Week In Review
By Eric Lanter Edited by Elissa D. Hecker
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Died
The nation mourns for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, perhaps one of the most well-known justices to ever sit on the United States Supreme Court. Her death "instantly upended the nation's politics in the middle of an already bitter campaign, giving President Trump an opportunity to try to install a third member of the Supreme Court with just weeks before an election that polls show he is currently losing." Trump and Senate Republicans are "weighing whether they have the votes to confirm his choice before the Nov. 3 election," and many Democrats have said that the upcoming fight is going to be even more contentious than the 2016 pre-election fight for Merrick Garland to be confirmed. It is expected that Ginsburg will "lie in repose at the Supreme Court for two days, according to two people familiar with the preliminary plans."
Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, and General News:
California Federal Court Rules on Case Between Nicki Minaj and Tracy Chapman
A judge in the Central District of California has ruled on Nicki Minaj's motion for summary judgment in a copyright infringement action brought by Tracy Chapman. The court found that Minaj's private experimenting with a sample from a Tracy Chapman song was a fair use but left for a jury trial the issue of whether Minaj is responsible for the track being leaked to a radio station.
Chapman v. Maraj, Case No. 2:18-cv-09088-VAP-SSx, (C.D. Cal. 2020).
Chapman v Maraj.pdf">nysbar.com/blogs/EASL/Chapman%20v%20Maraj.pdf">Chapman v Maraj.pdf
Columbia Marching Band Shuts Itself Down Over 'Offensive Behavior'
Columbia University's marching band had developed "a wide reputation over the years for its irreverent, quirky performances," but it has announced that it is disbanding due to "a history riddled with offensive behavior." It had "served as the irrepressible court jester to the university's staid administration, and, at times, had offended students and the wider campus community with its jokes." Some have accused that the band was rife with "sexual misconduct, assault, theft, racism, and injury to individuals and the Columbia community as a whole."
West End Shows Announce a Return as Movie Theaters and Museums Attempt Reopening
In a controversial move, the Brooklyn Museum announced this week that it would be selling several works to raise funds. Other museums, such as the National Museum of African-American history, are attempting to reopen but have acknowledged that if the numbers rise in their areas, they will be prepared to close again. In London's West End, theaters have announced that they will be returning, but if the reopening of movie theaters in the United States is any indication, ticket sales will be light for the coming run.
Museum in India Celebrating Muslim Dynasty Gets a Hindu Overhaul
In Agra, a museum is being constructed that "was meant to showcase the arms, art, and fashion of the Mughals, Muslim rulers who reigned over the Indian subcontinent from the 16th to the 18th centuries," but officials have announced that they will be overhauling the museum to "instead celebrate India's Hindu majority, leaders, and history." The changes are the latest instance of a "Hindu nationalist revival sweeping" India led by its prime minister, Narendra Modi.
Steven Cohen Agrees to Buy the Mets, Again
Steven Cohen, a "hedge fund billionaire," is preparing to buy the Mets for approximately $2.4 billion, which will fulfill his "decade-long pursuit of owning a baseball team." However, his acquiring the team is shedding light on his work in the hedge fund industry, and in that industry, he still has faced "several discrimination claims filed by women who have worked for Mr. Cohen's largely male-dominated firm." Two complaints remain pending with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
Big Ten Will Play Football in 2020, Reversing Decision
The Big Ten voted that it will reverse its earlier decision and begin playing football this fall. Trump demanded the return, and that demand was echoed by "players, coaches, and fans." It remains unclear whether the Pac-12, which has teams like Oregon, USC, Stanford, Colorado, and Utah, will return to playing this year as well.
In a Fitting Tribute, the Fed Cup Is Renamed After Billie Jean King
The International Tennis Federation announced that it will be renaming the Fed Cup, an annual team competition, and calling it the "Billie Jean King Cup." The event has been run since 1963 and is the equivalent of the Davis Cup, which is the men's team event that began in 1900 and is "named for its creator, Dwight Davis."
Iranian Hackers Found Way Into Encrypted Apps, Researchers Say, as U.S. Reimposes United Nations Sanctions on Iran
It was announced this week that Iranian hackers "have been running a vast cyberespionage operation equipped with surveillance tools that can outsmart encrypted messaging systems--a capability Iran was not previously known to possess, according to two digital security reports released Friday." The operation has targeted activists both domestic and abroad and could be used to spy on the Iranian general public. The Trump administration, over "strenuous objections of its closest allies," reimposed sanctions on Iran Saturday, "though the weight of their repercussions is unclear without the cooperation of the world's other major powers."
