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June 2020 Archives

June 2, 2020

Court System Moves to Phase Two of In-Person Operations


The state court system announced today that courts spanning five upstate judicial districts will enter their second phase of a gradual return to in-person operations this week, coinciding with the second phase of New York's reopening.

Courts in the Fifth Judicial District (Syracuse and surrounding counties), Sixth Judicial District (Binghamton and surrounding counties) and Seventh Judicial District (Rochester and surrounding counties) will enter phase two on Wednesday, June 3.

On Friday, June 5, courts throughout the Eighth Judicial District (Buffalo and surrounding counties) and courts in most counties encompassing the Fourth Judicial District (northern New York) will also move to the second phase of gradual in-person operations.

As part of the second phase:

-Essential family matters will be conducted in-person and heard by the assigned judge.
-Criminal, juvenile delinquency and mental hygiene law proceedings pertaining to a hospitalized adult will be held virtually and heard by the assigned judge.
-Non-essential matters will continue to be held virtually and heard by the assigned judge.
-Mediation/alternate dispute resolution will be conducted virtually.
-Over the past two weeks, judges, chambers staff and support staff in courts in these judicial districts have all met the governor's safety benchmarks and have been returning to their courthouses.

Officials said the goal of the court system's second phase is to safely increase courthouse foot traffic in a gradual manner, so that the court can select matters that require an in-person appearance while continuing to maximize virtual appearances.

"As we progress toward fuller in-person court operations across the state, our foremost priority remains protecting the health and safety of all those who work in and visit our court facilities," said Chief Judge DiFiore.

Steps implemented during phase two to encourage physical distancing and reduce the number of people in any given room in courthouses include staggering case types, court calendars and courtroom use. Non-judicial staffing levels will increase minimally to support necessary administrative court functions as well as to provide support for the increase in foot traffic into the courthouse. Non-reporting court staff will continue to work virtually.

Measures from the first phase that will remain in place to protect the health and safety of judges and staff, attorneys, litigants and members of the public include:

-Non-employee court visitors will be required to undergo COVID-19 screening before entering the courthouse.
-Anyone entering the courthouse will be required to wear a mask.
-All staff who interact with court visitors must wear a mask.
-Courtroom and other areas will be carefully marked to ensure proper physical distancing.
-Court facilities will be regularly sanitized.
-Installation of acrylic barriers, hand sanitizer dispensers and other safety features.

The June session of the New York State Court of Appeals commenced today in Albany with six of the seven judges in attendance. Associate Judge Paul Feinman attended virtually. Attorneys argued two of the three cases virtually, with appearances on the third.

June 8, 2020

World Intellectual Property Organization PROOF: New Evidentiary Tool For Your Intellectual Assets

By Peter Colin and Marc Jacobson

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) revealed a new global online business service, WIPO PROOF (https://wipoproof.wipo.int/wdts/verify/uploadtimestamp.xhtml), to create evidentiary records of intellectual assets that don't themselves qualify as protectable intellectual property (IP).

The idea is the service is digitally time-stamping (https://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi= files of ideas, sketches, know-how or data sets to prove they existed in a specific form at a specific date and time. Similar to sending a certified letter of the IP to oneself, and not opening the letter, or getting documentation notarized, WIPO PROOF is designed to serve the same evidentiary purposes for digital records of created content. WIPO posits (https://wipoproof.wipo.int/wdts/use-cases.xhtml) that if a dispute calls into question issues of authorship or existence of creative elements, the created content's "digital fingerprint" WIPO PROOF generates via tokenization (https://www.tokenex.com/resource-center/what-is-tokenization) could be used to establish proof of existence and prevent misuse, misappropriation or fraud. It does not replace any IP registration systems, but in jurisdictions that may recognize digital timestamping as legal proof of existence, such as contracting states to WIPO-administered treaties like the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) (https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/pct_contracting_states.html), Madrid Union (https://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/members/), and the Hague Agreement (https://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/registration/hague/), WIPO PROOF tokens can be used to prove that a digital file existed on a given date and time, in a specific version, possessed by the party who requested the WIPO PRROF token. The tokens are digital assets created via cryptography (https://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/cryptography) that represent the timestamping of the protected asset. The tokens themselves are not IP protections.

Each token costs 20 CHF, or roughly $21 USD. Premium certificates, PDFs confirming a token's validation signed and stamped by WIPO, can also be requested for the same price, although not necessary to the WIPO PROOF verification system (https://wipoproof.wipo.int/wdts/how-it-works.xhtml). WIPO PROOF tokens do not expire, but are kept on WIPO's servers for five years and are renewable for terms of five years after the initial term.

In order to use WIPO PROOF, one must creat a WIPO account. WIPO account holders will then connect to the WIPO PROOF web application to request a token and pay for it (and the premium certificate if desired). The user will be prompted to identify the files to be protected. A one-way (meaning not reversable) hashing algorithm (https://cheapsslsecurity.com/blog/decoded-examples-of-how-hashing-algorithms-work/) will generate a unique digital fingerprint of the file, also known as a hash. Only the hash of the digital file is uploaded to WIPO PROOF, and not the underlying file itself. WIPO PROOF does not read or store files. That hash is timestamped by WIPO PROOF's eIDAS-compliant backend system (https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/discover-eidas), is signed with a private key (https://ee.stanford.edu/~hellman/publications/31.pdf) stored in WIPO's Hardware Security Module (HSM) in Switzerland, and a public key is added to the digital signature. This results in a downloadable WIPO PROOF token that represents the existence of the files at the point in time when the token was created. The public key included in the tokens can be used to verify (https://wipoproof.wipo.int/wdts/verify/uploadtimestamp.xhtml) the token with the private key stored in the HSM.

The token becomes invalid if the original file is modified in any way, including formatting changes, as it is the record of an exact specific file. Changing the font or punctuation in the underlying file changes the file's properties and metadata, and the token will no longer match. The hash created by WIPO PROOF's one-way algorithm cannot recreate or read the files it processes; cryptography (algorithms and code used to encrypt data) is used to ensure confidentiality (https://www.zoomtute.com/content/blogs/16/cryptography-is-an-way-of-achieving-data-confidentiality-dot#:~:text=Cryptography%3A%20Cryptography%20is%20a%20method,can%20read%20and%20process%20it.) by encrypting its processing of the document and generating public and private keys.

WIPO PROOF uses Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) (https://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2020/article_0012.html#:~:text=WIPO%20PROOF%20uses%20Public%20Key,and%20recognized%20digital%20certification%20methods.) technology with the WIPO's centralized HSM, rather than a blockchain-based platform (https://www.legalexecutiveinstitute.com/forum-magazine-blockchain-promise/) of cryptographically recording tokenized assets. WIPO noted that this was due to anonymity concerns and that distributed public blockchains are "not yet widely guaranteed in courts," (https://wipoproof.wipo.int/wdts/faqs.xhtml) although WIPO is considering an additional and optional blockchain component to WIPO PROOF's current PKI-based service. As a Time Stamping Authority, WIPO PROOF's technical infrastructure conforms to European eIDAS regulations and the Internet Engineering Task Force RFC 3161 protocol.

The WIPO PROOF website suggests that WIPO PROOF's use cases are as additional elements of IP management strategy and as a complement of existing IP systems and safeguards, regardless of whether the protected assets become protectible IP. The World Trademark Review reported (https://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/enforcement-and-litigation/wipo-launches-digital-fingerprint-service-how-will-it-help-trademark) on a WIPO spokesman, who said that WIPO PROOF "can help oppose a trademark application or invalidate a trademark by providing prior use", since WIPO PROOF can prove "preparatory works which are used in the creation and application of a trademark." The WIPO PROOF website (https://wipoproof.wipo.int/wdts/use-cases.xhtml) also suggests that the token can track individual contributions of collaborative products, such as research and data sets, music and film content, computer code, and trade secrets. Frances Gurry, WIPO Executive Director, suggested this can be useful for situations like verifying ownership or raising capital (https://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2020/article_0012.html) and that WIPO PROOF as an international certificate could be preferable in cross-border disputes when the relationship between countries is an issue.

Week In Review

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

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


Musicians Push Industry to Go Beyond Hashtags

As the music field observed a voluntary "blackout" last Tuesday to reflect on issues of race and social justice, the industry also came under some criticism for making a solemn gesture without announcing more concrete plans. The initiative, called #BlackoutTuesday or #TheShowMustBePaused, quickly spread online, turning many people's social media feeds into grids of black squares -- which drew complaints that the effort was muting debate rather than contributing to it. It also raised broader questions about the value and sincerity of corporate expressions of empathy. Several musicians and labels pledged to donate to causes, but still, advocates noted that their efforts should not be limited to a single day and further donations should be made.


