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Week In Review

By Angela Peco Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Technology/Media, and General News (including the Coronavirus):


Harvey Weinstein Accusers Agree to $17 Million Settlement

Around 40 women who have accused Weinstein of sexual abuse are expected to participate in the bankruptcy court agreement. Each of their claims will "be evaluated and paid out using a point system ... and offers different payment levels to women based on whether they want to release Weinstein from any future lawsuits." Those "who want to leave open the possibility of additional legal action against him would get 25 percent of their settlement share."

Ticket Brokers to Pay in Scalping Settlement

Three New York ticket brokers will pay $3.7 million in civil penalties as part of a settlement agreement with federal officials. The payment will settle allegations that the brokers evaded ticket-purchasing limits, bought tens of thousands of event tickets, and resold them at inflated prices. They are among the first enforcement actions under the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, enacted in 2016.

Lawmakers Push for "Selena" to be Added to National Film Registry

The lawmakers say the film's inclusion could help dismantle the exclusion of Latinos from the film industry and "from the full promise of America ... by preserving important cultural and artistic examples of America's Latino heritage."


Museum of Modern Art Leader is Facing Calls for His Ouster

Calls for Leon Black to step down gained momentum after it became public that the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) chairman paid convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein $158 million for advisory services between 2012 and 2017. Black already announced he would be stepping down as chief executive of Apollo Global Management.

Mellon Foundation to Fund Diversity Programs at Library of Congress

The $15 million grant will support an initiative called "Of the People: Widening the Path," which will "encourage diversity among future librarians and archivists" as well as raise awareness of the library's digital archives among minority groups. The goals will be achieved through outreach to universities, grants to cultural heritage institutions, and through the library's American Folklife Center.

Slovenian Prime Minister Kicks Off a Culture War in Country's Museums

Populist leader Janez Jansa's government has replaced the directors of Slovenia's most important museums in what the article says is "an effort to control the museums and shift them in a more conservative and nationalist direction."

Rare Violin Tests Germany's Commitment to Atone for Its Nazi Past

The case is expected to test Germany's system for restitution after the instrument's holders refuse to compensate the heirs of a Jewish music dealer. In 2016, a governmental commission determined that the violin was sold under duress or seized by the Nazis after the owner's death. The commission recommended that its current holder, a music education organization, pay $121,000 in compensation to the music dealer's grandsons. The organization refuses to pay, saying that new information has come to light that suggests the violin was likely sold as a retail product. In turn, the commission issued a public statement to pressure the organization to comply with its recommendation.

Scholar's Daughter Returns Gifted Artifacts to Cambodia

Douglas Latchford's daughter is returning a collection of 125 artifacts to Cambodia. Latchford was the world's leading collector of Cambodian antiquities but was accused of having trafficked in looted artifacts, which he then bequeathed to his daughter. Valued at over $50 million, it will be housed in a new museum in Cambodia.


Kim Ng Stands Alone Among Major League Baseball's Executives

Kim Ng, the general manager of the Miami Marlins, is the only woman and the only person of color in a group of about 13 people who have been hired to run baseball operations in the last two seasons. The article examines Major League Baseball's (MLB) various efforts to diversify its executive ranks and the ways in which its programs are falling short.

Steroid Era Strips Honor from Hall of Fame Voting for Some Writers

The Baseball Hall of Fame will not have any new players in the class of 2021. At least two of the players who were on the ballot this year, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, face suspicions of performance-enhancing drug use. A third player who will also have one more chance at election next year, Curt Schilling, has ostracized himself by making repeated offensive comments since his retirement.

Seahawks Lineman Chad Wheeler Charged with First-Degree Domestic Violence Assault

Wheeler was arrested after a violent assault of his girlfriend in his home. According to the charging papers, he allegedly chocked the woman until she lost consciousness twice. The National Football League (NFL) is investigating the case, which could result in a suspension or a fine if Wheeler is found to have violated its personal conduct policy. He was released by the Seahawks earlier last week.

Jennifer King Becomes First Black Woman to Coach in the NFL

The Washington Football Team promoted King to assistant running back coach. King has played football and was a coaching intern with her current team as well as an intern with the Carolina Panthers.

Texans Hire David Culley as Head Coach

Culley is one of only two non-white NFL head coaches hired in this cycle. Under scrutiny for its lack of diversity among its coaching ranks, the NFL updated its recruiting process by increasing the minimum number of interviews that teams were required to conduct with external head coaching candidates from non-white backgrounds.

