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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, General News, and Coronavirus:


Charles v. Seinfeld

The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's application of the limitations period in 17 U.S.C. 507(b) to dismiss plaintiff Christian Charles's claims of copyright infringement and joint ownership of the pilot episode of the television series "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee." Within days of the Second Circuit's affirmation, the Sixth Circuit decided Everly v. Everly, 958 F.3d 442 (6th Cir. 2020), which held, in direct conflict with the Second Circuit, that only a repudiation of copyright authorship could cause accrual of an authorship claim, and that "[a] person's authorship of a work can be legally called into question only if it is challenged by another person who herself claims authorship of the work in question."

SAG-AFTRA and Actors' Equity Association Resolve Jurisdictional Dispute Over Taping of Live Theatre

A unanimous agreement has been reached in respect to the broadcast and streaming of live performances during the pandemic. The agreement preserves SAG-AFTRA's historic jurisdiction while creating an important accommodation that serves performers. Actors' Equity Association (AEA) has jurisdiction over live theatre actors and stage managers, but SAG-AFTRA has long held that the taping of live shows falls within its jurisdiction. SAG offered AEA a waiver to help out its fellow actors during the coronavirus shutdown of live theaters across the country, but AEA rejected it. SAG has agreed that AEA will cover recording and/or streaming productions to a remote audience during the pandemic period with a term concluding December 31, 2021, subject to certain limitations including distribution platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, etc.

Never Ever Letting Go Quietly

For the second time in a year and a half, the recording rights to Taylor Swift's first six albums - LPs that include megahits like "Love Story," "Shake It Off", and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" - have traded hands, and in response Swift has dragged private equity investors into the rough-and-tumble public conflict of celebrity social media. Last summer, the music manager Scooter Braun made a deal, estimated at $300 million to $350 million, to buy the Big Machine Label Group, the Nashville label that signed Swift when she was a teenager. That led to a dramatic public clash, when Swift called the deal her "worst-case scenario."

Lil Wayne Charged in a Gun Possession Case

Rapper Lil Wayne was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The charge, handed to him on Tuesday in Florida, relates to an incident in December 2019. The 38-year old was found to be carrying a gun and bullets when police searched a private plane in Miami. He is facing 10 years in prison for the offense, if convicted.

Universal and Cinemark to Speed Films to Homes

The third largest cinema chain in the U.S., Cinemark Theatres, and Universal Pictures have reached an agreement to allow early home video releases for the studio's movies, marking the latest crack in the traditional theatrical window during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Texas-based exhibitor and the Comcast-owned studio announced a multi-year deal that would give Universal significantly more flexibility in how it releases its films. The deal follows a similar agreement that Universal previously made with AMC Theatres, the world's biggest movie house circuit, in a move that drew criticism from other exhibitors. Under the deal, all of Universal's theatrical films will stay in theatres exclusively for at least 17 days after their premieres before they become available on video-on-demand services.

Jazz Ripples Through Hard Seasons

Musicians are playing al fresco all over New York City to earn money and boost morale. For many New Yorkers in late spring, hearing musicians performing outside again was a welcome sign of hope and resilience. Throughout the summer and into the fall, jazz in particular, has become a near-constant presence across parks, stoops and sidewalks. Virtually all of the city's 2,400 indoor performance venues have closed since the coronavirus outbreak, at the same time that concert tours have been canceled, putting countless musicians out of work.


Dance Studios Fear a Loss of Possibilities

Across New York City, dance studio owners are struggling to keep their businesses afloat as the coronavirus pandemic stretches on. Studios have found themselves in precarious positions, frustrated by a lack of clear reopening guidance from the city and state. It's an uphill battle, but they are pressing forward: raising money, joining forces to strategize and, in some cases, forging ahead with reopening as safely as they can. Dance studios are integral to the city's performing arts ecosystem: their survival has implications beyond the walls of any one business.

A Jacob's Pillow Theater Is Destroyed by Fire

A theater at Jacob's Pillow, a destination for dance performance in Becket, Massachusetts, was destroyed by fire. The theatre was lost, but the fire was contained to the one building at the performing arts campus. The cause is not yet known.

