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Week In Review

By 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


Quibi Streaming Service Meets Quick End

Short-video app and $2 billion streaming experiment, Quibi, is shutting down just six months after its early April launch, having struggled to find customers. The company said that it would wind down its operations and plans to sell its assets, which include significant intellectual property.

The Leader of a Boston Theater Steps Down

Artistic Director Peter DuBois is stepping down at the Huntington Theatre Company following a number of complaints by staffers and a subsequent investigation regarding a lack of diversity and inclusiveness, salary discrepancies, and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been no official reason as to his departure.

#MeToo Awakens in Iran with Accusations Against Star Artists

Three years in, the #MeToo movement has hit a nerve among Iran's women. Now accusations against a politically connected celebrity artist is testing the movement in a sexually conservative society dominated by men. In late August, allegations aired on Iranian social media against more than 100 men, including a giant e-commerce company's former star manager, a prominent sociology professor, and the owner of a popular bookstore. Yet the highest-profile person to face such allegations so far is a nearly 80-year-old, internationally acclaimed artist with ties to the ruling elite. Thirteen women have now accused artist Aydin Aghdashloo of sexual misconduct over a 30-year span. Most are former students, and some are journalists who have reported on art and culture.


Fewer Visitors for Europe's Museums

As cultural institutions reopen across the U.S., with new coronavirus protocols in place, the world has been looking to Europe where many museums have been open since May, for a preview of how the public might respond to the invitation to return. So far, there's little reason to be optimistic. Almost all European museums are suffering from visitor losses, but their ability to cope depends almost entirely on how they are funded. Institutions supported by government funding are able to weather the storm with a little belt-tightening, while those that depend on ticket sales are facing tougher choices. Many are laying off employees and restructuring their business models.

Archeologists Find Ancient Cat Etching on Peru Heritage Site

Peruvian archeologists unveiled a giant cat carved into Nazca Lines UNESCO site. The archeologists uncovered a 120-foot-long cat etching in a little-explored area of the country's celebrated Nazca Lines heritage site, home to hundreds of gigantic geoglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years.

Spain's Far Right Uses Law It Hates Against Its Rivals

Vox, an ultranationalist party in Madrid, is working to remove memorials to Socialist figures of the 1930s, calling the effort a warning that a "law of historical memory" should be abolished. Leftist politicians in Spain have worked slowly but steadily over the years to remove symbols commemorating the former dictator General Francisco Franco from public spaces across the country. Last October, they used the law to exhume the remains of Franco from a mausoleum near Madrid. Now, despite denouncing those efforts, their political opponents are trying to use the same law to persuade the authorities in Madrid to erase memorials to Franco's rivals.


How the Women's National Basketball Association Became an Avatar of Social Activism

From the beginning of their more than two decades on the court, the players in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) have defied society's expectations. Today, challenging the status quo is a hallmark of the WNBA's players. They pushed the envelope long before it came into vogue among modern-day professional athletes, and led the way in protesting social injustice and racism. The breadth of action among the players is unparalleled among pro sports teams - from opposing bans on same-sex marriage to criminal justice reform and fighting against gun violence. Often they include unified undertakings - it's the natural outgrowth of who they are.

DeBlasio Could Scuttle Deal for Cohen to Buy Mets Over Lease

Steven Cohen's long, arduous pursuit of the Mets is headed toward a conclusion, but New York City may throw up a last-minute roadblock. Mayor DeBlasio's office has said it is looking into whether insider trading convictions at Steve Cohen's former hedge fund might prohibit the billionaire from buying the Mets. There is no indication that the mayor's office is bent on thwarting the deal, but it has a 30-day window to collect information and potentially take action as the leaseholder of Citi Field, the Mets' stadium in Queens.

A Fragile Effort to Sustain a Cherished Tradition

During the crisis, high school football's fragile effort to hold on to football season might seem inconsequential. Yet the game is perhaps more urgent and galvanizing in Texas than anywhere else. As towns along or near the Rio Grande - like La Joya, Palmview, Mission, Progreso, Weslaco, Rio Hondo - have shut off their Friday night lights, or left them flickering in uncertainty, there has been a sense of cultural casualty.

For the 28th Time, a Horse Trained by Baffert Fails a Drug Test

In September, the Baffert-trained filly Gamine tested positive for a banned substance for the second time this year, according to two people familiar with the results of the test. It was the 28th violation in Baffert's career.

Doping Tests are Returning, But It Might Be Too Late

The coronavirus pandemic made collecting blood and urine samples extremely difficult. It also made 2020 and ideal opportunity for those who wanted to cheat. During the first nine months of 2019, antidoping organizations collected more than 231,000 blood and urine samples from athletes for testing for performance-enhancing drugs. During the same period in 2020, with the coronavirus making collection a high-risk event, antidoping organizations collected about 111,000 samples. In April alone, when cities and countries around the world were locked down, only 576 samples were collected, compared with 25,219 for the same month the previous year.