How a Horrifying Cycling Crash Set Up a Battle Over Safety

Cyclists are pressuring their governing body to take better steps to ensure their safety following a number of crashes in elite road racing. The list of suggested rules includes "improving safety in risky areas (especially barriers at the finish) and introducing a risk-assessment tool for race routes."

Budweiser To Sit Out the Super Bowl

For the first time in 37 years, Budweiser will not be advertising its product during the Super Bowl, choosing instead to focus its marketing dollars on promoting vaccine awareness and distribution efforts.

Italy Staves Off Threat of Olympic Sanctions

Italy was able to avoid sanctions after the Italian government issued a decree restoring autonomy to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had raised concerns about government interference in Italian sport after a 2019 decree put CONI under state control.

How Russia Influenced Biathlon's Long-time President

The article examines Russia's efforts to bribe the president of biathlon's governing body, Anders Besseberg. Following a two-year investigation, the sport's new leadership issued a report that describes Russia's efforts to manipulate Besseberg into defending Russian athletes and undermining anti-doping efforts in the sport.


A Changing of the Guard Among Newsroom Leaders

The article profiles some of the internal and external candidates being considered for top jobs at news organizations like Reuters, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, which are finding themselves in need of new leadership due to recent retirements and departures.

Facebook 'Court' to Decide Whether Trump Will Be Permitted to Return to Facebook

A panel of a 20-member Oversight Board, composed of representatives from 18 countries, will take on the question of whether Donald Trump will be permitted to return to Facebook. Facebook leadership "floated the notion of an independent content moderation body" in 2018 and "put $130 million into a legally independent trust." The panel's decision on whether to reinstate Trump's account is due before the end of April and is reviewable by the full 20-person board.

Twitter Troll Charged with Fooling 2016 Voters

Douglass Mackey of Florida was charged with spreading disinformation online in what seems to be the first criminal case involving voter suppression. He is accused of tricking 2016 Democratic voters into trying to cast their ballots by phone instead of going to the polls through a coordinated effort that including spreading memes that claimed Clinton supporters could send vote by text message.

Telegram Struggles Over New Fans from Far Right

The app has long been considered a "pro-democracy tool" for helping movements in Iran and Belarus, but it is now facing scrutiny over its popularity with right wing extremists and conspiracy theorists who have flocked to the app after crackdowns on Twitter and Facebook.

CBS Suspends Two Executives Accused of Racist and Sexist Conduct

Following a report in The Los Angeles Times, the network suspended Peter Dunn and David Friend as it investigates their alleged roles in creating a hostile work environment by making disparaging comments about female and Black employees.

How to Keep Internet Trolls Out of Remote Workplaces

Work culture experts say the transition to a remote workplace has resulted in less filtered and more aggressive communications among colleagues. They suggest several strategies for keeping communications in check, including monitoring large chat groups and reminding employees of the formal nature of their work relationships.

Top Pakistani Court Upholds Acquittal in 2002 Killing of American Writer

Pakistan's highest court ordered the release of Ahmed Omar Sheikh, who has long denied being involved in American journalist Daniel Pearl's abduction and murder in 2002. Sheikh's murder conviction had been overturned but he did serve seven years for the abduction.

General News

Supreme Court Dismisses Trump Emoluments Cases as Moot

The Supreme Court dismissed two lawsuits that had accused the former president of violating the Constitution's emoluments clauses by profiting off of his businesses while in office.

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Sheldon Silver's Appeal

The former speaker of the New York Assembly was sentenced to 12 years in prison after being convicted of taking bribes from real estate developers. That conviction will now stand after the Supreme Court declined to take up the case. Silver's lawyers took issue with the fact that prosecutors did not prove that those who made the illicit payments had intended to influence particular government actions.

Federal Court Lifts Block on Trump Policy Expelling Migrant Children at the Border

The decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit effectively reinstates a Trump-era policy that relied on the coronavirus threat to expel asylum seekers without assessing their claims (instead of detaining them at ports of entry and risking an outbreak). The decision ramps up pressure on the Biden administration to restore the asylum process at the border.

Federal Judge Blocks a 100-Day Pause on Deportations

A federal judge in Texas issued a 14-day nationwide temporary restraining order that blocks the Biden administration's 100-day pause on deportations. Judge Tipton ruled that "the suspension of deportations would violate a provision of the immigration statute as well as another law that required agencies to provide a rational explanation for their policy decisions." The law requires people with final orders of removal to be deported within 90 days.

