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Week In Review

By Eric Lanter Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Producer Takes Academy to Task in Lawsuit

Producer Michael Shamberg has filed an action in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, claiming that the Academy "did not adhere to its rules when its 54-member board declined to vote on bylaw amendments" that Shamberg proposed. He ran for a board seat in June, which was unsuccessful, and he then "publicly admonished the organization, a rarity for a member of the Hollywood establishment."

A Rare Look Inside Trump's Immigration Crackdown Draws Legal Threats

A documentary "peers inside the secretive world of immigration enforcement," and filmmakers "faced demands to delete scenes and delay broadcast until after the election." The Trump administration has "fought mightily to keep it from being released until after the 2020 election," including threats of legal action and seeking "to block parts of it from seeing the light of day."

Clint Eastwood Sues, Says He Has Nothing to Do With CBD Products

Clint Eastwood has filed two lawsuits against retailers alleging that "they falsely claimed he had endorsed their goods." In the filing, it states, "Mr. Eastwood has no connection of any kind whatsoever to any CBD products and never gave such an interview" after it came to light that three CBD manufacturers posted articles "falsely claiming that he endorsed CBD products and 10 online retailers whom he alleged had manipulated search results to make it look like he had done so."

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's Courtroom Face-Off: An Explainer

Johnny Depp sued the owners of The Sun, a British tabloid, and its editor, for libel in relation to an article that deemed Depp a "wife beater" and said that there was "overwhelming evidence" of his assaulting his wife, actress Amber Heard. He has denied all of the claims, and the newspaper has maintained that the statements were "entirely accurate and true." Both actors have testified, and under English law, the burden is placed on the publisher to establish that it was not libelous in its publication.


5Pointz Graffiti Art Case Affords Supreme Court Opportunity to Interpret Rarely Tested Copyright Law

G&M Realty, a real estate development company, has asked the Supreme Court to reverse a $6.75 million damages award that the Eastern District of New York entered in favor of the group of graffiti artists who had turned the 5Pointz warehouse "into an exhibition space for artists." G&M Realty had, "without warning, whitewashed the artists' work, which had been displayed" on the warehouses known as 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens. The graffiti artists sued under the Visual Artists Rights Act, "a rarely litigated copyright law," to prevent destruction of the site, and that law affords authors "additional rights in the works, regardless of any subsequent physical ownership of the work itself or who holds the copyright to the work."

A Rush to Use Black Art Leaves the Artists Feeling Used

With protests around the country creating momentum for hiring people of color in creative professions, many black creative professionals now "say they have been used to lend legitimacy to diversity campaigns while being underpaid and pigeonholed." Many have reported that while "major companies" have publicly supported the protests "against racism and police brutality," those companies' efforts "have rung hollow" as they failed to "live up to principles of diversity and inclusion."

Marciano Foundation Settles Lawsuit Over Layoffs

In Los Angeles, the Marciano Foundation announced that it settled a lawsuit that had alleged that the foundation "broke the law by laying off 70 part-time employees." The dismissals came in November, and the union filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board "seeking to represent docents and visitor services employees at the privately owned museum." The settlement will provide the affected workers with approximately 10 weeks of pay, according to the lawyer that represented them.

Southern District of New York Decides Photographer's Case Against Mashable

The Southern District of New York granted photographer Stephanie Sinclar's motion for reconsideration and reversed its prior grant of the motion to dismiss as to defendant Mashable. The court maintained its dismissal as to Ziff Davis for failure to state a claim and found that its prior decision "did not give full force to the requirement that a license must convey the licensor's 'explicit consent' to use a copyrighted work."

House Votes to Remove Confederate Statues From U.S. Capitol

In a bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives voted "to banish the statues from display" in the "latest step in a nationwide push to remove historical symbols of racism and oppression from public places." The vote, 305 to 113, came one month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered "that the portraits of four speakers who served the Confederacy be removed from the ornate hall just outside the House chamber."