New York Theatres Offer Assistance to Protesters

A social media campaign encouraging closed New York City theatres to open their lobbies and restrooms to protesters is gaining traction among Manhattan's Off-Broadway venues and spaces in Brooklyn: The Public Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, A.R.T./New York, IRT Theatre, and Irondale Center are among the first to put out the welcome mats. Twitter account @OpenYourLobby offers specific instructions: Open lobby spaces to provide places of rest and water, snacks and first aid; provide bathroom access, Wi-Fi access, outlets for charging phones, hand sanitizer and enough space for social distancing; have an escape exit plan in case of disruption; and do not permit police inside. The campaign seems to have been inspired by a decision several days ago by the New York Theatre Workshop, which opened its doors to protesters during non-curfew hours.


"Unaffordable" 90-Day Theatrical Window is History as Leverage Tilts Towards Studios Post-Pandemic

As long as multiple studios push forward with premium video on demand (PVOD) or some other form of window changes, the balance of power in favor of studios increases even more and reduces the leverage that movie theaters have, as the latter would be unlikely to boycott multiple studios' upcoming releases. The standard 90-day 'dark period' between theatrical release and home video is an inefficient period that studios can no longer afford. Universal will likely lead the charge, with Warner Bros. and other smaller studios quickly following. This leaves the key question as to what share of PVOD revenues will movie theaters end up capturing to help offset the cannibalized box office?


Judge Awards Zoo Once Owned by "Tiger King" Star to a Rival

A federal judge in Oklahoma has awarded ownership of Joe Exotic's former zoo to his chief rival Carole Baskin. The U.S. District Judge granted control of the Oklahoma zoo to Big Cat Rescue Corp., the Florida group founded by Baskin. Joe Exotic (Joseph Maldonado-Passage) is currently serving a 22-year federal prison sentence for killing five tigers and plotting to have Baskin killed. The judgement found that ownership of the zoo was fraudulently transferred to Maldonado-Passage's mother in an attempt to avoid paying a $1-million civil judgement against him to Baskin. The decision further said that the zoo animals must be removed from the property within 120 days, but does not detail what should happen to them.



For 23 Poets, 50,000 More Reasons to Be Creative

Twenty-three Poets Laureate have received fellowships for projects around the U.S. The program, now in its second year, was expanded from 13 poets in 2019 thanks to a $4.5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation. The poets will use the $50,000 grants for civic projects through the United States, even as the coronavirus pandemic limits the in-person, community-based initiatives that they typically develop. The program is separate from the one operated by the Library of Congress. As a result of the financial impact of the virus, supporting artists is even more urgent. A survey has found that nearly 62% of artists have become unemployed because of the crisis. Last year's fellows largely worked with people in physical spaces, whereas such projects are impossible today. This year's recipients have the added challenge of adapting their projects to a changed world.


Metropolitan Opera Cancels Fall Season, Plunging Into Crisis

The Metropolitan Opera (the Met) canceled its fall 2020 performances and postponed several new productions to future seasons as the virus continues to wreak havoc with New York's cultural life. The opera house has been dark since mid-March and has recently said that it plans to go ahead with an abbreviated season starting December 31st, instead of in September. The announcement came a week before New York City was slated to begin its Phase 1 reopening, following a near-total shutdown of most non-essential activities, as the city implemented social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. Live performances are not permitted until Phase 4 of the New York State Plan, for which there is still no timetable. The Met also announced other tweaks to its plans, including shortening some performances and moving up the curtain time to earlier in the evening when possible.


New Arts Executives Sail Into the Unknown

The Children's Museum of Manhattan had planned to announce the appointment of Aileen Hefferren as its new chief executive and director on Tuesday, but the Board decided to wait until Wednesday in deference to Blackout Tuesday, a social media action intended to show solidarity with the protests over the death of George Floyd. The Children's Museum is among a growing number of arts institutions from New York to Virginia to Colorado trying to navigate the sensitive, uncharted territory of making major appointments and initiating new cultural leaders in this difficult cultural movement. The new appointees find themselves stepping into positions of leadership made much more complicated by questions like when and how to safely reopen, how to stem financial losses caused by the pandemic, and how to respond to a country convulsed by unrest.


Phantom vs. the Pandemic

"The Phantom of the Opera" has garnered plenty of superlatives over the years, including the longest-running show in Broadway history. In recent months, it has also laid claim to a more unlikely title: pathbreaking musical of the COVID-19 era. When theatres around the globe abruptly shut with no reopening in sight, "Phantom" soldiered on in Seoul, South Korea, playing eight shows a week and drawing robust audiences even after an outbreak in the ensemble leading to a mandatory three-week shutdown in April. It is believed to be the only large-scale English language production running anywhere in the world. It has remained open not through social-distancing measures, but an approach grounded in strict hygiene, which will hopefully be a blueprint for the rest of the industry. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is hoping to turn the Palladium, one of seven theatres he owns in London, into a laboratory for the lessons learned in Seoul. Before entering the theatre, audience members are sprayed with a light mist of disinfectant, thermal sensors take each person's temperature, and everyone fills out a questionnaire about symptoms and recent places they've visited, so they can be notified of any exposures they may have had through the country's contact-tracing app.


A Front-Row (Car) Seat for the Return of Czech Theatre

The Czech Republic enforced tighter restrictions than most European countries to combat the coronavirus pandemic. It also loosened the lockdown earlier than most -- and that has made it a laboratory for how arts and culture can adapt to a context in which some restrictions on social life have been lifted, while others remain in place. To circumvent restrictions on public gatherings, audience members watched plays, concerts, and comedy from behind their steering wheels -- in a monthlong program that ended with a variety act by the National Theatre. Across Europe, drive-ins have become a familiar means of circumventing pandemic restrictions. By default, cars keep their occupants socially distanced, leading even nightclub owners and priests to set up drive-in discos and churches.


Italians Rediscover Their Museums

The Vatican Museums reopened last Monday after the coronavirus lockdown. With travel among Italian regions restricted until Tuesday, it was a local lineup, ready to experience of what many Romans dream: A tourist-free visit to one of the world's greatest -- and most popular -- museums, which last year drew nearly 7 million visitors. While locals were keen to reclaim Italy's monuments, the directors of many cultural institutions look for much-needed revenue from ticket sales.



Including Transgender Athletes Breaks Law, Trump Administration Says

The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights made public a ruling last week that says allowing transgender girls to compete in school sports with girls who are not transgender is a violation of federal law and if it's not stopped in 20 days, Connecticut risks losing federal education funding. The American Civil Liberties Union called the ruling nothing more than another example of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's politically-driven agenda of discrimination specifically targeting trans girls and trampling on their rights.


Players and Leagues Speak Out and Show Up in Protest

In the days since George Floyd's death first garnered national attention, current and former National Basketball Association (NBA) players have expressed anger, condemning police brutality and playing important roles in protests that have swept the country. In Atlanta, Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics held a peaceful protest walk last Saturday after downtown demonstrations last Friday. Brown coordinated meetups with fellow protesters on social media and carried a sign that read "I can't breathe." Lebron James, the sport's biggest star, shared videos about the history of police brutality and mobilizing in response to Floyd's death. Players were joined by official statements from numerous NBA teams, including the Trail Blazers and the Raptors. The outcry across professional basketball comes as the NBA remains shut down amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.


Adidas Voices Solidarity With Protests While Closing Its Stores

Adidas voices solidarity while closing its stores. The company, which relies on young black consumers, released an anti-racism statement on social media but shut its U.S. outlets because of protests across the country.


A League's Chorus of Protest is Missing Only One Voice: The Knicks

Knick's owner James Dolan tells employees that the Knicks won't weigh in on George Floyd as players voice support for protests. Dolan, who pledged $300,000 to Donald Trump's campaign in 2016, stands out for his silence on the death of Floyd. In an email to employees, he said "as companies in the business of sports and entertainment, we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters." He then sent a follow-up email to clarify, writing "we vehemently condemn and reject racism against anyone, period." Dolan's email and silence stands in stark contract to the reactions of the NBA itself, the other franchises, and his own players.


After the Virus, Athletes Confront More Hurdles

As a return to play looms, many athletes face mental hurdles, too. There's the argument over compensation, which has become a sticking point in Major League Baseball, but this goes beyond money. Some players in various leagues have legitimate health concerns about what would happen if they contract COVID-19 or pass it on to perople at home who are at risk. While athletic trainers are worried about more arm injuries in baseball or groin injuries in hockey because of the disruption to the training schedule, there are also a host of mental challenges. "Worrying about worrying" has become a common theme.


It's About Time Virtual Sports Has a Virtual Scandal

Formula E driver Daniel Abt says that he was fired from his real racing team for cheating in virtual racing event. The German Formula E driver announced last week that Audi dropped him from its racing team after it was revealed that he cheated in an esports charity event. Abt was disqualified from the event after it was learned that he had brought in pro gamer Lorenz Hoerzing to drive for him in the race. He was fined 10,000 euros.


Planning a U.S. Open Shut to Fans

Many scenarios are being considered for the 2020 U.S. Open, if it is held at all amid the coronavirus pandemic, including: Charter flights to ferry U.S. Open tennis players and limited entourages from Europe, South America, and the Middle East to New York; negative COVID-19 tests before traveling; centralized housing; daily temperature checks; no spectators; fewer on-court officials, and no locker-room access on practice days.


