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Week In Review

By La-Vaughnda A. Taylor Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


UMG Recordins v. Kurbanov

The district court ruled that the defendant, sued by 12 U.S. record companies for alleged copyright infringement, is not subject to personal jurisdiction in any federal forum. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and reversed the ruling. The defendant is a Russian citizen who owns websites that allow users to rip audio from videos streamed online. The court found that there was no personal jurisdiction.

Lee v. Pow! Entertainment

The district court dismissed licensing rights claims brought by Stan Lee's daughter and awarded sanctions against her, finding that the same issue had been litigated numerous times in federal court over past two decades. Lee's daughter attempted to regain her grandfather's intellectual property rights from his former partners. She was sanctioned $1 million for frivolous and improper filings, making her attorneys jointly liable for $250,000.

Broadway to Stay Closed for the Rest of This Year

Broadway shows will remain closed until at least January 3, 2021, according to an announcement from the Broadway League, an organization representing theatre producers and owners, which said that ticket holders will be able to get refunds or exchanges for a future date. Broadway's theatres have been shut down since March 12th due to the coronavirus pandemic. Broadway is one of New York's top tourist attractions, contributing $14.7 billion to the city's economy last season and supporting close to 97,000 jobs. With close to 15 million yearly audience members, it brings in more people than all of New York and New Jersey's 10 professional sports teams combined. The Broadway League stated that "returning productions are currently projected to resume performances over a series of rolling dates in early 2021."

Broadway League Pledges to Address Diversity Shortfall

As the global spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement continues, so do calls for racial justice across communities and industries, such as American theatre. The Broadway for Racial Justice organization was formed along with a letter penned by 300 artists exposing the indignities and racism that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) face on a day-to-day basis. The Broadway Advocacy Coalition held a 3-day forum gathering the community to hold itself accountable and move towards becoming an anti-racist and equitable space as part of a larger, overdue movement that is currently sweeping the theatre industry. The Broadway League has since pledged that in addition to making internal changes, the trade association will hire a company to survey diversity in all aspects of the industry.

Oscars Voting Pool Grows More Diverse

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts is trying hard to leave behind its days as an exclusive club primarily for white men. For the second year in a row, it has invited hundreds of female and minority professionals to become members. The Academy still has a long way to go before reaching its goal of doubling female and minority membership by 2020. It has said that it will increase the Oscar voting pool to 8,427 people--a record high--by extending membership invitations to 774 entertainment industry professionals. By the Academy's count, about 39% of those invited this year are women, and roughly 30% are members of minorities. If all invitations are accepted, female membership would rise to 28%, from 27%. The percentage of minority members would climb to 13% from 11%, but the organization keeps exact membership rolls private.

British Artists Plead for a Rescue Plan

Top British musicians, including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest call on the UK government to help save the live music industry. There is an open letter signed by more than 1,400 acts and is part of the wider #LetTheMusicPlay campaign. UK-based artists have issued a plea alongside thousands of crew and venues for support of the government in the face of devastating economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Book by President's Niece Is Blocked Until July Hearing, and She Attacks Confidentiality Deal

Simon & Schuster can move forward with plans to publish a tell-all book by President Trump's niece Mary Trump, as an appellate judge overturned a lower court ruling that had temporarily halted publication. Mary Trump signed a confidentiality agreement in 2001 as part of the settlement of the estate of her grandfather, Fred Trump Sr. The book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, is scheduled to be released on July 28.

Mary Trump's attorneys pressed the judge to fully clear her path to publish the bombshell book about dealings with her family, including her uncle, President Trump, by claiming that the confidential statement she signed decades ago was based on fraudulent financial information.

Monuments to Richmond's Painful Legacy Begin to Fall

Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the immediate removal of multiple monuments throughout the city of Richmond last week. Many laws took effect across the commonwealth on July 1st, including one that gives localities the power to remove or keep their monuments. It was said that the earliest the statues could come down is in September, but Stoney argues they can come down now under a state of emergency for safety issues and put in storage until the official legal process plays out with the General Assembly.

Racism in Fashion: How to End It?

More than 250 black fashion professionals, calling themselves the Kelly Initiative, sent a public letter to the Council of Fashion Designes of America, accusing the organization of allowing "exploitative cultures of prejudice, tokenism and employment discrimination to thrive," and announcing a more robust plan of their own, focused on accountability. Then another organization was created, the Black in Fashion Council, which was meant to unite "a resilient group of editors, models, stylists, media executives, assistants, freelance creatives and industry stakeholders" to "build a new foundation for inclusivity." The debate is no longer just about systemic racism in fashion, but rather just how far the industry is willing to go to be at the forefront of social change and who is best positioned to lead the charge.