Opera Foundation Removes Trustee Over Offensive Comments

The Richard Tucker Music Foundation has removed Richard Tucker's son from the board following offensive comments posted on a singer's Facebook page in reference to protestors in Portland: "Good. Get rid of these thugs and I don't care where you send them. They are a Pox on our society." He also wrote, "About time someone tough will try to crush the mob before they destroy and kill more innocent people. Bravo to Trump to send in Federal troops."

Ailey II Drops Director, Citing 'Inappropriate' Communications

Troy Powell, the leader of the Ailey II, the junior troupe of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, was fired following "an inquiry by an outside investigator hired by the organization." The inquiry concluded that Powell had "inappropriate communications" with adult students in the company's training program, according to the company's statement.

Michael Cohen Claims in Suit That He Was Imprisoned to Stop Trump Book

A federal judge ruled that "federal officials had returned Michael D. Cohen to prison because he wanted to publish a book this fall about President Trump." When probation officers presented him with paperwork that "would have barred him from publishing a book during the rest of his sentence," he balked and returned to prison as he is planning to release a "tell-all memoir about his former" client, the president.

Demolition of Historic Vietnam Cathedral Is Underway

In Vietnam, demolition is underway on the historic Bui Chu Cathedral, "a 135-year-old church considered by many an architectural gem." Efforts to save the cathedral failed in the weeks leading up to the planned demolition, and it has been announced that following the demolition, which will be completed in early August, there will be a bigger cathedral erected in its place.

Firing of Museum Director Stirs Debate and an Official Inquiry

Quebec's government is investigating the termination of Nathalie Bondil, the head of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for years and its first female director. The debate "over why she was let go has led to such confusion and rancor that the government has stepped in to investigate" as the museum announced it had terminated her contract effective immediately after an investigation.

Erdogan Fulfills Cherished Goal, Opening Hagia Sophia to Prayers

To the dismay of architectural conservators, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has succeeded in transforming the historic Hagia Sophia as a working mosque. The sixth century structure had been the world's largest cathedral, but Friday brought the first Muslim prayer manifesting the president's "long-stated desire to restore the historic" structure "as a working mosque."


Prominent U.S. Figure Skating Coach Accused of Sex Abuse in Lawsuit

A prominent coach, Craig Maurizi, has filed an action in Buffalo against Richard Callaghan, who coached Tara Lipinski to Olympic gold in 1998, and accused him of sexual abuse. He also alleged that the national governing body was liable for knowing of the sexual abuse and not taking sufficient action to stop the abuse. Last August, the U.S. Center for SafeSport barred Callaghan from figure skating, and four male skaters have publicly accused him of improper behavior during the 1990s and early 2000s.

New Women's Soccer Team, Founded by Women, Will Press for Equal Pay

The National Women's Soccer League continues to expand and has gained the support of figures in tech and finance as well as stars Serena Williams, Mia Hamm, and Abby Wambach. The League plans to add a team in Louisville next year and a second team in 2022 that will be based in Los Angeles.

More Resignations but No Sign Yet of a Change in Gaming Culture

A "stream of reports of sexual harassment and assault in the gaming industry" began in June and has continued with women and men coming forward "with accusations of mistreatment." However, despite those reports, "gaming experts say they are hesitant to call the moment an inflection point", as there have been such moments before and those were not followed by systemic change.

Juan Soto's Positive Test Casts Shadow on Yankees-Nationals Opener as Baseball Returns

Baseball is back, and it has looked different as "players and coaches knelt before the national anthem, and teams played a message of unity at the first two games of the 2020 season." Major League Baseball (MLB) had separated itself from other major leagues such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA), and National Football League (NFL), where players had "been demonstrating before and during the national anthem for years."