Museums on Financial Edge from Pandemic Fallout

An industry group says that the financial state of the country's museums "is moving from bad to worse." At institutions across the country, exhibition halls remain dark, atriums are empty, and frontline employees are furloughed. A survey by the American Alliance of Museums makes clear that nearly one in three museums in the U.S. remains closed because of the pandemic, and most of those have never reopened since the initial shutdown in March. Of the 850 museum directors who responded to the survey, just over half said that their institutions had six months or less of their financial operating reserve remaining. 82% said that they had 12 months or less.

Virus Surge Shutters Smithsonian Again

As coronavirus cases increase across the country, the Smithsonian will once again temporarily close eight of its Washington area institutions. "[T]he Institution's top priority is to protect the health and safety of its visitors and staff," the Smithsonian said in a statement.

A Second Epstein Inquiry at Victoria's Secret

It has been more than a year since L Brands, the owner of Victoria's Secret, said it was hiring a law firm to investigate its billionaire founder Leslie H. Wexner's close ties to the convicted sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein. There is now a new law firm on the case. A second inquiry has begun at the company after a shareholder lawsuit filed in May suggested that previous firm, David Polk, was too close to L Brands to be truly independent.

Egypt Unearths Over 100 New Coffins and Mummies Dating Back 2,500 Years

In the largest discovery there this year, more than 100 painted wooden coffins, many with bodies, were found in the necropolis of Saqqara. There have been several recent finds at the site. The sealed, wooden coffins, some containing mummies, dates as far back as 2,500 years and are "in perfect condition of preservation." The fine quality of the coffins meant that they were probably the final resting places for the wealthiest citizens.


Ex-Harvard Fencing Coach Accused of Taking $1.5 Million in Bribes

A former Harvard fencing coach was arrested and charged with bribery last week for allegedly accepting $1.5 million from a businessman in exchange for recruiting the latter's two sons to the fencing team. The U.S. Attorney's Office said that Peter Brand and the father, Jie "Jack" Zhao, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, which is punishable for up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

FIFA Proposes Mandatory Maternity Leave For Women Players

FIFA is introducing new regulations to protect the rights of women players, including mandatory maternity leave. The proposed rules include a mandatory maternity leave of 14 weeks, at a minimum of two thirds of the player's contracted salary, and a guarantee that "no female player should suffer a disadvantage as a result of becoming a pregnant." The reforms have been put forward by FIFA's Football Stakeholders Committee and will go to FIFA's Council next month for approval.

As Major League Soccer Playoffs Open, Black Players Press for Progress

What began as solemn group gestures have in some locations transitioned into simply one other field to tick on the listing of pregame rituals. For a more and more activist cohort of Black athletes, what comes subsequent is paramount. Behind the scenes, players have been pushing to transform their protest into tangible, lasting change. The playoffs now provide an even bigger stage and a brand new alternative.

A Walk-On Opted Out. Then Came a $24,000 Bill.

According to a New York Times story, Cal offensive lineman Henry Bazakas, who arrived at Cal as a walk-on but was granted a one-year scholarship for last season, opted out of the 2020 season this past June, starting a contentious episode regarding scholarship payments. Cal claims the confusion about scholarship payments resulted from its reliance on a campus class calendar that stated summer classes started in July, which would have been after the decision was made not to give Bazakas a scholarship for 2020-21. However, Bazakas had begun classes in May, which means that he should still have been on scholarship through the summer. When Cal realized the error, the scholarship money was provided.

Lawyers Step Back and Athletes Step Up to Fight Russia's Ban

Russia's attempt to overturn its four-year ban from international sports this month turned to a familiar courtroom weapon: Emotion. At a private hearing held over four days, Russian sports officals set aside their denials and their phalanx of laywers pushed back from their papers, allowing six Russian athletes to take a starring role. The athletes spoke not of what Russia had done in pursuit of victory, but about what they stood to lose, and they all had the same message: Please do not punish us for something in which we had no part. The emotional pleas to the panel of three arbitrators at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, appeared to be an effort to humanize the consequences of a worldwide ban on Russian sports that the World Anti-Doping Agency imposed last year.

