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, and General News:
Judge Rejects Harvey Weinstein Settlement Related to Numerous Civil Cases
A federal judge rejected Weinstein's $19 million settlement, questioning whether the women involved in the proposed agreement constituted a legal class given their varied experiences and interactions with Weinstein. One of the terms would pay out $12 million toward Weinstein's legal fees; the judge called the idea of Weinstein getting a defense fund ahead of the claimants "obnoxious."
Disney World Opens Its Gates Despite Surging Cases of the Coronavirus
The Florida resort reopened last week, likely facing considerable costs to provide employees with protective gear, set up hand-sanitizing stations, and install plexiglass partitions to prove it could operate safely. According to the New York Times, media coverage on opening day was tightly managed; a marketing video posted to Twitter became a target for criticism and parody and was removed by the company.
University of Texas at Austin Will Not Drop Song with Racist History
The university announced that "The Eyes of Texas" will remain a campus anthem and that the school can "reclaim and redefine what this song stands for by first owning and acknowledging its history in a way that is open and transparent." The song was sung at minstrel shows and was inspired, in part, by the words of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The school said that it would take action on other things, like rename a building named after a racist professor and commission a monument to its first Black undergraduates.
Hollywood Noticeably Silent on Facebook Advertising Boycott
The film industry is a big advertiser on Facebook but has been largely silent on the issue even as other industries (such as news media, banking, and travel) boycott Facebook over its handling of hate speech and other questionable content on its platform.
Billboard Changes Rules on How Bundled Ticket-and-Album Sales Count Toward Chart Placement
Artists who included their new albums as a redeemable bonus with purchase of concert tickets have typically had those numbers counted toward their Billboard chart placements. Billboard is now tweaking the rules that apply to these bundles, stating that if albums are sold with merchandise and concert tickets, the music must be promoted as an explicit add-on and needs to cost at least $3.49 to count on the chart. The policy will go into effect this fall.
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Reviewing Staff Complaints of Racism
Signatories of a letter addressed to Smithsonian leadership expressed outrage that the National Museum of African Art "has recruited, retained and promoted a predominantly white staff" and accused leadership of turning a blind eye to the culture of racism there. Lonnie G. Bunch III, the first Black secretary of the Smithsonian said he is reviewing the complaints and that concerns about racism has informed his decision to appoint a Black administrator as interim director of the museum.
Conflict of Interest at the Detroit Institute of Arts
A whistleblower complaint filed with the Internal Revenue Service and the Michigan attorney general says that the museum director violated conflict of interest rules that prevent self-dealing when he hung his in-laws' El Greco painting at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Employees say that the lack of transparency could financially benefit the director and his family, since exhibiting the painting could increase its value. The director says that he followed the museum's loan procedures, as approved by its board. Ethics experts say that if the work is ultimately sold, the loan would give rise to the appearance of impropriety, since the museum used its resources to enrich the official.
Marano v The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Southern District of New York dismissed on an order to show cause in the copyright suit brought by a photographer against the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The court held that the use of a photograph of Van Halen on the museum's website in connection with a rock music exhibition constituted fair use because it was being used in a scholarly context.
Mary Trump's Book Cleared for Publication
A New York judge ruled that the president's niece, Mary Trump, could go ahead with the publication of her tell-all memoir. The president's younger brother sought to stop the author and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, from releasing it, arguing that a confidentiality agreement signed by the author prohibited her from revealing family secrets. The judge ruled that the secrecy provision was narrow and only covered disagreements about the estate matters that were settled when the agreement was signed.
Publishing Industry in a Rare Moment of Transformation
A recent wave of deaths, retirements, and executive reshuffling has led to new and more diverse leadership in the publishing industry, which now has the opportunity to change its culture, recruit new authors and editorial talent, and diversify both its workforce and the titles it acquires.
Opera Can No Longer Ignore its Race Problem
The article tracks recent discussions by Black opera singers about the issue of representation in the industry and about the opportunity to reform opera's culture as the industry rebuilds itself post-coronavirus closures.
Washington Town Takes Tough Stance on Chalk Drawings of "Black Lives Matter"
Selah, Washington residents have been warned by police that they would be charged with a crime for drawing chalk art on public sidewalks, with the city using pressure washers to remove the messages. There is a history of this type of action in Washington state, as officials rely on the "malicious mischief" law that prohibits writing on public buildings to press charges. However, a federal judge previously ruled that the law does not directly address public walkways.
