October 19, 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


Broadway Will Be a While, But These Venues Say They're Ready Now

There are venues throughout New York City that are seeking permission to open for indoor shows and "socially distanced audiences." Those venues include the Park Avenue Armory, which has "nearly 40,000 square feet of unobstructed open area." In more rural locales with fewer Covid-19 cases, performers have put themselves in bubbles and put on shows, such as "Little Shop of Horrors" in New Hampshire, before a crowd of 44 masked attendees in a space that in normal times would accommodate 250 people.



BTS Honored Korean War Sacrifices, But Some in China Detected an Insult

The Korean pop group BTS, during a recent ceremony for the Korean War, "acknowledged the shared suffering of Americans and Koreans," but in China's social media sites, there was outrage. The BTS leader, Kim Nam-joon, had not recognized "the sacrifices of the Chinese soldiers who fought on the side of North Korea. The outrage was not limited to social media, however: two "prominent brands removed any trace of their collaborations with the band on Chinese websites."



Ford and Mellon Foundations Unveil Initiative for Disabled Artists

The Disability Futures fellowship has awarded "$50,000 to 20 artists, filmmakers, and journalists" as part of its initiative to support disabled artists. The initiative is established by the Ford Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the awards of $50,000 to each come after a year of research and conversation with disabled people that seeks to foster "a creative community across mediums and generations."


New York Philharmonic Cancels the Rest of Its Season

The New York Philharmonic has announced that it will be canceling the remainder of its season, and the Broadway League president has said that "people's bets are the fall of next year" will be the earliest that theaters will reopen. The president of the New York Philharmonic said in an interview that it "is really fair to say that in the 178-year history of the Philharmonic, this is the single biggest crisis."


Protesters in Portland Topple Statues of Lincoln and Roosevelt

When protests came through Portland this week, statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt were toppled "in a demonstration against colonization and the treatment of Native americans." The demonstrators "focused on the 1920s statues of the former presidents as part of a protest billed as an 'Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage.'"


Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Get a Statue in Her Hometown

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that there will be a statue erected in her honor in Brooklyn, and a commission will determine the location and design of the statue. There is no "timetable on when the commission is first expected to meet." The announcement comes after the city renamed the Brooklyn Municipal Building in her honor and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city "would start planning its own memorial, though his office said on Thursday that there was no update on that initiative."


Museum Inquiry Into Whistleblower Complaint Finds No Misconduct

The Detroit Institute of Arts announced that an inquiry performed by an outside law firm "found there had been no skirting of conflict of interest rules in the loan of a painting by the museum director's father-in-law." A whistleblower complaint against the director and the board chair prompted the review after "the museum borrowed a $5 million El Greco painting owned by the director's father-in-law," but the report confirmed that there was no intent to mislead "or hide information" and that there was no conflict of interest or violation of law.


After 75 Years and 15 Claims, a Bid to Regain Lost Art Inches Forward

The heirs of a Hungarian banker Baron Mor Lipot Herzog are seeking the return of his collection of masterpieces that Nazis seized 75 years ago, and the judge presiding over it had not even been born when the family filed the claim in Budapest in 1945. The family is claiming ownership of several works on display in Hungarian museums and at a university in Budapest, and the works are valued at over $100 million.



Polish Olympian Wins Fight to Compete in Fencing for Team USA

The four-time Olympic fencer for Poland, Aleksandra Shelton, has "prevailed in a prolonged case that had broader implications regarding age and gender discrimination and the right to free speech." She has obtained the right to compete for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that her public criticism of Polish fencing officials "was an improper basis on which to deny her request to compete as an American in the Summer Games", as she is a dual citizen of America and Poland and had a right to choose the country she represented at the Games.


The Runaway Train of College Football Keeps Rolling

With games being postponed in college football and Covid-19 outbreaks spiking on campuses, "nothing seems capable of stopping the juggernaut, regardless of the consequences." As there are so many teams traveling and packing into locker rooms and with spikes on teams, the theme within college football has been to "move on" and to continue the season; despite doctors acknowledging that it remains unknown what the "long-term ramifications" are of having Covid-19.


French Soccer Roiled by Claims of Toxic Workplace Culture

France's soccer federation has "hired a consultant to address complaints about top executives" including "accusations of bullying, misbehavior, and sexism." Federation officials have said that the discord within the organization has threatened the mission of the federation and that it could "affect the performance of France's world-beating teams." Current and former employees have said that the work environment was one of "bad language, mental abuse, and stress" but also "improper behavior at staff events."



Social Media Continues to Grapple With Its Role in American Society

With misinformation continuing to plague social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and with questions growing about how best those companies should deal with misinformation, there is growing outrage about how social media companies have dealt with misinformation and potential misinformation. Some companies have banned groups and channels related to QAnon, a group that believes in a far-reaching global conspiracy that is unsubstantiated by evidence, and when the New York Post published a thinly-sourced article about the Democratic nominee Joe Biden's son, social media companies took flak when they "banned all links to the Post's article" and "locked the accounts of people, including some journalists and the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, who tweeted it." By Thursday, Twitter backtracked and said that it would not "remove hacked content unless it was shared directly by hackers or their accomplices."







41 WNET Employees Call for CEO's Resignation

Employees at WNET Group have called for the resignation of the longtime chief executive, Neal Shapiro, "saying he had not done enough to improve working conditions for employees, especially those of color." Former and current employees have signed a letter calling for his resignation, and he replied in an email to staff that "much of what has been written is inaccurate, misleading, or out of context," but tensions have been increasing for nearly six months. The chairman of the board of trustees has released a statement that the board continues to support Shapiro.


Motel 6 and Home Depot Drop Ad Agency After Its Founder Calls Ad 'Too Black'

The Richards Group, an advertising company based in Dallas, is losing business and fast: Motel 6 and Home Depot have cut ties with the company "after a report that its founder had made racist remarks in a meeting last week." Stan Richards, in a team meeting, said that a particular had that "featured Black, white, and Hispanic guests" may "offend or alienate Motel 6's 'white supremacist constituents" and that the advertisement was "too Black."


Pakistan Bans TikTok, Citing Morals. Others Cite Politics

Pakistan has "become the latest country to ban TikTok," and it is "a move that government critics said stemmed as much from politics as from allegations of immoral content." Pakistan's regulatory agency said that it is "open to talks with the company, subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content," but "conservative Muslims in Pakistan have increasingly accused TikTok of testing acceptable social norms" with "memes and song adaptations" that are "too suggestive and too risque."


General News

The Presidential Campaign Continues To Be Vitriolic and Contentious

With the election just over two weeks away, the vitriol and contention that have characterized the 2020 campaign have not abated. Following President Trump's refusal to virtually participate in the second debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, two town halls took place simultaneously. Of note, during President Trump's contentious town hall, he refused to denounce the conspiracy group QAnon, and former Vice President Biden has continued to not take a stance on whether he supports expanding the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, there have been appeals to voters from President Trump including that he planned to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. There remain significant questions about the integrity of the election, and those questions are focused this year on domestic meddling as opposed to foreign: in California, the Republican Party "has admitted responsibility for placing more than 50 deceptively labeled 'official' drop boxes for mail-in ballots." The move is one "that state officials said was illegal and could lead to election fraud."















Covid-19 Cases Continue to Rise Throughout the Country, Continuing to Disrupt American Life

Cases of Covid-19 have consistently been rising throughout the United States, with hot spots now being in the Midwest. The potential for a vaccine before the election is increasingly slim: Pfizer announced that it will not seek vaccine authorization before the middle of November, which is a "shift in tone for the company and its leader, who has repeatedly emphasized the month of October in interviews and public appearances." Regardless, talks in Congress of another stimulus package have stalled: Senate Republicans have maintained that they will not approve a package over $500 million, while House Democrats and the White House have maintained that no package will be considered that is below one trillion dollars. In some communities, there is increasing pressure to manage the response to the virus: at the State University of New York at Oneonta, the university president announced her resignation after the university "experienced the most severe coronavirus outbreak of any public university in the state" with over 700 students testing positive last month and "causing the shutdown of in-person classes."















Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett Endures Confirmation Hearings

Over two days of hearings, Judge Amy Coney Barrett "took a particularly rigorous approach to the strategy used by all modern Supreme Court nominees: avoiding saying anything about issues that could turn into court cases and saying almost nothing about cases that courts have already decided." One political scientist said that "Barrett took this to a whole new level" as being "among the least responsive nominees in American history." Nonetheless, her "confirmation seems assured", given the Republican majority in the Senate.



Supreme Court Will Review Trump's Plan to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants in Redistricting

On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it will "hear a case on whether the Trump administration can exclude undocumented immigrants from the calculations it will use in apportioning congressional seats." Arguments are scheduled for November 30th, and it is expected that President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, "will most likely be on the court by then."


Two Huge Questions Loom as 2020 Census Winds Down

With the 2020 census coming to an end, there remain questions "about the accuracy of its numbers and how they will be used in congressional reapportionment." The Census Bureau had long been "the gold standard for nonpartisan probity and statistical rigor in the federal government," but this census became "the most imperiled and politicized population count in memory."


Third Justice Department Prosecutor Publicly Denounces Barr

Phillip Halpern, a veteran of the Justice Department for 36 years, has "accused Attorney General William P. Barr of abusing his power to sway the election for President Trump and said he was quitting, making him the third sitting prosecutor to issue a rare public rebuke of the attorney general." In making his statement, he joins two other prosecutors (in Seattle and Boston) in denouncing Barr for his actions supporting President Trump.


Alarming Environmental Issues Continue to Grow

Researches in Australia have announced that the Great Barrier Reef, "one of the earth's most precious habitats," has lost half of its coral population in the past 25 years. On Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, fires are "threatening to ravage one of the world's richest and most diverse ecosystems." In the United States, President Trump first announced that he would not approve a disaster relief package for the California wildfires, but then reversed himself within hours speaking to Governor Gavin Newsome and Representative Kevin McCarthy. Additionally, a new report found that during the Trump administration, there has been a "70 percent decrease in criminal prosecutions under the Clean Water Act and a decrease of more than 50 percent under the Clean Air Act."







U.S. Auction Theorists Win the 2020 Nobel in Economics

Two American economists have received the Nobel Prize "in economic science" for their "improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats." The winners, Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson, had "pioneered a type of auction that governments have since used to bid radio frequency," and the type of auction has "had huge practical applications when it comes to allocating scarce resources."


Library of Congress Acquires Archives of the National Woman's Party

The Library of Congress is set to receive a donation of over "300,000 documents, photographs, letters, broadsides, scrapbooks, and other items relating to the" National Woman's Party. The materials show the "party's history, from its founders' earlier involvement in feminist activism to the fight over the 19th Amendment to its decades of advocacy for the Equal Rights Amendment." The donation was timed to coincide with the centennial of the 19th Amendment and doubles the Library of Congress' "holdings relating to the party."


Children From Immigrant Families Are Increasingly the Face of Higher Education

There has been "an extraordinary demographic shift" in American university campuses: "immigrants and children of immigrants" have "become an ever-larger share of student bodies." A study released this week "found that more than 5.3 million students, or nearly 30 percent of all students enrolled in colleges and universities in 2018, hailed from immigrant families, up from 20 percent in 2000."


Military Names Air Force Judge for Guantanamo Bay 9/11 Trial

The military has assigned an Air Force judge to preside over the case of five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the proceedings are likely to be delayed following the assignment: the "war court prosecutors declared the officer unqualified for the job." He was previously a "deputy chief circuit judge for the Air Force at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia but has served less than two years as a military judge."


U.S. Attorney Moves In on Brooklyn DA's Territory, Citing Crime Surge

The "acting United States attorney in Brooklyn, Seth DuCharme," has announced that "his office will also now focus on lower-level gun cases that were once the bailiwick of local district attorneys." His announcement is "part of a broader pattern as federal officials in New York City step in to respond to growing pressure to curb the sharp rise in gun violence this year." With federal prosecutors handling these cases, "defendants will face higher prison sentences and a higher likelihood of being held in jail before trial."


As New York City Jails Become More Violent, Solitary Confinement Persists

Despite the fact that under Mayor Bill de Blasio New York City jails have become increasingly empty, the number of inmates being held in solitary confinement. Records show that officials "have relied on solitary confinement to punish about the same number of inmates each year since 2017."


Europe Can Impose Tariffs on U.S. in Long-Running Aircraft Battle

The World Trade Organization has authorized the European Union "to tax up to $4 billion of American products annually in return for subsidies given to Boeing." The move may "result in levies on American airplanes, agricultural products, and other goods" and "stems from a 16-year fight before the global trade body." The Trump administration, in 2019, "imposed tariffs on European planes, wine, cheese, and other products after the WTO gave the United States permission to retaliate on up to $7.5 billion of European exports annually."


Who Was 'El Padrino,' Godfather to Drug Cartel? Mexico's Defense Chief, U.S. Says

For years, there were questions about how deep organized crime penetrated into Mexico's institutions, and this week revealed that it went deeper than many expected. Drug enforcement agents had long wondered who El Padrino, or The Godfather, was as the person was a "shadowy, powerful force" in facilitating the Mexican drug cartels. Those agents have identified that El Padrino was in fact the country's defense chief from 2012 to 2018, General Salvador Cienfuegos.


October 16, 2020

Sports Law News for the Week of October 16

By Bennett Liebman

DraftKings, Penn National Rise as Legal Sports Betting Gets Closer in New York, Michigan, https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/10/14/draftkings-penn-national-rise-as-legal-sports-bett/

TURNER SPORTS DIVVIES UP SPORTS BETTING RIGHTS BETWEEN DRAFTKINGS, FANDUEL, https://www.sportico.com/business/sports-betting/2020/draftkings-turner-sports-ncaa-1234614958/

YANKEES' MINOR LEAGUE INSURANCE FIGHT SHEDS LIGHT ON PANDEMIC CLAIMS, https://www.sportico.com/law/analysis/2020/covid-19-business-interruption-insurance-1234614821/

RONALDO SEXUAL ASSAULT LAWSUIT REMAINS ON TRACK FOR TRIAL AFTER FEDERAL JUDGE INTERVENES, https://www.sportico.com/law/analysis/2020/ronaldo-sexual-assault-lawsuit-1234614692/

There are 69 cases of COVID-19 connected to SpinCo. This member says the owners did 'everything right' to keep patrons safe, https://www.thespec.com/news/hamilton-region/2020/10/15/there-are-69-cases-of-covid-19-connected-to-spinco-this-member-says-the-owners-did-everything-right-to-keep-patrons-safe.html

SABAN'S CONTRACT GIVES ALABAMA LEVERAGE AS COVID-19 TESTS SUCCESSION PLANS, https://www.sportico.com/law/analysis/2020/sabans-contract-covid-19-1234614982/

SPORTRADAR SEEKS BIG ACQUISITION WHILE REVEALING NBA TROUBLE AMONG FINANCIALS, https://www.sportico.com/business/finance/2020/sportradar-acquistion-nba-trouble-1234614865/

The Lawyer Who Took on the NFL Over Concussions Has a New Strategy That Could Devastate the NCAA, https://www.si.com/college/2020/10/16/ncaa-concussion-cases-daily-cover

Why football's new handball rule is proving so controversial, https://www.lawinsport.com/topics/item/why-football-s-new-handball-rule-is-proving-so-controversial

The impact of Brexit on Sports Law, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=24d959a2-be9d-4a6d-8cca-f9837263fc43

Massachusetts provided impermissible financial aid in two sports, https://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/massachusetts-provided-impermissible-financial-aid-two-sports

The SEC's Surge of COVID-19 Cases Is a Predictable Result of Pandemic Football, https://www.si.com/college/2020/10/15/sec-surge-coronavirus-pandemic-football-nick-saban

Can Faculty Save A College's Olympic Sports Programs? William & Mary Might Just Provide A Test Case, https://www.forbes.com/sites/karenweaver/2020/10/14/can-the-faculty-save-olympic-sports-we-might-just-have-our-test-case/#694869a5cc26

Online Investment Platform Offering Shares Of 1937 Heisman Trophy, Other Sports Memorabilia, https://www.forbes.com/sites/timcasey/2020/10/16/online-investment-platform-offering-shares-of-1937-heisman-trophy-other-sports-memorabilia/#3c368ebf3e41

NFLPA Advises Against Player Endorsements With CBD Companies, https://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2020/10/16/Marketing-and-Sponsorship/NFL-CBD.aspx

ShowBuzzDaily Weekly Sports TV Ratings, http://www.showbuzzdaily.com/articles/skedball-weekly-sports-tv-ratings-10-5-10-11-2020.html

Theater News for the Week of October 16

By Bennett Liebman

Tony nominees issue calls for political action, financial support for Broadway, https://broadwaynews.com/2020/10/15/tony-nominees-issue-calls-for-political-action-financial-support-for-broadway/

The 2020 Tony nominations have been announced, and they're the weirdest ever, https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/the-2020-tony-nominations-have-been-announced-and-theyre-the-weirdest-ever/2020/10/15/884dd802-0efe-11eb-8074-0e943a91bf08_story.html

How Weird Were the Tony Nods? Well, How Weird Was the Season?, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/15/theater/tony-award-nominations-analysis-critics.html

Tony awards 2020: unusual Broadway year leads to restricted nominations, https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/oct/15/tony-nominees-2020-broadway-jagged-little-pill-slave-play

40 Black playwrights on the theater industry's insidious racism, https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-10-14/40-black-playwrights-theater-racism

Column: For actors and other arts professionals, the healthcare safety net has been ripped to pieces, https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/chris-jones/ct-ent-actor-healthcare-retirement-1018-20201015-5u6tyakz7zdnnnd5ktp64hgllu-story.html

Sonia Friedman: I've closed 18 shows and paused 10. Here's my cure for theatre, https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/oct/15/sonia-friedman-theatre-west-end-mental-health

Disneyland to lay off 200 actors as 'Frozen Live' and 'Mickey and the Magical Map' close amid pandemic, https://www.ocregister.com/?returnUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ocregister.com%2F2020%2F10%2F12%2Fdisneyland-to-layoff-200-actors-as-frozen-live-and-mickey-and-the-magical-map-close-amid-pandemic%2F%3FclearUserState%3Dtrue

How Live Theater Is Innovating Its Way Through the Pandemic, https://www.barrons.com/articles/how-live-theater-is-innovating-its-way-through-the-pandemic-51602599501

Despite Every Barrier, This Artist Created Safe, Socially Distant Live Theater--No Zoom Required, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jerylbrunner/2020/10/12/despite-every-barrier-this-artist-created-safe-socially-distant-live-theater-no-zoom-required/#68c98f5f4b2b

Head of Huntington Theater Company Resigns Amid Internal Strife, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/14/theater/huntington-theater-company-resignation.html

Tiffani Gavin at the O'Neill: Not a Program, a Priority, https://www.americantheatre.org/2020/10/14/tiffani-gavin-at-the-oneill-not-a-program-a-priority/

Broadway Will Be a While. These Venues Say They're Ready Now., https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/12/theater/theater-reopenings-new-york.html

Broadway performers face uncertainty: "The future is completely anyone's guess at this point", https://www.cbsnews.com/news/broadway-performers-coronavirus-shutdown-uncertainty/

October 12, 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, Media/Technology, and General News:


Supreme Court Will Not Hear 'Stairway to Heaven' Copyright Case

The Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case leaves in place the appeals court ruling that Led Zeppelin did not copy part of a 1968 song by Spirit.


