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Week In Review

By Angela Peco Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Adult Film Star Ron Jeremy Charged with 13 New Counts of Sexual Assault

The new charges bring the total number of alleged victims to 17.

Venice Film Festival Opens, Defiant but Socially Distant

Venice will host the first major international movie event since the beginning of the pandemic, with strict social distancing and masking measures. Certain seats will be left empty at theaters to facilitate distancing among spectators and the number of screenings has doubled to accommodate smaller crowds.


Theater Operator Sues Insurers That Denied It Coronavirus Payments

Jujamcyn Theaters, which operates five Broadway houses, is suing its insurance provider, claiming that it was wrongfully denied insurance coverage over losses suffered due to the pandemic. The insurance industry has denied a high number of claims for business income loss from all types of nonessential businesses that closed in March, generally using a two-pronged argument: "that its policies never promised this kind of coverage in the first place and that fulfilling all of these requests would bankrupt the industry." In its lawsuit, Jujamcyn argues that the pandemic did cause "direct physical loss or damage," which is needed to trigger payments, because the virus can adhere to surfaces and linger in buildings (even though there was no traditional building damage or shut down of the surrounding area by a civil authority).

2020 Art Basel Miami Beach is Cancelled

This year's event is being cancelled, with organizers citing coronavirus conditions in South Florida as the main reason for their decision.

Actress Leaves the Actors' Union to Play Othello

Actor Jessika Williams has left Actors' Equity, the labor union representing performers and stage managers, in order to play the title role in "Othello". The union has barred its members from in-person performances (except for some performances in New England, where rates of infection are low). Williams and several other actors have signed a "isolation covenant" while working at the American Shakespeare Center in Virginia.

President Trump Ended 2018 France Trip Having Art Loaded on Air Force One

President Trump returned to the U.S. with a few pieces of art from the American ambassador's residence, including a painting, bust, and figurines, which are now on display at the White House. The art is reportedly worth about $750,000 and because it was U.S. government property, the move was deemed legal.

Banksy-Funded Rescue Vessel Evacuated After Distress Call

Nearly 150 migrants were rescued off a ship funded by the artist Banksy and moved to a humanitarian ship patrolling the Mediterranean. The vessel had too many people on board and could no longer steer.


Congress Looks into Bias Claims in National Football League Concussion Settlement

Lawmakers are asking the National Football League (NFL) to explain the race-based benchmarks used in the landmark concussion settlement to determine whether retired football players suffering from dementia were eligible for payouts. The four senators have asked the NFL to outline what efforts it made to reduce any "embedded biases in the data" as players themselves ask the judge overseeing the settlement to have their neurocognitive exams recalculated using race-neutral scales and other metrics like education and age, to put them on an even footing with white players.

National Basketball Association's Head Coaching Diversity Under Scrutiny

The Brooklyn Nets' hiring of Steve Nash has once again raised questions about coaching diversity in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Nash is a two-time Most Valuable Player, but a newcomer to the coaching world, even though he has worked extensively with the Canadian national basketball team as the program's general manager. Nash's lack of coaching experience and the fact that other well-regarded Black coaches either remain unemployed or are put in situations where it may be more difficult to succeed, raises new questions about the NBA's practices in hiring and retaining Black coaches.

NFL Takes Over Sexual Harassment Investigator of Washington Football Team

The move is in response to criticism from some of the women alleging discrimination that team owner Daniel Snyder hired the firm investigating the matter and would be controlling the response to its findings. The law firm conducting "an independent review of the team's culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct" will now report to NFL officials. Lawyers representing former team employees also called on the league to "publicly commit to taking action to remove Snyder as majority owner" if the results of the investigation warrant it.

U.S. Threat to Pull Funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency Could Leave Americans Out of the Olympics

Anti-doping leaders say American athletes could be banned from the Olympics if the U.S. follows through on its threat to pull funding from World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). WADA says that it has been approached by various countries to introduce legislation that would render the U.S. non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. The International Olympic Committee requires compliance to allow nations to participate in the games.

