Week In Review

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

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


British Academy of Film and Television Arts Takes Steps to Be More Diverse

After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Oscars, introduced diversity criteria for nominated films, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) announced its own changes. Starting with the awards in 2021, all 6,700 voting members of BAFTA will have to undergo unconscious bias training before casting any ballots. It also announced rules aimed at increasing the diversity of films considered with more specific interventions for some categories of the awards. Another major change is that a studio will only be able to nominate an actor for a lead or supporting award, not both categories, as previously allowed. In addition, BAFTA plans to increase its membership by 1,000 with goals for underrepresented groups. The British film awards, like the Oscars, have been repeatedly denounced for its lack of diversity.

In Los Angeles, Weinstein Faces Six Charges of Sexual Assault

Harvey Weinstein, the once powerful movie mogul who was sentenced in March to 23 years in prison for sex crimes, has been charged with 6 additional counts of forcible sexual assault in Los Angeles. The new charges stem from incidents that happened more than a decade ago and add to the growing case against him. Weinstein, 68, now faces a total of 4 counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation, 2 counts of sexual battery by restraint and one count of sexual penetration by use of force involving 5 victims for crimes dating from 2004 to 2013.


Alexander v. Take-Two

Catherine Alexander, a tattoo artist from Illinois, sued Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., 2K Games, Inc., 2K Sports, Inc., World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.(WWE) , Visual Concepts Entertainment, Yuke's Co., Ltd., and Yuke's LA Inc. for copyright infringement relating to the tattoos on 13-time world champion professional wrestler Randy Orton. Alexander alleges that various WWE-branded videogames feature "meticulous reproductions" of those tattoos. WWE offered her $450 for the rights to Orton's tattoos, which she declined. The outcome of the case hinges on whether tattooed individuals like Orton have an implied license to their tattoos and whether depiction of an individual's tattoos is fair use. Another potential issue is whether a tattoo is sufficiently "fixed" to warrant copyright protection in the first place. The issue of fair use and implied license are going to a jury. Issue of material fact exists as to whether Alexander suffered actual damages based on the value of the infringing use. The judge adopted a pretty absolutist view of copyrights.

Beyond the Statue Wars: Restoring Erased History

The national movement to bring down statues that symbolize historical oppression is gaining in Massachusetts. The North End's Christopher Columbus statue has remained out of sight since it was decapitated by protesters after George Floyd was killed. While some people, especially in the Italian-American community, want to bring the statue back, some question whether it is time to put another person on a pedestal.

Judge Rules that Lawsuit Over Bolton Book Can Proceed

A judge has ruled that the Trump administration can move forward with its suit against former national security adviser John Bolton over his tell-all book, which officials say contains classified information.

New Health Insurance Hurdle For Unemployed Stage Actors

Facing enormous financial strain because of the shutdown of the theatre industry, the health insurance fund that covers thousands of stage actors is making it more difficult for them to qualify for coverage. Currently, professional actors and stage managers have to work 11 weeks to qualify for 6 months of coverage.

Mellon Foundation to Provide $5 Million to Aid Black Theaters

The Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn, a Black-led artistic institution, will spearhead The Black Seed, a strategic plan that will offer grants to up to 50 theaters across the country. The threaters will receive a significant financial boost, thanks to a multimillion-dollar program. It is described as the first national strategic plan to provide financial support for the Black theaters across the country. It is the largest-ever one-time investment in Black theater.

A New David Zwirner Gallery Plans to Have an All-Black Staff

The megadealer David Zwirner has hired Ebony L. Haynes, a gallerist who is Black, as the director of a new exhibition program and commercial gallery space in Manhattan, for which she plans to employ an all-Black staff. Zwirner has said that Haynes will "have full autonomy" in programming exhibitions. At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has raised awareness about the scarcity and struggles of Black-run galleries, the new Zwirner enterprise represents a strong commitment from a mega dealer.

The Unbearable Whiteness of the Museum Fashion Collection

In the small group of high-culture institutions that venerate the art of fashion, Black designers have been largely overlooked. The Paris fashion museum, Palais Galliera is scheduled to reopen after a 2-year and almost $10 million renovation with the blockbuster exhibition "Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto." There will now be a rotating sample of its permanent collection, which includes approximately 200,000 objects dating from the 18th century to today. It is one of the largest and most extraordinary collections of fashion in the world. Yet of those 200,000 objects, only 77 pieces of clothing were created by Black designers and only 7 Black designers are represented. That's about .04%. It's a startling imbalance, but effectively the status quo in the small group of globally renowned high-culture institutions historically charged with preserving and protecting the art of fashion.

Opening the Doors of Design - the design industry has never been diverse. Can new initiatives fix that?

