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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

Entertainment For Kenny Chesney and Others, Promotion in a Pandemic Is a Quandary

Many performers have struggled since the pandemic began to make up to their fans for the shows that have been rescheduled or cancelled. Facebook Live and other social media platforms have been the sites for performers to connect with their fanbases, because even with the pandemic continuing, there is the potential to promote their shows or latest books and to generate revenue.

A No. 1 Hit Vanished From Poland's Charts. It's Not Going Quietly

A rock legend in Poland, Kazik Staszewski, had a hit at the top of the charts in his native country, "Your Pain Is Better Than Mine," but after having been named number one on a show, the state-run broadcaster censored his song. This came after Staszewski "chastised one of Poland's most powerful politicians, Jaroslaw Kaczynski," who leads the Law and Justice Party. The Law and Justice Party has grabbed control in Poland's politics and is viewed by analysts to turn media outlets "into mouthpieces of the government and promoting a conservative agenda, often steeped in xenophobia, homophobia, and nationalism."


Gallery Sues Landlord, Claiming Coronavirus Shutdown Voids Lease

The Venus Over Manhattan gallery in the Upper East Side has been a prominent gallery in the neighborhood, but following the pandemic, it had to close its doors as a nonessential business. The gallery has sued its landlord, arguing that New York State's ordering the gallery to close its doors provides "a basis to end its lease, which it says started in 2011 at $54,000 per month," and the gallery is now pursuing recovery of its deposit of $365,000.

Less Is More as an Art Museum Reopens

Houston's Museum of Fine Arts has reopened, and it may provide a model for how other museums in the country may deal with the pandemic. The museum has used "timed tickets and limited entry," and as visitors wait to enter the museum, museum employees take their temperatures. Although Texas has allowed museums to reopen starting on May 1st at 25% capacity, many have opted to wait, but by the end of May, the Holocaust Museum, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Witte Museum had reopened. Other museums around the country, such as science and children's museums--which are known for having visitors engage in hands-on learning--are grappling with how they will reopen and attract visitors as their respective states continue their reopening processes.

Sotheby's to Hold "Live" Auctions in June, Remotely

Sotheby's has announced that in June it will begin holding live auctions by digitally streaming them. Viewers will be permitted to watch from anywhere in the world, but the auctioneer will be located in London, and bids will be placed by telephone. It will serve as a stark contrast to the "buzzing salesroom in Manhattan, where hundreds of collectors, dealers, art advisers, and spectators typically hobnob over champagne before sitting side by side to raise their paddles in nail-biting battles for great works of art."

Mark Morris Gives Video Dances a Whirl

Mark Morris, the "larger-than-life choreographer" at the center of the Mark Morris Dance Group, has presided over "a livestream presentation of four new video dances created" with Zoom and Final Cut Pro. He has been providing "background for each work and taking questions, written in by viewers," and while the presentations have not risen to the level of a performance, it is "close enough to the real thing to make you put up with freezing screens."


These Athletes Had Coronavirus. Will They Ever Be the Same?

While athletes are perhaps thought to be better equipped to handle illness, the symptoms of the coronavirus showed otherwise for several prominent athletes, including the linebacker for the Denver Broncos, Von Miller. He said in an interview, "My biggest takeaway from this experience is that no matter how great of shape you are in physically, no matter what your age is, that you're not immune from things like this." He also reported that he has felt himself "fatiguing faster." With sports leagues beginning to plan their returns around the world, there are questions as to whether those athletes who were diagnosed will have difficulty returning to their prior forms.

Belmont Stakes Contender Tests Positive for Banned Substance">Belmont Stakes Contender Tests Positive for Banned Substance

Charlatan, a contender for the Belmont Stakes, has tested positive for a banned substance at a recent meet in Arkansas. The banned substance is a numbing agent and is one of two horses that trainer Bob Baffert has trained that has tested positive for the numbing agent lidocaine. Charlatan had been undefeated, and the positive test for lidocaine entails a penalty of a 15- to 60-day suspension and a fine of $500 to $1,000.

Sports Leagues Plan Their Returns Around the World

With the pandemic generally abating, sports leagues in Europe and North America are planning their returns. England's Premier League and Italy's Serie A are planning to return in mid-June following Germany's Bundesliga returning to play in late May. The National Football League is planning to announce its plans shortly, and the National Hockey League has announced that when it returns to play, teams will advance directly to the playoffs. This decision averts an issue that the European soccer teams face, which is finishing the current season continuing into the weeks when the next season was planned to begin.