Improbably, Sports Made It Back in 2020. Now, the Hard Part.

Aggressive coronavirus testing made the restart of professional sports possible, but the financial pain of empty arenas lingers as plans for next year are up in the air. Professional sports figured out how to sputter back to life over the past three months. Now the leagues have to figure out how to do it again as infection numbers have reached a record daily high in the U.S., making it unclear how to protect players and other personnel without spending exorbitantly again.

The Slippery Slope of Competing Across Europe During a Pandemic

With coronavirus infection rates rising dramatically, this may not be the best time to begin a series of competitions that require moving hundreds of people across Europe during the next few months. Yet, that is exactly what is happening as winter draws closer, temperatures drop, and the international winter sports schedule gets underway. Alpine skiing kicked off in Soelden, Austria, last weekend. Nordic skiing, biathlon, and sliding sports are scheduled to begin next month. There are testing protocols, reservations for lengthy stays in European chalets, and contingencies for a coronavirus outbreak.

Russia is Accused of Hacking Games It Could Not Join

After suffering embarrassment over its doping scheme, Russia tried cyberattacks against the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and was targeting the postponed Tokyo Olympics too, according to American and British officials.


U.S. Fights Google in Antitrust Suit that May Jolt Web

The Justice Department accused Google of illegally protecting its monopoly over search and search advertising, the government's most significant challenge to a tech company's market power in a generation and one that could re-shape the way consumers use the internet.

'Not a Rush' to Sue Says Google Investigator

Jeffrey A. Rosen, the deputy attorney general, wouldn't normally oversee an antitrust investigation into Google. It would usually fall to the head of the Justice Department's antitrust division. However, that official, Makan Delrahim, recused himself because the company is a former legal client. So Rosen took the lead on the investigation and announced the Department of Justice's lawsuit against Google, which accuses the company of illegally protecting its monopoly over search and search advertising.

Federal Trade Commission Said to Be Near Decision on Facebook Action

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is moving closer to a decision about filing an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook for its market power in social networking. The five members of the FTC met to discuss its investigation into Facebook and whether the company had bought smaller rivals to maintain a monopoly. No decision on a case has been made and the commissioners must vote before any is pursued.

After Years of Living in Exile, Snowden Granted Permanent Residency in Russia

Edward J. Snowden, the former American intelligence contractor whose 2013 leaks of top-secret documents set off a worldwide debate about government surveillance, is now a permanent resident of Russia. Last week, Russia's immigration authorities granted Snowden permanent residency. Snowden's end goal is being able to return to the U.S., but only if he is guaranteed a fair trial. Trump has said previously that he would "take a very good look at" a pardon for the former intelligence contractor. Changes last year to Russia's immigration law that have made it easier for foreigners to get permanent residency cleared the path for Snowden to stay in the country for as long as he wanted.

New York Post Staff Questioned Report on Biden

Bruce Golding, a reporter at the New York Post since 2007, did not want his byline to be used on a front-page article about Hunter Biden because he had concerns over the article's credibility, according to two New York Post employees speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation. The article suggested that Joe Biden used his position to enrich his son Hunter when he was vice president. The newspaper based the story on photos and documents that it said had been taken from the hard drive of a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden. Many New York Post staff members questioned whether the paper had done enough to verify the authenticity of the hard drive's content and they also had concerns about the reliability of its source's timing.

Facing a Deluge of Misinformation, Colorado Takes the Offensive Against It

The state will combat false information on social media and even buy Google ads against it. Few states are following suit. To prevent deceptive tweets, doctored videos, and other forms of misinformation form undermining Colorado's election, Jean Griswold, the newly installed secretary of state, is starting a new initiative that will run ads on social media and expand digital outreach to help voters identify foreign misinformation.

TikTok Adds to Restrictions on Hate Speech

Last week, the company announced a series of policy changes restricting the types of content it would allow, including a crackdown on QAnon supporters and a prohibition of "coded" language that could serve to normalize hate speech across TikTok.

Trump Posts Unedited Clip of Interview He Cut Short

Trump posted full, unedited interviews that he and VP Pence did with "60 Minutes" on Facebook last week before the show's scheduled broadcast. The footage showed Trump growing increasingly agitated as interviewer Lesley Stahl pressed him on his response to the coronavirus epidemic, his demeanor on social media, the lack of masks at his campaign rallies, and the "Obamacare" replacement plan he has long promised but failed to deliver.

Ex-Daily News Reporter Sues Over Termination

A former City Hall reporter for the Daily News says that she was fired for questioning why a male colleague was earning more for performing the same job. Anna Sanders, 29, filed a lawsuit against the tabloid and its parent company, Tribune Publishing, alleging wrongful termination and gender discrimination.

PBS Showed TV the Future. What Does Its Own Look Like?