The U.S. is WADA's largest contributor, with $2.7 million in 2020. A recent report by the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy was very critical of WADA's governance model and its stance toward Russia and Russia's orchestration of a state-sponsored doping programme. olympics-idUSKBN25U33H

U.S. Justice Department Looking into FIFA for Possible Breaches of Antitrust Laws

The Justice Department's antitrust division has expressed concerns to soccer's governing body that any future rules prohibiting teams from playing regular-season games outside their home countries "could violate U.S. antitrust laws". The proposed rule is already the subject of litigation between American sports promoter Relevent Sports and FIFA and the U.S. Soccer Federation. Relevent has accused both organizations "of conspiring to block Relevent from bringing regular-season games from overseas leagues to North America."

Two Athletes Are United in Search for Justice

Professional basketball players Natasha Cloud and Bradley Beal, of the Washington Mystics and Wizards, respectively, are fashioning their careers to include anti-racism activism in the nation's capital.

Hockey Series Briefly Suspends Hostilities in Response to Police Shooting

Players in the Golden Knights-Canucks series have resumed play after a two-day suspension of the postseason in solidarity with other professional leagues who were protesting police shootings and the broader issue of racial injustice.

Minor League Baseball to Undergo Major Changes When Major League Baseball Agreement Ends

In 2018, Congress passed legislation exempting minor league players from federal minimum wage or overtime entitlements. As minor league owners (who don't pay the players) had supported Major League Baseball (MLB) in getting the law passed, many felt betrayed when the MLB announced that it planned to reduce the number of minor league teams from 160 to 120.

That plan will soon come to fruition when the current agreement between the two leagues expires on September 30th. Under MLB's most recent proposal, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) will no longer operate as an independent entity, but will be brought under MLB's umbrella. MLB teams will get to "pick their affiliates - four apiece, with discretion to cull the minor league clubs that play in substandard facilities or are simply inconveniently located."

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to Furlough All Indianapolis-Based Staff

The NCAA will furlough its entire staff of about 600 employees in a cost-cutting measure. All staff will be subjected to a mandatory three-week furlough, which for some can be extended to eight weeks. The NCAA also implemented salary freezes and announced that senior management would take a 20% pay cut.

Family Accuses College of Forcing Ailing Son to Play Football

The family of a University of New Mexico student who died by suicide last year is suing the school, athletics staff, and the NCAA, alleging that the student was forced to play football even though he had injuries and suffered from severe headaches and depression. They accuse the defendants of negligence and say that student athletes recovering from injuries at the school were treated differently on the basis of race.

Novak Djokovic Announces Proposal for Men's Player Union

Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil announced the beginning of a player-only association called the Professional Tennis Players Association. The self-proclaimed co-presidents said the group will be led by up to nine players and will focus on issues like "revenue sharing, disciplinary actions, player pensions, travel, insurance and amenities at tournaments." It is not clear what the distinction could be between this body and a players' union, which does not exist in tennis. Members of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Player Council, including Federer and Nadal, as well as the sport's governing bodies, spoke out against the plan. Andy Murray expressed concern about the male-only membership "policy," saying that there was value in having a group that represents both men and women.

Advertisers Ask Networks for Flexibility Around NFL Buys in 2020

Concerned about the viability of the NFL season, ad buyers are pressing TV networks for flexibility when it comes to their spending commitments if games get cancelled. Verizon, for example, wants to be able to walk back commitments or cancel ads closer to their air dates.

NBA 2K League Shows Signs of Viewership Growth

NBA's 2K League has shown signs of growth this year, especially as the NBA leaned on its e-sports arm during the pandemic to stage online tournaments and keep basketball content flowing even during the its shutdown. This year's games attracted 76% more viewers than last year and the NBA continues to develop the league, citing among other factors the sponsorship revenue that it generates.

The U.S. Open - An Experiment on Whether Big Events Can Return to New York

The U.S. Open has set in motion an "experiment that could show what international sports, as well as New York, might be capable of while navigating the public health threat." The tournament will provide public health experts and event planners with a new data set, considering that athletes were not required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in the U.S., but were required to undergo testing within the first 48 hours and every four days; to remain cloistered in a local hotel; and follow other preventative protocols while playing in empty stadiums.

The U.S. Open Descends into Pandemic Precaution Chaos

The U.S. Open instituted a series of rules changes for players who were exposed to Benoit Paire, a French player who tested positive for the virus. The precautions kept players confined to their hotel rooms and several matches were delayed or cancelled after different public health departments issued contradictory rulings on whether certain players should play following exposure. Nassau County's health department said two players who had direct contact with Paire, both on a women's doubles team, had to abide by the county's quarantine protocols, and were issued quarantine notices, which led to their withdrawal from the tournament.

