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Week In Review

By Darby Daly Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Britney Spears's Fight Against Father Continues, Alleging Financial Misconduct

One of Jamie Spears's more recent demands is that Britney should be responsible for paying his legal bills in the matter over the conservatorship. Britney's counsel, in her defense, made claims in court papers that Jamie and others who were involved with the conservatorship committed a significant amount of financial improprieties over the last several years. Britney's lawyer specifically stated that Jamie's demands should be rejected because "the allegations of misconduct against him are specific, credible, and serious, ranging from abuse to conflicts of interest, financial mismanagement and corruption of the conservatorship to implicating state and federal criminal law." Britney's legal team hopes to uncover more evidence of her father's misconduct through additional requests for discovery and depositions.

Disability Culture Amplified in the Music Industry By a New Coalition

Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities (RAMPD), an organization of professional disabled musicians, will push for accessibility in the music industry. For the singer, songwriter, and producer Lachi, the acronym was everything. She helped start the organization that would become RAMPD in July 2021, but it was a few months earlier, after moderating a panel for the Recording Academy about disability inclusion, that she came up with the name.

RAMPD, which Lachi co-founded with the singer-songwriter and violinist Gaelynn Lea, alongside a dozen or so founding members, works to amplify disability culture and advocate for accessibility in the music business. One of its main goals, fittingly, is to make accessibility ramps visible on TV during awards shows to help normalize disability in the entertainment industry. The coalition's kickoff will be a virtual event at 5 p.m. on Friday, with opening and closing remarks live from the Grammy Museum Experience at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (The Grammy Awards, originally scheduled for Jan. 31st, have been pushed back to April 3rd.)

A Renegade Pop Music Genre Challenges the Old Guard in Egypt Leaders of a musicians' licensing group are trying to curb mahraganat, a bold genre wildly popular with young people. It's not clear if they can. The hit song, "The Neighbors' Daughter", starts out like standard fare for Egyptian pop music: A secret infatuation between two young neighbors who, unable to marry, sneak flirtatious glances at each other and commit their hearts in a bittersweet dance of longing and waiting. Then the lyrics take a radical turn: "If you leave me," blasts the singer, Hassan Shakosh, "I'll be lost and gone, drinking alcohol and smoking hash." The explicit reference to drugs and alcohol, which are culturally prohibited substances in Egypt, is a focal point in a culture war over what is an acceptable subject matter for popular music and who gets to decide.


Financial Struggles Among Broadway Theaters May Prompt Financial Relief Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed more assistance for commercial theater as the COVID-19 continues to cause financial strain on the theater industry. Hochul's budget director has referred to the proposed expanded tax credit as "critical for the economy."

Now is the Winter of Broadway's Discontent Curtains are rising again after the Omicron surge caused widespread cancellations, but attendance has fallen steeply. Nine shows are closing, at least temporarily. The reopening of Broadway last summer, following the longest shutdown in history, provided a jolt of energy to a city ready for a rebound. The influx of COVID-19 cases has been extremely difficult for Broadway, leaving the industry facing an unexpected and enormous setback on its road back from the pandemic. As an effort to save Broadway, producers have had to figure out how to keep shows running, and replacement workers have been used to fill in for infected colleagues. However, audiences remain absent.

Numbers Favor the Men in Ballet

Elizabeth B. Yntema's Dance Data Project has been using a steady drumbeat of numbers to push the ballet world into action on gender equality. Women fill ballet's stages and classrooms, but choreographers and artistic directors - the people with power - are predominantly (white) men.

Statue of Theodore Roosevelt Removed From Outside the Museum of Natural History The statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt atop a horse is being removed from outside of the American Museum of Natural History. The removal of the statue marks the end of two racially-charged years and decades of protests by critics who argued that the statue represented a racist history.

Manhattan Prosecutors Return Two Artifacts to Iraq

The repatriations are among the first under Alvin Bragg, the new Manhattan District Attorney, who is continuing the work of a dedicated antiquities trafficking unit created by his predecessor. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has returned to Iraq two objects that were seized from the billionaire financier Michael H. Steinhardt and which the officials said were looted during periods of war and unrest there.

