Week In Review
By Angela Peco Edited by Elissa D. Hecker
Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, General News, and Coronavirus:
Atlantic Recordings v Spinrilla
The court held that the defendant hip-hop music streaming service was liable for infringing sound recordings and that it could not rely on safe harbor immunity under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to completely shield itself from liability.
Court Reviews Decision to Allow Multiple Accusers Testify at Bill Cosby Trial
"Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices hearing Cosby's appeal of his sexual assault conviction expressed concern that five additional women had been allowed to testify at this 2018 trial." Cosby's defense team argued that the collective weight of the testimony of the "prior bad acts" witnesses had unfairly tainted the jury and Cosby "suffered unquantifiable prejudice." The decision is not expected for several months and would require a majority vote to overturn the verdict.
Rapper Casanova Accused of Conspiring in 'Terrible Acts of Violence'
A federal indictment unsealed this week showed that the recording artist "was charged in a decade-long racketeering conspiracy that spanned murder, drug crimes and gun offenses."
Los Angeles Reverses Decision to Close Virus Testing Site for a Film Shoot
The city backtracked on its decision to disrupt testing at Union Station to allow a film shoot to go ahead in the area. The decision had been criticized for limiting testing, especially at a location that is accessible by public transit, at a time when cases and hospitalizations are on the rise.
Warner Brothers Will Stream All 2021 Movies
Pointing to the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced that it will release all of next year's movies on streaming and in theaters at the same time. The 17 movies will stream on HBO Max.
Lights, Camera, Construction!
The article tracks the various construction projects that will lead to the opening of new facilities or expansion of existing soundstages that are expected to turn new parts of New York into production hubs.
Police Beating of Black Man in France Thrusts French Police into Spotlight
Footage of police offers beating Michel Zecler, a music producer in France, is drawing attention to police brutality in the country. The focus on this issue has led the government to redraft part of a bill that would have restricted the filming of police.
South Korea Exempts K-Pop Stars from Conscription
The country passed a revision to its Military Service Act to allow Korean pop stars to defer military service until they turn 30, in recognition of their contribution in elevating the country's cultural influence around the world.
Actors Sue SAG-AFTRA Over Health Plan
In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the 10 plaintiffs "object to benefit cuts and changes in eligibility requirements in the [SAG-AFTRA Health Plan] that are to take effect on January 1, 2021," which they say discriminate based on age. The changes introduce a new qualifying earnings threshold. Members who are 65 or older cannot "use their residual income to qualify for the new threshold if they are taking a union pension," which means some of them will no longer qualify for health insurance.
Disciplinary Decision Against Attorney Richard Liebowitz
The Committee on Grievances for the Southern District of New York has issued an interim suspension order, suspending "copyright troll" Richard Liebowitz from practicing law in the Southern District of New York. In issuing its decision, the Committee cited the nature and seriousness of the charges, the risk and danger of recurrence, and the lawyer's repeated disregard of formal sanctions, admonishments and warnings from judges across the country.
The Grievance Committee's order is mentioned in passing by Judge Furman in Usherson v Bandshell (linked below), where the court issued an opinion and order imposing a range of monetary and non-monetary sanctions on the plaintiff's counsel, Richard Liebowitz and his firm. The order required Liebowitz to serve a copy of that opinion on every one of the firm's clients and file a copy on the docket of any pending case brought by him or any action filed within a year of that opinion, with which Liebowitz later failed to comply.
American Ballet Theater Cancels 2021 Season at the Metropolitan Opera House
The company cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its ability to prepare for resuming live performances at the Lincoln Center.
Artists Ask MoMA to Remove Architect Philip Johnson's Name, Citing Racist Views
"A group of more than 30 artists and academics have signed a letter asking institutions like the Museum of Modern Art to excise the influential architect's name from their spaces." Johnson championed racist and white supremacist viewpoints at a young age but spent later years trying to distance himself from them.