FIFA Lifts Suspension of Trinidad and Tobago football Association After Legal Action Halted

FIFA has lifted its suspension of Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), giving the national governing body full membership rights and allowing its teams to return to international competition. It comes after the TTFA last month voted to stop court action being taken against FIFA and recognize a normalization committee appointed by football's world governing body in March to run the TTFA's affairs.

Emboldened Head of African Soccer Faces a New Ethics Inquiry

FIFA ethics investigators have asked the top soccer official in Africa to explain why he agreed to revise a television contract in a way that appeared to benefit a commercial partner over his own organization -- the latest ethical concern for a governing body that was subject to direct FIFA oversight as recently as February. The new investigation is just the latest problem for Ahmad Ahmad, who was briefly detained last year by French authorities investigating allegations of embezzlement and who faces a separate FIFA ethics probe involving complaints of sexual harassment by several female employees and consultants. It also comes at a pivotal time for African soccer, which has lurched from crisis to crisis under his leadership: Ahmad is seeking a new four-year term early next year, and sanctions related to any of the open cases could disqualify him from running.

Bill Expands U.S. Power to Charge Cheats. International Groups Hate It.

The Rodchenkov Act, awaiting President Trump's signature, would allow American law enforcement authorties to go after the people who facilitate doping. The World Anti-Doping Agency says that it will cause confusion.


On YouTube, Fox News Loses Conservative Viewers Flocking to the Fringe

Disinformation about election fraud is thriving on YouTube, and right-wing outlets that most aggressively push false information are gaining new, conservative viewers on the video service, according to new research. Data from an independent research project called Transparency Tube found that fringe, right-wing news channels aggressively pushing unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud are gaining a larger share of views among conservative YouTube channels than before the election. Fox News, which has been more reserved in promoting unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election, has seen its share among a conservative audience decline on YouTube even though it is one of YouTube's promoted, authoritative sources.

A Popular Political Site Made a Sharp Right Turn. What Steered It?

Real Clear Politics pitches itself as a "trusted, go-to source" for unbiased polling. It is well known as a clearinghouse of elections data and analysis with a large following among the political and media establishment, regularly cited by national publications and cable news networks. Less well known, however, is how Real Clear Politics and its affiliated websites have taken a rightward, aggressively pro-Trump turn over the last four years, as donations to its affiliated nonprofit have soared. Large quantities of those funds came through two entities that wealthy conservatives use to give money without revealing their identities. Its evolution traces a similar path as other right-leaning political news outlets that have adapted to the upheaval of the Trump era by aligning themselves with the president and his large following, its writers taking on his battles and raging against the left.

Why Did Facebook Mute Philanthropic Businesses?

Small enterprises that support homeless people, orphans, and refugees are seeing their ads pulled as part of the social media platform's ban on political advertising. Their ads fell into a category of "social issues, elections or politics" that were being blocked by the site. The social media giant announced last week that it was extending a ban imposed on certain ads during the election to prevent the dissemination of false information. The prohibition has ensnared a number of socially driven businesses with no direct connection to partisan politics. Companies connected to issues like hunger, the environment, and immigration, many of which rely heavily on social media to draw customers to their websites, have seen their access abruptly cut off.

Ringer Writer Says They Were Second String

The head coach of the Golden State Warriors. C.C. Sabathia and Rachel Lindsay, were among the roughly 25 outside contributors to host or co-host new podcasts this year at The Ringer, the digital media company founded and run by the former ESPN personality Bill Simmons. The influx of star podcasters being brought on as contractors looms over a dispute between the union and managers at the Spotify-owned digital media company. It has raised concerns among many full-time employees, who say it may close off their opportunities for advancement and weaken the company union.

Apple Halves Some App Store Fees

Apples has announced that it will cut the amount of commission it charges app developers as part of a new Small Business Program. Developers earning less than $1 million a year will now pay 15% on all transactions, half the current rate of 30%.