Broadway Will Remain Closed Through May 2021

Many Broadway theaters will stay shut at least through May of next year, with some not planning to reopen until next fall. The Broadway League, the trade organization representing producers and theater owners, said that it was suspending ticket sales through May 30th.


Rapper Tory Lanez Charged with Assault in Shooting

The rapper is accused of wounding Megan Thee Stallion by firing at her feet after an argument last summer.



Supreme Court Decides Not to Hear Case Involving Destroyed Mural

The decision cements a ruling that awarded 21 graffiti artists $6.75 million after a New York City developer painted over the murals at a Queens warehouse known as 5Pointz complex in 2013. The earlier ruling found that street art/graffiti was of sufficient stature to be protected by the law.


There's Not Much Work for Actors. Now Their Unions Are Fighting.

At issue is which union should represent theater performers and stage managers working on streamed performances. Actors' Equity Association, the labor union that represents theater actors and stage managers, is accusing SAG-AFTRA, the union representing those who work in film, TV, and radio, of encroaching on theaters "and undercutting its contracts by negotiating lower-paying deals with theaters for streaming productions." SAG-AFTRA contracts are also leaving out stage managers. SAG-AFTRA maintains that "work made for broadcast has always been its domain."


Mellon Foundation Launches $250 Million Initiative to Reimagine Monuments

The project will support the creation of new monuments and facilitate the relocation or "rethinking" of existing memorials and statues. The grant will include "a definitive audit of the existing commemorative landscape across the country" to see what percentage, for example, are dedicated to women.


Black Trustees Join Forces to Make Art Museums More Diverse

Black board members have formed an alliance to diversify art museums by recruiting more Black directors, artists, and curators whose perspective will better reflect the communities they serve.


Baltimore Museum of Art to Sell 3 Blue-Chip Paintings to Advance Equity

The museum is taking advantage of a temporary "loosening of deaccessing guidelines" that allow museums to sell art "from museum collections to fund the direct care of collections - not just the acquisition of other artworks." The museum expects to receive $65 million from the sale and use those funds for salary increases, diversity and inclusion programs, and to eliminate admission fees for special exhibitions.


New Museum Exacts Toll on Workers

Although critics acknowledge the success of its exhibitions, they say that the museum's ascent has come at the expense of those who work there. Former and current staff members complain of low pay, low morale, unhealthy work conditions, and of being asked to act unethically.


Finding a New Home for a Painful Past - The Jefferson Davis Statue in Kentucky

The relocation of a Jefferson Davis statue continues the debate of where to house monuments that honour the Confederacy. This specific statue was removed from the Kentucky State Capitol and is being stored in an undisclosed location. The plan to take the statue to Fairview, Kentucky raises question about how appropriate it is for towns to invest more taxpayer dollars in new museums to recontextualize these statues.


Report Asks Dutch To Return Nazi-Looted Artwork

The country's restitution efforts have come under scrutiny because its policies for returning looted art have become stricter. At issue for international critics is a policy that requires the panel that hear restitution cases "to balance the interests of national museums against the claims by Jewish survivors or their heirs;" in other words, the panel is asked to weigh "the significant of the work to public art collections against the emotional attachment of the claimant," which has already led to some requests being rejected because the artwork was important to the Dutch museum that housed it.



National Football League Adds New COVID-19 Protocols to Monitor Mask Wearing

The National Football League (NFL) introduced measures like video surveillance to monitor compliance with mask wearing policies in team facilities and while traveling. It is trying to prevent another outbreak by also limiting the number of free agent tryouts per week and placing bans on gatherings outside team facilities. In a memo sent to teams, the NFL said that protocol violations that result in virus spread "will result in additional financial and competitive discipline including the adjustment or loss of draft choice or even the forfeit of a game." Meanwhile, virus cases from the Patriots and Titans forced the NFL to once again reschedule games.



One Name the Women's National Basketball Association Won't Say

The article describes the social justice activities of Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) players, including their support for Senator Kelly Loeffler's political opponents. Loeffler is the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream. The players have denounced Loeffler's views but refuse to bring up the senator's name in their public pronouncements and social media, instead marshalling their resources in support of another candidate.


Chinese State TV to Air National Basketball Association Game for First Time Since Hong Kong Rift

China Central Television began by airing Friday's finals game and suggests a softening of tension between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and China, tensions that are said to have cost the NBA hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.



Supreme Court Hears Copyright Battle Between Google and Oracle

At issue is what elements of computer code can be copyrighted, and if that code is covered by copyright, when is it still legal to use pieces of it under fair use. Given the complexity of the issue, the Court relied on familiar analogies to understand the nature of the coding language Oracle acquired in 2010. Oracle sued Google after it reverse engineered Java and copied the "structure, sequence and organization" of software code when it was building its Android platform.


Judge Rules Apple Can Keep Fortnite Out of App Store

A federal judge ruled this week that Apple did not have to reinstate videogame Fortnite in its App Store, finding that Epic Games had violated its contract with Apple. Apple removed the app from its store after Epic started encouraging users to pay for it directly, rather than through Apple, as contractually required. The case will go to trial next May.


U.S. Appeals Injunction Against TikTok Ban

The federal government says that the preliminary injunction on its TikTok ban should be lifted because the Chinese-owned video app presents a security risk to American users. The earlier decision delayed TikTok from being banned in U.S. app stores.


House Lawmakers Condemn Big Tech's Monopoly Power, Urge Their Breakups

The report said companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook "needed to be checked and recommended they be restructured and that antitrust laws that reformed." The recommendations included giving antitrust agencies power to police market concentration and enacting rules that make it harder for companies to acquire start-ups.


Twitter Set to Change Basic Features Before Election

The changes are meant to fight election misinformation and will start on October 20th. They include the following: If users try to share content that Twitter flags as false, a notice will warn them that they are attempting to share inaccurate information; and it will not label posts about election results until the election has been officially called.


Harry and Meghan Settle with Paparazzi

As part of a settlement in an invasion-of-privacy case, Los Angeles-based celebrity news agency X17 has agreed to turn over photos of the couple's son and destroy any copies in its databases. X17 apologized and agreed to pay a portion of the family's legal fees and to never traffic in photos taken on private grounds.


Opinion: Google and Facebook Must Pay for Local Journalism

The president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association representing about 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, takes a position on whether Google should pay publishers for the news content shown in search results. Chavern says that if Congress follows France's lead and "passes the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, publishers would be allowed to negotiate rate with Google as a group." Alternatively, he says "publishers might finally be forced to undertake their own lengthy copyright litigation."


Facebook Increases Precautions Before Election

Facebook has widened its ban on political ads by announcing that it will prohibit political and issue-based advertising after November 3rd for an indefinite amount of time. Facebook will also remove groups or accounts that openly identity with QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy movement.


False G.O.P. Ad Prompts QAnon Death Threats Against Democratic Congressman

New Jersey Representative Tom Malinowski is facing death threats from QAnon supporters "after the House Republicans' campaign arm falsely accused him of lobbying to protect sexual predators." Malinowski led a bipartisan resolution condemning the movement, which spreads conspiracy theories.


American Apologizes for Bad Reviews of Thailand Hotel

The American was jailed for disparaging a Thailand hotel in an online review and has since had to apologize as part of a deal to avoid prosecution. The case laid bare the harsh impact of the country's defamation laws; a conviction can result in up to two years in prison.


General News

Supreme Court Starts Term with Case on Judges' Political Ties

The case involves provisions of Delaware's Constitution aimed at ensuring partisan balance on state courts. At issue is whether states can consider political affiliation when appointing judges in order to strike some ideological balance on their courts. Delaware is defending the provisions that were challenged by a registered independent, who said they violated the First Amendment. The state's lawyer argued that "political scientists ... use political party affiliations as proxies for philosophy and ideology" and that requiring judges to be affiliated with one of the two major parties in order to sit on state courts supports a bipartisan judiciary.


Supreme Court Revives Witness Requirement for South Carolina Absentee Ballots

Absentee ballots in South Carolina will now have to be accompanied by a witness's signature. The Court made an exception for ballots already cast, but reversed the lower courts and their finding that the requirement interfered with people's right to vote during a pandemic. In a concurring opinion, Justice Kavanaugh said that the Court was reluctant to accept changes to election procedures made close to Election Day, and that federal judges should not second guess state election laws.


Supreme Court Declines to Revive Restriction on Abortion Pill

The Supreme Court did not reinstate a federal requirement that women seeking medical abortions pick up the pills in person. Citing the pandemic, a federal judge had previously suspended the requirement, saying that a "needless trip to a medical facility during a health crisis very likely imposed an undue burden on the constitutional right to abortion." The Supreme Court instructed the trial judge to take a fresh look at the case and rule within 40 days.


Justices Thomas and Alito Question 2015 Same-Sex Marriage Precedent

In their opinion in a case about the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Justices Thomas and Alito raised concerns about the harm they perceived in the 2015 Obergefell v Hodges decision to religious freedom. In their view, the decision chose "to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendments, and by doing so undemocratically, the court has created a problem that only it can fix."


New Supreme Court Term Could End Roberts's Dominant Role

The possible addition of Judge Amy Coney Barrett would push the Supreme Court further right and eliminate Chief Justice Roberts' "ability to steer the Court toward moderation."


Harris Puts Pence on the Defensive as Virus Response Takes Center Stage at Debate

The vice president and Senator Kamala Harris exchanged sharp remarks over the administration's coronavirus response, which featured prominently as an issue at the debate. Harris denounced Trump's policies on the economy, health care, and the environment while Pence "hailed the 'V-shaped recovery' of the economy in defiance of the latest government data.


Kamala Harris and the 'Double Bind' of Racism and Sexism

Reactions to Harris' debate performance showed "not only the bias that women and people of color face, but the fact that for women of color, that bias is more than the sum of its parts."


President Trump Refuses Virtual Debate; Second Presidential Debate Cancelled

This is the first cancellation of a televised debate in seven decades. The president argued for an in-person debate after refusing a virtual format and saying that he would soon be cleared by his doctor to appear in public. Meanwhile, Biden plans to hold a televised town-hall gathering with voters on the night that was reserved for the debate.



Trump Administration Seeks to Limit Regulatory Powers Against Coal

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard arguments this week on whether the federal government has "the authority to set national restrictions on carbon emissions or force states to move away from coal-fired power." The outcome hinges on the interpretation of the Clean Air Act, with the administration arguing for a narrow interpretation to, in turn, "narrow the foundation of the federal government in doing any kind of regulation."


Trump Leans on Barr and Pompeo for a Campaign Jolt

Comments by Secretary of State Pompeo suggest that he intends to hand the president "a weapon to attack his political foes" by making Hillary Clinton's emails public. Attorney General Barr, on the other hand, has resisted pressure from the president to indict Democrats connected to the original investigation into Russian election interference and said he plans no major moves before the election.



Lifting Ban, Barr Pushes Inquiries Into Voter Fraud Before Election

In a memo to top prosecutors, "the department loosened a decades-long policy intended to keep law enforcement from affecting election results. The policy had prohibited prosecutors from making headline-grabbing charges of election fraud in the run-up to an election" so as not to "depress voter turnout or erode confidence in the results." The recent shift to deploy prosecutors to investigate voter fraud began in late August and will focus on noncitizens voting illegally and on mail carriers who discard ballots.


Absentee Voting from Democrats Far Outpaces 2016

Absentee voting in states like Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina is so far favoring Democrats, with 647,000 votes already cast. The number of returned ballots in five states is more than 20% of the entire 2016 turnout.


Director of National Intelligence Serving Trump's Political Agenda Despite Pledge to Stay Apolitical

Director John Ratcliffe has reportedly approved more declassifications of intelligence that undermines the Russia investigation. The director of the CIA opposed the move, saying the release of unverified material "could jeopardize spies' ability to gather intelligence and endanger their sources."


Trump Administration Ignores Ruling that His Acting Officials Are Serving Illegally

The acting head of the Bureau of Land Management continues to serve even after a federal judge ruled that he has been serving unlawfully for over 424 days. He is the third official the courts have found to be working in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which governs appointments of temporary officials. The case is an example of "the president's penchant for filling high-level jobs without Senate confirmation." In this case, there are concerns that William Perry Pendley's background has not properly been vetted, including his legal advocacy for extractive resource industries on public lands.


Administration Halted Release of Five Prisoners Cleared to Leave Guantanamo

In a reversal of Obama-era policies, the Trump administration has halted prisoner transfers to other countries. The State Department also dismantled the office that dealt with resettlement deals, where receiving countries would undertake to guard against the prisoners becoming security risks.


Manhattan District Attorney Can Obtain Trump's Tax Returns

A federal appeals panel ruled that the Manhattan District Attorney can enforce a subpoena seeking Trump's personal and corporate tax returns. In doing so, it rejected arguments by the president's lawyers that the subpoena was too broad and amounted to political harassment.


Trump's Taxes Trace Payments to Properties by Those Who Got Ahead

The article describes President Trump "earned millions as a gatekeeper to his own administration" and "transplanted favor-seeking in Washington to his family's hotels and resorts." The piece outlines how special interest groups and foreign governments patronized Trump's properties, providing a revenue stream for his real estate holdings, while reaping benefits from the administration.


Trump's Taxes Show He Generated a Windfall in 2016

Trump's tax records show $21 million in payments from a Las Vegas hotel that Trump owns with Phil Ruffin. The payments were routed through other Trump companies and paid out in cash to "self-fund" his presidential campaign, which was then short on funds. By that time, Deutsche Bank had turned down Trump's request for a loan to support his golf resort in Scotland, fearing "the money would instead be diverted to his campaign."


Justice Department Sues Yale, Citing Race Discrimination

Following a multiyear investigation, the Department of Justice takes issue with the school's admissions practices and has sued Yale for discriminating against white and Asian-American applicants after it found that they were one-eighth to one-fourth as likely to be admitted as African-American applicants with comparable academic credentials.


Health Coverage Among Children Fell for Third Straight Year

According to census data, "the share of children with health coverage in the U.S. fell for the third consecutive year in 2019," even "during a period of economic growth" that preceded the coronavirus job losses that cost more Americans their health insurance.


Nobel Prize in Chemistry Goes to Scientists for Work on Genome Editing

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna developed the Crispr tool, which edits genes in animals, plants, and microorganisms. The technology has far-reaching applications in research seeking cures for genetic disorders.


Nobel Prize in Medicine Goes to Scientists Who Found Hepatitis C Virus

The three scientists were jointly honored for their discovery of the hepatitis C virus, which made possible blood tests and new medicines that can now cure a disease that impacts 71 million people worldwide.