PBS created the blueprint for what TV has become. While the networks and streaming services reap the benefits of PBS's successes, it is still struggling to survive. PBS celebrates its 50th anniversary this month and its influence is everywhere - from MTV's "The Real World" to YouTube cooking stars and "Keeping Up with the Kardashians". PBS may still execute many of its programs better than its rivals, and its content remains free and over-the-air, which are crucial for reaching those with lesser means and those without broadband. Unfortunately, however, in a country where the vast majority gets its TV through a paid service, the distinction rarely registers. Now PBS grapples with an existential conundrum - what it should be and how it should distinguish itself.

The White Issue. Has Anna Wintour's Diversity Push at Vogue and Condé Nast Come Too Late?

Although Vogue's September issue celebrated Black culture and contributors, some employees say the magazine's powerful editor fostered a workplace that sidelined women of color. Wintour, in internal emails, apologized for Vogue and Condé Nast's lack of elevating of and giving space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers, and other creators back in June. Yet the Black editors who have been working with Wintour say they saw her apology as hypocritical, part of a calculated play by an executive known for her ability to gauge the public mood. Other Black journalists, current or former employees of Condé Nast said the email and the September issue that followed it represented an awkward, though heartfelt, attempt at genuine change.

How Agendas Fill Local News Void

A nationwide operation of 1,300 local sites publishes coverage that is ordered up by Republican groups and corporate P.R. firms. These websites fill a void left by vanishing local newspapers across the country. Yet the network, now in all 50 states, is built not on traditional journalism, but rather on propaganda ordered up by dozens of conservative think tanks, political operatives, corporate executives, and public-relations professionals. The sites appear as ordinary local news outlets. They employ simple layouts and articles about local politics, community happenings, and sometimes national issues, much like any local newspaper. Yet behind the scenes, many of the stories are directed by political groups and corporate P.R. firms to promote a Republican candidate or a company, or to smear their rivals.

Biden Eclipses Trump in the War for the Airwaves

Joe Biden is vastly outspending President Trump in TV advertising, maintaining a nearly 2-to-1 advantage on the airwaves in the general election battleground states and elsewhere. He is focusing overwhelmingly on the coronavirus as millions of Americans across the country begin casting early votes.

Suit Reveals Role Ex-Spy Played at Project Veritas

A British former spy recruited by Erik Prince, the security contractor close to the Trump administration, played a central role in a secretive effort to hire dozens of operatives for the conservative group Project Veritas. The new details about Project Veritas show the extent of the group's ambitions to build an intelligence-gathering apparatus to infiltrate Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations, news media, and other groups. Project Veritas is known for its sting operations aimed at such groups, which have prompted allegations that it has published deceptively edited videos.

Writer is Suspended After Zoom Exposure

Jeffrey Toobin, a longtime reporter for The New Yorker and CNN's leading legal analyst, was suspended from the magazine after an incident in which he allegedly unwittingly exposed himself believing the camera was off during a Zoom call with colleagues and employees of a New York radio station. He has been suspended by the magazine while the matter is investigated and will take some requested time off from his gig at CNN as he "deals with a personal issue."

After TikTok Assures Pakistan It Will Monitor for Indecency, Ban is Lifted

Pakistan has lifted its ban on TikTok, just 10 days after blocking the app on the grounds that it hosted "immoral" and "indecent" videos. Pakistan's Telecommunication Authority now says that TikTok has "assured" the agency that videos will be moderated "in accordance with societal norms and the laws of Pakistan."

Fake Political News Aimed at Latinos to Suppress Vote

Misinformation and conspiracy theories swirling around the 2020 presidential race are reaching an "alarming" number of Latino voters in Florida through Spanish language social media sites, advocacy groups and elected officials have said. Advocates pointed to Republicans and Trump as some of the sources of disinformation flooding Latinos' social media feeds, but the full picture regarding the origins of the information was not immediately clear. Latino voters are particularly vulnerable to many challenges related to misinformation and disinformation, such as a language barrier coupled with a mistrust in government.

General News

U.S. Still Can't Locate Parents of 545 Children Separated at Border

Lawyers appointed by a federal judge to identify migrant who were separated by the Trump administration say that they have yet to track down the parents of 545 children and that about two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central America without their children, according to a filing from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Trump administration instituted a "zero tolerance" policy in 2018 that separated migrant children and parents at the southern U.S. border. The administration later confirmed that it had actually begun separating families in 2017 along some parts of the border under a pilot program. The ACLU and other pro-bono law firms were tasked with finding the members of families separated during the pilot program. Unlike the 2,800 families separated under zero tolerance in 2018, most of whom remained in custody when the policy was ended by executive order, many of the more than 1,000 parents separated from their children under the pilot program had already been deported before a federal judge in California ordered that they be found.

Republicans Advance Barrett's Nomination Over a Democratic Boycott

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans powered past a Democratic boycott to advance Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate, keeping Trump's pick on track for confirmation before the November 3 election. Democratic senators refused to show up in protest of the GOP's rush to install Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Ginsburg. Never has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election.