The Disabled Become Visible as Works of Art
Two performance art exhibitions are bringing attention to the "broadness and diversity of the field of disability dance." The first is a project called "On Display," which has dancers pose in stillness or move between poses very slowly. The other is a work by the disability arts ensemble Kinetic Light, which is streaming a film of its work "Descent" on the University of Minnesota, Northrop website.
An Artistic Director's Second Sudden Exit
Ari Roth has resigned as artistic director of Mosaic Theater Company. The departure comes as staff members had raised complaints alleging longstanding problems at Mosaic, including that Roth's "leadership style followed pattens of 'white supremacist behavior'," which he disputes.
Art Week in Miami
Even though Art Basel was canceled this year, previously closed museums in Miami-Dade announced new in-person exhibitions and galleries rolled out solo shows despite rising COVID-19 cases and deaths in the area.
How Innovations Keep Music Programs Alive
Amidst coronavirus restrictions, student music groups across the U.S. are finding innovative ways to perform together. As an example, some marching bands are practicing exclusively outdoors, with woodwind players wearing customized masks with slits while others wrap pantyhose and trash bags around their instruments.
U.S. Women's Soccer and U.S. Soccer Settle Workplace Claims; Shifts Focus to Equal Pay Claims
The U.S. National Women's Soccer team and the U.S. Soccer Federation announced they had settled issues related to working conditions (eg. travel, hotel accommodations, and venue choices). The terms are expected to be included in the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Their current CBA runs until the end of 2021. Although the men's and women's teams are represented by separate unions and are subject to different CBAs, it appears there is a stipulation "that would automatically make reciprocal any gains by either side in future negotiations." It is expected that the players will now appeal a decision that rejected most of the players' equal pay claims.
Staten Island Yankees File Lawsuit Against Yankees, Major League Baseball
The Staten Island Yankees lost its affiliation with the Yankees in November after the Yankees did away with three minor league affiliates following a broader restructuring of the minors. The team is now suing both the club and the league for what it says were "repeated assurances [it] would always be a minor league partner." The team is seeking $20 million in damages.
Knight Commission Proposed New, Separate Body to Govern Football Bowl Subdivision Football
The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics recommended the creation of a new entity separate from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to govern the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the most competitive subdivision of NCAA Division 1 football. The commission decided to separate football, given that it is an outlier sport based on the revenue it generates. The proposal would leave the largest football programs in charge of creating a new governing body to determine eligibility criteria and set health and safety standards. It is important to note that college football's postseason is already controlled by a separate entity (the College Football Playoff), and not the NCAA. Under this proposed model, the NCAA will focus on reorganizing all other Division 1 sports to focus around basketball and March Madness, its largest revenue source.
Suspended Gymnastics Coach Maggie Haney Speaks Out on Allegations of Abuse
Maggie Haney has been barred from coaching for eight years by USA Gymnastics for what the federation called "severe aggressive behavior" toward her athletes. Haney spoke to The New York Times in what many are calling a tone-deaf response to founded accusations of verbal and emotional abuse, saying that she "cared too much" and sought perfection from the athletes.
Rights Group Demands End to Sex Testing of Female Track Athletes
A Human Rights Watch report calls for an end to testosterone regulations, arguing they are medically unnecessary, coerce medical intervention, can result in physical and psychological injury, and "violate fundamental rights to privacy, dignity, health, non-discrimination and employment." The report also states that regulations governing athletes with differences in sex development disproportionately impact women of color from developing nations.
Parkour Federation Wants No Part in Olympic Games
Parkour "purists" are opposing efforts by the international gymnastics federation to add parkour to the Olympics as early as 2024. There are currently two main events of competitive parkour, one a freestyle, the other a speed run. While the International Olympic Committee is meeting on December 7th to finalize the program for the 2024 Paris Games, no new sports are expected to be added, but individual federations might consider adding parkour events to their lineups.
A New Challenge for Triathletes: Toppling Ironman Inc.
Ironman has dominated triathlon for decades, but professional triathletes are now trying to take control with a new series of events where they can be better compensated. With the support of the Professional Triathletes Organization and investors, they have planned four major individual competitions and an annual team event, which "will offer more than $1 million in prize money that the top 20 athletes will share - significantly more than at the typical triathlon competition."
