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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


Broadway Will Be a While, But These Venues Say They're Ready Now

There are venues throughout New York City that are seeking permission to open for indoor shows and "socially distanced audiences." Those venues include the Park Avenue Armory, which has "nearly 40,000 square feet of unobstructed open area." In more rural locales with fewer Covid-19 cases, performers have put themselves in bubbles and put on shows, such as "Little Shop of Horrors" in New Hampshire, before a crowd of 44 masked attendees in a space that in normal times would accommodate 250 people.

BTS Honored Korean War Sacrifices, But Some in China Detected an Insult

The Korean pop group BTS, during a recent ceremony for the Korean War, "acknowledged the shared suffering of Americans and Koreans," but in China's social media sites, there was outrage. The BTS leader, Kim Nam-joon, had not recognized "the sacrifices of the Chinese soldiers who fought on the side of North Korea. The outrage was not limited to social media, however: two "prominent brands removed any trace of their collaborations with the band on Chinese websites."


Ford and Mellon Foundations Unveil Initiative for Disabled Artists

The Disability Futures fellowship has awarded "$50,000 to 20 artists, filmmakers, and journalists" as part of its initiative to support disabled artists. The initiative is established by the Ford Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the awards of $50,000 to each come after a year of research and conversation with disabled people that seeks to foster "a creative community across mediums and generations."

New York Philharmonic Cancels the Rest of Its Season

The New York Philharmonic has announced that it will be canceling the remainder of its season, and the Broadway League president has said that "people's bets are the fall of next year" will be the earliest that theaters will reopen. The president of the New York Philharmonic said in an interview that it "is really fair to say that in the 178-year history of the Philharmonic, this is the single biggest crisis."

Protesters in Portland Topple Statues of Lincoln and Roosevelt

When protests came through Portland this week, statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt were toppled "in a demonstration against colonization and the treatment of Native americans." The demonstrators "focused on the 1920s statues of the former presidents as part of a protest billed as an 'Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage.'"

Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Get a Statue in Her Hometown

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that there will be a statue erected in her honor in Brooklyn, and a commission will determine the location and design of the statue. There is no "timetable on when the commission is first expected to meet." The announcement comes after the city renamed the Brooklyn Municipal Building in her honor and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city "would start planning its own memorial, though his office said on Thursday that there was no update on that initiative."

Museum Inquiry Into Whistleblower Complaint Finds No Misconduct

The Detroit Institute of Arts announced that an inquiry performed by an outside law firm "found there had been no skirting of conflict of interest rules in the loan of a painting by the museum director's father-in-law." A whistleblower complaint against the director and the board chair prompted the review after "the museum borrowed a $5 million El Greco painting owned by the director's father-in-law," but the report confirmed that there was no intent to mislead "or hide information" and that there was no conflict of interest or violation of law.

After 75 Years and 15 Claims, a Bid to Regain Lost Art Inches Forward

The heirs of a Hungarian banker Baron Mor Lipot Herzog are seeking the return of his collection of masterpieces that Nazis seized 75 years ago, and the judge presiding over it had not even been born when the family filed the claim in Budapest in 1945. The family is claiming ownership of several works on display in Hungarian museums and at a university in Budapest, and the works are valued at over $100 million.


Polish Olympian Wins Fight to Compete in Fencing for Team USA

The four-time Olympic fencer for Poland, Aleksandra Shelton, has "prevailed in a prolonged case that had broader implications regarding age and gender discrimination and the right to free speech." She has obtained the right to compete for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that her public criticism of Polish fencing officials "was an improper basis on which to deny her request to compete as an American in the Summer Games", as she is a dual citizen of America and Poland and had a right to choose the country she represented at the Games.

The Runaway Train of College Football Keeps Rolling

With games being postponed in college football and Covid-19 outbreaks spiking on campuses, "nothing seems capable of stopping the juggernaut, regardless of the consequences." As there are so many teams traveling and packing into locker rooms and with spikes on teams, the theme within college football has been to "move on" and to continue the season; despite doctors acknowledging that it remains unknown what the "long-term ramifications" are of having Covid-19.

French Soccer Roiled by Claims of Toxic Workplace Culture

France's soccer federation has "hired a consultant to address complaints about top executives" including "accusations of bullying, misbehavior, and sexism." Federation officials have said that the discord within the organization has threatened the mission of the federation and that it could "affect the performance of France's world-beating teams." Current and former employees have said that the work environment was one of "bad language, mental abuse, and stress" but also "improper behavior at staff events."