Packing for Disney: 22 N.B.A. Teams Set for July 31st Restart After Owners' Vote

The NBA board of governors voted to approve a 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season on July 31st in Orlando, Florida. The vote was 29-1, with the Portland Trail Blazers voting against the proposal. The NBA Players Association (NBAPA) has been working closely with league officials on the plan, and the NBAPA's team player representatives approved the proposal on Friday.


Postseason Format Is Set; a Ninth Player Tests Positive

Every Stanley Cup playoff series will be a best-of-seven format after the initial qualifying round if the National Hockey League (NHL) is able to return with its 24-team plan this summer. Teams will also be reseeded throughout the playoffs. The announcement came at nearly the same time as when the Pittsburgh Penguins revealed that one of its players had tested positive for the coronavirus. So far, nine NHL players have tested positive: five from Ottawa, three from Colorado and one from Pittsburgh. The league is expected to test players daily if games resume. The NHL is still assessing health and safety protocols for what it has said could be 24 teams playing one another in two hub cities.


Brees's Unbending Approach to Kneeling Suddenly Looks Out of Step

Drew Brees' comments on George Floyd prioritize symbols over justice. Colin Kaepernick asked his country to think about its own symbols, rather than blindly worship them. Brees, and white Americans in general, have not risen to this challenge. Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, has unfortunately become the poster child for what happens when one venerates a hollow space wrapped up in red, white, and blue. When asked in an interview about the actions of former National Football League quarterback Kaepernick, Brees said that he saw all people as equal, but insisted he "will never agree with anyone disrespecting the flag." He believed that Kaepernick was protesting the wrong way. Brees also said that his comments honored the flag and America's ideals, but seemed to miss the point of Kaepernick's initial protest.


A League is Poised to Come Back. Its Biggest Star is Poised to Sit Out.

Megan Rapinoe will not be joining the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) when it meets for the league's 25-game Challenge Cup in Utah in July, according to her coach. Players from the U.S. women's national team can choose not to participate in the tournament, the players' union said. The NWSL isexpected to be the first pro sports league in the U.S. to return following shutdowns and pauses due to the coronavirus pandemic.


July Opening Is Proposed for Womens National Basketball Association

The union representing the players of the Womens National Basketball Association is mulling proposals to start its coronavirus delayed 2020 season, with the league hoping to begin play as early as next month.


Pandemic Leaves College Prospects in Limbo

High school juniors who would now be in the thick of recruiting are losing the benefits of in-person recruiting. Before the coronavirus pandemic, youth sports generated more than $15 billion annually and created the "tourna-cation circuit" as it's known, with scholarship hunters and college coaches intersecting at destination events where players could showcase their skills. With those events canceled, the industry has tanked and the college recruiting ecosystem has also been upended, especially for the nonrevenue sports like soccer and lacrosse at Division II and Division III universities. In Division I, potential top recruits are identified as early as freshman year and tracked.


Reality Star's Suicide Spurs Moves Against Cyberbullying

The wresting community was shocked to its core recently when Japanese wrestler Hana Kimura committed suicide at the young age of 22. Kimura was a fast rising star of Japanese promotion Stardom, which has developed current stars, like Kairi Sane and Io Shirai. Details regarding the reason for her suicide are still hazy. However, all signs point towards effects of cyber bullying. Kimura was a contestant of Japanese Netflix reality show "Terrace House". Kimura was a victim of some vicious cyber bullying after she was a part of an altercation on the show with a co-contestant. This has raised some serious questions about the entire culture of shows like these, as they do their best to create heroes and villains.



Filmmaker and Bannon Ally Will Lead U.S. Media Agency

The Senate has confirmed Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who Trump has said he hopes will dictate more favorable news coverage of his administration, to lead the independent agency in charge of state-funded media outlets. The vote, 53 to 38, came after Trump personally intervened to expedite Pack's nomination, which had initially stalled amid concerns from senators in both parties and hit a snag more recently amid an investigation by the District of Columbia attorney general into whether he illegally funneled funds form his nonprofit group to his for-profit film company. Pack, a close ally of conservative activists and Trump's former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, will lead the United States Agency for Global Media, which oversees news organizations, including the Voice of America, that together make up one of the largest media networks in the world.


A Look Inside Twitter's Move To Flag Trump

Trump tweeted "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" and Twitter flagged Trump and the White House for 'glorifying violence' in tweets about George Floyd protests. The tweets are now only visible if "view" is clicked. The tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence, however, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the tweet to remain accessible. The official White House Twitter account later argued that Trump was actually condemning violence. Without addressing the Twitter guidelines that flagged the tweet earlier, Trump responded to Twitter, saying that the social media giant only targets Republicans. Twitter previously flagged two of Trump's tweets about mail-in voting in California, saying that Trump's tweets were "potentially misleading" about elections. Trump responded to the flags by issuing an executive order on Thursday targeting social media companies.


Tech Center's Suit Says Social Media Crackdown by Trump Violates Free Speech

Trump's crackdown on social media companies faced a new legal challenge Tuesday, as a technology policy organization claimed in a lawsuit that he violated the companies' right to free speech with his executive order aimed at curtailing their legal protections.


Suspension of Press Pass Violates Reporter's Rights, Federal Appeals Court Says

A federal appeals court has blocked the Trump administration from imposing a 30-day suspension on the White House press pass of a reporter for trading caustic and blustering comments with Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing commentator who worked briefly in the White House, after an event in the Rose Garden last year. In a 19-page ruling, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the suspension of the credential for Brian Karem, a reporter for Playboy Magazine, violated his constitutional right because the White House had no written rules or advance notice about what would constitute unprofessional behavior that could temporarily cost him his press pass.


Internet Archive 'Lends' Digital Books. Publishers Call It Piracy.

When the Internet Archive announced that it was creating a "National Emergency Library", temporarily suspending wait lists to borrow e-books amid the pandemic, a crowd of writers and publishers made their outrage clear. Now, their complaint has made it to court. In a lawsuit filed in federal court, four publishers said that the Internet Archive "is engaged in willful mass copyright infringement" and are trying to block the nonprofit group's operations and recover damages for scores of allegedly infringed works.


"All of It Is Toxic": A Surge In Protests Misinformation

Misinformation and conspiracy theories in the wake of George Floyd's death are running rampant on social media, with some even claiming that Floyd is not really dead or that George Soros is funding the protests. Researchers said that the collision of racial tension and political polarization has enhanced the misinformation, which is being fanned by commentators on the extreme end of their ideologies.


In Turnabout, Global Leaders Urge U.S. to Protect Reporters on the Ground

Attacks against journalists covering demonstrations against racial injustice have prompted foreign governments to call on American authorities to respect press freedom and protect reporters, both local and foreign. For the U.S., it is a role reversal. The attacks bear a striking resemblance to police brutality against journalists around the world over the years, one that have been swiftly condemned by officials in the U.S., where press freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment.


Police Assault and Arrest Journalists During Protests

Journalists working in conflict zones and authoritarian states have been warning for years: reporting is becoming more dangerous. This was the week that trend burst into view in U.S. cities. The uptick in claims comes as reporters cover the protests against police brutality that have sprung up across the country in response to the murder of George Floyd. The claims range from physical assault, arrest, damage or seizure of equipment, and several other additional criteria. What sets the most recent days apart is the targeting of journalists by law enforcement, even after they have identified themselves as members of the press. As of last Thursday, the Freedom Tracker team documented more than 45 arrests, 180 assaults on journalists -- 149 of which were by police, and include physical attacks or use of force like rubber bullets or tear gas -- and 40 cases of equipment or newsroom damage.


Twitter Places Warning on Florida Congressman's Tweet

Twitter placed a notice on a tweet from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., after he tweeted about hunting "Antifa" on Monday, but the social media platform did not take down the statement. The tweet was hidden with a notice saying that it violated Twitter's rules for glorifying violence, similar to a notice that was placed on a tweet from Trump last week. Gaetz posed a question about hunting Antifa in reference to Trump's decision Sunday to label the group as domestic terrorists.


Facebook Employees Stage Virtual Walkout

Some Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout to protest Zuckerberg's decision not to take action on a series of controversial posts from Trump. As part of the walkout, employees took the day off wfrom ork. Managers at Facebook have been told by the company's human resources department not to retaliate against staff who are planning to protest or to make them use paid time-off. The walkout comes alongside a rare wave of public dissent from Facebook employees on Twitter.


Facing Furor, Zuckerberg Defends Call on Trump

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defended his decision not to moderate controversial posts by Trump amid growing internal dissent over the company's inaction and a simmering political controversy over Trump's efforts to target social media platforms for perceived bias against conservatives. After hundreds of Facebook workers staged a virtual walkout and several publicly resigned or threatened to do so, Zuckerberg held an online video call with 22,000 employees, facing repeated questions about his response to Trump's posts and his commitment to past promises to police violent speech. A recording of the town hall was leaked to the press. The posts about the protests appeared to be a breaking point for many within Facebook. Zuckerberg said that he found Trump's post was "troubling", but he believes Facebook was right to leave it up because he did not consider it an incitement of violence.