Black Designers Are Welcomed in the Spotlight

At the 20th annual Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards, the people involved dressed up for public consumption for the first time since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, gatherings went virtual, and most such events, like the Met Gala, were canceled altogether. The BET Awards may mark the start of a new stage: one in which fashion returns not as marketing tool, but as a statement of personal intent. No one was asked "what are you wearing?", but the clothes and the effort involved still mattered, allowing each artist to honor the occasion and one another. While there is increasing talk in fashion about supporting black designer and black-owned fashion businesses, these artists are actually putting the words into action.

New York City Trims Arts Funding to Help Close Budget Gap

Facing a $9 billion loss in tax revenues, city leaders cut agency spending across the board, including the Department of Cultural Affairs. The adopted New York City budget cuts spending on cultural affairs by nearly 11%, a damaging blow after years where municipal spending on the arts had grown. Last year, funding the department, which coordinates grants to arts organizations across the city, climbed to an all-time high of $212 million. This year, the budget allocates around $189 million. Even modest cuts are painful, in part because revenue has been curtailed by the pandemic as well.

Philadelphia Slashes Funding for the Arts

To balance its budget amongst coronavirus-related shortfalls, the City of Philadelphia has slashed its public funding to the arts by 40% and eliminated its Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.

A City Museum Struggles and Hopes

After layoffs, furloughs and salary cuts, the Museum of the City of New York prepares to reopen with a reduced budget and will present an exhibition about the pandemic. Often overlooked amid the star power of its cultural neighbors, it typically punches above its weight with expansive exhibitions examining the city's history through the prism of social justice and political agitation. The city museum is among the medium or smaller museums that are facing a particularly difficult path forward. As with other institutions its size, it has a modest but growing endowment--$27 million--and does not boast a board of extremely wealthy donors who can be called on to shore up its revenue with immediate gifts. Since closing in March, the museum has laid off 20% of its 100 full-time and full-time-equivalent employees. Others have been furloughed or are working fewer hours. The museum is scheduled to reopen on July 23rd if the city continues its progress in stemming the coronavirus.

Guggenheim Opens Investigation After Racism Complaints

After nearly a quarter of all employees signed a letter accusing executives of racism and mismanagement, the museum has hired a lawyer to start an independent investigation into its recent Basquiat show.

The Show Must Go On (From Behind the Plexiglass)

Across the country, theaters are finding novel ways to play in a pandemic--from watching through windshields to audiences of two, to an elbow bump instead of a kiss. There is social distancing, masks, temperature checks, touchless ticketing, intermissionless shows, and lots of disinfectant. The coronavirus has shuttered Broadway through the end of the year (at least) and the nation's big regional theatres and major outdoor festivals have mostly pivoted to streaming.

President Orders National Garden of Heroes, With List Mostly of White Men

Trump has ordered the creation of a "National Garden of American Heroes" to defend what he calls "our great national story" against those who vandalize statutes. His executive order gives a new task force 60 days to present plans, including a location, for the garden. In a speech to mark Independence Day at Mount Rushmore, he condemned the anti-racism protesters who toppled statues. He said that America's national heritage was being threatened--an emotive appeal for patriotism. The garden is to be opened by July 4, 2026 and state authorities and civic organizations are invited to donate statues for it. Trump's choice of historical figures to be commemorated in the garden is likely to be controversial. There are no Native American, Latinx, or Hispanic individuals on the list, which also includes Republican presidents, but not Democrats.

Disputed African Artifacts Are Sold

An impassioned art history professor at Princeton tried to halt the sale of two wooden statues made by the Igbo people of Nigeria, believing the items were looted in the late 1960s during the country's brutal civil war. However, the sale went ahead last week at Christie's in Paris.

Opera Singer's Likeness to Leader Draws Scrutiny From China

Liu Keqing, a Chinese opera singer, is censored on social media by Beijing because he bears a striking resemblance to the country's leader Xi Jinping. Liu Keqing's account has been censored multiple times for "image violation." The Chinese musician shares singing tutorials on his social media platform.


