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Week In Review

By Angela Peco Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


2021 Oscars Will Be Delayed Until April 25th

The Oscars will be held in April, as opposed to February of next year, and the eligibility period will be extended to make up for theatre closures and delayed premiers.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Gives $120 Million to Historically Black Colleges

The Netflix co-founder's donation will go to the United Negro College Fund, Spelman College, and Morehouse College. Hastings noted that white capital often flows to predominantly white institutions and wanted his donation to lead others to give to histroically black colleges and universities.

Actor Danny Masterson Charged with Raping Three Women

Danny Masterson, known for his roles in "That '70s Show," was charged with three counts of rape by force or fear. The allegations date back to the early 2000s and occurred in the actor's home. In 2017, Masterson was fired from his Netflix show, "The Ranch," amid similar allegations, in which women said that they were pressured to keep quiet by the Church of Scientology.


Judge Denies Trump Administration's Request to Ban Publication of John Bolton's Book

A federal judge has ruled that former national security advisor John Bolton can go ahead with the publication and sale of his book about the Trump administration, but the judge criticized Bolton of possibly damaging national security and exposing himself to civil and potentially criminal liability. According to the ruling, it is possible that Bolton may need to forfeit any profits tied to the sale of the book, including his $2 million advance, for publishing the book without having it go through a prepublication review to screen out classified information.

New Coalition Will Fight Racism in Theater

High-profile founders Audra McDonald, Phylicia Rashad, Billy Porter, and Wendell Pierce have formed a new coalition to combat racism in the theater community. Their plans include setting up a mentorship program for young black artists and reviewing industry practices.

Children's Theaters Confront Issue of Diversity

A new study says programming and creative teams are not representative of their audiences - most of the shows are by white writers and have overwhelmingly white creative teams. Theaters are now starting to look at new source material, adapting children's books written by minority writers, and hiring more diverse creative teams to adapt and direct productions.

Upright Citizens Brigade Will Overhaul its Leadership

The founders of the comedy incubator have announced an effort to diversify the organization's leadership by passing control of their theaters to a new and more diverse board that can more appropriately address systemic racism in the theaters.

Robert Indiana's Caregiver Has Largely Disappeared from Artist's Affairs

Pop Art pioneer Robert Indiana had designated Jamie L. Thomas, the artist's caretaker in his final years, to lead his museum and help guide his artistic legacy. However, Thomas has been largely absent from gatherings and events honouring the artist and he will no longer be directing Indiana's museum. The New York Times reports that a lawsuit between the estate and Thomas was resolved last year after the executor of the estate argued that Thomas acted "to improperly line his own pockets," noting his generous salary, large withdrawals from Indiana's accounts, and the claim that valuable paintings had been given to him as gifts. Thomas's departure from the foundation that would operate the museum is said to be part of the settlement, although the terms remain confidential.

Relocating Monuments Tied to Slavery

Recent protests over police brutality and racial injustice have reignited demands to remove statues celebrating Confederate generals and figures associated with slavery and colonialism. Most end up in storage, too large for museums to accommodate and put in proper historical context.

Albuquerque Removes Statue of Conquistador Juan de Onate

A diverse crowd of protesters called on authorities to remove the statue as part of a broader effort to remove symbols of colonial atrocities. Onate's period as provincial governor was marked by a violent repression and the killing of Indigenous people in the area.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi Orders Removal of Four Confederate Portraits from the House

The decision comes amid widespread efforts to remove historic symbols of racism in America. The paintings portray four House speakers who served in the Confederacy.

San Francisco's Asian Art Museum Will Remove Patron's Bust

The museum will remove a bust of its founding patron, Avery Brundage. Brundage was an industrialist and former president of the International Olympic Committee. His critics say Brundage was a Nazi sympathizer and a racist. The museum will also schedule public programs to discuss Brundage's legacy and work on "decolonizing" the museum

Museums Embrace Art Therapy

American museums are now devoting resources toward creating trauma-aware programs and initiatives to help their guests benefit from art therapy, especially at a time of unrest, trauma, and isolation created by the pandemic.

A Look Back at the 2015 Pyer Moss Show, Which Brought Police Brutality to the Runway

The article provides an inside look into how the 2015 show was put together and recounts the efforts of the brand's founder, Kerby Jean-Raymond in putting the African American experience front and center.