As Chaos Spreads, Trump Vows to 'End It Now'

The New York Times was pressured into changing its front-page headline after it was accused of endorsing Trump's speech and ignoring the violent tactic employed to clear peaceful protesters in Washington D.C. "As Chaos Spreads, Trump Vows to 'End it Now'", read the controversial headline. Critics promptly expressed their disapproval in posts to Twitter, noting confusion at how such a misjudgment made it past editors. Several people replied pledging not to renew their subscriptions to the publication after the headline. Advisor to former president Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes said the headline did little to reflect the reality of what was happening across the United States.


Trump and Aides Try to Change the Narrative on White House Protests

President Trump and his allies for years have amplified racist messages on Twitter while simultaneously reaching out to black and Hispanic voters, a dissonant balancing act that's now rocking the GOP amid nationwide racial justice protests. The two competing forces collided recently on the Twitter feed of Trump campaign senior advisor Mercedes Schlapp, when she boosted a tweet that lauded a man in Texas in a viral video as he yelled a racial slur and wielded a chainsaw to chase away anti-racism demonstrators. Beyond Trump's inner circle, Republicans have been under fire over racist social media posts in Texas, triggering strife within GOP circles. Schlapp's retweets highlighted how the Trump campaign operates in contradictory worlds of its own making. This is part of a longstanding practice by Trump and his backers who occasionally use Twitter to amplify inflammatory messages that are at odds with the campaign's appeals to black and other minority voters.


Suit Says Google's Tracking Infringes on Wiretap Laws

A new suit claims that Google's tracking violates federal wiretap law. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, said that Google tracked and collected consumer browsing history even if users took steps to maintain their privacy.


Snap Pulls Trump from Spotlight

Trump's verified Snapchat account will no longer be promoted within the app after executives concluded that his tweets promoted violence. His account, RealDonaldTrump, will remain on the platform and continue to appear in search results, but he will no longer appear in the app's Discover tab, which promotes news publishers, elected officials, celebrities, and influencers. "We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover. Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality and justice in America," Snap said in a statement.


Australian Journalists Attacked by Police on Live TV

The U.S. Park Police says it has placed two officers on administrative leave after video showed Australian journalists being attacked during Monday's protest in Washington, D.C. Acting Chief Gregory T. Monahan said the attack is being investigated. The video captured reporter Amanda Brace and cameraman Tim Myers being assaulted as law enforcement officials cleared an area near the White House so that Trump could walk to a nearby church that had been damaged during the previous night. Australia's ambassador to the U.S. has complained about the attack, which the network's news director Craig McPherson described as "nothing short of wanton thuggery."


General News

"In the Flames, a Fear of Spiraling Chaos"

Protests began after George Floyd died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin was fired and later charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter days after Floyd died, as protests roiled in cities across the U.S. The protests called for justice based on other deaths of black Americans at the hands of police officers, like Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was murdered by police while they served a no-knock warrant on her apartment. Many protests turned violent and furor grew over law enforcement's heavy-handed crowd-control tactics, including police cruisers ramming into protesters in New York. Peaceful protests and violent clashes consumed parts of Minneapolis and other cities for several tense days in a row.


'Godspeed': SpaceX Lifts NASA Crew Into Orbit

The International Space Station has two new NASA astronauts, after the SpaceX crew Dragon arrived. The newly-expanded Expedition 63 crew will now be ramping up microgravity research in the coming days and weeks. The duo joined NASA Commander Chris Cassidy, who has been in orbit since April 9th, for a news conference, and talked about the historical nature of the first crewed Dragon mission.


Justices Uphold Limits On Religious Services During Health Crisis

The Supreme Court has rejected a California church's attempt to overturn the state's coronavirus restrictions on in-person religious services. In the decision, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court's liberal bloc in upholding the state's right to impose limits on congregations in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Chief Justice Roberts said that "although California's guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment", and denied a request by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church for relief from the rules. The Chula Vista-based house of worship sued Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, over an order limiting congregations to 25% capacity or 100 attendees, whichever is lower. The church told the Court that its services typically attract 200 to 300 congregants.


Supreme Court Upholds Federal Response to Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis

The Supreme Court held unanimously that a board charged with reorganizing Puerto Rico's debt in the wake of financial crisis can continue its work. The Court rejected a constitutional challenge that threated the restructuring of billions of dollars of debt.


Trump Pushes G7 Meeting to September, and Vows to Invite Some Unusual Guests

Trump has announced that he is postponing the G7 until at least September and wants to invite four additional countries to the summit: Russia, Australia, India, and South Korea. The G7 is comprised of the U.S., Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Japan. White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah said that the President wants to bring other traditional allies into the mix, as well as those impacted by the coronavirus, and to talk about the future of China.


U.S. Allies Chafe as Trump and Putin Discuss Russia Attending G7 Talk

President Trump told President Putin in a phone call on Monday about his idea of holding an expanded Group of 7 summit later this year with a possible invitation for Russia. Britain and Canada have since spoken out against the idea of readmitting Russia to the forum from which it was expelled in 2014 after annexing the Crimea region from Ukraine. Russia said earlier that it was looking for more details before responding.


Democracy Movement Faces 'the Darkest Hour'

A pandemic and an economic downturn have brought into much sharper relief the injustices bred by 400 years of racism as African Americans suffer disproportionately from both scourges. Many feel that Trump seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the electoral system itself by lying about the effect of mail balloting and trying to deny millions the ability to vote. His promise to dispatch "thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers" to our cities brings to mind Chile and Argentina, under the generals. This a moment that demands a recommitment to our democratic faith in the depth of our commitment to free government, the long trajectory of our history, and each other.


Trump Offers No Calming Words as Tumult Reaches White House

As dozens of cities across the nation, including the capital, were overwhelmed by civil unrest stemming from the killing of George Floyd, Trump sequestered himself in the White House, utterly unable to meet a defining moment for the country and negligently unwilling even to try. The leadership vacuum has been compounding the pain and the anxiety of a nation descending deeper into turmoil. Trump offered some perfunctory empathy for Floyd last week, but his cursory condolences were quickly overshadowed by his actions (or inactions).


Shoulder-to-Shoulder Crowds at Rallies After Months of Quarantine

Much of the country staying inside, separated as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Now protests are creating crowds, threatening a resurgence. In the last week or so, the U.S. has abruptly shifted from one crippling crisis to the next. Suddenly America no longer looks like a nation cooped up at home. The demonstrations have spurred fears that they could cause a deadly resurgence of the coronavirus. And for those sympathetic to a growing movement, deciding whether to attend protests has been complicated: Some people have avoided them entirely, reasoning that the chance of contracting the coronavirus in a crowd is too high. Other have joined despite the risks. No one has studied the precise dynamics of how the virus may be transmitted under the mix of conditions that prevail at mass protests. And because of delays between exposure to the virus and the start of symptoms, and then hospitalizations and deaths, the impact of the protests on virus spread will not be known for several weeks.


Mass Protests Bring Fear of Hot Spots

As people flooded streets across America to protest the killing of George Floyd, public health experts fear that the crowds, tear gas, and arrests will lead to new transmissions of coronavirus. Many of the protests broke out in places where the virus is still circulating widely in the population. The demonstrations have taken place in every one of the 25 U.S. communities with the highest concentrations of new cases. Some have seen major protests over multiple days, including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. The protests have come just as communities across the nation loosen restrictions on businesses and public life that have helped slow the spread of the virus, deepening concern that the two factors taken together could create a national resurgence in cases.


How Trump's Idea for Photo Op Led to Havoc in Park

WIlliam Barr gave an order to clear a peaceful rally as Trump seethed over the television images and was annoyed that anyone would think he was hiding and eager for action. What ensued was a burst of violence unlike any seen in the shadow of the White House in generations. As he prepared for his surprise march to the church, Trump first went before cameras in the Rose Garden to declare himself "your president of law and order" but also "an ally of all peaceful protesters," even as peaceful protesters just a block away and clergy members on the church patio were routed by smoke and flash grenades and some form of chemical spray deployed by shield-bearing riot officers and mounted police.


Former Commanders Denounce Trump's Use of Military Forces Against Americans

Scores of retired military and defense leaders are denouncing Trump and accusing him of using the U.S. Armed Forces to undermine the rights of Americans protesting police brutality and the killing of George Floyd. The condemnation came in an op-ed in The Washington Post, signed by 89 former defense officials, and in a letter in support of Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, signed by 55 retired military leaders. It comes days after law enforcement officers used tear gas and deployed flash bangs to disperse a peaceful protest near White House shortly before Trump walked to the area to pose with a Bible in front of a damaged church. The president also threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to deploy federal troops to quell the protests. The op-ed accuses Trump of betraying his oath of office "by threatening to order members of the U.S. military to violate the rights of their fellow Americans." It was signed by a mix of Republicans and Democrats.