A Modified "My Old Kentucky Home" To Be Played at Derby

Churchill Downs says the 100-year tradition of playing the song at the track will be modified and preceded by a moment of silence and reflection. The song was originally an abolitionist song that lost its meaning and became "caught up in the 'imagery of the lost cause'". It was often sung at minstrel shows in blackface. Track representatives acknowledged the history of racism in horse racing and said that a discussion of social justice issues will be incorporated in its coverage of the Derby.

Black Horse Owner Faces Pressure to Pull Out of the Kentucky Derby

The New York Times is reporting that Greg Harbut is being urged to follow the lead of professional athletes and boycott the Derby. Harbut, one of the industry's few African American owners, is adamant that the predominantly white sport must change, but says his participation in the race serves to "remind people ... that horse racing history here begins with African-Americans."

National Hockey League Could Temporarily Realign to Form Canadian Division

Though the National Hockey League (NHL) plans to start its 82-game season on December 1st, there is a possibility that it would create a Canadian Division for the 2020-21 season, in which the seven Canadian clubs "play exclusively against each other." The NHL could also revisit the hub concept, where players fly into a bubble city to play and fly back out.

English Premier League Terminates China TV Agreement

The soccer league said that it cancelled the broadcast contract, worth a reported $700 million, after it could not resolve a dispute with its Chinese partner, Suning Holdings. Suning failed to pay the league $200 million in fees on the first year of the three-year agreement. The Premier League has sustained huge financial damage due to the pandemic and lost a lucrative revenue stream when it resumed its season in front of empty stadiums. Politics has also come to bear on the relationship when Arsenal games were taken off the air in China after Mesut Ozil denounced China's treatment of its Muslim minority.


Twitter and Facebook Warn of Russian Meddling in U.S. Elections

Both companies are warning that Russia is actively involved in campaigns of disinformation, using fake accounts and circulating conspiracy theories aimed at American social media users.

Why Facebook's Blocking of New Political Ads May Be Futile

Facebook will block new political ads starting on October 27th, but critics say there are other ways that voter misinformation can spread on the social network, including by way of messages users post and discussions in private Facebook groups.

U.S. Preparing Antitrust Case Against Google

As the Justice Department builds its antitrust case against Google, there is reportedly some tension between attorney general William Barr and career prosecutors who say they need more time to build the case. The Justice Department has reportedly told lawyers to wrap up their work by the end of September, which the lawyers see as an arbitrary, and possible politically-motivated, deadline.

Journalist Quits Kenosha Paper in Protest of Its Jacob Blake Rally Coverage

Editor Daniel Thompson resigned over the paper's coverage of a rally in support of the Black man shot by a Kenosha police officer. Thompson took issue with a headline that focused on the words of a Black protestors who said, "If you kill one of us, it's time for us to kill one of yours," a remark that he said did not accurately sum up the article or the tone of the protests.

Twitter to Add New Context Feature to Trending Topics

Despite calls to remove the Trending Topics feature altogether, the company has decided to include explanatory tweets and descriptions to show why a subject is trending in response to criticism that the feature allows for the spread of false or hateful information.

Another Teenager Linked to July Twitter Hack

A search warrant was recently executed at the home of a Massachusetts teenager who is thought to be partly responsible for planning the breach and carrying out some of the cyberattacks. So far, three people have been arrested in the hack.

Time Off for Parenting Angers Nonparents in Tech Industry

Work policies at major tech companies have caused a rift between employees who are parents and those who are not. Facebook employees, for instance, took issue with policies that were extended to and primarily benefited parents. As a result of more flexible paid time off policies, some employees feel they are being asked to carry a heavier workload.

Facebook Could Block Sharing of News Stories in Australia

The response comes after a bill in Australia would require companies to pay media publishers when their content is posted on the social network. The draft legislation is supported by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and is aimed at addressing the "power imbalances between news publishers struggling with the collapse of traditional media and conglomerates with thriving online ad businesses."