The Dress Codes of the Uprising

March organizers are trying to reframe the narrative and bring positivity to their events by urging participants to adopt more formal dress and send a subversive fashion message.

Shakespeare in the Park Turns into Four-Part Radio Play

Andre Holland and Phylicia Rashad will star in a four-part broadcast airing July 13th-16th. The Public Theater will work with WNYC to record Shakespeare's "Richard II," featuring much of the same cast that would have performed the play in Central Park.

Authorities Catch Up to Art Dealer Inigo Philbrick Over Suspected Fraud

U.S. law enforcement agents arrested the 33-year-old art dealer on the Pacific island of Vanuatu. He is accused of defrauding clients of more than $20 million. Among other charges, federal prosecutors accused Philbrick of having sold multiple (more than 100%) ownership interests in a Stingel painting.

Images of Stolen Van Gogh Give Experts Hope That Painting Can Be Recovered

A Dutch art crimes investigator says that he has received photographs of the back of a stolen Van Gogh painting. He says the images are "proof of life" and hopes that sharing them will lead to information. The 1884 painting, "The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring," was stolen from the Groninger Museum in March after a man used a sledgehammer to smash through reinforced glass doors and ran away with the painting under his arm.


Governor Andrew Cuomo Supports U.S. Open Play in New York

Governor Cuomo announced that the tennis tournament would be played as scheduled, with matches beginning in late August, but without fans present. Two other Ohio-based tours will be relocating to New York to centralize operations and reduce player travel. The U.S. Open has issued guidelines limiting the size of a player's entourage, requiring face masks when not competing or training, and limiting access to shared spaces and locker rooms.

Anthony Fauci Says That the National Football League Season Might Not Happen Without a "Bubble"

America's leading infectious disease expert said that the best way to guarantee safety would be to play in an enclosed environment where the National Football League (NFL) can insulate players and team staff from the community. The NFL, however, faces different challenges than other leagues that have opted for single-site play - the NFL is larger; each of its 32 teams have up to 90 players during training camp, and dozens of coaches and trainers. More rest is needed between games, which means that players could be in the "bubble" for a longer time. The NFL said that it will adjust its protocols to align with public health recommendations, but players have yet to receive concrete guidance.

National Hockey League Nearing Plan for Resuming Play

The players' association voted in favour of a 24-team playoff, scrapping the rest of the regular season and resuming voluntary workouts as early as June.

Women's National Basketball Association and Players Union Agree to 22-Game Season

The 22-game season, with a full playoff schedule, will start in late July at the IMG Academy in Florida. Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) players have until June 25th to notify their teams if they are opting into the 2020 season; those who participate will receive their full salaries.

WNBA Player Will Skip Season to Focus on Justice Initiatives

Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery will skip the upcoming WNBA season to focus on supporting social justice reform. Team officials said that they supported her decision, which they said was reflective of the league's desire to encourage athletes to be active in social causes.

Florida, A Popular Site for Pro Leagues, Remains a Coronavirus Hotspot

The National Basketball Association, the WNBA and Major League Soccer (MLS) will all resume their seasons in Florida, where health officials are reporting record numbers of infections. It remains to be seen if the so-called "bubbles" and health protocols requiring pre-arrival and on-site testing, among other measures, will be successful in preventing infections among players and team personnel.

Major League Baseball Spring Training Sites Close Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Every Major League Baseball (MLB) team will temporarily shut down its spring training camp in Arizona and Florida over concerns about the pandemic. Five Philadelphia Phillies players and three staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, with others awaiting results. The Yankees are returning to New York to resume their spring training. It is unclear how close of spring training camps will affect the start of the season - the plan remains for teams to hold games in their home parks, without fans.

National Collegiate Athletic Association Bans Mississippi From Hosting Championship Until State Removes Confederate Emblem on Flag

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced that states would not be permitted to host championship events if the Confederate flag is a prominent symbol, with the chair of its Board of Governors saying that "[t]here is no place in college athletics or the world for symbols or acts of discrimination and oppression." The NCAA had previously banned states whose flags displayed the emblem from hosting events with predetermined locations (though Mississippi did host events through a loophole allowing high performing teams to host competitions).