Yielding to Pressure from Corporate Sponsors, Washington Redskins Will Drop Team Name
Following its annual general meeting, the National Football League (NFL) team announced that it will be retiring the "Redskins" logo and name. The team has faced criticism for decades for retaining a name that has long been considered a racial slur. The decision came after pressure from major corporate sponsors, including FedEx, which threatened to end its naming rights sponsorship of the team's stadium.
Sprawling Accusations of Sexual Harassment and Toxic Workplace Culture Against Washington NFL Team
More than a dozen women allege sexual harassment and verbal abuse by former executives and football personnel of the Washington Redskins. They allege that male executives commented on their appearances, sent them inappropriate text messages, and pursued unwanted relationships. They also say that the team's understaffed human resources department was incapable of proper oversight. Washington D.C.-based lawyer Beth Wilkinson has been hired by the team to conduct an "independent review of the team's culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct."
Diversity and inclusion advocates say that experiences of sexual harassment within NFL franchises will continue to be all too common if the league does not address its workplace culture and toxic relationship with women by installing mechanism to report harassment and abuse, as an example.
The Process of Rebranding for Professional Franchises
The article recounts the experience of other professional teams who have undertaken a rebranding process, including that of the National Basketball Associations's Washington Bullets in 1995, which owner rebranded the team voluntarily and independent of a new acquisition or relocation (it was done so out of concern for the gun violence that affected Washington communities at that time). The team solicited input from the public at two different junctures - it first ran a renaming contest that yielded 3,000 submissions; of those, five were selected and put to a public vote, but the decision ultimately rested with the team owner, Abe Pollin. Pollin's first choice, the Washington Monuments, was rejected because of trademark issues and the team landed on the Wizards. The article also notes that altering a team's identity has obvious implications for logos, trademarks, and merchandising, and points out that the NFL has a creative service division that helps teams with branding.
Two Former NFL Players Sue the League and Union Over Cuts in Disability Payments
The players are challenging terms of the latest collective bargaining agreement *CBA), which reduced disability payments received by as many as 400 former players by tens of thousands of dollars a year. Starting in January 2021, the $138,000/year that the players currently receive will be reduced by the value of their Social Security disability benefits. The players contend that the language in the CBA was altered after it was signed, to the detriment of former players on disability.
Saquon Barkley Renegotiated Nike Deal Ahead of New Product Line
Right before launching his own apparel and footwear line, Giants running back Saquon Barkley renegotiated a four-year $25-million contract with Nike (the largest amount guaranteed to a player on a renegotiation while under contract). The terms reportedly include a 5% merchandise royalty rate, "twice the industry standard," ownership of all his created intellectual property, and more significantly, permission to work with another company to develop and wear an alternate branded product.
Women's National Basketball Association Denies Elena Delle Donne's Opt-out Request
Delle Donne's request for a medical exemption from playing in the 2020 season was denied by Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) physicians. Donne's personal physician advised her not to play, citing increased risk of contracting and suffering complications from COVID-19. Her request was denied by a panel of doctors jointly selected by the WNBA and the players' union. The waiver would have allowed Donne to sit out the season with pay. In an essay for The Players' Tribune, the WNBA star wrote about the lengths she has gone through to keep herself healthy as she battles Lyme disease.
Major League Soccer Delaying Timelines for Several Expansion Franchises Due to COVID-19
Major League Soccer (MLS0 is postponing the inaugural seasons of three expansion clubs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on stadium construction and business operations. Austin FC will enter MLS in 2021, as originally planned, but Charlotte will now enter the league in 2022 instead of 2021. Sacramento and St. Louis' entries are also being pushed back to 2023.
Female Athletes and Parenting in the Bubble
Certain leagues, including professional soccer, have taken steps to make it easier on female athletes to take care of their children while living in so-called bubble environments now that some sports have resumed play. Some women's leagues have arranged for caregivers at their sites and put in place special testing protocols for young children. It is a stark contract to the world of men's professional sports, where children and families are not allowed, partly due to concerns over the size of the operation and its costs - but also a reflection of societal values treating child-rearing as a woman's responsibility.
Arkansas Racing Commission Suspend Trainer After 15 Horses Test Positive for Banned Substance
Trainer Bob Baffert was suspended for 15 days and two of his horses were disqualified from races they won after testing positive for lidocaine. The rules state that a trainer is ultimately responsible for the condition of the horse regardless of any third party involvement.
