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.
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.
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.
Antibody Tests Are Rapidly Being Developed, but Many Are Inaccurate
Antibody testing can be used to conduct public health surveillance, determine the fatality rate, and identify recovered individuals to inform return-to-work policies or to identify those who may be a source of therapeutic antibodies. However, the sensitivity of these tests and how they are being administered is problematic and can end up exacerbating spread.
Scientists say that only 3 of the 14 tests currently on the market delivered consistently reliable results. False negatives are highly consequential, because they may lead individuals or decision makers to relax transmission measures or they could have healthcare providers returning to work prematurely.
Testing Remains Scarce as Governors Consider Reopening States
States around the U.S. continue to deal with a shortage of testing capacity, both due to the shortage of kits, reagents, and lab testing capacity. There has been no full-scale national mobilization, leaving states to procure the equipment they need and do so in competition with each other. With Georgia, Oklahoma, and Alaska lifting some restrictions, low testing capacity remains a concern, because it directly impacts a state's ability to track outbreaks and contain them, especially as businesses reopen.
Republican-Led Review Backs Finding on Russian Interference in 2016 Election
The Senate Intelligence Committee reviewed the intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and found it to be sound and untainted by politics.
U.S. May Share Less Intelligence with Nations that Criminalize Homosexuality
The acting director of national intelligence hopes the move will encourage countries, including some critical American intelligence partners like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to change their laws. The office is also reviewing the security clearance process to ensure that contractors and FBI agents are not being asked discriminatory questions during background checks.
Scammers Targeting Stimulus Checks
Identity theft is on the rise as criminals are using information available from past data breaches to file taxes and claim stimulus checks and unemployment benefits, depriving many Americans of much needed money. The IRS website has come under criticism for how little information it requires from those trying to get their checks.
Data Shows That the Coronavirus Disproportionately Impacts African Americans
The racial disparity in infections and deaths is once again shedding light on the need to achieve health equity in America, as well as the need for fair economic response and recovery measures. "The goal is targeted legislation, financial investments and government and corporate accountability."
Scientists Disagree with Trump's Assertion That Coronavirus May Not Return in the Fall
Public health experts warn that fall and winter will be difficult because influenza and the coronavirus will be circulating at the same time, a conclusion that contradicts President Trump's prediction that the virus could be back in pockets or not at all. The president clarified that if the virus does return, it will be different than it was.
As President Trump Praised Coronavirus Drugs, Prescriptions Surged
Prescriptions for two antimalarial drugs jumped by 46 times the average after the president promoted them on TV. Health officials find the jump particularly concerning, since the drugs are not proven to work against Covid-19.
Health Department Official Says That He Was Dismissed Over His Views on Hydroxychloroquine
The official leading the agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said that he was removed from his post after he insisted on rigorous testing of hydroxychloroquine as a possible coronavirus treatment. He said that he was pressured to direct money toward hydroxychloroquine despite lack of evidence about its effectiveness. Members of Congress are calling for an investigation into the ouster.
Trump's Suggestion that Disinfectants Can Treat Covid-19 Prompts Health Officials and Companies to Issue Warnings
Following the president's remarks, some health hotlines were inundated with calls from people asking whether disinfectant can treat the virus. Health agencies and private companies issued statements warning customers against injecting or ingesting poisonous products.
Trump Speech to Bring 1,000 West Point Cadets Back to Campus
The Naval Academy had been considering a delayed commencement in June with Vice President Pence. Last week, the president made a surprise announcement that he would be speaking at West Point prior to then, something that was previously postponed, effectively calling back to campus the entire graduating class.
Navy Leaders Recommend Reinstating Captain Fired Over Coronavirus Warning
Following its review, the Navy's top officials have recommended that Captain Crozier be reinstated. He was removed from command after sending a letter pleading for help, knowing there were coronavirus infections aboard the Roosevelt. Defense Secretary Mark Esper wants time to consider the recommendation.
Teachers' Unions Respond to New Work Condition Now That Education Shifts Online
With the expansion of online education during the pandemic, unions are seeking new protections for their members, including limiting the number of hours and days that teachers are required to work from home and doing away with fixed lesson times. Some want schools to transition to end-of-year projects that students can work on at flexible times, while others are calling for a moratorium on grades and teacher evaluations.
Oklahoma City Marks 25 Years Since Bombing That Killed 168 People
The city organized a video tribute to commemorate the lives lost on April 19, 1995 when Timothy McVeigh drove a massive truck bomb into a federal office building. McVeigh and his co-conspirator were former U.S. army officers associated with the extreme right-wing Patriotic movements, which views the federal government and law enforcement as illegitimate.
Coronavirus Could Raise the Risk for Climate Disasters
The risk is attributed to states and cities redirecting money set aside for climate-related projects to fund emergency services and deal with budgetary shortfalls. This will likely delay climate adaptation, including sea wall projects in cities like San Francisco, Miami, and New York.
A Decade After Deepwater Horizon, U.S. Is Still Vulnerable to Catastrophic Spills
A bipartisan commission tasked with investigating the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico says that many of their recommendations, including ones on drilling safety, were never taken seriously. They say that another spill of equally disastrous proportions is possible, as drilling continues to move farther offshore, deeper underwater, and expanded in nearly all American waters.
The explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was the worst offshore oil spill in United States history and sent more than 3 million barrels of oil into the waters off the coast of Louisiana. New rules under the Trump administration reduced the frequency of safety testing for blowout preventers and gave industry more leeway to determine the range of pressure in a well that is considered safe for drilling.