Murkowski, in a Turnabout, Says She Will Join Fellow Senators to Confirm Barrett

The iconoclastic Alaska Republican said she remained opposed to filling the Supreme Court seat so close to an election but could not hold that against a qualified nominee. She will nonetheless vote to confirm Judge Barrett. Her unexpected turnabout gave a boost to Senate Republicans looking to quiet intraparty dissent in the face of unified Democratic opposition. They already had the votes they needed to confirm Trumps third Supreme Court nominee, but Murkowski's support means that only one Republican - Senator Susan Collins of Maine - is likely to defect when the roll is called this week.

Biden Says He'd Set Up Panel to Study Judiciary

Biden has said that if elected, he would put together a bipartisan commission of scholars to examine reforming a federal judiciary he called "out of whack," noting that there are alternatives to consider besides expanding the Supreme Court.

Appointees Tilt Toward Trump in Voting Cases

A study commissioned by a group that favors expanding the U.S. Supreme Court found that Republican-appointed judges and justices in 2020 have repeatedly ruled in favor of making it harder for Americans to vote. The study found that in election-related cases, Republican appointees interpreted law in a way that hindered voting access 80% of the time, as compared to 37% of the time with Democrat appointees. Among judges and justices appointed by President Donald Trump, that figure jumped to 85%.

Trump's Policies Fill the Docket of U.S. Justices

The Supreme Court agreed to review two major Trump administration immigration initiatives, adding them to a docket now crowded with cases that will test President Trump's agenda and policies. The Court, which might have been expected to tread cautiously while it is short-handed in the aftermath of Justice Ginsburg's death, has instead seemed determined to weigh in on many aspects of the Trump presidency, even if it could end soon. The cases the Court took on last week are challenges to a program that has forced at least 60,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their requests are heard and the diversion of $2.5 billion in Pentagon money to build a barrier on the southwestern border.

Justices Bar Curbside Vote in Alabama

The Supreme Court blocked a trial judge's ruling that would have allowed, but not required, counties in Alabama to offer curbside voting. The vote was 5 to 3 with the Court's more conservative members in the majority. The brief gave no reasons, which is typical when it rules on emergency applications. The order will remain in effect while appeals moved forward. Justices Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan dissented, saying that the state's policy discriminated against older and disabled voters.

Pennsylvania is Allowed Extra Time to Tally Votes

In a ruling that was a defeat for Republicans who said counting late ballots would inject chaos into an already complicated general election, election officials in the presidential battleground state of Pennsylvania must accept mail ballots that arrive up to three days after the election under an order issued by the U.S. Supreme Court. The eight-members tied 4-4, with Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh saying they would have granted a request by Republicans to put the lower court ruling on hold. Five votes are needed to grant a stay.

Purdue Admits That It Pushed Deadly Opioid

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its marketing of the addictive painkiller, and faces penalties of roughly $8.3 billion. The settlement could pave the way for a resolution of thousands of lawsuits brought against the company for its role in a public health crisis that has killed more than 450,000 Americans since 1999. The company's owners have agreed to pay $225 million in civil penalties. However, as the company has declared bankruptcy, just a portion of that will actually be paid, and the individual family members are not covered by this settlement.

McConnell Acts to Shelve Relief Till the Election

The top Senate Republican told colleagues that he had advised the White House against striking a pre-election deal with Democrats to deliver pandemic aid, fearing political repercussions. McConnell's remarks threw cold water on Trump's increasingly urgent push to enact a new round of pandemic aid before Election Day. The cost of their emerging compromise on a new round of aid to hard-pressed Americans and businesses has steadily climbed toward $2 trillion, inching closer to Pelosi's demands even as it far exceeds what most Senate Republicans have said they can accept.

China Threatens to Detain Americans in Retaliation

Chinese officials have told the Trump administration that security officers in China might detain American citizens if the Justice Dept proceeds with prosecutions of arrested scholars who are members of the Chinese military. Officials conveyed the messages starting this summer when the Justice Dept intensified efforts to arrest and charge the scholars, mainly with providing false information on their visa applications. American officials said they thought the Chinese officials were serious about the threats. The State Department has reiterated travel warnings as a result, they said. Western officials and human rights advocates have said for years that the Chinese police and other security agencies engage in arbitrary detentions.

Allies Balk at U.S. Sanctions on Rights Lawyer

Trump's sanctions on international courts may do little beyond alienating allies. Critics say that the administration has targeted a human rights lawyer with economic penalties meant for warlords, dictators, and authoritarian governments. Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions on the International Criminal court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, and a colleague, trying to stop their inquiry into potential war crimes by American forces in Afghanistan. This measure enraged European allies, human rights activists, and even some retired American generals. Bensouda said that they won't be deterred.

In Unusual Adjustment, Candidates Were Muted for Parts of Debate

Former VP Joe Biden and President Trump had their microphones muted during portions of the second and final presidential debate, a decision that angered the President. The decision came after the commission met to discuss potential rule changes to the debate format. It decided that the changes were needed because of how the first debate between Biden and Trump devolved into chaos, with the President frequently interrupting the former VP. Trump felt like the decision was unfair.

