Week In Review

By Angela Peco Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Hollywood Production Grinds to a Halt as a Result of the Pandemic

Shooting is not expected to resume until August and some workers are trying to find ways to finish projects remotely, including assembling orchestras where musicians abide by social distancing rules or coaching writers over Zoom. Given theatre closures, some independent distributors are also considering streaming.


The Metropolitan Museum of ArtAnnounces Layoffs

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced layoffs for more than 80 employees and said it would cut executive pay by up to 20%. The layoffs amount to a 26% reduction in staff across its visitor services and retail departments.

Auction Houses Pivot to Online Sales

In response to Covid-19, auction houses like Sotheby's, Christie's, and Philips are stepping up digital sales. However, it is still unclear if the spring auctions, which anchor the art market calendar, will be cancelled or postponed.

Times Were Different Then: The Pandemic Is Not Expected to Revive FDR's Arts Jobs Program

The Federal Art Project, part of President Roosevelt's employment plan under the New Deal, provided a generation of artists with the ability to earn an income. Recent calls for economic relief that benefits artists remained just that - it is unlikely that in today's political climate, given the partisan divide, such a sprawling program would ever be passed.

The Man Behind One of the Biggest Art Scams Speaks Out in New Interview

Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz was charged in connection to the Knoedler Gallery's sale of $80 million worth of fake art. The former art dealer is now a fugitive in Spain. In a recent interview, he blamed his then-girlfriend for selling the works through the Knoedler Gallery, but did admit that he discovered the art student who was responsible for creating forgeries of the paintings.

Many of New York's Cultural Institutions Will Take Years to Bounce Back

The City's theaters, museums, and restaurants, among the hardest hit in the pandemic, will likely take years to come back.

Graphic Designers and Illustrators Create Images to Support Health and Public Safety

Illustrators and other artists are banding together to create artwork that promotes public health and public service messages. The artwork is being put on electronic billboards across New York City.

Victoria's Secret Buyer Tries to Cancel Takeover

The sale is now in jeopardy after the buyer says that the company's store closures during the pandemic violate the terms of the agreement, which prohibited Victoria's Secret from changing "any cash management policies, practices, principles or methodologies." The private equity firm also took issue with the parent company's decision to furlough employees and cut salaries.

Art Re-enactments Gain Traction Online

Art parodies that started in Russia have now evolved into quite the pastime for many art fans who try to recreate their favorite paintings.


Major Sports Yearning for a Comeback

Major league sports have been on pause for over a month now and the hurdles to any return are many. Before any return is possible, leagues want to secure access to tests and be able to get players and officials to agree to certain conditions, including strict confinement. The National Basketball Association has directed teams in states that have eased restrictions to open up training facilities for individual workouts.

The return of U.S. sports would also depend on decisions in Canada, which is operating under a prohibition on all large gatherings that goes well into this summer. The trajectory of the virus in Canada, and the government's response there, is especially important for the National Hockey League, which has 7 teams in Canada.

Conflict Between Tokyo Organizers and International Olympic Committee Over Who Will Pay for Games Delay

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee has asked the International Olympic Committee to remove a comment from its website suggesting that Japan had agreed to shoulder most of the costs resulting from the year-long postponement, a cost that is estimated to be between $2 and $6 billion. Meanwhile, a Japanese professor of infectious diseases said he is very pessimistic about the games opening in 15 months.

Major League Baseball Announces Penalties in Red Sox Sign-Stealing Scandal

Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the Red Sox would be stripped of its second-round pick in this year's draft. The replay system operator was suspended without pay for a year for violating the ban on in-game use of video to identify pitch signals. Major League Baseball also suspended Alex Cora through the 2020 season for his 2017 role as Astros bench coach (as part of that team's sign-stealing scandal), not as Red Sox manager in 2018.

UFC Schedules Three May Events in Florida

The Jacksonville events are scheduled for early to mid-May. One is the same fight that was planned to occur on tribal land in California but was cancelled after state officials, medical personnel, and Disney expressed concerns. Fans will not be allowed in the arena.

Tennis Bodies Approve $6 Million Relief Fund for Lower-Ranked Players

Contributions are expected to come from each of the 4 Grand Slam tournaments, as well as the International Tennis Federation. The men's and women's tours (the ATP and the WTA) will administer the funds and primarily distribute them to singles players ranked outside the top 200.