Oil Prices Go Negative
The new low of $30 below zero signals that there is no place to store all the crude oil that is being produced globally at a time when demand for oil is collapsing.
Trump Hotel May Be Seeking Relief From Federal Government
The Trump Organization pays about $3 million a year to the federal government for the lease on its D.C. hotel. The company signed a 60-year-lease in 2013 that requires monthly payments. Eric Trump confirmed that the company has inquired about changing the terms of the lease, given the economic downturn.
The Experience of Professional Women During a Pandemic
Data suggests that the time women are spending on unpaid work, quite high before the pandemic, has "expanded exponentially in recent weeks," as they assist with home-schooling children and helping family members vulnerable to the virus. Oftentimes, this is at the expense of their careers and work-life balance.
Doctors Are Having to Balance the Risk of Their Profession With their Parenting Duties
The article describes the strain the pandemic is putting on medical workers, especially those who are parents. Some are drafting their wills and deciding on guardians for their children.
Brands and Influencers Have the Pandemic in Mind but Avoid Overt References
Retailers and markets are telling bloggers and other social media personalities to continue driving consumer shopping trends by using a softer approach. Some ask their bloggers to make relatable posts about life at home and adjust the tone of their messaging to balance their shopping posts.
Antibody Tests Suggests That 1 in 5 New Yorkers May Have Had Covid-19
The results from random preliminary testing suggest that the virus has spread more widely than known in New York City.
High Rates of Infection Among Spectrum Employees Spur Call for Changes to Work Policy
Thousands of people have signed a petition criticizing the cable and internet company's work policy, which still requires employees to work in offices and call centers. Over 200 workers have tested positive for Covid-19. The New York attorney general's office has opened an inquiry into the company, whose work is deemed an essential service.
Coronavirus Was Circulating in California Earlier Than Originally Thought
Two February deaths in the state have now been linked to the virus. They happened about 3 weeks before the U.S. reported its first death from the disease. The Governor declined to say whether this information, had it been known earlier, would have prompted him to order an earlier shutdown.
Seven Coronavirus Cases Tied to Election Day in Wisconsin
Despite an active stay-at-home order, Wisconsin proceeded with in-person voting on April 7. Seven cases (one poll worker and 6 voters) are now tied to voting in Milwaukee. The legislature had refused to postpone the election or expand voting by mail. Poll workers, many of whom are older and among the most vulnerable, did not report to work.
President Trump Critical of Georgia Governor's Decision to Reopen State
Governor Brian Kemp said some businesses in Georgia could resume by Friday, April 24, a move that President Trump and public health officials consider premature. The plan would see restaurants opening the following week, along with entertainment venues. Any business that chooses to reopen will be required to enforce social distancing rules.
Companies Face A Patchwork of Regulations as They Consider Reopening; Many Cautious in Doing So
Despite regional plans to reopen the economy, some businesses are declining to do so, as they fear that reopening too soon could trigger a new wave of infections and lead to yet another round of closings. While some are introducing temperature checks and instituting social distancing rules in the workplace, businesses like movie theaters have no intention of opening, even in those states that are lifting restrictions.
Conservative Groups Amplify Voice of Anti-Lockdown Protesters
A network of mostly state-based conservative groups have called on their members to drive up turnout at recent anti-lockdown protests across the U.S. They are also financing lawsuits against stay-at-home orders and seem to have brought together a coalition of fiscal conservatives, religious groups and civil libertarians.
"How Abortion, Guns and Church Closings Made Coronavirus a Culture War"
The article explains how recent demonstrators defying social distancing guidelines represented a panoply of interests, including gun rights, religious freedom, and pro-choice movements.
Texas Allows Abortions to Resume During Pandemic
The state eased restrictions on some surgical procedures, including abortions, which it had previously characterized as "elective procedures" and ordered they be delayed during the pandemic to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers. Abortion clinics challenged the order in court. The current order now permits select surgical procedures to be performed if the facilities certify in writing that they will reserve 25 of their capacity for coronavirus patients and will not request PPE from a public source.
Focusing on China's Role in the Pandemic Appears to Be a Key G.O.P. Strategy
From Republican Congressional members preparing to seek re-election to the president's own campaign aides, the Republican strategy is to focus on China's role in spreading the virus. The article argues that the president's own slow response to the outbreak, and his conflicted messaging on China, will hurt him with voters.
265 Million People Could Face Starvation Due to Global Food Crisis
Experts say that the coronavirus will exacerbate food insecurity by disrupting agricultural production and supply routes, which could double the number of people that will be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.
U.S. Warships Enter Disputed Waters of South China Sea
Activity is unabated in the South China Sea as Chinese, Australian, and now American warships enter the strategic waterway through which one-third of global shipping flows. After a Chinese patrol ship sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat in the area earlier this month, the State Department urged China to remain focused on supporting global efforts to fight the pandemic, instead of "exploiting the distraction ... to expand its unlawful claims." China's claims conflict with demarcations made by 5 other governments.
Succumbing to Pressure, the European Union Softens its Report on China's Covid-19 Disinformation
European Union (EU) officials softened their criticism of China in a report that documented how governments push disinformation about the pandemic. The initial report said that both Russia and China promoted false health information, with China falsely accusing French politicians of using racist slurs against the head of the World Health Organization. China threatened to react if some of the language was not toned down or outright removed, and the EU delayed publication of the report until it was revised.
Amazon Loses Appeal in French Court Over Sale of Nonessential Items
French unions sued Amazon over workplace safety after it continued to keep its warehouses open for delivery of nonessential items. The court order requires Amazon to deliver only certain items until it carries out a risk evaluation of sites that employ French unions.