Last month, Steinhardt, an 81-year-old Brooklyn native and philanthropist, struck an agreement with prosecutors who said he had acquired the relics and numerous other items from known antiquities traffickers without regard to proper documentation, beginning as far back as 1987. He surrendered a total of 180 items, valued at $70 million, and agreed to be barred for life from acquiring additional antiquities. The returned items include a golden bowl and an ivory plaque, and they were the fifth and sixth illicit artifacts to be returned under Bragg.

Lawsuit Says Faculty at a Top Arts School Preyed on Students for Decades

Dozens of people who studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts during a period of more than 40 years say they were sexually, emotionally or physically abused there as minors. A total of 56 former arts students say that dozens of teachers and administrators participated in, or allowed, their sexual, physical and emotional abuse when they were in school. Overall, the misconduct spanned more than 40 years, beginning in the late 1960s, according to the lawsuit, and included assaults in classrooms, private homes off campus, a motel room off a highway, and a tour bus rumbling through Italy. Respected figures in the dance and performing arts world who worked at the school are said to have participated.

New Research Tracks Ancient Artifacts Looted by the Nazis Scholars are increasingly focusing attention on the seizure and excavation of antiquities from Greece and other countries by German forces during World War II. When the Nazis invaded Greece in 1941, Julius Ringel, a major general in the German army, took an active role in initiating illegal excavations on the island of Crete, where Minoan culture had flourished more than 3,000 years earlier. The land was filled with artifacts from the island's cultural heritage and Ringel, often aided by his troops, carted off all sorts of ceramics, vases, parts of statuary, some for his own gain and some to be sent back to German museums as the spoils of war. Ringel, commander of the Fifth Mountain Division, also looted ancient treasures that had already been discovered. He confiscated antiquities from the Villa Ariadne, the former home of the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, which he converted into the division's headquarters.

The topic of the Nazi role in antiquities looting is increasingly drawing attention, in part through the work of scholars who are peeling back the mysteries of what happened to the objects that were excavated or seized eight decades ago. Last fall, for example, "The Past in Shackles", a five-volume study on the looting of antiquities in Greece during World War II, written by Petrakos, was published. However, The passage of time has made it difficult for scholars today to quantify the scope of the looting of antiquities that occurred during World War II, whether it be from Greece, Italy or the Middle East, primarily Egypt.


University of Michigan Will Pay $490 Million to Settle Abuse Cases

The University of Michigan announced that it would make a settlement payment of $490 million to over 1,000 victims who accused Dr. Robert E. Anderson of abuse. There have been thousands of allegations of Anderson's molestation of student-athletes during physical examinations that were required by the athletic programs at Michigan.

Beijing Winter Olympics Tickets Will Not be Sold to Public Due to Ongoing Pandemic

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, tickets for the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will not be sold to the general public. Instead, tickets to the Games will be distributed by authorities. According to the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee, groups of spectators will be invited on site throughout the Games and will be required to "strictly comply with Covid-19 prevention and control requirements before, during and after watching the Games." This year's Winter Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games are scheduled to begin on February 4th and March 4th, respectively.

Concerns Raised Over China's Mandatory App for Olympians

Given the numerous concerns and issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it's not entirely unreasonable to try to create some type of monitoring of Olympians as they travel from around the world to compete at the Olympics. China has created a mandatory smartphone app that requires athletes to report COVID-19 related data, including health and travel information. However, researchers are concerned with the encryption vulnerabilities present in the app.

Reorganization of NCAA by New Constitution Shifts Power to Universities

NCAA member schools and conferences recently adopted a new, stripped-down constitution, the first step in decentralizing an organization that faces increasing challenges to its relevancy as the chief authority in college sports. The gap between the mission and financial might among the thousands of institutions is promised to be highlighted as the NCAA's three divisions determine the details of how they will overhaul themselves over the upcoming months. The organizing body in college sports also adopted new rules for transgender athletes to mirror other elite sports in the United States. The policy updates now require transgender athletes to undergo testosterone testing beginning this upcoming March. Before the policy update, the NCAA only required that transgender women be on testosterone-suppressing treatment for one calendar year before competing in women's athletics.