Trump and Biden Diverge Sharply in Visions for U.S.

In a more restrained appearance, Trump depicted Biden as an ineffectual Washington insider. Biden accused the president of heartlessness for separating migrant families and inflaming racial tensions. The two delivered starkly divergent closing arguments to the country in the final debate, offering opposite prognoses for the coronavirus pandemic and airing irreconcilable differences on subjects from rescuing the economy and bolstering the health care system to fighting climate change and reshaping the immigration policy.

The President Pushes His Attorney General to 'Act Fast' Against His Rival

Trump has called on attorney general Barr to take action before Election Day against his Democratic opponent, former VP Joe Biden, over his son's foreign work, an extraordinary attempt to pressure the government's chief law enforcement to help him politically. Critics have accused Barr on a number of occasions of intervening on issues to help Trump politically, but for the president to publicly call on him to take action against a political opponent was remarkable, especially two weeks before a presidential election.

Trump Ally Pleads Guilty in Foreign Lobbying Case Tied to Malaysia and China

A former Trump fundraiser admitted to a role in a covert campaign to influence the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests. Elliott Broidy agreed to forfeit $6.6 million to the federal government and to cooperate with prosecutors on a range of potential investigations related to his fellow conspirators and others.

U.S. Cites Proof That Iran and Russia Aim to Tilt Race

Iran and Russia have both obtained American voter registration data, a top national security official announced last week, providing the first concrete evidence that the two countries are stepping in to try to influence the presidential election as it enters its final two weeks.

Breaches by Russians Pointing to Election Threat, Officials Say

While senior Trump administration officials said this week that Iran has been actively interfering in the presidential election, many intelligence officials said they remained far more concerned about Russia, which in recent days has hacked into state and local computer networks in breaches that could allow Moscow broader access to American voting infrastructure. American intelligence agencies have pieced together details of what they believe are Russia's plans to interfere in the presidential race in its final days or immediately after the election. Officials did not make clear what Russia planned to do, but they said its operations would be intended to help President Trump, potentially by exacerbating disputes around the results, especially if the race is too close to call.

Airport Hacking by Russian Group Praise Election Alarms

The hacking group Energetic Bear is among Russia's stealthiest. It appears to be casting a wide net to find useful targets ahead of the election. Cybersecurity officials watched with growing alarm in September as Russian state hackers started prowling around dozens of American state and local government computer systems just two months before the election. The group hacked into Wi-Fi systems at San Francisco International Airport and at least two other West Coast airports in March in an apparent bid to find one unidentified traveler, a demonstration of the hackers' power and resolve.

Drug May Extend the Lives of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Patients

A two drug combination invented by college students is one of many potential therapies being tested for this paralyzing and fatal condition. The drug may extend Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) patients' lives by several months. A new study in Muscle and Nerve indicates that an experimental therapy may allow patients to live several months longer than they otherwise would have.

Refugees Risked Lives Helping U.S. Military, but Nation Blocks Entry

President Trump has reduced the flow of refugees into the country to a trickle, and even Iraqis and Afghans who risked lives for American service members have been cut off. The Trump administration had reserved 4,000 slots for Iraqi refugees who had helped American troops, contractors or news media or who are members of a persecuted minority group in the fiscal year that ended on September 30th. It ultimately admitted only 161 Iraqis - or 4% -- to the U.S., the lowest percentage of the four categories of refugees the administration authorized for resettlement last year.

U.S. State Department to Drop Sudan from Terror List

Trump has announced that Sudan has agreed to begin normalizing relations with Israel, just days after his administration said it would take the North African country off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. The details of the Sudan-Israel agreement, coming just days before the U.S. election, were not immediately clear.

Trump's Taxes Show Own Past Courting China

The New York Times recently reported that Trump spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company. China is one of only three foreign nations - the others are Britain and Ireland - where Trump maintains a bank account. The foreign accounts do not show up on Trump's public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names. The Chinese account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, which the tax records show paid $188,561 in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015.

As U.S. Diplomats Fell Sick, Washington Minimized the Danger

American officials in China, Cuba, and Russia say that U.S. agencies are concealing the true extend of the episodes, leaving colleagues vulnerable to hostile actions abroad. What began as strange sounds and symptoms among more than a dozen American officials and their family members in China in 2018 has turned into a diplomatic mystery spanning multiple countries and involving speculation about secret high-tech weapons and foreign attacks. One of the biggest questions centers on whether Trump administration officials believe that the diplomats in China experienced the same mysterious affliction as dozens of diplomats and spies at the American Embassy in Cube in 2016 and 2017, which came to be known as Havana Syndrome. However, the government's treatment of these episodes was radically different. The State Department, which oversaw the cases, has produced inconsistent assessments of patients and events, ignored outside medical diagnoses, and withheld basic information from Congress.