BBC Loses Battle Over Lyrics of British Songs

The British broadcaster reversed its decision to strip the lyrics from two patriotic songs that are set to be performed at a televised concert. Critics say the lyrics of "Rule, Britannia!" and "Land of Hope and Glory" evoke a British colonial, imperialist past.

Charlie Hebdo Trial Reopens in Paris

While the two men responsible for carrying out the Charlie Hebdo attack died in a shootout with police, this trial will focus on individuals accused of aiding the 2015 attack on the magazine's offices and another attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris. The attack killed 17 people and was followed by a number of jihadist attacks in the city that killed another 130 people.

French Magazine Sparks Outrage Over Depiction of Black Lawmaker as Enslaved African

The racist portrayal of Daniele Obono came by way of a fictional narrative and illustration published in conservative French magazine Valeurs Actuelles. Among the images was one portraying the lawmaker with chains around her neck. The narrative was part of a series in which contemporary politicians are depicted in earlier historical periods and drew widespread condemnation across the political spectrum.

China Detains Australian Host for Chinese State TV

Australian journalist Cheng Lei was a host on Chinese state-run television. The government has not commented publicly on the case nor given reasons for her detention. The move has the potential to become another irritant in the country's relations with Australia, already strained due to the earlier detention of another Australian writer and businessman of Chinese heritage in 2019.

General News

Court Approves Warrantless Surveillance Rules

A declassified ruling issued in December of last year signed off on another year of the surveillance program while still noting that the FBI had committed "widespread violations" of privacy rules when its analysts searched through emails obtained from American companies without a warrant under a 2008 law known as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

Election Officials Push Back Against Trump: Voting Twice is Illegal

Election officials say the president is sowing confusion by calling into question a system that already has robust checks against fraud, including against people voting twice. This, after the president encouraged North Carolina voters to test the integrity of the elections system by voting by both mail and in-person ballots. In some states, even soliciting someone to vote twice in an election is illegal. In terms of the precautions available to prevent people from voting twice or to detect double voting, states like North Carolina have electronic poll books at polling centers that are updated regularly with information about who has already voted, excluding the names of those who have already voted absentee.

Former Officials Say Justice Department Did Not Fully Examine Trump's Ties to Russia

According to former law enforcement officials, former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein took steps to narrow a Justice Department inquiry into whether Trump's financial and personal ties to Russia posed a national security threat. The article reports that Rosenstein had a number of reasons for curtailing the investigation - he believed the FBI lacked sufficient reason to conduct an investigation and that the acting head of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, who had approved the opening of the inquiry, had conflicts of interest.

Department of Homeland Security Blocked Warnings of Russian Campaign Against Biden

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declined to publish an intelligence document that warned of Russian attempts to undermine Biden's campaign by questioning his health in posts of Russian state media agencies. The acting secretary of DHS said the department's intelligence office questioned the quality of the report.

Promise to Fight Domestic Terrorism Remained Unfulfilled

Despite its commitment to address domestic terrorism and white nationalist threat, it is still unclear how the DHS intends to follow up on that promise. The article argues that leadership at the DHS appears to be doing the opposite of what it promised, especially in the context of recent protests, by refusing to cooperate with local governments to combat domestic unrest and deploying federal teams to maintain order, against the wishes of local governments.

Barr Imposes Limits on FBI Surveillance of Political Candidates

In a memo issued this week, Attorney General Barr said that before seeking a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor communications, the Justice Department and the FBI should warn elected officials or political candidates that they may be targets of foreign governments. There is also a requirement for the FBI to explain why it departed from this practice where no warning is given.

One Million Primary Ballots Were Mailed Late

According to an internal Postal Service audit, more than one million mail-in ballots were sent late - i.e. during the final week of the primary elections, putting absentee voters at risk of not having their votes back in time to be counted.

House Panel to Subpoena DeJoy Over Mail Delays and Trump Communications

The House Oversight Committee intends to subpoena DeJoy for documents it says were withheld from Congress related to mail delays and communications with the Trump campaign. House Democrats have accused DeJoy of sowing confusion through a set of cost-cutting changes he introduced at the U.S. Postal Service that have resulted in slower delivery times and that could impact the upcoming election.