United Nations World Food Program Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel committee said the agency's work to address hunger during the pandemic "had laid the foundations for peace in nations ravaged by war." The program provided assistance to nearly 100 million people in 88 countries in the last year.


FBI Says Michigan Group Plotted to Kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Authorities announced terrorism, conspiracy, and weapons charges against 13 men, at least half of whom had hatched a plan to storm the state capitol and abduct Governor Witmer, who has become a target of anti-government groups angry over coronavirus control measures.


Heavy Traffic Crashes Florida's Voter Registration Site

The state extended its voter registration deadline given the delays many encountered with the online system. The site was experiencing more than one million requests per hour on Monday in anticipation of the midnight Monday deadline.


Texas Attorney General Accused by Top Aides of Abuse of Office

Members of Ken Paxton's staff say that "he should be investigated in connection with offenses including improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal acts" but did not elaborate on the substance of their allegations. Paxton was previously indicted on felony charges related to securities fraud.


New York City Council Expels Members

Andy King, a Democratic councilman from the Bronx, was voted out after an ethics probe. The Council's ethics committee found that the allegations against King, including harassment and discrimination, conflicts of interest and disorderly conduct, were substantiated.


Eric Trump Interviewed in New York Fraud Inquiry

The president's son was questioned under oath this week as part of the New York Attorney General's civil investigation into where Trump's real estate company committed fraud by inflating its assets to secure bank loans and tax benefits.


Top Trump Fund-Raiser Elliott Broidy Charged in Lobbying Case

Broidy is accused of conspiring to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Prosecutors say he attempted to use his political ties to help Malaysian and Chinese interests in the federal investigation of Malaysian fund 1MDB.


Agencies Concede Poor Planning in California Blackouts

The state's three central energy organizations said the rolling blackouts ordered during a heat wave this summer - the first in two decades - were partly attributable to poor planning that, combined with increased demand, led to a reduced power supply. Officials also failed to properly forecast demand immediately before the blackouts and did not buy enough power.


Rochester Case Puts Focus on Police Failures with Mental Health

The methods used by the officers in Daniel Prude's case did little to defuse the situation and have brought renewed focus on police training - and whether resources should be diverted from the police to mental health professionals who can better help in these encounters.


Armenia and Azerbaijan Agree to Ceasefire on Humanitarian Grounds in Nagorno-Karabakh

The deal was brokered by Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and allows for the exchange of war prisoners and the collection of bodies from the battlefield. The conflict between the two sides escalated in recent weeks in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan.


World's Top Experts Affirm That Putin's Rival Was Poisoned

The organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons supported the position of European countries that a form of Novichok was used to poison Navalny.


E.U. Court Rules Against Hungary's Law Targeting Soros-Funded Schools

The ruling requires Hungary to change or repeal the law that effectively expelled an American university founded by George Soros from the country. The European Court of Justice said the law does not meet the requirements of academic freedom. Hungary can face fines for non-compliance.


Germany Documents Extremism in Forces

A report by the country's intelligence agency identified more than 1,400 instances in which members of the armed forces, "police offices and intelligence officials were suspected of extremist actions," which included joining far-right chat groups and sharing neo-Nazi propaganda. QAnon is also gaining momentum in Germany, where U.S. conspiracy theories are animating the country's far-right fringe.



Greek Neo-Fascist Party Guilty Found to Be a Criminal Organization

The country's far-right party, Golden Dawn, has been found guilty of running a criminal organization after it was tied to a string of deadly attacks.



2020 Had the Warmest September on Record

European scientists say that worldwide, last month was the warmest September on record, second only to 2019. Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest levels ever recorded due to record high temperatures.


Hotter Days Widen Racial Gap in U.S. Schools

Lack of air conditioning in schools has led to worse test scores for Black and Hispanic children during heat waves. In finding this link between heat exposure and reduced learning, researchers say the detrimental impact of climate change will disproportionately affect people of color.


Hurricane Delta Makes Landfall in Louisiana

It was the 10th hurricane to hit the U.S. this year and came so soon after Hurricane Laura hit the Louisiana coast. Storm surge warnings remain in effect.


Wolverines Denied Federal Protection

The federal government said it had decided against protecting wolverines because populations were stable, adding that "its own earlier concerns about the effects of global warming on the species had been overstated."


New England's Ailing Forests

Arborists say they are spending more time taking down dead or unhealthy trees and are incorporating climate change into their decisions
because the phenomenon is taking a toll on woodlands in the Northeast. Many species are being threatened by disease and felled by storms, at a time when there is a shortage of arborists to address the growing issue.


The Benefits of Being Outdoors

The article discusses the mental health benefits of going on "awe walks," where people take a fresh look at the objects and vistas that surround them.


Prince William Launches Environmental Prize

The Earthshot Prize is worth $65 million. The goal is to select 50 projects over the next 10 years to reward innovative solutions that address
climate change and other environmental issues.


Coronavirus Update

White House Blocks, Then Approves, New Coronavirus Vaccine Guidelines

The Food and Drug Administration "proposed stricter guidelines for emergency approval of a coronavirus virus." The requirements "call for gathering comprehensive safety data in the final stage of clinical trials before an emergency authorization can be granted." The White House first objected to the provisions, since they would effectively guarantee that no vaccine could be authorized before Election Day, but reversed course and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released them on Tuesday.



Vaccine Trials Struggle to Find Black Volunteers

Reports from Pittsburgh show the deep mistrust that African American communities have of vaccines. So far, only about 3% of the people who have signed up nationally are Black.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Says That Coronavirus Can Linger Indoors

In new advice posted to its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges airborne transmission and says the virus can spread beyond six feet indoors by both large and small droplets released when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk or breathe.


Hundreds of Thousands of Women Drop Out of the Workforce

The article examines the ways pandemic has caused hundreds of thousands of women to leave the job market. Families "buckling under the caregiving burden" have had the lower wage earner, who is usually the woman, leave the workforce to care for children in the face of school and child care center closures.


Trump Suggests Gold Star Families May Be to Blame for His Infection

After testing positive for the coronavirus, the president suggested that family members of fallen military veterans may have been responsible for the transmission because they "come within an inch of my face sometimes."


Under Pence, Politics Regularly Seeped into Coronavirus Response

The article recounts exchanges between Vice President Pence and staffers showing that political considerations seeped into the administration's decisions about how to respond to the coronavirus. "Science-based projections were sometimes de-emphasized for rosier predictions" and the taskforce was "bent on carrying out the president's agenda."


CDC's Order for Masks on Transit Was Blocked

The White House blocked the CDC from mandating masks on public transit. The order was drafted last month and would have required "all passengers and employees to wear masks on all forms of public and commercial transit in the United States." The White House Coronavirus Task Force declined to discuss the draft order, saying that the decision to require masks should be left up to states and local authorities.


CDC Director Faces Pressure to Speak Out

Former director of the CDC and renowned epidemiologist William Foege is calling on CDC director Robert Redfield to expose the failed U.S. response to the coronavirus. He called for this action in a private letter, saying that speaking up at this point would ensure there would be a record of the administration's failures that could not be dismissed.


How the White House Flouted Basic Coronavirus Rules

The article reports on White House practices that precipitated an outbreak and led to more than 20 people becoming infected. The article touches on the reliance on rapid tests alone, non-compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines, violation of local restrictions on gatherings, lack of contact tracing and failure to quarantine or isolate on the part of those working in the White House.


White House Plans Week Full of Events with Potential Risks

A week after his hospitalization, President Trump is planning to hold rallies again. Following a gathering of conservative activists on the South Lawn, whom Trump addressed from the White House balcony, he is next expected to fly to Florida, Pennsylvania, and Iowa for rallies. Attendees will still be asked to sign a waiver but will be required to wear a mask and submit to temperature checks.



President Trump Projects Strength While Physicians Disclose Alarming Episodes

Despite the president's account that his condition was never serious and has since improved, troubling facts have emerged after his doctors acknowledged two alarming episodes not previously disclosed. His doctors said the president's blood oxygen level dropped twice in the two days post-diagnosis, and that he had been put on steroids.

Meanwhile, most of the joint chiefs are under quarantine due to exposure, but military officials said "all of the service chiefs had full operational capability from where they were working ... [and] their quarantine would not mean any degradation to the country's national defense."



Trump is Undermining Public Health Messages with His Comments

Experts were outraged by the president's comments urging Americans not to be afraid of COVID and not to let it dominate their lives, saying the message was irresponsible and encouraged his followers to ignore basic recommendations. Despite the president's illness, many of his supporters still scoff at masks and other safety measures as the president continues to downplay the risk and called contracting the virus "a blessing from God."




Safety Concerns for the Secret Service

As a willingness to say "yes" to the president is central to the job, questions are being asked about the extent to which that guiding principle will subject secret service agents' health "to the whims of a contagious president." Medical experts were particularly critical of Trump's actions last week when he took a ride on a hermetically sealed vehicle with two Secret Service agents present in personal protective equipment.


Attorney General Barr Plans to Return to Work After Negative Tests

Barr is considered an essential worker exempt from guidelines requiring 14-day quarantine following exposure. Barr was present at the White House event linked to the outbreak but has tested negative several times.


Experts Say Plexiglass Barriers Won't Stop Virus at the Debate

Public health experts said plexiglass barriers installed for the vice-presidential debate will not prevent airborne transmission. The barriers might have made a difference if they were not seated more than 12 feet apart, but they don't protect against aerosols that can carry the virus indoors. Vice-president Pence's team initially objected to the measure but later accepted its use.



Judge Upholds New York's Restrictions on Gatherings in Houses of Worship

After an emergency hearing, a federal judge declined to temporarily block an executive order restricting gatherings at synagogues and other houses of worship, "finding that the rules did not violate the free exercise of religion for Orthodox Jews," even though she sympathized with the order's impact on the Orthodox Jewish community.


Man Charged in Death of Bar Patron Following Mask Wearing

An 80-year old man was killed after asking a bar patron to wear mask near Buffalo, New York. Following a physical altercation with the patron, the man was pushed to the ground and later died. A 65-year-old man of West Seneca, New York, was arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide.


Signs Suggest Second Wave for Northeast

Several states in the Northeast are seeing new clusters of the coronavirus, prompting authorities to tighten or put in place restrictions to avoid the upward trend in cases from turning into a second wave.


Trump Raises Stimulus Offer to $1.8 Trillion; Senate Republicans Denounce Offer

After negotiations failed earlier in the week, the president proposed a plan that was nearly double the original offer last put forward by the administration. Trump had called off talks earlier in the week, hours after the Federal Reserve chair "warned that the pace of the economic recovery would" be slower that initially expected and called for economic support. Many thought the move signalled growing concerns among vulnerable Senate Republicans facing re-election that voters will blame the party for failing to deliver aid, but Senate Republicans balked "at what they called an exorbitantly costly plan" that "would amount to a death knell for the party's ambitions to retain its majority in the Senate."





Lenders Wait for Guidance on Loan Forgiveness

Business owners who received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program are waiting for information on how to apply for loan forgiveness as many lenders have yet to start accepting applications. There is also the possibility that "Congress will pass a proposal to automatically forgive debt of less than $150,000, the bulk of the loans made under the program."


As Coronavirus Invades West Wing, White House Reporters Face Higher Risks

At least three White House correspondents have tested positive for the coronavirus, as has the press secretary and two of her deputies. The reporters have taken it upon themselves to create makeshift signs about mask-wearing in the absence of White House protocols for the press corps. BuzzFeed recently pulled its reporter, citing "concerns about working indoors during an outbreak."



Families of Workers Who Died of COVID-19 Following Meat Plant Outbreak Fight for Compensation

The families of employees at a Colorado meat-processing plant are seeking compensation after the workers fell ill or died of COVID-19. So far, JBS has denied "compensation claims on the grounds that the illnesses were not necessarily work related," while also relying on the fact that it is difficult to trace exactly where the individuals became infected.


Clinical Trials Hit by Ransomware Attack on Health Tech Firm

Philadelphia company eResearch Technology, whose software is used in clinical trials, was hit by a ransomware attack that slowed some of these trials because employees were locked out of the data. An earlier ransomware attack also impacted a major hospital chain (Universal Health Services) in the U.S.


Nearly One-Third of COVID Patients in Study Had Altered Mental State

A Chicago-area study of 509 hospitalized patients showed they had "signs of deteriorating neurological function, ranging from confusion to coma-like unresponsiveness." These patients stayed in hospital three times as long, and of those discharged, only 32% could handle routine daily activities.


Pandemic Has Hindered Best Practices for Reducing Violence

While reported crime has declined this year, shootings and homicides are up around the country. The reason for these counterintuitive results might be the pandemic and the fact that it has upended many of the programs devised to reduce gun violence, like group behavioral therapy, social services, and job training, that have either moved online or were cancelled.


New Zealand Emerges from Lockdown with Zero Cases

After a second round of strict lockdown, New Zealand has stamped out the virus once again, but experts caution that the country's small population and isolation means that it has more favorable conditions to manage the disease.


October 9, 2020

Theater News for the Week of October 9th

By Bennett Liebman

Breaking: Broadway Shutdown Extends Through May 2021, https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Breaking-Broadway-Shutdown-Extends-Through-May-2021-20201008

There's Not Much Work for Actors. Now Their Unions Are Fighting., https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/07/theater/actors-equity-union-battle.html

Actors' Equity Denies Asking SAG-AFTRA For "Waiver" In Ongoing Jurisdictional Dispute, https://deadline.com/2020/10/actors-equity-sag-aftra-waiver-taping-live-theate-jurisdictional-dispute-1234593868/

Sarah Jessica Parker: We Must Save Broadway, https://variety.com/2020/legit/news/sarah-jessica-parker-broadway-1234794721/

After COVID-19 Shutdown, 7 Broadway Actors Return to Their Theaters, https://variety.com/gallery/broadway-coronavirus-pandemic/

Chicago's famed Second City comedy theater is now fully up for sale, https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-second-city-chicago-sale-20201006-6hdncmybcvewjo7ktk5fzukvoa-story.html

Best And Brightest Of Broadway Surprise Times Square With Pop-Up Performance, https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2020/10/08/a-moment-for-broadway-performance-times-square-bernadette-peters-joel-grey-max-von-essen-coronavirus-covid-19-broadway/

Equity-League Increases Minimum Work Hours for Healthcare Eligibility, https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/equity-league-actor-healthcare-eligibility-71853/

"Instead of call-out culture, we're calling them in", https://brooklynrail.org/2020/10/theater/Instead-of-call-out-culture-were-calling-them-in-Broadway-Advocacy-Coalition-fights-for-change-on-a-grassroots-and-now-industry-wide-level

SITI Company Announces Final Season, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/07/theater/siti-company-final-season.html

Some NY arts institutions have seen 40% decreases in income. What they're doing to survive., https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2020/10/08/some-ny-arts-institutions-have-seen-40-decreases-income-what-theyre-doing-survive/3622397001/

How Broadway is keeping busy, nearly 7 months into shutdown, https://www.marketplace.org/2020/10/05/how-broadway-is-keeping-busy-nearly-7-months-into-shutdown/

Richard Armitage: 'Theatre is hanging on by a thread', https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/oct/08/richard-armitage-theatre-is-hanging-on-by-a-thread

Royal Shakespeare Company says more than 150 roles at risk due to pandemic, https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/oct/06/royal-shakespeare-company-says-more-than-150-roles-at-risk-due-to-pandemic

Ruben Santiago-Hudson to join Manhattan Theatre Club as artistic advisor, https://broadwaynews.com/2020/10/06/ruben-santiago-hudson-to-join-manhattan-theatre-club-as-artistic-advisor/

October 7, 2020

Termination Rights, Loan out Companies and Tax Planning for Artists in the Recording Business

By Marc Jacobson, Esq. and Jerome M. Hesch, Esq.

Marc Jacobson, Esq. of New York, New York is an entertainment lawyer practicing in the music, film and television industries. He is the Founding Chairman of the New York State Bar Association Section on Entertainment Arts and Sports Law, and is consistently listed in Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers as a leading entertainment lawyer.

Jerome M. Hesch, Esq. of Miami, Florida serves as an income tax and estate planning consultant for lawyers and other tax planning professionals throughout the country. He is the Director of the Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute, is on the Tax Management Advisory Board, and a Fellow of both the American College of Trusts and Estates Council and the American College of Tax Council. He was elected to the NAEPC Estate Planning Hall of Fame.

In the past, recording artists frequently entered into agreements with record labels through a loan out corporation, which two recent cases confirm had the effect of eliminating their ability to exercise the statutory termination right, as codified in the 1976 Copyright Act. This blog will address how a loan out corporation in a recording agreement can be used to allow the artist to maintain his/her/their rights (if any) to terminate copyrights granted to the record label, while simultaneously preserving the ability to use the loan out corporation to reduce the artist's income tax liability while avoiding certain income tax traps. Two recent court decisions in the Southern District of New York held that if an artist's loan out corporation ("Grantor") transfers a copyright to the record label, the artist does not have the right to terminate the grant of copyright to the record label, even in the face of the artist's simultaneous execution of inducement letters and covenants to execute assignments of copyright to the record label upon the record label's request. The court decisions may be used to guide artists in using a loan out corporation to achieve significant income tax benefits and to preserve their termination rights.