Jonathan Irons Walks Free After an Assist From Basketball Star Maya Moore

With the help of Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA) star Maya Moore, Jonathan Irons is freed from prison. The Missouri man was released from prison with Moore on hand to welcome him as he walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center. The Minnesota Lynx star has been active in working for Iron's release, arguing along with others that he had been falsely convicted of burglary and assault charges. Irons, 40, was serving a 50-year prison sentence after the non-fatal shooting of a homeowner in the St. Louis area when Irons was 16. Moore, a four-time WNBA champion, met Irons through a prison ministry program and skipped last season and planned to skip this season to help gain his release.

As Athletes Pursue Justice, Woman are a Force Without Fanfare

Women like Maya Moore have often been at the forefront--but outside the limelight--as athletes across sports have joined calls for social and racial justice, especially in the most recent wave spurred by deaths of Black people at the hands of the police. The National Basketball Association and Naitonal Football League get noticed and the accolades, but the WNBA and women in sports so often tend to be ahead of everybody else. The role of female athletes in this movement seems to cycle in and out of the public consciousness, and is minimized. The reasons lie in a manifold mix that include race, the status of women in our society, and the way that women's sports still struggle for attention on the sports landscape.

Top Adidas Executive Resigns as Turmoil of Company Continues

Karen Parkin, a top Adidas executive, resigned last week, just weeks after a number of Black employees pushed for her ouster amid a wider outcry over what they said were past acts of racism and discrimination at the company.

Minor League Season is Canceled for the First Time

Minor League Baseball (MLB) will not be played this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MLB informed its Minor League affiliates that it will not be providing teams with players for the 2020 season. It will be the first canceled season in the history of Minor League Baseball, which dates back to 1901.

Government Loan Saved Season in Women's League

A federal loan saved a soccer season nearly lost to the pandemic. The National Womens Soccer League (NWSL) was one of millions of businesses that took Paycheck Protection Program loans this year. The money helped the NWSL and its players through eight uncertain weeks.

Nickname is Getting 'Thorough Review,' Team Says

The Washington Redskins began a "thorough review" of it team nickname last Friday, a significant step toward moving on from what experts and advocates call a "dictionary-defined racial slur."

Bettors Take a Chance As Atlantic City Opens Under a New Normal

As cases of the coronavirus surge in states that reopened earliest, New Jersey forged ahead with its plan to allow casinos in Atlantic City to begin operating for the first time since March 16th. The reopening came several days after Gov. Philip D. Murphy abruptly decided against permitting indoor dining based on troubling signs that spikes in the virus in other parts of the country were linked to crowds gathered in confined, indoor spaces, like restaurants and bars. Masks were mandatory on the sprawling gambling floors, and food, drinks, and smoking were forbidden. Plexiglass separated players at poker tables manned by dealers in face shields.

Study Finds Racial Bias in Soccer Broadcasts

TV commentary in English shows racial bias across leagues, according to one study. Television commentators praise players with lighter skin as more intelligent and hard-working than those with darker skin, a study by Danish firm RunRepeat in association with the Professional Footballers' Association showed.


Justices Rule That Can Trademark Its Name

In an 8-to-1 ruling, the Supreme Court has ruled that can trademark its name. The travel company, a unit of Booking Holdings Inc., deserves to be able to trademark its name, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, overruling a federal agency that found it too generic to merit protection. The Court found that just because a word itself is generic, a web address that uses it doesn't have to be.

Trump Amplifies 'White Power' on Twitter

Last week, Trump retweeted a video in which a supporter yelled out "white power!" Hours later, after criticism from across the political spectrum, the tweet was deleted. A day later, Trump retweeted a video of two armed white people in Missouri brandishing guns at protesters marching by their home. Past presidents perfected the art of the racist dog whistle, but with Twitter, Trump has developed something new: racist ventriloquism. By retweeting someone who says what he knows he can't (or shouldn't), Trump is able to let supporters know exactly what he thinks, without the words ever coming out of his mouth. This gives him plausible deniability. Trump has increasingly started using humor as a cover.

Reddit Bans User Group Devoted to Trump

Reddit has shut down a forum dedicated to President Trump's ardent fans, saying that it repeatedly violates the online platform's rules against harassment, hate speech, and content manipulation. Reddit has taken action over content encouraging violence and had threatened to block the subreddit completely if the moderators--who are volunteers--do not take down the abusive material. Now, officials at Reddit have determined that the forum where die-hard Trump fans congregate online cannot police itself.