The Southeastern Conference also demanded that the state remove the Confederate emblem from its flag, warning that without a change, the conference might not hold future championship events in Mississippi. It is the last state flag in the country to bear the emblem; a 2001 referendum saw two-thirds of votes cast in support of keeping it.

Texas Football Players Call on University to Drop Song Steeped in Racist History

University of Texas athletes want the campus anthem "The Yes of Texas" gone. The song can be traced back to minstrel shows in the early 20th century and is associated with Confederal general Robert E. Lee. The students' list of requests for a more inclusive campus also included a call for renaming campus buildings and having the school donate a portion of the athletic department's earnings to black organizations.

Football Players Returning to Campus Are Being Asked to Sign Coronavirus Waivers

Schools are requiring student athletes to sign waivers acknowledging the risk of returning to campus during the pandemic and of not following self-quarantining and social distancing measures outlined in school guidelines. Failure to follow guidance can lead to dismissals and loss of scholarships.

Corporate America Pledging Millions to Social Justice Efforts

In addition to donating millions of dollars to organizations supporting racial justice initiatives, some businesses are committing to concrete changes in their practices to make their own corporate culture more inclusive and diverse. Among the changes: Adidas announced it would fill at least 30% of all open positions with black or Latinx candidates; Amazon has placed a one-year moratorium on police use of a facial recognition technology (criticized for racial bias); and Apple said it will create an entrepreneurship camp for black software developers.

Sports Leagues and Fans Face a Complicated Reality

Single-site plans for resuming play are a common element of several major leagues' comeback plans, but there is little certainty for sports fans as to when teams might be able to play in their home arenas again. "The collective strategy is largely to cross fingers."


Voice of America Directors Resign After Congress Confirms Conservative Activist as Head of U.S. Agency for Global Media

Michael Pack, a conservative activist and filmmaker, was confirmed earlier this month after President Trump reportedly intervened to expedite the nomination. Pack is a close ally of Stephen Bannon. Voice of America is the largest American international news media broadcast organization; it receives funding from the U.S. government but is supposed to remain editorially independent of any federal agency. It is not clear if the directors were asked to resign.

Social Media Platforms Denounce Racism That Thrives There

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have recently denounced racial bias in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Twitter pledged $3 million to Colin Kaepernick's organization and Facebook will donate $10 million to racial justice organizations and $200 million to support black-owned businesses and organizations. However, their public statements have not addressed how these platforms have been weaponized to spread racist ideology and subvert social justice movements. The article also points to YouTube, which it argues has "struggled to square its corporate values with the way its products actually operate ... remov[ing] conspiracy theories and misinformation from its search results ... but it has yet to grapple fully with the way its ... policies contributed to racial division for years."

Facebook Says That Users Can Opt Out of Seeing Political Ads

The ability to opt out of seeing electoral or political ads from candidates or political action committees will be rolling out to more and more users in the coming weeks. The company seems to be taking a middle-ground approach by allowing political ads on its platform, but limiting their reach to appease critics of its speech policies.

Facebook Removes Trump Ads Over for Displaying Symbol Associated with Nazis

The Trump campaign's ads featured a red triangle used by Nazis to classify political prisoners, which Facebook said violated company policy. The text beneath the triangle referred to far-left groups and the Trump campaign said it was in reference to Antifa.

Justice Department Urges Rolling Back Legal Shield for Tech Companies

The agency called on lawmakers to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which gives broad legal immunity to today's internet giants for words, images, and videos posted on their platforms. In its recommendation, the Justice Department said that changes to the law would put the onus on the companies to police harmful content and conduct.

Two Black Journalists Say The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Kept Them From Covering Protests

One of the journalists has since left the newspaper while the other has sued, accusing the publication of retaliation and racial discrimination. Both say they were unfairly kept from covering the protests against racism and police violence. One journalist was told that she had shown bias in a Tweet and would not be assigned to cover the protests; she claims that the newspaper allowed white reporters to publicly express opinions on events they covered while she was kept from reporting on them.

Associated Press Apologies for Featuring Jefferson Davis Quotation

The wire service has apologized for featuring a quotation from Jefferson Davis, the leader of the Confederacy, as part of its "Today in History" feature. Over two dozen newspapers ran the quote.

