications "frivolous."

States Sue Education Department for Revising Rules on Fraud

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia sued the Department of Education over new rules for a program meant to wipe out the student loan debt of borrowers whose schools defrauded them. They argue that the new standards are impossible for students to meet and favor the interests of predatory schools over those of students. Under the new rules, each borrower must pursue relief individually after the group-discharge process was eliminated. The policy also requires students to prove that the school had knowingly lied to them and the deception caused them financial harm.

President Raises New Objections to Subpoena Seeking His Tax Returns

Despite the Supreme Court's decision clearing the way for the Manhattan district attorney to seek the president's tax returns, his lawyers plan to argue in federal court that the subpoena seeking eight years of corporate and personal tax returns is too broad and politically motivated. While the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the subpoena was invalid because a sitting president could not be criminally investigated, Trump's lawyers say the decision allows the president to raise other objections, including that the subpoena was "motivated by a desire to harass or is conducted in bad faith."

The Manhattan district attorney's office told the federal judge that the president is purposely dragging out the court battle in an attempt to shield himself from investigation. The longer the dispute goes on, the higher the chance that the statute of limitations would expire for any possible crimes he may have committed.

Government Carries Out First Federal Execution in 17 Years; Two Others Follow

After a 17-year hiatus, the Justice Department carried out three executions in the last week. A federal judge had issued an injunction delaying the executions, but in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government's single-drug execution protocol was constitutional and did not breach the ban on "cruel and unusual" punishment. The Supreme Court also issued another 5-4 decision vacating a preliminary injunction in a case involving issues around the mental competency of one of the prisoners.

White House Continues Flouting Ethical Norms

Government ethics experts say that recent photographs of the president and his daughter with Goya Foods products are examples of an administration less concerned about the norms and laws governing political activity and one that disregards traditional boundaries between official business and campaign activity. There have also been questions about the president's White House activities, including his Rose Garden news conferences, which are "increasingly devoid of policy and filled with attacks on the 'radical left' and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee," Joe Biden.

Pentagon Bans Confederate Flag

The Pentagon announced a policy that has the effect of banning displays of the Confederate flag on military installations worldwide. The policy lists the types of flag that are allowed to appear on bases and includes flag of American states and territories, military services, and other countries that are allies of the U.S. The Confederate flag does not fit in any of the approved categories.

Democrats Are Downsizing Their August Convention

Next month's Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee has been scaled back dramatically and is expected to include as few as 300 people, compared to the 50,000 people originally expected to be in attendance. Most of the program will involve pre-taped videos and air for approximately three hours each night.

Banks Ask Federal Housing Officials Not to Weaken Anti-Discrimination Rule

Executives from the country's four biggest banks have asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development to delay changes to a regulation meant to curb racial discrimination in the mortgage business. "The proposed change would spare the banks from fines and legal fees by reducing the number of lawsuits and government enforcement actions against them."

Black Business Owners Had a Harder Time Getting Federal Aid

A new study finds that white bank customers generally got better treatment at banks when they requested loans under the Paycheck Protection Program as compared to their Black counterparts. The non-profit running the study sent "mystery shoppers" to 17 Washington-area banks, each with similar credit and asset characteristics. In 43% of the tests, the Black borrowers were offered different products and treated significantly worse by employees than white borrowers.

George Soros's Foundation Invests $220 Million in Racial Justice Organizations

$150 million of that amount will go to Black-led racial justice groups. Another $70 million will go toward local grants supporting policing and criminal justice reform by paying for political training, internships, and other opportunities for civic engagement.

New Data Shows Extraordinary Rise in U.S. Coastal Flooding

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said rising seas are bringing record levels of flooding further into coastal homes and infrastructure. In some areas, the frequency of flooding has grown fivefold in the last 20 years, damaging homes and impacting the safety of drinking water.

Police Body Camera Footage Released in George Floyd Case

The footage was made available for viewing at a courthouse in Minneapolis. Reporters with knowledge of the video describe George Floyd as being visibly shaken and never appearing to present a physical threat to the officers.

After 99 Years, Tulsans Are Unearthing the Hushed History of a Massacre

The article provides different sources of background into the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, where white mobs committed murder, arson, and looted businesses in the prosperous African-American community of Greenwood.

Jeff Sessions Loses Alabama Senate Race

Jeff Sessions ran for the Senate seat he held before being appointed as Attorney General by President Trump. He lost the Republican primary to former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, who had Trump's support throughout the race.

Jamaal Bowman Defeats 16-Term Incumbent Eliot Engel in New York's 16th Congressional District

Progressive candidate Jamaal Bowman defeated Representative Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary for New York's 16th Congressional District. Bowman, a middle school principal from Yonkers, ran on an anti-establishment message and defeated Engel, who had the support of Hillary Clinton, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Governor Cuomo.

Trump Taking on Michigan Leaders on Voting Rights and the Coronavirus

President Trump has targeted three of Michigan's female leaders - the governor, the attorney general, and the secretary of state, on issues with implications for the 2020 election. For example, the president has taken aim at Governor Whitmer's mission to expand voting rights by way of absentee ballots in a state where his 2016 winning margin was the narrowest in the country.

Federal Agents Deployed to Protests in Portland, Oregon

Protesters were met with a militarized response in Portland after federal officers were deployed, using tear gas and shooting projectiles into crowds. In an internal memo obtained by the New York Times, the federal agents "were not specifically trained in riot control or mass demonstrations."

Asheville, North Carolina Approves Reparations for Black Residents

The city of Asheville, North Carolina apologized for its participation in and sanctioning of slavery and passed a measure that would provide funding to promote home ownership and business and career opportunities for Black residents.

NASA Scientist Jailed in Turkey for Three Years Recounts His Ordeal

Serkan Golge was arrested in Turkey in 2016 based on evidence that allegedly linked him to the CIA and to a failed coup on President Erdogan. He returned to Houston in June after spending three years in solitary confinement and is recounting his experience with Turkey's justice system.

Germany's Constitutional Court Rules That Police Have Too Much Access to People's Data

Despite having some of the strictest personal privacy laws in the world, the German Constitutional Court found that police and intelligence agencies in the country have excessive access to people's mobile and internet communications. While police can currently obtain someone's personal data from telecom providers, the new standard is that there must be concrete evidence linking an individual to a specific crime before police are granted access to the digital information.

Coronavirus Update

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Stripped of Data Function

There is long-standing frustration within the Trump administration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its ability to collect and propagate data, with the CDC recently announcing that it would not be able to provide age breakdowns in people hospitalized with the virus until the end of August. Hospitals have now been ordered to bypass the CDC and send all patient information data to a centralized database in Washington D.C. instead. This would include daily reports of how many patients each hospital is treating as well as bed and ventilator availability. When reached for comment, a Health and Human Services Department spokesman said the CDC was directed to make the data available on its website again.

Public Health Efforts Undermined by Archaic Data Collection System

Public health departments are facing operational issues with data reporting systems, relying on test results to come in by email, physical mail, phone, and even fax. Some are receiving duplicate results, incomplete reports, and in some cases, reports are being sent to the wrong department. The lack of a standard digital process is in turn slowing down case reporting and contact tracing, and ultimately undermining the ability of health officials to get the situation under control.

Chief Vaccine Scientist Can Remain Government Contract; Will Not Be Subject to Disclosure Rules

The office of the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services decided that the chief advisor of the administration's coronavirus vaccine program can remain a government contractor. The decision permits Dr. Moncef Slaoui to avoid ethics disclosures required of federal employees. He will also not have to divest his ownership in pharmaceutical companies.

An Estimated 5.4 Million Americans Have Lost Health Insurance During Pandemic

A study by non-partisan consumer advocacy group Families USA found that over five million Americans lost their health insurance between February and May of this year. It was nearly 40% higher than the highest previous increase during the 2008 recession.

Pay Raises Disappear for Many Essential Workers

Several retailers have ended the pay raises and bonuses paid out to employees working during the pandemic. Their rationale for cutting back is that the panic-buying has waned. However, the threat of infection remains high in retail environments and in states where infections continue to surge.

California's Two Largest School Districts Will Remain Online-Only This Fall

Instructions at Los Angeles and San Diego schools, which enroll around 825,000 students, will be online-only this fall. The districts abandoned all plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms amidst broader rollbacks of California's plans to reopen.

Custodians Feel Inadequately Armed Against the Coronavirus

Cleaners are falling ill and many say they lack the time, training, and equipment to do their job safely as many businesses and workplaces reopen across the country. Some have resorted to bringing in their own disinfectants and making their own masks to protect themselves on the job.

Russian Accused of Plot to Steal Vaccine Research

British, Canadian, and American organizations say they have been targeted by Russian hackers attempting to steal coronavirus vaccine research. The attempts are said to be aimed at developing a Russian vaccine more quickly rather than sabotaging progress made by other countries.

July 14, 2020

Week In Review

By Chantelle A. Gyamfi
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, and General News:


CBS Fires Producer of 'Magnum P.I.' After Workplace Complaints

CBS announced that it had fired Peter M. Lenkov, one of its most prolific producers, after a human resources investigation concluded that he had created a toxic workplace environment on his shows. Lenkov was an executive producer on three CBS prime-time dramas, all of them reboots of earlier programs centered on law enforcement: "Hawaii 5-O," which appeared on the network from 2010 until its recent finale; "MacGyver," which was renewed for a fifth season; and "Magnum P.I.," which is headed for a third season. "Peter Lenkov is no longer the executive producer overseeing 'MacGyver' and 'Magnum P.I.,' and the studio has ended its relationship with him," CBS Television Studios said in a statement. In a statement of his own, Lenkov said: "Now is the time to listen, and I am listening. It's difficult to hear that the working environment I ran was not the working environment my colleagues deserved, and for that, I am deeply sorry."

Actors' Union Approves Berkshire Shows

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic erupted, Actors' Equity is agreeing to allow a few of its members to perform onstage. The union, which represents 51,000 actors and stage managers around the country, said that it had given the green light to two summer shows in the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts: an outdoor production of the musical "Godspell" and an indoor production of the solo show "Harry Clarke." In recent weeks, multiple theaters featuring nonunion actors have begun resuming performances -- in some cases outdoors, and in almost all cases with social distancing -- and a group of Equity actors collectively developed an outdoor performance piece in the Hudson Valley. Many actors have also been performing online. "Godspell" and "Harry Clarke," both scheduled to begin in early August in Pittsfield, Mass., are now likely to be the first productions in which union actors will perform in person for paying audiences in the United States since the threat of infection prompted Broadway and the nation's regional theaters to shut down in mid-March. Citing safety concerns, Equity had barred its members from in-person auditions, rehearsals, and performances.

Theater Artists of Color Enumerate Demands for Change

A coalition of theater artists, known by the title of its first statement, "We See You, White American Theater," has posted online a 29-page set of demands that, if adopted, would amount to a sweeping restructuring of the theater ecosystem in America. The coalition, made up of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) theatermakers, has declined to make anyone available to answer questions, and says on its website that it has no leadership or spokesperson. "We understand the desire for individual interviews, but this is a collective movement and it would not be appropriate for any of us to speak on behalf of the all," the group said in response to an email inquiry. The group's initial statement was signed by more than 300 artists and then endorsed by thousands online; among its more visible supporters are the playwrights Lynn Nottage and Dominique Morisseau, who called attention to the list of demands online.

Disney World Stokes a Political Firestorm

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. reopened, and Disney has been posting marketing videos online to highlight the safety procedures it has designed to protect visitors and employees. Some of the 1,000-plus responses to that particular video were supportive. Others were incredulous, with people using words like "irresponsible" and "disappointing." Disney World is reopening? When coronavirus infections have soared in Florida? "Stay. Closed. Please," one person wrote. The pandemic has devastated Disney's businesses, and reopening its signature tourist attraction -- with restricted capacity and government approval -- is a major part of the company's comeback attempt. However, in doing so, Disney is stepping into a politicized debate surrounding the virus and efforts to keep people safe, where even the wearing of masks has become a point of bitter contention.

An Ailing Film Industry

Italy's torrid summers have made outdoor movie showings under the stars a favorite entertainment choice of the season. Even the first Venice Film Festival, in August 1932, was held on the terrace of the Hotel Excelsior at the Lido, the island just off the center of Venice. This year though, several nonprofit cultural and social organizations have struggled to get their summer film festivals going after film distributors refused to rent them many requested titles, from the Harry Potter series to "BlacKkKlansman" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." The reason? These nonprofit organizations screen films for free, even as Italy's fabled film industry is reeling with many theaters closed because of the coronavirus. Normally the Milan open air initiative screens 10 films during the summer. This year, it will show only four, after five distributors for Universal, Warner Bros., Disney, 20th Century Fox, and RAI Cinema refused to issue rights to films that Sansone's organization had chosen with input from local residents, he said. "The distributors told us that if we show them for free, they can't give us films," he said. Yet those in the business say that the pandemic dealt such a blow that it put the survival of Italy's film industry at risk, and that giving unfettered free access to films would only make matters worse.


Museums in the Berkshires Plan to Reopen

Three major cultural institutions in the Berkshires will reopen this month, following the greenlight from Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts, who said on Thursday that the state would move into Phase 3 of its reopening plans. In a joint statement, Mass MoCA, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the Clark Art Institute outlined the programming changes and social-distancing measures they will be taking to ensure that visitors can return to the museums safely. Mass MoCA, which has performing arts venues, reopened on July 11th, and plans to resume some smaller performances starting July 18th. The galleries at the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Clark Art Institute both reopened on July 12th. Each museum requires advance ticketing reservations for staggered entry, and visitors are required to wear face coverings indoors. The institutions are also planning to use visitor information gathered at ticketing for contact-tracing purposes.

Students' Calls to Remove a Mural Were Answered. Now Comes a Lawsuit.

For years, there has been a simmering debate over what to do with a New Deal-era mural at the University of Kentucky that students have denounced as a racist sanitizing of history and a painful reminder of slavery in a public setting. The wall-length mural, a 1934 fresco by Ann Rice O'Hanlon, is covered with vignettes that are intended to illustrate Kentucky's history. At the center of the mural is an image of enslaved people tending to tobacco plants, and at the bottom, there is a Native American man holding a tomahawk and peering out from behind a tree at a white woman as if poised for attack. Since 2015, university administrators have tried to find a resolution that doesn't involve removing the mural. Last month, as many predominantly white institutions in the United States were being forced to answer for their history of racism in the wake of George Floyd's killing, the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, decided that it was time for the mural to be removed. Now, Wendell Berry -- the writer, farmer, and longtime Kentuckian -- is suing the university over its decision to remove the mural, arguing that because it was created through a government program, it is owned by the people of Kentucky and cannot be removed by the university.

Artists + Scholars Warn

The killing of George Floyd has brought an intense moment of racial reckoning in the United States. As protests spread across the country, they have been accompanied by open letters calling for -- and promising -- change at white-dominated institutions across the arts and academia. Last week, a different type of letter appeared online. Titled "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate," and signed by 153 prominent artists and intellectuals, it began with an acknowledgment of "powerful protests for racial and social justice" before pivoting to a warning against an "intolerant climate" engulfing the culture. "The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted," the letter declared, citing "an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty." "We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other," it continues. "As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes." The letter, which was published by Harper's Magazine and will also appear in several leading international publications, surfaces a debate that has been going on privately in newsrooms, universities, and publishing houses that have been navigating demands for diversity and inclusion, while also asking which demands -- and the social media dynamics that propel them -- go too far.

Brooks Brothers Files for Bankruptcy

Brooks Brothers, the retailer known for dressing the great and good of the United States since 1818, filed for bankruptcy, buckling under the pressure from the coronavirus pandemic after years of faltering sales as customers embraced more casual apparel and sales shifted online. The company, founded and based in New York, filed for Chapter 11 restructuring proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Claudio Del Vecchio, the Italian industrialist who bought the brand in 2001 and still owns the company, told The New York Times in May that he would not rule out Chapter 11 as a possibility. Brooks Brothers said in an emailed statement that the filing would allow it to obtain additional financing as it facilitated a sale. The bankruptcy is the latest high-profile retail fall during the pandemic, which has caused widespread store closures and sales declines, reshaping the shopping streets of cities across the country. Since May, major names like J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and J.Crew have all been pushed into Chapter 11 proceedings. The chains, including Brooks Brothers, plan to keep operating, though most likely in a pared-back fashion.

Graffiti Is Back in Virus-Worn New York

While most New Yorkers grudgingly accepted New York City's lockdown in March, one community eagerly embraced it: graffiti writers. Deserted commercial streets with gated storefronts offered thousands of blank canvases for quick tags or two-tone throwies, while decorative murals in gentrifying neighborhoods were sprayed over as the streets rendered a definitive critique. From the South Bronx to East New York, a new generation of graffiti writers has emerged, many of whom have never hit a trainyard or the inside of a subway car. Like early taggers who grew up in a city beset by crime, grime and empty coffers, today's generation is dealing with its own intense fears over the devastating effects of the coronavirus on communities and the economy. While graffiti never disappeared completely, in recent weeks it has become ever more visible citywide. The increase in graffiti is for many residents an unwelcome sign of the recent economic upheaval, especially for property owners who take on the Sisyphean task of trying to erase it all.

U.K. Announces $2 Billion Bailout to Help Keep the Arts Afloat

Britain's arts sector, largely shuttered since March because of the pandemic and warning of an imminent collapse, is being given a lifeline through what Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as a "world-leading" rescue package for cultural and heritage institutions. The organizations will be handed £1.57 billion (about $2 billion). Johnson said in a statement that the money would "help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring art groups and venues across the U.K. can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down." The money will go to a variety of recipients, including Britain's "local basement" music venues and museums, he added, although he did not provide details. Museums in England were allowed to reopen, but it is unclear when theaters and music venues will be permitted to do so as well.

Court Ruling in Monaco Ends One Piece of a $2 Billion Art Dispute

A long-running dispute between Yves Bouvier, a Swiss businessman who sold $2 billion worth of artworks, and Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Russian billionaire who bought them, took a decisive step in Bouvier's favor when a Monaco court upheld a lower court's ruling to dismiss the criminal investigation against him because the prosecution of him had been unfair. The ruling ends the criminal procedures in Monaco against Bouvier, who was arrested following a criminal complaint by Rybolovlev in early 2015. "It is a total and definitive victory in Monaco," Bouvier said in a statement. "For the last five years, I have been claiming my innocence, and today I have been vindicated by the Monaco courts." The messy battle began several years ago when Bouvier helped Rybolovlev buy 38 pieces of world-class art for $2 billion over a period of about 12 years, including works such as "Salvator Mundi," a depiction of Christ attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Rybolovlev has said in court papers that he believed that Bouvier was acting as his agent and adviser on the transactions, and he paid Bouvier a fee for his services. He then later discovered, he said, that Bouvier had bought many of the items in advance, then flipped them to him at a markup of $1 billion.