The Winter Olympics, According to Xi Jinping

From Beijing's unexpected bid through the COVID-19 pandemic, China has managed to fulfill its promises. Seven years ago, the International Olympic Committee met to choose a host for the 2022 Winter Olympics, when it received a controversial video message from China's leader, Xi Jinping. Given China's environment, it was a questionable choice to host the Olympic Games - there is rarely any snowfall, and at times pollution becomes so dense that it is referred to as the "Airpocalypse". In his video message, Chairman Xi promised to resolve the blatant issues with the location choice. Now with the Games rapidly approaching, it appears that China has made good on its promise.

Arbitrator Ruling Holds That University of Connecticut Owes Fired Coach $11 Million

The ruling, with which the University at Connecticut (UConn) disagreed, came in response to a grievance filed by Kevin Ollie when he was fired in 2018. According to the arbitrator's ruling, UConn improperly fired Ollie, hence the hefty sum. Ollie was fired in March 2018, as the NCAAA was investigating recruiting violations within his program that were reported by the University. He filed a grievance for the remaining money on his contract and eventually became the coach and director of player development for Overtime Elite, a new professional league for high school-age players who earn salaries and thus forfeit their eligibility to play college basketball. A lawyer for Ollie has called the arbitrator's ruling a "total vindication" for his client.

Nike Executive Asks for Forgiveness From 1965 Murder Victim's Family Members

72-year-old Larry Miller, a current executive at Nike, pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder when he was a 16-year-old gang member. Miller said that, at the time of the murder, he was intoxicated and was seeking to kill the first person he came across that evening. Unfortunately for Edward David White, a young father, he happened to become that person. Miller was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for the murder and an additional five years for subsequent armed robberies. After completing his time in prison, Miller turned his life around and built a high-profile career as a successful sports and marketing executive. Miller kept his criminal history a secret until recently, when he released a book called "Jump: My Secret Journey from the Streets to the Boardroom". The purpose of this book was to demonstrate that it was possible for criminals to turn their lives around should the correctional facilities provide the proper resources. In addition to this book, Miller contacted White's family in an effort to apologize for his crime and to ask for forgiveness.

Peloton the Source of Yet Another Heart Attack on Television

Peloton's stock dropped last month after the premier of the "Sex and the City" reboot, which ended with Mr. Big dying after riding one of the company's bikes. While Mr. Big's Peloton death may have quieted down over the last few weeks, the issue of Peloton-induced deaths were brought back into the media spotlight in a recent episode of "Billions". In an early scene of the Season 6 premiere of the Showtime white-collar crime drama "Billions", a main character on the show, Mike Wagner (played by David Costabile), has a heart attack while riding a Peloton. These television deaths have proven problematic to Peloton.


Rewriting Rules For Big Mergers Has Become a Goal for Regulators

Top federal antitrust officials have recently announced a review of how they approve mergers and acquisitions, in a broad effort to strengthen enforcement and clamp down on a surge of corporate consolidation - especially within high tech. These antitrust officials have explained that they wanted to rewrite the merger guidelines created over a decade ago because they did not directly address the unique problems raised by the tech industry. In addition to rewriting the merger guidelines, the regulators said that they were interested in expanding the scope of antitrust enforcement to consider potential ripple effects of corporate concentration on labor markets, innovation and consumer protection. The agencies are anticipated to take about one year to rewrite its merger rules, with the potential for challenges along the way.

Google Asks Court to Dismiss Texas Antitrust Case The effort is the first time that the tech giant has tried to dismiss a government case against it. Google asked a federal court to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit led by the State of Texas. In a filing, Google said the State had failed to show that the company engaged in anticompetitive behavior and had not proven that an agreement between Facebook and Google, a core part of the case, violated the law.

Discrimination Suit Against the New York Post Filed by Top Editor

Former high-level editor at the New York Post, Michelle Gotthelf, claimed in a discrimination lawsuit that she had suffered "several years of sex-based harassment" over the course of her nearly two decades at the company. In her claims, Gotthelf alleged that the Post's longtime editor-in-chief had retaliated against her after she reported to company officers that he had sexually harassed her. Gotthelf states that the harassment by Col Allan began in 2013 and that he "delighted in degrading Ms. Gotthelf, and women generally, in front of her mostly male peers." When complaining to the company officials, Gotthelf was told that there was not much that could be done. Gotthelf claimed in an interview that she "never wanted to be the news, but women should not be treated like this in the workplace."