A tiny portion of designers are Black, but a host of new initiatives, as well as evolving tastes, are working to right the imbalance. Expressions of solidarity with Black Lives Matter across the design industries have poured out on social media. Black-owned design companies and studios are being singled out for support, and larger design firms are pledging to improve diversity and equity. It's time for everyone to figure out how to create a new foundation so we can build a society that supports people and is truly inclusive. For many Black designers, it is a complicated moment. While eager to seize the momentum, some see little reason to trust that talk of greater inclusiveness will translate into results, or that even well-intentioned incremental steps toward diversity will produce substantive change. Herman Miller is founding a Diversity in Design program, for which it hopes to build a consortium of businesses - including competitors - to tackle the issue. Many believe the problem is in the pipeline, so some top design institutions are ramping up efforts to redress the imbalance.

Whitney Biennial Delayed a Year Until April 2022

The Whitney Biennial, which was scheduled for next spring, has been moved forward and will now occur April-August of 2022. It has been postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pandemic Could be a Needed Reset for the Metropolitan Opera

On September 23, the Metropolitan Opera (the Met) announced that the its cancellation would extend to its entire 2020-21 season. Its leadership realized that if the Met is going to rise again after the virus subsides, the organization must do things differently to prove itself more essential than ever. The work it presents must matter - and how the company presents itself must matter, too. The Met must take time to think about its place within larger societal currents, especially the roiling issues of racial injustice and police brutality that have inspired nationwide demonstrations. Black classical artists and administrators have spoken out powerfully about systemic discrimination within the field. To that end, the ambitious 2021-22 season is also a statement of purpose that seeks to address multiple oversights in the Met's history.

French Colonialism Goes on Trial Along With Art Theft Defendants

Activists are being tried in Paris over the attempted theft of an African artwork from the Quai Branly Museum, which they say was a protest of colonial-era practices. Mwazulu Diyabanza, along with 4 associates, stood accused of attempting to steal a 19th-century African funeral pole from the museum as part of an action to protest colonial-era cultural theft and seek reparations. It was an emotionally charged trial that gave real resonance to Diyabanza's struggle, as a symbolic defendant was called to the stand: France, and its colonial track record. The presiding judge in charge acknowledge the 2 trials: one, judging the group, 4 men and a woman, on a charge of attempted theft for which they could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of about $173,000. THe "other" trial was that of the history of Europe, of France with Africa, the trial of colonials, the trial of misappropriation of the cultural heritage of nations. The political and historical ramifications were hard to avoid.

Italy is Giving "David" a Twin, Sculpted With a 3-D Printer Instead of Chisels

A copy of Michelangelo's David printed in 3-D will be the centerpiece of the Italy Pavilion at the next World Fair. For the past 5 centuries, Michelangelo's David has been celebrated for its sculptural perfection and its embodiment of youthful beauty and strength. Now, Italian officials want the sculpture to help showcase Italian craftsmanship and high-tech expertise in the digital age.

Making Ruins of Mosques and Shrines

According to new estimates of analyzed satellite imagery by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Chinese authorities have destroyed or significantly damaged thousands of religious sites in Xinjiang in recent years. The destruction attests to the Chinese government's drive to erode the cultural and religious heritage of the region and forcibly assimilate its Muslim minorities.


Fortnite Maker Argues Case vs. Apple

Apple and Fortnite maker, Epic Games, sparred in federal court over whether to reinstate the popular game in Apple's App Store, raising antitrust arguments that may reshape a key part of the internet economy and the way people use smartphones. Epic laid out allegations that Apple had abused its power after Apple booted Fortnite form the App store when Epic tried collecting its own payments through the App store. Epic responded by suing Apple, accusing it of violating antitrust laws. Epic argued that Apple's unwillingness to let it use its own payment system was anticompetitive and monopolistic. Apple said that Epic had plenty of alternative ways to distribute its games. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers concluded the hearing by recommending a jury trial in the case in July. She is expected to rule on whether Apple must allow Fortnite back into its App Store in the interim.

Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, Amateur Athletes Act, Watches U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee

The Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020, a bill designed to protect Olympic athletes from abuse, passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The bill would give Congress the power to dissolve the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee's (USOPC) board of directors, as well as any individual sport's governing body, such as USA Swimming or USA Gymnastics, and would more than double the foundation's funding for the U.S. Center for SafeSport. It is now headed to the president. The bill also sets up a bipartisan committee to do a complete review of the USOPC.