Turkey Destroys Ancient Treasure

There was something exceptional about Hasankeyf that made visitors fall in love with the town on first sight. Graced with mosques and shrines, it lay nestled beneath great sandstone cliffs on the banks of the River Tigris. Gardens were filled with figs and pomegranates, and vine-covered teahouses hung over the water. The golden cliffs, honeycombed with caves, are thought to have been used in Neolithic times. An ancient fortress marked what was once the edge of the Roman Empire. The ruins of a medieval bridge recalled when the town was a wealthy trading center on the Silk Road. Now it is all lost forever, submerged beneath the rising waters of the Ilisu Dam, the latest of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's megaprojects, which flooded 100 miles of the upper Tigris River and its tributaries, including the once-stunning valley.

Hagia Sophia to Be Used as a Mosque Again

Since it was built in the sixth century, changing hands from empire to empire, Hagia Sophia has been a Byzantine cathedral, a mosque under the Ottomans, and finally a museum, making it one of the world's most potent symbols of Christian-Muslim rivalry and of Turkey's more recent devotion to secularism.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree ordering Hagia Sophia to be opened for Muslim prayers, an action likely to provoke international furor around a World Heritage Site cherished by Christians and Muslims alike for its religious significance, for its stunning structure and as a symbol of conquest. The presidential decree came minutes after a Turkish court announced that it had revoked Hagia Sophia's status as a museum, which for the last 80 years had made it a monument of relative harmony and a symbol of the secularism that was part of the foundation of the modern Turkish state.


Kaepernick Signs Production Deal with Disney

Colin Kaepernick and the Walt Disney Company announced a production deal that will see the activist quarterback produce "scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social injustice and the quest for equity" for the media giant's various platforms, including ESPN. Work has already begun on a documentary series that will explore the last five years of Kaepernick's life, as he began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before National Football League (NFL) games to protest racism and police brutality, and later accused team owners of colluding to keep him out of the league. It is a first-look deal, meaning Disney has the right of first refusal over projects from Ra Vision Media, Kaepernick's company. The deal is just one of many Kaepernick has signed in the last year to produce media about himself and the topics he cares about, even as he has remained silent publicly.

Delayed Testing and Instant Anger as Major League Baseball Struggles to Resume

Major League Baseball (MLB) triumphantly declared morning that it would announce a 60-game schedule on its cable network that evening. Around the same time, the two teams from last year's World Series, the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, were canceling their Monday workouts for safety reasons -- and blaming MLB. The reason for the holdup was a delay in receiving the results of the coronavirus tests taken by players from both teams. The Oakland Athletics' tests, too, had not even been delivered to the MLB laboratory in Utah. The St. Louis Cardinals also canceled their workout because of the testing delay. The players will be tested, as planned, every other day through the end of the World Series, and bad news has already been pouring in. Atlanta's Freddie Freeman, Colorado's Charlie Blackmon, Kansas City's Salvador Perez, San Diego's Tommy Pham, Texas' Joey Gallo, and the Yankees' D.J. LeMahieu are among the many players who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Demand Snyder Couldn't Afford to Dismiss

After decades of controversy, it took a serious threat to Dan Snyder's team's finances, and those of the rest of the NFL, to get the owner of the Washington Redskins to consider changing the team's name, which Native Americans (and many dictionaries) consider to be a slur. The final straw? FedEx, which pays about $8 million a year for the naming rights to the team's stadium in Landover, Md., and whose chairman has been trying to sell his shares in the team, said that it would back out of the deal if the name was not changed in a letter that The New York Times was allowed to review. On July 2nd, the legal counsel for FedEx sent a letter to his counterpart with the team, saying that the company would demand its name be removed from the stadium, where it has been displayed since 1999, if the team name was not changed. "We are hopeful that a name change and a new head coach will help move public perception in a positive direction, restore the team's reputation and lessen our deep concerns," the letter said. A day later, Snyder said that the team "will undergo a thorough review" of its name, bending to a company that committed to paying more than $200 million for its affiliation with the team.

Trump Supports "Redskins" Name as Team Considers Changing It

The battle over the name of the Washington, D.C., NFL team deepened as Trump defended it even as more retailers said they would pull the team's gear off their shelves. "They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct," Trump said on Twitter, adding a reference to the MLB team that is also considering changing its name. Trump's statement came as Walmart and Target, two of the country's largest retailers, said that they would stop selling Washington's merchandise on their websites. Target is in the process of removing it from its stores as well, according to a company spokesman.

Ivy League Suspends Sports for The Fall

The Ivy League became the first Division I conference to suspend all fall sports, including football, leaving open the possibility of moving some seasons to the spring if the coronavirus pandemic is better controlled by then. "We simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk," the Ivy League Council of Presidents said in a statement. "We are entrusted to create and maintain an educational environment that is guided by health and safety considerations. There can be no greater responsibility -- and that is the basis for this difficult decision." Though the coalition of eight academically elite schools does not grant athletic scholarships or compete for an NCAA football championship, the move could have ripple effects throughout the big business of college sports.

Stanford Drops 11 Sports to Cut Costs

Stanford was already facing some difficult financial choices as it tried to support one of the nation's largest athletics departments. The coronavirus pandemic forced a dramatic and painful decision: Faced with a nearly $25 million deficit next year, Stanford became the first known Power Five school to eliminate athletic programs because of the pandemic, announcing hat 11 of its 36 varsity sports will be shuttered next year. The school will discontinue men's and women's fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men's rowing, co-ed and women's sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men's volleyball, and wrestling after the 2020-21 academic year. Stanford also is eliminating 20 support staff positions.

Womens National Basketball Association Players Say Stop Owner

The Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced that its upcoming season would be "dedicated to social justice with games honoring the Black Lives Matter movement." It did not seem to be a relatively controversial or surprising message, considering how engaged WNBA players have been in the movement, which has also drawn support from a wide range of corporations and even the most controversy-averse sports leagues, like the NFL, since the killing of George Floyd in May. Yet the expression -- and the movement it supports -- bothered at least one WNBA owner, who also happens to be a sitting senator in the midst of a difficult campaign for her seat. Senator Kelly Loeffler, Republican of Georgia, is a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream and has been vocally criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and the league's embrace of it. Loeffler is now facing widespread denunciations from players. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert released a statement distancing the league from Loeffler. Now, the WNBA is grappling with questions about whether an owner who appears to be fundamentally opposed to the league's stated values can remain in her position.

Eagles' Receiver Apologizes for Anti-Semitic Tweets

The star wide receiver DeSean Jackson apologized for sharing an anti-Semitic quotation attributed to Hitler, after that and other social media posts were widely condemned, including by his team. In the series of posts made on Instagram, Jackson also praised Louis Farrakhan, a minister notorious for his history of anti-Semitic comments. Jackson's team, the Philadelphia Eagles, condemned the posts in a statement, calling them "offensive, harmful and absolutely appalling." "They have no place in our society, and are not condoned or supported in any way by the organization," the team said. "We reiterated to DeSean the importance of not only apologizing but also using his platform to take action to promote unity, equality and respect." It's unclear whether Jackson would be disciplined for his posts. The team said that it was "continuing to evaluate the circumstances" in weighing action.

Positive Banned Substance Tests for Two Racehorses

Two undefeated horses trained by the Hall of Famer Bob Baffert tested positive for a banned substance in Arkansas, a person familiar with the results of the split-sample test said. One of the horses, Charlatan, won a division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2nd. The other, a filly named Gamine, won the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park in New York on June 20th by nearly 19 lengths in a stakes-record time of 1:32.55, a performance that inspired talk of the filly taking on the Kentucky Derby, which is scheduled for September 5th. The horses had two samples test positive for lidocaine, a local numbing agent, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case had not been fully adjudicated. The New York Times reported on the positive tests of their first samples in late May. The anesthetic is considered a Class 2 drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, and use of it carries a penalty of a 15- to 60-day suspension and a fine of $500 to $1,000 for a first offense. In the absence of mitigating circumstances, the horse would also be disqualified and forfeit its purse. Baffert, who had exercised his right to have a second test performed, planned to dispute the findings and argue that the positive tests were a result of environmental contamination by one of his employees.

Tennis Tours Hope to Salvage Their Seasons, but It is Not Looking Good

The path continues to get bumpier for the professional tennis tours as they attempt to salvage seasons disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. For now, both the ATP Tour and the WTA are set to resume play in August: the men in Washington, D.C.; the women in Palermo, Italy. For now, the European Union would deny entry to travelers from certain countries, including the United States and Russia. It is unclear whether athletes will be exempt, and there are still concerns about the possibility of mandatory quarantines. The Associated Press also reported that China's General Administration of Sport said that the country would not host any international sports events for the remainder of 2020.

Slurs Are Off the Table

The fight against systemic racism has taken aim at Scrabble. An agreement is at hand to bar offensive terms, though some players endorse using them for points. Several members of the North American Scrabble Players Association have called on the organization to ban the use of an anti-Black racial slur, and as many as 225 other offensive terms, from its lexicon. Hasbro, which owns the rights to Scrabble in North America, said that the players association had "agreed to remove all slurs from their word list for Scrabble tournament play, which is managed solely by NASPA and available only to members." Julie Duffy, a spokeswoman for Hasbro, also said the company will amend Scrabble's official rules "to make clear that slurs are not permissible in any form of the game."

Track Stars to Race on Separate Tracks

Call it extreme social distancing. Twenty-eight athletes will compete in eight disciplines at seven different tracks in Europe and the United States. Some of the events are seldom-contested distances -- including the 300-meter hurdles, 100 yards, and 3x100 meter relay -- chosen to take the pressure off athletes who might be far from their top form in their usual events. Using satellites and synchronizing technology, organizers will start each of the three participants simultaneously with digitally controlled starting guns. Races will be broadcast with a two-minute delay to account for the lag in transmission to the broadcast center in Zurich, which will synchronize the television images from all three venues and use a triple split screen.

The Gaming World Loses Its Mind After Livestream

When Tyler Blevins, who is better known in the video gaming world as Ninja, posted a cryptic tweet that seemed to hint at some sort of announcement, his ardent fans thought he might reveal the kind of big-dollar contract one would expect from baseball or basketball stars. Instead, Blevins, who was left without an online home when the streaming platform Mixer announced in June that it would shut down, played video games live on YouTube and promised fans that more streams were coming "sooner rather than later." That Blevins could generate a flurry of speculation with one tweet speaks to the influence of one of the world's most famous online personalities and to the increasing popularity of high-profile gamers. Blevins has said in interviews he would like to be as well-known as the basketball star LeBron James.

London Police Apologize for Handcuffing Two Black Athletes

The head of the London Metropolitan Police said that the force's handcuffing practices would be reviewed, after officers pulled a top British sprinter and her partner from their car and handcuffed them in front of their 3-month-old son. The athlete, Bianca Williams, 26, a European and Commonwealth games gold medalist, and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, 25, a Portuguese track star, were driving home from training in Maida Vale, a well-off neighborhood in West London, when they were stopped by the police. They were handcuffed for 45 minutes on the side of the road while the police searched the vehicle. The London Metropolitan Police said in a statement that the vehicle was stopped because it was "being driven in a manner that raised suspicion," but Williams accused the officers of racial profiling. She said that she and dos Santos were pulled over only because they were Black and driving an expensive Mercedes in a wealthy section of the city. The police have apologized to Williams and dos Santos for causing distress but have denied wrongdoing, despite criticism that the encounter was the latest example of "stop and search" tactics disproportionately targeting Black people in Britain.

South Korean Triathlete's Suicide Exposes Team's Culture of Abuse

Just after midnight on June 26th, Choi Suk-hyeon, a promising South Korean triathlete, sent two text messages. The first, to a teammate, asked for help looking after her pet dog. The other, to her mother, was more ominous. In that message Choi, 22, told her mother how much she loved her, before adding: "Mom, please make the world know the crimes they have committed." To her parents and former teammates, it was clear who she meant by "they." After Choi committed suicide, her family released a spiral-bound diary and secret recordings in which the young triathlete documented years of physical and psychological abuse she said she suffered at the hands of her team's coach, doctor, and two senior teammates. In one recording, the team's doctor, Ahn Ju-hyeon, can be heard repeatedly hitting her. "Lock your jaws! Come here!" Ahn is heard saying in the March 2019 recording, followed by a series of thudding strikes. The diaries and recordings, which were reviewed by The New York Times, have set off a firestorm of criticism and national soul searching about the corruption and abuse that has long pervaded the country's sports community.


Facebook Stumbles in Meeting With Ad Organizers

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's two top executives, met with civil rights groups on Tuesday in an attempt to mollify them over how the social network treats hate speech on its site. But Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, and Ms. Sandberg, the chief operating officer, failed to win its critics over. For more than an hour over Zoom, the duo, along with other Facebook executives, discussed the company's handling of hate speech with representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Color of Change and other groups. Those organizations have recently helped push hundreds of companies, such as Unilever and Best Buy, to pause their advertising on Facebook to protest its handling of toxic speech and misinformation.

Facebook Lets Hate Flourish

Auditors handpicked by Facebook to examine its policies said that the company had not done enough to protect people on the platform from discriminatory posts and ads and that its decisions to leave up Trump's inflammatory posts were "significant setbacks for civil rights." The 89-page audit put Facebook in an awkward position as the presidential campaign heats up. The report gave fuel to the company's detractors, who said the site had allowed hate speech and misinformation to flourish. The audit also placed the social network in the spotlight for an issue it had worked hard to avoid since the 2016 election: That it may once again be negatively influencing American voters. Now Facebook has to decide whether its approach to hateful speech and noxious content -- which was to leave it alone in the name of free expression -- remains tenable. That decision puts pressure on Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, who has repeatedly said that his company was not an arbiter of truth and that it would not police politicians' posts.

Facebook Muzzles Trump Ally

Facebook announced that it was removing the personal accounts of Roger J. Stone Jr., Trump's friend and ally, because they had ties to numerous fake accounts that were active around the 2016 presidential election. The company made the announcement as part of its monthly report on removing disinformation. Stone's personal accounts on Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, were entwined with a U.S.-based network of accounts that had links to the Proud Boys, a group that promotes white supremacy, the company said. The social network banned the Proud Boys group in 2018.

TikTok App Not Allowed - Wait, Nevermind!

Amazon asked its employees to delete the Chinese-owned video app TikTok from their cellphones, putting the tech giant at the center of growing suspicion and paranoia about the app. Almost five hours later, Amazon reversed course, saying the email to workers was sent in error. In the initial email, Amazon officials said that because of "security risks," employees must delete the app from any devices that "access Amazon email." Employees had to remove the app by Friday to remain able to obtain mobile access to their Amazon email, the note said. In a statement sent later, company spokeswoman Kristin Brown said, "There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok." By then, however, the initial email had already added to the storm surrounding TikTok, which has been popular with young audiences in the United States for its short, fun videos and is owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance. Due to its Chinese ownership and heightened tensions between the United States and China over issues, such as trade and technology dominance, TikTok has come under increasing scrutiny in Washington over its security.

Facebook Questions Beijing's New Law

Google, Facebook, and Twitter said that they would temporarily stop processing Hong Kong government requests for user data, as the companies reviewed a sweeping national security law that has chilled political expression in the city. The companies said they were still assessing the law, which has already been used to arrest people who have called for Hong Kong independence. Facebook said its review would include human rights considerations. The surprising consensus from the rival American internet giants, which each used similar language in each statement, was a rare public questioning of Chinese policy. It was also a stark illustration of the deep quandaries the companies face with the sweeping, punitive law. TikTok went even further than the American companies, saying that it would withdraw its app from stores in Hong Kong and make the app inoperable to users there within a few days.

Standoff Brews as Hong Kong Squeezes Tech

As Hong Kong grapples with a draconian new security law, the tiny territory is emerging as the front line in a global fight between the United States and China over censorship, surveillance, and the future of the internet. Long a bastion of online freedom on the digital border of China's tightly managed internet, Hong Kong's uneasy status changed radically in just a week. The new law mandates police censorship and covert digital surveillance, rules that can be applied to online speech across the world. Now, the Hong Kong government is crafting web controls to appease the most prolific censor on the planet, the Chinese Communist Party. The changes threaten to further inflame tensions between China and the United States, in which technology itself has become a means by which the two economic superpowers seek to spread influence and undercut each other.

Russia Arrests Space Agency Official, Accusing Him of Treason

Russia's secret police on Tuesday arrested a respected former reporter who worked in recent months as an adviser to the head of the country's space agency, accusing him of treason for passing secrets to a NATO country. The journalist, Ivan I. Safronov, was suspected of working for the intelligence service of an unspecified NATO country, passing on "classified information about military-technical cooperation, defense and the security of the Russian Federation." What information that could be, however, was unclear. Safronov only started working at the space agency, Roscosmos, in May. Before that, he worked for more than a decade as a well-regarded journalist for Kommersant and then Vedomosti, both privately owned business newspapers with no obvious access to state secrets.

Philippine Congress Officially Shuts Down Leading Broadcaster

Philippine lawmakers formally shut down the country's largest broadcast network, the latest major blow against the news media as President Rodrigo Duterte cracks down on outlets that have been critical of his leadership. After 13 hearings, a committee of the House of Representatives -- most of whose members are allied with Duterte -- voted by an overwhelming majority to deny ABS-CBN's application for renewal of its broadcast franchise. The network had been forced off the air in May, after the franchise expired. "We remain committed to public service, and we hope to find other ways to achieve our mission," said Carlo Katigbak, ABS-CBN's president and chief executive. He said the network was "deeply hurt."


Alliance Brings the Flag Down in Mississippi

A band of Black Lives Matter organizers marched last month through the streets of Jackson, with the Mississippi State flag's removal among their demands. Despite the fury, however, it seemed a false hope in a state that had proudly flown it for 126 years. "The state flag, we thought, was a constant," Calvert White said on a recent afternoon. However, something that had seemed impossible was suddenly inevitable. State troopers folded the flag at the Capitol for the last time, a turnabout that was powered by a coalition of seemingly unlikely allies, including business-minded conservatives, Baptist ministers, and the Black Lives Matter activists. They were bound by a mutual affection for a state not always understood by the rest of the world and a recognition that the flag presented complications as Mississippi confronts a daunting roster of struggles.

States May Curb 'Faithless Electors,' Supreme Court Rules

States can require members of the Electoral College to cast their votes for the presidential candidates they had pledged to support, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled, curbing the independence of electors and limiting one potential source of uncertainty in the 2020 presidential election. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring electors to vote as they had promised, but recent court decisions had come to opposite conclusions about whether electors may disregard their pledges. The Supreme Court resolved the dispute in a pair of cases concerning electors in Washington State and Colorado, by saying that states are entitled to remove or punish electors who changed their votes. In states without such penalties, electors remain free to change their votes.