Microsoft Bets $70 Billion On the Future of Games in its Purchase of Activision Blizzard

Microsoft plans on making its biggest deal ever with the purchase of Activision Blizzard for $70 billion. Activision is seen simultaneously as a powerhouse and troubled video game company, which leaves Microsoft placing a major bet that people will be spending more and more time in the digital world. Should this deal occur, Microsoft would be shot into a leading spot in the gaming industry, which is worth $175 billion. While the pandemic has caused financial difficulties for a majority of the world, the gaming industry has thrived during this time, as lockdowns and quarantines prompt more people to pick up gaming consoles for entertainment and even socialization.

Activision Game Studio Workers Claim to be Forming a Union

A group of workers at Raven Software, a studio owned by Activision Blizzard, said that they were forming a union and wanted the prominent video game company to voluntarily recognize it. Over 60 Raven employees walked out in early December, protesting the company's ending of the contracts of a dozen temporary Raven quality assurance workers, which they argued are abrupt and unfair. Since walking out, some of the workers have been on strike. This is a significant issue for Activision because the Raven studio is a big part of creating one of Activision's biggest games, "Call of Duty".

Ruling On Free Speech a Victory for Florida Professors

District Judge Mark E. Walker, who handed a free-speech victory to University of Florida professors, ordered the University to stop enforcing a policy that had barred them from giving expert testimony in lawsuits against the state. In his decision, the judge told university officials who were distressed over the ruling that "The solution is simple. Stop acting like your contemporaries in Hong Kong."

Microsoft Warns Ukraine of Destructive Cyber Attack on Computer Networks

The malware was revealed as Russian troops remained massed at the Ukrainian border, and after Ukrainian government agencies had their websites defaced. Microsoft warned that it had detected a highly destructive form of malware in dozens of government and private computer networks in Ukraine that appeared to be waiting to be triggered by an unknown actor.

In An Effort to Silence Journalists, Peruvian Courts 'Used like Whips'

The author of a book about a powerful politician has been sentenced to two years in prison. Media advocates say that the case is part of a trend in which the courts are being used to punish critics. The police raided a reporter's house after he investigated an elite Catholic society. Other examples of courts being used to silence journalists include: A court ordedering journalists' assets frozen following a defamation complaint from a powerful figure and a sports journalist who called the head of a soccer club inept was sentenced to one year in prison. And then, last week, a judge sentenced a Peruvian journalist to two years in prison and imposed a $100,000 fine following a defamation lawsuit brought by a powerful, wealthy politician. Media experts called the decision the most direct threat to freedom of expression in Peru in years. They said that it was part of a worrying trend across the region -- but particularly strong in Peru -- in which powerful figures are using the courts to intimidate and punish journalists who investigate them.

General News

After a Day of Debate, the Voting Rights Bill is Blocked in the Senate Senate Democrats made an impassioned case on Wednesday for legislation to counter an onslaught of new voting restrictions around the country, but they failed to overcome a Republican blockade or unite their own members behind a change in filibuster rules to pass it.

Though the twin defeats were never in doubt, Democrats pushed forward in an effort to highlight what they called a crisis in voting rights and to underscore the refusal of Republicans to confront it. They did succeed in forcing the Senate for the first time to debate the bill, leading to hours of raw and emotional arguments on the floor over civil rights, racism and how elections are conducted.

Gender Gap at the Supreme Court Remains Consistent Over 40-year-period In 1978, Ruth Bader Ginsburg made her final appearance as a lawyer before the Supreme Court. It was in this appearance that Ginsburg argued for women to be treated as equal to men in the justice system. Now, in 2022, little has changed. Since Ginsburg's 1978 appearance, only five women - including Ginsburg - have served as justices on the Supreme Court. Today, there are only three female justices.

Unfortunately, the low ratio of female to men is not only present on this side of the Supreme Court. The most recent term that ended in June 2021 saw only 18% of arguments be presented to the Supreme Court by female attorneys. Before that, only 13% of arguments were made by women - with the highest percentage over the past decade coming in at 22%. Ginsburg argued vigorously for women to be treated equally and with the respect they deserve, and while her success has been a tremendous win for women, there's still plenty of work to be done to honor her legacy.