What is Copyright Termination?

In recognition of the unequal bargaining power present when a new artist signs an agreement with a record label or other third party, the 1976 Copyright Act enacted provisions that permit an author (or the author's heirs) to terminate a prior grant of a copyright after a stated period of years. (17 USC §§ 203 and 304.) The termination will only be effective in the United States. The party exercising those rights must follow rigorous requirements to ensure that the termination is effective. As the termination does not happen automatically, the author or his/her/their heirs must take action to exercise those rights. Upon achieving an effective termination, the author or the author's heirs become the owners of the U.S. rights to the terminated works. Upon the effective date of termination, the author or author's heirs can enter into a new agreement with respect to those rights with any third party, including the original record label.

What is a Loan Out Corporation?

A loan out corporation is typically a corporation owned by an athlete, musician, entertainer, or another person in a similar business ("Artist") The loan out corporation enters into an employment agreement with the Artist. The loan out corporation then leases the Artist's services to others, such as a record label. Generally, the Artist is the sole shareholder of the loan out corporation. The loan out corporation enters into various agreements with third-party companies that want to engage the Artist. The Artist frequently signs an inducement letter, inducing the third party to enter into the agreement. In the inducement letter, the Artist agrees to provide services to the third party on behalf of the loan out corporation. Without the inducement letter, it is conceivable that the loan out corporation could engage another person to fulfill the obligations undertaken by the loan out corporation, and not the Artist, which would frustrate the purpose of the agreement.

A loan out corporation can accomplish several important objectives. One is to limit personal liability for the Artist. (But see NY Bus & Corp Law §630(a), which makes the top 10 shareholders of a private New York or foreign corporation qualified to do business in New York personally liable for unpaid wages to employees of the corporation.) It is worth noting that the corporation will not necessarily shield the Artist from liability for contributory or vicarious copyright infringement, because the Artist will often have the authority and ability to control the actions of the loan out corporation. The loan out corporation also provides certain financial benefits. Generally, a service provider such as an Artist, must report compensation in the year the compensation is paid, even if the right to collect the compensation is received by another. As an employee of the loan out corporation, a large portion of the compensation may not be immediately taxed if it is transferred to the Artist's retirement plan, thereby postponing the payment of income tax to that time when the person retires and withdraws funds from the pension plan. (An employee can postpone reporting the compensation income received by a retirement plan to age 72 and thereafter.) Another income tax advantage was created under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, where commissions paid by artists to agents, or managers, or legal fees paid in connection with securing employment are not tax-deductible. However, these expenses are tax-deductible if paid by a corporation.

What is the Assignment of Income Doctrine?

The ability to use a retirement plan to receive the Artist's compensation can avoid immediate income taxation under the Assignment of Income Doctrine. In Commissioner v. Banks, 543 US 426 (2005), the U.S. Supreme Court described the assignment of income doctrine this way: "The Internal Revenue Code defines "gross income" for federal tax purposes as "all income from whatever source derived." The definition extends broadly to all economic gains not otherwise exempted. A taxpayer cannot exclude an economic gain from gross income by assigning the gain in advance to another party. The rationale for the so-called anticipatory assignment of income doctrine is the principle that gains should be taxed "to those who earn them," a maxim we have called "the first principle of income taxation," the anticipatory assignment doctrine is meant to prevent taxpayers from avoiding taxation through "arrangements and contracts however skillfully devised to prevent [income] when paid from vesting even for a second in the man who earned it." (Citations omitted).

The Southern District of New York Class Action Cases.

Last year, two putative class actions were filed by the same law firms, representing different plaintiffs, against Sony and Universal Music Group, comprising two of the three major record labels, (No similar claim was filed by these lawyers against Warner Music Group ("WMG") the third major record company.), (i) seeking a declaratory judgement that copyright termination notices served by the recording artists were effective (the record label's position was that such notices were not effective) and (ii) asserting that the record labels committed copyright infringement by continuing to exploit the works after the effective date of these termination notices. (Waite, et al v. UMG Recordings, et. al., Case number 1:19-cv-01091 (USDC SDNY Judge Kaplan) ("Waite") and Johansen, et. al. v. Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. et. al., Case number 1:19-cv-01094 (USDC SDNY Judge Ramos).) The defendants moved to dismiss in both cases. Sony's motion to dismiss the complaint against it was denied in its entirety. (Johansen v. Sony, Docket No. 61, Order, dated March 31, 2020.) UMG's motion to dismiss was granted, with respect to the plaintiffs' claims based on grants transferred by third parties (and in two other respects not relevant to this blog and denied in other respects.) (Waite v. UMG, Docket No. 68, Order with Memorandum Opinion dated March 31, 2020 ("Waite I").) A later decision in the same case denied the plaintiffs' motion to file a Second Amended Complaint, which sought to remedy the failures of the first complaint to properly allege that artists who relied on a loan out corporation to enter into the agreement with UMG still had the right to terminate the purported grant of copyright to the record label. (Waite v. UMG, Docket No. 89, Order with Memorandum Opinion dated August 10, 2020 ("Waite II").)

Who is the Grantor?

A threshold inquiry in any analysis of termination rights is who assigned the copyrights (i.e., who is the grantor of the copyright). The grantor may be an individual, several individuals as co-authors of a work, a partnership, a corporation, an LLC or a trust. In the first Waite court decision ("Waite I"), John Waite, a named plaintiff and the relevant recording artist, assigned his copyright to a loan out corporation. In turn the loan out corporation, as Grantor, assigned its copyright to UMG. In return, UMG agreed to pay the loan out corporation an advance and agreed to pay future royalties to the loan out corporation, earned from UMG's exploitation of the copyrights it acquired. In the complaint in Waite I, the plaintiff asserted that the loan out corporation was his alter ego and should be disregarded. The Waite I court refused to disregard the loan out corporation and respected the loan out corporation as the grantor of the copyrights. As the complaint in Waite I stated that Waite was the Grantor, and because only the Grantor can assert termination rights, the court in Waite I had to respect the form. Therefore, the complaint was dismissed.

In its papers, the plaintiffs asserted that "the loan out company was only a tax-planning device." The court held, however, "Even so, people cannot use a corporate structure for some purposes - e.g. taking advantage of tax benefits - and then disavow it for others. While Waite and his loan out companies...perhaps are distinct entities only in a formal legal sense, the statutory text is clear: termination rights exist only if the author executed the grant." (Waite I, Section V.)

The plaintiffs later moved to file a Proposed Second Amended Complaint, and the court in Waite II maintained its position that if the contracting party was a loan out corporation, then termination rights did not belong to individual artist plaintiffs, such as Waite. (Waite II, Section IV.) This Proposed Second Amended Complaint also made allegations that plaintiff Waite signed inducement letters in favor of the record label, and also alleged that the plaintiffs agreed to execute any assignments of copyright requested by the record label. The Waite II court held that "the agreements at issue were between the recording company and the third party. And therefore, it was the third party, not the artist that granted the transfer of copyright."

The inducement letters and agreements to execute an assignment, all common in recording agreements, did not save the plaintiff's assertion that the individual artist still could terminate these grants. The court denied the motion to permit filing a Second Amended Complaint with regard to terminations by artists who used loan out companies to contract with the record label on the artist's behalf. (Id.)

These cases provide guidance on how to structure a recording agreement to achieve the Artist's objectives. However, this blog will not address the merits of these cases or prognosticate as to whether the claims will ultimately be successful. Since this is the second decision in the case in which the court held that the grantor was not the individual artist, but was the loan out corporation, the artist's lawyers should consider how to preserve the tax planning benefits of using a loan out corporation, while also preserving the right to terminate the grant of copyrights. However, the question of whether the termination right exists is also beyond the scope of this blog. (Many record companies provide in their agreements with artists that the recordings created are "works made for hire" for the record company. The gravamen of these cases is to challenge that position.) For purposes of this blog, we assume that the right does exist.

The Problem.

Waite I and Waite II make clear that if the loan out corporation is the party to the agreement with the record label, the Artist who owns the loan out corporation loses his/her/their right to terminate any grant of copyrights to the record label. Therefore, in order to preserve termination rights, the Artist must be in direct privity with the record label. Yet without the loan out corporation, (i) the individual cannot deduct currently any agent and manager's commissions, or legal fees in connection with the Artist's work in the industry and (ii) the individual loses the ability to create and fund defined benefit or defined contribution retirement plans, which significantly enhance the income tax benefits available to the Artist upon retirement. Simply keeping the loan out corporation on the sidelines and assigning income to the loan out corporation will not work under the Assignment of Income Doctrine.

The Solution.

Prior to executing the agreement with the record label, the Artist should form a corporation, establish himself/herself/themselves as the sole shareholder (and director) and enter into an employment agreement with the corporation by which the Artist agrees to provide services to the corporation. The Corporation should timely elect Sub-Chapter S status. (Internal Revenue Code §1363 (a) "...an S corporation shall not be subject to the taxes imposed by this chapter.") If the election is filed within 75 days of the formation of the corporation, then the corporation is not subject to Federal income tax for so long as the corporation complies with the statutory requirements. New York State also recognizes Subchapter S corporations, and does not tax their net incomes, either, provided that election for New York State is also made timely. (NY Tax Law §208 1-A, and NY Tax Law §1450(f). Note, however, that while New York State recognizes a single level of taxation for Federal S. corporations, New York City does not recognize that single level of taxation, thus creating "double income tax" for New York City based S. Corporations.)

Separately, the Artist should enter into the agreement with the record label directly. Thus, to the extent that any termination rights exist, the Artist will have such rights and will be in direct privity with the record label.

With the record label's permission, the Artist should assign all of his/her/their rights to receive income to his/her/their loan out corporation. As an accommodation to the Artist, labels frequently accept letters of direction, which instruct the label to pay third parties to which the Artist may have an obligation. This proposed assignment typically does not generate an objection from the record label. The loan out corporation will pay the Artist a salary, engage agents, lawyers, and managers on the artist's behalf, and can defer the taxation of current income by funding a pension or retirement plan in addition to those plans that might be available from any applicable guilds to which the Artist may belong.

The Potential Hiccup.

What about the Assignment of Income doctrine? Since the Subchapter S corporation is a pass-through entity for Federal income tax purposes, and in our example is wholly owned by the Artist, any net income in the corporation is not taxed at the corporation level but is reported by the Artist and he/she/they pays tax on that income. That has the same effect of having the Artist receive the income directly. This solves the assignment of income problem, permits all termination rights to be preserved and all tax benefits to be realized.

Here is a simple example: Artist forms a loan out corporation that elects to be an S corporation for Federal and NY State income tax purposes. Artist owns all the shares in the loan out corporation and is its sole employee. The loan out corporation leases its employee to the unrelated record label. During the first year, the record label pays the loan out corporation $135,000, which the loan out corporation reports as revenues. The corporation pays $10,000 of operating expenses, e.g., commissions, legal fees and makes a $25,000 pension contribution to the Artist's qualified retirement plan. With $35,000 of business expenses, the corporation's net income before deducting the Artist's $100,000 salary is $100,000. The S corporation's taxable income is therefore zero. As an employee, Artist reports all $100,000 of compensation income.

Here is another example: Let us assume that the loan out corporation does not elect Subchapter S status and remains as a C corporation. In the assignment of income court decisions, the service provider received a salary far less than the income the C Corporation generated from leasing its employee to third parties. The IRS attacked these arrangements because the corporate income tax rates were far less than the individual income tax rates, and it alleged that this was an assignment of income from a high tax bracket taxpayer to a lower income tax bracket taxpayer. If the Artist pays the same operating expenses as in the prior example, and makes the same contribution to the pension plan, and receives a salary for all of the C corporation's income after deduction of pension contributions and operating expenses, there is no net income in the corporation (on which income tax would be due), and therefore, no assignment of income to a taxpayer in a lower income tax bracket. (See, Johnson v. Comm'r. 78 T.C. 882 (1982) (IRS Win) and Laughton v. Comm'r., 40 B.T.A. 101 (1939) (taxpayer win).)

October 5, 2020

Week In Review

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:


British Academy of Film and Television Arts Takes Steps to Be More Diverse

After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Oscars, introduced diversity criteria for nominated films, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) announced its own changes. Starting with the awards in 2021, all 6,700 voting members of BAFTA will have to undergo unconscious bias training before casting any ballots. It also announced rules aimed at increasing the diversity of films considered with more specific interventions for some categories of the awards. Another major change is that a studio will only be able to nominate an actor for a lead or supporting award, not both categories, as previously allowed. In addition, BAFTA plans to increase its membership by 1,000 with goals for underrepresented groups. The British film awards, like the Oscars, have been repeatedly denounced for its lack of diversity.


In Los Angeles, Weinstein Faces Six Charges of Sexual Assault

Harvey Weinstein, the once powerful movie mogul who was sentenced in March to 23 years in prison for sex crimes, has been charged with 6 additional counts of forcible sexual assault in Los Angeles. The new charges stem from incidents that happened more than a decade ago and add to the growing case against him. Weinstein, 68, now faces a total of 4 counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation, 2 counts of sexual battery by restraint and one count of sexual penetration by use of force involving 5 victims for crimes dating from 2004 to 2013.



Alexander v. Take-Two

Catherine Alexander, a tattoo artist from Illinois, sued Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., 2K Games, Inc., 2K Sports, Inc., World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.(WWE) , Visual Concepts Entertainment, Yuke's Co., Ltd., and Yuke's LA Inc. for copyright infringement relating to the tattoos on 13-time world champion professional wrestler Randy Orton. Alexander alleges that various WWE-branded videogames feature "meticulous reproductions" of those tattoos. WWE offered her $450 for the rights to Orton's tattoos, which she declined. The outcome of the case hinges on whether tattooed individuals like Orton have an implied license to their tattoos and whether depiction of an individual's tattoos is fair use. Another potential issue is whether a tattoo is sufficiently "fixed" to warrant copyright protection in the first place. The issue of fair use and implied license are going to a jury. Issue of material fact exists as to whether Alexander suffered actual damages based on the value of the infringing use. The judge adopted a pretty absolutist view of copyrights.


Beyond the Statue Wars: Restoring Erased History

The national movement to bring down statues that symbolize historical oppression is gaining in Massachusetts. The North End's Christopher Columbus statue has remained out of sight since it was decapitated by protesters after George Floyd was killed. While some people, especially in the Italian-American community, want to bring the statue back, some question whether it is time to put another person on a pedestal.


Judge Rules that Lawsuit Over Bolton Book Can Proceed

A judge has ruled that the Trump administration can move forward with its suit against former national security adviser John Bolton over his tell-all book, which officials say contains classified information.


New Health Insurance Hurdle For Unemployed Stage Actors

Facing enormous financial strain because of the shutdown of the theatre industry, the health insurance fund that covers thousands of stage actors is making it more difficult for them to qualify for coverage. Currently, professional actors and stage managers have to work 11 weeks to qualify for 6 months of coverage.


Mellon Foundation to Provide $5 Million to Aid Black Theaters

The Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn, a Black-led artistic institution, will spearhead The Black Seed, a strategic plan that will offer grants to up to 50 theaters across the country. The threaters will receive a significant financial boost, thanks to a multimillion-dollar program. It is described as the first national strategic plan to provide financial support for the Black theaters across the country. It is the largest-ever one-time investment in Black theater.


A New David Zwirner Gallery Plans to Have an All-Black Staff

The megadealer David Zwirner has hired Ebony L. Haynes, a gallerist who is Black, as the director of a new exhibition program and commercial gallery space in Manhattan, for which she plans to employ an all-Black staff. Zwirner has said that Haynes will "have full autonomy" in programming exhibitions. At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has raised awareness about the scarcity and struggles of Black-run galleries, the new Zwirner enterprise represents a strong commitment from a mega dealer.


The Unbearable Whiteness of the Museum Fashion Collection

In the small group of high-culture institutions that venerate the art of fashion, Black designers have been largely overlooked. The Paris fashion museum, Palais Galliera is scheduled to reopen after a 2-year and almost $10 million renovation with the blockbuster exhibition "Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto." There will now be a rotating sample of its permanent collection, which includes approximately 200,000 objects dating from the 18th century to today. It is one of the largest and most extraordinary collections of fashion in the world. Yet of those 200,000 objects, only 77 pieces of clothing were created by Black designers and only 7 Black designers are represented. That's about .04%. It's a startling imbalance, but effectively the status quo in the small group of globally renowned high-culture institutions historically charged with preserving and protecting the art of fashion.


Opening the Doors of Design - the design industry has never been diverse. Can new initiatives fix that?