Supreme Court Upholds Regulation Letting Employers Opt Out of Birth Control Coverage

The Supreme Court upheld a Trump administration regulation that lets employers with religious or moral objections limit women's access to birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act and could result in as many as 126,000 women losing contraceptive coverage from their employers. The 7-to-2 decision was the latest turn in seven years of fierce litigation over the "contraception mandate," a signature initiative of the Obama administration that required most employers to provide cost-free coverage for contraception and that the Trump administration has sought to limit. In a second major decision on religious rights, the court ruled by another 7-to-2 vote that employment discrimination laws did not apply to teachers in religious schools. It also, by a 5-to-4 vote, said that state programs that provide scholarships to students in private schools may not exclude religious schools.

Landmark Supreme Court Ruling Affirms Native American Rights in Oklahoma

The Supreme Court has ruled that much of eastern Oklahoma falls within an Indian reservation, a decision that could reshape the criminal justice system by preventing state authorities from prosecuting offenses there that involve Native Americans. The 5-to-4 decision, potentially one of the most consequential legal victories for Native Americans in decades, could have far-reaching implications for the people who live across what the Court affirmed was Indian Country. The lands include much of Tulsa, Oklahoma's second-biggest city.

Dakota Pipeline Ordered Closed

A U.S. court ordered the shutdown of the Dakota Access oil pipeline over concerns about its potential environmental impact, a big win for the Native American tribes and green groups who fought the major pipeline's route across a crucial water supply for years. The decision by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia followed the cancellation of another high-profile U.S. pipeline project and came as a blow to the Trump administration's efforts to lift the domestic fossil fuels industry by rolling back environmental red tape. According to the ruling, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted an easement to Energy Transfer LP to construct and operate a segment of the oil pipeline beneath Lake Oahe in South Dakota, because it failed to produce an adequate Environmental Impact Statement. The court ordered Energy Transfer to shut and empty the 570,000 barrel-per-day line within 30 days, closing off the biggest artery transporting crude oil out of North Dakota's Bakken shale basin to Midwest and Gulf Coast regions.

Trump Stokes White Resentment

Trump mounted an explicit defense of the Confederate flag, suggesting that NASCAR had made a mistake in banning it from its auto racing events, while falsely accusing a top Black driver, Darrell Wallace Jr., of perpetrating a hoax involving a noose found in his garage. The remarks are part of a pattern. Almost every day in the last few weeks, Trump has sought to stoke white fear and resentment, portraying himself as a protector of an old order that polls show much of America believes perpetuates entrenched racism and wants to move beyond.

Trump Administration Signals Formal Withdrawal from World Health Organization

The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations that the United States will withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO), a move that would cut off one of the largest sources of funding from the premier global health organization in the middle of a pandemic. "The United States' notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the U.N. secretary general, who is the depository for the W.H.O.," a senior administration official said. The departure would take effect sometime next year, should the United States meet established conditions of giving a one-year notice and fulfilling its current financial obligations.

Manhattan Prosecutor's Getting Closer to Accessing Trump Tax Returns

A day after winning a Supreme Court victory over Trump, the Manhattan district attorney moved one step closer to obtaining some of the president's financial records when a lower-court judge acted quickly to hear any final arguments from Trump's lawyers. The federal judge in Manhattan who first presided over the dispute issued an order asking the lawyers and the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., to inform him as to whether any further action was needed in light of the Supreme Court's ruling. The judge, Victor Marrero, has scheduled a hearing, when Trump's lawyers are expected to continue to fight against turning over the records to Vance.

Trump Commutes Stone's Sentence

Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. on seven felony crimes, using the power of his office to spare a former campaign adviser days before Stone was to report to a federal prison to serve a 40-month term. In a lengthy written statement punctuated by the sort of inflammatory language and angry grievances characteristic of the president's Twitter feed, the White House denounced the "overzealous prosecutors" who convicted Stone on "process-based charges" stemming from the "witch hunts" and "Russia hoax" investigation.

As November Looms, So Does the Most Litigious Election Ever

Four months before Election Day, a barrage of court rulings and lawsuits has turned one of the most divisive elections in memory into one that is on track to be the most litigated ever. With voting amid a pandemic as the backdrop, at stake are dozens of lawsuits around the country that will determine how easy -- or hard -- it will be to cast a ballot. In his book "Election Meltdown," Richard L. Hasen, a legal scholar at the University of California-Irvine, calculated that election-related litigation nearly tripled on average between 1996 and 2018. In an interview, Hasen said that 2020 is on track to become the most litigated election season ever.

Universities Try to Preserve Foreign Students' Visas; Trump Threatens Their Tax Status

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) sued the Trump administration in federal court, seeking to block a directive that would strip foreign college students of their visas if the courses they take this fall are entirely online. University leaders and immigrant advocates called the new policy cruel and reckless, with several education groups saying they planned to join the legal battle. The Massachusetts attorney general vowed to support Harvard and MIT's efforts to block the rules, which were announced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The universities argued that the policy was politically motivated and would throw higher education into chaos. It was widely seen as an effort by the White House to pressure colleges and universities into reopening and abandoning the cautious approaches that many have adopted to reduce coronavirus transmission.

The battle between the Trump administration and some of America's top universities escalated, with Harvard and MIT seeking a court order to protect foreign students from losing their visas, and the president threatening the tax-exempt status of institutions that he claimed indoctrinate students. After a brief virtual hearing, a federal judge in Boston put off a decision on the universities' challenge to new federal rules that would revoke the visas of foreign students studying entirely online this fall, and set another hearing. Lawyers for the two universities argued in court papers that the new rules from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which require students to take at least one in-person class for their F-1 student visas to remain valid, would cruelly and recklessly upend the lives of tens of thousands of international students and threaten public health.

Deutsche Bank Settles Dispute Over Epstein

When Jeffrey Epstein moved his money, Deutsche Bank didn't ask many questions. In a $150 million settlement, the New York Department of Financial Services said that Epstein, a convicted sex offender, had engaged in suspicious transactions for years, even though Deutsche Bank deemed him a "high risk" client from the moment he became a customer in summer 2013. "Despite knowing Mr. Epstein's terrible criminal history, the bank inexcusably failed to detect or prevent millions of dollars of suspicious transactions," Linda A. Lacewell, the department's superintendent, said in a statement. A year and a day after Epstein was arrested on federal sex-trafficking charges, the settlement described how bank employees had relied on informal meetings and institutional momentum to allow suspicious activity to proceed largely unchecked. Instead of performing appropriate due diligence on Epstein and the activity in his accounts, regulators wrote, the bank was focused on his potential to "generate millions of dollars of revenue as well as leads for other lucrative clients."

A Shot to Protect Against H.I.V.?

A single shot every two months prevents H.I.V. better than the most commonly used daily pill, Truvada, researchers reported. At the moment, Truvada and Descovy, made by Gilead Sciences, are the only drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for prevention of H.I.V. infection, a strategy called PrEP. Gilead has heavily been criticized for setting a high price for the pills. Additional options for prevention are sorely needed, to say nothing of a cure. About 1.7 million people became infected with H.I.V. in 2019, bringing the global total to 38 million.

'They'll Kill Me' Floyd Pleaded; Officer to Floyd: 'It Takes ... a Lot of Oxygen to Talk'

George Floyd's dying moments have played on an endless loop, horrifying the world and prompting a spasm of street protests, but newly released evidence reveals an even more desperate scene than previously known in the moments before an officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck. Floyd uttered "I can't breathe" not a handful of times, as previous videotapes showed, but more than 20 times in all. He cried out not just for his dead mother but for his children too. Before his final breaths, Floyd gasped: "They'll kill me. They'll kill me." As Floyd shouted for his life, an officer yelled back at him to "stop talking, stop yelling, it takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk." The chilling transcripts of Minneapolis police body camera footage that were made public were filed in state court as part of an effort by one of the officers on the scene, Thomas Lane, 37, to have charges that he aided and abetted Floyd's murder dismissed.

Trump Report on Finances Postponed Again

Trump's annual financial disclosure report was due to be released more than a week ago. Yet the filing, the only official public document detailing his personal finances, was not published, and neither the White House nor federal ethics officials offered a public explanation. The White House addressed the issue when an official said that Trump had requested a deadline extension because the report was "complicated" and the president had "been focused on addressing the coronavirus crisis and other matters." The report, required under federal ethics rules, provides a partial view of the president's assets and debts and the performance of his family business. It was originally due in May, but Trump and all White House employees were given a 45-day extension until June 29th because of the pandemic.

Trump Has Avoided Releasing His Tax Returns for a Decade

In September 2016, Trump stood on the debate stage as a presidential candidate and addressed a question that had dogged him on the campaign trail: When would he release his tax return? "I'm under a routine audit, and it'll be released," Trump said. "And as soon as the audit is finished, it will be released." Nearly four years later, the White House says the I.R.S. is still at it. "His taxes are under audit, and when they're no longer under audit he will release them," Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, told reporters. In fact, every sitting president's returns are audited as a matter of routine, and the I.R.S. has long said that nothing prevents an individual from making tax returns public while an audit is underway. Every president since Jimmy Carter has voluntarily released his returns. Trump, however, has promised to release his tax returns under varying conditions for nearly a decade.

Judge Asks Full Court to Hear Flynn Case

Emmet G. Sullivan, the judge overseeing the case of Trump's former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn asked a full appeals court to review an order by a panel of its judges to end the prosecution, saying that the ruling marked "a dramatic break from precedent that threatens the orderly administration of justice." The request by Judge Sullivan was the latest turn in an extraordinary legal battle over the case against Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with a Russian diplomat during the presidential transition in late 2016. The Justice Department sought in May to dismiss the case in a highly unusual move that prompted accusations of politicization, and Judge Sullivan appointed an outsider to argue against the department's request rather than granting it.

White House Pressured National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) felt that his job and the jobs of others would be in jeopardy if the agency did not rebuke forecasters who contradicted Trump's inaccurate claim last year about the path of Hurricane Dorian, a government report found. The inspector general's report examined the aftermath of Trump's insistence that Hurricane Dorian was headed toward Alabama, which National Weather Service forecasters in Alabama contradicted. It found a politicized process that investigators described as having "significant flaws" in which late-night demands from White House led to urgent intercontinental telephone calls, text messages, and emails that culminated in a controversial NOAA statement criticizing the forecasters.

Colonel Who Testified Against Trump Will Retire

An Army officer who was a prominent witness during the impeachment inquiry into Trump last year announced that he had decided to retire after what his lawyer called a campaign of White House intimidation and retaliation. The incident is the latest in what Pentagon and Congressional officials say could be another flash point between the president and the military. The witness, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran who served on the staff of the White House National Security Council, is among scores of officers who have been picked to be promoted to full colonel this year. Typically, such promotions are backed by Army and Pentagon officials before moving to the White House for final approval, and then to the Senate for a confirmation vote. Senior Army leaders were caught off guard by Colonel Vindman's decision. McCarthy was expected to have a general officer contact Colonel Vindman to discuss his options, an administration official said.

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Chinese Officials Over Mass Detention of Muslims

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on multiple officials from China, including a senior member of the Communist Party, over human rights abuses against the largely Muslim Uighur minority, a move that is likely to inflame tensions between Washington and Beijing. The targets of the sanctions included Chen Quanguo -- a member of China's 25-member ruling Politburo and party secretary of the Xinjiang region -- and is likely to anger top officials in the Communist Party given his stature. Other officials penalized include Zhu Hailun, a former deputy party secretary for the region; Wang Mingshan, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau; and Huo Liujun, a former party secretary of the bureau. The bureau also faces sanctions. In recent months, Trump administration officials have criticized Beijing for its response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as its efforts to suppress pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong and its mass detention of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities."The United States will not stand idly by as the C.C.P. [Chinese Communist Party] carries out human rights abuses targeting Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Woman Becomes a Green Beret

A female National Guard soldier graduated from Army Special Forces training and earned the title of Green Beret, the first woman to do so since the Pentagon opened all combat jobs, including those in the Special Operations community, to women in 2016. The woman, an enlisted soldier, was on track to graduate in April, but was forced to repeat part of the training before continuing to the final portion, known as Robin Sage, which tests the candidates on a range of skills considered essential to becoming a Green Beret, according to military officials. The soldier's name and other biographical information have been withheld by the Army for personal and operational security reasons as she enters the secretive Special Operations community. Her socially distant graduation, during which she received her Special Forces tab and donned her Green Beret alongside her classmates, is a landmark moment, as the Green Berets were one of the last assignments in the Army without any women.

Northern Right Whales Are on the Brink of Extinction

With only about 400 Northern Right Whales left in the world, every individual is known to researchers and cataloged. Such whales, which were named because they float after being killed and thus were considered the "right whale" to hunt, were placed on the Red List of critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the last classification before they are gone from the wild. The task of responding will fall to an unlikely champion, Trump, whose recent appeals for support from Maine lobstermen could clash with the task of saving the Right Whale.

Students as Young as 10 Join Lawsuits to Block DeVos's New Sexual Misconduct Rules

Students, women's rights, and education groups are suing to block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's campus sexual assault rules from taking effect next month, with plaintiffs as young as 10 joining arguments that the rules will harm students and burden institutions. Previously, seven students joined a lawsuit the National Women's Law Center filed against the Education Department, outlining how the new rules, which bolster the rights of the accused and relieve schools of some liability, stand to derail their cases or deter them from pursuing them altogether. Plaintiffs include a fifth grader in Michigan who fears that her elementary school will not be required to formally investigate and punish her classmate for assaulting her four times over two months; a recent graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, who decided not to formally report her rape at an off-campus apartment because she believed that the final rule rendered her complaint futile; a former student with an open case at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who fears facing her former professor in a soon-to-be mandatory live hearing; and a recent graduate of Harvard University who said she feared the school would dismiss her complaint because she had graduated, even though she said the accused is still a student. "The fear these students are living with show how real the consequences are of DeVos's rule," said Shiwali Patel, the director of Justice for Student Survivors who is senior counsel at the law center. "The rule isn't about evening the playing field -- it's about directly harming survivors and making it harder for them to come forward."

Woman Who Called Cops on Black Man Charged

The Manhattan district attorney's decision to charge a white woman with filing a false police report against a Black man in Central Park does not have the support of one key person: the victim himself.

The man, Christian Cooper, has not cooperated with the prosecution's investigation. The woman, Amy Cooper, lost her job and was publicly shamed after a video Mr. Cooper made on May 25th was posted online; it showed her calling 911 to claim an "African-American man" was threatening her. Those consequences alone, Mr. Cooper said at the time, were in his view perhaps too much punishment. "On the one hand, she's already paid a steep price," Mr. Cooper said in a statement on Tuesday. "That's not enough of a deterrent to others? Bringing her more misery just seems like piling on." However, he added that he understood there was a greater principle at stake and that this should be defended. "So if the DA feels the need to pursue charges, he should pursue charges. But he can do that without me."


The Coronavirus Is Airborne

The coronavirus is finding new victims worldwide, in bars and restaurants, offices, markets, and casinos, giving rise to frightening clusters of infection that increasingly confirm what many scientists have been saying for months: The virus lingers in the air indoors, infecting those nearby. If airborne transmission is a significant factor in the pandemic, especially in crowded spaces with poor ventilation, the consequences for containment will be significant. Masks may be needed indoors, even in socially-distant settings. Health care workers may need N95 masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for coronavirus patients. The WHO has long held that the coronavirus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets that, once expelled by infected people in coughs and sneezes, fall quickly to the floor. Yet in an open letter to the WHO, 239 scientists in 32 countries have outlined the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people, and are calling for the agency to revise its recommendations. The researchers plan to publish their letter in a scientific journal soon.

The Racial Inequity of Coronavirus

Latino and African-American residents of the United States have been three times as likely to become infected as their white neighbors, according to the new data, which provides detailed characteristics of 640,000 infections detected in nearly 1,000 U.S. counties. Black and Latino people have also been nearly twice as likely to die from the virus as white people, the data shows. "Systemic racism doesn't just evidence itself in the criminal justice system," said Quinton Lucas, who is the third Black mayor of Kansas City, Mo., which is in a state where 40% of those infected are Black or Latino, even though those groups make up just 16% of the state's population. "It's something that we're seeing taking lives in not just urban America, but rural America, and all types of parts where, frankly, people deserve an equal opportunity to live -- to get health care, to get testing, to get tracing." The data also showed several pockets of disparity involving Native American people. In much of Arizona and in several other counties, they were far more likely to become infected than white people. For people who are Asian, the disparities were generally not as large, though they were 1.3 times as likely as their white neighbors to become infected.

Terrifying Lack of Testing in U.S.

Lines for coronavirus tests have stretched around city blocks and tests ran out altogether in at least one site, new evidence that the country is still struggling to create a sufficient testing system months into its battle with Covid-19. At a testing site in New Orleans, a line formed at dawn. Yet city officials ran out of tests five minutes after the doors opened at 8 a.m., and many people had to be turned away. In Phoenix, where temperatures have topped 100 degrees, residents waited in cars for as long as eight hours to get tested. In San Antonio and other large cities with mounting caseloads of the virus, officials have reluctantly announced new limits to testing: The demand has grown too great, they say, so only people showing symptoms may now be tested -- a return to restrictions that were in place in many parts of the country during earlier days of the virus. In recent weeks, as cases have surged in many states, the demand for testing has soared, surpassing capacity and creating a new testing crisis.

Trump Pressures Schools to Open

Trump said that he would pressure state governors to open schools in the fall, despite a steady increase in coronavirus cases across the country. Speaking at a White House event to discuss reopening of schools, Trump said that some people wanted to keep schools closed for political reasons. "No way, so we're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools," Trump said. In a daylong series of conference calls and public events at the White House, the president, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and other senior officials opened a concerted campaign to lean on governors, mayors, and others to resume classes in person months after more than 50 million children were abruptly ejected from school buildings in March. Trump and his administration argued that the social, psychological, and educational costs of keeping children at home any longer would be worse than the virus itself, but they offered no concrete proposals or new financial assistance to states and localities struggling to restructure academic settings, staffs, and programs that were never intended to keep children six feet apart or cope with the requirements of combating a virus that has killed more than 130,000 Americans.

U.S. Will Pay $1.6 Billion for Coronavirus Vaccine

The federal government will pay the vaccine maker Novavax $1.6 billion to expedite the development of a coronavirus vaccine. It's the largest deal to date from Operation Warp Speed, the sprawling federal effort to make coronavirus vaccines and treatments available to the American public as quickly as possible. The deal would pay for Novavax to produce 100 million doses of its new vaccine by the beginning of next year -- if the vaccine is shown to be effective in clinical trials. That's a significant bet on Novavax, a Maryland company that has never brought a product to market.