Grand Juror in Taylor Case Says Prosecutors Never Presented Homicide Charge

An anonymous Kentucky juror from the Breonna Taylor grand jury said that state Attorney Daniel Cameron never presented homicide charges for the officers who killed Taylor in her home back in March. A judge gave the grand jurors in the case permission to speak publicly, which is rare. Grand jurors are bound by secrecy rules that almost always keep their experiences unknown to the public, so the judge's decision allowed them to shed rare light on the process. The juror's statement reflects how prosecutors hold enormous sway over grant juries that are tasked with deciding whether to bring felony charges against the accused. While grand juries have the ability to call witnesses and pursue charges other than what the prosecutor recommends, jurors may not understand the scope of their power, and prosecutors have no obligation to present charges other than the ones they choose to recommend.

Pope, in Break from Doctrine, Backs Same-Sex Civil Unions

Pope Francis has expressed support for same-sex civil unions in remarks revealed in a documentary film that premiered last week. This is a significant break from his predecessors that staked out new ground for the church in its recognition of gay people. The remarks had the potential to shift debates about the legal status of same-sex couples in nations around the globe and unsettle bishops worried that the unions threaten what the church considered traditional marriage.

Guess Who's Being Asked to Lead Diversity Reviews

When corporations try to belatedly address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), they often drop the responsibility on their few Black employees. For many Black professionals, the experience of being asked - or even required - to lead or participate in a company's diversity and inclusion work simply because of their race is an uncomfortable ritual. As the corporate world continues its attempt to respond to the Black Lives Matter movement, such requests threaten to undermine the inclusion efforts they are supposed to promote. Bosses, managers, and colleagues - well-intentioned or otherwise - often fail to recognize the emotional and professional stakes of giving Black employees a DEI task, like reviewing or writing company statements, leading anti-racism meetings or heading employee resource groups, especially when not in their areas of expertise.

Trump Order May Expand his Authority to Fire Staff

The move would give the president greater freedom to weed out what he sees as a "deep state" bureaucracy. The executive order, which could be rescinded if he is not re-elected, was condemned by civil service unions. The order gives him leeway to hire and fire federal workers.

Trump Campaign Draws Rebuke for Surveilling Philadelphia Voters

The Trump campaign has been videotaping Philadelphia voters while they deposit their ballots in drop boxes, leading Pennsylvania's attorney general to warn this week that the campaign's actions fall outside of permitted poll watching practices and could amount to illegal voter intimidation. The campaign made a formal complaint to city officials on October 16th, saying that a campaign representative had surveilled voters depositing two or three ballots at drop boxes, instead of only their own. Both the Trump and Biden campaigns are focused on Pennsylvania, seen as one of the most important swing states in the election and where polls show Biden with a 7-point lead.

Trump Promised Seniors Drug Discount Cards, but They May Be Illegal

A proposal announced by President Trump last month to send older Americans $200 discount cards to offset prescription costs for more than 30 million older Americans will not come to fruition before the election, if ever. The promise set off a scramble among health and budget officials unaware that such a policy was being considered. Now, less than two weeks before the election, officials acknowledge that Medicare recipients will not be getting their $200 cards this month. Many of the officials assigned to enact the policy view it as legally dubious. Generally, major changes in Medicare policy require Congress to pass legislation.

Tax Records Contradict Trump Claims of Charity

Hidden financial records cast doubt on a number of his charitable commitments and show that most of his giving came from land deals that offset his income. According to his tax records, Trump has given back at least $130 million since 2005, but the long-hidden tax records show that Trump did not have to reach into his wallet for most of that giving. The vast bulk of his charitable tax deductions, $119.3 million worth, came from simply agreeing not to develop land - in several cases, after he had shelved development plans. Three of the agreements involved what are known as conservation easements - a maneuver, popular among wealthy Americans, that typically allows a landowner to keep a property's title and receive a tax deduction equal to its appraised value.

Cities Sue Trump Over 'Anarchist' Label

New York City, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon, all so-called "anarchist jurisdictions," are trying to stop the Trump administration from withholding federal funds. The Trump administration's attempt to strip NYC of federal funds because the administration viewed it as an "anarchist jurisdiction" could cost the city as much as $12 billion - money for the cash-starved subway, the NY Police Department, and efforts to treat coronavirus patients, city officials said last week. Last month, Trump ordered the Justice Dept to withhold federal funds for allowing "themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones." Trump has repeatedly attacked the cities' Democratic leaders for their responses to recent protests over police brutality.

NASA Spacecraft Springs Leak After Touching Asteroid

NASA's effort to grab a piece of an asteroid last week may have worked a little too well. The spacecraft, OSIRIS-REX, grabbed so much rock and dirt that some of the material is now leaking back into space.