National Collegiate Athletic Association Announces Testing Guidelines
While the prospect of a fall sports season looks grim, the recommendations were issued in an effort to add uniformity to virus testing protocols and response procedures. They were developed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA's) COVID-19 Advisory Panel and a number of other medical groups, and consist of the following requirements: individuals with high-risk exposure must be quarantined for 14 days; test results should be obtained within 72 hours of competition for athletes in high-contact sports; face shields should be integrated when feasible; and marks should be worn by everyone on the sideline.
Canadian Football League Team to Change Name from Eskimos
The Edmonton Eskimos announced that the team will be changing its name. Canadian Football League sponsors had recently expressed a desire to see such a change. Insurance company Bel Air Direct had threatened to drop its sponsorship if a name change did not occur.
Toronto Blue Jays Denied Federal Government Approval to Play Home Games in Toronto
The federal government cited health and safety of Canadians in denying Major League Baseball (MLB) a cross-border travel exemption. Municipal and provincial health authorities had previously approved the Jays' return to Toronto for preseason training, as long as staff remained isolated within the Rogers Center and adjacent facilities. The federal government distinguished regular season games, which would require repeated cross-border travel of players and staff, as well as opponent teams in and out of Canada. The team is said to be in the process of finalizing a home location for the 2020 season, which could be Buffalo or its training facility in Dunedin, Florida.
International Olympic Committee President Confirms Run for Re-Election
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, who began his tenure in 2013, will seek re-election next year. If re-elected, IOC rules will limit him to a second eight-year term. The Beijing Winter Olympics scheduled for February 2022 will be a potential test of Bach's second term, as China's human rights record is an expected target ahead of those Games. Bach recently warned against Olympic boycotts, saying that they only punish the athletes of the boycotting country.
World Surf League Cancels 2020 Season
The sport's governing body has cancelled the 2020 World Championship Tour this year and is planning an early start to the 2021 tour in case the pandemic continues to cause scheduling changes going forward.
Prominent Twitter Users Hacked in Bitcoin Scam, and the Hackers Tell the Story of the Twitter Attack from the Inside
High-profile Twitter users had their accounts hacked lacked week. The hackers posted similar messages on Twitter, asking users to send Bitcoin and promised that the famous people would send back double their money. The scam targeted the accounts of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates, among others. Twitter's investigation revealed that several of its employees with access to internal systems had their accounts compromised. The hackers then used the internal systems to tweet from the accounts.
Although the investigation is still in its early stages, the New York Times reports that four young hackers were behind the security breach after being put in touch with them by a security researcher in California and seeing corroborating evidence of their involvement.
ESPN Employees Say Racism Endures Behind the Camera
The nationwide conversation over systemic racism and equality has not spared ESPN. In recent meetings with leadership, Black employees have been speaking out about the everyday racism and barriers that undermine career advancement at ESPN. Despite the company acknowledging hiring shortfalls and changing its approach to covering racial unrest among athletes, "employees expressed mixed opinions about the prospect for change."
ViacomCBS Fires Nick Cannon, Citing Anti-Semitic Podcast Remarks
The network said that Cannon had promoted hateful speech on an episode of Cannon's Class, his YouTube podcast, in which he discussed conspiracy theories about Jewish people and said it was a shame that Louis Farrakhan, a minister known for his anti-Semitic comments, had been silenced on Facebook.
USA Today Says Op-Ed Critical of Anthony Fauci Fell Short of Standards
The editorial page editor of USA Today wrote that aspects of White House trade advisor Peter Navarro's article, in which he criticized Anthony Fauci as "being wrong on everything," "were misleading or lacked context" and did not meet the paper's fact-checking standards. In the article, Navarro was critical of Fauci's stance on masks and his position on the risks of the coronavirus.
Chatham Hedge Fund Has Winning Bid for Newspaper Publisher McClatchy
Newspaper publisher McClatchy Company announced that it expects to be bought by hedge fund Chatham Asset Management, the owner of The National Enquirer, following a bankruptcy sale. The sale marks the end of 163 years of family ownership and shows the growing influence of the finance industry on American newspapers.
New York Times Will Move Part of Hong Kong Office to Seoul
The move comes after a sweeping national security law passed by China "unsettled news organizations and created uncertainty about the city's prospects as a hub for journalism in Asia." Some employees have had difficulties securing work permits and the paper felt that it needed an additional base of operations in the region.
European Union Court Nullifies U.S. Data-Sharing Agreement
The Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) declared the Privacy Shield agreement between the U.S. and EU invalid over concerns with U.S. surveillance laws and consumer data access for national security reasons. The decision could require EU regulators to vet businesses' data transfers to the U.S. to ensure that Europeans' personal information is protected in accordance with EU standards.