College Football Face Cover Rules: Only Partly Followed and Not Enforced

Perhaps more than any other major American sport, football is grappling with a scourge of overt, if not always deliberate, mask violations during competition at the collegiate and professional levels. The National Football League (NFL) has angrily watched some of its biggest names defy its rules. Most of the coaches in SEC, the sport's most prominent collegiate conference, repeatedly breached the league's policy during its opening weekend, and college conferences that are playing football this fall, or planning to, have begun weighing hot to police their stated protocols more forcefully. The question is not easily solved in a sport that has long been politicized, prizes its image as a haven for the macho, and that, at the top ranks of the college game, lacks centralized governance.

NFL Experiences First COVID Outbreak as 8 Members of the Titans Test Positive

The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings are suspending all in-person club activities after the Titans announced that 3 players and 5 other personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus. This is seen as the first coronavirus outbreak for a NFL team during a season that is entering its fourth week. Before now, only a handful of players and slightly more staff members had tested positive during the season. The NFL has been conducting tens of thousands of tests, in a program that it was recently celebrating as a success.

Challenges to NFL Grow as Positive Tests Postpone Patriots-Chiefs Showdown

According to multiple reports, New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton has tested positive for the coronavirus and will be out for the team's upcoming game against the Kansas City Chiefs, a game which was being billed as a quarterback showdown. After the news broke, Sunday's game was postponed, making it the second Week 4 Sunday game to be postponed. Members of the Chiefs's organization have also reportedly tested positive for the virus.

National Basketball Association Weathers its Stormiest Season

Nothing about the 2019-20 National Basketball Association (NBA) season has been normal. There were tragedies and triumphs, setbacks and highlights. When play finally resumed in July after a 4-month hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, it began in a so-called bubble: a self-contained, spectator-free campus at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, as the NBA - at no small cost - fought to the finish line. This turbulent season has challenged how the world sees basketball and, perhaps, how basketball players see themselves.

FIFA to Order Teams to Release Players for World Cup Qualifying

Coronavirus fears, rising infection rates and quarantine rules are raising serious practical concerns before the first round of World Cup qualifiers in South America. After weeks of indecision and discussion, FIFA is planning to order soccer clubs to release players who have been called up for World Cup qualification games next week, a move that is likely to lead to a furious backlash from teams, leagues, and player unions fearful of the risks of international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

Verdasco Threatens French Open Legal Action After COVID-19 Omission

Spanish tennis player Fernando Verdasco has threatened legal action against the organizers of the French Open after he was forced to withdraw from the tournament following a positive COVID-19 test.

Russian Biathletes File Criminal Complaint Over Alleged Rodchenkov Forgery Claims

Criminal complaints have been lodged with the Swiss prosecutors office over alleged fake signatures by whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov.

Eight Australian Sports Commit to Inclusion Measures for Transgender Athletes

Eight peak Australian sporting bodies - AFL, Hockey Australia, Netball Australia, Rugby Australia, Tennis Australia, Touch Football Australia, UniSport Australia ,and Water Polo - have committed to implementing governance that supports a great level of inclusion for trans and gender diverse people in their sports.


Moderator of Debate Regrets 'Missed Opportunity'

The veteran anchor Chris Wallace conceded that he was initially "reluctant" to step in during the Trump-Biden matchup. In his first interview after the chaotic spectacle, Wallace conceded that he had been slow to recognize that the president was not going to cease flouting the debate's rules. He said that he had "never been through anything like this" and didn't realize "that this was going to be the president's strategy for the entire debate." The Commission on Presidential Debates has since said that it would examine changes to the format of this year's remaining encounters between Biden and Trump, a clear sign of its frustration with the results. The suggestion that moderators be given the power to mute the candidates' microphones - popular on social media in the hours after the event - did not sit well with Wallace.

New Mexico Lawsuit Against Google is Ended

A U.S. district judge has dismissed New Mexico's privacy claims against Google. The judge concluded that federal laws and regulations do not require direct consent from parents when schools participate in Google's education platforms. However, New Mexico's top prosecutor vowed to continue the legal fight to protect children's rights. Under the ruling, New Mexico can amend its complaint.

President Perpetuates Falsehoods, Study Finds

Cornell University researchers analyzing 38 million English-language articles about the pandemic found that Trump was the largest driver of the "indodemic" (falsehoods involving the pandemic). Mentions of Trump made up nearly 38% of the overall "misinformation conversation." The study identified 11 topics of misinformation, including various conspiracy theories, like one that emerged in January suggesting that the pandemic was manufactured by Democrats to coincide with Trump's impeachment trial, and another that purported to trace the initial outbreak in Wuhan, to people who ate bat soup. By far, the more prevalent topic of misinformation was "miracle cures", including Trump's promotion of anti-malarial drugs and disinfectants as potential treatments for COVID-19. That accounted for more misinformation that the other 10 topics combined.