New Yorkers Line Up in Droves at Early Polling Sites

Voters in New York City waited hours to cast ballots on Saturday, the first time that early voting has been allowed in the state in a presidential election. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers flooded polling places and waited hours in long lines, with many saying that they turned out because of concerns that their ballots might not be counted if they tried to vote by mail. The hurdles for voters and poll workers on the first day of voting reflected the challenges of holding a contentious presidential election in the middle of a pandemic. Many people remained undeterred by the delays and the coronavirus, some waiting as long as five hours and others rushing to get in line before polls closed.

Racist Postings by New York Court Officers are Detailed in Bias Report

An independent commission tasked with reviewing institutional racism in the New York court system detailed a "culture of toxicity and unprofessionalism" among court officers across the state in a report released last week. The extensive report that included judges, lawyers, clerks, court officers, and litigants, highlighted the institutional bias and racial and ethnic disparities throughout the court system. The most explicit accounts of racism in the report pertained to the conduct of court officers.

Six Russians Tied to Hacks Around Globe

The Justice Department has charged six Russian intelligence officers in a globe-spanning campaign of cyberattacks, ranging from damaging Ukraine's power grid to the 2017 French elections to targeting the 2018 Olympics and more.

Maxwell's Deposition, Filled with Denials, is Revealed in Epstein Case

Ghislaine Maxwell, the accused procurer for late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, said under oath in 2016 that she "never saw any inappropriate underage activities with Jeffrey ever," a newly released deposition reveals. Maxwell is accused of abetting Epstein's sexual abuse of several underage girls. Multiple women have said Epstein sexually abused and exploited them when they were underage, and Maxwell has been accused as acting as a recruiter of teenage girls for her former boyfriend, Epstein, whose properties she managed for years. Some accusers have said Maxwell participated in the abuse. She adamantly denies those claims.

Nigeria in Shock After Police and Soldiers Fatally Shoot Protesters

Nigerians are stunned after police soldiers opened fire on protesters protesting against police brutality. The largely peaceful demonstrations have grown into a challenge for the government. Three hours after peaceful protesters took to the streets singing the national anthem and waving their flags, dozens of people were hit by gunfire from security forces, some fatally, and images of bloodied protesters and their bloodied flags strewn on the ground flooded the social media accounts of millions of Nigerians.

Goldman Unit Pleads Guilty in Malaysian Fraud Scheme

Goldman Sachs played a starring role in the dubious financial engineering that helped spark a global financial crisis last decade, and its 151-year history is dotted with scandals that ended in fines or governmental scoldings. Yet never before had it had to go before a U.S. judge and admit it was guilty of a crime. Goldman employees took part in a scheme to pay $1 billion in bribes to foreign officials. The bank, in turn, arranged the sale of bonds to raise $6.5 billion that was intended to benefit the people of Malaysia, but was instead looted by the country's leaders and their associates. In the end, the scandal, which netted the bank a relatively paltry $600 million in fees, will cost Goldman and its current and former executives dearly. The bank itself will pay more than $5 billion in penalties to regulators around the world, more than it had to pay for peddling bonds back by risky mortgages a decade ago, and it has moved to recoup or withhold more than $100 million in executive compensation, a rare move for a Wall Street bank.

Norway Provides Asylum for an Antiracism Activist

Antiracism activist Rafal Gawel fled Poland on New Year's Eve in 2018 seeking refuge in Norway, which has long welcomed political refugees from desperate corners of the world. Yet he wasn't escaping a war-torn country, but a member of the democratic and peaceful European Union. Although his initial request for asylum in Norway was rejected, last month an appeals board there granted his request. It was a dramatic chain of events that underscored concerns elsewhere in Europe that Poland's democracy, which was once regarded as a great success story of the post-Soviet era, has regressed under the right-wing coalition that has ruled the country for the past five years. The asylum decision reflected worries about political influence in the Polish judicial system.

As China Clamps Down, Activists Flee Hong Kong for Refuge in West

China calls them "violent criminals." Asylum seekers from Hong Kong are the latest catalyst for deteriorating relations between Beijing and Western countries. In Western democracies, they have been welcomed as refugees escaping Beijing's tightening grip over Hong Kong. Western leaders have asserted that they will stand up for human rights in Hong Kong, while Chinese officials have rebuked the countries for what they called interference in Beijing's affairs. The protesters' newly conferred status has made clear how profoundly Hong Kong has changed since China imposed a tough new security law this summer.


New Peak for U.S. Cases: Over 82,000 in Single Day

More than 85,000 new cases of the virus were reported on Friday, shattering an earlier single-day record and stirring new fears about the months ahead. Since the start of October, the rise in cases has been steady and more inexorable, with no plateau in sight. This new record broke the single-day record set on July 16th by about 10,000 cases. By that measure, Friday was the worst day of the pandemic and health experts warned of a further surge as cold weather sets in. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has already risen 40% in the past month. Deaths have remained relatively flat but are often a lagging indicator.

