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:


Supreme Court Will Not Hear 'Stairway to Heaven' Copyright Case

The Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case leaves in place the appeals court ruling that Led Zeppelin did not copy part of a 1968 song by Spirit.

Broadway Will Remain Closed Through May 2021

Many Broadway theaters will stay shut at least through May of next year, with some not planning to reopen until next fall. The Broadway League, the trade organization representing producers and theater owners, said that it was suspending ticket sales through May 30th.

Rapper Tory Lanez Charged with Assault in Shooting

The rapper is accused of wounding Megan Thee Stallion by firing at her feet after an argument last summer.


Supreme Court Decides Not to Hear Case Involving Destroyed Mural

The decision cements a ruling that awarded 21 graffiti artists $6.75 million after a New York City developer painted over the murals at a Queens warehouse known as 5Pointz complex in 2013. The earlier ruling found that street art/graffiti was of sufficient stature to be protected by the law.

There's Not Much Work for Actors. Now Their Unions Are Fighting.

At issue is which union should represent theater performers and stage managers working on streamed performances. Actors' Equity Association, the labor union that represents theater actors and stage managers, is accusing SAG-AFTRA, the union representing those who work in film, TV, and radio, of encroaching on theaters "and undercutting its contracts by negotiating lower-paying deals with theaters for streaming productions." SAG-AFTRA contracts are also leaving out stage managers. SAG-AFTRA maintains that "work made for broadcast has always been its domain."

Mellon Foundation Launches $250 Million Initiative to Reimagine Monuments

The project will support the creation of new monuments and facilitate the relocation or "rethinking" of existing memorials and statues. The grant will include "a definitive audit of the existing commemorative landscape across the country" to see what percentage, for example, are dedicated to women.

Black Trustees Join Forces to Make Art Museums More Diverse

Black board members have formed an alliance to diversify art museums by recruiting more Black directors, artists, and curators whose perspective will better reflect the communities they serve.

Baltimore Museum of Art to Sell 3 Blue-Chip Paintings to Advance Equity

The museum is taking advantage of a temporary "loosening of deaccessing guidelines" that allow museums to sell art "from museum collections to fund the direct care of collections - not just the acquisition of other artworks." The museum expects to receive $65 million from the sale and use those funds for salary increases, diversity and inclusion programs, and to eliminate admission fees for special exhibitions.

New Museum Exacts Toll on Workers

Although critics acknowledge the success of its exhibitions, they say that the museum's ascent has come at the expense of those who work there. Former and current staff members complain of low pay, low morale, unhealthy work conditions, and of being asked to act unethically.

Finding a New Home for a Painful Past - The Jefferson Davis Statue in Kentucky

The relocation of a Jefferson Davis statue continues the debate of where to house monuments that honour the Confederacy. This specific statue was removed from the Kentucky State Capitol and is being stored in an undisclosed location. The plan to take the statue to Fairview, Kentucky raises question about how appropriate it is for towns to invest more taxpayer dollars in new museums to recontextualize these statues.

Report Asks Dutch To Return Nazi-Looted Artwork

The country's restitution efforts have come under scrutiny because its policies for returning looted art have become stricter. At issue for international critics is a policy that requires the panel that hear restitution cases "to balance the interests of national museums against the claims by Jewish survivors or their heirs;" in other words, the panel is asked to weigh "the significant of the work to public art collections against the emotional attachment of the claimant," which has already led to some requests being rejected because the artwork was important to the Dutch museum that housed it.


National Football League Adds New COVID-19 Protocols to Monitor Mask Wearing

The National Football League (NFL) introduced measures like video surveillance to monitor compliance with mask wearing policies in team facilities and while traveling. It is trying to prevent another outbreak by also limiting the number of free agent tryouts per week and placing bans on gatherings outside team facilities. In a memo sent to teams, the NFL said that protocol violations that result in virus spread "will result in additional financial and competitive discipline including the adjustment or loss of draft choice or even the forfeit of a game." Meanwhile, virus cases from the Patriots and Titans forced the NFL to once again reschedule games.

One Name the Women's National Basketball Association Won't Say

The article describes the social justice activities of Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) players, including their support for Senator Kelly Loeffler's political opponents. Loeffler is the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream. The players have denounced Loeffler's views but refuse to bring up the senator's name in their public pronouncements and social media, instead marshalling their resources in support of another candidate.