Senators Say NCAA Needs Broad Reform

The president of the NCAA has said that he doesn't believe the NCAA should be the sole entity enforcing name, image, and likeness rules, and after appealing for a federal policy addressing the issue, senators have criticized "the organization's handling of amateurism rules and the return of sports amid the pandemic." Florida, California, and Colorado have passed laws that touch on allowing college athletes "to make money through sponsorships and by promoting themselves," and similar laws are being considered in 28 other states, but it remains unclear whether there will be a federal policy (rather than a patchwork of state laws) that clarify the issue.

Washington's NFL Team Will Retire Its Logo and Adopt a Temporary New Name

In the short term, Washington's NFL team will bear the name Washington Football Team. The team dropped its mascot, the Redskins, after having used it for nearly 90 years, and the team announced that it will "roll out an aesthetic that would reflect the direction of the new franchise" as it changes.

The WNBA Is Out to Reclaim 'Tremendous Momentum' in New Season

With a "dramatic free agency period, a new collective bargaining agreement, and a leading voice on social justice", the WNBA is set to start its season and have its players "capture the spotlight". The new collective bargaining agreement allows "the average WNBA players to earn six figures for the first time, including base salary and incentives", which may help to alleviate the common practice of players competing "year-round by going overseas in the off-season to make additional money."

Trump's Request of an Ambassador: Get the British Open for Me

Robert Wood Johnson IV, the ambassador to Britain, is facing scrutiny after it emerged that the pharmaceutical heir and NFL team owner had received instruction from President Trump to secure the British Open for the Trump golf course located in Scotland. While President Trump has denied asking Johnson to lobby the British government for the Open, an aide to Johnson has said that Johnson attempted to and may have contacted members in the British government to have the Open moved.


Two Women Sue Fox News, Claiming Misconduct by Ed Henry and Others

Cathy Areu and Jennifer Eckhart have sued Fox News and claimed that an anchor, Ed Henry, and others engaged in misconduct. Areu described exchanges with other anchors, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Howard Kurtz, having the nature of being "inappropriate and sexually charged" whereas Eckhart alleged that Henry "had coerced her into a sexual relationship by promising to advance her career."

Disney Cuts Ties With ABC News Executive Over 'Racially Insensitive' Remarks

ABC News executive Barbara Fedida left the company "after an investigation supported complaints about her workplace comments." She held the position of senior vice president of talent relations and business affairs and allegedly made "insensitive statements, including racist comments, at work."

Big Tech Has a Big Climate Problem, and Now It Is Being Forced to Clean Up

Apple announced this week that it would be "carbon-neutral by 2030, making it the latest tech giant to ramp up voluntary climate targets." Microsoft and Amazon have also "announced plans to reduce their climate footprints."

Social Media Grapples with Anti-Asian Harassment and QAnon

A public service announcement premiered last week, informing viewers that "Asian-Americans are facing a surge of harassment linked to fears about the coronavirus pandemic." Twitter has had to grapple with QAnon accounts as the movement has spread its messages and "conspiracy theories," and Twitter has removed thousands of accounts for spreading messages that "lead to harm and violated Twitter policy."

Hearst Employees Say Magazine Boss Led Toxic Culture

Troy Young, the head of Hearst Magazines, resigned following a report that he "had made lewd, sexist remarks at work." He joined Hearst in 2013 as the head of digital media and rose to the president's office in the company, but resigned following the revelation that he emailed pornography and made lewd comments in the office.

Washington Post Settles Lawsuit With Student in Viral Protest Video

The Washington Post settled a defamation lawsuit related to its coverage of a Kentucky teenager's encounter with a Native American protestor in Washington, DC. The terms were not disclosed, but a spokeswoman for the Post said, "We are pleased that we have been able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the remaining claims in this lawsuit."

At Wall Street Journal, News Staff and Opinion Side Clash

A rare moment occurred at the Wall Street Journal: the public caught a glimpse of the "internal strife" between the newspaper's opinion section and its newsroom. The opinion department published "a tersely worded note to readers just days after it found itself on the receiving end of a sharply worded critique signed by hundreds of newsroom employees." The newsroom's criticism consisted of the opinion desk having a "lack of fact-checking and transparency."