Twitch Blocks Trump Channel For Hatefulness

Twitch has temporarily banned President Trump, in the latest surprise and high-profile suspension from the streaming service. Trump's account was banned for "hateful conduct" that was aired, and the offending content has now been removed. The content in question was a rebroadcast of Trump's infamous kickoff rally, where he said that Mexico was sending rapists to the U.S. Twitch also flagged racist comments from a recent rally in Tulsa. Twitch says that it does not make exceptions for political or newsworthy content.

An Ad Boycott Swells as the Social Network Struggles to Ease Concerns About Hate Speech

Advertisements for more than 400 brands have vanished from Facebook. Advertisers and the social media giant failed at last-ditch talks to stop a boycott over hate speech on the site. U.S. civil rights groups have enlisted companies to help pressure Facebook into taking steps to block hate speech amid a national reckoning over racism.

Facebook Bans Networks Tied to 'Boogaloo'

Facebook has banned hundreds of accounts, groups, and pages that were said to be linked to the Boogaloo movement, a loosely organized extremist collective whose members have occasionally shown up armed to racial justice and anti-quarantine protests around the country. The banned content includes a core set of 220 Facebook accounts, 95 accounts on Instagram, and dozens of pages and groups that Facebook says posed a "credible threat" to public safety. Facebook said that the accounts were "actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement and government officials and institutions."

Huawei and ZTE Labeled Security Threats by Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission has officially designated Huawei and ZTE national security threats and claimed that their networking equipment could be used by China for espionage.

Essence Names Interim Chief After Claim of 'Abusive' Culture

After a barrage of accusations and threats to publish incriminating evidence to support their claims, the group of current and former Essence staffers who comprise #BlackFemaleAnonymous say their conditions have been met. This came a day ahead of the collective's pronounced July 3rd end-of-day deadline, after a New York Times article seemingly confirmed that Essence Ventures founder and owner Richelieu Dennis, Former President and CEO of Essence Communications Michele Ebanks, Chief Operating Officer Joy Collins Profet, and Chief Content and Creative Officer Moana Luu have all ceased to engage in daily business operations at the magazine. This comes after accusations against Dennis, which included claims of sexual harassment and misconduct as well as nepotism in the staffing of his holdings, were made public. Chief Growth Officer Caroline Wanga is the new interim CEO.

Fox News Fires Anchor After Accusation of Misconduct

One of Fox News's top news anchors, Ed Henry, has been fired after the network received a complaint last week of sexual harassment from years ago. Henry was suspended the same day and removed from his on-air responsibilities as a third-party law firm investigated the matter. Then based on the findings, Henry was subsequently terminated. Rotating anchors will fill in for Henry until a permanent replacement is named.

Digital Walls Are Rising As India Bans TikTok and Other Chinese Apps

The government in New Delhi announced a ban on 59 Chinese apps, saying they were secretly transmitting users' data to servers outsider India. TikTok has been installed more than 610 million times in India, according to estimates.

Turkey Opens Trial of 20 Saudis in Absentia in Writer's Killing and Dismemberment

Turkey opened a trial into the death of the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, accusing 20 Saudi citizens in absentia, in a case that friends and human rights officials welcomed as an important step in advancing the search for justice in his killing.

General News

Roberts is Pivotal as Court Topples Abortion Barrier

By a 5-4 vote, the Court threw out a Louisiana law that would have required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. If put into effect, it was expected to result in the closing of all but one of the state's abortion providers. The four liberal Justices opposed the law, since they struck down a similar Texas law four years ago. Chief Justice Roberts, a conservative who has consistently opposed abortion rights in the past and had voted to uphold the Texas law, cast the fifth vote with them, citing precedent as his reason. It was the Court's first abortion ruling since Trump's two appointees took their seats, and it dashed hopes of abortion opponents who expected the more conservative court to move to repeal Roe vs. Wade, or at least give states more power to narrow it.

Justices to Weigh Full Mueller Report's Release, Likely After Election

The Justices added another high-profile case to their docket for the fall, involving a dispute over efforts by members of Congress to obtain secret materials from the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. On May 20th, the Court put the disclosure of the materials on hold, and last week agreed to weigh in. Unless the Court fast-tracks the oral argument (and there was no indication that it would so do), it is not likely to hear the case until December, after Election Day, with a ruling to follow sometime next year.