Britain's BBC Announces More Job Cuts
British broadcaster BBC announced it will cut 520 jobs in its news operation, 70 more than originally announced.
United Kingdom Bans Huawei from 5G Network
The United Kingdom (UK) banned the use of the Chinese tech giant's equipment in its high-speed wireless network, reversing an earlier decision that said it could use the equipment only on a limited basis. The UK seems to share the concern of other western states that Huawei's close ties to the Chinese government make its equipment vulnerable for state use and espionage.
Supreme Court Allows Florida to Limit Voting by Former Felons
The decision permits Florida to bar people with felony convictions from voting if they have not paid court fines and fees. The dissenting judges said that the order "continues a trend of condoning disenfranchisement" by preventing "eligible voters from participating in Florida's primary election simply because they are poor." The state's Constitution, amended in 2018, ended disenfranchisement of people convicted of felonies (with the exception of murder and rape), "upon completion of all terms of sentence, including parole or probation." The legislature subsequently enacted a law that defined these "terms" to include payment of fines, restitution, costs, and fees.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says Her Cancer Has Returned
Justice Ginsburg said that she is once again receiving chemotherapy but has no plans to retire from the Supreme Court and remains fully able to "do the job full steam." Justice Ginsburg recently underwent a gallbladder procedure and participated in oral arguments from the hospital.
17 States Sue Federal Government Over Student Visa Rules; Government Rescinds Plan
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia joined some of America's top universities in challenging the Trump administration's effort to force foreign college students to take in-person classes or lose their visas. Earlier this year, the government allowed foreign students to take more online classes and the universities argued that as the state of emergency remains in effect, so too should the waived visa rules. Following broad pushback, the administration then announced that it would no longer require foreign students to attend in-person classes during the pandemic in order to remain in the country.
Asylum Officers Condemn Trump Administration's Overhaul of the Asylum System
The union representing federal asylum officers commented on the proposed regulation by saying that it would effectively deny migrants the right to have their claims of fear or persecution assessed. The proposal put forward by the Trump administration last month raises the standard that migrants would have to meet to show they have a claim for protection. Applicants would not be entitled to a full hearing and officers would have expanded authority to declare applications "frivolous."
States Sue Education Department for Revising Rules on Fraud
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia sued the Department of Education over new rules for a program meant to wipe out the student loan debt of borrowers whose schools defrauded them. They argue that the new standards are impossible for students to meet and favor the interests of predatory schools over those of students. Under the new rules, each borrower must pursue relief individually after the group-discharge process was eliminated. The policy also requires students to prove that the school had knowingly lied to them and the deception caused them financial harm.
President Raises New Objections to Subpoena Seeking His Tax Returns
Despite the Supreme Court's decision clearing the way for the Manhattan district attorney to seek the president's tax returns, his lawyers plan to argue in federal court that the subpoena seeking eight years of corporate and personal tax returns is too broad and politically motivated. While the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the subpoena was invalid because a sitting president could not be criminally investigated, Trump's lawyers say the decision allows the president to raise other objections, including that the subpoena was "motivated by a desire to harass or is conducted in bad faith."
The Manhattan district attorney's office told the federal judge that the president is purposely dragging out the court battle in an attempt to shield himself from investigation. The longer the dispute goes on, the higher the chance that the statute of limitations would expire for any possible crimes he may have committed.
Government Carries Out First Federal Execution in 17 Years; Two Others Follow
After a 17-year hiatus, the Justice Department carried out three executions in the last week. A federal judge had issued an injunction delaying the executions, but in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government's single-drug execution protocol was constitutional and did not breach the ban on "cruel and unusual" punishment. The Supreme Court also issued another 5-4 decision vacating a preliminary injunction in a case involving issues around the mental competency of one of the prisoners.
White House Continues Flouting Ethical Norms
Government ethics experts say that recent photographs of the president and his daughter with Goya Foods products are examples of an administration less concerned about the norms and laws governing political activity and one that disregards traditional boundaries between official business and campaign activity. There have also been questions about the president's White House activities, including his Rose Garden news conferences, which are "increasingly devoid of policy and filled with attacks on the 'radical left' and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee," Joe Biden.
Pentagon Bans Confederate Flag
The Pentagon announced a policy that has the effect of banning displays of the Confederate flag on military installations worldwide. The policy lists the types of flag that are allowed to appear on bases and includes flag of American states and territories, military services, and other countries that are allies of the U.S. The Confederate flag does not fit in any of the approved categories.