Big Tech Funds a Think Tank Pushing for Fewer Rules. For Big Tech.

A George Mason University institute has taught "a hands-off approach to antitrust regulators and judges," and big tech, including Google, Amazon, and Qualcomm have financed the think tank in an effort to preserve their dominance in their respective industries. Regulators have become cozy with the institute's staff and have attended lavish conferences, but critics have said that the "sessions were more about delivering a clear message to international officials that benefited the companies paying for the event: The best way to foster competition is to maintain a hands-off approach to antitrust law."

Hungary's Independent Press Takes Another Blow and Reporters Quit

The Hungarian government is overseeing a "concentration of control of the media" that resembles "a troubling pattern in Central Europe, where Poland's press also faces pressure following a presidential election." The editor in chief of the most popular news site was fired and dozens of journalists have quit in protest of the government's move to have Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ally take over the most popular site's advertising unit as "part of a broader effort to limit dissenting voices and silence critics."

Slack Accuses Microsoft of Illegally Crushing Competition

Slack filed a complaint in Europe and accused Microsoft of illegally using its market power to crush Slack. Slack has claimed that Microsoft "illegally tied its collaboration software, Microsoft Teams, to its dominant suite of productivity programs, Microsoft Office," which, according to Slack, "is part of a pattern of anticompetitive behavior by Microsoft."

General News

The Americans With Disabilities Act After 30 Years

With the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) turning 30, the New York Times, which called the ADA "the most sweeping anti-discrimination measure since the Civil Rights Act of 1964," is exploring "what it means to live with a disability in America" in a series of articles. Below is a link with those articles.

John Lewis, Towering Figure of Civil Rights Era, Dies at 80

Memorials and remembrances of John Lewis, a towering figure of the civil rights era, have permeated this week. In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, Senator Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor that Lewis was a "monumental figure" who made "huge personal sacrifices to help our nation move past the sin of racism," and that bipartisanship may lead to the renaming of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, "the site of a turning point in the fight for civil rights" that Lewis spearheaded.

Federal Officers Deployed in Portland Didn't Have Proper Training, Said Department of Homeland Security Memo

As President Trump has promised to deploy federal troops to cities throughout the country on the basis that there has been a spike in crime in recent weeks, dramatic scenes have played out in Portland, including federal agents flooding blocks with tear gas. Oregon's attorney general has said that it is "absolutely improper" and "beyond their authority", as the justification for the deployment was to protect federal property, including federal courthouses, and agents were seen moving on protestors at least two blocks from the nearest federal property. Local officials in cities such as Chicago, Albuquerque, and New York have continued to insist that they do not need federal help to control their city's crime rates, and some have said that the deployment of federal troops has itself caused many more protestors to come out into the streets.

Trump's Covid Failures Reshape Race and Lift Biden

President Trump's "cancellation of the convention in Florida and sudden embrace of masks may signal his acceptance of a political landscape transformed by the pandemic." He had attacked Democratic presumptive nominee Joseph Biden for "cowering in the basement in a mask" but last week shows that the president's reality has started to change after sinking polls show him in a precarious position for an incumbent just 100 days before Election Day.

Defying Trump, Lawmakers Move to Strip Military Bases of Confederate Names

In a bipartisan move, Congress has set up an "election-year veto fight with the president" as it considers a bill to rename the military bases bearing the names of Confederate soldiers and officers. The Trump administration has isolated itself on the issue, "even from members of [its] own party who rarely break with [it]," and this particular issue is one that "has come to the forefront of the political debate amid a national outcry for racial justice."

Trump Seeks to Stop Counting Unauthorized Immigrants in Drawing House Districts

The Trump administration has announced that it will stop counting unauthorized immigrants when drawing districts for the House of Representatives, and critics have called the move "unconstitutional and a transparent attempt to help Republicans." The directive "would exclude millions of people when determining how many House seats each state should have based on the once-a-decade census, reversing the longstanding policy of counting everyone regardless of citizenship or legal status."

