Week In Review
By Ariana Sarfarazi Edited by Elissa D. Hecker
Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Technology/Media, and General News:
Bowie Estate Sells Catalog to Warner
In a blockbuster catalog deal, Warner's music publishing division, Warner Chappell, has agreed to buy David Bowie's songs for about $250 million, bringing nearly all of the star's work under one corporate roof. The deal encompasses Bowie's entire corpus as a songwriter, totaling more than 400 songs, and includes such classics as "Space Oddity", "Let's Dance", "Heroes".
Tarantino, Defying Suit, Will Sell NFTs of 'Pulp Fiction'
Despite a pending lawsuit by Miramax, Quentin Tarantino will proceed with the auctions of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, associated with his original handwritten screenplay of Pulp Fiction. Miramax sued Tarantino following Tarantino's original announcement of the auction, claiming breach of contract and various intellectual property violations. Tarantino's latest plans to sell the NFTs could prompt Miramax to demand an emergency block of the auctions until the legal issues are resolved.
Grammy Awards Are Postponed, Again, as Virus Variant Surges
For the second year in a row, the Grammy Awards have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 64th annual ceremony, which had been set for Jan. 31 in Los Angeles, will be rescheduled, but the Recording Academy has not announced a new date for the show.
Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Photo on Nirvana Album
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Nirvana by Spencer Elden, the baby pictured naked while drifting in a pool on the cover of Nirvana's seminal "Nevermind" album. In the lawsuit, Elden accused Nirvana of child pornography and claimed that he was sexually exploited when the band used the photo of him as cover art. The lawsuit was dismissed on a procedural technicality after the judge found that Elden's lawyers missed a deadline to respond to a motion for dismissal by the lawyers for Nirvana.
With a Law, New York Could Make Fashion History
New York could make history as the first state to pass legislation setting broad sustainability regulations for the fashion industry. A bill for the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act (or the Fashion Act) has been unveiled, and if passed, will effectively hold the biggest brands in fashion to account for their role in climate change. The bill, which is backed by a powerful coalition of nonprofits focused on fashion and sustainability as well as designer Stella McCartney, will apply to global fashion companies with more than $100 million in revenues doing business in New York, which will be pretty much every multinational fashion name.
Thefts Had Publishers Baffled; Now There's an Arrest
The FBI has arrested Filippo Bernardini, an Italian citizen who is accused of stealing unpublished book manuscripts over a period of five years by impersonating publishing professionals over email and targeting authors, editors, agents, and literary scouts who might have drafts of novels or other books. Bernardini, who once worked in publishing as a rights coordinator for Simon & Schuster UK and whose scheme has perplexed authorities for lacking clear motive or payoff, has been charged with wire fraud and identity theft. The scheme affected hundreds over people over five or more years, including high profile writers and celebrities, like Margaret Atwood and Ethan Hawke.
Avant-Garde Festivals Are Sidelined by Outbreak
Multiple niche festivals have been impacted in New York by the recent coronavirus outbreak caused by the omicron variant. The Under the Radar festival, an annual celebration of experimental performance hosted by The Public Theater, has been cancelled. This cancellation comes just after the Exponential Festival, a multi-venue, multi-arts program based in Brooklyn, made the decision to go entirely online. Around the same time, Prototype, a festival of avant-garde opera and musical theater, largely cancelled its 10th anniversary celebration, except for one show, which will open a bit later than scheduled.
Looking at Toys as the Next Big Fashion Frontier
In a new collaboration, Balmain, the French high fashion house, and Barbie will make toys the next big fashion frontier, though no doll itself will be involved. Instead, the collaboration is a 50-piece Barbie-inspired collection for adults modeled by racially diverse avatars that will include three NFTs of one-off looks to be auctioned online. Each of the pieces will come with a doll-size physical design, thus extending Barbie's reach into the digital collectible space, and will be unisex and thus for both Barbie and Ken. Prices for the Barbie x Balmain collection will range from $295 for a T-shirt to $42,495 for a signature gown, though no one knows exactly how much the NFTs will end up before the auction of digital collectibles takes place this month.
In $500 Million Trading Card Deal, Fanatics Buys Topps
Topps, a business synonymous with card collecting, has announced that it had sold its sports card business to Fanatics, a multibillion-dollar, 10-year old fast-growing sports memorabilia empire that once nearly knocked Topps out of the baseball-card game. Topps had previously announced a deal to go public, but was blindsided when it lost its licensing agreements with Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to Fanatics, thus putting its future in doubt.
Australia Tells Djokovic to Go Home
Novak Djokovic, the world's No.1-ranked men's tennis player, was refused entry into Australia over the country's vaccine exemption and was told to leave the country after a 10-hour standoff at the Melbourne airport. Djokovic, who had traveled all the way to Australia to defend his Australian open singles championship, remained in the country as he waited out a legal appeal. Later, an Australian judge found that Djokovic had been treated unfairly after his arrival in Australia, where he had already been cleared to play with a vaccination exemption, and restored his Australia visa and ordered his release. Restoring the visa does not, however, guarantee that Djokovic will be able to play in the tournament, as the Australian government could still cancel his visa, which would lead to an automatic three-year ban on him entering the country.
Olympic Officials Deflect Calls to Press China on Forced Labor
Faced with questions by activists about forced labor in China, Olympic officials are reluctant to look in to whether any Beijing 2022 merchandise might have been made under duress by Uyghurs, as activist groups have charged. While members of the International Olympic Committee initially agreed to meet with activists about potential human rights violations, the International Olympic Committee has recently pulled out entirely from meeting with the Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region to discuss the issue.