General News

Plea to Americans: Stay Home on Thanksgiving

With coronavirus surging out of control, the nation's top public health agency pleaded with Americans last week not to travel for Thanksgiving and not to spend the holiday with people outside their households. It was some of the firmest guidance yet from the government on curtailing traditional gatherings to fight the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited more than 1 million new cases in the U.S. over the past week as the reason for the new guidance.

Tension Rise As Trump Denies Election Result

The president's refusal to concede has entered a more dangerous phase as he blocks his successor's transition, withholding intelligence briefings, pandemic information, and access to the government. This continues as he stokes resistance and unrest among his supporters and spreads falsehoods aimed at undermining the integrity of the American voting system. Some former top advisers to Trump have said that his refusal to cooperate is reckless and unwise.

Election Security Experts Push Back Against Trump's Voter Fraud Claims

Trump fired Chris Krebs, a top U.S. election official who pushed back against the President's claims of voter fraud. Krebs, the head of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said last week he expected to be fired. A committee within CISA, which worked on protecting U.S. voting systems in 2020 election, released a statement calling the November 3rd elections "the most secure in American history" and contradicting any claims of widespread voter fraud.

Parties Hunting for a Message After a Split-Decision Election

Voters delivered a convincing victory for Joe Biden, but a split decision for the two parties. Now Democrats and Republicans face perhaps the most up-for-grabs electoral landscape in a generation. America's two major parties had hoped the presidential election would render a decisive judgment on the country's political trajectory. Yet after a race that broke record voter turnout and campaign spending, neither Democrats nor Republicans have achieved a dominant upper hand. The election has narrowed the Democratic majority in the House and perhaps preserved the Republican majority in the Senate.

The Trump Campaign Has Filed 16 Lawsuits Contesting the Election

The Trump campaign has sued to contest vote counts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia in the days after the presidential election. Trump and Republicans have filed lawsuits in five battleground states to contest the race Trump lost to Democratic challenger and former VP Joe Biden. Judges have dismissed some of the suits but others remain, and more are possible in the coming days, including challenges to the legality of ballots or requests for recounts. Voters in a few states independently filed their own lawsuits in support of Trump. Some of those suits have been dropped.

Graham Goes All In on Reversing Election

With unsubstantiated claims of vote-counting errors and calls to officials in several states, the South Carolina senator seems bent on reversing Joe Biden's clear victory over President Trump. In 2016, Senator Graham praised the integrity of the nation's elections system, criticizing claims by Trump that the vote was "rigged". Graham has transformed during that time to become of Trump's most loyal allies, he now seems determined to reverse the election's outcome on the president's behalf.

Biden Takes a "Whole-Government Approach" to Fight Climate Change

President-elect Joe Biden, eager to elevate climate changes issues throughout his administration, is already drafting orders to reduce planet-warming pollution and seeking nominees who will embed climate policy not only in environmental agencies, but also in departments from Defense to Treasury to Transportation. Top candidates for senior cabinet posts, such as Michéle Flournoy for defense secretary and Lael Brainard for Treasury, have long supported aggressive policies to curb climate change. Biden's inner circle routinely asks, "is the person climate-ambitious?" of candidates even for lower profile positions, like the White House budget and regulatory offices, according to a person advising the transition.

Climate Change is Making Winter Ice More Dangerous, Study Says

A new study has found that cold-weather drownings are increasing sharply in warmer parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Trump Administration Plans to Sell Artic Oil Leases Despite Legal Hurdles

If lease sales happen in the final days of the Trump administration, they may face disputes in court or could be reversed by the Biden administration. Under new leadership, several federal agencies could reject the leases, which even if purchased at an auction a few days before Inauguration Day would be subject to review, a process that usually takes several months. Biden vowed during the campaign to oppose oil and gas development in the refuge, a vast expanse of virtually untouched land in northeast Alaska that is home to polar bears, caribou, and other wildlife.

Hand Recount Reaffirms Biden Won Georgia, Defeating Trump by 12,284 Votes

A hand tally of the presidential race in Georgia is complete, and the results affirm Biden's lead. Biden went into the recount with a margin of 13,558 votes. Previously uncounted ballots discovered during the hand count reduced the margin to 12,284 votes. The hand recount of nearly five million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law, not from any suspected problems with the state's results or an official recount request.