Social Media Continues to Grapple With Its Role in American Society

With misinformation continuing to plague social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and with questions growing about how best those companies should deal with misinformation, there is growing outrage about how social media companies have dealt with misinformation and potential misinformation. Some companies have banned groups and channels related to QAnon, a group that believes in a far-reaching global conspiracy that is unsubstantiated by evidence, and when the New York Post published a thinly-sourced article about the Democratic nominee Joe Biden's son, social media companies took flak when they "banned all links to the Post's article" and "locked the accounts of people, including some journalists and the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, who tweeted it." By Thursday, Twitter backtracked and said that it would not "remove hacked content unless it was shared directly by hackers or their accomplices."

41 WNET Employees Call for CEO's Resignation

Employees at WNET Group have called for the resignation of the longtime chief executive, Neal Shapiro, "saying he had not done enough to improve working conditions for employees, especially those of color." Former and current employees have signed a letter calling for his resignation, and he replied in an email to staff that "much of what has been written is inaccurate, misleading, or out of context," but tensions have been increasing for nearly six months. The chairman of the board of trustees has released a statement that the board continues to support Shapiro.

Motel 6 and Home Depot Drop Ad Agency After Its Founder Calls Ad 'Too Black'

The Richards Group, an advertising company based in Dallas, is losing business and fast: Motel 6 and Home Depot have cut ties with the company "after a report that its founder had made racist remarks in a meeting last week." Stan Richards, in a team meeting, said that a particular had that "featured Black, white, and Hispanic guests" may "offend or alienate Motel 6's 'white supremacist constituents" and that the advertisement was "too Black."

Pakistan Bans TikTok, Citing Morals. Others Cite Politics

Pakistan has "become the latest country to ban TikTok," and it is "a move that government critics said stemmed as much from politics as from allegations of immoral content." Pakistan's regulatory agency said that it is "open to talks with the company, subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content," but "conservative Muslims in Pakistan have increasingly accused TikTok of testing acceptable social norms" with "memes and song adaptations" that are "too suggestive and too risque."

The Presidential Campaign Continues To Be Vitriolic and Contentious

With the election just over two weeks away, the vitriol and contention that have characterized the 2020 campaign have not abated. Following President Trump's refusal to virtually participate in the second debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, two town halls took place simultaneously. Of note, during President Trump's contentious town hall, he refused to denounce the conspiracy group QAnon, and former Vice President Biden has continued to not take a stance on whether he supports expanding the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, there have been appeals to voters from President Trump including that he planned to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. There remain significant questions about the integrity of the election, and those questions are focused this year on domestic meddling as opposed to foreign: in California, the Republican Party "has admitted responsibility for placing more than 50 deceptively labeled 'official' drop boxes for mail-in ballots." The move is one "that state officials said was illegal and could lead to election fraud."

Covid-19 Cases Continue to Rise Throughout the Country, Continuing to Disrupt American Life

Cases of Covid-19 have consistently been rising throughout the United States, with hot spots now being in the Midwest. The potential for a vaccine before the election is increasingly slim: Pfizer announced that it will not seek vaccine authorization before the middle of November, which is a "shift in tone for the company and its leader, who has repeatedly emphasized the month of October in interviews and public appearances." Regardless, talks in Congress of another stimulus package have stalled: Senate Republicans have maintained that they will not approve a package over $500 million, while House Democrats and the White House have maintained that no package will be considered that is below one trillion dollars. In some communities, there is increasing pressure to manage the response to the virus: at the State University of New York at Oneonta, the university president announced her resignation after the university "experienced the most severe coronavirus outbreak of any public university in the state" with over 700 students testing positive last month and "causing the shutdown of in-person classes."

Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett Endures Confirmation Hearings

Over two days of hearings, Judge Amy Coney Barrett "took a particularly rigorous approach to the strategy used by all modern Supreme Court nominees: avoiding saying anything about issues that could turn into court cases and saying almost nothing about cases that courts have already decided." One political scientist said that "Barrett took this to a whole new level" as being "among the least responsive nominees in American history." Nonetheless, her "confirmation seems assured", given the Republican majority in the Senate.

Supreme Court Will Review Trump's Plan to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants in Redistricting

On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it will "hear a case on whether the Trump administration can exclude undocumented immigrants from the calculations it will use in apportioning congressional seats." Arguments are scheduled for November 30th, and it is expected that President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, "will most likely be on the court by then."