Dominion Voting Systems Files Defamation Suit Against Rudy Giuliani Over False Election Claims

The company accuses Giuliani of carrying out "a viral disinformation campaign" after suggesting that Dominion's voting machines were involved in rigged elections, contentions that were part of Giuliani's broader effort to overturn the election results in favor of Donald Trump. Dominion seeks damages of more than $1.3 billion.

****************************************************************************************************************************************** Executive Orders

Biden Moves to End Justice Contracts with Private Prisons and Curb Housing Discrimination

By way of two executive orders, the Biden administration signaled its push for racial equity by: 1) directing the Justice Department to end its contracts with private prisons; and 2) increasing enforcement of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 that is meant to combat discrimination in the housing market. The first order would not apply to agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which contracts with private companies for its detention centers.

Biden Signs Executive Orders Aimed at Expanding Health Care

The executive action reopened enrollment in Affordable Care Act marketplaces to make health coverage available to those who have lost it during the pandemic. A separate order overturned restrictions on the use of federal money to fund clinics that counsel or refer patients to abortion services. The administration also restored funding for women's reproductive health programs in the developing world, marking the return of the U.S. as a major donor to the United Nations Population Fund.

Biden Signs Executive Order Bolstering 'Buy American' Provisions

The order will strengthen "Buy American" provisions that encourage the federal government to purchase goods and services from U.S. companies. The order will reduce opportunities for waivers from the Buy American requirements.

Biden Overturns Trump's Transgender Military Ban

The president signed an executive order restoring protections for transgender people wishing to serve in the armed forces. The new defense secretary also announced he was ordering a review of how the Pentagon handles sexual assault issues, signaling a renewed focus on social issues.


General News Continued

Biden and Putin Agree to Extend Nuclear Treaty

Following the first call between the two leaders, the countries exchanged diplomatic notes to extend the New Start agreement, which limits the size of the countries' strategic nuclear arsenals and was to expire on February 5th.

Antony Blinken Takes Over at State Department with a Review of Trump's Policies

The Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as secretary of state. Blinken is described as "a centrist with an interventionist streak" who has promised to take a harder line against Russia and to review the U.S. policy toward North Korea.

Janet Yellen is Sworn in as Treasury Secretary

Yellen is the first woman to lead the institution in its 232-year history and is also the first woman to have also served as chair of the Federal Reserve and the Council of Economic Advisers, the top economic jobs in government. She is expected to be assume a central role in making the case for a stimulus package.

Justice Department Facing Inquiry Over Election Meddling

The department's inspector general will investigate whether a top department official, Jeffrey Clark, collaborated with Trump to promote false claims of voter fraud and attempted to have the results of the election overturned. Part of the alleged plan was to oust the acting attorney general, promote Clark to that position, and try to overturn Georgia's election results.

Biden Team Oust Trump Loyalists

Even though President Biden had named almost all of his cabinet secretaries and deputies before being sworn in, the administration is also consolidating power by ousting Trump appointees and filling high-level positions from the Pentagon to the Voice of America.

McConnell Drops Demand that Filibuster Be Preserved

The Senate minority leader has, at least temporarily, dropped his demand for a formal promise from Democrats to preserve the filibuster. McConnell relied on the assurances of two centrist Democrats who oppose removing the procedural tool that effectively requires 60 votes to advance any measure.

After Record Turnout, Republicans Are Trying to Make it Harder to Vote

The Brennan Center for Justice is reporting that Republican state legislators have filed 106 bills to tighten election rules, which would do one or more of the following: roll back no-excuse absentee voting, pare back automatic mailing of absentee ballots, require signatures on mail ballots to be notarized, or require ballots mailed to voters to be delivered by hand. On the other hand, 406 Democrat-backed bills in 35 states are aiming to increase access to voting, like giving former felons the right to vote or automatically registering votors at motor vehicle bureaus.

Trump Parts Ways with Five Lawyers Handling Impeachment Defense

The lead lawyer on Trump's impeachment defense team - South Carolina lawyer Butch Bowers, will no longer represent the former president. The departure was reportedly due to a difference of opinion on the direction of the case - Trump is pushing for a defense that relies on allegations of election fraud while the anticipated argument is that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.

Republicans Waiver on Convicting Donald J. Trump

It is appearing increasingly unlikely that Republicans will convict Trump on charges of inciting a resurrection after the impeachment trial gets underway on February 9th. Of those who are opposed, most have process-based objections and point to the divisive nature of an impeachment trial. The number of Republicans who have signaled they were open to convicting the former president falls short of the 17 needed to secure a conviction.