Census Bureau Can't Meet Trump's Deadline for Count

In a blow to the Trump administration's efforts to strip unauthorized immigrants from the census totals used for reapportionment, Census Bureau officials concluded that they could not produce the state population totals required to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives until after Trump leaves office in January.

'Public Health' Expulsions of Children Halted

A federal judge ruled last week that a public health emergency decree did not give the Trump administration authority to expel unaccompanied children before they could request asylum. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, said that while the emergency rule allows the authorities to prevent the "introduction" of foreigners into the U.S., it did not give border authorities the ability to turn away children who would normally be placed in shelters and provided an opportunity to have a claim for refuge heard. The order applies across the country.

Overhauling Homeland Security Will Be One of Biden's Early Priorities

Biden has said that one of his priorities will be rolling back his predecessor's restrictive immigration policies. To do it, he may have to overhaul the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has been bent to President Trump's will over the past four years. The DHS has helped enforce some of Trump's most divisive polices, like separating families at the border, banning travel from Muslim-majority countries and building his border wall. Interviews with 16 current and former homeland security officials and advisers involved with Biden's transition, and a review of his platform, suggest an agenda that aims to incorporate climate change in department policy, fill vacant posts, and bolster responsibilities that Trump neglected, including disaster response and cybersecurity.

Trump's Push to Overturn Defeat Strains Cogs of Electoral Process

Confrontations have escalated in swing states, with elections officials in both parties facing threats of violence, as the president and other Republicans try to subvert the country's voting system. In courtrooms, statehouses, and elections board meetings across the country, the president is increasingly seeking to force the voting system to bend to his false vision of the elect ion, while also using the weight of the executive office to deliver his message to lower-level election workers, hoping they buckle.

Hate Crimes At Highest Since 2008, FBI Reports

Hate crimes in the U.S. rose to the highest level in more than a decade as federal officials also recorded the highest number of hate-motivated killings since the FBI began collecting that data in the early 1990s, according to an FBI report released last week. There were 51 hate crime murders in 2019, which includes 22 people who were killed in a shooting that targeted Mexicans at a Walmart in the border city of El Paso, Texas, the report said. There were 7,314 hate crimes last year, up from 7,120 the year before - and approaching the 7,783 of 2008. The FBI's annual report defines hate crimes as those motivated by bias based on a person's race, religion or sexual orientation, among other categories. The data also shows there was a nearly 7% increase in religion-based hate crimes. The FBI said that the number of hate crimes against African Americans dropped slightly to 1,930 from 1,943.

Rocket Lifts Four Astronauts Into New Era of Spaceflight

A SpaceX spacecraft carrying four astronauts soared into outer space from Cape Canaveral on last Sunday evening, in the first fully operational mission for the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The crew spent some 27 hours in a capsule built by the private company before it docked with the space station. This was a momentous step toward making space travel commonplace and mundane. In the future, instead of relying on government-operated spacecraft, NASA astronauts and anyone else with enough money can buy a ticket on a commercial rocket.

More Than 82,000 File Sexual-Abuse Claims Against Boy Scouts

The New York Times has reported that more than 82,000 people have filed sex abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America. Victims' lawyers say the claims far outnumber the accusations against the U.S. Catholic Church. This far exceeds the initial projections of lawyers across the U.S. who have been signing up clients since the Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy protection in February. Many of the lawsuits allege decades-old sex abuse. The proceedings in federal bankruptcy court will lead to the creation of a compensation fund for survivors whose claims are upheld. The potential size of the fund is not yet known and will be the subject of complex negotiations.

Boeing 737 Max Is Deemed Safe to Fly by Federal Aviation Administration

The Boeing 737 Max is cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly again. The U.S. agency said that changes in software, design, and training had made the plane safe to operate after two fatal crashes and 20 months out of service.

Mexico Threatened U.S. Over Ex-Official's Arrest

Mexico threatened to toss out U.S. agents after weeks of anger at the surprise arrest of a former defense minister. The gambit appeared to have worked - the changes were dropped. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was arrested after a multiyear inquiry that investigators called Operation Padrino or Godfather - a reference to what they claim was his nickname in the underworld. The Mexican government saw his arrest as an egregious breach of trust between allies because it was kept in the dark about the case.