Supreme Court Blocks Order Easing Absentee Ballot Rules

In an emergency ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked a lower court's decision that, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, would have made it easier for residents of three Alabama counties to vote by absentee ballot in the July 14th primary runoff elections. The Court split 5-4 in the decision, with Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor--the four justices appointed by Democratic presidents--all in opposition. There was no reasoning provided by the Court for the ruling, which is typical for such an emergency decision. The decision means that voters who are 65 and older or disabled in Mobile, Jefferson, and Lee counties, where coronavirus infections have soared in recent weeks, will have to provide a copy of a photo ID while applying for a mail-in ballot.

In Declining to Hear Case, Supreme Court Clears Way to New Federal Executions

The Supreme Court last week let stand an appeals court ruling allowing the Trump administration to resume executions in federal death penalty cases after a 17-year hiatus. The Court's order cleared the way for the executions of four men in the coming months.

Justices Rule That Trump Is Free to Fire Consumer Watchdog

The Supreme Court ruled to limit the independence of a watchdog agency that was created to combat unfair and deceptive practices against consumers in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The Court invalidated the leadership structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, saying that it violated the separation of powers because the President is restricted from removing the director, even if they have policy disagreements. The ruling is a victory for the Trump administration.

Court Permits Aid to Schools Based on Faith

The Supreme Court ruled that states must allow religious schools to participate in programs that provide scholarships to students attending private schools, a decision that opened the door to more public funding of religious education.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Trump Policy on Asylum

A federal judge in Washington struck down a Trump administration rule that would require migrants seeking to enter the U.S. to first seek asylum in countries they travel through on their way to the southern border.

Minneapolis, Worry That Jury Pool Already Tainted

While stopping short of issuing a formal gag order, Judge Peter A. Cahill of Hennepin County District Court who is overseeing the case against four former Minneapolis police officers in the death of George Floyd, has warned that he would consider moving the trial if the parties involved leak information or offer opinions to the news media about the guilt or innocence of the defendants. Lawyers for the officers cited "multiple inappropriate public comments" from local officials that they said had already prejudiced potential jurors. They argued that the court proceedings should be broadcast publicly as a countermeasure.

As Fee Revenue Plunges, Workers Face Furloughs

Immigration officers face furloughs as visa applications plunge.

Cash Discovery Tipped Off Spies About Bounties

U.S. intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a suspected Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter. The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions. Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in the making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019.

Trump Given Brief in February About Possible Russian Bounties

President Trump received a written briefing in February about intelligence regarding potential bounties offered by Russian to Afghan militants to kill American service members. It has been reported that the White House was aware of the matter much earlier, in early 2019. Trump and the White House have denied that the president had been briefed on the matter and said that the intelligence underpinning the claim was unverified.

Novartis Paid Kickbacks, Now It Will Pay $678 Million.

Novartis has agreed to pay more than $729 million to settle U.S. government charges it paid illegal kickbacks to doctors and patients to boost drug sales, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Putting Books in Prison Marks Shift in Emphasis for Mellon Philanthropy

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation today announced a major strategic evolution for its organization, prioritizing social justice in all of its grantmaking. The Foundation's board has resoundingly endorsed a refined mission statement and updated program areas. The shift has been 2 years in the making, but comes at a moment in which a national spotlight is shining on widespread--and longstanding--social and racial injustice.

Colleges Revoke Offers Over Slurs and Screeds

Amid a national accounting over entrenched and systemic racism after George Floyd's death in police custody on Memorial Day, at least a dozen schools have rescinded admissions offers to incoming students over instances of racism that circulated widely online, often after outraged students and university alumni demanded swift action. While private schools are not bound by the First Amendment and its protection of speech, public universities, as government institutions must contend with the potential legal consequences of penalizing students racist or sexist language. However, the First Amendment doesn't guarantee the right to be admitted to a state university with an admissions process that considers "the whole person," beyond just grades and test scores. A public university is going to have an easier time rescinding an offer of admission than actually expelling a student who is taking classes and says something offensive.

Princeton is to Strip Name of 'Racist' From a School

Princeton University has announced that it will remove President Woodrow Wilson's name from the institution's School of Public and International Affairs due to his history of racism. University President Christopher Eisgruber said the decision came after a "thorough, deliberative process" five years after a group of student activists occupied his office in protest against the faculty's dedication to the controversial 28th president.