Boston Marathon Canceled for the First Time

For the first time in the Boston Marathon's 124-year history, its organizers have decided to cancel the race. The race had originally been postponed from April 20th to September 14th, but organizers announced this week that the race would be cancelled. Its organizers intend to have "a virtual marathon instead, with people running the 26.6 miles remotely."

She Accused a Coach of Abuse. Then More Than 30 Gymnasts Backed Her Up

A New York City gymnastics coach, Chris McClaim, faced allegations in 2018 from Sara Allan that she had been abusive to her, including numerous instances of "emotional abuse, including insulting and berating gymnasts about their weight, eating habits, and mental abilities." Ultimately, Allan compiled a 13-page document "filled with specific complaints against McClain that spanned 15 years" and "33 gymnasts, nine of their family members, and five coaches." Chelsea Piers quickly suspended her last Saturday, one "day after Allan sent the complaint."


Trump's Usual Allies Recoil at His Smear of MSNBC Host

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough was the subject of a President Trump's ire this week, as Trump tweeted that Scarborough should be investigated for a staff member's death two decades ago. Several of Trump's prominent allies were left "aghast at his baseless smears", which have "a total lack of evidence." Those allies include the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, and top House Republican Liz Cheney.

Trump Takes on Social Media, and Twitter Fights Back

Twitter, Trump's favorite social media platform, has started a feud with the President. The platform labeled his tweet regarding mail-in ballots as false and encouraged that people "get the facts" about the subject. Twitter vowed to continue to fact-check posts even as Trump threatened to limit liability protections for social media companies, and by the end of the week he signed an executive order that effectively rewrite the Communications Decency Act, which "provides the liability shield to the tech companies." Some analysts have said that the executive order is virtually certain to be challenged in court and likely invalidated. American Civil Liberties Union Accuses Clearview AI of Privacy "Nightmare Scenario" The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued a facial recognition start-up, Clearview AI, claiming that it has "helped hundreds of law enforcement agencies use online photos to solve crimes" and accused the company of "unlawful, privacy-destroying surveillance activities." The ACLU filed the action in Illinois and alleged that Clearview violated a state law "that forbids companies from using a resident's fingerprints or face scans without consent." The TV Commercial, Once Advertising's Main Event, Suffers in the Pandemic Despite the fact that more people are watching television, "companies are spending less time, effort, and money on TV ads." With the presidential election and Olympic Games scheduled for this year, TV networks had expected strong advertising revenue, but with campaign rallies on hold and the Olympics postponed, it is expected that the revenue will drop 12% this year, with networks losing out on "$25.5 billion in spending." General News

The United States Begins to Reopen as Coronavirus Numbers Improve

With the number of new cases and deaths falling in the United States, many states have started reopening. Although there has not been a comprehensive testing plan or a plan for contact tracing, states have put into place a number of measures to control the reopening, such as limiting the number of entrants and starting with outdoor seating at bars and restaurants. Other places, such as the courts, remain virtual as investigations have found that New York courts were rife with the virus just prior to their closing in March. Courts in Europe are set to reopen for operations sooner and may prove to be models for how American courts may operate.

The numbers for unemployment claims continue to rise but have considerably slowed from the first weeks of the outbreak. It remains unclear what actions Congress may take, as many have called for additional stimulus measures. Regardless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that when there is a widespread return to work, offices may not operate as they had previously, given the necessity for distancing workers and staggering work schedules.

Discontent Spreads Throughout Country Following Killing of George Floyd

Following four Minneapolis police officers' killing George Floyd, who was under arrest for allegedly attempting to pass a counterfeit note, unrest spread from Minneapolis to cities throughout the country with calls for eradicating racial injustice. Several of the protests turned violent and led to destruction and looting, and President Trump tweeted, calling back to an earlier era of threats of violence, that when the looting begins, the shooting follows. There has been extensive news coverage of the protests, and one CNN reporter was arrested while reporting live from one of the protests, which some analysts have said is as clear an instance of censorship as one may see.

Tensions Between China and the U.S. Ratchet Up as China Moves to Secure Hong Kong

The week dawned with China announcing that it will be asserting more power over Hong Kong, despite the fact that Hong Kong is not set to be joined with mainland China until 2047. The week ended with President Trump saying in a speech that the world has suffered "as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government"--referring to the coronavirus pandemic--and saying that the United States was set to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) for its supposed favoritism toward China. Some analysts have said that the move to attempt to withdraw the United States is not possible, and it remains unclear "whether the president can simply withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization without Congressional approval."

Supreme Court Refuses to Stop Order to Move Inmates From Virus-Ravaged Prison

The Supreme Court has refused to stop an order to move inmates from a prison where the coronavirus had taken hold, and thus, the Court's action "left in place a court order requiring prison officials to move more than 800 older or medically vulnerable prisoners." The prison at issue, the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in Ohio, had seen nine prisoners die from the coronavirus, and four prisoners "filed a class-action lawsuit last month saying that conditions" had "violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment."