Federal Judge Grants Injunction Against Trump's Ban on China's TikTok

A federal judge halted a Trump administration order to ban TikTok in the U.S. on Sunday. The judge granted a preliminary injunction against the ban, which was set to take effect this past Sunday at midnight and would have force TikTok to be removed from app stores. The ruling did not address other restrictions within the Executive Order that will take effect on November 12th and will make the app harder to use for those already on it. TikTok's lawyers argued that taking away the app was essentially a violation of the rights of users to share their views, both weeks before an election and during a pandemic that is limiting real-life interactions.

Google to Pay $1 Billion to License News Content

Google has committed more than $1 billion to license content from international news organizations, after years of criticism that it was not providing fair compensation for articles and other content linked to by its internet search products. The program is part of a new Google product called News Showcase that will present news from around the world in short snippets that readers can quickly browse on a phone or other device. The company will pay publishers to curate the material that will be presented. The program is starting in Germany and Brazil and will be rolled out to additional countries in the months ahead. Nearly 200 publications have signed on.

Facebook Bans Ads Aiming to Disrupt Vote

Facebook announced that it will prohibit advertising that seeks to "delegitimize" the U.S. election - including ads making allegations of widespread voting fraud or denouncing legitimate voting methods as inherently fraudulent or corrupt - marking yet another concession to critics who decry the platform's rampant misinformation problem and lax fact-checking policies for political ads.

Project Veritas Releases Misleading Video, Part of What Experts Call a Coordinated Effort

A deceptive video was released by the conservative activist James O'Keefe, which claimed through unidentified sources and with no verifiable evidence that Representative Ilhan Omar's campaign had collected ballots illegally, was probably part of a coordinated disinformation effort. O'Keefe's group, Project Veritas, appears to have made an abrupt decision to release the video sooner than planned after the New York Times published a sweeping investigation of Trump's taxes. Project Vertias had hyped the video on social media for several days before publishing it. In posts amplified by other prominent conservative accounts, O'Keefe teased what he said was evidence of voter fraud and urged people to sign up at "" to receive the supposed evidence when it came out. None of the material in the video actually proved voter fraud.

Fox Anchor Gives Viewers Advice: Wear a 'Damn Mask'

"Fox News Sunday" host and moderator of the first presidential debate, Chris Wallace, urged viewers to "wear the damn mask" after Trump tested positive for COVID-19. He went on to note that the first family took off their masks, going against strict guidelines in place at the debate. Wallace pled for people to "forget the politics [because] this is a public safety health issue."

Justice Department Appeals Injunction Blocking Ban of WeChat

The federal government has appealed a judge's ruling that prevented the Trump administration from imposing a ban on WeChat, the popular Chinese-owned messaging app. The appeal was made at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, escalating the battle over the future of WeChat, owned by the Chinese company Tencent Holdings. Washington has worked to banish Chinese telecommunications products from American networks. Last month, the Department of Commerce moved to block American companies, like Google and Apple, from hosting WeChat in their app stores, as well as bar companies from hosting WeChat's data or helping to deliver content to its users. However, Judge Beeler blocked the ban last month, days before it was supposed to take effect, in response to a request from a group that says it represents WeChat users.

Saudi Journalist's Dream Comes to Life Two Years After His Killing

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) is a Washington-based human rights watchdog that plans to focus on violations by the U.S.'s closest Arab allies and publish articles by political exiles from across the Middle East to carry on Saudi dissent writer Jamal Khashoggi's legacy. Since Khashoggi's death and dismemberment by Saudi agents inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, critics have embraced his case as the grimmest manifestation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's no-holds-barred approach to silencing dissidents within Saudi Arabia and abroad. It was Khashoggi's dream to found an organization in Washington to promote democracy in the Arab world - 2 years after his death, friends and colleges have launched that organization.

American Could Face Prison Time in Thailand After Posting Negative Reviews of a Resort

An American living in Thailand says that he could face up to 2 years in prison for posting negative reviews of a resort. The man was arrested under Thailand's criminal defamation law, which has been used to silence critics and stifle dissent. The hotel that brought charges acknowledges that using the law might be "excessive."

Policing Content, Facebook Incurs a Strongman's Wrath

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is one of a number of populists around the world who rose to power in part by harnessing Facebook to get his unfiltered messages to millions. During his 2016 campaign, his allies flooded the social media platform with misinformation about his opponents and laudatory stories about him. Four years later, after allegations that Facebook aided disruptive misinformation campaigns in many countries, the Silicon Valley giant has put up increasing checks on what politicians and their allies can say online. Duterte is not a fan and has lashed out at Facebook for taking down fake accounts that supported his policies, making vague threats to shut the platform down in the Philippines.