Associate Accused of Recruiting Teen Girls for Epstein is Arrested

The arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and longtime associate, was the latest in a twist in a legal saga that has been a source of international intrigue and conspiracy theories. The case has drawn in prominent academics, politicians, business leaders, and even British royalty.

At 50, New York's Big Fete of Pride is Pared Back

Due to social distancing rules required by the coronavirus, what was normally an outpouring on the streets of New York City looked a little different this year. The city's massive Pride parade was canceled, Sunday's performances were virtual, the flags flew in emptier than normal spaces and the protesters were masked. The disruption caused by the virus would normally be an aggravation in any year, but particularly in this one, because it's the 50th Anniversary of the first Pride march in NYC.

In Budget that Pleases Few, New York Will Shift $1 Billion From Police

New York City lawmakers approved an austere budget last week that will shift $1 billion from policing to education and social services in the coming year, acknowledging protesters' demands to cut police spending--but falling short of what activists sought. The vote by the City Council came at an extraordinary moment when the nation's biggest city is grappling with a $9 billion revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic and simultaneously with pressure to cut back on policing and invest more in community and social programs.

Mississippi Lawmakers Wrestle Over the Future of a Flag With a Painful Past

A bill passed 37-14 in the state Senate and 91-23 in the House in favor of changing the flag. Gov. Tate Reeves signed the bill and now a commission will be assembled to design a new version. The debate around Mississippi's state flag is not new, but with the governor's signature it finally reached a conclusion after many failed attempts to change it. The difference this year, according to Johnson, was the bipartisan leadership by first-term legislators.

Europe's Travel List Omits the U.S., Lumping It With Russia and Brazil

As the European Union prepares to reopen its external borders, a non-mandatory list of 15 countries--excluding the U.S.--whose travelers will be permitted to enter from July 1st, has been agreed by representatives of 27 member states after prolonged negotiations, in an attempt to rescue the summer tourism season. The list of "safe countries" will be updated every two weeks.

King of Belgium Sends 'Deepest Regrets' to Congo for History of Colonial Brutality

The policies of Belgian King Leopold II left millions of people dead more than a century ago in a region that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now in a first for the Belgian monarchy, King Philippe has expressed his "deepest regrets" for a colonization campaign that remains notorious for its brutality. The note commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Central African state gaining its independence from Belgium.

As Racism Protests Persist, India Grapples With Biases Long Held Over Skin Tone

Unilever has now said it will stop promoting skin "whitening" or "lightening" and rebrand the skincare line in response to critics who say the products promote harmful stereotypes around beauty and skin tone. However, it didn't go as far as some have demanded: ridding stores of the creams and their connotations, no matter what they are called. The skincare creams have been a mainstay of beauty aisles in stores across India and elsewhere in Asia for years. Across much of Asia and Africa, skin-whitening products bring in millions of dollars in business for companies. In India, Bollywood stars have promoted them, but the backlash is mounting and companies have begun to respond.

As Beijing Tightens Its Grip, Cash in Hong Kong Keeps Flowing

Hong Kong's prosperity depends on 3 things: its fair courts, its independent central bank and financial institutions, and its seamless access to international capital. All three have come under threat when China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress Stand Committee, passed a new national security law for the former British colony, undermining its autonomy under the "one country, two systems" formula in place since its handover in 1997.

Study Reveals a New Strain of Swine Flu in Humans

A new finding that pigs in China are more and more frequently becoming infected with a strain of influenza that has the potential to jump to humans has infectious disease researchers worldwide taking serious notice. Researchers say it's a "guessing game" as to whether this strain will mutate to readily transmit between humans, which it has not done yet.

Coronavirus Update

As Virus Rages and Poll Numbers Slip, 'American Carnage' Redux

President Trump used the spotlight of the 4th of July weekend to sow national divide during national crisis, denying his failings in containing the worsening coronavirus pandemic while delivering a harsh diatribe against what he branded the "new far-left fascism." In a speech at the White House last week and an address in front of Mount Rushmore, Trump promoted a version of the "American carnage" vision for the country that he laid out during his inaugural address--updated to include an ominous depiction of the recent protests over racial justice. In doing so, he signaled even more clearly that he would exploit race and cultural flash points to stoke fear among his base of white supporters in an effort to win reelection.

Congress Extends Payroll Relief Program

Congress has extended the deadline for small businesses to apply for approximately $134 billion in Paycheck Protection Program funds until August 8th. The House of Representatives approved the extension by unanimous consent. In an unexpected move, the Senate kicked off the process, also voting unanimously for the extension. The bill will be sent to President Trump for his signature.