Former eBay Workers Sent Threatening Messages and Delivers to Critics

The employees sent live roaches and a mask of a bloody pig face to a couple who ran an online e-commerce newsletter. The employees were unhappy with its coverage of eBay and barraged the couple with threatening emails in what authorities call a cyberstalking campaign.

Apple's App Store Draws Antitrust Scrutiny in Europe

European authorities will investigate whether the terms that Apple imposes on app developers looking to offer their products through Apple's digital store violate competition rules. Apple requires companies to agree to its terms and conditions, including sharing certain data with the company and giving it a percentage of future sales made through Apple products.

France's Highest Court Upholds Google Fine

The court upheld a fine of 50 million euros against Alphabet's Google after a French regulator found that the company had not been sufficiently clear and transparent with Android users about their data protection options, the handling of personal data, and the way it obtained consent for personalized ads, in violation of European Union online privacy rules.

French Constitutional Court Strikes Down Most of Online Hate Speech Law

As part of an effort to regulate content on tech platforms, the French government passed a law that obligated online platforms to take down hateful content flagged by users within 24 hours; failure to do so would result in fines of up to $1.4 million. The French court struck down parts of the law, which it said "created an incentive for risk-averse platforms to indiscriminately remove flagged content, whether or not it was clearly hate speech," therefore infringing on the exercise of freedom of expression in a disproportionate way.

Two Philippine Journalists Convicted of Cyber Libel

The Philippines' most prominent journalist, Maria Ressa, as well as a former colleague, were convicted of cyber libel. Each was fined $8,000 and given an indeterminate sentence (the offense carries up to six years in prison). The libel charges stem from an article in which Ressa claimed that a local businessman had ties to the drug world. The businessman filed several complaints against Rappler, the news site that she founded.

General News

Supreme Court Rules That LGBTQ Americans Have Workplace Protections Under the Civil Rights Act

In a 6-3 decision, with Justice Gorsuch writing for the majority, the Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination. Before the decision, it was legal to fire workers for being gay, bisexual or transgender in more than half of U.S. states.

Supreme Court Expansion of Transgender Rights Undercuts Trump Restrictions

Scholars say that although the Supreme Court's decision on the scope of the Civil Rights Act focused on employment discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans, they also believe that the ruling could expand to protections in education, health care, and housing.

Supreme Court Will Not Hear Case on California Sanctuary Law

The case involved California's "sanctuary law," which, in part, prohibits state officials from cooperating with federal agents seeking to detain undocumented migrants released from state custody.

Justice Sotomayor Sees "Troubling Tableau" in 11th Circuit's Prisoner Cases

In her statement regarding the denial of certiorari in Michael St. Hubert v. United States, Justice Sotomayor expressed concerns with the practices of the 11th Circuit, which hears appeals from Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. She specifically takes issue with the added obstacles to habeas petitions by inmates in those states, including the use of a form, which, according to a judge, "few prisoners manage to squeeze more than 100 words." Based on those submissions and usually without oral argument, the appeals court departs significantly from the practices of the other circuits, and issues rulings in those cases.

Supreme Court Blocks Trump Administration From Ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Trump Promises to End Program Regardless

In a 5-4 decision, the Court said that the administration did not take the proper steps to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts said that the Court was not deciding whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies; only that the Department of Homeland Security did not comply with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action (to end the program). For now, participants can continue to renew their memberships in the program to receive work authorizations and protection from deportation.

In response to the Supreme Court's decision on DACA, the president said he will attempt to end the program and terminate protections for young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The program enabled about 800,000 immigrants to live and work legally in the U.S. without the threat of deportation.

Wait Times for Citizenship Applications Have Doubled in Last Two Years

Processing times have increased and visa offices have large backlogs, due in large part to a sharp rise in applications and the lowest processing rates in a decade, as staff are diverted from reviewing applications. The Trump administration has also prioritized immigration enforcement and citizenship applications are receiving more scrutiny; a series of new proposals slated for implementation will make the process even more onerous, requiring applicants to provide their travel history for the last 10 years and more documentation.

President Trump Fires Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

The federal prosecutor refused to step down after Attorney General Barr announced that Berman would be replaced by Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. On Saturday, President Trump fired Berman and named Berman's chief deputy, Audrey Strauss, as his temporary replacement. The move heightened criticism that the president is removing independent officials who pose a threat to his re-election campaign. Berman's office is investigating several individuals and institutions with links to Trump, including Rudy Giuliani (for foreign lobbying) and Deutsche Bank.