A tiny portion of designers are Black, but a host of new initiatives, as well as evolving tastes, are working to right the imbalance. Expressions of solidarity with Black Lives Matter across the design industries have poured out on social media. Black-owned design companies and studios are being singled out for support, and larger design firms are pledging to improve diversity and equity. It's time for everyone to figure out how to create a new foundation so we can build a society that supports people and is truly inclusive. For many Black designers, it is a complicated moment. While eager to seize the momentum, some see little reason to trust that talk of greater inclusiveness will translate into results, or that even well-intentioned incremental steps toward diversity will produce substantive change. Herman Miller is founding a Diversity in Design program, for which it hopes to build a consortium of businesses - including competitors - to tackle the issue. Many believe the problem is in the pipeline, so some top design institutions are ramping up efforts to redress the imbalance.


Whitney Biennial Delayed a Year Until April 2022

The Whitney Biennial, which was scheduled for next spring, has been moved forward and will now occur April-August of 2022. It has been postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Pandemic Could be a Needed Reset for the Metropolitan Opera

On September 23, the Metropolitan Opera (the Met) announced that the its cancellation would extend to its entire 2020-21 season. Its leadership realized that if the Met is going to rise again after the virus subsides, the organization must do things differently to prove itself more essential than ever. The work it presents must matter - and how the company presents itself must matter, too. The Met must take time to think about its place within larger societal currents, especially the roiling issues of racial injustice and police brutality that have inspired nationwide demonstrations. Black classical artists and administrators have spoken out powerfully about systemic discrimination within the field. To that end, the ambitious 2021-22 season is also a statement of purpose that seeks to address multiple oversights in the Met's history.


French Colonialism Goes on Trial Along With Art Theft Defendants

Activists are being tried in Paris over the attempted theft of an African artwork from the Quai Branly Museum, which they say was a protest of colonial-era practices. Mwazulu Diyabanza, along with 4 associates, stood accused of attempting to steal a 19th-century African funeral pole from the museum as part of an action to protest colonial-era cultural theft and seek reparations. It was an emotionally charged trial that gave real resonance to Diyabanza's struggle, as a symbolic defendant was called to the stand: France, and its colonial track record. The presiding judge in charge acknowledge the 2 trials: one, judging the group, 4 men and a woman, on a charge of attempted theft for which they could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of about $173,000. THe "other" trial was that of the history of Europe, of France with Africa, the trial of colonials, the trial of misappropriation of the cultural heritage of nations. The political and historical ramifications were hard to avoid.


Italy is Giving "David" a Twin, Sculpted With a 3-D Printer Instead of Chisels

A copy of Michelangelo's David printed in 3-D will be the centerpiece of the Italy Pavilion at the next World Fair. For the past 5 centuries, Michelangelo's David has been celebrated for its sculptural perfection and its embodiment of youthful beauty and strength. Now, Italian officials want the sculpture to help showcase Italian craftsmanship and high-tech expertise in the digital age.


Making Ruins of Mosques and Shrines

According to new estimates of analyzed satellite imagery by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Chinese authorities have destroyed or significantly damaged thousands of religious sites in Xinjiang in recent years. The destruction attests to the Chinese government's drive to erode the cultural and religious heritage of the region and forcibly assimilate its Muslim minorities.



Fortnite Maker Argues Case vs. Apple

Apple and Fortnite maker, Epic Games, sparred in federal court over whether to reinstate the popular game in Apple's App Store, raising antitrust arguments that may reshape a key part of the internet economy and the way people use smartphones. Epic laid out allegations that Apple had abused its power after Apple booted Fortnite form the App store when Epic tried collecting its own payments through the App store. Epic responded by suing Apple, accusing it of violating antitrust laws. Epic argued that Apple's unwillingness to let it use its own payment system was anticompetitive and monopolistic. Apple said that Epic had plenty of alternative ways to distribute its games. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers concluded the hearing by recommending a jury trial in the case in July. She is expected to rule on whether Apple must allow Fortnite back into its App Store in the interim.


Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, Amateur Athletes Act, Watches U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee

The Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020, a bill designed to protect Olympic athletes from abuse, passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The bill would give Congress the power to dissolve the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee's (USOPC) board of directors, as well as any individual sport's governing body, such as USA Swimming or USA Gymnastics, and would more than double the foundation's funding for the U.S. Center for SafeSport. It is now headed to the president. The bill also sets up a bipartisan committee to do a complete review of the USOPC.


College Football Face Cover Rules: Only Partly Followed and Not Enforced

Perhaps more than any other major American sport, football is grappling with a scourge of overt, if not always deliberate, mask violations during competition at the collegiate and professional levels. The National Football League (NFL) has angrily watched some of its biggest names defy its rules. Most of the coaches in SEC, the sport's most prominent collegiate conference, repeatedly breached the league's policy during its opening weekend, and college conferences that are playing football this fall, or planning to, have begun weighing hot to police their stated protocols more forcefully. The question is not easily solved in a sport that has long been politicized, prizes its image as a haven for the macho, and that, at the top ranks of the college game, lacks centralized governance.


NFL Experiences First COVID Outbreak as 8 Members of the Titans Test Positive

The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings are suspending all in-person club activities after the Titans announced that 3 players and 5 other personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus. This is seen as the first coronavirus outbreak for a NFL team during a season that is entering its fourth week. Before now, only a handful of players and slightly more staff members had tested positive during the season. The NFL has been conducting tens of thousands of tests, in a program that it was recently celebrating as a success.


Challenges to NFL Grow as Positive Tests Postpone Patriots-Chiefs Showdown

According to multiple reports, New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton has tested positive for the coronavirus and will be out for the team's upcoming game against the Kansas City Chiefs, a game which was being billed as a quarterback showdown. After the news broke, Sunday's game was postponed, making it the second Week 4 Sunday game to be postponed. Members of the Chiefs's organization have also reportedly tested positive for the virus.


National Basketball Association Weathers its Stormiest Season

Nothing about the 2019-20 National Basketball Association (NBA) season has been normal. There were tragedies and triumphs, setbacks and highlights. When play finally resumed in July after a 4-month hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, it began in a so-called bubble: a self-contained, spectator-free campus at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, as the NBA - at no small cost - fought to the finish line. This turbulent season has challenged how the world sees basketball and, perhaps, how basketball players see themselves.


FIFA to Order Teams to Release Players for World Cup Qualifying

Coronavirus fears, rising infection rates and quarantine rules are raising serious practical concerns before the first round of World Cup qualifiers in South America. After weeks of indecision and discussion, FIFA is planning to order soccer clubs to release players who have been called up for World Cup qualification games next week, a move that is likely to lead to a furious backlash from teams, leagues, and player unions fearful of the risks of international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.


Verdasco Threatens French Open Legal Action After COVID-19 Omission

Spanish tennis player Fernando Verdasco has threatened legal action against the organizers of the French Open after he was forced to withdraw from the tournament following a positive COVID-19 test.


Russian Biathletes File Criminal Complaint Over Alleged Rodchenkov Forgery Claims

Criminal complaints have been lodged with the Swiss prosecutors office over alleged fake signatures by whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov.


Eight Australian Sports Commit to Inclusion Measures for Transgender Athletes

Eight peak Australian sporting bodies - AFL, Hockey Australia, Netball Australia, Rugby Australia, Tennis Australia, Touch Football Australia, UniSport Australia ,and Water Polo - have committed to implementing governance that supports a great level of inclusion for trans and gender diverse people in their sports.



Moderator of Debate Regrets 'Missed Opportunity'

The veteran anchor Chris Wallace conceded that he was initially "reluctant" to step in during the Trump-Biden matchup. In his first interview after the chaotic spectacle, Wallace conceded that he had been slow to recognize that the president was not going to cease flouting the debate's rules. He said that he had "never been through anything like this" and didn't realize "that this was going to be the president's strategy for the entire debate." The Commission on Presidential Debates has since said that it would examine changes to the format of this year's remaining encounters between Biden and Trump, a clear sign of its frustration with the results. The suggestion that moderators be given the power to mute the candidates' microphones - popular on social media in the hours after the event - did not sit well with Wallace.


New Mexico Lawsuit Against Google is Ended

A U.S. district judge has dismissed New Mexico's privacy claims against Google. The judge concluded that federal laws and regulations do not require direct consent from parents when schools participate in Google's education platforms. However, New Mexico's top prosecutor vowed to continue the legal fight to protect children's rights. Under the ruling, New Mexico can amend its complaint.


President Perpetuates Falsehoods, Study Finds

Cornell University researchers analyzing 38 million English-language articles about the pandemic found that Trump was the largest driver of the "indodemic" (falsehoods involving the pandemic). Mentions of Trump made up nearly 38% of the overall "misinformation conversation." The study identified 11 topics of misinformation, including various conspiracy theories, like one that emerged in January suggesting that the pandemic was manufactured by Democrats to coincide with Trump's impeachment trial, and another that purported to trace the initial outbreak in Wuhan, to people who ate bat soup. By far, the more prevalent topic of misinformation was "miracle cures", including Trump's promotion of anti-malarial drugs and disinfectants as potential treatments for COVID-19. That accounted for more misinformation that the other 10 topics combined.


Federal Judge Grants Injunction Against Trump's Ban on China's TikTok

A federal judge halted a Trump administration order to ban TikTok in the U.S. on Sunday. The judge granted a preliminary injunction against the ban, which was set to take effect this past Sunday at midnight and would have force TikTok to be removed from app stores. The ruling did not address other restrictions within the Executive Order that will take effect on November 12th and will make the app harder to use for those already on it. TikTok's lawyers argued that taking away the app was essentially a violation of the rights of users to share their views, both weeks before an election and during a pandemic that is limiting real-life interactions.


Google to Pay $1 Billion to License News Content

Google has committed more than $1 billion to license content from international news organizations, after years of criticism that it was not providing fair compensation for articles and other content linked to by its internet search products. The program is part of a new Google product called News Showcase that will present news from around the world in short snippets that readers can quickly browse on a phone or other device. The company will pay publishers to curate the material that will be presented. The program is starting in Germany and Brazil and will be rolled out to additional countries in the months ahead. Nearly 200 publications have signed on.


Facebook Bans Ads Aiming to Disrupt Vote

Facebook announced that it will prohibit advertising that seeks to "delegitimize" the U.S. election - including ads making allegations of widespread voting fraud or denouncing legitimate voting methods as inherently fraudulent or corrupt - marking yet another concession to critics who decry the platform's rampant misinformation problem and lax fact-checking policies for political ads.


Project Veritas Releases Misleading Video, Part of What Experts Call a Coordinated Effort

A deceptive video was released by the conservative activist James O'Keefe, which claimed through unidentified sources and with no verifiable evidence that Representative Ilhan Omar's campaign had collected ballots illegally, was probably part of a coordinated disinformation effort. O'Keefe's group, Project Veritas, appears to have made an abrupt decision to release the video sooner than planned after the New York Times published a sweeping investigation of Trump's taxes. Project Vertias had hyped the video on social media for several days before publishing it. In posts amplified by other prominent conservative accounts, O'Keefe teased what he said was evidence of voter fraud and urged people to sign up at "ballot-harvesting.com" to receive the supposed evidence when it came out. None of the material in the video actually proved voter fraud.


Fox Anchor Gives Viewers Advice: Wear a 'Damn Mask'

"Fox News Sunday" host and moderator of the first presidential debate, Chris Wallace, urged viewers to "wear the damn mask" after Trump tested positive for COVID-19. He went on to note that the first family took off their masks, going against strict guidelines in place at the debate. Wallace pled for people to "forget the politics [because] this is a public safety health issue."


Justice Department Appeals Injunction Blocking Ban of WeChat

The federal government has appealed a judge's ruling that prevented the Trump administration from imposing a ban on WeChat, the popular Chinese-owned messaging app. The appeal was made at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, escalating the battle over the future of WeChat, owned by the Chinese company Tencent Holdings. Washington has worked to banish Chinese telecommunications products from American networks. Last month, the Department of Commerce moved to block American companies, like Google and Apple, from hosting WeChat in their app stores, as well as bar companies from hosting WeChat's data or helping to deliver content to its users. However, Judge Beeler blocked the ban last month, days before it was supposed to take effect, in response to a request from a group that says it represents WeChat users.


Saudi Journalist's Dream Comes to Life Two Years After His Killing

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) is a Washington-based human rights watchdog that plans to focus on violations by the U.S.'s closest Arab allies and publish articles by political exiles from across the Middle East to carry on Saudi dissent writer Jamal Khashoggi's legacy. Since Khashoggi's death and dismemberment by Saudi agents inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, critics have embraced his case as the grimmest manifestation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's no-holds-barred approach to silencing dissidents within Saudi Arabia and abroad. It was Khashoggi's dream to found an organization in Washington to promote democracy in the Arab world - 2 years after his death, friends and colleges have launched that organization.


American Could Face Prison Time in Thailand After Posting Negative Reviews of a Resort

An American living in Thailand says that he could face up to 2 years in prison for posting negative reviews of a resort. The man was arrested under Thailand's criminal defamation law, which has been used to silence critics and stifle dissent. The hotel that brought charges acknowledges that using the law might be "excessive."


Policing Content, Facebook Incurs a Strongman's Wrath

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is one of a number of populists around the world who rose to power in part by harnessing Facebook to get his unfiltered messages to millions. During his 2016 campaign, his allies flooded the social media platform with misinformation about his opponents and laudatory stories about him. Four years later, after allegations that Facebook aided disruptive misinformation campaigns in many countries, the Silicon Valley giant has put up increasing checks on what politicians and their allies can say online. Duterte is not a fan and has lashed out at Facebook for taking down fake accounts that supported his policies, making vague threats to shut the platform down in the Philippines.


General News

Chuck Schumer Forces Healthcare Vote

In an extremely rare move, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took control of the floor and is forcing a procedural vote on a bill, a step that is typically done only by the Senate majority leader. The action now sets up a vote related to a bill that would protect people with pre-existing conditions if the Supreme Court sides with the Trump administration's Department of Justice and strikes down the Affordable Care Act after arguments are heard in November.


Senators Approves Stopgap Spending Bill to Avoid a Shutdown

The measure provides funding for the government until December 11th, delaying the threat of a shutdown until after the general election.


House Passes $2.2 Trillion Aid Bill by Thin Margin

The House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill in a 214-207 vote, even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued to push for a last-minute, bipartisan compromise on the next round of aid - the vote is a symbolic step from Democrats, as the legislation is widely opposed by Senate Republicans and is not expected to become law.


Justices Rush Census Case on Excluding Immigrants

A lower court had ruled that the Trump administration's plan to alter the census count for congressional reapportionment violated federal law. The Supreme Court has since agreed to move quickly to consider an appeal from the administration that seeks to revive its efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the calculations used to apportion congressional seats. The move will allow the Court to hear the case as soon as December, setting the stage for a ruling on a policy that seeks to upend a constitutional consensus and would generally shift both political power and federal money from Democratic states to Republican ones.


Justices Will Weigh Cases About Ballots and Climate

The justices will consider challenges to Arizona's ban on "ballot harvesting" and a suit against energy companies accused of contributing to climate change. The Arizona case will probably be heard in January, too late to affect the presidential election. But it will give the Supreme Court, in transition after the death of Justice Ginsburg, an opportunity to weigh in on the roiling debate over how elections should be conducted. The case will also test the force of what is left of the Voting Rights Act.


President's Taxes Chart Chronic Losses, Audit Battle, and Income Tax Avoidance

The New York Times obtained Donald Trump's tax information extending over more than 2 decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle, and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years - largely because he reported losing much more money than he made. Further, hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the IRS over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million. The tax returns that Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public.


Trump's TV Façade Rescued Finances and Aided His Rise

The image that was portrayed of Trump on his reality television show "The Apprentice" was all a hoax. Twelve years later, that image of the self-made, self-saved mogul, beamed into the national consciousness, would help fuel Trump's improbable election to the White House. Yet while the story of "The Apprentice" is by now well known, the president's tax returns reveal another grand twist that has never been truly told - how the popularity of that fictional alter ego rescued him, providing a financial lifeline to reinvent himself yet again; then how, in an echo of the boom-and-bust cycle that has defined his business career, he led himself toward the financial shoals he must navigate today.


Senators Speed Review and Prepare to Meet Nominee, Although Hearings to Confirm Face an Imperiled Timeline

The confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court quietly but hastily got underway in the Senate as more than a dozen senators prepared to quiz her in private meetings and their staffs began a deep scrub of her record on and off the bench. The flurry of activity began barely 36 hours after President Trump announced Judge Barrett's nomination. However, with the president ill and a coronavirus outbreak engulfing Washington and spreading to the Senate, a fresh element of uncertainty was introduced into the politically fraught fight over installing Judge Amy Cooney Barrett on the Supreme Court before Election Day, as Republicans vowed to press ahead and Democrats insisted on a pause.


Trump Ally Releases Unverified Intelligence Over Agencies' Doubts

Recent developments on national intelligence have exacerbated concerns that the Trump administration is co-opting government capabilities for its own gain. In one example, mere hours before the first Trump-Biden debate, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe declassified unverified Russian intelligence suggesting Hillary Clinton tried to link Trump to Russia in 2016.


