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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/Coronavirus:


Filmmaker Claims That A&E Networks Suppressed 'Watergate' Series

Writer and director Charles Ferguson is suing A&E Networks, which owns the History Channel. He claims that the network "suppressed the dissemination of his mini-series [on Nixon's presidency] because it was worried about potential backlash to allusions the documentary makes to the Trump White House." The documentary aired on the History Channel over 3 days in November 2020, but it was never again broadcast. Ferguson accuses the network of a "pattern and practice of censorship and suppression of documentary content."


Stage Actors Challenge Union Over Work Rules

Stage actors are challenging their 51,000-member union, Actors' Equity (Equity), for continuing "to move the goal posts of safety protocol, requiring more radical standards" that are keeping actors without work. Equity has barred almost all stage work in the U.S. during the pandemic and issued at times increasingly stricter guidelines as the pandemic continued.

Vaccinations for New York's Theater Workers

Mayor de Blasio announced that New York City would create a vaccination site for theater workers, as well as a mobile vaccination unit for theater workers beyond Broadway. Both measures are meant to help theaters reopen in the fall.

Virus Cases Delay Effort to Bring Indoor Dance Back to New York

A sold-out indoor show at the Park Avenue Armory was postponed after members of the dance company tested positive for the coronavirus.

Non-fungible Tokens: $560,000 for a Picture of a Newspaper Column

Kevin Roose explains how he turned his column into a NFT and put it up for auction. Someone paid $560,000 in cryptocurrency.

H&M Faces Boycott in China Over Its Criticism of China's Treatment of Uyghurs

A growing number of retailers are facing boycotts in China over their "public stances against forced labor in Xinjiang and for halting cotton sourcing from the region." Nike has also joined the boycott of cotton from the region.

Descendant of Prussian/German Dynasty Wants to Recover Artifacts in Family's Possession

The royal treasures were confiscated from his family in eastern Germany after World War II and are held in German museums. Prinz von Preussen has filed injunctions against journalists and historians to block what he says are inaccurate stories about his great-grandfather's role in the rise of the Nazis.

German Theatregoers Asked to Provide Negative Coronavirus Tests

A pilot program in Germany is bringing back live performances that would require audiences to wear masks, social distance, and "present a negative test result from a rapid test taken no longer than 12 hours before curtain." The cost of the test is included in the ticket; the test itself must be administered by health professionals at designated locations.


University of Southern California Agrees to $1.1 Billion Settlement in Gynecologist Abuse Case

University of Southern California (USC) announced 3 sets of settlements for hundreds of alleged victims of Dr. George Tyndall, who is accused of sexually abusing patients. It represents the largest per-victim payout and the largest sexual settlement ever.

National Collegiate Athletics Association Acknowledges $13.5 Million Tournament Budget Gap; Hires Law Firm to Review Inequities

The organization has hired Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP "to evaluate [its] practices and policies and provide recommendations on steps we can take to get better." The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) came under scrutiny for the glaring differences between the Division I Men's and Women's basketball tournaments. It also acknowledged that its 2019 spend for the men's tournament was $28 million, versus $14.5 million for the women's.

Referee Banned from Working National Hockey League Games Over Comment on Penalty Call

Referee Tim Peel was caught on a rinkside microphone saying that he had been wanting to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators. The league's statement said that it took action to protect the integrity of the game.

Deshaun Watson's Lawyer Issues Denial of Assault Claims

The quarterback is facing multiple civil suits from 16 women who "accuse him of a pattern of coercive behavior." Watson's lawyer questioned the sexual assault allegations and characterized them "as an attempt to blackmail his client."

John Isner Asks for Clarity from Association of Tennis Professionals After Drop in Prize Money

Tennis Player John Isner, who broke away from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Player Council last year, has asked the tour to explain its decision-making process after the overall prize pool for the 2021 Miami Open dropped from $16.7 million in 2019 to $6.68 million in 2021.

Athletes Pitch Wall Street's Hot New Toy

The article describes the trend of star athletes getting involved in special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). SPACs, or blank-cheque companies, are entities set up with the objective of acquiring a firm, and they typically court start-ups for merger deals.

"Cursed" Tokyo Olympics Pressing Ahead Amid Pandemic; Torch Relay Begins

Despite concerns that the Olympics could become a superspreader event, and in the midst of a leadership turnover, the Games' organizers are pushing ahead mainly due to financial considerations, "national pride and political obduracy."

Fans Want Their Money Back as the Olympics Bar Foreign Fans

Ticketholders eager for refunds may run into difficulties because Tokyo organizers have offered no road map for fans to obtain refunds.

Gambling Company Records Profitable Year Amid Pandemic

The pandemic maximized earnings for gambling operators in England, where people turned to gambling sites, sometimes compulsively so.

What a Gambling App Knows About You

The article describes how SkyBet, the most popular gambling app in Britain, collected extensive records about its users, including banking records and mortgage details, locations, and their wagering habits.


Dominion Sues Fox News, Claiming Defamation in Election Coverage

Election technology company Dominion Voting Systems is accusing Fox News of pushing lies that devastated its reputation and business. Dominion has requested a jury trial and seeks at least $1.6 billion in damages. It follows a similar lawsuit by Smartmatic for $2.7 billion.