Federal Workers Head Back to Offices

As coronavirus cases surge around the country and epidemiologists urge caution, the federal government is heading back to work, jeopardizing pandemic progress in one of the few regions where confirmed infections continue to decline: the nation's capital. At the Energy Department's headquarters, 20% of employees -- as many as 600 -- have been authorized to return on a full- or part-time basis. The Interior Department said in a statement last month that it anticipated about 1,000 workers to soon return daily to its main office near the White House. The Defense Department has authorized up to 80% of its work force to return to office spaces, which could result in as many as 18,000 employees inside the Pentagon building, according to a spokeswoman. Many of them are already there. Private-sector employers remain hesitant to put workers back in their seats. Restaurant and bar owners around the country are shutting their doors anew. Yet agency chiefs at the nation's largest employer, the 2.1 million-strong federal government, are taking their cues from an impatient Trump and summoning employees to their desks.

Woman Says She Was Fired Because Her Children Disrupted Her Work Calls

A California woman has sued her former employer, saying that she was fired because her young children were making noise during business calls while she was working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. The woman, Drisana Rios of San Diego, filed the lawsuit last month against Hub International, a global insurance brokerage firm, alleging gender discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination. Rios said she had "worked harder than I ever have in my entire career" since she transitioned to remote work in March. She said that in addition to doing her job from home, she had to juggle her responsibilities as a caregiver to her 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. "I continued my normal duties as an account executive but now added two young children to the mix," Rios said in a statement through her lawyer. "It was extremely difficult, but I managed to meet all the deadlines. There was some days where I had to work late to meet rush deadlines or any duties I couldn't finish during the day because I had to care for both of my young kids at the same time." The complaint, filed in Superior Court in San Diego County, outlines several attempts that Rios says she made to assuage her supervisor's concerns over her ability to meet her work obligations while caring for her children. In her lawsuit, Rios said she told him that she could not promise that there would be no background noise "100 percent of the time." According to the complaint, he told her "to take care of your kid situation."

Who Will Get Vaccinated First?

Federal health officials are already trying to decide who will get the first doses of any effective coronavirus vaccines, which could be on the market this winter, but could require many additional months to become widely available to Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an advisory committee of outside health experts in April began working on a ranking system for what may be an extended rollout in the United States. According to a preliminary plan, any approved vaccines would be offered to vital medical and national security officials first, and then to other essential workers and those considered at high risk -- the elderly instead of children, people with underlying conditions instead of the relatively healthy. Agency officials and the advisers are also considering what has become a contentious option: putting Black and Latino people, who have disproportionately fallen victim to Covid-19, ahead of others in the population. In private meetings and a recent public session, the issue has provoked calls for racial justice. Some medical experts are not convinced there is a scientific basis for such an option, foresee court challenges or worry that prioritizing minority groups would erode public trust in vaccines at a time when immunization is seen as crucial to ending the pandemic.

Privacy Issues in Virus Tracking Apps

As countries race to deploy coronavirus-tracking software, researchers are reporting privacy and security risks that could affect millions of people and undermine trust in public health efforts. Governments around the world have rolled out several dozen virus-tracing apps this year, Claudio Guarnieri, the head of Amnesty International's Security Lab noted. "But, of course, doing so in a rushed manner, and doing so without proper considerations and the proper design and oversight could jeopardize these efforts." Epidemiologists have said that virus control apps may be helpful additions to public health efforts, especially in countries like South Korea, which has the national medical infrastructure to do mass-scale testing and isolate people who test positive. Yet digital rights groups say that some governments are using apps largely as performative gestures -- to demonstrate to the public that they are taking some kind of concrete action against the virus. "Digital contact-tracing -- the idea that there's an app for that -- is a very hopeful concept," said Carly Kind, a human rights lawyer who is the director of the Ada Lovelace Institute, an artificial intelligence ethics research center in London. "I think governments want it to be true," she added, but often the efforts seem like little more than "do-something-itis."

States That Ended Shutdown Early Seeing Surges in Infections

The current surge in coronavirus cases in the United States is being driven by states that were among the first to reopen their economies, decisions that epidemiologists warned could lead to a wave of infections. Florida and South Carolina were among the first to open up and are now among the states leading the current surge. In contrast, the states that bore the brunt of cases in March and April but were slower to reopen have seen significant decreases in reported cases since. Average daily cases in New York are down 52% since it reopened in late May and down 83% in Massachusetts.

Calamity Looms in New York

New York City, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, is mired in the worst economic calamity since the financial crisis of the 1970s, when it nearly went bankrupt. The city is staggering toward reopening with some workers back at their desks or behind cash registers, and it recently began a new phase, allowing personal-care services like nail salons and some outdoor recreation to resume. Even so, the city's unemployment rate is hovering near 20% -- a figure not seen since the Great Depression.

Child Care Crisis Threatens Plans to Reopen

When New York City decided to reopen its school system, the nation's largest, on a part-time basis in September, it set off a new child care crisis that could seriously threaten its ability to restart the local economy and recover from the coronavirus outbreak. Business and union leaders say the city needs to mount a kind of Marshall Plan-like effort to find child care for many of the system's 1.1 million students when they are not in classrooms. They said there was no way the economy -- from conglomerates in Midtown Manhattan to small businesses in Queens -- could fully return to normal if parents had no choice but to stay at home to watch their children. The concerns reflected a growing recognition across the nation that the reopening of schools could be the linchpin in the broader effort to undo the severe economic damage from the outbreak. The city's approach is similar to that being followed by many school districts, which are concerned that crowded schools might intensify the outbreak.

Brazil's President Tests Positive for COVID

After months of denying the seriousness of the pandemic and brushing aside protective measures, Bolsonaro felt symptoms of Covid-19. More than 65,000 Brazilians have died of the virus. Critics have called Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic cavalier and reckless, allowing the virus to surge across Brazil, Latin America's largest nation. At one point he dismissed it as "a measly cold," and when asked in late April about the rising death toll, he replied: "So what? Sorry, but what do you want me to do?" As the caseload has skyrocketed, Bolsonaro has shunned masks, attended mass rallies of his supporters, insisted that the virus poses no threat to healthy people, championed unproven remedies, and shuffled through health ministers who disagreed with him. Brazil now has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and more than 65,000 deaths -- more than any country except the United States. Bolsonaro did not express contrition for his handling of the pandemic, and doubled down on his assertion that the virus poses little risk to healthy people. He characterized the diagnosis as a predictable outcome of a leadership style that requires him to be among the people.

July 7, 2020

SCOTUS Rules a Generic Name with a Generic Top-Level Domain Extension Can Be Eligible for Trademark Registration

By Christine-Marie Lauture

On June 30th, in a closely-watched trademark case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under certain conditions, an otherwise generic domain name (a generic term combined with a generic top-level domain (gTLD), such as ".com") can obtain trademark registration, rejecting the registration refusal arguments of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Specifically, in an 8-1 decision, the Court stated that "a term styled '' is a generic name for a class of goods or services only if the term has that meaning to consumers." Full Opinion:

As a general rule, a "generic" term, which merely names a good or service rather than distinguishes the source of a good or service, is not eligible for trademark protection. A "descriptive" term, which describes a function or feature of a good or service, is minimally protected - unless the term has acquired distinctiveness or secondary meaning. sought to register the mark "" as a trademark. The USPTO previously refused to register "" as a trademark, arguing that the term "booking" is generic for the company's online hotel-reservation services, and the addition of the gTLD ".com" would not make the mark any less generic. According to the USPTO, gTLD extensions are merely descriptive, similar to a generic corporate designation, like "Inc." or "Company." The USPTO's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board affirmed the examining attorney's refusal to register, finding that "'Booking' means making travel reservations, and ".com" signifies a commercial website...such that customers would understand the term '' primarily to refer to an online reservation service for travel." Additionally, the Board argued that the mark lacked secondary meaning.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found that "" is not generic, based on evidence of consumer perception. The evidence included a consumer survey showing that 74.8% of respondents recognized as a brand name; advertising expenditures associated with its nationwide advertising campaign; and a record of sales success to show that is recognized by consumers as a brand name. The USPTO appealed the District Court's decision to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed the ruling that the mark is not generic. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.

With seven Justices joining, Justice Ginsburg wrote for the Court. Affirming the lower court's ruling, Justice Ginsburg held that it is possible for a "" name to primarily signify the source of goods or services, in the eyes of the consumer. The Court made clear that the USPTO cannot automatically reject a mark like "" as generic, but must consider other evidence that shows that consumers associate the mark with a particular source; that the mark has acquired distinctiveness, and is not merely descriptive or generic. Justice Ginsburg stated that "if '' were generic, we might expect consumers to understand Travelocity - another such service - to be a ''" However, consumers don't "perceive the term '' that way," and thus the term is not generic to consumers.

Concerns of Reliability of Survey Evidence

Concurring with the majority, Justice Sotomayor noted that use of survey evidence is not the "be-all-end-all" in determining whether a mark is generic or merely descriptive, and that the USPTO may have been correct in its determination that the evidence provided by was insufficient. Justice Breyer also noted that survey evidence has "limited probative value" in separating generic from descriptive terms.

Breyer's Warnings

Justice Breyer was the lone, albeit important, dissent. He began by asking for the very definition of, which he noted did nothing more than inform the consumer of the basic nature of its business - thus making it generic. Breyer pointed out (by quoting Ginsburg's own decision in Blinded Veterans Assn. v. Blinded Am. Veterans Foundation, 872 F.2d 1035, 1039 (CADC 1989)) that "[t]he combination of 'booking' and '.com' does not serve to 'identify a particular characteristic or quality of some thing; it connotes the basic nature of that thing' -the hallmark of a generic term." He further stated that a generic term can suggest an association with a specific entity, but that does not mean that it's not generic.

His dissent also highlights the concern that the majority's decision granting the registration for a "" mark would inhibit, rather than promote, free competition in online commerce. He argues that making such terms eligible for trademark protection may "lead to a proliferation of '' marks, granting their owners a monopoly over a zone of useful, easy-to-remember domains."

What Does the Decision Mean for Domain Name Owners?

Contrary to the implications for's success, SCOTUS's decision most likely will not have a significant effect for businesses across the internet. As a matter of fact, it would not be wise to recommend choosing a mark + generic gTLD as a trademark, especially for start-ups and smaller businesses, The reason why a mark like this would work for, American Apparel, and other relevant, otherwise generically named brands, is because of the years of marketing and advertisement established (and the significant amount of money invested in same) in order to successfully have consumers associate those names with their services and goods. This type of consumer association does not happen overnight and not without a significant amount of funds to make it happen. However, for brand owners that have invested heavily in building their brands and acquiring distinctiveness (e.g. "" and ""), this ruling may be considered a victory.

It is important to know that the decision does not negate the requirement that the mark's use must be more than the use of a mere domain name in order to establish trademark rights. A domain name is not a trademark simply because it is a domain name. The domain name must be used as a trademark in order to obtain trademark rights. The gTLD portion of the name must also be used with the name in advertisements and marketing, on the website itself, and in connection with the services rendered. This requirement applies for all domain names, and not only the ones that are otherwise generic or descriptive. The decision certainly may expand the availability of trademark protection for generic domain names in the U.S. only if it can be proven that they are in fact considered trademarks by consumers.

July 6, 2020

Week In Review

By La-Vaughnda A. Taylor
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media/Technology, and General News:


UMG Recordins v. Kurbanov

The district court ruled that the defendant, sued by 12 U.S. record companies for alleged copyright infringement, is not subject to personal jurisdiction in any federal forum. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and reversed the ruling. The defendant is a Russian citizen who owns websites that allow users to rip audio from videos streamed online. The court found that there was no personal jurisdiction.

Lee v. Pow! Entertainment

The district court dismissed licensing rights claims brought by Stan Lee's daughter and awarded sanctions against her, finding that the same issue had been litigated numerous times in federal court over past two decades. Lee's daughter attempted to regain her grandfather's intellectual property rights from his former partners. She was sanctioned $1 million for frivolous and improper filings, making her attorneys jointly liable for $250,000.

Broadway to Stay Closed for the Rest of This Year

Broadway shows will remain closed until at least January 3, 2021, according to an announcement from the Broadway League, an organization representing theatre producers and owners, which said that ticket holders will be able to get refunds or exchanges for a future date. Broadway's theatres have been shut down since March 12th due to the coronavirus pandemic. Broadway is one of New York's top tourist attractions, contributing $14.7 billion to the city's economy last season and supporting close to 97,000 jobs. With close to 15 million yearly audience members, it brings in more people than all of New York and New Jersey's 10 professional sports teams combined. The Broadway League stated that "returning productions are currently projected to resume performances over a series of rolling dates in early 2021."

Broadway League Pledges to Address Diversity Shortfall

As the global spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement continues, so do calls for racial justice across communities and industries, such as American theatre. The Broadway for Racial Justice organization was formed along with a letter penned by 300 artists exposing the indignities and racism that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) face on a day-to-day basis. The Broadway Advocacy Coalition held a 3-day forum gathering the community to hold itself accountable and move towards becoming an anti-racist and equitable space as part of a larger, overdue movement that is currently sweeping the theatre industry. The Broadway League has since pledged that in addition to making internal changes, the trade association will hire a company to survey diversity in all aspects of the industry.

Oscars Voting Pool Grows More Diverse

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts is trying hard to leave behind its days as an exclusive club primarily for white men. For the second year in a row, it has invited hundreds of female and minority professionals to become members. The Academy still has a long way to go before reaching its goal of doubling female and minority membership by 2020. It has said that it will increase the Oscar voting pool to 8,427 people--a record high--by extending membership invitations to 774 entertainment industry professionals. By the Academy's count, about 39% of those invited this year are women, and roughly 30% are members of minorities. If all invitations are accepted, female membership would rise to 28%, from 27%. The percentage of minority members would climb to 13% from 11%, but the organization keeps exact membership rolls private.

British Artists Plead for a Rescue Plan

Top British musicians, including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest call on the UK government to help save the live music industry. There is an open letter signed by more than 1,400 acts and is part of the wider #LetTheMusicPlay campaign. UK-based artists have issued a plea alongside thousands of crew and venues for support of the government in the face of devastating economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Book by President's Niece Is Blocked Until July Hearing, and She Attacks Confidentiality Deal

Simon & Schuster can move forward with plans to publish a tell-all book by President Trump's niece Mary Trump, as an appellate judge overturned a lower court ruling that had temporarily halted publication. Mary Trump signed a confidentiality agreement in 2001 as part of the settlement of the estate of her grandfather, Fred Trump Sr. The book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, is scheduled to be released on July 28.

Mary Trump's attorneys pressed the judge to fully clear her path to publish the bombshell book about dealings with her family, including her uncle, President Trump, by claiming that the confidential statement she signed decades ago was based on fraudulent financial information.

Monuments to Richmond's Painful Legacy Begin to Fall

Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the immediate removal of multiple monuments throughout the city of Richmond last week. Many laws took effect across the commonwealth on July 1st, including one that gives localities the power to remove or keep their monuments. It was said that the earliest the statues could come down is in September, but Stoney argues they can come down now under a state of emergency for safety issues and put in storage until the official legal process plays out with the General Assembly.

Racism in Fashion: How to End It?

More than 250 black fashion professionals, calling themselves the Kelly Initiative, sent a public letter to the Council of Fashion Designes of America, accusing the organization of allowing "exploitative cultures of prejudice, tokenism and employment discrimination to thrive," and announcing a more robust plan of their own, focused on accountability. Then another organization was created, the Black in Fashion Council, which was meant to unite "a resilient group of editors, models, stylists, media executives, assistants, freelance creatives and industry stakeholders" to "build a new foundation for inclusivity." The debate is no longer just about systemic racism in fashion, but rather just how far the industry is willing to go to be at the forefront of social change and who is best positioned to lead the charge.

Black Designers Are Welcomed in the Spotlight

At the 20th annual Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards, the people involved dressed up for public consumption for the first time since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, gatherings went virtual, and most such events, like the Met Gala, were canceled altogether. The BET Awards may mark the start of a new stage: one in which fashion returns not as marketing tool, but as a statement of personal intent. No one was asked "what are you wearing?", but the clothes and the effort involved still mattered, allowing each artist to honor the occasion and one another. While there is increasing talk in fashion about supporting black designer and black-owned fashion businesses, these artists are actually putting the words into action.

New York City Trims Arts Funding to Help Close Budget Gap

Facing a $9 billion loss in tax revenues, city leaders cut agency spending across the board, including the Department of Cultural Affairs. The adopted New York City budget cuts spending on cultural affairs by nearly 11%, a damaging blow after years where municipal spending on the arts had grown. Last year, funding the department, which coordinates grants to arts organizations across the city, climbed to an all-time high of $212 million. This year, the budget allocates around $189 million. Even modest cuts are painful, in part because revenue has been curtailed by the pandemic as well.

Philadelphia Slashes Funding for the Arts

To balance its budget amongst coronavirus-related shortfalls, the City of Philadelphia has slashed its public funding to the arts by 40% and eliminated its Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.

A City Museum Struggles and Hopes

After layoffs, furloughs and salary cuts, the Museum of the City of New York prepares to reopen with a reduced budget and will present an exhibition about the pandemic. Often overlooked amid the star power of its cultural neighbors, it typically punches above its weight with expansive exhibitions examining the city's history through the prism of social justice and political agitation. The city museum is among the medium or smaller museums that are facing a particularly difficult path forward. As with other institutions its size, it has a modest but growing endowment--$27 million--and does not boast a board of extremely wealthy donors who can be called on to shore up its revenue with immediate gifts. Since closing in March, the museum has laid off 20% of its 100 full-time and full-time-equivalent employees. Others have been furloughed or are working fewer hours. The museum is scheduled to reopen on July 23rd if the city continues its progress in stemming the coronavirus.

Guggenheim Opens Investigation After Racism Complaints

After nearly a quarter of all employees signed a letter accusing executives of racism and mismanagement, the museum has hired a lawyer to start an independent investigation into its recent Basquiat show.

The Show Must Go On (From Behind the Plexiglass)

Across the country, theaters are finding novel ways to play in a pandemic--from watching through windshields to audiences of two, to an elbow bump instead of a kiss. There is social distancing, masks, temperature checks, touchless ticketing, intermissionless shows, and lots of disinfectant. The coronavirus has shuttered Broadway through the end of the year (at least) and the nation's big regional theatres and major outdoor festivals have mostly pivoted to streaming.