Pandemic's Toll Closer to 300,000, Researchers Say, Not All From COVID

The coronavirus pandemic caused nearly 300,000 deaths in the U.S. through early October, federal researchers said. The tally includes not only deaths known to have been directly caused by the virus, but also roughly 100,000 fatalities that are indirectly related and would not have occurred if it not for the virus. The study, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says that the illnesses were caused by the coronavirus, but were misclassified or missed altogether.

Calling Fauci a Disaster, Trump Shrugs at a Spike of Infections in the U.S.

President Trump recently said that the government's top coronavirus pandemic fighter, Dr. Fauci, is a "disaster." Trump also claimed that Americans are "tired of" COVID-19, even as the numbers of coronavirus cases continued spiking in much of the U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Clears Remdesivir As Treatment for COVID-19

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the antiviral drug Remdesivir for use in adult and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older and weighing at least 88 pounds for the treatment of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization. The drug should only be administered in a hospital or in a healthcare setting capable of providing acute care comparable to inpatient hospital care. Remdesivir is the first treatment for COVID-19 to receive FDA approval.

Cases Double in a Month Amid "Widespread" Community Transmission

Coronavirus cases in New Jersey, an early epicenter of the pandemic, are on the rise again, doubling over the last month to an average of more than 900 new positive tests a day, a worrisome reversal of fortune for a state that had driven transmission rates to some of the nation's lowest levels. After an outbreak several weeks ago in a town near the Jersey Shore, cases are now rising in counties across the state, driven, officials say, by indoor gatherings. The state's health commissioner has said there are signs of "widespread community spread" for the first time since New Jersey successfully slowed the spread of the virus that has claimed the lives of more than 16,000 residents. A small, densely packed state, New Jersey has the highest virus fatality rate in the country.

'No Practical Way' to Enforce Quarantine on Neighboring States Cuomo Says

The governor has said he would not restrict travelers from New Jersey, Connecticut or Pennsylvania, despite virus spikes in neighboring states. The coronavirus has spiked in states that border New York, with the rates of new cases hitting a point that is supposed to trigger restrictions on travelers entering New York. Cuomo excluded neighboring New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania from New York's quarantine list, saying there was "no practical way" to enforce such a limitation because of the vast numbers of commuters crossing state borders would make it nearly impossible to carry out.

'Herd Immunity' Proposal Draws Ire from Scientists

A manifesto urging reliance on "herd immunity" without lockdowns was warmly received by administration officials. However, such a strategy cannot stem the pandemic, many experts say.

CDC Updates Advice for Voting Safely

With Election Day less than two weeks away, the CDC has released safety tips for voters to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. It encouraged Americans to follow basic public health measures and consider several voting options, including voting by mail. The agency also reiterated the importance of the basic preventative measures while voting in person: social distancing, mask wearing and washing hands.

Two Vaccine Trials Resume After Pauses Over Safety

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have restarted their late-stage trials after finding that serious illness in a few volunteers appeared not to be related to the vaccines. Federal health regulars have given AstraZeneca the green light after a six-week pause, concluding that there is no evidence that the experimental vaccine had directly caused the neurological side effects reported in two participants.

San Quentin Ordered to Reduce Prison Population by Half Over Virus Fears

The coronavirus snaked its way through San Quentin State Prison over the summer, eventually sickening 2,200 people and killing 28. The outbreak, among the deadliest in the nation's prison system, forced officials to erect giant tents on the prison's grounds to isolate the sickened inmates. Now, adding to its troubles, San Quentin, California's oldest and most notorious prison, must either release or move nearly 1,500 inmates. The requirement was part of a sharply worded state appellate court ruling handed down that is likely to reverberate in prison systems and governors' mansions across the country.

Hospitals in Europe are Starting to Fill Up Again

It was a grim weekend for Europe, which once seemed to have put the virus in check after some countries imposed stringent restrictions. The reality is that Europe is immersed in a second wave of the pandemic. In addition to declaring a state of emergency, the Spanish government has ordered a nationwide curfew that will limit movement between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Spain was the first Western European country to surpass one million confirmed cases. In France, the numbers seemed to also be climbing.

U.K. Scientists Plan to Infect Volunteers to Compare Vaccine Candidates

Imperial College London and a group of researchers said that they are preparing to infect 90 healthy young volunteers with the virus, becoming the first to announce plans to use the technique to study COVID-19 and potentially speed up development of a vaccine that could help end the pandemic. This type of research, known as human challenge study, is used infrequently because some question the ethics of infecting otherwise healthy individuals. The British researchers say that risk is warranted because such studies have the potential to quickly identify the most effective vaccines and help control a disease that has killed more than 1.1 million people worldwide. Human challenge studies have been used to develop vaccines for diseases including typhoid, cholera, and malaria.

Virus in Check, China Economy Bounces Back

China's economy continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic according to its latest official figures. The world's second-biggest economy saw growth of 4.9% between July and September, compared to the same quarter last year. However, the figure is lower than the 5.2% expected by economists. China is now leading the charge for a global recovery based on its latest gross domestic product data.

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