Democrats Are Downsizing Their August Convention
Next month's Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee has been scaled back dramatically and is expected to include as few as 300 people, compared to the 50,000 people originally expected to be in attendance. Most of the program will involve pre-taped videos and air for approximately three hours each night.
Banks Ask Federal Housing Officials Not to Weaken Anti-Discrimination Rule
Executives from the country's four biggest banks have asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development to delay changes to a regulation meant to curb racial discrimination in the mortgage business. "The proposed change would spare the banks from fines and legal fees by reducing the number of lawsuits and government enforcement actions against them."
Black Business Owners Had a Harder Time Getting Federal Aid
A new study finds that white bank customers generally got better treatment at banks when they requested loans under the Paycheck Protection Program as compared to their Black counterparts. The non-profit running the study sent "mystery shoppers" to 17 Washington-area banks, each with similar credit and asset characteristics. In 43% of the tests, the Black borrowers were offered different products and treated significantly worse by employees than white borrowers.
George Soros's Foundation Invests $220 Million in Racial Justice Organizations
$150 million of that amount will go to Black-led racial justice groups. Another $70 million will go toward local grants supporting policing and criminal justice reform by paying for political training, internships, and other opportunities for civic engagement.
New Data Shows Extraordinary Rise in U.S. Coastal Flooding
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said rising seas are bringing record levels of flooding further into coastal homes and infrastructure. In some areas, the frequency of flooding has grown fivefold in the last 20 years, damaging homes and impacting the safety of drinking water.
Police Body Camera Footage Released in George Floyd Case
The footage was made available for viewing at a courthouse in Minneapolis. Reporters with knowledge of the video describe George Floyd as being visibly shaken and never appearing to present a physical threat to the officers.
After 99 Years, Tulsans Are Unearthing the Hushed History of a Massacre
The article provides different sources of background into the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, where white mobs committed murder, arson, and looted businesses in the prosperous African-American community of Greenwood.
Jeff Sessions Loses Alabama Senate Race
Jeff Sessions ran for the Senate seat he held before being appointed as Attorney General by President Trump. He lost the Republican primary to former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, who had Trump's support throughout the race.
Jamaal Bowman Defeats 16-Term Incumbent Eliot Engel in New York's 16th Congressional District
Progressive candidate Jamaal Bowman defeated Representative Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary for New York's 16th Congressional District. Bowman, a middle school principal from Yonkers, ran on an anti-establishment message and defeated Engel, who had the support of Hillary Clinton, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Governor Cuomo.
Trump Taking on Michigan Leaders on Voting Rights and the Coronavirus
President Trump has targeted three of Michigan's female leaders - the governor, the attorney general, and the secretary of state, on issues with implications for the 2020 election. For example, the president has taken aim at Governor Whitmer's mission to expand voting rights by way of absentee ballots in a state where his 2016 winning margin was the narrowest in the country.
Federal Agents Deployed to Protests in Portland, Oregon
Protesters were met with a militarized response in Portland after federal officers were deployed, using tear gas and shooting projectiles into crowds. In an internal memo obtained by the New York Times, the federal agents "were not specifically trained in riot control or mass demonstrations."
Asheville, North Carolina Approves Reparations for Black Residents
The city of Asheville, North Carolina apologized for its participation in and sanctioning of slavery and passed a measure that would provide funding to promote home ownership and business and career opportunities for Black residents.
NASA Scientist Jailed in Turkey for Three Years Recounts His Ordeal
Serkan Golge was arrested in Turkey in 2016 based on evidence that allegedly linked him to the CIA and to a failed coup on President Erdogan. He returned to Houston in June after spending three years in solitary confinement and is recounting his experience with Turkey's justice system.
Germany's Constitutional Court Rules That Police Have Too Much Access to People's Data
Despite having some of the strictest personal privacy laws in the world, the German Constitutional Court found that police and intelligence agencies in the country have excessive access to people's mobile and internet communications. While police can currently obtain someone's personal data from telecom providers, the new standard is that there must be concrete evidence linking an individual to a specific crime before police are granted access to the digital information.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Stripped of Data Function
There is long-standing frustration within the Trump administration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its ability to collect and propagate data, with the CDC recently announcing that it would not be able to provide age breakdowns in people hospitalized with the virus until the end of August. Hospitals have now been ordered to bypass the CDC and send all patient information data to a centralized database in Washington D.C. instead. This would include daily reports of how many patients each hospital is treating as well as bed and ventilator availability. When reached for comment, a Health and Human Services Department spokesman said the CDC was directed to make the data availa