Schiff Sees Disinformation Rise With Trump's Attacks

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff says that foreign adversaries want to undermine confidence in the American election and are amplifying Trump's false assertions. American intelligence officials have seen an uptick in Russian disinformation about mail-in ballots as Trump has escalated his attacks on voting by mail. American intelligence agencies have not explicitly linked the increase in Russian disinformation operations to the president's comments. They would not make such a link without specific intelligence about the Kremlin's marching orders, but officials have acknowledged that Russia always focuses its disinformation efforts on existing controversies to amplify ongoing arguments.


Grand Juror Raises Doubts in How Prosecution Handled Taylor Case

Outrage over grand jury findings in the Breonna Taylor case resurfaced old doubts about the uniquely American legal institution. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a motion to delay the release of audio recordings related to the Taylor case, which added to the mounting list of questions that followed the grand jury's decision to charge only one of the 3 officers involved in the young woman's death. There have been growing calls for transparency in the case. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is among those asking for more transparency in the wake of the grand jury decision. Prosecutors are generally able to set the agenda and control what evidence jurors are presented in court, according to legal experts, but civil rights advocates and attorneys for Taylor's family have raised questions about the volume of evidence presented against the officers.


Taylor Grand Jury Tapes Present Dueling Narratives

Police said that they knocked repeatedly and identified themselves for a minute or more before using a battering ram to enter Breonna Taylor's apartment. Taylor's boyfriend said in police interview that he did not hear them announce themselves. The dueling accounts were contained in hours of recordings made public in a rare release for proceedings that are typically kept secret. The grand jury did not charge the officers with her killing. A court ruled that the content of the proceedings should be a made public after the grand jury's decision angered many in Louisville and around the county and set off renewed protests. The material released does not include juror deliberations or prosecutor recommendations and statements, none of which were recorded, according to the state attorney general's office.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detainees Recall Pressure to Get Surgery

Immigrants detained at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-contracted center in Georgia say they had invasive gynecology procedures that they later learned might have been unnecessary. The Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia drew national attention last month after a nurse filed a whistle-blower complaint claiming that detainees had told her they had their uteruses removed without their full understanding or consent. First-hand accounts are now emerging from detainees who underwent other invasive gynecological procedures that they did not fully understand and which may not have been medically necessary.


Trump's Heckles Send First Debate into Utter Chaos

President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden fiercely clashed in one of the most chaotic and bitter presidential debates in years. Trump frequently interrupted, prompting Biden to tell him to "shut up" as the two fought over the pandemic, healthcare, and the economy. The president was challenged over white supremacist support and refused to condemn a specific far-right group.


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Threatens to Close Embassy in Iraq Unless Attacks Stop

Secretary of State Pompeo has threatened to close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad if Iraqi leaders do not prevent Iranian-backed militias from firing rockets at the compound, and a decision is expected before the election.


Pentagon is Clinging to Old Tools, Panel Warns

A bipartisan House panel said that artificial intelligence, quantum computing, space, and biotechnology were "making traditional battlefields and boundaries increasingly irrelevant" - but that the Pentagon was clinging to aging weapons systems meant for a previous era. The panel's report, called the "Future of Defense Task Force", is one of many underway in Congress in an attempt to grapple with the speed at which the Pentagon is adapting new technologies, often using the rising competition with China in an effort to spur the pace of change. Most reach the same conclusion: for all the talk of embracing new technology, the politics of killing off old weapons systems is so forbidding - often because it involves closing factories or bases, and endangers military jobs in congressional districts - that the efforts falter.


After 340 Years, Pueblo Revolt is Echoing in New Mexico

Indigenous groups in the Southwest are imbuing their activism this year with commemorations of the 340-year-old Pueblo Revolt, one of Spain's bloodiest defeats in its colonial empire. From the protests in the late spring against New Mexico's conquistador monuments to the writing last month emblazoning the walls of Santa Fe and Taos celebrating the Pueblo Revolt, the meticulously orchestrated rebellion that exploded 340 years ago is resonating once again. The increasingly energetic activism in New Mexico points to how the protests across the country over racial injustice and police treatment of African-Americans have fueled an even broader questioning about the racism and inequality that endure in this part of the West.


Pantone's New Color Joins a Movement to Destigmatize Menstruation

Pantone has launched a bold new color to combat menstruation taboos. The release of this new red hue by the Pantone Color Institute builds on the momentum in recent years of the period positivity movement. The bold new shade of red is called "Period" to help destigmatize menstruation.


Racism in the Principal's Office: Seeking Justice for Black Girls

Discipline disparities between Black and white boys have driven reform efforts for years, but Black girls are arguably the most at-risk student group in the U.S. There is a case now that is the subject of what might be a groundbreaking federal lawsuit by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which has drawn on the disparate treatment and discipline rates of Black girls to pursue it. The disproportionate discipline rates of Black boys have long dominated discussions about the harmful effects of punitive discipline policies, but recent high-profile cases have begun to reframe the debate around the plight of Black girls. The disproportionate discipline rates among girls indicate what researchers have long said about all Black children: it is not that they misbehave more than their peers, but their behaviors may be judged more harshly. Black girls in particular are more likely to be punished for subjective infractions like dress code violations and insubordination.


Bitcoin Exchange Owners Face U.S. Criminal Charges

American authorities brought criminal charges last week against the owners of one of the world's biggest cryptocurrency trading exchanges, BitMEX, accusing it of allowing the Hong Kong-based company to launder money and engage in other illegal transactions.


Newly Appointed Judge Steps Down From 9/11 Trial, Citing Personal Conflicts

The recusal of Colonel Stephen Keane from hearing the case at Guantanamo Bay adds another roadblock to restarting pretrial hearings in the long-running case. Keane said he had ties to the New York area and that his Marine career included investigating Al Qaeda, just weeks after getting the job. Since beginning the trial, he became aware of a significant personal connection to persons who were directly affected by the events of 9/11.


Science Finds Way to Speed Breakdown of Plastics

A new cocktail of enzymes that degrades plastic faster is a step to fully recycling soda bottles and other waste. This is a step forward in finding a new form of recycling that is faster, more affordable and works on a larger scale than current methods. The "super-enzyme" could be employed to break down plastic bottles much more quickly than current recycling methods and create the raw material to make new ones, according to the American and British scientists. And it may make it easier to repurpose the material. An estimated 359 million tons of plastic is produced annually worldwide, with at least 150 million tons of it sitting in landfills or in the environment.


'Fifth Girl' in Church Bombing Gets Apology from Alabama's Governor

Governor Kay Ivey offered to have state officials meet with lawyers for a maimed survivor of an infamous racist attack in Birmingham to discuss restitution for an "egregious injustice." Sarah Collins Rudolph had appealed to local and state leaders in Alabama for years, asking for some form of restitution, after the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The explosion blinded her right eye, killed her sister and 3 other girls, and started a struggle with injuries and trauma that weighs on Rudolph to this day. After 57 years, a formal apology from the governor of Alabama brought her one step closer to resolution.


Women Say World Health Organization Staff Abused Them in Congo

The World Health Organization (WHO) has pledged to investigate allegations that aid workers tackling the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo sexually abused and exploited women. WHO and other aid agency staff were accused by 50 women in a joint investigation by 2 news agencies. Local women were allegedly plied with drinks, "ambushed" in hospitals, forced to have sex, and 2 became pregnant. The allegations cover the period between 2018 and March this year.


New York Boss of Union Faces Broad Charges of Corruption

Federal prosecutors say James W. Cahill and 10 others accepted more than $100,000 in bribes in return for using their influence to help employers who had hired nonunion labor. Cahill was one of the most powerful and politically connected union leaders in New York and has been indicted on racketeering and fraud charges. Ten other current and former members of the steamfitters Local 638 where the union leader started his career were also charged.



Coronavirus Deaths Pass One Million

More than one million people have died from the coronavirus worldwide, marking another milestone in the pandemic's brief but devasting history. The death toll now stands at 1,000,555. The grim tally has been reached in fewer than 9 months since the first death caused by the virus was confirmed by Chinese authorities in the city of Wuhan. Since then, the virus has disrupted the everyday lives of billions of people around the globe and caused widespread economic damage. More than 33 million cases have been confirmed worldwide and outbreaks continue to plague many countries.


President in Hospital As He Battles COVID

Trump went through a "very concerning" period last Friday and faces a "critical" next few days in his fight against COVID-19 at a military hospital. Trump's doctors took pains not to reveal the president had received supplemental oxygen at the White House before his hospital admission. The changing and often contradictory accounts created a credibility crisis for the White House at a crucial moment, with the president's health and the nation's leadership on the lines.


Trump is Given Antibody Treatment Not Yet Approved for Emergency Use

Trump received a single dose of an antibody cocktail made by the biotech company Regeneron. Trump received a dose of the experiemental antibody cocktail in addition to several other drugs, including zinc, vitamin D, and the generic version of the heartburn treatment Pepcid. There are no approved treatments for COVID-19, but the Regneron treatment is one of the most promising candidates, along with another antibody treatment developed by Eli Lilly. Both are being tested in patients around the country.


Primed for Mistrust, Many Wonder if White House is Being Forthright

A president who rose to fame - in business, on TV, and in politics - on an archipelago of exaggerations finds himself facing a public skeptical of his account of his own health, but there is no evidence to support the view that Trump and the First Lady are anything but ill. As updates on the president's condition came in, followed by the news that he would be hospitalized, the chatter turned from skepticism that the president was sick to doubts that the White House was being forthright about his condition.


McConnell Postpones Senate Return as Precaution

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he will seek to obtain a consent agreement to delay the return of Senate from Monday to October 19th in the wake of 3 GOP senators testing positive for the coronavirus. McConnell said that the Senate Judiciary Committee's work can continue on October 12th with the confirmation process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.


White House Reveals a Plan to Distribute Millions of Kits

Last week, Trump announced that his administration plans to distribute 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests to Americans that were first promoted back in August. Formally unveiling the plan at the White House Rose Garden, Trump claimed that the tests were there to be made available to teachers who will need it, as many schools across the country have reopened physically while others have chosen to reopen virtually this year. The tests are made by Abbott Laboratories and were touted as a possible game-changer to the pandemic. This sudden plan to release millions of COVID-19 tests is a shift in Trump's previous assertions that more case of COVID-19 were noted because there was more testing happening. In another sudden shift from his previous stances, Trump said that more efforts made in testing and noting asymptomatic cases in low-risk populations should not be cause for alarm or panic. 100 million of the tests would go to states and territories in support of efforts to reopen while 50 million would be allotted for those who are at the most risk of contracting the disease.


White House Pushed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on School Risk

Documents and interviews show how senior officials sought to play down the risks of sending children back to the classroom, alarming public health experts. Top White House officials pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this summer to play down the risks, a strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic. As part of their behind-the-scenes effort, White House officials also tried to circumvent the CDC in a search for alternate data showing that the pandemic was weakening and posed little danger to children.


Claims of Herd Immunity Called 'Nonsense,' as Well as Dangerous

The CDC and leading experts have concluded, using different scientific methods, that as many as 90% of Americans are still vulnerable to infection. This number is important because it means that "herd immunity" - the point at which a disease stops spreading because nearly everyone in a population has contracted it - is still very far off. What epidemiologists found runs strongly counter to a theory being promoted in influential circles that the U.S. has either already achieved herd immunity or is close to doing so, and that the pandemic is all but over.


A Growing Tenue Crisis for Women in Academia

The pandemic has been brutal on many working mothers, especially those with little leverage on the job. Experts say it may be uniquely unforgiving for mothers in so-called up-or-out fields, where workers face a single high-stakes promotion decision. The loss of months or more of productivity to additional child care responsibilities, which fall more heavily on women, can reverberate throughout their careers. An economic historian at Harvard who studies women in the labor market says that this will disproportionately affect female lawyers, accountants, and people in various positions in finance, management, and academics - all of whom have up-or-out or winner-take-all positions.


Women Reconsider Jobs Amid Pandemic Disarray

One in 4 women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to the coronavirus. New data shows that women are being disproportionately affected by today's pandemic. From the beginning of 2015 to the beginning of 2020, the share of women in senior VP roles grew from 23% to 28% with the overall share of women in the C-suite growing from 17% to 21% over that same time period. The pandemic is proving to be a real threat to this progress. Researchers are seeing evidence of women leaving the workforce at higher rates than men. The increase in the number leaving or thinking about leaving the workforce is largely due to the ongoing caregiving crisis facing women which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, with many schools and day care centers remaining closed.


White House Kills CDC Plan to Extend Ban on Cruise Ships

The CDC director wanted a "no sail" order extended until February, a policy that would have upset the tourism industry in the crucial swing state of Florida. The White House has since blocked that order. The current "no sail" policy was originally put in place in April and later extended and was set to expire. The CDC is worried that cruise ships could become viral hot spots as they did at the beginning of the pandemic. The administration will instead allow the ships to sail after October 31st, the date the industry had already agreed to on its own, voluntary plan.


Judge Blocks President's Visa Ban for Foreign Workers

A U.S. federal judge ruled that Trump overstepped his authority when he suspended the issuance of certain types of work visas amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Several associations filed a complaint in which they challenged the validity of Trump's Proclamation 10052, which suspended the issuance of nonimmigrant work visas (particularly J, L, and H category visas) for a period lasting until December 13, 2020 or longer "if necessary."


A Cut to Refugee Limits and a Xenophobic Rant

The Trump administration said it would lower the annual cap on refugees further into rock-bottom record territory as Trump pursues pre-election xenophobic attacks. The change in the number of refugees Trump plans to admit is not drastic: no more than 15,000 in the fiscal year that began last week, down from 18,000 in the 2020 fiscal year, which was a record low. The number was set in a notice sent to Congress last week, shortly before the statutory deadline to set the new limit.


For Many Jobless, 'Short-Term' No Longer Fits

The U.S. economy is facing a tidal wave of long-term unemployment, as millions of people who lost jobs early in the pandemic remain out of work months later and job losses increasingly turn permanent. The Labor Department said that 2.4 million people had been out of work for 27 weeks or more, the threshold it uses to define long-term joblessness. Nearly 5 million people are approaching long-term joblessness over the next 2 months. The same report showed that even as temporary layoffs were on the decline, permanent job losses were rising sharply.


The Pandemic Recession Has Just Begun

There is a straightforward narrative of the economy in 2020: the world shut down in the spring because of the pandemic, causing an economic collapse without modern precedent. A sharp recovery began in May as businesses reopened, but that snapback effect over the summer masked something more worrying: we have entered a longer, slower grind that puts the economy at risk for the indefinite future. In the details of government employment data can be seen a jobs crisis that penetrates deeply into the economy.


Visitors Will Once Again Be Allowed for Inmates

Relatives and friends will be permitted once again to being visiting inmates in federal prisons as of last Saturday, 6 months after such visits were ended over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.


Crisis Highlights Deep-Rooted Problems in Indian Health Service

Few hospital beds, lack of equipment, a shipment of body bags in response to a request for coronavirus tests: the agency providing health care to tribal communities struggled to meet the challenge. Long before the coronavirus, the Indian Health Service, the government program that provides health care to the 2.2 million members of the nation's tribal communities, was plagued by shortages of funding and supplies, a lack of doctors and nurses, too few hospital beds and aging facilities. Now the pandemic has exposed those weaknesses as never before, contributing to the disproportionally high infection and death rates among Native American and fueling new anger about what critics say has been decades of neglect from Congress and successive administrations in Washington.


Virus Pushing New York Into a Financial Abyss

The pandemic has crippled tourism, retail, and the culture sector. It could last for years, and layoffs, service cuts, and added debt are all on the table. The unemployment rate in New York City is 16%, twice as high as in the rest of the country. Personal income tax revenue is expected to drop by $2 billion this fiscal year. Only a third of hotel rooms are occupied, and apartment vacancies in Manhattan have hit a peak. Even as the city has contained the spread of the virus, it has been unable to exert control over its threat to the economy.


New York Becomes the First Big City in the U.S. to Reopen All its Schools

It's a significant moment for the recovery in a city hit hard by the pandemic in the spring. The system, the nation's largest, is welcoming back 500,000 students. It's a major step in its recovery from having been the global epicenter of the pandemic and a hopeful sign for the country's unsteady effort to return children to classrooms.


Ambitious Study in India of Nearly 85,000 Cases Delivers Many Surprises

Researchers found that the rate of death went down in patients over 65 while children of all ages became infected and spread the virus to others. With 1.3 billion people jostling for space, India has always been a hospitable environment for infectious diseases of every kind and the coronavirus has proved to be no exception: the country now has more than 6 million cases, second only to the U.S. The ambitious study of nearly 85,000 of those case and nearly 600,000 of their contacts offers important insights not just for India, but for other low- and middle-income countries.