Youth Sports Organizations Worry About Impact of the Pandemic

Over 113 youth sports organizations have asked Congress for $8.5 billion in funding to offset the anticipated losses from camp and event cancellations this summer. Organizations are also worried that even when games do return, parents will not be spending to the same extent as they have in the past. Youth sports generate more than $15 billion annually.

Golfers Still Managing to Play Despite Broad Closures

In Florida, for instance, the sport is allowed under the state's stay-at-home order, but local officials have superseded that mandate with their own and closed golf courses. However, "renegade golfers" are entering properties that course managers say they cannot police 24 hours a day.


Google Will Require Proof of Identity from All Advertisers

Google has expanded its verification policy to confirm the names of companies or people behind ads, as well as their countries of origin. That information will start appearing on its ads this summer. The move is meant to clamp down on misinformation related to the pandemic.

Zoom Raises Encryption Level with Upgraded App

A new version of the app will be available soon. Zoom 5.0 will have more encryption features. The app has also made several changes to its user interface, and account administrators can choose data center regions for their meetings following criticism that some data was routed through servers in China. Business partners like Dropbox knew about Zoom's security flaws well before its recent rise in popularity, and in fact asked hackers to find security vulnerabilities and fix them.

Advertising Agencies Asked to Create Commercials Using Altered Footage

Manipulated footage may start appearing in commercials now that ad agencies are unable to film new content. An example of this was a recent State Farm commercial that ran on ESPN during the Michael Jordan documentary, "The Last Dance." Ad agencies will start exploring computer generated content, but say that viewers should be made aware that what they are seeing is not real.

Fox News Personalities Stop Discussing Malaria Drug After Weeks of Touting its Benefits

Fox News anchors promoted the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for weeks, often while levying criticism at public health officials who urged caution and called for studies on the efficacy of the drug in treating Covid-19. Recent guests of their shows, however, have started noting there is no clear positive benefit of treating the coronavirus with the drug, as a matter of fact it can be harmful to many, and there considerably fewer mentions of the drug.

Lawsuit Claims That Florida Teen Was Told to Take Down Coronavirus Posts by Local Sheriff

The 16-year-old's family says she was asked to take down Instagram posts about her experience with Covid-19 because the posts had upset parents at her school and risked violating rules on disorderly conduct.

Google and Facebook Will Pay Australian Media Outlets for News Content

The Australian government's decision to require Google and Facebook to compensate media outlets for news content in the country is part of an effort to support local publishers by forcing tech giants to share some of their advertising revenue.

Pandemic Threatens Press Freedom Around the World

According to the World Press Freedom Index, the United States and Brazil are becoming "models of hostility toward the news media." The report also singled out China, Iran, and Iraq for censoring coverage of the outbreak. To enforce censorship, some countries are either engaging in or allowing journalists to be physically assaulted and harassed.

U.S. Expulsion of Chinese Journalists Backfired at a Critical Time

The article takes the position that the State Department, in expelling 60 employees of Chinese state media outlets working in the U.S., set off an ill-timed chain reaction that led China to expel American journalists at a time when access to China (and to its coronavirus response) was critical.

Chinese Agents Helped Spread Disinformation About Government Response to Coronavirus

Fake posts sent via text or circulated on social media warned U.S. citizens that the Trump administration was going to lock down the entire country, adding that the government had troops in place to prevent civil unrest. American officials say the operatives adopted some of the same techniques employed by Russia-backed trolls, including the widespread use of fake social media posts.

China Deploys Propaganda Machine with Selective Coverage of the Coronavirus

The article tracks the way Chinese media is increasingly highlighting other countries' mistakes in managing the pandemic, while simultaneously censoring reports of its own failures.

Harry and Meghan Cut off U.K. Tabloids

By way of a letter to the editors of four tabloids, the couple announced that they would no longer engage with the publications. They accused the papers of reporting distorted and false information about them and clarified that their move was not an attempt to shut down critical coverage.

General News

Earth Day Turns 50

50 years after the original Earth Day, the New York Times tracks the biggest environmental victories and failures and reflects on the impact of the movement in the U.S.

Jobless Numbers Surpass 26 Million in the U.S.

Another 4.4 million unemployment claims were added last week and delays in delivering benefits have become a problem. Only 10 states have made payments under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which also supports those who are self-employed or work part time. Earlier this week, Congress passed a $484 billion relief package to replenish depleted funds for small businesses.