U.S. Orders Al Jazeera Affiliate to Register as Foreign Agent
The United States Justice Department ordered that AJ+, "a media outlet backed by the royal family of Qatar," be registered as a foreign agent. This move came as the Justice Department views the work of AJ+ as "political activities" and surprised "a high-level delegation from Doha just as officials from the two nations met to strengthen diplomatic and economic alliances." Al Jazeera suggested that the move is "part of a separate deal, signed on Tuesday and brokered by the Trump administration, in which the United Arab Emirates, a Qatari rival, normalized diplomatic relations with Israel."
Miami Herald Editor Apologies for 'Racist and Anti-Semitic' Insert
The editor of the Miami Herald apologized for an insert that appeared in its supplement Libre that compared Black Lives Matter activists to "Nazi thugs." The newspaper announced that it will be ending its relationship with Libre and "will never publish, print, or distribute its content again."
Facebook and Instagram Flag Tucker Carlson Virus Posts as Misinformation Piles Up
The two social media platforms warned viewers that Tucker Carlson's "interview with a Chinese virologist contained 'false information' about Covid-19." The video contained an interview with a Chinese virologist who claimed that the virus "is not from nature," but intelligence agencies "have been skeptical that the pathogen can be conclusively linked to a lab."
New York State Bar Association Appoints Task Force to Assist Policymakers and Journalists in the Midst of a Contentious Election
The New York State Bar Association announced that it is creating a task force "who will advise fellow attorneys, journalists, and members of the public on issues relating to the upcoming 2020 presidential race." The panel will consist of eight members chaired by election lawyer Jerry Golfeder and will focus on issues such as "constitutional and statutory provisions that govern the election process and potential court challenges over the election results, as well as the surge in mail-in ballots as a result of the ongoing pandemic."
Presidential Election Heats Up
The presidential election continued to heat up as both candidates criss-crossed the country in very different fashions. While Joe Biden has continued to hold socially distanced events, Trump held an indoor rally that had few masks and virtually no social distancing. There continue to be reports of attempted intervention by Russians and white supremacists, according to the director of the FBI, and there remain significant concerns about the United States Postal Service's (USPS's) ability to manage the surge in mail-in ballots that are coming in the following weeks. It is expected that court challenges to the USPS changes under its new Postmaster General may also have an impact.
UN Turns 75 Amid Calamity and Conflict
The UN is celebrating its 75th year, but "a celebration of its accomplishments has been overshadowed by a pandemic and rising world tensions." It has also started to face "profound questions about its own effectiveness, and even its relevance." Although it was created to "avert another descent into another global apocalypse," many in the UN and outside of it agree that it "is weaker than it should be."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Trump Administration Continue to Have Friction
The tension between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Trump administration continue to be brought to light. Documents have been released showing that Trump administration officials have sought to suppress the statistics and facts surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic or have changed the CDC's released information to conform with the Trump administration's narrative of the pandemic. Additionally, although the CDC had previously taken the position that testing was not necessary for those who were asymptomatic but may have come into contact with someone infected, it has now announced that even asymptomatic individuals should be tested if they suspect they came into contact with someone infected. Additionally, the Health Secretary, Alex Azar, has asserted authority over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a memo, which "would make it more difficult for the FDA to issue new rules, but it is unclear how it would affect the vetting of coronavirus vaccines."
Trump Health Aide Takes Leave and Apologies After Warning of Armed Revolt
Michael Caputo, the "assistant secretary of health for public affairs", announced that he will be taking a leave of absence "to focus on his health and the well-being of his family" after he had accused federal scientists of "sedition". He had posted "a bizarre and inflammatory Facebook video in which he accused government scientists of working to defeat President Trump and urged his followers to buy ammunition ahead of what he predicted would be an armed insurrection after the election."
Tensions Continue to Rise Between U.S. and China
The friction between the U.S. and China ramped up this week with the federal government announcing a travel restriction on visitors to Hong Kong and the ambassador to China stepping down. Then, the Trump administration announced that two hugely popular apps, TikTok and WeChat, would be banned from the United States starting this weekend. However, on Saturday, the administration announced that it had approved a deal between TikTok and major American companies that will "delay the U.S. government's threat to block the popular app." These moves came as news broke that Chinese hackers broke into over 100 firms and agencies in what were described as "sophisticated attacks to hijack networks and extort universities, businesses, and nonprofits."
Justice Department Opens Criminal Inquiry Into John Bolton's Book as Barr Continues to Expand the Power of the Department
The Department of Justice has announced that it is launching a criminal inquiry into whether John Bolton's book contained classified information. Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr and the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, have emphasized that a sedition statute may cover "a variety of crimes and the push to consider it was proper" in the context of protestors who have been arrested around the country in relation to the Black Lives Matter protests. Rosen has emailed federal prosecutors and encouraged them to use the sedition statute "and other federal laws to try to stop violence at protests this summer--even in instances where local law enforcement would typically bring charges."