Esper at Odds With President On Army's Use

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper appeared to contradict President Trump in a briefing last week, by saying that the U.S. would not send active-duty troops to quell protests. Esper's predecessor James Mattis had publicly rebuked him and Trump in a statement sent to news outlets. Esper's job security looks grim.


Long Silent, Mattis Delivers a Blistering Criticism of Trump as a Divider

James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as secretary of defense in 2018 to protest Trump's Syria policy, has, ever since, kept studiously silent about Trump's performance as president. Now he has broken his silence, writing an extraordinary broadside in which he denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accuses him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.


Bowing to Pentagon, Trump Agrees to Send Troops Back to Bases

Trump has agreed to begin sending home 82nd Airborne Division troops he had ordered to Washington, temporarily easing a contentious standoff with the Pentagon over the role of the armed forces in quelling protests that have broken out across the nation. Trump has been at odds with Esper, but he told aides that he understands their warning that he would risk more criticism from military officials if he were to dismiss the defense secretary, fueling a rising revolt among retired officers in the thick of a re-election campaign.


'Entirely Appropriate': Barr Defends Photo Op After Park Was Cleared

Attorney General Barr defended Trump's photo opportunity in front of a historic church last week amid widespread condemnation over the authorities' violent clearing of protesters and clergy from the area moments before. Barr said he had ordered the park to be cleared in an effort to create more space between the White House and the protests, well before he knew that Trump intended to visit the church. "There was no correlation between our tactical plan of moving the perimeter out by one block and the president's going over to the church", Barr said.


Victim's Brother Pleads for an End to Violence

George Floyd's brother, Terrence Floyd, has urged protesters to be peaceful. Floyd, who lives in Brooklyn, arrived to a vigil with his minister and his attorney to a huge crowd that was waiting. As he spoke to the crowd, he said that his "family is a peaceful family" and that nothing ever changes when there is rioting and violence in these protests and he pleaded for people to protest peacefully, but urged them never to forget.


Lawmakers Push to Stop Sending Military Gear to Police

There is a fight brewing in Congress as Trump is sending military weapons to the police while lawmakers are trying to stop them. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, combined with the images of protesters clashing with heavily-armed police around the country, has Congress seriously considering bipartisan legislation to limit the transfer of military weapons to local law enforcement. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted that he would be introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act -- an annual, must-pass bill that covers a wide range of Pentagon activities -- to "discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments." Schatz's legislation would target a Defense Department program that distributes military-grade weapons, such as armored vehicles, assault rifles, bayonets, and grenade launchers, to local police departments. Known as the "1033 program," it has its roots in the war on drugs and later in the government's counterterrorism efforts after 9/11. The program came under fire in 2014, and in 2015 President Obama issued an executive order banning the transfer, but President Trump reversed that decision during his first year in office.


Trump Says Secret Service Was Itching For a Fight

Police fired pepper spray at demonstrators near the White House and the D.C. National Guard was called as pockets of violence and vandalism erupted during a second straight night of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Trump's response to it. Trump appeared to cheer on the tougher tactics being used by law enforcement to disperse protesters. He commended National Guard troops deployed in Minneapolis, declaring "No games!" The Secret Service said in a statement that six protesters were arrested in Washington and "multiple" officers were injured. Trump claimed that many Secret Service agents were "just waiting for action" and ready to unleash "the most vicious dogs, and the most ominous weapons, I have ever seen." His words revisit images from the civil rights movement when marchers faced snarling police dogs and high-pressure fire hoses.


Outrage of Protesters reaches Trump Tower and All Five Boroughs

By early Sunday, 345 protesters had been arrested and 47 police cars had been damaged or destroyed, as demonstrators angry over the death of George Floyd clashed with officers and looted stores.


Parent of Slain Student Takes On Smith & Wesson

A parent of a student killed in the 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida has filed a federal complaint against Springfield-based gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson. Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year old daughter Jamie was among 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was joined by two gun control advocacy groups in filing the complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. They accused the firearms manufacturer of using what they described as "deceptive and unfair marketing" to promote assault-style rifles.


More Corporate Voices, Typically Shy on Issues, Speak Out On Racism

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., brands quickly stepped in to reassure frightened Americans that they were there for them. In countless campaigns, brands let the public know that they were helping by donating money, making masks, and giving consumers grace periods on payments. Yet when black Americans are being killed, the silence of the corporate world can be deafening. Last week, the American Psychological Association issued a statement calling racism a pandemic. Unlike COVID-19, the pandemic of racism isn't new to America. While a majority of brands have remained silent, some are coming forward to align with protesters and take a firm stance against racism. Brands like Nike, Reebok, YouTube, amd Ben & Jerry's have vocalized their support and put money into organizations fighting for the cause. Some commentators have pointed out that even though these brands are showing support, their lack of African Americans on their executive teams is also part of the problem.


Pandemic to Carve $16 Trillion Out of American Economy Over 10 Years

The Congressional Budget Office projected that pandemic could cost the United States economy $16 trillion over the next 10 years.


Scientists Trace Evolution of Coronaviruses in Bats

An international team of scientists, including a prominent researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has analyzed all known coronaviruses in Chinese bats and used genetic analysis to trace the likely origin of the novel coronavirus to horseshoe bats. In the report, they also point to the great variety of these viruses in southern and southwestern China, urge closer monitoring of bat viruses in the area, and greater efforts to change human behavior as ways of decreasing the chances of future pandemics. The research was supported by a U.S. grant to EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit, that was recently canceled by the National Institutes of Health. The grant, for more than $3 million, was well on its way to renewal, and then the sudden reversal prompted an outcry in the scientific community.


U.S. Judge's Lawyer Asks Court Not to Cut Short Scrutiny of Flynn Case

The Department of Justice (DOJ) urged a federal appeals court to force a lower court judge to dismiss the prosecution of Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan had declined to immediately dismiss the case against Flynn, despite the Justice Department's move to drop a charge that the Trump ally lied to the FBI about his 2016 contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. Flynn pleaded guilty to the offense in 2017 but reversed course and moved to withdraw his plea in recent months. Sullivan instead sought outside input about whether he should abandon the case--and potentially charge Flynn with contempt of court for perjury during his guilty plea proceedings. The DOJ said that Sullivan was wrong to take that step. The DOJ lawyers unveiled a muscular argument in favor of virtually unbridled executive branch discretion in criminal charging decisions. This new filing represented a major coup for Flynn's defense. Lawyers representing Sullivan, who was appointed to the bench by Bill Clinton, defended his handling of the DOJ's motion in part by noting a highly unusual aspect of the government's filing: Both of the career prosecutors handling the case declined to sign the motion. The DOJ's abrupt move to dismiss the case against Flynn was "unusual" in that it calls into question the department's motives and warrants deeper review, Sullivan argued.


Environmental Protection Agency Limits States' Power to Oppose Energy Projects

The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had limited states' ability to block the construction of energy infrastructure projects as part of the Trump administration's goal of promoting gas pipelines, coal terminals, and other fossil fuel development.


College Board Postpones use of an Online SAT

The College Board said that it would postpone plans to offer an online version of the SAT for high school students to take at home this year, further muddying a ritual of the college application process that had already been thrown into chaos by the coronavirus.


Extinctions Are Accelerating, Threatening Even Human Life

Hundreds of unique, precious species of animal life has vanished over the last century. This is what mass extinction looks like, scientists warn, but that's not even the worst part. Researchers say that the mass extinction phenomenon currently underway on Earth is actually accelerating, with the vast toll of vertebrate extinctions seen in the 20th century set to be repeated, but this time it may take just decades for hundreds of more species to disappear. As each domino falls, the effects for adjacent species become ever more risky, with destabilized ecosystems and weakened food webs making survival for any species--including humans--less assured.


Senate Passes Bill to Assist Firms Racing to Use Loans

The Senate gave final approval to a measure that would relax the terms of a federal loan program for small businesses struggling amid the pandemic. The bill has now been sent to President Trump's desk for his signature. The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the House to enact changes to the Paycheck Protection Program and would extend to 24 weeks from eight the period that small businesses would have to spend the loan money. Without the change, the time for businesses to use the funds would have lapsed in only a few days. The measure passed unanimously without the full Senate present, marking a rare moment of bipartisanship.


Tests Depend on Key Ingredients: Blood of the Horseshoe Crab

Modern medicine still depends on this animal's blood to test for bacteria in vaccines and an alternative test requires further study. For decades, drug companies have depended on a component in the blood of the horseshoe crab to test injectable medicines, including vaccines, for dangerous bacterial contaminants called endotoxins. Conservationists and some businesses have pushed for wide acceptance of an alternative test, to protect the horseshoe crabs and birds that feed on their eggs. Earlier this year, they seemed to be on the brink of success, as the nongovernmental group that issues quality standards for such tests moved toward putting the alternative test on the same footing. However last week, that organization, the U.S. Pharmacopeia, announced that the alternative test known as rFC (recombinant factor C) requires significantly more study.