FIFA Approves Maternity Leave for Female Players
The FIFA Council passed a series of reforms, including a rule that provides a minimum 14-week maternity leave for female players, with at least eight weeks after birth. The rule is expected to be incorporated into FIFA's regulations on the status and transfer of players, which are enforced nationwide and would ensure uniform treatment in the face of different national employment laws.
Carriage Dispute Could Keep Football Games Off TV in Texas
Texans broadcasts are in jeopardy due to a dispute between AT&T and media company Tegna over carriage rates paid to the satellite TV provider. The transmission rate dispute affects 51 markets. Tegna owns 12 stations in Texas that serve about 87% of the state. Those stations will no longer be available to AT&T customers as carriage fee negotiations continue.
Tokyo Olympians to be Tested Every 96-120 Hours During Games
Athletes arriving in Japan next year will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine, but they will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken less than 72 hours before arriving. They will also be tested every 96-120 hours at a testing center that will be set up in the village.
Cartoon Depiction of Naomi Osaka Aims for Aims for Accuracy
A new cartoon of Naomi Osaka will bear a closer resemblance to her after the publishing magazine was careful to get an accurate skin tone after she was portrayed with light skin in a previous illustration.
Thomas Bach Runs Unopposed for Second Term as International Olympic Committee President
Since International Olympic Committee presidents are limited to two terms in office, Bach is set to hold the position until 2025.
Soccer Coach Fired Over Interactions with Young Players Moved from Job to Job
David San Jose was fired by a French national training center for inappropriate interactions with a young prospect, but he continues to work in the game. The soccer federation says that without proof, it has no power to stop San Jose from working in soccer, especially as he has never been the subject of an official complaint of physical abuse or improper physical contact with a child.
Authorities Collect Evidence from Diego Maradona's Doctor
The offices were raided as part of an investigation into the circumstances of the soccer star's death after interviewing several relatives. Suspicions of foul play began emerging soon after his death last week, with some accounts saying the ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive and that Maradona should have remained in hospital under observation following a brain surgery this month.
Lockdown Exposes Gender Gap in U.K. Sports
Across English sports, but most prominently in youth soccer, clubs have kept trainings open for boys while closing girls' programs during lockdown. The U.K. government granted exemptions to "elite sport", but a large majority of those continuing training and competing were men's leagues, exposing a gender divide in the treatment of athletes.
Justice Department Suit Says Facebook Discriminates Against U.S. Workers
The Department's civil rights division is targeting Facebook's hiring practices, which it says favor immigrants on temporary visas over qualified U.S. workers. The complaint follows a two-year investigation into the company's use of H1-B visas.
Facebook to Remove Coronavirus Vaccine Misinformation
The company says that it will remove claims that have been debunked by public health experts in an effort to fight vaccine misinformation.
Congress Will Press Ahead on Military Bill, Defies Trump's Veto Threat
President Trump has threatened to veto the annual military policy bill over an unrelated issue - Congress' refusal to repeal a legal shield for social media companies. The bill authorizes, among other things, pay raises for American troops.
Google Researcher Says That a Paper Highlighting Bias in Artificial Intelligence Led to her Firing
Timnit Gebru says that she was fired by the company after raising concerns about biases built into artificial intelligence systems and about minority hiring in the company. She had raised those concerns in a group email that included other Google employees among the recipients.
Facebook to Acquire Start-Up Kustomer for Close to $1 Billion
The company announced that it plans to acquire the customer relationship management start-up to help build its e-commerce business.
$11 Million is Raised for Equality in Tech Sector
Non-profit organization All Raise will expand its efforts to achieve diversity in the tech industry, where companies are nowhere near gender parity and two-thirds of venture capital firms have no female partners.
Hong Kong Media Tycoon Denied Bail in Hong Kong
Jimmy Lai, who founded pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, was arrested in August as part of a crackdown under the sweeping national security law. He has now been denied bail on fraud charges unrelated to the security law.