North Korea Says It Will Skip Beijing Olympics
North Korea has announced that it will skip the Beijing Olympics due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as well as moves by "hostile forces" that have prevented the country from sending its delegation to China, its closest ally. More specifically, North Korea blamed the United States for preventing the successful opening of the Olympics in China. Although it cannot take part in the Olympics, North Korea has vowed to "fully support the Chinese comrades" in their work to hold an Olympic festival.
Apple's Valuation Soars to Unheard of $3 Trillion
Apple has become the first company to hit $3 trillion market valuation and has ascended rapidly since August 2018 when it became the first American company to be worth $1 trillion, which took 42 years to achieve. The valuation is worth more than the valuation of all of the world's cryptocurrencies, is roughly equal to the gross domestic product of Britain or India, and accounts for nearly 7% of the total value of the S&P 500.
Google Banned from Importing Some Products After Losing Sonos Patent Case
Following a trade court ruling that Google infringed on five audio technology patents held by the speaker manufacturer Sonos, Google will not be allowed to import products that violate Sonos's intellectual property into the United States. The ban, which goes into effect in 60 days, includes Google Home smart speakers, Pixel phones and computers, and Chromecast streaming video devices, which are made in China and shipped to the United States.
Misinformation Surged on Podcasts Before Capitol Attack
In a new study, researchers at the Brookings Institution have found that claims of election falsehoods surged on podcasts before the January 6th Capitol riot. For the study, researchers reviewed transcripts of nearly 1,500 of the most popular political podcasts and found that among episodes released between the election and the riot, about half contained election misinformation. In some weeks, 60% of episodes mentioned the election fraud conspiracy theories tracked by the study, thus showing the extent to which podcasts pushed misinformation about voter fraud.
Facebook Suspends Account of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene
Facebook has suspended the personal account of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for 24 hours for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus, a day after Twitter permanently banned one of her accounts for posting similar messaging. Greene, a Georgia Republican, is accused of posting falsely about "extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths." The move by Facebook comes after the social network has increasingly changed its content policies through the pandemic, saying in December 2020 that it would remove posts with claims that had been debunked by the World Health Organization or government agencies.
Crackdowns by Beijing Silence Hong Kong Media
Citizen News, a small online news site in Hong Kong known for its in-depth coverage of courts and local politics, will stop publishing following relentless pressure from Chinese authorities thus deepening concerns about the collapse of the city's once-robust media. The closure follows the closure of another online media outlet, Stand News, after hundreds of police officers raided its ofices and arrested editors and charged them with conspiracy to publish seditious materials. The closures signify the demise of independent media in Hong Kong, a city that once had some of the freest media in Asia, as the government of China continues its larger project of dismantling all critical media, which includes all independent media in Hong Kong.
600,000 Miles Away, a Giant Eye Blinks Open
The James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful space observatory ever built, has been fully deployed into space, according to NASA. The telescope, which took 25 years and $10 million to build, is three times the size of the Hubble Space Telescope and is designed to see further into the past than its celebrated predecessor in order to study the first stars and galaxies to turn on in the dawn of time.
Shock, Outrage, and a Deeper Political Divide
A year later, the January 6th Capitol riot has become another wedge in a divided nation as nearly universal outrage after the assault on the Capitol has reverted to separate realities for Democrats and Republicans. A year after rioting supporters of former President Donald J. Trump descended onto the Capitol in order to stop final recognition of a certified free and fair election, not only has America failed to come together to defend its democracy, but it has actually split further apart. A year later, former President Donald J. Trump continues to remain the dominant force of his party, and a viable candidate to reclaim the White House in three years.
Biden Condemns Trump as U.S. Remembers Capitol Riot
A year after the Capitol riot, President Biden denounced former President Donald J. Trump and his allies for holding "a dagger at the throat of America" by promoting lies and violence. Addressing the nation from the National Statutory Hall, which had been invaded by Trump supporters a year ago, Biden used the anniversary of the Capitol siege to condemn Trump for waging an "undemocratic" and "un-American" campaign against the legitimacy of the election system, much as autocrats and dictators do, all to avoid admitting defeat.
After 130 Years, Pardon Clears Record, but Cannot Erase Pain
130 years after Homer Plessy, a racially mixed shoemaker, boarded a whites-only train car in New Orleans and was arrested and charged with violating the state's Separate Cart Act, Plessy has been pardoned for the offense nearly a century after his death. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said his aim in pardoning Plessy is to confront the painful and shameful history that Plessy's case came to represent - a case that ascended all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and paved the way for the "separate but equal" doctrine that gave legal backing to the Jim Crow laws that segregated and disenfranchised African Americans in the South for decades. However, despite the pardon, Plessy's case has left a stain on the fabric of American society and its consequences are still felt today.
Georgia Judge Sentences Three Men to Life in Prison in Arbery Killing
A Georgia judge sentenced both the man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery and his father to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but issued a lesser sentence of life with the possibility of parole after 30 years to the neighbor also convicted of the murder of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man whom the three men had chased through their neighborhood. Under Georgia law, the men's murder convictions resulted in mandatory life sentences. The three men also face federal trial on hate crime charges next month.
D.A. Drops Criminal Charges Against Cuomo
The Albany district attorney has announced that Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York will not be prosecuted in the criminal case involving allegations that he groped a former aide in the Executive Mansion in 2020. Although the Albany district attorney said he was "deeply troubled" by the allegations and found the complainant in the case cooperative and credible, he announced that, after review of all the available evidence, that the State has concluded that it cannot meet its burden at trial. The dismissal brings an end to the only criminal charge thus far related to a report from the state attorney general that led to Cuomo's resignation in August 2021.