Trump Administration Is Bypassing Arms Control Pact to Sell Large Armed Drones

The Trump administration has announced "that it would allow the sale of advanced armed drones to other nations and bypass part of an international weapons export control agreement," the Missile Technology Control Regime. The United States helped forge the agreement over 30 years ago, and the agreement prevents its 35 members from taking this action.

President Presses Limits on Transgender Rights Over Supreme Court Ruling

The Trump administration published a rule on Friday "allowing single-sex homeless shelters to exclude transgender people from facilities that correspond with their gender identity", which came at the same time the Supreme Court "extended civil rights protection to transgender people." The administration's new rule "will go into effect after a 60-day comment period," and officials have argued that "it will make women's shelters safer by preventing men from gaining access to abuse or attack women seeking protection."

Watchdog Faults Medicare Agency's Use of Communications Contractors

An inspector general report has concluded that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service "used communications contractors for work that should have been performed by public servants." The three contracts that the Centers used totaled over $6 million and were in place from 2017 to 2019, and those contracts contained "significant deficiencies" and placed contractors in positions where they were managing government employees.

Trump Moves to Roll Back Obama Program Addressing Housing Discrimination

The Trump administration moved "to eliminate an Obama-era program intended to combat racial segregation in suburban housing, saying it amounted to federal overreach into local communities." The rule required "cities and towns to identify patterns of discrimination, implement corrective plans, and report results."

A Timely Case on Police Violence at the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in October "over whether excessive force claims against the police are barred when the people they shoot get away." The Supreme Court refused last month "to hear eight cases on qualified immunity, a doctrine that makes it hard to sue police officers and other officials for misconduct and, as a result, has become a flash point in the nationwide uproar over police brutality."

Trump Administration Continues to Roll Back Environmental Protection as Studies Find Polar Bears May Become Extinct

Scientists said that by the end of the century, polar bears worldwide "could become nearly extinct as a result of shrinking sea ice in the Arctic if climate change continues unabated." The Trump administration has "unilaterally weakened one of the nation's bedrock conservation laws, the National Environmental Policy Act, limiting public review of federal infrastructure projects to speed up the permitting of freeways, power plants, and pipelines." Emails emerged last week that showed the Environmental Protection Agency "rescinded a requirement on methane at the behest of an executive just weeks after President Trump took office." Congress, however, sent a landmark conservation bill to the president, which "for the first time guarantees money for land acquisition and preservation, but conservatives denounced it as a federal land grab."

Tensions Escalate Between China and the U.S.

Tensions further rose between China and the U.S. Researches "found a potential vulnerability in an app that helps power" DJI drones, "highlighting US officials' concerns that Beijing could get access to information about Americans." The U.S. imposed sanctions on 11 Chinese companies over human rights violations, and those companies may affect "suppliers to major international brands such as Apple, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger" and may force companies "to sever some ties to China." The Trump administration accused Chinese citizens of "stealing scientific research and told the country's diplomats in Texas to leave," which prompted retaliation in the same form for American diplomats at an outpost in China.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Unleashes a Viral Condemnation of Sexism in Congress

Following Representative Ted Yoho, a Florida Republican, using "a sexist vulgarity" toward Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), a New York Democrat, AOC took to the House of Representatives' floor "to denounce the abuse faced by women in Congress and across the nation."

Homeland Security Department Admits Making False Statements in Fight With New York

The Department of Homeland Security has admitted that it "made false statements in a bid to justify expelling New York residents from programs that let United States travelers speed through borders and airport lines." The admission was contained in a court filing and undermine the argument that the Trump administration has put forth that "barring New Yorkers from the programs" was related to New Yorkers having laws in place that enabled "undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses."