Supreme Court to Hear Case on Trump Administration's Medicaid Work Requirements
The Supreme Court announced that it will take up the case that will consider whether the federal government can impose certain work requirements on Medicaid recipients. The government will argue that it "should be permitted to test new approaches to the Medicaid program." The federal appeals court that struck down the requirement said that the government had "failed to consider how [the requirement] would advance Medicaid's goal of providing health care to poor people." The requirement would effectively deny health care coverage to people in Arkansas and New Hampshire unless they could show they were working, volunteering or attending job training.
Supreme Court Weighs Sweep of Its Ruling on Non-Unanimous Jury Verdicts
In oral argument this week, the Supreme Court considered whether its April decision banning non-unanimous jury verdicts in cases involving serious crimes should apply retroactively. The decision had previously only applied to defendants whose convictions were not yet final (i.e. where inmates had not exhausted their appeals). If the decision applies retroactively, it could potentially entitle "thousands of inmates in Louisiana, Oregon and Puerto Rico to new trials."
Supreme Court Considers Census Case
The Trump administration argued its census case before the Court this week, explaining why it intended to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the 2020 census totals that would be sent to the House next year for use in reallocating its 435 seats among the states. At issue is the interpretation of Article 1 of the Constitution and the 14th Amendment, which "require that House seats be allotted according to the 'whole number' of persons in each state." That phrase has long been held to include all of a state's residents, whether citizens, immigrants or undocumented individuals. At stake is the possible exclusion of an estimated 11 million undocumented workers, which would likely favor rural and Republican states by shifting congressional seats and federal funding to them. The Supreme Court appeared skeptical of the plan, with the justices raising concerns about whether the Census Bureau could even count the number of unauthorized immigrants, and if so, whether that number was significant enough to impact the apportionment.
Supreme Court Instructs Federal Judge to Reconsider Virus Limits on California Churches
The Supreme Court vacated a federal judge's ruling that "allowed California to impose restrictions on religious services to prevent the spread of the coronavirus" and instructed reconsideration of the case (in light of new precedent). Similar restrictions in New York were struck down last month. The California church that brought the case argued the restrictions violated the Constitution's protection of the free exercise of religion.
Supreme Court Seems Prepared to Limit Human Rights Suits Against Corporations
The justices seemed poised to reject a suit by six citizens of Mali brought against Nestle USA and Cargill for their role in allegedly aiding and profiting from forced child labor. The justices questioned whether there was a sufficient evidence tying the defendants to the abuse.
Flaws in Census Count May Imperil Trump's Plan to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants
Data-processing issues may delay the completion of state-by-state population totals that the Trump administration wants to rely on to reapportion the House of Representatives. The issue stems from discrepancies between the advance estimates provided by institutions like prisons, shelters, etc., and the totals received from census-takers in the field.
Arizona and Wisconsin Certify Biden's Wins
Both states formally signed off on their results, with Biden narrowly leading in both battleground states. The Wisconsin certification comes after a recount request by the Trump campaign.
Wisconsin's Top Court Rejects Trump Lawsuit
In a 4-to-3 vote, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to take a case that aimed to invalidate more than 200,000 votes cast in two of the state's Democratic counties. The court suggested that the Trump campaign refile the suit in a lower state court. Trump's efforts to challenge the vote are running out of time as "the deadline to exhaust legal challenges to state certifications is Tuesday." The Electoral College will meet on December 14th to formally vote on the next president.
Attorney General Barr Acknowledges Justice Department Has Found No Widespread Voter Fraud
William Barr said that his department had uncovered no voting fraud on a scale that could have impacted the outcome of the election, serving a blow to Trump's efforts to overturn the election results.
Judge Orders Government to Fully Reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program
A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to fully reinstate the program designed to shield young, undocumented immigrants from deportation. Judge Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn ordered the administration to allow newly eligible immigrants to file applications for protection under the program, reversing a Homeland Security memorandum that restricted the program to people who had already enrolled.