Chinese State TV to Air National Basketball Association Game for First Time Since Hong Kong Rift

China Central Television began by airing Friday's finals game and suggests a softening of tension between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and China, tensions that are said to have cost the NBA hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.


Supreme Court Hears Copyright Battle Between Google and Oracle

At issue is what elements of computer code can be copyrighted, and if that code is covered by copyright, when is it still legal to use pieces of it under fair use. Given the complexity of the issue, the Court relied on familiar analogies to understand the nature of the coding language Oracle acquired in 2010. Oracle sued Google after it reverse engineered Java and copied the "structure, sequence and organization" of software code when it was building its Android platform.

Judge Rules Apple Can Keep Fortnite Out of App Store

A federal judge ruled this week that Apple did not have to reinstate videogame Fortnite in its App Store, finding that Epic Games had violated its contract with Apple. Apple removed the app from its store after Epic started encouraging users to pay for it directly, rather than through Apple, as contractually required. The case will go to trial next May.

U.S. Appeals Injunction Against TikTok Ban

The federal government says that the preliminary injunction on its TikTok ban should be lifted because the Chinese-owned video app presents a security risk to American users. The earlier decision delayed TikTok from being banned in U.S. app stores.

House Lawmakers Condemn Big Tech's Monopoly Power, Urge Their Breakups

The report said companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook "needed to be checked and recommended they be restructured and that antitrust laws that reformed." The recommendations included giving antitrust agencies power to police market concentration and enacting rules that make it harder for companies to acquire start-ups.

Twitter Set to Change Basic Features Before Election

The changes are meant to fight election misinformation and will start on October 20th. They include the following: If users try to share content that Twitter flags as false, a notice will warn them that they are attempting to share inaccurate information; and it will not label posts about election results until the election has been officially called.

Harry and Meghan Settle with Paparazzi

As part of a settlement in an invasion-of-privacy case, Los Angeles-based celebrity news agency X17 has agreed to turn over photos of the couple's son and destroy any copies in its databases. X17 apologized and agreed to pay a portion of the family's legal fees and to never traffic in photos taken on private grounds.

Opinion: Google and Facebook Must Pay for Local Journalism

The president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association representing about 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, takes a position on whether Google should pay publishers for the news content shown in search results. Chavern says that if Congress follows France's lead and "passes the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, publishers would be allowed to negotiate rate with Google as a group." Alternatively, he says "publishers might finally be forced to undertake their own lengthy copyright litigation."

Facebook Increases Precautions Before Election

Facebook has widened its ban on political ads by announcing that it will prohibit political and issue-based advertising after November 3rd for an indefinite amount of time. Facebook will also remove groups or accounts that openly identity with QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy movement.

False G.O.P. Ad Prompts QAnon Death Threats Against Democratic Congressman

New Jersey Representative Tom Malinowski is facing death threats from QAnon supporters "after the House Republicans' campaign arm falsely accused him of lobbying to protect sexual predators." Malinowski led a bipartisan resolution condemning the movement, which spreads conspiracy theories.

American Apologizes for Bad Reviews of Thailand Hotel

The American was jailed for disparaging a Thailand hotel in an online review and has since had to apologize as part of a deal to avoid prosecution. The case laid bare the harsh impact of the country's defamation laws; a conviction can result in up to two years in prison.

General News

Supreme Court Starts Term with Case on Judges' Political Ties

The case involves provisions of Delaware's Constitution aimed at ensuring partisan balance on state courts. At issue is whether states can consider political affiliation when appointing judges in order to strike some ideological balance on their courts. Delaware is defending the provisions that were challenged by a registered independent, who said they violated the First Amendment. The state's lawyer argued that "political scientists ... use political party affiliations as proxies for philosophy and ideology" and that requiring judges to be affiliated with one of the two major parties in order to sit on state courts supports a bipartisan judiciary.

Supreme Court Revives Witness Requirement for South Carolina Absentee Ballots

Absentee ballots in South Carolina will now have to be accompanied by a witness's signature. The Court made an exception for ballots already cast, but reversed the lower courts and their finding that the requirement interfered with people's right to vote during a pandemic. In a concurring opinion, Justice Kavanaugh said that the Court was reluctant to accept changes to election procedures made close to Election Day, and that federal judges should not second guess state election laws.

Supreme Court Declines to Revive Restriction on Abortion Pill

The Supreme Court did not reinstate a federal requirement that women seeking medical abortions pick up the pills in person. Citing the pandemic, a federal judge had previously suspended the requirement, saying that a "needless trip to a medical facility during a health crisis very likely imposed an undue burden on the constitutional right to abortion." The Supreme Court instructed the trial judge to take a fresh look at the case and rule within 40 days.