President Trump Signs Fourth Coronavirus Relief Package Worth $484 Billion

The measure provides relief for small businesses by replenishing the earlier loan program. It also provides funds for hospitals and coronavirus testing. aid-idUSKCN2262RV

Banks Steered Their Richest Clients to Federal Aid; Small-Business Owners Sue

Bank employees and executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity say that banks prioritized the applications of their wealthiest clients before helping smaller businesses, and by that time funds in the $349 billion aid program were depleted. These clients were able to submit paperwork to their banks instead of having to use the online portal to apply for a loan. A portal at one of the other banks accepted preliminary requests to apply but was only accessible for a limited amount of time on the first day of the program and customers had to wait until they could be assisted by a representative. Small business owners are now suing the banks, claiming that applications were not processed in the order received.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Says States Should Consider Bankruptcy

In lieu of federal aid by way of pandemic relief legislation, Senator McConnell said that states experiencing budget crises should consider bankruptcy and raised the possibility of that becoming available. The comments drew sharp criticism from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said the comments were politically motivated and distinguished among states based on their political leanings. Some of the hardest-hit states, like New York and California, happen to mostly vote Democratic. Furthermore, under Constitutional law, states cannot declare bankruptcy without approval from Congress.

House Democrats Scrap Plan to Promote Remote Voting During Pandemic

House Democrats had planned to propose a change to the rules of the House of Representatives to allow lawmakers to vote remotely. The rule change would have temporarily allowed House members to cast votes by proxy if they were unable to travel. Facing Republican opposition, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a bipartisan group would instead consider remote voting proposals and plans to reopen the House.

Trump Temporarily Suspends Immigration to U.S.

The president signed an executive order temporarily blocking the issuance of green cards to those outside the U.S. for at least 60 days. The executive order was made over concerns that foreign competition will take away jobs from Americans once the shutdown ends. Those who have been issued visas to perform specialized jobs would not be permitted to arrive, although there are some industry-specific exeptions.

Teenage Migrants in ICE Custody Facing Jail Once They Turn 18

Individuals who are taken into custody as minors are being moved into the adult detention centers when they turn 18. Both forms of custody pose serious concerns about the teenagers contracting the coronavirus.

Supreme Court Bans Non-Unanimous Jury Verdicts for Serious Crimes

The verdict will impact Louisiana and Oregon, the only 2 states that have recently allowed non-unanimous verdicts. After Louisiana amended its state constitution to bar the practice, Oregon remained the last state to allow these types of verdicts in criminal cases. The Supreme Court's position has been clear that non-unanimous verdicts were not permitted under the Sixth Amendment in federal criminal trials. It was also generally understood that the Bill of Rights protections applied to state action under the Fourteenth Amendment.

However, a 1972 decision complicated the Court's position after the Justice who cast the controlling vote said that federal and state cases could be treated differently. Justice Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said non-unanimity rules were rooted in racism and were put in place "to ensure that African-American juror service would be meaningless." Dissenting justices spoke of the risk of increased litigation following a ban on non-unanimous verdicts, including post-conviction challenges.

Supreme Court Says That the Clean Water Act Covers Groundwater Discharges

In a 6-to-3 ruling, the Court rejected arguments that only pollution discharged directly into navigable waters requires a permit, the absence of which can subject polluters to daily fines of more than $50,000. Instead, it ruled that other pollutants that reach protected waters indirectly through groundwater are covered by the act. Noting that the standard for when this occurs might be too broad, Justice Breyer wrote that the legal test should be as follows: Whether "the addition of the pollutants through groundwater is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge from the point source into navigable waters."

Supreme Court Rules Against Montana Residents in Environmental Contamination Case

The Court held that landowners could not sue Atlantic Richfield Company to help them restore property contaminated by its copper smelter in Montana. The residents could not force it to do more than a federal cleanup plan requires, unless the Environmental Protection Agency approves additional remediation.

The Food and Drug Administration Authorizes First In-Home Coronavirus Test

LabCorp's nasal swab kit costs $119 and will be made available to health care and front-line workers first. Patients will mail the swab in an insulated package to be tested by the company. The availability of this test will decrease exposure to health care staff and cut down on the demand for protective equipment donned by medical staff when collecting specimens.