Longtime Pentagon Watchdog Stepping Down From Post

Glenn Fine, whom President Trump ousted as the "head of a watchdog panel assigned to oversee how his administration spends trillions of taxpayer dollars in coronavirus pandemic relief," has announced that he is resigning from his job at the Pentagon. Fine had been a "longtime leader among government watchdogs" and had been an inspector general who had uncovered "problems with FBI surveillance and other issues after the Sept. 11 attacks."

African-Americans Are Highly Visible in the Military but Almost Invisible at the Top

When President Trump had his photograph taken in the Oval Office with top four-star generals and admirals, it "was meant as a thank-you to the commander in chief," but it angered many because it showed the president "surrounded by a sea of white faces in full military dress." The photograph is illustrative: There are few diverse top commanders in the military despite the fact that approximately 43% of the 1.3 million people on active duty "are people of color." Only two of the 41 most senior commanders are Black.

Republicans Sue Nancy Pelosi to Block House Proxy Voting During Pandemic

House Republicans have filed an action to block the House from "using a proxy voting system set up by Democrats to allow for remote legislating during the coronavirus pandemic." The action is venued in Washington, and it asks a federal judge "to strike down the practice immediately--leaving uncertain the fate of legislation the House plants to take up this week using the new procedures--and to invalidate it permanently." Historically, judges have shown reluctance in getting involved in how Congress sets its own rules, but the move "fits into a broader push by Republicans" to "put a cloud of suspicion over Democratic efforts to find alternative ways to vote during the pandemic."

Justice Department Ends Inquiries Into Three Senators' Stock Trades

The Department of Justice has notified three senators, Kelly Loeffler, James Inhofe, and Dianne Feinstein, that it will "not pursue insider trading charges against them." However, by implication, it appears that the Department of Justice will be pursuing its investigation of Senator Richard Burr, "whose own mid-February stock sales have drawn scrutiny." Last month, FBI agents seized his phone, and the senators who received notification this week had been asked to produce records and information related to their respective sales of stock.

House to Vote on Limiting FBI's Power to Collect Americans' Internet Data

The House of Representatives reached an agreement to permit a vote on a measure to limit the FBI's power to collect "Americans' internet browsing and search records during national security investigations." It is expected that the vote will come this week, and if it passes the House, the bill will go to the Senate, where it has lingered. The bill has become more complicated because of broader surveillance concerns, as those "who have long championed civil liberties" have sought to use the opportunity to expand protections.

Border Wall Land Grabs Accelerate as Owners Shelter From Pandemic

The Trump administration has accelerated its "efforts to seize private property for President Trump's border wall, taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to survey land while its owners are confined indoors, residents along the Rio Grande say." President Trump had set the goal of building 450 miles of wall by year's end, but he recently lowered that goal to 400. So far, less than 200 miles have been built, and the administration "has brought 78 lawsuits against landowners on the border, 30 of them this year."

Florida Law Restricting Felon Voting Is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules

A federal judge has ruled that a Florida law restricting felon voting based on the inability to pay court fines and fees is unconstitutional. The judge, Robert Hinkle, wrote that requiring payment of those court fines and fees as a condition for registering to vote amounts to a "poll tax" and discriminates "against felons who cannot afford to pay." Judge Hinkle granted the civil rights groups that challenge the law a permanent injunction, and the State is expected to appeal.

Fund for Jeffrey Epstein's Accusers Gets Attorney General's Approval

The attorney general for the Virgin Islands has approved the plan for the "estate of Jeffrey Epstein to establish a compensation fund for dozens of women who say they were sexually abused by the financier as teenagers." The estate is valued at over $600 million, and one of the sticking points between the attorney general and the estate was a "broad liability release", which the attorney general announced was controlled, as the estate "had agreed not to use any information provided by victims to defend itself against any other claims or lawsuits that may be filed against it." The agreement must be approved by a probate judge, and a pending action brought by the Virgin Islands remains against the estate for misleading government officials and using his island "to engage in sex trafficking."

North Koreans Accused of Laundering $2.5 Billion for Nuclear Program

The Department of Justice has unsealed "an indictment accusing nearly three dozen people of using shell companies to launder billions" of dollars through the "global financial system" to aid funding North Korea's "nuclear weapons program." Those charged include 28 North Koreans and five Chinese citizens who used a web of shell companies, and the indictment signals the United States' "commitment to hampering North Korea's ability to use proceeds from illicit actions to enhance its illegal WMD and ballistic missile programs."

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