President Orders National Garden of Heroes, With List Mostly of White Men

Trump has ordered the creation of a "National Garden of American Heroes" to defend what he calls "our great national story" against those who vandalize statutes. His executive order gives a new task force 60 days to present plans, including a location, for the garden. In a speech to mark Independence Day at Mount Rushmore, he condemned the anti-racism protesters who toppled statues. He said that America's national heritage was being threatened--an emotive appeal for patriotism. The garden is to be opened by July 4, 2026 and state authorities and civic organizations are invited to donate statues for it. Trump's choice of historical figures to be commemorated in the garden is likely to be controversial. There are no Native American, Latinx, or Hispanic individuals on the list, which also includes Republican presidents, but not Democrats.

Disputed African Artifacts Are Sold

An impassioned art history professor at Princeton tried to halt the sale of two wooden statues made by the Igbo people of Nigeria, believing the items were looted in the late 1960s during the country's brutal civil war. However, the sale went ahead last week at Christie's in Paris.

Opera Singer's Likeness to Leader Draws Scrutiny From China

Liu Keqing, a Chinese opera singer, is censored on social media by Beijing because he bears a striking resemblance to the country's leader Xi Jinping. Liu Keqing's account has been censored multiple times for "image violation." The Chinese musician shares singing tutorials on his social media platform.


Jonathan Irons Walks Free After an Assist From Basketball Star Maya Moore

With the help of Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA) star Maya Moore, Jonathan Irons is freed from prison. The Missouri man was released from prison with Moore on hand to welcome him as he walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center. The Minnesota Lynx star has been active in working for Iron's release, arguing along with others that he had been falsely convicted of burglary and assault charges. Irons, 40, was serving a 50-year prison sentence after the non-fatal shooting of a homeowner in the St. Louis area when Irons was 16. Moore, a four-time WNBA champion, met Irons through a prison ministry program and skipped last season and planned to skip this season to help gain his release.

As Athletes Pursue Justice, Woman are a Force Without Fanfare

Women like Maya Moore have often been at the forefront--but outside the limelight--as athletes across sports have joined calls for social and racial justice, especially in the most recent wave spurred by deaths of Black people at the hands of the police. The National Basketball Association and Naitonal Football League get noticed and the accolades, but the WNBA and women in sports so often tend to be ahead of everybody else. The role of female athletes in this movement seems to cycle in and out of the public consciousness, and is minimized. The reasons lie in a manifold mix that include race, the status of women in our society, and the way that women's sports still struggle for attention on the sports landscape.

Top Adidas Executive Resigns as Turmoil of Company Continues

Karen Parkin, a top Adidas executive, resigned last week, just weeks after a number of Black employees pushed for her ouster amid a wider outcry over what they said were past acts of racism and discrimination at the company.

Minor League Season is Canceled for the First Time

Minor League Baseball (MLB) will not be played this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MLB informed its Minor League affiliates that it will not be providing teams with players for the 2020 season. It will be the first canceled season in the history of Minor League Baseball, which dates back to 1901.

Government Loan Saved Season in Women's League

A federal loan saved a soccer season nearly lost to the pandemic. The National Womens Soccer League (NWSL) was one of millions of businesses that took Paycheck Protection Program loans this year. The money helped the NWSL and its players through eight uncertain weeks.

Nickname is Getting 'Thorough Review,' Team Says

The Washington Redskins began a "thorough review" of it team nickname last Friday, a significant step toward moving on from what experts and advocates call a "dictionary-defined racial slur."

Bettors Take a Chance As Atlantic City Opens Under a New Normal

As cases of the coronavirus surge in states that reopened earliest, New Jersey forged ahead with its plan to allow casinos in Atlantic City to begin operating for the first time since March 16th. The reopening came several days after Gov. Philip D. Murphy abruptly decided against permitting indoor dining based on troubling signs that spikes in the virus in other parts of the country were linked to crowds gathered in confined, indoor spaces, like restaurants and bars. Masks were mandatory on the sprawling gambling floors, and food, drinks, and smoking were forbidden. Plexiglass separated players at poker tables manned by dealers in face shields.

Study Finds Racial Bias in Soccer Broadcasts

TV commentary in English shows racial bias across leagues, according to one study. Television commentators praise players with lighter skin as more intelligent and hard-working than those with darker skin, a study by Danish firm RunRepeat in association with the Professional Footballers' Association showed.


Justices Rule That Can Trademark Its Name

In an 8-to-1 ruling, the Supreme Court has ruled that can trademark its name. The travel company, a unit of Booking Holdings Inc., deserves to be able to trademark its name, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, overruling a federal agency that found it too generic to merit protection. The Court found that just because a word itself is generic, a web address that uses it doesn't have to be.

Trump Amplifies 'White Power' on Twitter

Last week, Trump retweeted a video in which a supporter yelled out "white power!" Hours later, after criticism from across the political spectrum, the tweet was deleted. A day later, Trump retweeted a video of two armed white people in Missouri brandishing guns at protesters marching by their home. Past presidents perfected the art of the racist dog whistle, but with Twitter, Trump has developed something new: racist ventriloquism. By retweeting someone who says what he knows he can't (or shouldn't), Trump is able to let supporters know exactly what he thinks, without the words ever coming out of his mouth. This gives him plausible deniability. Trump has increasingly started using humor as a cover.

Reddit Bans User Group Devoted to Trump

Reddit has shut down a forum dedicated to President Trump's ardent fans, saying that it repeatedly violates the online platform's rules against harassment, hate speech, and content manipulation. Reddit has taken action over content encouraging violence and had threatened to block the subreddit completely if the moderators--who are volunteers--do not take down the abusive material. Now, officials at Reddit have determined that the forum where die-hard Trump fans congregate online cannot police itself.

Twitch Blocks Trump Channel For Hatefulness

Twitch has temporarily banned President Trump, in the latest surprise and high-profile suspension from the streaming service. Trump's account was banned for "hateful conduct" that was aired, and the offending content has now been removed. The content in question was a rebroadcast of Trump's infamous kickoff rally, where he said that Mexico was sending rapists to the U.S. Twitch also flagged racist comments from a recent rally in Tulsa. Twitch says that it does not make exceptions for political or newsworthy content.

An Ad Boycott Swells as the Social Network Struggles to Ease Concerns About Hate Speech

Advertisements for more than 400 brands have vanished from Facebook. Advertisers and the social media giant failed at last-ditch talks to stop a boycott over hate speech on the site. U.S. civil rights groups have enlisted companies to help pressure Facebook into taking steps to block hate speech amid a national reckoning over racism.

Facebook Bans Networks Tied to 'Boogaloo'

Facebook has banned hundreds of accounts, groups, and pages that were said to be linked to the Boogaloo movement, a loosely organized extremist collective whose members have occasionally shown up armed to racial justice and anti-quarantine protests around the country. The banned content includes a core set of 220 Facebook accounts, 95 accounts on Instagram, and dozens of pages and groups that Facebook says posed a "credible threat" to public safety. Facebook said that the accounts were "actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement and government officials and institutions."

Huawei and ZTE Labeled Security Threats by Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission has officially designated Huawei and ZTE national security threats and claimed that their networking equipment could be used by China for espionage.

Essence Names Interim Chief After Claim of 'Abusive' Culture

After a barrage of accusations and threats to publish incriminating evidence to support their claims, the group of current and former Essence staffers who comprise #BlackFemaleAnonymous say their conditions have been met. This came a day ahead of the collective's pronounced July 3rd end-of-day deadline, after a New York Times article seemingly confirmed that Essence Ventures founder and owner Richelieu Dennis, Former President and CEO of Essence Communications Michele Ebanks, Chief Operating Officer Joy Collins Profet, and Chief Content and Creative Officer Moana Luu have all ceased to engage in daily business operations at the magazine. This comes after accusations against Dennis, which included claims of sexual harassment and misconduct as well as nepotism in the staffing of his holdings, were made public. Chief Growth Officer Caroline Wanga is the new interim CEO.

Fox News Fires Anchor After Accusation of Misconduct

One of Fox News's top news anchors, Ed Henry, has been fired after the network received a complaint last week of sexual harassment from years ago. Henry was suspended the same day and removed from his on-air responsibilities as a third-party law firm investigated the matter. Then based on the findings, Henry was subsequently terminated. Rotating anchors will fill in for Henry until a permanent replacement is named.

Digital Walls Are Rising As India Bans TikTok and Other Chinese Apps

The government in New Delhi announced a ban on 59 Chinese apps, saying they were secretly transmitting users' data to servers outsider India. TikTok has been installed more than 610 million times in India, according to estimates.

Turkey Opens Trial of 20 Saudis in Absentia in Writer's Killing and Dismemberment

Turkey opened a trial into the death of the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, accusing 20 Saudi citizens in absentia, in a case that friends and human rights officials welcomed as an important step in advancing the search for justice in his killing.

General News

Roberts is Pivotal as Court Topples Abortion Barrier

By a 5-4 vote, the Court threw out a Louisiana law that would have required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. If put into effect, it was expected to result in the closing of all but one of the state's abortion providers. The four liberal Justices opposed the law, since they struck down a similar Texas law four years ago. Chief Justice Roberts, a conservative who has consistently opposed abortion rights in the past and had voted to uphold the Texas law, cast the fifth vote with them, citing precedent as his reason. It was the Court's first abortion ruling since Trump's two appointees took their seats, and it dashed hopes of abortion opponents who expected the more conservative court to move to repeal Roe vs. Wade, or at least give states more power to narrow it.

Justices to Weigh Full Mueller Report's Release, Likely After Election

The Justices added another high-profile case to their docket for the fall, involving a dispute over efforts by members of Congress to obtain secret materials from the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. On May 20th, the Court put the disclosure of the materials on hold, and last week agreed to weigh in. Unless the Court fast-tracks the oral argument (and there was no indication that it would so do), it is not likely to hear the case until December, after Election Day, with a ruling to follow sometime next year.

Supreme Court Blocks Order Easing Absentee Ballot Rules

In an emergency ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked a lower court's decision that, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, would have made it easier for residents of three Alabama counties to vote by absentee ballot in the July 14th primary runoff elections. The Court split 5-4 in the decision, with Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor--the four justices appointed by Democratic presidents--all in opposition. There was no reasoning provided by the Court for the ruling, which is typical for such an emergency decision. The decision means that voters who are 65 and older or disabled in Mobile, Jefferson, and Lee counties, where coronavirus infections have soared in recent weeks, will have to provide a copy of a photo ID while applying for a mail-in ballot.

In Declining to Hear Case, Supreme Court Clears Way to New Federal Executions

The Supreme Court last week let stand an appeals court ruling allowing the Trump administration to resume executions in federal death penalty cases after a 17-year hiatus. The Court's order cleared the way for the executions of four men in the coming months.

Justices Rule That Trump Is Free to Fire Consumer Watchdog

The Supreme Court ruled to limit the independence of a watchdog agency that was created to combat unfair and deceptive practices against consumers in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The Court invalidated the leadership structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, saying that it violated the separation of powers because the President is restricted from removing the director, even if they have policy disagreements. The ruling is a victory for the Trump administration.

Court Permits Aid to Schools Based on Faith

The Supreme Court ruled that states must allow religious schools to participate in programs that provide scholarships to students attending private schools, a decision that opened the door to more public funding of religious education.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Trump Policy on Asylum

A federal judge in Washington struck down a Trump administration rule that would require migrants seeking to enter the U.S. to first seek asylum in countries they travel through on their way to the southern border.

Minneapolis, Worry That Jury Pool Already Tainted

While stopping short of issuing a formal gag order, Judge Peter A. Cahill of Hennepin County District Court who is overseeing the case against four former Minneapolis police officers in the death of George Floyd, has warned that he would consider moving the trial if the parties involved leak information or offer opinions to the news media about the guilt or innocence of the defendants. Lawyers for the officers cited "multiple inappropriate public comments" from local officials that they said had already prejudiced potential jurors. They argued that the court proceedings should be broadcast publicly as a countermeasure.

As Fee Revenue Plunges, Workers Face Furloughs

Immigration officers face furloughs as visa applications plunge.

Cash Discovery Tipped Off Spies About Bounties

U.S. intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a suspected Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter. The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions. Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in the making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019.

Trump Given Brief in February About Possible Russian Bounties

President Trump received a written briefing in February about intelligence regarding potential bounties offered by Russian to Afghan militants to kill American service members. It has been reported that the White House was aware of the matter much earlier, in early 2019. Trump and the White House have denied that the president had been briefed on the matter and said that the intelligence underpinning the claim was unverified.

Novartis Paid Kickbacks, Now It Will Pay $678 Million.

Novartis has agreed to pay more than $729 million to settle U.S. government charges it paid illegal kickbacks to doctors and patients to boost drug sales, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Putting Books in Prison Marks Shift in Emphasis for Mellon Philanthropy

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation today announced a major strategic evolution for its organization, prioritizing social justice in all of its grantmaking. The Foundation's board has resoundingly endorsed a refined mission statement and updated program areas. The shift has been 2 years in the making, but comes at a moment in which a national spotlight is shining on widespread--and longstanding--social and racial injustice.

Colleges Revoke Offers Over Slurs and Screeds

Amid a national accounting over entrenched and systemic racism after George Floyd's death in police custody on Memorial Day, at least a dozen schools have rescinded admissions offers to incoming students over instances of racism that circulated widely online, often after outraged students and university alumni demanded swift action. While private schools are not bound by the First Amendment and its protection of speech, public universities, as government institutions must contend with the potential legal consequences of penalizing students racist or sexist language. However, the First Amendment doesn't guarantee the right to be admitted to a state university with an admissions process that considers "the whole person," beyond just grades and test scores. A public university is going to have an easier time rescinding an offer of admission than actually expelling a student who is taking classes and says something offensive.

Princeton is to Strip Name of 'Racist' From a School

Princeton University has announced that it will remove President Woodrow Wilson's name from the institution's School of Public and International Affairs due to his history of racism. University President Christopher Eisgruber said the decision came after a "thorough, deliberative process" five years after a group of student activists occupied his office in protest against the faculty's dedication to the controversial 28th president.

Associate Accused of Recruiting Teen Girls for Epstein is Arrested

The arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and longtime associate, was the latest in a twist in a legal saga that has been a source of international intrigue and conspiracy theories. The case has drawn in prominent academics, politicians, business leaders, and even British royalty.

At 50, New York's Big Fete of Pride is Pared Back

Due to social distancing rules required by the coronavirus, what was normally an outpouring on the streets of New York City looked a little different this year. The city's massive Pride parade was canceled, Sunday's performances were virtual, the flags flew in emptier than normal spaces and the protesters were masked. The disruption caused by the virus would normally be an aggravation in any year, but particularly in this one, because it's the 50th Anniversary of the first Pride march in NYC.

In Budget that Pleases Few, New York Will Shift $1 Billion From Police

New York City lawmakers approved an austere budget last week that will shift $1 billion from policing to education and social services in the coming year, acknowledging protesters' demands to cut police spending--but falling short of what activists sought. The vote by the City Council came at an extraordinary moment when the nation's biggest city is grappling with a $9 billion revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic and simultaneously with pressure to cut back on policing and invest more in community and social programs.

Mississippi Lawmakers Wrestle Over the Future of a Flag With a Painful Past

A bill passed 37-14 in the state Senate and 91-23 in the House in favor of changing the flag. Gov. Tate Reeves signed the bill and now a commission will be assembled to design a new version. The debate around Mississippi's state flag is not new, but with the governor's signature it finally reached a conclusion after many failed attempts to change it. The difference this year, according to Johnson, was the bipartisan leadership by first-term legislators.

Europe's Travel List Omits the U.S., Lumping It With Russia and Brazil

As the European Union prepares to reopen its external borders, a non-mandatory list of 15 countries--excluding the U.S.--whose travelers will be permitted to enter from July 1st, has been agreed by representatives of 27 member states after prolonged negotiations, in an attempt to rescue the summer tourism season. The list of "safe countries" will be updated every two weeks.

King of Belgium Sends 'Deepest Regrets' to Congo for History of Colonial Brutality

The policies of Belgian King Leopold II left millions of people dead more than a century ago in a region that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now in a first for the Belgian monarchy, King Philippe has expressed his "deepest regrets" for a colonization campaign that remains notorious for its brutality. The note commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Central African state gaining its independence from Belgium.

As Racism Protests Persist, India Grapples With Biases Long Held Over Skin Tone

Unilever has now said it will stop promoting skin "whitening" or "lightening" and rebrand the skincare line in response to critics who say the products promote harmful stereotypes around beauty and skin tone. However, it didn't go as far as some have demanded: ridding stores of the creams and their connotations, no matter what they are called. The skincare creams have been a mainstay of beauty aisles in stores across India and elsewhere in Asia for years. Across much of Asia and Africa, skin-whitening products bring in millions of dollars in business for companies. In India, Bollywood stars have promoted them, but the backlash is mounting and companies have begun to respond.

As Beijing Tightens Its Grip, Cash in Hong Kong Keeps Flowing

Hong Kong's prosperity depends on 3 things: its fair courts, its independent central bank and financial institutions, and its seamless access to international capital. All three have come under threat when China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress Stand Committee, passed a new national security law for the former British colony, undermining its autonomy under the "one country, two systems" formula in place since its handover in 1997.

Study Reveals a New Strain of Swine Flu in Humans

A new finding that pigs in China are more and more frequently becoming infected with a strain of influenza that has the potential to jump to humans has infectious disease researchers worldwide taking serious notice. Researchers say it's a "guessing game" as to whether this strain will mutate to readily transmit between humans, which it has not done yet.

Coronavirus Update

As Virus Rages and Poll Numbers Slip, 'American Carnage' Redux

President Trump used the spotlight of the 4th of July weekend to sow national divide during national crisis, denying his failings in containing the worsening coronavirus pandemic while delivering a harsh diatribe against what he branded the "new far-left fascism." In a speech at the White House last week and an address in front of Mount Rushmore, Trump promoted a version of the "American carnage" vision for the country that he laid out during his inaugural address--updated to include an ominous depiction of the recent protests over racial justice. In doing so, he signaled even more clearly that he would exploit race and cultural flash points to stoke fear among his base of white supporters in an effort to win reelection.

Congress Extends Payroll Relief Program

Congress has extended the deadline for small businesses to apply for approximately $134 billion in Paycheck Protection Program funds until August 8th. The House of Representatives approved the extension by unanimous consent. In an unexpected move, the Senate kicked off the process, also voting unanimously for the extension. The bill will be sent to President Trump for his signature.

First Coronavirus Drug Gets a U.S. Price Tag

Remdesivir, the first drug shown to be effective against the coronavirus, will be distributed under an unusual agreement with the federal government that establishes nonnegotiable prices and prioritizes American patients, health officials announced. The arrangement may serve as a template for distribution of new treatments and vaccines as the pandemic swells. Remdesivir will be sold for $520 per vial, or $3,120 per treatment course, to hospitals for treatment of patients with private insurance. The price will be set at $390 per vial, or $2,340 per treatment course, for patients on government-sponsored insurance and for those in other countries with national health care systems.