October 2, 2020

EASL Theater News for the Week of October 2, 2020

By Bennett Liebman

Study Shows Steep Revenue Plunge for Theatres, Some Hope for 2021, https://www.americantheatre.org/2020/09/30/study-shows-steep-revenue-plunge-for-theatres-some-hope-for-2021/

Just 20% of New York theater created by people of color, study finds, https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/sep/30/new-york-theater-shows-broadway-study

Commentary, How LA's Small Theatre Community is Fighting for Its Life, https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-09-30/la-small-theater-community-covid-closures-virtual-festival

Mellon Foundation to Provide $5 Million to Aid Black Theaters, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/01/arts/black-theaters-funding-black-seed.html

More Connecticut theaters move to membership models, https://www.courant.com/ctnow/arts-theater/hc-ctnow-connecticut-theaters-adopt-membership-models-20200928-c6x4usd6u5gp3chga36rcm5kui-story.html

New York City Ballet Dropped From a Woman's Photo-Sharing Lawsuit, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/28/arts/dance/new-york-city-ballet-lawsuit.html

The Shubert Organization Update on Actions Toward Equity and Inclusion, http://shubert.nyc/press/edi-statement-92920/

Broadway leaders applaud inclusion of Save Our Stages in revised Heroes Act, https://broadwaynews.com/2020/09/29/broadway-leaders-applaud-inclusion-of-save-our-stages-in-revised-heroes-act/

As Broadway Reels, One Producing Team Looks For A New Normal, https://www.forbes.com/sites/leeseymour/2020/09/25/as-broadway-reels-one-producing-team-looks-for-a-new-normal/#47984b533a6b

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sues Brown Paper Tickets, https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/washington-state-attorney-general-bob-ferguson-sues-brown-paper-tickets/

Unemployed Stage Actors to Face New Health Insurance Hurdle, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/01/theater/stage-actors-health-insurance.html

Theaters Could Become Acquisition Targets During Pandemic, https://www.forbes.com/sites/marchershberg/2020/09/28/theaters-could-become-acquisition-targets-during-pandemic/#1fcad9372960

Carrie Hope Fletcher: 'The arts aren't viable? See how you feel without them!', https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/sep/30/carrie-hope-fletcher-the-arts-arent-viable-see-how-you-feel-without-them

Shakespeare is under threat from campus censors and Twitter mobs, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/classic-books/shakespeare-threat-campus-censors-twitter-mobs/

September 29, 2020

Week In Review

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:


Batiste v. Lewis (5th Cir.)

New Orleans jazz musician Paul Batiste sued hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for copyright infringement, saying that the pair digitally sampled 11 of his songs. The Court held that Batiste presented insufficient evidence to create a genuine dispute as to whether the defendants actually copied his music. Batiste failed to show access or that the songs were strikingly similar.


Actor Faces Threat From Doobie Brothers

A lawyer for the Doobie Brothers band is demanded that actor Bill Murray pays for using the group's hit song "Listen to the Music" in an ad for his William Murray golf wear. The "upbeat call for world peace" song was used in an ad for a $50 polo called Zero Hucks Given. In the demand letter, the lawyer also said that Murray had used songs owned by other clients without permission.



Iantosca v. Elie Tahari, Ltd. (SDNY)

Mark Iantosca is a professional photographer who photographed a digital content creator wearing the defendant's clothing. The defendant then posted the photograph to its social media pages. The plaintiff claims that the defendant did so without permission or obtaining a license to do so. The defendant challenges the copyright claim, because the plaintiff did not have a certificate of copyright registration for the photo when the complaint was filed. The defendant also argues permissible fair use, de minimus use, and credit to the photographer. The court held that reposting the photo to the brand's social media pages is not "trivial" because it is a business utilizing a professional photographer's work to promote its products. Attribution is not a defense against copyright and usage did not meet fair use test.


Coronavirus Relief Fund Raises Nearly $20 Million for Artists

A coalition of organizations administering the Artist Relief Fund - the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Aritsts - has raised nearly $20 million since launching in April and has extended grant-making through December. The initiative provides unrestricted $5,000 relief grants to artists facing financial emergencies due to the impact of the COVID-19.


Hiller v. Success Group International

A jury has concluded that Hiller, the largest home-services company in Tennessee, had a valid copyright in the Guide and that the Success workbook copied protected elements of the Guide to train its technicians. Request for declaratory relief invaliding Hiller's copyright was rejected and affirmed by the Sixth Circuit. The jury concluded that Hiller created enough original material to gain copyright protection and was correctly instructed that the Guide's incorporation of some Clockwork-copyrighted content did not invalidate Hiller's copyright in the Guide's original parts.


The Metropolitan Opera Cancels Its Entire 2020-21 Slate

The Metropolitan Opera (Met) announced that because of the pandemic, it has cancelled its entire 2020-21 season; however it also announced ambitious artistic plans for its 2021-22 season, which will open with the Met premiere of Terence Blanchard's "Fire Shut Up in My Bones". Blanchard's opera is the first by an African American composer to be performed at the Met.


The Delay of a Retrospective Has Divided the Art World

The decision by four major museums to delay until 2024 a much-awaited retrospective of the modernist painter Philip Guston is roiling the art world, with some calling the decision a necessary step back during a period of surging racial justice protests and others deeming it a cowardly avoidance of challenging works of art. The retrospective, the first in more than 15 years, was supposed to open in June at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The decision came after museums organizing the exhibition decided that Guston's familiar motif of cartoonish, haggard white-hooded Ku Klux Klansmen needed to be better contextualized for the current political movement.


Can Luxury Fashion Ever Regain its Luster?

The ground beneath the industry is heaving under the weight of a pandemic that has caused a plunge in sales, shocked global supply chains, and pushed American household names such as Brooks Brothers and Lord & Taylor to bankruptcy. Those shifts have prompted big questions about the business model of luxury fashion. The second quarter of 2020 was the luxury fashion industry's worst and industry growth is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2023 or 2024.


Madrid Opera Shut Down by Audience Angry About Crowding

A performance of Giuseppe Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" at the Teatro Real was canceled after spectators spent more than an hour shouting and clapping to protest against what they said were insufficient social distancing measures in the opera house's mezzanine levels.


Report Links U.K. Treasures to Colonialism and Slavery

93 properties managed by Britain's National Trust, the revered conservation society, cited in a recent report that they have direct connections to slavery and colonialism. The disclosure was said to have been done in an effort to shed a light on the "complex" and sometimes "hugely uncomfortable" stories behind the properties and their owners. Twenty-nine of the properties were among thousands across the country that received government payments as compensation for loss of "slave property" after Britain abolished slavery in parts of its empire in 1833. This just underscores the fact that the practice of enslaving African people was a fundamental part of the British economy in the late 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries.



Finish Line in Sight, The Bubble is Holding

With the presentation of the Stanley Cup just days away, the National Hockey League will soon be able to take a victory lap for being the first of the four major North American pro sports leagues to complete a season during the coronavirus pandemic. The quality of the hockey has been solid, and the safety protocols have held, but an adaptable mind-set for all parties, from top executives to stadium workers, has been crucial for the expanded 24-team postseason to work.


Italy in an Uproar Over the Curious Case of Suárez's Language Test

Italian authorities are investigating whether Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, an Uruguay national, was illegally helped to pass an Italian language exam last week, in order to receive a European passport that could help him transfer to a new club. The test cleared the way for a fast-track citizenship approval, which would mean that Juventus could sign him without exceeding its permitted quota of non-EU players, but suspicions were quickly raised in the media that he was given preferential treatment. He passed the exam despite his tutor allegedly saying "he can't speak a word."



Russian Trolls' Star Content Provider is Trump

Foreign Policy Research Institute fellow and former FBI special agent Clint Watts has said that "the Russians in 2016 had to make false news stories or manipulated truths to power their narratives. This time they're not writing anything that's not already said in U.S. space, often by Mr. Trump himself." Russia is once again interfering in the U.S. election, but this time, instead of having to make up its propaganda, it is relying on misleading statements made by Trump in speeches and tweets.


U.S. Suit Against Google is Said to Focus on Its Dominance in Search

The Department of Justice's (DOJ) impending lawsuit decision to narrow the case against Google to its search dominance could set off separate lawsuits from states over Google's power in other business segments. The DOJ's action against Google is set to be narrower than what some states and several career lawyers in the department had envisioned. The department DOJ also investigated Google's reach in ad technology and how the company prices and places ads across the internet. However, in an effort to file a case by the end of September, the DOJ decided to pick the piece that was furthest along in legal theory and that could best withstand a potential challenge.


Social Media Protections Targeted by DOJ

The DOJ sent Congress draft legislation that would reduce a legal shield for platforms like Facebook and YouTube, in the latest effort by the Trump administration to revisit the law as the president claims those companies are slanted against conservative voices. The original law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, makes it difficult to sue online platforms over the content they host or the way they moderate it. Under the proposed changes, platforms that purposely facilitate "harmful criminal activity" would not receive the protections. Platforms that allow "known criminal content" to stay up once they know it exists would lose the protections for that content.


TikTok Files for Injunction to Stop Trump's Ban of App

TikTok's parent company ByteDance and Oracle has filed a motion to stop the Commerce Department from enforcing a ban against the popular social app, continuing its fight with the Trump administration. The ban was supposed to come into place Sunday, but after the signing of the ByteDance/Oracle deal, it was delayed by a week, with additional delays expected as the deal closes in the coming weeks. Now the company seems to be taking more aggressive action to stop the government. In its filing, the company says that it has "made extraordinary efforts to try to satisfy the government's demands" and noted that the damage of the ban could be significant before a national election.


Facebook Removes Networks Linked to Russian Disinformation

Facebook and Twitter have said that they have removed several hundred fake accounts linked to Russian military intelligence and other Kremlin-backed actors involved in previous efforts to interfere in U.S. politics, including the 2016 presidential election. Facebook's head of security policy said that "hack-and-leak" operations are "one of the threats [they're] particularly focused on and concerned about ahead of the November election in the U.S. U.S. intelligence officials have warned that Russia is seeking to spread disinformation that would undermine former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign.


App Makers Form Alliance to Fight Apple and Google

A number of top app makers have banded together to fight against Apple's control of its App Store and, to a lesser extent, Google's control of the Play Store. Thirteen app publishers, including Epic Games, Deezer, Basecamp, Tile, and Spotify, have launched the Coalition for App Fairness. The new organization formalizes efforts the companies already have underway that focus on either forcing app store providers to change their policies, or ultimately forcing the app stores into regulation. Epic Games is currently involved in a lawsuit against Apple over the App Store's commission guidelines. Other app makers in the group have, through public statements, previously spoken out against Apple's practices, and some have also communicated their complaints to Congress. The group details its key issues, which include anti-competitive practices and the inability to distribute software to billions of Apple devices through any other means but the App Store, as an affront to personal freedom.


Aide Recounts Being Pressed To Stop Bolton

The account by a former National Security Council official also implied that the DOJ may have told a court that this book contains classified information and opened a criminal investigation based on false pretenses. White House aides improperly intervened to prevent a manuscript by Trump's former national security adviser John R. Bolton from becoming public, said a career official. In a letter, she also suggested that they retaliated when she refused to go along. This is the latest in a series of accounts by current and former executive branch officials as the election nears, accusing the president and his aides of putting his personal and political goals ahead of the public interest.


U.S. Revoked Award to Journalist for Criticizing Trump

An inspector general's report concludes that State Department officials nixed a high-profile award out of fear of offending higher-ups--then lied about it. The Trump administration revoked a prestigious award to a Finnish journalist because she had written social media posts critical of the U.S. president, then lied to Congress and the press about the reasons for revoking her award. Jessikka Aro, the Finnish journalist, faced online harassment campaigns and death threats for exposing Russia's disinformation and propaganda machine. Aro was told by U.S. diplomats in January 2019 that she would be honored at the State Department's International Women of Courage Award. Weeks later, the department rescinded the award, telling Aro it was due to a "regrettable error."


Alphabet Settles Lawsuits Over Harassment Claims

Google's parent company, Alphabet, has settled a series of shareholder lawsuits over its handling of sexual harassment claims, agreeing to greater oversight by its board of directors in future cases of sexual misconduct and committing to spend $310 million over the next decade on corporate diversity programs.


Paris Suspect Says Attack Targeted Paper

The suspect in the stabbing of two people outside the former Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo has confessed and said his attack was directed at the publication because it printed cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad. The suspect is an 18-year-old immigrant from Pakistan who arrived in France three years ago as an unaccompanied minor. Charlie Hebdo's former office was the target of a January 2015 terrorist attack that killed 12 people after the weekly first published the cartoons. The stabbing took place during the long-awaited trial of alleged accomplices in the 2015 attack. French authorities have not yet publicly confirmed the suspect's statement.


General News

President Plans to Name Amy Coney Barrett As His Court Pick

The selection of Judge Barrett, a deeply conservative jurist, kicked off an election-season confirmation fight. The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings on October 12th. Barrett is a former Notre Dame law professor who now sits on a federal appeals court in Chicago and is a favorite of anti-abortion activists. She served as a clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia and says that "his judicial philosophy is mine too...a judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they may hold." Her confirmation would cement a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the court, leaving an imprint that could long outlast Trump's presidency. The nomination is expected to consume the Senate in the weeks ahead and quickly reverberate on the campaign trail, injecting polarizing issues like abortion rights into an election season already weighed down by the coronavirus pandemic and a national reckoning over racism.


Trump's Pick for Court Opens Dash to Vote

Trump's pick for the Supreme Court has compiled an almost uniformly conservative voting record in cases touching on abortion, gun rights, discrimination and immigration. If confirmed she would move the court slightly but firmly to the right, making compromises less likely and putting at risk the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade. "She is sympathetic to Justice Scalia's methods, but I don't get the sense that she is going to be a philosophical leader on how those methods should be executed" says a law professor at Vanderbilt University.


G.O.P. Unity Shows Unyielding Drive to Remake Courts

Senator Mitt Romney said that he will back President Trump's push to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Only six weeks out from election, confirming a new justice would likely tilt the court decisively to the right. Although Romney has made no secret of his distaste for Trump previously, he was not about to pass up an opportunity to cement a court that could limit abortion rights, further empower business interests, and potentially strike down far-reaching federal programs.


Democrats and White House Strike Short-Term Deal to Avert Shutdown

The House approved a stopgap spending bill after Democratic congressional leaders and the Trump administration reached a deal on Tuesday to avert a government shutdown and extend funding through December 11th, agreeing to include tens of billions of dollars in additional relief for struggling farmers and for nutritional assistance.


Array of Legal Battles Concerning Voting Rules Still Face Supreme Court

Trump stacked the federal judiciary long before nominating his third Supreme Court Justice. So far, that hasn't helped him gain an advantage in 2020 voting as nearly has he might have liked. Facing a persistent polling deficit against Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump and his allies have undertaken an array of efforts to stop election officials from making voting easier during the coronavirus pandemic. The President fogs the air with groundless complaints of fraud while lawyers on his behalf challenge such adjustments as mail-in voting, expanded use of ballot drop-boxes, and relaxed deadlines for counting ballots that show up late. Courts in both red and blue states alike have repeatedly rebuffed them.


Remembering a Justice Who Remembered Them

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the young scholar spurned by every law firm in New York because of her gender before going on to become a champion of women's rights and a liberal icon, was honored on Wednesday by a former president, her colleagues on the Supreme Court, and long lines of everyday Americans who felt the influences of her long and storied career. For a justice who came to enjoy her improbable late-in-life celebrity, it was a modest, unassuming farewell, but one that moved many in a country polarized by politics and suffering from a horrible pandemic. Among those who waited hours to pass below her flag-draped coffin outside the Court were many women, often with daughters or mothers, who saw in Justice Ginsburg a source of personal liberation.


A Historic Tribute for Ginsburg Inside a Capitol Divided Over Replacing Her

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who won trailblazing legal victories for women's rights before ascending to the nation's highest court, broke her final barriers on Friday, becoming the first woman and the first Jewish American to lie in state in the United States Capitol. In a ceremony choreographed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to give the women of Congress a leading role, Justice Ginsburg was eulogized as a persistent warrior for justice whose example had inspired generations of women and girls. The tribute took place inside a Capitol deeply divided over replacing Justice Ginsburg so close to the presidential election.


Federal Judge Blocks Trump Administration from Ending the Census Count Early

Twice in the last 15 months, federal courts have scrutinized rationales offered by the Trump administration for trying to upend key parts of the 2020 Census, and twice judges have found them wanting. In this latest attempt, a federal district judge in California ruled that the Commerce Department had "never articulated a satisfactory explanation" for its decision to end the Census months earlier than had been planned, raising questions about the administration's motives.


Trump Won't Commit to Peaceful Transfer of Power

Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the 2020 election to Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The Biden campaign responded, saying: "The American people will decide this election. And the U.S. government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House." The Trump campaign as pushed back on criticism of the president's answer.