Justices Thomas and Alito Question 2015 Same-Sex Marriage Precedent

In their opinion in a case about the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Justices Thomas and Alito raised concerns about the harm they perceived in the 2015 Obergefell v Hodges decision to religious freedom. In their view, the decision chose "to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendments, and by doing so undemocratically, the court has created a problem that only it can fix."

New Supreme Court Term Could End Roberts's Dominant Role

The possible addition of Judge Amy Coney Barrett would push the Supreme Court further right and eliminate Chief Justice Roberts' "ability to steer the Court toward moderation."

Harris Puts Pence on the Defensive as Virus Response Takes Center Stage at Debate

The vice president and Senator Kamala Harris exchanged sharp remarks over the administration's coronavirus response, which featured prominently as an issue at the debate. Harris denounced Trump's policies on the economy, health care, and the environment while Pence "hailed the 'V-shaped recovery' of the economy in defiance of the latest government data.

Kamala Harris and the 'Double Bind' of Racism and Sexism

Reactions to Harris' debate performance showed "not only the bias that women and people of color face, but the fact that for women of color, that bias is more than the sum of its parts."

President Trump Refuses Virtual Debate; Second Presidential Debate Cancelled

This is the first cancellation of a televised debate in seven decades. The president argued for an in-person debate after refusing a virtual format and saying that he would soon be cleared by his doctor to appear in public. Meanwhile, Biden plans to hold a televised town-hall gathering with voters on the night that was reserved for the debate.

Trump Administration Seeks to Limit Regulatory Powers Against Coal

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard arguments this week on whether the federal government has "the authority to set national restrictions on carbon emissions or force states to move away from coal-fired power." The outcome hinges on the interpretation of the Clean Air Act, with the administration arguing for a narrow interpretation to, in turn, "narrow the foundation of the federal government in doing any kind of regulation."

Trump Leans on Barr and Pompeo for a Campaign Jolt

Comments by Secretary of State Pompeo suggest that he intends to hand the president "a weapon to attack his political foes" by making Hillary Clinton's emails public. Attorney General Barr, on the other hand, has resisted pressure from the president to indict Democrats connected to the original investigation into Russian election interference and said he plans no major moves before the election.

Lifting Ban, Barr Pushes Inquiries Into Voter Fraud Before Election

In a memo to top prosecutors, "the department loosened a decades-long policy intended to keep law enforcement from affecting election results. The policy had prohibited prosecutors from making headline-grabbing charges of election fraud in the run-up to an election" so as not to "depress voter turnout or erode confidence in the results." The recent shift to deploy prosecutors to investigate voter fraud began in late August and will focus on noncitizens voting illegally and on mail carriers who discard ballots.

Absentee Voting from Democrats Far Outpaces 2016

Absentee voting in states like Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina is so far favoring Democrats, with 647,000 votes already cast. The number of returned ballots in five states is more than 20% of the entire 2016 turnout.

Director of National Intelligence Serving Trump's Political Agenda Despite Pledge to Stay Apolitical

Director John Ratcliffe has reportedly approved more declassifications of intelligence that undermines the Russia investigation. The director of the CIA opposed the move, saying the release of unverified material "could jeopardize spies' ability to gather intelligence and endanger their sources."

Trump Administration Ignores Ruling that His Acting Officials Are Serving Illegally

The acting head of the Bureau of Land Management continues to serve even after a federal judge ruled that he has been serving unlawfully for over 424 days. He is the third official the courts have found to be working in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which governs appointments of temporary officials. The case is an example of "the president's penchant for filling high-level jobs without Senate confirmation." In this case, there are concerns that William Perry Pendley's background has not properly been vetted, including his legal advocacy for extractive resource industries on public lands.

Administration Halted Release of Five Prisoners Cleared to Leave Guantanamo

In a reversal of Obama-era policies, the Trump administration has halted prisoner transfers to other countries. The State Department also dismantled the office that dealt with resettlement deals, where receiving countries would undertake to guard against the prisoners becoming security risks.

Manhattan District Attorney Can Obtain Trump's Tax Returns

A federal appeals panel ruled that the Manhattan District Attorney can enforce a subpoena seeking Trump's personal and corporate tax returns. In doing so, it rejected arguments by the president's lawyers that the subpoena was too broad and amounted to political harassment.