Sheldon Silver, Former New York State Assembly Speaker, Will Finally Go to Prison

The former New York State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, lost the final attempt to avoid prison and is set to begin his 78-month sentence. He had asked "for home confinement, arguing that he was vulnerable to the coronavirus," but the Southern District of New York denied the request and noted that "his time has come. He needs to go to jail." Albany itself is likely to change in the coming election as those in the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party have found themselves at an advantage in primaries in the state.

Planned Parenthood in New York Disavows Margaret Sanger Over Eugenics

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York has announced that it will "remove the name of Margaret Sanger, a founder of the national organization, from its Manhattan health clinic because of her 'harmful connections to the eugenics movement.'" She was a public health nurse "who opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in Brooklyn in 1916," but she had also supported "eugenics, a discredited belief in improving the human race through selective breeding, often targeted at poor people, those with disabilities, immigrants, and people of color."

Powerful Ohio Republican Is Arrested in $60 Million Corruption Scheme

The Republican House speaker in Ohio, Larry Householder, was arrested in a $60 million corruption scheme. Householder was "connected with a conspiracy to enact a $1.3 billion bailout of an energy company," the FBI announced. The criminal complaint described "a wide-ranging conspiracy in which the energy company helped finance the election of the House speaker, Larry Householder, in 2018," and then "allegedly bankrolled an effort led by Householder to pass a $1.3 billion bill subsidizing two troubled nuclear power plants and a campaign to defeat a 2019 referendum to repeal that bill."

'Anti-Feminist' Lawyer Is Suspect in Killing of Son of Federal Judge in New Jersey

Roy Den Hollander, an "anti-feminist" lawyer, is suspected in the killing of Judge Esther Salas' son in New Jersey. After the shooting, authorities found him "dead in an apparent suicide." He had been known for filing "seemingly frivolous lawsuits that sought to eliminate women's studies programs and prohibit nightclubs from holding 'ladies' nights.'"

Trial Begins in Germany Over Synagogue Attack on Yom Kippur as Trial Ends for Former Nazi Guard

Former Nazi guard Bruno Dey was convicted of 5,230 counts of accessory to murder, one count for each person believed to be killed during the time he served as a guard at Stutthof concentration camp. He was tried in juvenile court, as he was 17 years old at the time when he served as a guard, and the judge gave a two-year suspended sentence, "reflecting the prosecutors' acknowledgement of his contrition and willingness to cooperate with authorities." Survivors and those representing them disagreed with the leniency shown by the judge.

A trial has started in Germany for a young German man who is charged with killing two people last fall "after his plan to blast his way into a synagogue filled with Jews observing Yom Kippur failed." He said to the court this week that he was "inspired by the white supremacist who had killed 51 worshipers at two mosques in New Zealand earlier last year."

Three Decades After Coup, Sudan's Former Ruler Is Held to Account

Following his ouster last year, autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir is facing trial "for his role in the bloodless 1989 coup that toppled the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi." al-Bashir was sentenced last year "to two years imprisonment" for "corruption charges" and faces the death penalty if he is convicted.

Coronavirus News

Coronavirus Pandemic Continues as More Aid is Called For

The coronavirus pandemic has continued and brought the death count in the United States past 145,000, with a total of over 4.2 million cases. While sporting leagues around the country and the world have their plans set to begin and continue their seasons into the pandemic, there remain significant questions as to what aid ordinary Americans will need. Congress has continued to debate a bill that may contain a stimulus comparable to that given to Americans in the spring, and the European Union passed its own additional stimulus package to bolster its economy. Regardless of what bill Congress devises in the coming days and weeks, the end of July means the end of the extra $600 in unemployment benefits for Americans. The pandemic's impact continues to be felt: scientists reported that the shutdowns have led to "the longest and most coherent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history," and landlords have been desperate to evict non-paying tenants, even skirting the CARES Act's prohibition on evictions proceedings. The CDC changed its tone regarding opening schools this fall and called for reopening all schools, but there remains a conflict with state and local municipalities, which insist that they will not reopen their classrooms.

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