No Region Safe As Cases Soar Fauci Cautions

The government's top infectious disease expert said last week that the rate of new coronavirus infections could more than double to 100,000 a day if current outbreaks were not contained, warning that the virus's march across the South and the West "puts the entire country at risk."

Colleges Face Rising Revolt By Professors

Thousands of instructors at American colleges and universities have told administrators that they are unwilling to resume in-person classes because of the pandemic. More than three quarter of U.S. colleges and universities have decided that students can return to campus this fall, but they face a growing faculty revolt.

Pushing to Open Schools, a Group of Pediatricians See Other Risks at Play

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a reputation as conservative and cautious, but the academy made a splash with advice about reopening schools that appears to be somewhat at odds with what administrators are hearing from some federal and state health officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that remote learning is the safest option. However, the AAP's guidelines strongly recommend that students be "physically present in school" as much as possible, and emphasize that there are major health, social, and educational risks to keeping children at home.

Public Spaces Help Define the City. Now the City Must Redefine Them.

The rigorous social distancing that has beaten back the coronavirus is being put to its biggest test yet as New York City eases restrictions after a 3-month shutdown. Though still far from normal, empty streets and sidewalks are starting to fill with commuters, plazas are getting visitors, and playgrounds are bustling with children. The pandemic has created new challenges for public places that are, by design, meant to be shared by everyone, and are central to cities like New York, where limited spaces forces people together. While these spaces have made the city more vibrant, they also draw crowds that now make them a public health threat. City and state officials face additional hurdles as offices start reopening, bringing out thousands more workers, and as outdoor service begins at hard-hit restaurants that are often squeezed into tight spaces. With little official guidance from the city on public spaces beyond streets and outdoor dining, many business and community groups have been left to figure out how to keep people safe.

It Took Subpoenas for 8 Partygoers to Work With Investigators in New York Suburb Case

Public health officials in Rockland County, New York, issued subpoenas with expensive fines attached to force people connected to a coronavirus cluster to speak with contact tracers. County officials issued the subpoenas after the party-goers, all young adults in their 20s, attended a large party in Clarkstown on June 17th.

Houston Surge Fills Hospitals With the Young

While physicians and nurses at Memorial Hermann say they're still equipped to handle the surge in cases, ICU beds at the hospital are nearly full and all Texas Medical Center institutions are operating at a "Phase 2" contingency plan to make use of additional beds in overflow areas. Houston isn't yet in a New York-type situation and it is hopeful that the largest medical complex in the country wouldn't experience a breakdown of the healthcare system. Models predict that the disease will peak in mid-to-late July, almost 2 months after cases began to surge with the reopening of the Texas economy and a busy Memorial Day weekend. Texas has become one of the worst spots in the nation for the spread, and all eyes are on the state and Houston as health and government leaders desperately try to slow the outbreak.

Changing Course, Texas Governor Issues Mask Order, With Few Exceptions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered that face covering must be worn in public across most of the state, a dramatic ramp up of the Republican's efforts to control spiking numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Abbott, who had pushed Texas' aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear marks. His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local government to enforce mask requirements. However, now faced with dramatically rising numbers of both newly confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and the number of patients so sick they needed to be hospitalized, Abbott changed course with new mask orders. They require "all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions.

California Takes U-Turn With Orders for Closures

Exactly 2 months after shelter-in-place orders were enacted, officials in Los Angeles County announced that they were trying to "fast-track" plans to reopen the economy by July 4th. Now they're taking a sharp U-turn, after Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials said 19 counties--including Los Angeles and about 72% of the state's population--must immediately re-close dine-in restaurants and bars just before the 4th of July weekend. Those sectors must remain closed in those countries for another 3 weeks, and the order is subject to further extension.

June 29, 2020

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media/Technology, and General News:


Dozens of Women in Gaming Speak Out About Sexism and Harassment

In recent days, there has been an outpouring of stories from dozens of women in the gaming industry of instances of "gender-based discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault. Those women have posted their stories "to Twitter, YouTube, Twitch, and the blogging platform TwitLonger," and some have begun to say that the sharing of the stories is "the beginning of real change in the industry."

James Brown's Estate: Is It Inching Toward Closure After 14 Years?

Litigation has plagued the estate of James Brown; an estate which was meant to be "largely bequeathed to underprivileged students in South Carolina and Georgia." One major piece of the puzzle was resolved last week, however: a court in South Carolina found that the marriage between Brown and Tommie Rae Hynie was not legal, as Hynie had not annulled a previous marriage. Consequently, experts say that it should smooth the way for finally administering the estate.

David Guillod, Hollywood Executive, Charged With Sexually Assaulting Four Women

A former talent manager and executive producer, David Guillod, has been charged with 11 felony counts, including rape, with respect to four women. The Santa Barbara District Attorney's office announced that the charges were brought regarding instances of sexual assault while each of the four women was unconscious, and the instances occurred over the period of approximately three years. He surrendered to authorities and bail was set at $3 million.

Bill Cosby's Appeal to Be Heard by Pennsylvania's Supreme Court

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court is set to hear the appeal in the sexual assault action against Bill Cosby, and the arguments will be centered on whether the trial court erred in permitting the testimony of five women other than the accuser Andrea Constand, whom Cosby sexually assaulted and drugged at his home outside Philadelphia in 2004. The arguments give Cosby's attorneys "another opportunity to challenge a verdict that represented one of the most high-profile convictions of the #MeToo era."


Seventh Circuit Rules on Contours of Copyright Infringement and Trademark

When a former employee of a wellness store founded his own vitamin shop and used similar layout and design features, his prior employer, Apple Wellness, sued alleging infringement of its trademark, trade dress, and copyright. As Apple dismissed its claims voluntarily based on the commonlaw copyright not existing since 1976 and lack of success on trademark (because no show of likelihood of irreparable harm), there was no evidence that Apple filed suit with an improper motive and no need to deter future frivolous filings and thus the defendant was not permitted to recover fees.

Ninth Circuit Rules on Copyright Infringement Regarding "The Shape of Water" and "Let Me Hear You Whisper"

David Zindel, the son of author Paul Zindel, brought action for copyright infringement alleging that his father's play, "Let Me Hear You Whisper", infringed on the copyright of "The Shape of Water". The district court dismissed the matter, but the Ninth Circuit reversed on the basis that "reasonable minds could differ on whether there is substantial similarity between Let Me Hear You Whisper and The Shape of Water." The court ruled that additional evidence, "including expert testimony, would aid in the objective literary analysis needed to determine the extent and qualitative importance of the similarities" identified, "particularly the plausibly alleged shared plot sequence."

Southern District of New York Rules on Copyright Infringement Action

Photographer Stephanie Sinclair brought suit against Mashable over the use of "embedded" Instagram posts, and the Court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, finding that the photographer gave Instagram broad power to relicense the works that she posted, based on the Instagram's Terms of Service.

Trump Family Asks Court to Stop Publication of Tell-All by President's Niece

The Trump family sued in Queens County Surrogate's Court to stop the publication of a tell-all by the President's niece, Mary L. Trump. The allegations are centered on her signing a nondisclosure agreement in connection with settling the estate of Fred Trump, the President's father and her grandfather. Later in the week, a judge dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, and it is expected that the action would be filed in New York State Supreme Court.

The Transformation of American Culture Continues

With ongoing debate about where antiquated statues and public displays, like Mississippi's state flag, there is a continuing transformation underway about what pieces of antiquity are appropriate for America in the 21st Century. Outside the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, the statue of Theodore Roosevelt will be removed, and other statues throughout the country and in Western Europe also face scrutiny and ire from protesters. Other cultural elements are changing as well: the country trio, The Dixie Chicks, have announced that they will rename themselves The Chicks, and Disney has announced that it will remove certain portions from its Splash Mountain ride. Others have used the moment of heightened activism to attack systemic racism, even in institutions as large as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim.

Black Gallerists Press Forward Despite a Market That Holds Them Back

Despite having increased "attention being paid to black artists," the "number of black-owned galleries representing artists in the United States remains strikingly, stubbornly low." Additionally, with organizations like the Art Dealers Association of America and Art Basel having hundreds of galleries and dealers, there is "only one African-American gallerist."

Facebook Bans Historical Artifact Sales

Facebook has "announced the prohibition after researchers reported that looters were using the platform to identify and sell illegally excavated antiquities." As a result of criticism that the website had "become a bazaar for the sale of looted Middle Eastern antiquities," the company announced that "it would remove any content 'that attempts to buy, sell, or trade in historical artifacts.'"

Opera Has Vanished. So Have Their Dream Jobs at the Met

In any other time, receiving a job offer from the Metropolitan Opera would be an extraordinary opportunity, but those hired at the beginning of 2020 and those with tenure have had a frustrating season. Gone are the operas that go late into the evenings and the morning practices the following day. The next show, at the earliest, will be held on New Year's Eve, and furloughs have become more widespread as the shows have been cancelled.

Museum of Jewish Heritage Lays Off Over 40% of Its Staff

The Museum of Jewish Heritage's finances have suffered during the pandemic, and cuts are starting to be implemented. Over 40% of the staff has been laid off, and many employees are facing "new roles or reduced hours." According to audio from a meeting obtained by the New York Times, there "were no pay reductions for executive and senior managers," however.

Founder of Virginia's Signature Theater Steps Down

In the wake of sexual harassment allegations, the founder of the Virginia theater, Signature Theater, is stepping down. Eric Schaeffer had spent 30 years with the organization after founding it, and he has resigned after allegations from Thomas Keegan, an actor, suggesting that "Schaeffer had grabbed his genitals at an awards ceremony in 2018."

For the Actors of "Take Me Out", a Coming-Out Party is Postponed

The baseball play "Take Me Out" was set to make its Broadway debut, and five actors in the play were also set to have their first appearances on Broadway. Now, those five actors are "bunking with family, grappling with unemployment, and fighting injustice." The difference between a Broadway show and an Off Broadway contract is significant in most cases: whereas a "steady paycheck and guaranteed health insurance" comes to those on Broadway, an Off Broadway contract will have significantly less pay.

The Flea Will Begin Paying All of Its Artists

The Flea Theater has relied on "a troupe of volunteer actors," which has drawn criticism for years, but an angry letter "prompted a promise of change" recently. The letter accused the theater of "racism, sexism, gaslighting, disrespect, and abuse," and the Flea announced that it would pause its production activity "to enact sweeping changes, including the elimination of unpaid roles for its artists."

Neolithic Site Near Stonehenge Yields an "Astonishing Discovery"

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of a "circle of trenches at a nearby ancient village" near Stonehenge that "promises to offer significant clues about life more than 4,500 years ago in the Neolithic period." The discovery "also makes the site the largest prehistoric structure in Britain and possibly in Europe."


Coronavirus Rates Ramp Up Throughout the United States and Around the World

The South and West of the United States have seen a jump in Coronavirus cases that have brought the country to its highest rates of confirmed cases. Those increased rates in Texas and Florida have caused their state governments to halt and reverse the reopening that was previously underway. Stock markets have reacted negatively to the news, as it has become increasingly clear that the infection rates will continue to plague the United States and cause more economic devastation. Even with this news comes different approaches to how to handle future events: the Kentucky Derby announced that it will proceed with spectators in September, whereas the New York City Marathon, scheduled for November, has been cancelled. Additionally, the European Union announced that it will not permit tourists to visit Europe unless those travelers are coming from a select few countries that have low Coronavirus cases. The United States did not make that list. Sports have begun to develop plans to start their seasons, and it appears that many professional sports will have games played in environments that are highly secure so as to insulate the athletes and staff from infection.

Baseball Has a Plan to Begin Its Season

Major League Baseball has announced that it will proceed with a shortened season in 2020. Teams "will play only 60 games, with opening day set for July 23 or July 24," which effectively means that each game that a team plays "will count 2.7 times more than usual, infusing daily urgency to a sport in which teams often have time to coalesce."

Talladega Noose Incident Puts Spotlight on NASCAR's Troubles With Racism

Investigators have determined that a noose found in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace's garage was "not meant as a hate crime." However, NASCAR as an organization has "long had complaints of racist behavior from people within the sport."

Softball Team's Tweet to Trump Leads Players to Quit Mid-Series

Two professional softball teams, the USSSA Pride and Scrap Yard Fast Pitch, played a seven-game series in Melbourne, Florida, and that series took on new political meaning when one of the team's manager's tweeted to President Trump a photograph showing both teams standing during the national anthem. The politicization of the moment caused players to quit the team this week.

CrossFit Owner Fostered Sexist Company Culture, Workers Say

Greg Glassman, the chief executive of CrossFit, has resigned, and many former employees and athletes have come forward and revealed a "management culture rife with overt and vulgar talk about women: their bodies, how much male employees, primarily Mr. Glassman, would like to have sex with them and how lucky the women should feel to have his rabid interest."

Australia and New Zealand Will Host 2023 Women's World Cup

FIFA has announced that Australia and New Zealand will be the joint hosts for the 2023 Women's World Cup. FIFA also announced that its council "approved $1 billion in investment in women's soccer over the next four years," and the tournament will be the first 32-team women's tournament.

Bundesliga TV Rights Deal Suggests a Softening Market

Germany's soccer league, the Bundesliga, has been a bellwether for how soccer will proceed following the pandemic, and now, after the league negotiated its broadcast deal, the Bundesliga has showed other leagues in Europe that the market has softened. The deal covers four years, starting with the 2021-22 season, but fell beneath the record $5.1 billion deal, although the precise figure is not publicly known.


Google Sets Limit on How Long It Will Store Some Data

Google has long faced criticism for the length of time it stores data regarding its users, and Google has responded to that criticism by announcing that "it would start automatically deleting location history and records of web and app activity as well as voice recordings on new accounts after 18 months." Settings for "existing accounts will remain unchanged."

Another Tweet From Trump Gets a Label From Twitter

President Trump, on Twitter, threatened "serious force" if protesters attempt to set up an autonomous zone in Washington, D.C. akin to the one set up in the city of Seattle. Twitter promptly labeled that tweet as one that "violated its policies" as it contained "a threat of harm against an identifiable group." The labeling is likely to further escalate the "company's battle with the president over his often incendiary tweets."

Tennessee Newspaper Apologizes for "Utterly Indefensible" Anti-Muslim Ad

A newspaper in Nashville, The Tennessean, has apologized for publishing "a full-page ad on Sunday by a biblical prophecy group claiming 'Islam' would detonate a bomb in the city." The ad featured photographs of "President Trump, Pope Francis, and burning American flags," and "urged readers to visit a website offering more details." The ad warned of "another civil war" and that "Islam is going to detonate a nuclear device" in the city of Nashville.

United States Designates Four More Chinese News Organizations as Foreign Missions

The United States federal government has announced that it has designated four more Chinese news organizations as foreign missions, bringing the total number to nine. It is expected that China will retaliate in some form, as the designation sends the message to Americans that the organizations are viewed "as propaganda organs for a foreign government."

Apple to Ditch Intel Chips in Macs as It Consolidates Its Power

The 15-year partnership between Intel and Apple is coming to an end. Apple announced at its developers' conference that it will make its own chips to put into its devices, but that the process of transitioning away from Intel chips to Apple chips will be one that requires two years to complete.

Facebook Loses Antitrust Decision in Germany Over Data Collection and Faces Confrontation With Advertisers

In Germany, its top court ruled that "Facebook had abused its dominance in social media to illegally harvest data about its users," making it a victory "for proponents of tougher regulation of the world's largest technology companies." Facebook has also announced that it will "add more context to problematic political posts on its site" as advertisers and others began to boycott and pressure Facebook.

General News

Trump and Senate Republicans Achieve a Milestone

President Trump and Senate Republicans have worked during the three and a half years of this administration to fill as many federal judge seats as possible, and last week, they filled the 200th judicial seat, which was the "final appeals court vacancy" in the country.

Supreme Court Hands Down Several Decisions

The United States Supreme Court has rejected a request that it limit the Securities and Exchange Commission so that it can "never sue for disgorgement of profits obtained by fraud." In its decision, the Court ruled that the SEC can continue to sue, but that there should be limits on what kinds of disgorgements may be sought. In a second decision, the Court rejected asylum seekers who "feared persecution and sought to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus." In a third decision, the Court turned down a request to allow all Texans to vote by mail.

Trump Fired Her Boss. Now She's Taking Cases That Incensed White House

Audrey Strauss had been a "behind-the-scene forces in the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan as it pursued cases against people connected to President Trump," and she has now been pushed into the spotlight as the "acting U.S. attorney" in the Southern District of New York's office, which leads "politically sensitive investigations." Her appointment came after Attorney General William Barr oversaw the firing of the top attorney in the district, Geoffrey Berman.

Appeals Court Panel Orders End to Michael Flynn Case

Two appellate judges ruled that a lower court should dismiss the charges against President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. A third judge accused the other two judges "of overstepping their powers." It is possible that the full appeals court will review the matter, but Judge Emmet Sullivan of the lower court still had not dismissed the case in response to the ruling.

Appeals Court Rejects Trump's Diversion of Military Funds for Border Wall

A federal appeals court in San Francisco has ruled that the Trump administration "did not have the authority to transfer $2.5 billion from the Pentagon to President Trump's border wall without congressional approval." It is expected that the matter will now be appealed to the United States Supreme Court for review, and the ruling "will not immediately halt construction."

Billions of Dollars to Be Paid Out Regarding Roundup and Talc Powder

An appellate court in Missouri upheld the damages against Johnson & Johnson at more than $2 billion and reiterated the previous finding that the company "knew there was asbestos in its baby powder." Additionally, the giant Germany company Bayer settled a case against it regarding the weedkiller Roundup and its link with cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Bayer is expected to pay approximately $10 billion to settle the actions with those affected by its product.

Hospitals Sued to Keep Prices Secret, and They Lost

A federal judge upheld "a Trump administration policy that requires hospitals and health insurers to publish their negotiated prices for health services, numbers that are typically kept secret." The administration has sought "to improve transparency in health care" as "insurers and health providers usually negotiate deals behind closed doors, and patients rarely know the cost of services until after the fact."

Senate Democrats Plan to Block GOP Police Bill, Stalling Overhaul

Democrats in the Senate have urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to "negotiate a new, more expansive bill both parties could support" regarding police reform. In the meantime, Democrats have stalled the overhaul that Republicans proposed. The effort could result in "a clash that could mark the death of a fledgling congressional effort to address racial bias in law enforcement."