Supreme Court to Consider Limits of Ruling for Native Americans in Oklahoma

The Supreme Court recently agreed to decide a question left open by its landmark 2020 decision declaring that much of eastern Oklahoma falls within an Indian reservation, but the justices rejected a request to consider overruling the decision entirely. The 2020 decision, McGirt v. Oklahoma, ruled that Native Americans who commit crimes on the reservation, which includes much of Tulsa, cannot be prosecuted by state or local law enforcement and must instead face justice in tribal or federal courts. The question the Court agreed to decide was whether those same limits apply to non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians on reservations.

Supreme Court Allows Release of January 6th Files in Rebuke to Former President Trump's Request

The Supreme Court refused a request from Trump to block the release of White House records regarding the attack on the Capital, effectively rejecting his claim of executive privilege and clearing the way for the House committee investigating the riot to start receiving the documents hours later.

Texas Abortion Law Remains in Effect, Supreme Court Refuses Intervention

The Supreme Court rejected a request from abortion providers in Texas that a federal judge be allowed to take prompt action on their challenge to a state law that bans most abortions after six weeks. The practical effect of the order, the three liberal justices wrote in dissent, was to let the law stay in place indefinitely. The majority gave no reasons for its ruling, which followed a decision last month allowing the providers to sue at least some state officials to try to block or limit the law.

Supreme Court Seems Skeptical of Boston City Hall's Refusal to Fly Christian Flag

The Court seemed poised to rule that the City of Boston, which has approved many other requests to raise flags at its City Hall, violated a Christian group's free speech rights. Justices across the ideological spectrum, noting that the City had approved many similar requests from organizations seeking to celebrate their backgrounds or to promote causes like gay pride, seemed ready to rule that it had violated the free speech rights of Camp Constitution, which says that it seeks "to enhance understanding of our Judeo-Christian moral heritage." The group's application said it sought to raise a "Christian flag" for one hour at an event that would include "short speeches by some local clergy focusing on Boston's history."

Ted Cruz Has Supposed Support of Supreme Court in Campaign Finance Case

Senator Ted Cruz challenged a federal law that caps repayments of loans from candidates to their campaigns from postelection contributions. The law Cruz challenged places a $250,000 limit on the repayment of personal loans from candidates to campaigns using money from postelection donations. Seeking to test the constitutionality of the law, Cruz lent $260,000 to his 2018 re-election campaign. A related regulation allows repayment of loans of more than $250,000 so long as campaigns use pre-election donations and repay the money within 20 days of the election. However, the campaign did not repay Cruz by that deadline, so he stands to lose $10,000. An attorney for the federal government says that Cruz's financial injury was self-inflicted, but several conservative justices seemed unpersuaded by that argument.

New York State Is Awash in Money, Governor Plans to Use $216 Billion Budget Plan

Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled a record-setting new budget plan, as New York State officials project balanced budgets through 2027, with none of the typical warnings of billion-dollar shortfalls. Just a year ago, officials warned that the coronavirus had decimated state coffers, potentially requiring significant spending cuts. However, riding a windfall of federal aid and a boost in tax dollars, Gov. Kathy Hochul released a $216.3 billion budget proposal that she described as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to spur the state's recovery. New York's optimistic economic outlook is due in part to the $23 billion in federal funds that the State received or is expected to receive in coronavirus relief over four years, as well as a surging financial sector and revenue from income tax increases on the wealthy that the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed last year.

D.A. in Atlanta Requests Special Grand Jury in Trump Election Inquiry

Prosecutor Fani T. Willis of Fulton County, Gorgia asked a judge to convene a special grand jury to help a criminal investigation into Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. The inquiry is seen by legal experts as potentially perilous for Trump. The distinction of a special grand jury is that it would focus exclusively on the Trump investigation, while regular grand juries handle many cases and cannot spend as much time on a single one. The Georgia case is one of two active criminal investigations known to involve the former president and his circle; the other is the examination of his financial dealings by the Manhattan district attorney.

Booster Shots Prove Effective in Lowering Hospitalization Rates

Extra vaccine doses were expected to lower infection rates and the shots also seem to be preventing severe illness caused by the new variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are both reducing the number of infections with the highly contagious Omicron variant and are keeping infected Americans out of hospitals.

Biden Administration to Provide 400 Million N95 Face Masks For Free The administration announced that it would make 400 million nonsurgical N95 masks available free of charge at community health centers and retail pharmacies across the United States. The White House said that to "ensure broad access for all Americans," there would be a limit of three masks per person.

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