New U.S. Citizenship Test is Longer and More Difficult
A new citizenship test went into effect, eliminating simple geography questions and adding dozens of others containing nuanced language and more complex subject matter, like the 10th Amendment and the reason why the U.S. entered the Vietnam War. Applicants are required to correctly answer 12 out of 20 questions, instead of the previous six out of 10.
Biden and Economic Team Urge Quick Action on Stimulus; Top Democrats Endorse $908 Billion Plan
Supported by Biden in their approach, Democratic leaders in Congress announced their support for a compromise plan in an effort to revive stalled negotiations for additional relief before the end of the year.
U.S. Used Patriot Act to Gather Logs of Website Visitors
According to letters produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the U.S. has interpreted the Patriot Act to permit authorities to collect logs showing who has visited particular websites, stopping short of collecting keywords entered on search engines, which it views as content requiring a warrant. A debate around proposed limits to the law is expected to resume once Biden takes office.
Head of Pentagon's ISIS Task Force Ousted, Office Disbanded
Christopher Maier held the post since 2017. According to the acting defense secretary, "his duties would be folded into two other offices that deal with special operations and regional policies."
More Biden Picks Announced
Biden has picked former Obama economics advisor Adewale Adeyemo as his nominee for deputy Treasury secretary. Cecilia Rouse is his pick to lead the Council of Economic Advisers; her work has focused on workers, discrimination, and education. Brian Deese, a former Obama administration advisor, will lead the National Economic Council. Jennifer Psaki is Biden's choice for press secretary; she will be expected to embody Biden's return to normalcy approach as she intends to bring back the daily White House press briefings.
Harris Chooses Clinton White House Veteran Tina Flournoy as Chief of Staff
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has picked a longtime aide to President Clinton to be her chief of staff. Flournoy is a founding member of a group of powerful Black women in Democratic politics and will oversee an office where the majority of the staff members picked so far are women of color.
Senate Confirms Trump Pick for the Federal Reserve Board
Christopher Waller was confirmed by a narrow margin as the Federal Reserve's seven-member Board of governors. President Trump has now chosen five of the central bank's six officials, including chair Jerome Powell.
Environmental Protection Agency's Final Deregulatory Push Runs into Staff Resistance
Career Environmental Protection Agency employees are finding themselves "in a bureaucratic battle with the agency's political leaders," who are filing dissenting scientific opinions to openly criticize Trump's deregulatory legacy.
Trump Administration to Sell Arctic Oil Rights Days Before Biden Sworn In
The Interior Department announced it will hold an auction to sell oil drilling rights on January 6, 2021, "under an accelerated timetable meant to ensure the oil and gas leases are formally issued before Biden is sworn in on January 20," making any federal contracts difficult to revoke by the incoming administration.
Companies Lobby Against Xinjiang Forced Labor Bill
Companies like Nike and Coca-Cola are "lobbying Congress to weaken a bill that would ban imported goods made with forced labor in China's Xinjiang region." The bill aims to crack down on human rights abuses against Muslim minorities in China and had bipartisan support in the House (and likely the Senate).
Barr Appoints John Durham Special Counsel in Bid to Entrench Scrutiny of Russia Inquiry
Durham is the prosecutor assigned to investigate the officials who conducted the Trump-Russia inquiry. The appointment gives Durham the same independence and protections against being fired as Robert Mueller, who oversaw the Russia investigation. It sets the stage to leaving Durham in place after the Biden administration takes over.
Citing Pardon, Justice Department Asks Federal Judge to Immediately Dismiss Flynn Case
The Justice Department said the president's pardon "moots this case" and made clear that the pardon was worded broadly enough to cover charges beyond those that arose out of Flynn lying to federal investigators. The case at issue relates to Flynn withdrawing his guilty plea and the Justice Department filing to dismiss the case earlier this year.