House Approves Statehood for the District of Columbia

For the first time, a chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives, has approved "establishing the nation's capital as the 51st state." It is almost "certain to die in the Republican-led Senate," but it may pave the way for statehood if and when Democrats retake a majority in the Senate.

Pompeo's Human Rights Panel Could Hurt LGBT and Women's Rights, Critics Say

Last July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo created a commission "to provide a new vision for human rights policy" that would "uphold religious freedom as America's most fundamental right." Human rights scholars have criticized the panel and warned that the commission "sidesteps the State Department's internal bureau responsible for promoting human rights abroad."

Justice Department Officials Outline Claims of Politicization Under Barr

Attorney General William Barr has divided those in the Justice Department who were of the mind that the Department was meant to protect the federal government as opposed to the President. Barr's firing of the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan only exacerbated that division, as it came only after "a disagreement over a case linked to President Trump." In his approximate year and a half as Attorney General, he has sought to limit the transparency of the administration and slow investigations into the administration's actions, which prompted the Senate's Judiciary Committee to approve a bipartisan measure to empower the Justice Department's independent watchdog and "to investigate allegations of ethical violations and professional misconduct by department lawyers."

Jail Only Allowed White Staff to Guard Ex-Officer Charged With Killing George Floyd

Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with murder in killing Georgia Floyd, is in a Ramsey County jail in St. Paul, and staff workers have said that "only white employees were allowed to guard him when he was first brought to the facility last month." Officers have said that the superintendent had required white guards for Chauvin's cell, which was a policy that "amounted to segregation and indicated that he thought they could not be trusted to do their jobs because they are not white."

Pandemic Creates Backlog in New York of 39,200 Criminal Cases

The New York City judicial system has struggled with the pandemic, as it has caused "lengthy delays in criminal proceedings and raising growing concerns about the rights of defendants." The backlog of pending cases has now risen to 39,200, and hundreds of trials "have been put on hold indefinitely." Prosecutions have dropped, but some have grown concerned as there are "arraignments, pleas, and evidentiary hearings" held by video and "with little public scrutiny."

New Rule in California Will Require Zero-Emissions Trucks

California will require zero-emissions trucks in a staggered way: more than half of trucks sold in the state will be zero-emissions by 2035, and all of them will be zero-emissions by 2045. The move comes after the state faced enormous pressure from industry. The new regulation is meant to "improve local air quality, rein in greenhouse gas emissions, and sharply curtail the state's dependence on oil."

Russian Criminal Group Finds New Target: Americans Working at Home

Two revelations came out in the past week regarding Russians' activities as related to Americans: Russian hacking groups have "shown up in corporate networks with sophisticated ransomware," and American officials are growing increasingly concerned about "election infrastructure." Additionally, it has come to light that Russia offered "Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops," according to intelligence. The Trump administration "has been deliberating for months about what to do about" the "stunning intelligence assessment."

Brazilian Ex-Minister Makes Quick Exit to U.S. as Inquiries Rattle Government

Abraham Weintraub, one of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's top lieutenants, has resigned as education minister and fled to Miami "under the cloud of a criminal investigation." The crisis had been in chaos as a number of arrests and "judicial orders targeting supporters of the Brazilian leader" became known, and it is unclear how Weintraub entered the United States, given the bar on visitors from Brazil with the exception of diplomats, which Weintraub was not given his resignation.

Kosovo President Indicted for War Crimes Related to War With Serbia

The White House had planned to host the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, but the Kosovan president, Hashim Thaci, has been indicted on war crimes charges relating to his actions during the 1998-99 Kosovo War and its aftermath. The charges were filed in the Netherlands, and they are yet to be accepted by judges.

Poland's President Meets With Trump and Gets Pre-Election Boost

In a boost to Polish President Andrzej Duda, he met with President Trump and Vice President Pence at the White House. Democrats called the meeting "an unseemly effort to boost a European ally whose country is tilting toward autocracy days before a close re-election vote," and analysts said that there was "no clear official purpose" for the visit.

A Sexual Harasser Spent Years on Australia's Top Court, Inquiry Finds

A judge on the top court of Australia is accused of sexually harassing at least six women, according to a court inquiry, but the judge, Dyson Heydon, has denied the accusations. The allegations were revealed in the Sydney Morning Herald, and the instances were spread over the course of years. Heydon has denied "any allegation of predatory behavior or breaches of the law" and apologized if "any conduct of his has caused offense."

June 22, 2020

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media/Technology


2021 Oscars Will Be Delayed Until April 25th

The Oscars will be held in April, as opposed to February of next year, and the eligibility period will be extended to make up for theatre closures and delayed premiers.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Gives $120 Million to Historically Black Colleges

The Netflix co-founder's donation will go to the United Negro College Fund, Spelman College, and Morehouse College. Hastings noted that white capital often flows to predominantly white institutions and wanted his donation to lead others to give to histroically black colleges and universities.

Actor Danny Masterson Charged with Raping Three Women

Danny Masterson, known for his roles in "That '70s Show," was charged with three counts of rape by force or fear. The allegations date back to the early 2000s and occurred in the actor's home. In 2017, Masterson was fired from his Netflix show, "The Ranch," amid similar allegations, in which women said that they were pressured to keep quiet by the Church of Scientology.


Judge Denies Trump Administration's Request to Ban Publication of John Bolton's Book

A federal judge has ruled that former national security advisor John Bolton can go ahead with the publication and sale of his book about the Trump administration, but the judge criticized Bolton of possibly damaging national security and exposing himself to civil and potentially criminal liability. According to the ruling, it is possible that Bolton may need to forfeit any profits tied to the sale of the book, including his $2 million advance, for publishing the book without having it go through a prepublication review to screen out classified information.

New Coalition Will Fight Racism in Theater

High-profile founders Audra McDonald, Phylicia Rashad, Billy Porter, and Wendell Pierce have formed a new coalition to combat racism in the theater community. Their plans include setting up a mentorship program for young black artists and reviewing industry practices.

Children's Theaters Confront Issue of Diversity

A new study says programming and creative teams are not representative of their audiences - most of the shows are by white writers and have overwhelmingly white creative teams. Theaters are now starting to look at new source material, adapting children's books written by minority writers, and hiring more diverse creative teams to adapt and direct productions.

Upright Citizens Brigade Will Overhaul its Leadership

The founders of the comedy incubator have announced an effort to diversify the organization's leadership by passing control of their theaters to a new and more diverse board that can more appropriately address systemic racism in the theaters.

Robert Indiana's Caregiver Has Largely Disappeared from Artist's Affairs

Pop Art pioneer Robert Indiana had designated Jamie L. Thomas, the artist's caretaker in his final years, to lead his museum and help guide his artistic legacy. However, Thomas has been largely absent from gatherings and events honouring the artist and he will no longer be directing Indiana's museum. The New York Times reports that a lawsuit between the estate and Thomas was resolved last year after the executor of the estate argued that Thomas acted "to improperly line his own pockets," noting his generous salary, large withdrawals from Indiana's accounts, and the claim that valuable paintings had been given to him as gifts. Thomas's departure from the foundation that would operate the museum is said to be part of the settlement, although the terms remain confidential.

Relocating Monuments Tied to Slavery

Recent protests over police brutality and racial injustice have reignited demands to remove statues celebrating Confederate generals and figures associated with slavery and colonialism. Most end up in storage, too large for museums to accommodate and put in proper historical context.

Albuquerque Removes Statue of Conquistador Juan de Onate

A diverse crowd of protesters called on authorities to remove the statue as part of a broader effort to remove symbols of colonial atrocities. Onate's period as provincial governor was marked by a violent repression and the killing of Indigenous people in the area.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi Orders Removal of Four Confederate Portraits from the House

The decision comes amid widespread efforts to remove historic symbols of racism in America. The paintings portray four House speakers who served in the Confederacy.

San Francisco's Asian Art Museum Will Remove Patron's Bust

The museum will remove a bust of its founding patron, Avery Brundage. Brundage was an industrialist and former president of the International Olympic Committee. His critics say Brundage was a Nazi sympathizer and a racist. The museum will also schedule public programs to discuss Brundage's legacy and work on "decolonizing" the museum

Museums Embrace Art Therapy

American museums are now devoting resources toward creating trauma-aware programs and initiatives to help their guests benefit from art therapy, especially at a time of unrest, trauma, and isolation created by the pandemic.

A Look Back at the 2015 Pyer Moss Show, Which Brought Police Brutality to the Runway

The article provides an inside look into how the 2015 show was put together and recounts the efforts of the brand's founder, Kerby Jean-Raymond in putting the African American experience front and center.

The Dress Codes of the Uprising

March organizers are trying to reframe the narrative and bring positivity to their events by urging participants to adopt more formal dress and send a subversive fashion message.

Shakespeare in the Park Turns into Four-Part Radio Play

Andre Holland and Phylicia Rashad will star in a four-part broadcast airing July 13th-16th. The Public Theater will work with WNYC to record Shakespeare's "Richard II," featuring much of the same cast that would have performed the play in Central Park.

Authorities Catch Up to Art Dealer Inigo Philbrick Over Suspected Fraud

U.S. law enforcement agents arrested the 33-year-old art dealer on the Pacific island of Vanuatu. He is accused of defrauding clients of more than $20 million. Among other charges, federal prosecutors accused Philbrick of having sold multiple (more than 100%) ownership interests in a Stingel painting.

Images of Stolen Van Gogh Give Experts Hope That Painting Can Be Recovered

A Dutch art crimes investigator says that he has received photographs of the back of a stolen Van Gogh painting. He says the images are "proof of life" and hopes that sharing them will lead to information. The 1884 painting, "The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring," was stolen from the Groninger Museum in March after a man used a sledgehammer to smash through reinforced glass doors and ran away with the painting under his arm.


Governor Andrew Cuomo Supports U.S. Open Play in New York

Governor Cuomo announced that the tennis tournament would be played as scheduled, with matches beginning in late August, but without fans present. Two other Ohio-based tours will be relocating to New York to centralize operations and reduce player travel. The U.S. Open has issued guidelines limiting the size of a player's entourage, requiring face masks when not competing or training, and limiting access to shared spaces and locker rooms.

Anthony Fauci Says That the National Football League Season Might Not Happen Without a "Bubble"

America's leading infectious disease expert said that the best way to guarantee safety would be to play in an enclosed environment where the National Football League (NFL) can insulate players and team staff from the community. The NFL, however, faces different challenges than other leagues that have opted for single-site play - the NFL is larger; each of its 32 teams have up to 90 players during training camp, and dozens of coaches and trainers. More rest is needed between games, which means that players could be in the "bubble" for a longer time. The NFL said that it will adjust its protocols to align with public health recommendations, but players have yet to receive concrete guidance.

National Hockey League Nearing Plan for Resuming Play

The players' association voted in favour of a 24-team playoff, scrapping the rest of the regular season and resuming voluntary workouts as early as June.

Women's National Basketball Association and Players Union Agree to 22-Game Season

The 22-game season, with a full playoff schedule, will start in late July at the IMG Academy in Florida. Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) players have until June 25th to notify their teams if they are opting into the 2020 season; those who participate will receive their full salaries.

WNBA Player Will Skip Season to Focus on Justice Initiatives

Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery will skip the upcoming WNBA season to focus on supporting social justice reform. Team officials said that they supported her decision, which they said was reflective of the league's desire to encourage athletes to be active in social causes.

Florida, A Popular Site for Pro Leagues, Remains a Coronavirus Hotspot

The National Basketball Association, the WNBA and Major League Soccer (MLS) will all resume their seasons in Florida, where health officials are reporting record numbers of infections. It remains to be seen if the so-called "bubbles" and health protocols requiring pre-arrival and on-site testing, among other measures, will be successful in preventing infections among players and team personnel.

Major League Baseball Spring Training Sites Close Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Every Major League Baseball (MLB) team will temporarily shut down its spring training camp in Arizona and Florida over concerns about the pandemic. Five Philadelphia Phillies players and three staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, with others awaiting results. The Yankees are returning to New York to resume their spring training. It is unclear how close of spring training camps will affect the start of the season - the plan remains for teams to hold games in their home parks, without fans.

National Collegiate Athletic Association Bans Mississippi From Hosting Championship Until State Removes Confederate Emblem on Flag

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced that states would not be permitted to host championship events if the Confederate flag is a prominent symbol, with the chair of its Board of Governors saying that "[t]here is no place in college athletics or the world for symbols or acts of discrimination and oppression." The NCAA had previously banned states whose flags displayed the emblem from hosting events with predetermined locations (though Mississippi did host events through a loophole allowing high performing teams to host competitions).

The Southeastern Conference also demanded that the state remove the Confederate emblem from its flag, warning that without a change, the conference might not hold future championship events in Mississippi. It is the last state flag in the country to bear the emblem; a 2001 referendum saw two-thirds of votes cast in support of keeping it.

Texas Football Players Call on University to Drop Song Steeped in Racist History

University of Texas athletes want the campus anthem "The Yes of Texas" gone. The song can be traced back to minstrel shows in the early 20th century and is associated with Confederal general Robert E. Lee. The students' list of requests for a more inclusive campus also included a call for renaming campus buildings and having the school donate a portion of the athletic department's earnings to black organizations.

Football Players Returning to Campus Are Being Asked to Sign Coronavirus Waivers

Schools are requiring student athletes to sign waivers acknowledging the risk of returning to campus during the pandemic and of not following self-quarantining and social distancing measures outlined in school guidelines. Failure to follow guidance can lead to dismissals and loss of scholarships.

Corporate America Pledging Millions to Social Justice Efforts

In addition to donating millions of dollars to organizations supporting racial justice initiatives, some businesses are committing to concrete changes in their practices to make their own corporate culture more inclusive and diverse. Among the changes: Adidas announced it would fill at least 30% of all open positions with black or Latinx candidates; Amazon has placed a one-year moratorium on police use of a facial recognition technology (criticized for racial bias); and Apple said it will create an entrepreneurship camp for black software developers.

Sports Leagues and Fans Face a Complicated Reality

Single-site plans for resuming play are a common element of several major leagues' comeback plans, but there is little certainty for sports fans as to when teams might be able to play in their home arenas again. "The collective strategy is largely to cross fingers."


Voice of America Directors Resign After Congress Confirms Conservative Activist as Head of U.S. Agency for Global Media

Michael Pack, a conservative activist and filmmaker, was confirmed earlier this month after President Trump reportedly intervened to expedite the nomination. Pack is a close ally of Stephen Bannon. Voice of America is the largest American international news media broadcast organization; it receives funding from the U.S. government but is supposed to remain editorially independent of any federal agency. It is not clear if the directors were asked to resign.

Social Media Platforms Denounce Racism That Thrives There

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have recently denounced racial bias in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Twitter pledged $3 million to Colin Kaepernick's organization and Facebook will donate $10 million to racial justice organizations and $200 million to support black-owned businesses and organizations. However, their public statements have not addressed how these platforms have been weaponized to spread racist ideology and subvert social justice movements. The article also points to YouTube, which it argues has "struggled to square its corporate values with the way its products actually operate ... remov[ing] conspiracy theories and misinformation from its search results ... but it has yet to grapple fully with the way its ... policies contributed to racial division for years."

Facebook Says That Users Can Opt Out of Seeing Political Ads

The ability to opt out of seeing electoral or political ads from candidates or political action committees will be rolling out to more and more users in the coming weeks. The company seems to be taking a middle-ground approach by allowing political ads on its platform, but limiting their reach to appease critics of its speech policies.

Facebook Removes Trump Ads Over for Displaying Symbol Associated with Nazis

The Trump campaign's ads featured a red triangle used by Nazis to classify political prisoners, which Facebook said violated company policy. The text beneath the triangle referred to far-left groups and the Trump campaign said it was in reference to Antifa.

Justice Department Urges Rolling Back Legal Shield for Tech Companies

The agency called on lawmakers to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which gives broad legal immunity to today's internet giants for words, images, and videos posted on their platforms. In its recommendation, the Justice Department said that changes to the law would put the onus on the companies to police harmful content and conduct.

Two Black Journalists Say The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Kept Them From Covering Protests

One of the journalists has since left the newspaper while the other has sued, accusing the publication of retaliation and racial discrimination. Both say they were unfairly kept from covering the protests against racism and police violence. One journalist was told that she had shown bias in a Tweet and would not be assigned to cover the protests; she claims that the newspaper allowed white reporters to publicly express opinions on events they covered while she was kept from reporting on them.

Associated Press Apologies for Featuring Jefferson Davis Quotation

The wire service has apologized for featuring a quotation from Jefferson Davis, the leader of the Confederacy, as part of its "Today in History" feature. Over two dozen newspapers ran the quote.

Former eBay Workers Sent Threatening Messages and Delivers to Critics

The employees sent live roaches and a mask of a bloody pig face to a couple who ran an online e-commerce newsletter. The employees were unhappy with its coverage of eBay and barraged the couple with threatening emails in what authorities call a cyberstalking campaign.

Apple's App Store Draws Antitrust Scrutiny in Europe

European authorities will investigate whether the terms that Apple imposes on app developers looking to offer their products through Apple's digital store violate competition rules. Apple requires companies to agree to its terms and conditions, including sharing certain data with the company and giving it a percentage of future sales made through Apple products.

France's Highest Court Upholds Google Fine

The court upheld a fine of 50 million euros against Alphabet's Google after a French regulator found that the company had not been sufficiently clear and transparent with Android users about their data protection options, the handling of personal data, and the way it obtained consent for personalized ads, in violation of European Union online privacy rules.

French Constitutional Court Strikes Down Most of Online Hate Speech Law

As part of an effort to regulate content on tech platforms, the French government passed a law that obligated online platforms to take down hateful content flagged by users within 24 hours; failure to do so would result in fines of up to $1.4 million. The French court struck down parts of the law, which it said "created an incentive for risk-averse platforms to indiscriminately remove flagged content, whether or not it was clearly hate speech," therefore infringing on the exercise of freedom of expression in a disproportionate way.

Two Philippine Journalists Convicted of Cyber Libel

The Philippines' most prominent journalist, Maria Ressa, as well as a former colleague, were convicted of cyber libel. Each was fined $8,000 and given an indeterminate sentence (the offense carries up to six years in prison). The libel charges stem from an article in which Ressa claimed that a local businessman had ties to the drug world. The businessman filed several complaints against Rappler, the news site that she founded.

General News

Supreme Court Rules That LGBTQ Americans Have Workplace Protections Under the Civil Rights Act

In a 6-3 decision, with Justice Gorsuch writing for the majority, the Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination. Before the decision, it was legal to fire workers for being gay, bisexual or transgender in more than half of U.S. states.

Supreme Court Expansion of Transgender Rights Undercuts Trump Restrictions

Scholars say that although the Supreme Court's decision on the scope of the Civil Rights Act focused on employment discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans, they also believe that the ruling could expand to protections in education, health care, and housing.