Trump's Legal Team Sets a Precedent for Lowering the Bar

The president's overriding goal seems to be simply throw out as many claims as possible, no matter how outlandish or baseless, in an effort to sow public doubt about Biden's victory; but this approach has limits in court.

Mnuchin Cites Principles As Democrats See Politics

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin broke sharply with the Federal Reserve, choosing to end a variety of programs aimed at helping markets, businesses, and municipalities weather the pandemic and asking the Central Bank to return the funds earmarked to support those efforts. Mnuchin said that his decision was driven by a reference to what he believed was Congress's intent when it allocated the funding, a desire to repurpose the money toward better uses, and a belief that markets no longer needed them. However, this is a view he only expressed after the vote count in the presidential election.

President Moves to Hem Biden in on U.S. Policies

At a wide range of departments and agencies, Trump's political appointees are going to extraordinary lengths to try to prevent Biden from rolling back the president's legacy. On issues of war, the environment, criminal justice, trade, the economy, and more, Trump and top administration officials are doing what they can to make changing direction more difficult.

U.S. Plans to Execute Three, Including Rare Woman, Before Biden is Sworn In

The Trump administration is continuing to carry out capital punishment for federal crimes even though President-elect Joe Biden has signaled he will reverse the policy. Since July, when it resumed carrying out the death penalty after a 17-year hiatus, the Trump administration has executed seven federal inmates. Weeks before Biden is sworn in, the three inmates face the prospect of being the last federal prisoners to die by capital punishment for at least as long as Biden is in office. Orlando Cordia Hall, 49, convicted in the brutal death of a teenage girl, is scheduled to be executed on Thursday. Two other prisoners are to be executed in December, including Lisa M. Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row. Biden has pledged to eliminate the death penalty.

Citing Risks, Michigan Shuts Down Oil Pipeline

Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan said the state would shut down a line between her state and Ontario that has been operating since the 1950s. It's an unusual move, in which she cited environmental concerns for shutting down the underwater pipeline that carries oil to refineries in her state and Canada. Pipeline operations normally fall under federal jurisdiction. Whitmer, a Democrat, is acting under the state's public trust doctrine, which requires state authorities to protect the Great Lakes. The decisions requires the pipeline operator Enbridge to cease operations on a specific section of Line 5 by May 2021, but it will have the effect of curtailing the entire pipeline, which runs between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.

Trump Targeting Michigan in Ploy to Subvert Vote

Trump accelerated his efforts to interfere in the nation's electoral process, taking the extraordinary step of reaching out directly to Republican state Legislators from Michigan and inviting them to the White House for discussions as the state prepares to certify President-elect Joe Biden the winner there. For Trump and his Republican allies, Michigan has become the prime target in their campaign to subvert the will of voters backing Biden in the recent election. Trumps allies appear to be pursuing a highly dubious legal they that if the results are not certified, Republican legislatures could intervene and appoint pro-Trump electors in states Biden won who would support the president when the Electoral College meets on December 14. The Republican effort to undo the popular vote is all but certain to fail.

Most Charges From Protests Are Dropped

More than five months after the Louisville protests as thousands finally land in courts across the U.S., a vast majority of cases against protesters are being dismissed. Only cases involving more substantial charges like property destruction or other violence remains. Prosecutors called the scale of both the mass arrests and mass dismissals within a few short months unrivaled, at least since the civil rights protests of the early 1960s. With the police detaining hundreds of people in major cities, the arrests this year ended up colliding with the limitations of the court system. Prosecutors declined to pursue many of the cases, because they concluded that the protesters were exercising their basic civil rights. There was also the recognition that law enforcement officers often use mass arrests as a technique to help clear the streets, not to confront illegal behavior.