Postal Service Paid Firm Tied to Postmaster General DeJoy $286 Million Since 2013

Documents obtained through a public records request show that the U.S. Postal Service paid the Postmaster General's former employer, XPO Logistics, $33-45 million annually since 2014 "for services that include managing transportation and providing support during peak time." More significantly, they show a surge in revenue for XPO from the Postal Service since DeJoy joined the Postal Service in June.

Trump Intends to Cut Federal Funding from Cities He Deems "Lawless"

President Trump has directed officials to identify "anarchist jurisdictions" and withhold federal funding from them. Most are cities controlled by Democrats and that have recently experienced a wave of protests and violence over systemic racism in policing. The president's memo targets New York and specifically mentions the recent rise in crime in the city, as well as the agreement to cut $1 billion in funding from the city's police department.

Federal Appeals Panel Says Trump Not Required to Turn Over Tax Returns While Matter is Being Appealed

According to the ruling, Trump is not required to turn over tax records to the Manhattan district attorney's office until a decision is issued in his appeal where he argues that the request for records is overbroad and politically motivated.

Court Denies Flynn's Request to End Case

In an en banc decision, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that a federal judge could proceed with his plans to scrutinize the Justice Department's request to dismiss its case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

New York Times Editorial Board: Punish Congressman for Video Fraud

The paper's editorial board is calling on Congress to take a stand against Representative Steve Scalise, who shared a doctored and misleading video featuring Joe Biden. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed a complaint against Scalise with the Office of Congressional Ethics, which reviews allegations of congressional misconduct and can refer complaints to the House Ethics Committee.

Trump Drawing on Campaign Funds to Pay Legal Bills

President Trump appears to have drawn on campaign donations to pay legal fees to a much greater extent than his predecessors. Trump "and his affiliated political entities have spent at least $58.4 million in donations on legal and compliance work since 2015," compared to Obama who spent $10.7. However, Trump has also taken a non-traditional approach by using campaign funds to cover legal costs related to cases in which he has a personal stake, including enforcing nondisclosure agreements with former staff.

Federal Borrowing Amid Pandemic Will Soon Exceed Annual Economy

Federal debt, as a share of the economy, is currently at 98% and set to exceed the size of the economy by 2021, putting government borrowing on the path to exceed that during World War II.

President Trump Denies Making Remarks Disparaging Fallen Soldiers

A recent report in The Atlantic says the president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members and has privately called soldiers killed in combat "losers" and "suckers." According to the article, he has also asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades. The president denied ever making those remarks and repeatedly called the report a fake story.

The Conspiracy Theories in President Trump's Fox News Interview

The article addresses several comments made by President Trump, including that a plane "loaded with thugs" is headed to the Republican convention; rich people are bankrolling racial justice protests against the U.S.; and that Biden is controlled by individuals exercising secret power.

Trump-Biden Presidential Debates Will Have Solo Moderators

All three televised debates will be hosted by a single moderator, in the following order: Chris Wallace of Fox News, Steve Scully of C-SPAN and Kristen Welker of NBC News. Susan Page of USA Today will moderate the vice-presidential debate. Candidates are selected by the non-partisan debate commission and cannot be vetoes by the candidates.

Biden Declares Himself an Ally of the Protesters

The Democratic candidate traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin after days of protests over the shooting of a black man by police and made the case for unity in the face of racial injustice.

Charges Dropped Against Curtis Flowers, After Six Murder Trials and 24 Years

Prosecutors dropped murder charges against a man who was tried six times in the quadruple-murder case in Mississippi. All six trials before mostly-white juries resulted either in mistrials or convictions that were later overturned. His latest conviction was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court after it found that the prosecutor had violated Flowers' constitutional rights by seeking to disqualify black jurors during the jury selection process.

Seven Rochester Police Officers Suspended in Death of Black Man

The man died of suffocation in March, a week after his encounter with the police. Police body camera footage shows the officers putting a mesh hood over the man's head, at one point pushing his head to the pavement and holding him down for two minutes. His family says Daniel Prude was having a psychotic episode and acting erratically before the police encounter. Prude's death was ruled a homicide caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint."

Protests Continue in Portland; Fatal Shooting Inflames Debate on Urban Strife

Protests in Portland turned violent this week after a man affiliated with a right-wing group was shot and killed in the city. Those present at the demonstrations also reported tension after supporters of President Trump drove through the downtown area and clashed with protestors.

New York City W