Supreme Court Will Not Hear Case on California Sanctuary Law

The case involved California's "sanctuary law," which, in part, prohibits state officials from cooperating with federal agents seeking to detain undocumented migrants released from state custody.

Justice Sotomayor Sees "Troubling Tableau" in 11th Circuit's Prisoner Cases

In her statement regarding the denial of certiorari in Michael St. Hubert v. United States, Justice Sotomayor expressed concerns with the practices of the 11th Circuit, which hears appeals from Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. She specifically takes issue with the added obstacles to habeas petitions by inmates in those states, including the use of a form, which, according to a judge, "few prisoners manage to squeeze more than 100 words." Based on those submissions and usually without oral argument, the appeals court departs significantly from the practices of the other circuits, and issues rulings in those cases.

Supreme Court Blocks Trump Administration From Ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Trump Promises to End Program Regardless

In a 5-4 decision, the Court said that the administration did not take the proper steps to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts said that the Court was not deciding whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies; only that the Department of Homeland Security did not comply with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action (to end the program). For now, participants can continue to renew their memberships in the program to receive work authorizations and protection from deportation.

In response to the Supreme Court's decision on DACA, the president said he will attempt to end the program and terminate protections for young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The program enabled about 800,000 immigrants to live and work legally in the U.S. without the threat of deportation.

Wait Times for Citizenship Applications Have Doubled in Last Two Years

Processing times have increased and visa offices have large backlogs, due in large part to a sharp rise in applications and the lowest processing rates in a decade, as staff are diverted from reviewing applications. The Trump administration has also prioritized immigration enforcement and citizenship applications are receiving more scrutiny; a series of new proposals slated for implementation will make the process even more onerous, requiring applicants to provide their travel history for the last 10 years and more documentation.

President Trump Fires Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

The federal prosecutor refused to step down after Attorney General Barr announced that Berman would be replaced by Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. On Saturday, President Trump fired Berman and named Berman's chief deputy, Audrey Strauss, as his temporary replacement. The move heightened criticism that the president is removing independent officials who pose a threat to his re-election campaign. Berman's office is investigating several individuals and institutions with links to Trump, including Rudy Giuliani (for foreign lobbying) and Deutsche Bank.

Mitch McConnell Nears His Goals of Filling All Vacancies at the Appellate Level by End of 2020

Fifty-two circuit court judges nominated by President Trump have now been confirmed, with the 53rd judge expected to be confirmed this week. That will mark the end of all vacancies on the U.S. appeals courts, an outcome Senate Majority Leader McConnell has aggressively pursued over the last four years.

Trump Administration Lawyer Looking to Reshape the Electorate

The article profiles William Consovoy, whose work for the Trump administration involves voting rights cases, affirmative action, and the issue of the president's tax returns. More recently, Consovoy's firm argued against extending the deadline for mail-in voting in Wisconsin and sued to block California's plan to send absentee ballots to all registered voters.

Justice Department Files New Brief Asking Judge to Dismiss Michael Flynn Case

The Justice Department argued that the judge overseeing the prosecution of Michael Flynn has no authority to reject the Attorney General's decision to drop the case. Strikingly, it said that would still be the case, "even if a court believes that a refusal to prosecute rests on an improper motive or amounts to a gross abuse." The brief called the motion to dismiss the charge "an unreviewable exercise of prosecutorial discretion." The judge appointed a former prosecutor (John Gleeson) to critique the government's arguments. In his brief, Gleeson said the prosecutors' rationale made no sense and must be cover for a corrupt and politically motivated decision, and recommended sentencing Flynn instead.

Justice Department in Alignment with the President in Its Stance on John Bolton

The article argues that the department's request for an order blocking the publication of John Bolton's book is yet another effort to shield the president and part of a larger trend of the department wielding its law enforcement power to align with the president's interests and views. Critics of the move say that the request for an injunction was pointless, because the book has already been printed and distributed.

John Bolton's Memoir Describes President Trump's Willingness to Interfere with Criminal Investigations

The book reportedly describes several episodes where the president tried to use trade negotiations and criminal investigations to further his own political interests, a pattern that Bolton calls "obstruction of justice as a way of life." For instance, Bolton describes Trump asking Chinese president Xi Jinping to buy American agricultural products to help win him farm states in the 2020 election.

Head of Justice Department's Civil Division Leaves Post; Third Departure in Recent Days

Joseph Hunt, previously chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced that he was leaving his post after a 20-year career at the Justice Department. His departure was announced shortly after the department filed a lawsuit signed by Hunt seeking to delay publication of Bolton's memoir.

Air Force Inspector General Investigating Whether Military Plane Improperly Monitored Protesters

The Air Force is examining the use of a military surveillance plane during protests in Washington and Minneapolis. Reports say that the Department of Homeland Security deployed surveillance aircraft over 15 cities where demonstrators gathered to protest racial injustice. The under secretary of defense for intelligence and security said he received no orders from the Trump administration to conduct surveillance. One of the planes that was circling overhead was a RC-26 aircraft fitted with an onboard camera that can make out the general image of an individual but is not capable of using facial recognition or reading license plates. The Air Force's inquiry is also expected to shed light on the National Guard's response after ground units were deployed across the U.S.

Architects of Post-9/11 Security Order Critical of Trump Administration's Tactics Against Protesters

Bush administration officials criticized the administration's militarized response to the protests and its deployment of law enforcement resources designed to combat terrorist threats abroad, adding that the job of responding to demonstrators was better suited for local law enforcement.

State Department Aide Resigns Over Trump's Response to Protests

Mary Elizabeth Taylor, one of the highest-ranking African American officials in the Trump administration, resigned over the president's stance on racial unrest, saying that his dismissive response was at odds with her core values.

Businesses Brace for Possible Limits on Foreign Worker Visas

President Trump is expected to issue an executive order temporarily suspending various work visas, including H-1B, L-1, and a program that permits foreign graduates of U.S. universities to work in the U.S. With the earlier suspension of green cards for applicants outside the U.S. for a period of 60 days, companies spanning various sectors and industries are now worried about a depleted workforce. The administration has previously said that recipients of foreign worker visas compete with Americans for jobs and that businesses should look to the U.S. labor market first to fill their needs.

Oversight Board Warns That Lack of Transparency Could Hinder Virus Bailout

A report of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, the federal oversight board tracking how $2.4 trillion in bailout money is being spent, says weak reporting requirements and a lack of transparency will likely interfere with its ability to ensure that funds are being deployed properly.

House Democrats Open Inquiry into Coronavirus Aid Recipients

House Democrats have opened an investigation into the distribution of $500 billion in small-business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and are calling on the Trump administration to release the names of all PPP borrowers. The administration has resisted oversight of how the $2.2 trillion economic stabilization package was administered and demoted the head of a committee of inspectors general responsible for pandemic oversight. Congress has also run into issues implementing an oversight mechanism - its five-person Congressional Oversight Commission does not yet have a leader.

Small Businesses Get Easier Path to Relief Loan Forgiveness

Congress passed a new law loosening some of the terms of the PPP. Under the new rules, small business owners do not have to pay back their federal pandemic relief loans, even if they do not rehire all of the workers they laid off.

Senate Passes Bill That Guarantees Land Conservation Funds

The bill allocates $9.5 billion over five years for maintenance of national parks.

Charter Schools, Some with Billionaire Benefactors, Secure Coronavirus Relief Funds

Even though charter schools are publicly funded and enjoy tax-free status, many are classifying themselves as businesses and securing emergency relief funds meant to help small businesses and non-profits stay afloat. Around $50 million in forgivable loans has flown to 27 charter schools across the U.S.

Police Killings Prompt Reassessment of Laws Allowing Deadly Force

The rising number of killings by the police is prompting police departments and legislatures across the U.S. to reassess policies and laws that have long given police officers wide latitude on the use of deadly force if they deem their lives to be in danger.

New York Times Interactive Shows How Black Lives Matter Reached Every Corner of America

Friday, June 19, 2020 - Juneteenth as a Day of Reflection and Celebration

Many Americans are learning about the historical significance of Juneteenth for the first time this year. The day is meant to commemorate June 19, 1865, the day when slaves in Galveston, Texas learned that they were free and the Civil War was over. Some states and U.S. corporations have newly designated it a paid holiday and several U.S. banks closed their branches and offices early in recognition of Juneteenth.

Trump Issues Warning to Protesters in Advance of Tulsa Rally

The president drew no distinction between peaceful protesters and what he called "looters or lowlifes" in issuing a warning that disruptions outside his campaign rally in Tulsa would not be tolerated.

Morgan Stanley's Diversity Chief Sues the Bank Over Racial Discrimination

Marilyn Booker believes that she was terminated for pushing senior management to hear a proposal on increasing diversity and restructuring a training program for black financial advisers. She says the bank cut her budget for promoting diversity and financial education by 71%. She also recounts incidents of racism during her 17-year employment.

Quaker Oats Will Retire Aunt Jemima Brand Based on Racial Stereotype

The company said it would retire the name and packaging of the 131-year-old brand, acknowledging that Aunt Jemima's origins were based on a racial stereotype, specifically a 19th-centurty minstrel song called "Old Aunt Jemima." Quaker Oats bought the brand in the 1930s and had a white actress who had performed in blackface on Broadway play the character in a radio series.

Black Customers Recount Experiences of Racial Profiling in Banks

Black customers recount how even routine transactions can subject them to racial discrimination and to the police being called. The article also identifies a gap in the law - the Civil Rights Act of 1964 lists specific businesses that may not treat black customers differently. Federal courts have taken the position that the law does not apply to banks, since those are not listed specifically. An 1866 law establishing contractual rights from black Americans has been interpreted by courts to mean that the law requires only that service be granted eventually, making it difficult to prevail in court if the banks ultimately complete the transactions.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates Calls to Rename Military Base Names

Former Secretary Gates supports renaming Army bases named for Confederate generals, saying it is time to rid the American military of symbols that represent "the dark side of our history." Current Pentagon leadership also expressed openness to such a change that would impact 10 Army installations in the south, including Fort Bragg, Fort Benning and Fort Hood. Preseident Trump vehemently disagrees.

British Researchers Say That Steroid Dexamethasone Reduces Coronavirus Deaths

University of Oxford scientists said that dexamethasone is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients by reducing inflammation. In the study, the drug reduced death of patients in ventilators by one-third, and those of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

Sickest Workers May Be Among the First to Return to Work

America's employment-based health insurance system has become a liability in the country's fight against the coronavirus. As workplaces open, those with underlying conditions may be among the first to return to work because they need coverage to treat the conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus in the first place and more susceptible to negative health outcomes.

Lost Jobs Often Mean Missed Medical Care

The article discusses how both the pandemic (and the fear of contracting the virus) as well as the unaffordability of health care as more and more people lost their jobs, caused Americans to delay medical care.

COVID-19 Could Impact Voter Registration Numbers

The pandemic has already impacted how people vote, marking a huge shift to mailed-in ballots in primary elections across the U.S. It has also impacted voter registration, with new voter registration in 12 states and D.C. falling by 70% in April compared to January. Fewer in-person voter registration drives and the closure of voter-registration offices have led to a surge in the use of online platforms. Civic groups say that graduating high school students and newly naturalized citizens are among the missed registrants, and it is unclear if the typical late-summer surge in registration will be blunted due to the virus.

National Institutes of Health Halts Clinical Trial of Hydroxychloroquine

National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it will stop the clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the drug in treating adults hospitalized with COVID-19 because the drug was unlikely to benefit patients and not enough people had enrolled. The Food and Drug Administration also withdrew its emergency use authorization for the malaria drug, leaving 66 million doses in the federal stockpile, after it concluded that the potential benefits of the drug outweighed the risks.

Vice President Pence Blames Spike in Coronavirus Infections on High Testing Rates

In a call with governors, Vice President Pence said that a rise in testing was a reason behind new outbreaks, even though health experts say testing data does not bear that out. In at least 14 states, positive cases have overtaken the average number of tests, and the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 is rising.

World Health Organization Warns That Pandemic Danger is At a New High

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the virus is accelerating in the developing world and there have been recent surges in China and South Korea. The United States is seeing a resurgence in the South and the Southeast, with significant outbreaks in Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona, and the Carolinas, where daily counts of new infections have hit record numbers. Texas has seen its cases double in the past month and in Arizona more people are hospitalized with the virus than at any earlier point in the pandemic.

Coronavirus Is Speeding the Spread of Other Preventable Diseases

Mass immunization efforts were halted this spring due to the coronavirus. The programs that did continue were impacted by shortages of vaccine supplies after cargo flights were halted by the pandemic. Health systems are reporting the return of preventable diseases like diphtheria, cholera and measles, with the WHO calling on countries to carefully resume vaccination.

Wildlife Trade Fuels Spread of Coronaviruses

DNA tests show a significant increase in the number of animals testing positive for coronaviruses from the time they are trapped until they
are consumed. The results show that transporting animals in crowded conditions creates a breeding ground for disease.

Fossil Fuel Emissions Increasing as Countries Ease Coronavirus Restrictions

Coronavirus lockdowns brought a reprieve from carbon pollution, but global greenhouse gas emissions are rebounding quickly, especially now that China's emissions have returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Scientists Predict Scorching Temperatures; Expected to Last Through Summer

According to the Climate Prediction Center, above average temperatures are expected nationwide into September. This is in line with a general warming trend - each decade since the 1960s has been warmer than the previous one and the last decade recorded the five hottest years.

Sharp Drop in Ice Around Antarctica

The Weddell Sea, east of the Antarctic Peninsula and a critical area of species of penguins and seals, lost more sea ice in 2020 than in recent years. Researchers say that declining sea ice in the region may be a sign of an emerging long-term trend, but are unable to say definitely if the conditions that caused the early melting will persist.

PG&E Ordered to Pay $3.5 Million Fine for California Fire

The utility company has been ordered to pay $3.5 million for its role in the 2018 Camp Fire. State regulators said the utility repeatedly failed to maintain the transmission line that cut through a forested area and ignited the fire. PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of illegally causing a fire.

New York City Council Compels Police to Disclose Use of Spying Technology

The New York City Council passed a bill that will require the New York Police Department (NYPD) to reveal information about what surveillance tools it uses and the type of data it collected on New Yorkers. The bill, known as the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology, was part of a package of reforms that included a ban on the police use of chokeholds and a measure requiring on-duty officers to display their badges at all times.

NYPD Pulls Out of Prosecutors' Offices

The move reflects a growing divide between police and prosecutors, after prosecutors decided to drop charges against protesters arrested on minor charges, like unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea claims that the two events were unrelated, saying resources were pulled to cover the protests instead.

New York City Overhauls Affordable Housing Lottery

New York City rolled out an overhauled and more modern method of applying for affordable housing, eliminating the previous online system that was plagued by technical problems and delays. The redesigned site launched on June 16th; applicants can apply on a smartphone, upload documents online, and view waiting lists. About 2,500 apartments will be offered on the site over the coming months, available to individuals with household incomes below or slightly above the median income.

Minnesota Lawmakers Fail to Pass Police Reform

The Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate failed to compromise on a package of law-enforcement measures in a special session last week. Democrats said that they would not vote for any package that did not include structural changes to policing, and said changes to arbitration proceedings in misconduct cases were not enough. The impasse was particularly striking in the face of recent activism following the death of George Floyd.

Organizers Reflect on Brooklyn's Huge Black Trans Lives March

Organizers reflect on the thousands of protesters who gathered outside the Brooklyn Museum to raise awareness of the disproportionate rates of violence experienced by Black transgender people.

Vote-by-Mail Ballot Requests Overwhelm New York City Elections Agency

Tens of thousands of New York City residents have yet to receive their mail-in ballots or return envelopes for the primary elections on June 23rd. The rapid expansion of mail-in voting will also mean the results will be delayed, since state law mandates that absentee ballots cannot be counted until eight days have passed from the election day, and not until in-person votes are counted so that officials can double-check mail-in ballots against in-person records.

New York City Will Enter Phase 2 of Reopening on June 22nd

Office work, outdoor dining, and in-store shopping will resume in New York City, with around 300,000 workers expected to return to their jobs. The state recently reported the lowest rate of infections since the beginning of the outbreak. Social distancing and restrictions on capacity will remain.

New York City Hired 3,000 Contact Tracers but Program Faces Challenges Due to Low Response Rate

The first statistics from the program suggest that tracers are often unable to locate infected people or gather information about them because residents who test positive are reluctant to give information about their close contacts.

European Businesses and Borders Reopen Amid Fear of New Waves of Infection

France, Germany, and Switzerland lifted restrictions for travelers arriving from the E.U. or the Schengen zone. The European Commission has also issued guidelines for travelers, including information on quarantine requirements. However, the virus remains active in Europe, where populations are tired of months of isolation and economic uncertainty.

Beijing Imposes new Restrictions Due to Respond to New Outbreak

The partial lockdown cancelled flights and closed down schools in the city as Beijing tries to control a fresh outbreak of coronavirus infections.

Russian Court Sentences American Paul Whelan to 16 Years for Espionage

U.S. officials say the case is politically motivated and Whelan says he was framed by Russian agents so that Russia could imprison an American that it could then trade for a Russian citizen detained in the U.S.

Prominent British Firms Acknowledge Their Ties to the Slave Trade, Pledge Investments

Lloyd's of London and Greene King acknowledged that leading figures in both companies had enslaved hundreds of people and were compensated after slavery was abolished in 1833. While neither made a concrete monetary pledge, each committed to investing in recruiting minority employees and providing financial assistance to charities that promote diversity.

African States Seek United Nations Report on Racism

The United Nations's (UN) Human Rights Council will commission a UN report on systemic racism and discrimination against Black people, stopping short of singling out the U.S. or calling for a commission of inquiry. The resolution asks the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to examine governments' responses to peaceful anti-racism protests and report back by June 2021.

China is Collecting DNA From Millions of Men

China is expanding its surveillance capabilities by building a genetic database from blood samples taken from men and boys across the country. Chinese police are buying testing kits from Massachusetts-based company Thermo Fisher. The campaign involves police going to schools to collect; many feel they have no choice but to submit to the testing since refusal to do so blacklists a family and deprives them of the right to travel or seek health care.

Disturbing Jaguar Trade on the Rise; Tied to Private Investment from China

A rise in jaguar poaching is prompting Latin American authorities to examine wildlife crime involving cats already threatened with extinction. Authorities have so far intercepted packages bound for China containing hundreds of jaguar canines, which are made into jewelry; many of the cases are linked to Chinese citizens or destinations in China. Recent findings "suggest a parallel with poaching patterns seen in Southeastern Asia and Africa, in which an increasing presence of businesses from China working on large development projects coincides with increasing legal and illegal wildlife trade, including of big cats."