Climate Change Continues to Manifest in the Arctic, Shifting it to a New Climate
Between the wildfires in the American west and the fires in Greece that brought refugees to Germany this week, there has been renewed discussion about climate change. Additionally, a new study found that "open water and rain, rather than ice and show, are becoming typical" for the Arctic in what has changed the character of the area. Scientists said that the change is proof of the severe effects of global warming.
Independent Watchdog Report Finds Inequity in Farm Aid Payments
According to the Government Accountability Office, "big farms, along with Southern farmers, disproportionately benefited from the trade assistance program." The farm aid program has been criticized for mismanagement, as its intent was to "blunt the effects of" the trade war between China and the United States. The report found that eight of the top nine states receiving the top average payments per acre were in the South, "a region at the heart of Mr. Trump's political base."
Uneven Economy Continues to Face United States
Although unemployment claims have dipped, layoffs remain a concern for Americans. One economist has warned of a plateau, "point to a slower phase of the recovery after a hiring bounce in the spring." This comes just after poverty in the country had hit a record low before the pandemic recession. Additionally, despite pledges "to nominate more members of underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, companies have made little progress over the last five years" as a survey finds corporate boards have pushed diverse board seats to 12.5%.
War Crime Risk Grows for U.S. Over Saudi Strikes in Yemen
Department of State officials "have raised alarms about the legal risk in aiding airstrikes that kill civilians" in Yemen. The Trump administration "recently suppressed findings as it sold more weapons to Gulf nations," and the Department of State previously concluded that top "American officials could be charged with war crimes for approving bomb sales to the Saudis and their partners."
House Report Condemns Boeing and FAA in 737 Max Disasters
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released a report calling the two crashes of Boeing's 737 Max planes as a "horrific culmination" of "engineering flaws, mismanagement, and a severe lack of federal oversight." The report comes after an 18-month investigation "based on interviews with two dozen Boeing and agency employees and an estimated 600,000 pages of records."
Inquiry Ordered Into Claims Immigrants Had Unwanted Gynecology Procedures
Congress and the Department of Homeland Security "are investigating claims by a nurse and lawyers that immigrant detainees in Georgia were complaining of unwanted procedures and rough treatment." There have been several allegations in a whistle-blower complaint that immigrants were receiving "gynecological procedures without fully understanding or consenting to them."
Eric Trump Will Comply with New York Inquiry, but Only After Election
Eric Trump's attorneys have stated "in a court filing that he was willing to be interviewed by investigators after voters cast their presidential ballots." The interview under oath is part of New York's attorney general investigating the "financing of his family company's properties." He claims that the delay is sought due to his "extreme travel schedule" and "to avoid the use of his deposition attendance for political purposes."
Rochester Mayor Abruptly Fires Police Chief Over Daniel Prude's Death and Louisville Police Announce Settlement With Breonna Taylor Family
The Louisville Police Department announced a settlement with Breonna Taylor's family in relation to her wrongful death earlier this year. In Rochester, the police chief resigned after it came to light that officials "spent months trying to suppress video footage of the police encounter that led to" Daniel Prude's death. By early June, members of the public still did not know about the death, and there was damning police body camera footage that the department did not want to be released.
Military Names New Judge for Guantanamo Bay 9/11 Trial
A Marine Corps colonel has been named the presiding military judge in the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other individuals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba "who are accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks." The previous judge retired over the summer for family reasons, and it is expected that the colonel, Stephen Keane, will "resume pretrial hearings in the case that has largely been on hold throughout the coronavirus pandemic."
U.S. Prosecutors' Bid to 'Bury' Evidence Draws Judge's Wrath
Judge Alison Nathan of the Southern District of New York "excoriated the government for its handling" of a case involving sanctions on Iran as it had secured a conviction of an "Iranian man who was accused of illegally funneling more than $115 million to his family business." Prosecutors afterward acknowledged that there were "problems in the way they had turned evidence over to the defense", as one prosecutor "had proposed to a colleague that they 'bury' a document that should have been provided to the defense." The judge vacated the conviction and started her own inquiry and called for the head of the prosecutor's office to review the decision.
Life on Venus? Astronomers See a Signal in Its Clouds
Scientists have detected a gas in Venus' atmosphere that "could turn scientists' gaze to a planet long overlooked in the search for extraterrestrial life." The gas, phosphine, is thought to be one that shows something is alive and is producing the gas, but other scientists remain cautious, as it is possible that phosphine may be produced on Venus by something other than living beings.
To Get to Afghan Talks, Lots of Last-Minute Deals and Nose Swabs
In Doha, there are ongoing direct negotiations between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban. They are now negotiating face-to-face, and it is expected that a deal may result that has terms regarding prisoner swap and a final withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.