Mitch McConnell Nears His Goals of Filling All Vacancies at the Appellate Level by End of 2020

Fifty-two circuit court judges nominated by President Trump have now been confirmed, with the 53rd judge expected to be confirmed this week. That will mark the end of all vacancies on the U.S. appeals courts, an outcome Senate Majority Leader McConnell has aggressively pursued over the last four years.

Trump Administration Lawyer Looking to Reshape the Electorate

The article profiles William Consovoy, whose work for the Trump administration involves voting rights cases, affirmative action, and the issue of the president's tax returns. More recently, Consovoy's firm argued against extending the deadline for mail-in voting in Wisconsin and sued to block California's plan to send absentee ballots to all registered voters.

Justice Department Files New Brief Asking Judge to Dismiss Michael Flynn Case

The Justice Department argued that the judge overseeing the prosecution of Michael Flynn has no authority to reject the Attorney General's decision to drop the case. Strikingly, it said that would still be the case, "even if a court believes that a refusal to prosecute rests on an improper motive or amounts to a gross abuse." The brief called the motion to dismiss the charge "an unreviewable exercise of prosecutorial discretion." The judge appointed a former prosecutor (John Gleeson) to critique the government's arguments. In his brief, Gleeson said the prosecutors' rationale made no sense and must be cover for a corrupt and politically motivated decision, and recommended sentencing Flynn instead.

Justice Department in Alignment with the President in Its Stance on John Bolton

The article argues that the department's request for an order blocking the publication of John Bolton's book is yet another effort to shield the president and part of a larger trend of the department wielding its law enforcement power to align with the president's interests and views. Critics of the move say that the request for an injunction was pointless, because the book has already been printed and distributed.

John Bolton's Memoir Describes President Trump's Willingness to Interfere with Criminal Investigations

The book reportedly describes several episodes where the president tried to use trade negotiations and criminal investigations to further his own political interests, a pattern that Bolton calls "obstruction of justice as a way of life." For instance, Bolton describes Trump asking Chinese president Xi Jinping to buy American agricultural products to help win him farm states in the 2020 election.

Head of Justice Department's Civil Division Leaves Post; Third Departure in Recent Days

Joseph Hunt, previously chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced that he was leaving his post after a 20-year career at the Justice Department. His departure was announced shortly after the department filed a lawsuit signed by Hunt seeking to delay publication of Bolton's memoir.

Air Force Inspector General Investigating Whether Military Plane Improperly Monitored Protesters

The Air Force is examining the use of a military surveillance plane during protests in Washington and Minneapolis. Reports say that the Department of Homeland Security deployed surveillance aircraft over 15 cities where demonstrators gathered to protest racial injustice. The under secretary of defense for intelligence and security said he received no orders from the Trump administration to conduct surveillance. One of the planes that was circling overhead was a RC-26 aircraft fitted with an onboard camera that can make out the general image of an individual but is not capable of using facial recognition or reading license plates. The Air Force's inquiry is also expected to shed light on the National Guard's response after ground units were deployed across the U.S.

Architects of Post-9/11 Security Order Critical of Trump Administration's Tactics Against Protesters

Bush administration officials criticized the administration's militarized response to the protests and its deployment of law enforcement resources designed to combat terrorist threats abroad, adding that the job of responding to demonstrators was better suited for local law enforcement.

State Department Aide Resigns Over Trump's Response to Protests

Mary Elizabeth Taylor, one of the highest-ranking African American officials in the Trump administration, resigned over the president's stance on racial unrest, saying that his dismissive response was at odds with her core values.

Businesses Brace for Possible Limits on Foreign Worker Visas

President Trump is expected to issue an executive order temporarily suspending various work visas, including H-1B, L-1, and a program that permits foreign graduates of U.S. universities to work in the U.S. With the earlier suspension of green cards for applicants outside the U.S. for a period of 60 days, companies spanning various sectors and industries are now worried about a depleted workforce. The administration has previously said that recipients of foreign worker visas compete with Americans for jobs and that businesses should look to the U.S. labor market first to fill their needs.