First Coronavirus Drug Gets a U.S. Price Tag

Remdesivir, the first drug shown to be effective against the coronavirus, will be distributed under an unusual agreement with the federal government that establishes nonnegotiable prices and prioritizes American patients, health officials announced. The arrangement may serve as a template for distribution of new treatments and vaccines as the pandemic swells. Remdesivir will be sold for $520 per vial, or $3,120 per treatment course, to hospitals for treatment of patients with private insurance. The price will be set at $390 per vial, or $2,340 per treatment course, for patients on government-sponsored insurance and for those in other countries with national health care systems.

No Region Safe As Cases Soar Fauci Cautions

The government's top infectious disease expert said last week that the rate of new coronavirus infections could more than double to 100,000 a day if current outbreaks were not contained, warning that the virus's march across the South and the West "puts the entire country at risk."

Colleges Face Rising Revolt By Professors

Thousands of instructors at American colleges and universities have told administrators that they are unwilling to resume in-person classes because of the pandemic. More than three quarter of U.S. colleges and universities have decided that students can return to campus this fall, but they face a growing faculty revolt.

Pushing to Open Schools, a Group of Pediatricians See Other Risks at Play

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a reputation as conservative and cautious, but the academy made a splash with advice about reopening schools that appears to be somewhat at odds with what administrators are hearing from some federal and state health officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that remote learning is the safest option. However, the AAP's guidelines strongly recommend that students be "physically present in school" as much as possible, and emphasize that there are major health, social, and educational risks to keeping children at home.

Public Spaces Help Define the City. Now the City Must Redefine Them.

The rigorous social distancing that has beaten back the coronavirus is being put to its biggest test yet as New York City eases restrictions after a 3-month shutdown. Though still far from normal, empty streets and sidewalks are starting to fill with commuters, plazas are getting visitors, and playgrounds are bustling with children. The pandemic has created new challenges for public places that are, by design, meant to be shared by everyone, and are central to cities like New York, where limited spaces forces people together. While these spaces have made the city more vibrant, they also draw crowds that now make them a public health threat. City and state officials face additional hurdles as offices start reopening, bringing out thousands more workers, and as outdoor service begins at hard-hit restaurants that are often squeezed into tight spaces. With little official guidance from the city on public spaces beyond streets and outdoor dining, many business and community groups have been left to figure out how to keep people safe.

It Took Subpoenas for 8 Partygoers to Work With Investigators in New York Suburb Case

Public health officials in Rockland County, New York, issued subpoenas with expensive fines attached to force people connected to a coronavirus cluster to speak with contact tracers. County officials issued the subpoenas after the party-goers, all young adults in their 20s, attended a large party in Clarkstown on June 17th.

Houston Surge Fills Hospitals With the Young

While physicians and nurses at Memorial Hermann say they're still equipped to handle the surge in cases, ICU beds at the hospital are nearly full and all Texas Medical Center institutions are operating at a "Phase 2" contingency plan to make use of additional beds in overflow areas. Houston isn't yet in a New York-type situation and it is hopeful that the largest medical complex in the country wouldn't experience a breakdown of the healthcare system. Models predict that the disease will peak in mid-to-late July, almost 2 months after cases began to surge with the reopening of the Texas economy and a busy Memorial Day weekend. Texas has become one of the worst spots in the nation for the spread, and all eyes are on the state and Houston as health and government leaders desperately try to slow the outbreak.

Changing Course, Texas Governor Issues Mask Order, With Few Exceptions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered that face covering must be worn in public across most of the state, a dramatic ramp up of the Republican's efforts to control spiking numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Abbott, who had pushed Texas' aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear marks. His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local government to enforce mask requirements. However, now faced with dramatically rising numbers of both newly confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and the number of patients so sick they needed to be hospitalized, Abbott changed course with new mask orders. They require "all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions.

California Takes U-Turn With Orders for Closures

Exactly 2 months after shelter-in-place orders were enacted, officials in Los Angeles County announced that they were trying to "fast-track" plans to reopen the economy by July 4th. Now they're taking a sharp U-turn, after Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials said 19 counties--including Los Angeles and about 72% of the state's population--must immediately re-close dine-in restaurants and bars just before the 4th of July weekend. Those sectors must remain closed in those countries for another 3 weeks, and the order is subject to further extension.

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