White House Narrows Vaccine Candidates to 5 Companies

The Trump administration has selected five companies as the most likely candidates to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus--a critical step in the White House's effort to deliver on its promise of being able to start widespread inoculation of Americans by the end of the year. The field was narrowed from 12 companies. The five companies are Moderna, a Massachusetts-based bio-technology firm, which is expected to enter into the final phase of clinical trials next month; the combination of Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and three large pharmaceutical companies: Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Pfizer. Each is taking a somewhat different approach.


Malaria Drug Promoted by Trump Didn't Prevent Infection

The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine did not prevent COVID-19 in a rigorous study of 821 people who had been exposed to patients infected with the virus, researchers from the University of Minnesota and Canada are reporting. The study was the first controlled clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine, a drug Trump has repeatedly promoted and recently taken himself. The trial was the first to test whether the drug could prevent illness in people who have been exposed to the coronavirus.


"This Country Was Founded on Protest", Obama Says as He Urges Police Reform

Former President Barack Obama urged Americans to use the George Floyd protests to spark "real change" in the U.S. His comments come after more than a week of demonstrations sparked by Floyd's death in Minneapolis. Obama's remarks were part of a broader conversation about proposed reforms to the nation's law enforcement agencies, and how to improve trust between police and the communities they protect. During his address, he offered a direct message to young people of color who have "witnessed too much violence and too much death," often at the hands of those tasked with protecting them. Obama also urged local leaders to take immediate action.


Frustration and Fury as Rand Paul Holds Up Anti-Lynching Bill in Senate

As Congress prepared to wade into a contentious debate over legislation to address police brutality and systemic racial bias, a long-simmering dispute in the Senate over a far less controversial bill that would for the first time explicitly make lynching a federal crime has burst into public view.


At Floyd Service, a Cry of Pain: 'Get Your Knee Off Our Necks'

Prominent U.S. civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton told mourners that George Floyd's fatal encounter with police and the nationwide protests his death ignited marked a reckoning for America over race and justice, demanding, "Get your knee off our necks." During the tribute, mourners stood in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds--the amount of time police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck as he pleaded for his life. Reverend Sharpton delivered the eulogy.


A Day of Historic Wins for Women of Color

As the nation remained gripped by widespread protests against police brutality and systemic racism, black and Hispanic women won elections in multiple states while Representative Steve King, a nine-term congressman with a long history of racist remarks, was ousted in a Republican primary in Iowa. A determined electorate pushed turnout past 2016 levels in nearly all of the eight states that held primary contests, even as the coronavirus pandemic upended the election process. The result was a dramatic night for candidates of color up and down the ballot, largely in Democratic primaries for Congress, state legislatures, and city halls, at a time when national leaders like former President Obama are encouraging a nation reeling from the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other black Americans to embrace civic action and vote. In New Mexico, 17 women won Democratic primaries for the state legislature. In Iowa, 11 women won primaries for the statehouse. Many of the candidates of color who won on Tuesday, most of whom are Democrats, still face difficult battles in November. Further, Republican women won in five House districts expected to be competitive this November, a significant shift, as the party has tried to recruit more women in recent years. Progressive activists hailed Tuesday's primary results as evidence that the widespread protests can spur political action, leading to important gains in electing more candidates who focus heavily on issues of race and inequality.


Uneasy Workers Risk Losing Jobs By Staying Home

As people across the U.S. are told to return to work, employees who balk at the health risks say that they are being confronted with painful reprisals: some are losing their jobs if they try to stay home, and thousands more are being reported to the state to have their unemployment benefits cut off. The coronavirus continues to strain the economy. The Labor Department reported that 1.9 million Americans filed new claims for state unemployment insurance last week. Businesses want to bring back customers and profits, but workers now worry about contracting the virus once they return to cramped restaurant kitchens, dental offices or conference rooms where few colleagues are wearing masks. Some states with a history of weaker labor protections are encouraging employers to report workers who do not return to their jobs, citing state laws that disqualify people from receiving unemployment checks if they refuse a reasonable offer of work.


Long Silent, Mattis Delivers a Blistering Criticism of Trump as a Divider

James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as secretary of defense in 2018 to protest Trump's Syria policy, has, ever since, kept studiously silent about Trump's performance as president. But he has now broken his silence, writing an extraordinary broadside in which he denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accuses him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.


Fierce Protectors of Police Impede Efforts at Reform

Over the past five years, as demands for reform have mounted in the aftermath of police violence in cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, and now Minneapolis, police unions have emerged as one of the most significant roadblocks to change. The greater the political pressure for reform, the more defiant the unions often are in resisting it--with few city officials, including liberal leaders, able to overcome their opposition. They aggressively protect the rights of members accused of misconduct, often in arbitration hearings that they have battled to keep behind closed doors. They have also been remarkably effective at fending off broader change, using their political clout and influence to derail efforts to increase accountability.


Army Opens Inquiry Into Aerial Show of Force

As police aggressively sought to disperse protesters, at least two helicopter flew unusually close to the ground, in what aviators called a "show of force." Onlookers noticed that one of those helicopters had Red Cross markings, a symbol that usually denotes emergency aid or humanitarian assistance, rather than military force. Major General William J. Walker, the commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, announced that he has opened an investigation into the incident. The National Guard had been aiding local law enforcement as protests in the wake of George Floyd's death have rattled D.C. the past week. Some military justice experts called the use of the medical helicopter a reckless break with norms.


Jobless Rate Dips, Defying Outlook; U.S. Stocks Surge

A $3 trillion burst of economic assistance form the federal government has fueled a faster-than-expected rebound in hiring amid the coronavirus pandemic. That bounce suggests that the economy is slowly healing, but it could also encourage Republican lawmakers to shut off some aid to people and companies prematurely, undermining that very recovery.


Virus Closures Leave Students Falling Behind

Gaps of race and class are likely to widen because of virus closures. The abrupt switch to remote learning wiped out academic gains for many students in America, and widened racial and economic gaps. Catching up in the fall won't be easy. New research suggests that by September, most students will have fallen behind where they would have been had they'd stayed in classrooms, with some losing the equivalent of a full school year's worth of academic gains. Racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps will most likely widen because of disparities in access to computers, home internet connections, and direct instruction from teachers.


World Health Organization Backs Wearing Masks After Months of Reluctance

Long after nations urged their citizens to wear masks, and after months of hand-wringing about the quality of the evidence available, the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has now endorsed the use of face masks by the public to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the W.H.O. had refused to endorse masks. The announcement was long overdue, critics said, as masks are an easy and inexpensive preventative measure.


Genes May Be Reason Some People Get Sicker

Geneticists have been scouring our DNA for clues. A Study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Variations at two spots in the human genome are associated with an increased risk of respiratory failure in patients with COVID-19, the researchers found. One of these spots includes the gene that determines blood types. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50% increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator. The study was equally striking for the genes that failed to turn up.


Trump Campaign Removes Video That Violated NASA Ad Rules

The campaign to reelect President Trump has pulled a short-lived "Make Space Great Again" video advertisement this week that surprised NASA and appeared to violate the agency's advertising regulations on the depictions of its astronauts. According to NASA's advertising guidelines, the video appeared to violate agency regulations by featuring footage of active astronauts and a retired astronaut without their consent and NASA's iconic logo. Those guidelines prohibit using the name or likeness of any active astronaut in advertising or marketing material.


Police Union Posts Arrest of the Mayor's Daughter

Twitter temporarily suspended the account for a union representing sergeants in the New York Police Department for violating its privacy policy, after the account reportedly shared information about the arrest of Mayor Bill de Blasio's daughter. The account posted a police report documenting the arrest of Chiara de Blasio, the 25-year-old daughter of the Democratic mayor, during a protest over the death of George Floyd. The internal police report, which is not typically made public by the department, reportedly included Chiara's personal information, including height, weight, address, date of birth, and driver's license information. A Twitter spokesman said that the union's account had violated its privacy policy that prohibits publishing another person's private information without express authorization and permission. According to Twitter's policy, an account is required to remove a tweet that violated the platform's rules before the account is able to tweet again.


Detained Protesters and Looters Grind Through a Clogging Justice System

In the week since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, hundreds of people arrested in New York City-, ome while looting, others while clashing with police during largely peaceful demonstrations, have been detained in cramped cells for more than 24 hours, their health at risk in the midst of a pandemic. On Thursday, more than 380 people had yet to be brought before a judge. Nearly 70% of them had been waiting for more than 24 hours. Police, prosecutors, and court officials say they are doing what they can to process people quickly, but they are facing logistical hurdles because of the coronavirus shutdown and an unusually high number of arrests.