New York Fraud investigations Expand to Trump Tax Write-Offs

Those investigating the Trump organization have expanded their inquiries to include tax write-offs involving millions of dollars in consulting fees. Investigators with the Manhattan district attorney's office and the New York attorney general's office have subpoenaed the Trump Organization seeking records relating to the consulting fees. The subpoenas were in response to a New York Times investigation into Trump's tax returns that first disclosed that he took $26 million in write-offs that came from fees he paid to consultants, including an apparent $747,000 fee that matched a payment disclosed by Ivanka Trump.

Asylum Seeker Faces Charges in Son's Death at Sea

The man, Ayoubi Nadir, a 25-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, has been charged with endangering the life of a child, and is accused of abandoning his son after the boat bringing them and 22 other people to Greece capsized this month. Human rights advocates say that this may set a dangerous precedent.

Hungary and Poland Block European Union Stimulus Plan

The European Union's (EU) landmark stimulus plan to assist member states whose economies have been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic is now in crisis, after Hungary and Poland blocked passage of the 2021-2027 EU budget. The two Eastern European countries say that they're vetoing the budget and coronavirus recovery plan over language in the measure that would dole out EU funds to member states on the condition that they uphold the bloc's rule-of-law standards. The 1.8 trillion euro ($2.1 trillion) EU budget must be approved by all 27 member states to be adopted.

Uganda Releases Opposition Leader After Deadly Clashes

At least 37 people have been killed in two days of violent clashes between Ugandan security forces and supporters of detained opposition leader Bobi Wine, police said last week, as tensions flared two months before a presidential election. The popstar-turned presidential candidate was released on bail on Friday after being charged with holding rallies likely to spread the coronavirus.

In Ardern's Second Term, New Zealand Seats Most Diverse Parliament Ever

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was reelected in a landslide last month, she brought with her a diverse cast of politicians that make up what is - by some measures - the most inclusive parliament in the world. Almost half of New Zealand's newly sworn-in Parliament are women and 11% are openly LGTBQ. Both New Zealand's indigenous Maori and people with Pacific Island heritage are represented at a slightly higher rate than in the general population. Politicians from diverse backgrounds are also in key positions of power.


U.S. Hits Grim Milestone With 250,000 Deaths

Coronavirus case numbers are exploding across the country. The U.S. death toll from the virus reached 250,000, with a caseload of over 11.3 million.

At-Home Test That Delivers Rapid Results is Approved

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first COVID-19 diagnostic test for self-testing at home and that provides rapid results. The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is a molecular (real-time mediated amplification reaction) single use test that is intended to detect the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.

Pfizer Says New Results Show Vaccine is Safe and 95% Effective

Last week, Pfizer said that its coronavirus vaccine was 95% effective and had no serious side effects - the first set of complete results from a late-stage vaccine trial as Covid-19 cases skyrocket around the globe. The data showed that the vaccine prevented mild and severe forms of Covid-19. It was 94% effective in older adults, who are more vulnerable to developing severe Covid-19 and who do not respond strongly to some types of vaccines. The trial results - less than a year after researchers began working on the vaccine - shattered all speed records for vaccine development, a process that usually takes years.

Another Vaccine Appears to Work Against the Virus

A second experimental COVID-19 vaccine, from Moderna Inc., yielded extraordinarily strong early results last week. Moderna says its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective according to preliminary data. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own vaccine looked 90% effective - news that put both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S. A vaccine can't come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. over the weekend - one million of them recorded in just the past week - and governors and mayors are ratcheting up restrictions ahead of Thanksgiving. The outbreak has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, over 246,000 of them in the U.S.

FDA Authorizes Use of Antibody Treatment President Took When Ill

Regeneron submitted an emergency use application in October after preclinical studies showed that the therapy, called REGN-COV2, reduced the amount of virus and associated damage in the lungs of nonhuman primates. The experimental therapy was given to President Trump when he contracted the coronavirus last month. Regeneron's therapy is part of a class of treatments known as monoclonal antibodies, which are made to act as immune cells that scientists hope can fight infections.

Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities May Heighten Risk of Death from Virus

People with intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders are three times more likely to die of Covid-19, compared with patients without the conditions, a new analysis found. The finding raises complex questions about how to allocate new vaccines as they become available in limited supplies. So far, guidelines for distributing vaccines have recommended prioritizing emergency workers, health care providers, and other essential workers, as well as people at heightened risk for severe disease, including some older adults and those with certain chronic illnesses.