Two Trump Associates Linked to Pardons Inquiry
A federal judge in Washington unsealed redacted court records that disclosed the existence of an investigation into unregistered lobby and bribery. The people connected to a possible pardon plot involved Jared Kushner's lawyer. A billionaire real estate developer had enlisted their help to secure clemency for a psychologist convicted of tax evasion.
Scientists Suggest Microwave Attack as Likely Source of Havana Illness Among Diplomats
In a report commissioned by the State Department, a body of experts cited "directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy" as "the most plausible mechanism" to explain the illness that struck spies and diplomats working in Cuba, Russia and China. Symptoms included dizziness, fatigue and loss of hearing, memory and balance. The use of the terms "pulsed" and "directed" suggests the exposure was targeted and not the result of common sources of microwave energy.
Police Body Cameras Cited as Powerful Tool Against Stop-and-Frisk Abuses
A report on a yearlong pilot program indicates that New York City police officers who were equipped with body cameras were more inclined to record their actions and did in fact document more stops that those who did not wear then. The report is meant to guide changes to the stop-and-frisk policy and the ability of body cameras "to illuminate police encounters" can increase transparency and improve underreporting.
Egypt Frees Human Rights Workers Amid Rising International Outcry
The release of three civil rights advocates comes in the heels of widespread international outcry and pressure from the incoming Biden administration.
Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Moved to Remote Island Camps
Bangladesh intends to move up to 100,000 Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar to the island of Bhasan Char, against their will, in a claim to ease crowding in refugee camps that are housing more than a million people.
United Nations Reclassifies Cannabis as a Less Dangerous Drug
The United Nations' Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted to remove medicinal cannabis from a category of dangerous drugs. The move is a symbolic win for advocates of drug policy change.
China's Spacecraft Departs Moon with Samples
The spacecraft will return to Earth by mid-December with a collection of rocks and soil from the lunar surface, what will be the first cache of moon samples returned to Earth since 1976.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Draws Up Urgent Battle Plan
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) strategy is expected to make up the foundation of a national strategy in the months to come and includes advice for individuals and state and local officials. The guidance, while not new, will stress the need for a more uniform approach across the U.S., and will place high priority on masking in high-risk scenarios and on keeping schools open.
Over 100,000 Patients in Hospital with COVID
Moderna Applies for Emergency Food and Drug Administration Approval
Moderna's coronavirus vaccine is said to be 94% effective. If authorized, injections could begin as early as December 21st.
U.K. Approves Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine, a First in the West
The emergency approval clears the way for Britain to begin mass inoculations.
Cyberattacks Are Discovered on Vaccine Supply
IBM's cybersecurity division has found that governments and companies overseeing vaccine distribution operations have come under attack by unknown agents seeking to steal network log-in credentials of officials responsible for vaccine transit and refrigeration.
Pandemic Upends Public Services and Jobs
State and local governments are making deep budget cuts that will slash public services and job numbers as they face some of the biggest revenue declines in recent years. States that depend on energy-related taxes have suffered due to a sharp decline in oil prices, while those that depend on tourism have seen revenue declines of 10% or more. Even the falloff in sales and income taxes is forcing state officials to consider laying off public servants and closing important public services.
Patients Most Infectious for Seven Days; CDC Shortens Quarantine to Seven or 10 Days
New analysis finds that COVID-19 patients are most infectious two days before symptoms begin and five days after, leading public health officials to question whether the recommended isolation time should be shorter, and whether a shorter isolation period will lead to more compliance. In related news, the CDC shortened the quarantine period to seven or 10 days.
Virus Wreaks Havoc on New York City Courts: Nine Trials in Nine Months
The virus has upended criminal trials in the city, with only nine criminal jury trials completed since March 2020 (compared to the 800 criminal trials completed in the city in 2019). Officials anticipate the case backlog to continue to grow because of surging virus cases, as more than 400 defendants languish in pre-trial detention, awaiting trial.
California to Reimpose Strict Lockdown Rules as Hospitals See Surge
New restrictions were announced as intensive-care beds filled up in the region. The restrictions will last for at least three weeks and include a ban on indoor dining and recommendation against nonessential travel.