Pentagon Leaders Worry That Trump Will Drag Military into Election

President Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election and his expressed desire in June to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto American streets to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd, has caused deep anxiety among senior military and Defense Department leaders, who insist that they will do all they can to keep the armed forces out of the elections. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have said that he "foresees no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process", but this has not stopped an intensifying debate in the military about its role should a disputed election lead to civil unrest.


Appeals Court Allows House to Sue Over Wall Funding

A federal appeals court has reversed course in the border wall lawsuit, delivering a potential win to House Democrats who sued over President Trump's transfer of Defense Department funds to construct the wall. The Court disagreed with the lower court over the constitutional claims in the case and sent it back for further review. The decision is a blow to Trump, who made the border wall a cornerstone of his presidency. The Court ruled that "each member has a distinct individual right, and in this case, one chamber has a distinct injury", therefore the House Democrats can challenge the President's transfer of funds to build the border wall. The Appropriations Clause requires two keys to unlock the Treasury, and the House holds one of those keys. The appeals court stated that the Executive Branch snatched the House's key out of its hands.


The Department of Justice Aids Trump in Stoking Doubt on Vote with Nine Discarded Ballots

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has released details about an investigation into nine discarded mailed-in ballots in Pennsylvania in an unusual step that stoked new fears that President Trump's political appointees were using the levers of law enforcement to sow doubt about the election. FBI investigators are examining mail-in ballots from military members in Luzerne Country in northeastern Pennsylvania that had been "discarded." Seven of the nine ballots were cast for Trump. The ballots had been "improperly opened by election staff." Under Pennsylvania election law, no ballots can be opened until Election Day, even for processing. Election experts said that the announcement was highly irregular. The DOJ policy calls for keeping voter fraud investigations under wraps to avoid affecting the election outcome and the experts said it was almost unheard-of for the department to provide an update on the case and disclose the name of the candidate for whom the ballots had been cast.


Allies Skeptical of U.S. Push to Redefine Human Rights

European allies are skeptical of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's push to elevate religious liberty and property rights, which they fear could come at the expense of protecting marginalized groups. Pompeo's Commission on Unalienable Rights has come under scrutiny in recent months over fears that it could erode protections for women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The response among European nations has been very skeptical. In response, diplomats said State Department representatives had rebranded their outreach efforts and would instead ask United Nations (UN) members to affirm their commitments to a human rights document passed by the body in 1948--a core tenet of Pompeo's commission. UN diplomats and human rights experts said the effort was equally worrisome, believing it was a cryptic way to ignore decades' worth of treaties since 1948 that enshrined protections for racial minorities, same-sex couples, and women around the globe--moving backwards.


Before Virtual UN Assembly, Trump Casts China As Villain in Pandemic

In his recorded video address to the annual UN general assembly, Trump unleased a rhetorical assault on China that seemed pitched at a domestic audience. Donald Trump and Xi Jinping offered starkly contrasting responses to the coronavirus pandemic, with the U.S. president blaming Beijing for unleashing a "plague" on the world--and his Chinese counterpart casting the fight against the virus as an opportunity for international cooperation. Trump also took the opportunity to attack the World Health Organization--falsely describing it as "virtually controlled by China"--and again incorrectly claiming that the international body had said there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.


CIA Says Putin Directs Russian Steps to Aid Trump

The CIA has reasserted that Putin is likely directing election influence efforts to aid Trump. The assessment buttresses earlier findings that the Russian president supports Trump's re-election. This analysis is a signal that intelligence agencies continue to back their assessment of Russian activities, despite the president's attacks. The CIA has moderate confidence in its analysis, a lower degree of certainty than its 2016 assessment of Putin's preferences, in part because the intelligence community appears to lack intercepted communications or other direct evidence confirming his direction of Mr. Derkach's efforts. Putin, a former intelligence agent, is careful not to use electronic devices.


Trump Suggests Vaccine Standards are 'Political'

In suggesting he might reject tougher guidelines, Trump once again undermined efforts by government scientists to bolster public confidence in their work. The president's comments to reports came after the doctors told a Senate panel that they had complete faith in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that science and data--not politics--were its guiding decisions. The FDA had planned to issue stricter guidelines for the emergency authorization of any new coronavirus vaccine, which would add a new layer of caution to the vetting process, even as the president has insisted a vaccine will be ready as early as next month. Trump cast doubt on the FDA plan.


Johnson & Johnson's Single-Dose Vaccine Begins Final Phase of Trials

The race for a vaccine got an infusion of energy last week, as Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced that it has begun the final stage of its clinical trials, the fourth company to do so in the U.S. as the country hits a grim milestone of 200,000 deaths from the pandemic. J&J is behind the leaders, but its advanced vaccine trial will be by far the largest, enrolling 60,000 participants. Unlike some of its competitors, J&J's vaccine does not need to be frozen and may require just one shot instead of two. The company said that it could know by the end of this year if its vaccine works.


Consumers Have Lost $145 Million to Coronavirus Scammers, Federal Trade Commission Reports

Consumers have filed more than 205,000 reports of fraud linked to the coronavirus since the beginning of the year, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The average loss was $300 and it was more than double for seniors who are at least 80 years old. The prevalence of fraud is likely much higher than federal figures suggest, since they do not reflect scams unreported by consumers. Scammers have used multiple avenues to steal money from unsuspecting Americans, including crimes around financial relief, like stimulus checks and unemployment benefits, fake treatments for COVID-19, and fraudulent charities.


Officer Charged and Two Cleared in Taylor Killing

A grand jury in Louisville, KY indicted a former police detective on charges of reckless endangerment for his role in the raid on the home of Breonna Taylor, but the two officers who shot Taylor six times faced no charges. Protestors poured onto the streets after the announcement and there were also demonstrations in New York, Chicago, Milwaukee ,and smaller cities around the country. As the protesters took their anger and grief to the streets, two police officers were shot leading to officers in riot gear confronting protesters, releasing chemical agents and arresting several people.


Republicans' Inquiry Finds No Wrongdoing by Biden in Ukraine

A report released by Senate Republicans found that the role of Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma was "awkward" and at times "problematic" for U.S. officials dealing with the country, but provides no new evidence and found no instance of policy being altered as a result of his role. Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who led the investigation as chair of the Homeland Security Committee, had openly said that he hoped the election-year probe would hurt the Democratic nominee and help President Trump, while Democrats had decried the effort as purely political. Democrats have said that this effort has been a partisan and unnecessary distraction from important business before both Committees as the country faces the pandemic.


DOJ Releases Information Intended to Hurt Russia Inquiry

The attorney general provided information on two matters to President Trump's allies that was meant to damage the FBI's Russia investigation and the special counsel's office. The documents--related to flawed applications for wiretap on a former Trump adviser and an FBI agent's criticisms of the prosecution of the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn--were the latest in a series of releases that have helped fuel the president's assertions of a "deep state" plot against him. Trump promoted several tweets from conservative commentators who used the finding to criticize the Russia investigation.


Judge Tells Eric Trump to Testify By October 7

Eric Trump had said he would not give a sworn deposition to the New York attorney general until after the election, but a state judge said he must cooperate sooner. He has to answer questions under oath in the fraud investigation into his family's real estate business. Trump's lawyers said he was willing to be interviewed--but would only do so after the election because he did not want his deposition to be used "for political purposes." Judge Arthur F. Engoron in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, ruled that Trump had to sit for the deposition no later than October 7th, rejecting his arguments that a delay was necessary.


Putin Critic Leaves Hospital After Poisoning

Alexei Navalny, a frequent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been released from a German hospital more than a month after he fell ill in Russia and was transferred to Germany suffering from the effects of "severe poisoning," with what German officials confirmed was a deadly Russian nerve agent. Although he was released last week, doctors added that "it remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning." German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders have asked Russia for answers, while the Kremlin has strongly denied any involvement.


Night Images Show China Has Added Detention Sites in Mostly Muslim Xinjiang

A new report by an Australian research group has identified and mapped more than 380 suspected detention facilities in China's western Xinjiang region. The institute scoured satellite photos for evidence of such facilities, including nighttime imagery that showed evidence of new construction in places where there had not been any illumination in the past. Their work followed eyewitness accounts, news reports, and other research that had documented the construction of such camps. They found 61 suspected detention sites that had seen construction or expansion between July 2019 and July 2020, including 14 facilities apparently still under construction. The findings contradict Chinese officials' claims that all "trainees" from so-called vocational training centers had 'graduated' by late 2019. Instead, the evidence suggests that many extrajudicial detainees in Xinjiang's vast 're-education' network are now being formally charged and locked up in higher security facilities, including newly built or expanded prisons, or sent to walled factory compounds for coerced labor assignments.



A Climate Crossroads With Two Paths: Merely Bad or Truly Horrific

America is now under siege by climate change in ways that scientists have warned about for years, but there is a second part to their admonition; decades of growing crises are already locked into the global ecosystem and cannot be reversed. Cascading disasters are occurring--from drought in the West fueling historic wildfires that send smoke all the way to the East Coast, or parades of tropical storms lining up across the Atlantic to march destructively toward North America. Conversations about climate change have broken into everyday life. The questions are profound and urgent. According to climate experts, the world hasn't even seen the worst.


A Second Term Could Make Trump's Environmental Rollbacks Stick

President Trump has initiated the most aggressive environmental deregulation agenda in modern history, but as his first term drives to a close, many of his policies are being cut down by the courts. These losses have heightened the stakes in the election--a second term, coupled with a 6-3 conservative majority on the High Court, could save some of his biggest environmental rollbacks.


At Climate Week, America's Cascading Disasters Take Center Stage

This year's events come amid a climate reckoning in the world's richest country. There were fire tornadoes in the American West; a slow-moving hurricane drowned northwest Florida; children in Silicon Valley breathed a bit of the foul air that children in the shanties of Delhi are accustomed to. Two of the world's three biggest economies, China and the European Union, pledged to act more quickly to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The world as a whole is nowhere close to where it needs to be to avert the worst effects of a warming world.


Emails Show How Pesticide Industry Swayed U.S. Stance in UN Talks

Emails from a pesticide industry lobbyist to employees at the Department of Agriculture have expressed alarm over proposed guidelines issued by a UN task force working to combat the rise of drug-resistant infections that kill thousands of people each year. A policy official urged U.S. agriculture officials to fight any effort to include the words "crops" or fungicides" in the guidelines--a position that would run counter to growing international consensus that the overuse of antifungal compounds is a threat to human health by contributing to drug resistance and should be monitored.


The Environmental Protection Agency Rejects Its Own Findings That Pesticide Harms Children's Brains

The Trump administration has rejected scientific evidence linking the pesticide chlorpyrifos to serious health problems. The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new assessment directly contradicts federal scientists' conclusions five years ago that chlorpyrifos can stunt brain development in young children. The pesticide is widely used on soybeans, almonds, grapes, and other crops. It is a fresh victory for chemical makers and the agricultural industry, as well as the latest in a long list of Trump administration regulatory rollbacks. In announcing its decision, the EPA said that "despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved." However, in making its finding, the EPA excluded several epidemiological studies that found a correlation between prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos and developmental disorders in toddlers.


Tapes of Boastful Remarks Force Leader of Alaska Mine Project to Resign

The chief executive of the partnership developing the Pebble Mine in Alaska resigned last week over comments made in meetings recorded by an environmental advocacy group. The executive, Tom Collier, embellished both his and the Pebble Partnership's relationship with elected officials and federal representatives in Alaska. The comments were "offensive" to "political, business and community leaders in the state." The Pebble project has been the subject of a long fight, with economic development forces on one side, and on the other, environmentalists and Native groups who are concerned about the damage to the region's wild salmon fishery. The Corps of Engineers in Alaska released a statement about the recordings, saying that it had "identified inaccuracies and falsehoods relating to the permit process and the relationship between our regulatory leadership and the applicant's executive." Other comments, including remarks about the state's two Republican senators and its Republican governor, forced Collier's resignation.


Scientists Tie Deadly Heat 'Blob' In the Pacific to Climate Change

The "blob" of hotter ocean water that killed sea lions and other marine life in 2014 and 2015 may become permanent. Six years ago, a huge part of the Pacific Ocean near North America quickly warmed, reaching temperatures more than five, degrees Fahrenheit above normal. It persisted for two years, with devastating impacts on marine life, including sea lions and salmon. The blob was a marine heat wave, the oceanic equivalent of a deadly summer atmospheric one, and far from a solitary event. Tens of thousands have occurred in the past few decades and the largest and longest ones have occurred with increasing frequency over time. Scientists have now linked these severe marine heat waves to climate change and say that they will more likely become much more severe.


Oil Giants Are Ocean Apart on Climate

U.S. and European Oil giants go different ways on climate change--BP and other European companies invest billions in renewable energy, Exxon and Chevron are committed to fossil fuels and betting on moonshots. As oil prices plunge and concerns about climate change grow, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and other European energy companies are selling off oil fields, planning a sharp reduction in emissions, and investing billions in renewable energy. American oil giants Chevron and Exxon Mobil are going in a far different direction, by doubling down on oil and natural gas and investing what amounts to pocket change in innovative climate-oriented efforts like small nuclear power plants and devices that suck carbon out of the air. The disparity reflects the vast differences in how Europe and the U.S. are approaching climate change--European leaders have made tackling climate change a top priority, while Trump has called it a "hoax" and has dismantled environmental regulations to encourage the exploitation of fossil fuels.


Trump Uses Environmental Protection Agency Office to Widen War with 'Anarchist' New York City

The president has painted New York as an "anarchist jurisdiction," but his administration's threats to withhold funds are being dismissed as a politicized campaign tactic. The head of the EPA has threatened to move its regional headquarters out of Lower Manhattan, suggesting that local agency officials had become so fearful of New York streets that they are no2 considering moving offices. EPA administrator Andrew R. Wheeler cited three-month old protests against police brutality, and a small, recent protest against another federal agency, ICE, at a nearby building. Few in NY have taken the president's rhetoric seriously, and the threat from the administrator was also being dismissed as political theater to be deployed in Trump's re-election campaign.


Mankind's Feats Place California At Climate Risk

The engineering and land management that enabled the state's tremendous growth have left it more vulnerable to climate shocks--and those shocks are getting worse. The state has transformed its arid and mountainous landscape into the richest, most populous and bounteous place in the nation. Those same feats have given California a new and unwelcome category of superlatives. This year is the state's worst wildfire season on record.


September 25, 2020

EASL Theater News for the Week of September 25, 2020

By Bennett Liebman

Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave her life to the country -- and her heart to the performing arts, https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/ruth-bader-ginsburg-love-of-washington-thyeater/2020/09/19/161cf53e-fa85-11ea-89e3-4b9efa36dc64_story.html

Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Edward Gero, https://dcmetrotheaterarts.com/2020/09/19/remembering-justice-ruth-bader-ginsburg-by-edward-gero/

Ruth Bader Ginsberg Loved The Arts. Artists Respond to Her Death With Love, Fear, Anger and Action, https://newyorktheater.me/2020/09/19/ruth-bader-ginsberg-loved-the-arts-artists-respond-to-her-death-with-love-fear-anger-and-action/

Proposed NYC Legislation Could Create More Outdoor Performance Opportunities, Alleviate Roadblocks, https://www.playbill.com/article/proposed-nyc-legislation-could-create-more-outdoor-performance-opportunities-alleviate-roadblocks
The Government seems brazenly willing to discard Britain's mental health, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/what-to-see/government-has-brazenly-announced-willingness-discard-mental/

Theatre in crisis: 'British culture is world-beating - why leave us behind?' https://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/what-to-see/theatre-crisis-british-culture-world-beating-leave-us-behind/

UK arts leaders in despair: 'By the time we're allowed to reopen, we may be too decimated to do so', https://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/what-to-see/uk-arts-leaders-despair-time-allowed-reopen-may-decimated-do/

Why is the Theater Canon Filled with Men? These Women Want to Change That, https://tokentheatrefriends.com/2020/09/21/why-is-the-theater-canon-just-filled-with-men-these-women-want-to-change-that/

Metropolitan Opera closed until fall 2021 due to coronavirus concerns, https://broadwaynews.com/2020/09/23/metropolitan-opera-closed-until-fall-due-to-coronavirus-concerns/

'It's very carefully monitored': Andrew Lloyd Webber, 72, details his experience of Covid trials, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-8759285/Andrew-Lloyd-Webber-72-details-experience-Covid-trials.html

One Lost Weekend, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/24/arts/new-york-fall-arts-economy.html?referringSource=articleShare

What will theater look like in a post-COVID world? Old Globe launches initiative to answer that question, https://www.encinitasadvocate.com/art/story/2020-09-21/old-globe-launches-initiative-to-reimagine-theater-in-a-post-covid-world

Goldstar Launches Live Events Streaming Service, https://variety.com/2020/legit/news/goldstar-launches-live-events-streaming-service-exclusive-1234777556/

What to expect at a socially distanced night at the theatre, https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/sep/20/what-to-expect-at-a-socially-distanced-night-at-the-theatre

South Bay theaters take different routes to viability as shutdown continues, https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/09/24/theaters-take-different-routes-to-viability-as-shutdown-continues/