Tourists May Love New York, But May Not be Back for Years

The pandemic triggered a free-fall in tourism to New York City, one of the world's most popular destinations. A new forecast predicts that the influx of tourists will not fully rebound for at least four years, a somber assessment that reflects one of the biggest challenges to the city's recovery. The surge in tourism in recent years has been a vital pillar of the city's economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of workers across a range of industries, from hotels to restaurants to Broadway.

Transition Delay Could Cost Lives, Biden Warns

Last week, Biden sharpened his criticism of Trump's refusal to cooperate in an orderly transition, warning that "more people may die" from the coronavirus if the president does not agree to coordinate planning for the mass distribution of a vaccine when it becomes available. It was a marked shift in tone for the president-elect, intended to pressure Trump after Biden and his team had played down the difficulty of setting up a new government without the departing administration's help. The new criticism came as the White House national security adviser all but conceded that Biden would be inaugurated and acknowledged the importance of a smooth federal handoff.

Recession's Toll on Women Points to a Lasting Setback

For millions of working women, the coronavirus pandemic has delivered a rare and ruinous one-two-the punch. First, the parts of the economy that were smacked hardest and earliest by job losses were ones where women dominate - restaurants, retail businesses, and health care. Then a second wave began taking out local and state government jobs, another area where women outnumber men. The third blow has, for many, been the knockout: the closing of child care centers and the shift to remote schooling. That has saddled working mothers, much more than fathers, with overwhelming household responsibilities. The impact on the economic and social landscape is both immediate and enduring.

Doctors Are Already Devising a Covid Attack Plan

When Biden takes office in January he will inherit a pandemic that has convulsed the country. His transition team last week announced a 13-member team of scientists and doctors who will advise on control of the coronavirus. In a wide-ranging conversation with New York Times, Dr. Céline Gounder, and infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center, discussed plans to prioritize racial inequities, to keep schools open as long as possible, and to restore the CDC as the premier public health agency in the world. The incoming administration is contemplating state mask mandates, free testing for everyone, and invocation of the Defense Production Act to ramp up supplies of protective gear for health workers.

Grassley, 87, Tests Positive as the Virus Disrupts the Business of Governing

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa has tested positive for coronavirus. The lawmaker, who at 87 years old is considered at high risk for severe illness, tweeted Tuesday that he tested positive hours after he said he would isolate following exposure to the virus. Grassley, who is president pro tempore of the Senate, presided over the chamber during votes last Monday. He is high up in the presidential line of succession, behind Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. While isolating, Grassley missed the Tuesday vote on Judy Shelton's nomination to the Federal Reserve. Shelton's nomination failed after three other Republicans announced their opposition.

Officials Order New Restrictions as Covid-19 Surges Across the Country

At least 45 states have reported more new infections this past week compared to the previous week. It's not one or two hotspots, the entire country is a hotspot of coronavirus infection. Nationwide, more than 246,000 people have died. While some officials toughen their restrictions, some say changing behavior is more important than shutting down.

Dolly: Country Music Legend, Songwriter, Pandemic Hero

Dolly Parton donated $1 million to fund research for a coronavirus vaccine. After a promising announcement from a major drug maker, fans are crediting her with helping to save the world from the virus, amongst her many other accomplishments.

Hospitals Full, Iowa Governor Begins to See Value of Masks

Iowa's governor ordered that people wear masks while indoors, a reversal after months of saying that she did not support a mask mandate. For months, Governor Kim Reynolds saw little need to intervene in the choices of Iowans, who she insisted could make their own decisions about whether to wear a mask to protect against a dangerous pandemic. She previously dismissed the order as an unenforceable "feel-good" measure. However, as the virus ravaged her state and hospitals filled to the brim, she abruptly reversed herself this week. She joined a wave of Republican governors who are newly and at times reluctantly wielding the power of their offices as the coronavirus erupts to crisis levels across the U.S., with no end in sight.

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