Two Huge Questions Loom as 2020 Census Winds Down

With the 2020 census coming to an end, there remain questions "about the accuracy of its numbers and how they will be used in congressional reapportionment." The Census Bureau had long been "the gold standard for nonpartisan probity and statistical rigor in the federal government," but this census became "the most imperiled and politicized population count in memory."

Third Justice Department Prosecutor Publicly Denounces Barr

Phillip Halpern, a veteran of the Justice Department for 36 years, has "accused Attorney General William P. Barr of abusing his power to sway the election for President Trump and said he was quitting, making him the third sitting prosecutor to issue a rare public rebuke of the attorney general." In making his statement, he joins two other prosecutors (in Seattle and Boston) in denouncing Barr for his actions supporting President Trump.

Alarming Environmental Issues Continue to Grow

Researches in Australia have announced that the Great Barrier Reef, "one of the earth's most precious habitats," has lost half of its coral population in the past 25 years. On Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, fires are "threatening to ravage one of the world's richest and most diverse ecosystems." In the United States, President Trump first announced that he would not approve a disaster relief package for the California wildfires, but then reversed himself within hours speaking to Governor Gavin Newsome and Representative Kevin McCarthy. Additionally, a new report found that during the Trump administration, there has been a "70 percent decrease in criminal prosecutions under the Clean Water Act and a decrease of more than 50 percent under the Clean Air Act."

U.S. Auction Theorists Win the 2020 Nobel in Economics

Two American economists have received the Nobel Prize "in economic science" for their "improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats." The winners, Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson, had "pioneered a type of auction that governments have since used to bid radio frequency," and the type of auction has "had huge practical applications when it comes to allocating scarce resources."

Library of Congress Acquires Archives of the National Woman's Party

The Library of Congress is set to receive a donation of over "300,000 documents, photographs, letters, broadsides, scrapbooks, and other items relating to the" National Woman's Party. The materials show the "party's history, from its founders' earlier involvement in feminist activism to the fight over the 19th Amendment to its decades of advocacy for the Equal Rights Amendment." The donation was timed to coincide with the centennial of the 19th Amendment and doubles the Library of Congress' "holdings relating to the party."

Children From Immigrant Families Are Increasingly the Face of Higher Education

There has been "an extraordinary demographic shift" in American university campuses: "immigrants and children of immigrants" have "become an ever-larger share of student bodies." A study released this week "found that more than 5.3 million students, or nearly 30 percent of all students enrolled in colleges and universities in 2018, hailed from immigrant families, up from 20 percent in 2000."

Military Names Air Force Judge for Guantanamo Bay 9/11 Trial

The military has assigned an Air Force judge to preside over the case of five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the proceedings are likely to be delayed following the assignment: the "war court prosecutors declared the officer unqualified for the job." He was previously a "deputy chief circuit judge for the Air Force at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia but has served less than two years as a military judge."

U.S. Attorney Moves In on Brooklyn DA's Territory, Citing Crime Surge

The "acting United States attorney in Brooklyn, Seth DuCharme," has announced that "his office will also now focus on lower-level gun cases that were once the bailiwick of local district attorneys." His announcement is "part of a broader pattern as federal officials in New York City step in to respond to growing pressure to curb the sharp rise in gun violence this year." With federal prosecutors handling these cases, "defendants will face higher prison sentences and a higher likelihood of being held in jail before trial."

As New York City Jails Become More Violent, Solitary Confinement Persists

Despite the fact that under Mayor Bill de Blasio New York City jails have become increasingly empty, the number of inmates being held in solitary confinement. Records show that officials "have relied on solitary confinement to punish about the same number of inmates each year since 2017."

Europe Can Impose Tariffs on U.S. in Long-Running Aircraft Battle

The World Trade Organization has authorized the European Union "to tax up to $4 billion of American products annually in return for subsidies given to Boeing." The move may "result in levies on American airplanes, agricultural products, and other goods" and "stems from a 16-year fight before the global trade body." The Trump administration, in 2019, "imposed tariffs on European planes, wine, cheese, and other products after the WTO gave the United States permission to retaliate on up to $7.5 billion of European exports annually."

Who Was 'El Padrino,' Godfather to Drug Cartel? Mexico's Defense Chief, U.S. Says

For years, there were questions about how deep organized crime penetrated into Mexico's institutions, and this week revealed that it went deeper than many expected. Drug enforcement agents had long wondered who El Padrino, or The Godfather, was as the person was a "shadowy, powerful force" in facilitating the Mexican drug cartels. Those agents have identified that El Padrino was in fact the country's defense chief from 2012 to 2018, General Salvador Cienfuegos.

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