Where the Minneapolis Police Used Force Against Black People

Forty percent of Minneapolis's population if black, but since 2015, when officers have used physical force (with kicks, neck holds, punches, shoves, takedowns, Mace, Tasers or tons of muscle), the person subject to that force has been black nearly 63% of the time. Long before former Officer Chauvin killed George Floyd, the Third Precinct in south Minneapolis had a reputation for being home to police officers who played by their own rules. Between 2007 and 2017, the city paid out $2.1 million to settle misconduct lawsuits involving Third Precinct officers. The police department for decades has had strained relations with minority communities, reflected in part by the troubling disparities in its use of force and the deaths of other unarmed black men, are now drawing unprecedented national scrutiny.


Cities Are Questioning If It Is Time to Rethink Structure of Policing

After more than a week of protests against police brutality and unrest, a growing chorus of elected officials, civic leaders, and residents in Minneapolis are urging the city to break up the Police Department and reimagine the way policing works. A member of the City Council remarked on Twitter, "we are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and when we're done we're not simply gonna glue it back together, we are going to dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response." At least three others have also called for taking the Police Department Apart. Minneapolis is not the only city asking the question.


This Case is Already Different: The Police Are Breaking Ranks

Two of the former police officers charged with aiding and abetting in the killing of George Floyd turned on the senior officer accused in the case, making for an extraordinary court appearance on Thursday. A third officer was cooperating with the authorities, a sign that the four fired officers would not be presenting a united front. Facing 40 years in prison and a bail of at least $750,000, the former officers Thomas Land and J. Alexander Kueng, both rookies, blamed Derek Chauvin, the senior officer at the scene and a training officer. It is not common for officers to break ranks, or cross what is if often called the blue wall of silence. However, little about this case is typical: Floyd's death has unleashed a movement, with demonstrations in more than 150 American cities against police brutality and systemic racism.


Can't Afford a Lawyer? Try a Campaign Donor

Judges in Harris County, Texas, were far more likely to appoint lawyers who had donated to their campaigns to represent poor criminal defendants.


Philadelphia Removes Statue of Divisive Mayor

Workers have removed the statue of divisive former Philadelphia Mayor and Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo. The statue was removed from outside the Municipal Services Building, across from City Hall. It will be stored until a permanent plan for it can be determined. Rizzo, who died in 1991, cast a long shadow in Philadelphia. He was police commissioner from 1968-71 and served as mayor from 1972-80. His reputation for being tough on crime was coupled with complaints of racial discrimination. Calls to remove the statue, a frequent target of vandals, had grown louder in recent years. Mayor Jim Kenney had earlier pledged to move it in 2021. A mural of Rizzo, painted on the side of a building near the Italian Market in South Philadelphia 25 years ago, has been vandalized several times over the years and Mural Arts Philadelphia has now announced that it would no longer restore or repair the mural, as it has in the past.


Virginia to Take Down Statute of Confederacy's Commander

In recent days, amid an extraordinary outpouring of grief over Floyd's death, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has pledged to remove the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue, while city leaders have also committed to taking down the other four Confederate memorials along Richmond's prestigious Monument Avenue. These changes amount to a reshaping of how one of America's most historic cities tells its story in its public spaces, and a rethinking of whom it glorifies. Republican lawmakers, Confederate heritage groups, and a Monument Avenue conservation group have criticized the decisions. Some have warned that it could impact tourism and many have equated the monuments' removal to erasing history.


Six Years After Racial Unrest, Ferguson Has First Black Mayor

Ella Jones, a city councilwoman in Ferguson, Mo., was elected mayor last week after losing a bid for the office in 2017. She became the first African-American and first woman elected mayor in Ferguson, nearly six years after the city erupted in protests after a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, a black teenager, propelling Ferguson into the national spotlight and galvanizing the Black Lives Matter movement. Jones, who was voted in as Ferguson's first black city council member in 2015, pledged to fight for police reform.


Gulf of Mexico to See Growth in 'Dead Zone' of Low Oxygen

The summertime low-oxygen "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to cover at least 6,7000 square miles along the Louisiana and eastern Texas coasts at the end of July, according to a federal forecast based on estimates developed by five research teams studying the effects of fertilizer and other nutrients on Gulf waters.


Judge Denies Madoff In Request for Release

A federal judge says Bernard Madoff should die in prison. Madoff asked for his freedom in February after he learned that he has kidney disease. Judge Denny Chin, who handed down Madoff's 150-year sentence more than a decade ago, denied the request.


31 Years Later, Tiananmen Sq. Casts a Shadow Over Hong Kong

June 4, 1989 was the date when China set its military against peaceful protesters. Chinese troops massacred many people as they cleared Tiananmen Square. Commemorating this massacre is forbidden in mainland China, but Hong Kong has held huge rallies every year to remember the victims until this year, when police banned that activity, although organizers say that they were going ahead.


Vigil for Tiananmen Victims is Prohibited

Tens of thousands of people defied coronavirus restrictions on gatherings to commemorate China's Tiananmen Square massacre. The annual vigil carried new significance, as Hong Kong people remembered not only the hundreds, and possibly thousands, killed when Chinese soldiers cracked down on protesters in Beijing on June 4, 1989, but also looked ahead to a new national security law that China plans to impose and critics say will threaten Hong Kong's civil liberties.


As Measles and Virus Rage, Congo Faces Ebola Outbreak

As the world races to stem the coronavirus, the Democratic Republic of Congo is racing to also stop the spread of measles and a new outbreak of Ebola, leaving women delaying reproductive health needs, aid groups warned. Further, the Congo is facing armed conflict, bringing with it sexual violence against women who, as caregivers, are often on the frontlines of caring for the sick and at a higher risk of falling ill and also often blamed for spreading these viruses. The accumulative effect is mind boggling, as communities have to face concurrent multiple challenges.


Russia Declares Emergency After an Oil Spill in Siberia

Putin declared a state of emergency after a collapsing storage tank leaked 21,000 tons of diesel fuel. The spill could cause more than $1 billion in damage that lasts decades and threatens Moscow's industrial ambitions in the Russian Arctic. This is one of the largest disasters in modern Russian history, comparable in scale to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.


Criticizing Government is Equated to Terrorism By Bill in Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is expected to sign sweeping anti-terrorism legislation that critics said would allow the authorities to classify government opponents as terrorists and detain people for critical social media posts. The measure passed both houses of Congress and is nearing finalization as the United Nations released a scathing report that criticizes widespread human rights violations under Duterte, including the extrajudicial killing of more than 8,000 people. Despite years of international and domestic criticism over rights abuses, Duterte appears eager to double down on his strategy of suppressing dissent.


Who put the "ER" in the Theatre?

By Bennett Liebman
Government Lawyer in Residence
Government Law Center, Albany Law School

All entertainment and arts lawyers find themselves in the same vexing position. What is the proper spelling of the word describing a place or a building to watch plays, presentations or motion pictures? Is it a "theatre" ending with the -re, or a "theater" ending with the -er? How did we reach this conundrum, and does it matter at all?

The answer to the last question is the easiest one. It does not matter. The meaning of the word remains the same regardless of the spelling. The only item to note is that one can't alter the proper name of a designated specific theater or theatre. As the Chicago Manual of Style online states, "Proper names must not be edited for style or spelling." Therefore, the "Shubert Theatre" cannot be spelled as the "Shubert Theater".

In the United Kingdom, the -re spelling is considered the proper spelling. In America, the -er spelling is more frequently used.

How did we find ourselves with these divergent positions? Are England and America, as George Bernard Shaw allegedly said, "two countries divided by the same language?"

The etymological history starts with the fact that the word was derived in England from the French word "theatre." The Oxford English Dictionary finds that the term was first used in England in 1380. From 1550 to about 1700, it was primarily spelled with the "er" spelling. This is basically confirmed by a review of Google Ngram data shows that the peak use of the word "theater" (until the conclusion of the 20th century) was in the first quarter of the 17th century, Nonetheless, the use of the -er spelling faded out by 1700 and was entirely replaced by the -re spelling. It can be seen in Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, which only uses "theatre". It has been that way ever since in the United Kingdom. So how did "theatre" become "theater" in the United States?

The answer is a simple one. Lexicographer Noah Webster in the early 19th century did not like the -re" endings used in England for words that had been derived from the French language. He wanted American spellings to be more phonetic. English spellings like sceptre, sepulchre, centre, metre, fibre, ordre, and calibre were discarded by Webster. In the same manner Webster changed the "theatre" to the "theater."

It took a while for the -er spelling to take hold, but by the 20th century it had become the predominant usage in America. The U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual lists "theater" as the preferred spelling. "Theater" is the spelling used by Corpus of Contemporary American English. The Associated Press Stylebook is pro-"theater". Even the Cambridge Dictionary notes that "theater" is the "US spelling of theatre."
Yet, the -re spelling has hardly been counted out in America. It is still frequently utilized, especially in the context of live plays. A 2019 survey of companies putting on live performances in Colorado found that 40 companies use the -re spelling, as compared to only 14 using the -er spelling. "The vast majority of companies that have Theatre or Theater in their proper names prefer the word Theatre... And a healthy number (38) perhaps smartly avoid the word altogether."