Homeland Security Warns of Rising Threat from Extremists Emboldened by Capitol Attack

In a departure from its previous positions, the Department of Homeland Security is now both acknowledging the threat of violent homegrown terrorism and publishing intelligence reports that warn about the dangers posed by white supremacist groups and other extremist factions. This is a significant development, given that Trump's insistence that radical left movements posed danger to the country had shifted federal law enforcement resources away from investigating right-wing extremists and had "stifled internal efforts to promote concerns about the far-right threat."

Republicans' Ties to Extremist Groups Under Scrutiny Following Capitol Riots

Calls for the resignation or expulsion of certain Republican lawmakers are growing over their ties to organizations that played a role in the Capitol riots. The article examines links between several members of Congress, including Georgia's Marjorie Taylor Greene, and organizations like the Oath Keepers, QAnon and the Proud Boys.

Capitol Riot Investigation Scrutinize Role of Proud Boys

One of the goals of the ongoing investigation is to find out to what extent far-right nationalist groups communicated with each other to plan the Capitol assault in advance. There is currently no clear-cut evidence suggesting that there was a widespread conspiracy to attack the Capitol.

Capitol Police Detail Failures During Pro-Trump Assault

The acting chief of the Capitol Police says that the department was aware of a "strong potential for violence" targeting lawmakers, but was unprepared when the mob attacked. Testifying before members of the House Appropriations Committee, Chief Pittman said that "officers were outmanned, had poor communications, lacked sufficient supplies and struggled to carry out orders like locking down the building."

Federal Emergency Management Agency Play Would Free Up Billions for Preventing Climate Disasters

Under a new strategy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will free up as much as $10 billion to protect against climate disasters by building seawalls, elevating or relocating flood-prone homes and taking other steps to minimize the impact of climate change.

General Motors Phasing Out Cars and Trucks Using Gas by 2035

The company plans to stop selling new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, shifting its focus to battery-powered vehicles instead.

Central Intelligence Agency Warns Former Officers About Working for Foreign Governments

The agency's counterintelligence chief warned retired officers that pursuing employment with foreign governments amounts to activity "that may undermine the agency's mission to the benefit of U.S. competitors and foreign adversaries." The broad warning acknowledged a "detrimental trend" toward this type of activity in recent years and was not prompted by any single incident or disclosure.

The GameStop Reckoning Was a Long Time Coming

GameStop became the most heavily traded stock in the world after individual investors used trading apps to execute a short squeeze, push up the stock price, and entrap hedge funds that had bet against it, causing billions of dollars in losses.

Legal Pressure Increases on Trump in Fraud Inquiry Cases

In an order issued last week, Justice Engoron of the New York Supreme Court rejected a bid from Trump's lawyers to shield records that they argued were protected by attorney-client privilege. The records relate to a Westchester County property that is being scrutinized as part of a civil inquiry into whether the Trump organization "misstated assets to get bank loans and tax benefits."

In Queens, New District Attorney Confronts Her Office's Past Misconduct

District attorney Melinda Katz is leading a major culture shift in Queens - first, by acknowledging past misconduct that excluded women and people of color from juries, and secondly, by establishing a review unit for potential wrongful convictions. However, defense attorneys and community leaders are pushing for more change, especially in the area of attorney discipline, so that prosecutors do not slide back into their old ways.

Coronavirus Update

Negative Coronavirus Test Required for Travelers Entering U.S.

Starting January 26, 2021,international travelers had to show negative test results before boarding flights to the U.S.

Biden Raises Daily Vaccination Target to 1.5 Million Shots a Day

The figure marks a 50% increase from his initial target of ONE million a day.

Johnson & Johnson's Vaccine Offers Strong Protection

The one-dose vaccine is showing promise, but its efficacy rate dropped from 72% in the U.S. to 57% in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has taken hold.

Why Governments Sign Secret Vaccine Deals

The details of government contracts with pharmaceutical companies producing coronavirus vaccines have largely remained secret but recently examined documents indicate that drug companies demand "flexible delivery schedules, patent protection and immunity from liability if anything goes wrong."

The Global Cost of Unequal Vaccination

The article discusses the humanitarian and economic impact of rich nations monopolizing the vaccine supply.

Pentagon Suspends Plan to Vaccinate the 40 Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

The initial decision had attracted criticism over whether the government was prioritizing terrorism suspects over U.S. citizens. It is also unclear how many of the approximately 1,500 troops who serve at the detention center have been vaccinated.

New York State Undercounted Coronavirus Deaths in Nursing Homes

Following a report by the state attorney general that New York had undercounted coronavirus-related deaths in state nursing homes, the Health Department added another 3,800 deaths to its tally, which increased the total death toll related to those facilities by over 40%.

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