For much of America the spellings are interchangeable, with the clear edge going to the -er spelling. Yet for a good portion of the country, the -re spelling suggests the somewhat more pretentious live performances while the -er spelling is for the more mundane movie houses.

We all, however, can agree with the cause of the -re v. -er fight. How did we get there? Who put the -er in theatre? Put the blame on Noah Webster.

Governor Cuomo Extends Temporary Tolling of Statute of Limitations


Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended for another 30 days his executive order that temporarily tolls all statutes of limitations during the coronavirus public health crisis.

The latest order extends through July 6.

Cuomo's order tolls "any specific time limit for the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding, as prescribed by the procedural laws of the state, including but not limited to the criminal procedure law, the Family Court act, the civil practice law and rules, the Court of Claims act, the Surrogate's Court procedure act, and the uniform court acts, or by any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or part thereof."

In March, the New York State Bar Association urged the governor to act on what was then a bill proposing such an order.

Cuomo's latest executive order also extended his previous order pertaining to remote witnessing, which clarifies the requirements needed to allow the remote signings of such documents as deeds, wills, power of attorney forms and healthcare proxies. It also extended an earlier executive order pertaining to the criminal procedure law.

Phased Courthouse Reopenings Start in NYC

In her weekly briefing, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said that by Wednesday, June 10 all state court system judges, chambers staff and designated court personnel will be back at work in their assigned courthouses, as New York City began phase one today.

"With regard to New York City, even though as part of phase one our judges and a limited number of staff will be back at work in our courthouses, they will be conducting court business through virtual technology in order to keep courthouse traffic down and minimize the risk of community transmission during this initial start-up period," said DiFiore. "For unrepresented litigants who lack the technology to access our virtual services, we have set aside courthouse space where they can safely access essential court services."

DiFiore said in every region, administrative judges are closely monitoring the volume and flow of courthouse traffic, making necessary adjustments and carefully planning for the next phase of in-person services and operations, including phase three in some upstate regions.

"We are confident that our approach of incrementally opening the valve to additional in-person activities and courthouse traffic is the smartest way to deal with the reality that COVID-19 is still a presence," said DiFiore. "Because until a vaccine is available, no one really knows what will happen as restrictions are eased and more and more people come into contact with each other on a regular basis. And we've all come much too far since the dark days of March and April to move forward carelessly and risk another resurgence of the virus; so, hence, our careful, methodical and deliberate approach to reestablishing our in-court operations."

Protest Arrests

DiFiore also said the state court system has been dealing with the challenge of processing hundreds of daily arrests stemming from the protests over the tragic death of George Floyd.

She said that despite the higher volume of arrests, the system "admirably" handled the virtual court arraignments. She said they doubled their virtual arraignment parts in Manhattan and implemented additional evening and overnight arraignment parts as needed.

June 22, 2020

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


2021 Oscars Will Be Delayed Until April 25th

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


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

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


Actor Danny Masterson Charged with Raping Three Women

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



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

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




New Coalition Will Fight Racism in Theater

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


Children's Theaters Confront Issue of Diversity

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


Upright Citizens Brigade Will Overhaul its Leadership

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


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

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


Relocating Monuments Tied to Slavery

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



Albuquerque Removes Statue of Conquistador Juan de Onate

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



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

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


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

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


Museums Embrace Art Therapy

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


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

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


The Dress Codes of the Uprising

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


Shakespeare in the Park Turns into Four-Part Radio Play

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


Authorities Catch Up to Art Dealer Inigo Philbrick Over Suspected Fraud

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


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

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



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

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


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

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



National Hockey League Nearing Plan for Resuming Play

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


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

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


WNBA Player Will Skip Season to Focus on Justice Initiatives

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


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

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



Major League Baseball Spring Training Sites Close Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

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


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

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

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



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

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


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

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


Corporate America Pledging Millions to Social Justice Efforts

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


Sports Leagues and Fans Face a Complicated Reality

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



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

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


Social Media Platforms Denounce Racism That Thrives There

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


Facebook Says That Users Can Opt Out of Seeing Political Ads

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


Facebook Removes Trump Ads Over for Displaying Symbol Associated with Nazis

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


Justice Department Urges Rolling Back Legal Shield for Tech Companies

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


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

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


Associated Press Apologies for Featuring Jefferson Davis Quotation

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


Former eBay Workers Sent Threatening Messages and Delivers to Critics

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


Apple's App Store Draws Antitrust Scrutiny in Europe

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


France's Highest Court Upholds Google Fine

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


French Constitutional Court Strikes Down Most of Online Hate Speech Law

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


Two Philippine Journalists Convicted of Cyber Libel

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


General News

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

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


Supreme Court Expansion of Transgender Rights Undercuts Trump Restrictions

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


Supreme Court Will Not Hear Case on California Sanctuary Law

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


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

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


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

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

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



Wait Times for Citizenship Applications Have Doubled in Last Two Years

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


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

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


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

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


Trump Administration Lawyer Looking to Reshape the Electorate

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


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

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


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

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



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

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


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

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


Air Force Inspector General Investigating Whether Military Plane Improperly Monitored Protesters

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



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

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


State Department Aide Resigns Over Trump's Response to Protests

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


Businesses Brace for Possible Limits on Foreign Worker Visas

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


Oversight Board Warns That Lack of Transparency Could Hinder Virus Bailout

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


House Democrats Open Inquiry into Coronavirus Aid Recipients

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


Small Businesses Get Easier Path to Relief Loan Forgiveness

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


Senate Passes Bill That Guarantees Land Conservation Funds

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


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

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


Police Killings Prompt Reassessment of Laws Allowing Deadly Force

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


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


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

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



Trump Issues Warning to Protesters in Advance of Tulsa Rally

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


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

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


Quaker Oats Will Retire Aunt Jemima Brand Based on Racial Stereotype

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


Black Customers Recount Experiences of Racial Profiling in Banks

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


Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates Calls to Rename Military Base Names

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


British Researchers Say That Steroid Dexamethasone Reduces Coronavirus Deaths

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


Sickest Workers May Be Among the First to Return to Work

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


Lost Jobs Often Mean Missed Medical Care

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


COVID-19 Could Impact Voter Registration Numbers

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


National Institutes of Health Halts Clinical Trial of Hydroxychloroquine

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



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

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


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

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


Coronavirus Is Speeding the Spread of Other Preventable Diseases

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


Wildlife Trade Fuels Spread of Coronaviruses

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


Fossil Fuel Emissions Increasing as Countries Ease Coronavirus Restrictions

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


Scientists Predict Scorching Temperatures; Expected to Last Through Summer

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


Sharp Drop in Ice Around Antarctica

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


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

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


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

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


NYPD Pulls Out of Prosecutors' Offices

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


New York City Overhauls Affordable Housing Lottery

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


Minnesota Lawmakers Fail to Pass Police Reform

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


Organizers Reflect on Brooklyn's Huge Black Trans Lives March

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Beijing Imposes new Restrictions Due to Respond to New Outbreak

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


Russian Court Sentences American Paul Whelan to 16 Years for Espionage

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


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

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


African States Seek United Nations Report on Racism

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


China is Collecting DNA From Millions of Men

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


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

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


June 29, 2020

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Dozens of Women in Gaming Speak Out About Sexism and Harassment

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



Seventh Circuit Rules on Contours of Copyright Infringement and Trademark

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


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

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


Southern District of New York Rules on Copyright Infringement Action

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


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

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


The Transformation of American Culture Continues

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


















Black Gallerists Press Forward Despite a Market That Holds Them Back

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


Facebook Bans Historical Artifact Sales

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


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

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


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

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


Founder of Virginia's Signature Theater Steps Down

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


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

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


The Flea Will Begin Paying All of Its Artists

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


Neolithic Site Near Stonehenge Yields an "Astonishing Discovery"

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



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

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























Baseball Has a Plan to Begin Its Season

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




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

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


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

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


CrossFit Owner Fostered Sexist Company Culture, Workers Say

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


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

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


Bundesliga TV Rights Deal Suggests a Softening Market

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



Google Sets Limit on How Long It Will Store Some Data

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


Another Tweet From Trump Gets a Label From Twitter

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


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

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


United States Designates Four More Chinese News Organizations as Foreign Missions

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


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

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


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

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




General News

Trump and Senate Republicans Achieve a Milestone

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


Supreme Court Hands Down Several Decisions

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




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

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


Appeals Court Panel Orders End to Michael Flynn Case

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


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

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


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

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



Hospitals Sued to Keep Prices Secret, and They Lost

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


Senate Democrats Plan to Block GOP Police Bill, Stalling Overhaul

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


House Approves Statehood for the District of Columbia

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


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

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


Justice Department Officials Outline Claims of Politicization Under Barr

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




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

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


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

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


New Rule in California Will Require Zero-Emissions Trucks

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


Russian Criminal Group Finds New Target: Americans Working at Home

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



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

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


Kosovo President Indicted for War Crimes Related to War With Serbia

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



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

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


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

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


About June 2020

This page contains all entries posted to The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog in June 2020. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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