Lawmakers Grill Tech CEOs on Capitol Riot

The leaders of Facebook, Twitter, and Google participated in a 5-hour hearing before a House committee, where they were questioned over the role of their platforms in sharing misinformation that contributed to the Capitol riot. Lawmakers raised the issue of there being a financial incentive for the companies to keep their users engaged, sometimes by feeding them divisive content. Facebook took the position that responsibility lies with the insurrectionist, while Twitter accepted that the platform played a role, but urged lawmakers to consider "the broader ecosystem."

Unfiltered Streams of Hate on Google Podcasts

Google Podcasts is one of the last remaining platforms "for the deplatformed," after other social networks have taken steps to limit hate speech and misinformation.

A Newsroom with Urgency About Racism at Its Core

Ibram Kendi and Bina Venkataraman plan to start "an online publication that blends reportage, opinion and academic research." The project will be backed by their institutions, Boston University and The Boston Globe, with some of the publications expected to appear in the latter publication. The intent is "to revive the tradition of a generation of media that predates the formal division of news and opinion in 20th-century American journalism" and create a new platform to discuss racism.

India's New Media Rules Could Silence Outlets

Several Indian online news outlets that have mostly operated independently are now threatened by new media laws that can force them to change or take down content if they become subject to complaints. The fear is that outlets will be targeted by online trolls that can mount such campaigns in an effort to silence them.

General News

Supreme Court Wary of Law Letting Union Organizers onto Private Property

At issue is a California regulation that permits "union representatives to meet with farmworkers at the worksites for up to three hours a day for as many as 120 days a year." Some justices were concerned about the implications of a ruling "that the regulation amounted to a government taking of property," as that could endanger other laws authorizing government entry (safety inspections, etc.).

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Men-Only Draft Violates the Constitution

The Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a challenge to one of the last remaining gender-based restrictions in federal law - the obligation to register with the Selective Service System (the agency that maintains a database of who would be eligible to serve if the draft were reinstated) remains limited to men. The petitioners argue that the 1981 case Rostker v Goldberg should be overturned. In that decision, the Supreme Court dismissed a similar challenge, reasoning that discrimination was justified because women could not serve in combat then. That has since changed - since 2016, women can serve in every role in the military.

Supreme Court to Consider Death Sentence in Boston Marathon Bombing Case

The Court will review a federal appeals court decision that overturned the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted of helping carry out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The appellate court took issue with the trial judge not having "questioned jury members closely enough about their exposure to pretrial publicity" and for excluding evidence about his brother and accomplice.

President Biden Seeks New Gun Laws

President Biden called on the Senate to pass an assault weapons ban and close background check loopholes following a string of mass shootings this week. The renewed call for gun safety legislation was met with little bipartisan support in Congress.

Biden's Infrastructure Push Puts Climate Fight at Forefront

The $4 trillion recovery plan will be split between 2 packages, the first of which is an infrastructure bill intended to drive growth in clean energy and fight climate change.

Biden Taps Kamala Harris to Lead Administration's Migrant Response

Harris will "lead the administration's efforts to deter migrants to the southwestern border by working to improve conditions in Central America." Reports suggest that billions of dollars of funding will go into improving local economies and address poverty and corruption in the area.

Justice Department Links Two Far-Right Groups Before Capitol Riot

Prosecutors have made the first link between the Oath Keepers militia and the Proud Boys as they work to prove that the groups were in communication and coordinated some plans for the day of the attack.

Democrats Begin Push for Biggest Expansion of Voting Since 1960s

Democrats are expected to advance a bill that would "mandate automatic voter registration nationwide, expand early and mail-in voting, end gerrymandering and curb the influence of money in politics." Republicans, on the other hand, have introduced over 250 bills in state legislatures that restrict voting.

Georgia Passes Board Curbs on Ballot Access

The law introduces new restrictions, including stricter voter identification requirements, limiting drop boxes, curbing the powers of the secretary of state, restricting who can vote with provisional ballots, and criminalizing offering food or water to voters waiting in line. Runoff elections will also be held 4 weeks after the original vote, as opposed to 9 weeks, which was the old rule.

Top House Aide Confirmed as Biden's No. 2 Budget Official

Shalanda Young was confirmed with bipartisan support as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Manhattan on Track to Have First Black U.S. Attorney

President Biden is expected to name Damian Williams as the next U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Williams is a specialist in white-collar prosecutions and clerked for Merrick Garland. He would be the first Black prosecutor to lead the office known for handling some of the nation's most high-profile and complex investigations.

New York City Creates Racial Justice Commission to Address Structural Racism

Mayor de Blasio announced the formation of the Racial Justice Commission, tasked with making policy recommendations to dismantle structural racism. The proposed policies could go before voters next year as ballot measures. Past commissions have been successful in altering the City Charter, introducing things like ranked-choice voting, limits on campaign contributions, and term limits for community board members.

Virginia Becomes 23rd State to Abolish the Death Penalty

It is the first Southern state to end capital punishment, with the governor noting the racial disparities in the use of the death penalty in the state (70% of those executed in the 20th century have been Black).

Senate Confirms Boston's Mayor, Martin Walsh, Confirmed as Labor Secretary and Kim Janey Becomes Boston's First Black Mayor

Walsh, a former leader of Boston's building trades council, fills the last of 15 Cabinet posts in Biden's administration. Acting Mayor Janey will hold the position until the November election and has not said if she intends to run for the office. She describes her work in education and other issues as an extension of her parents' contributions to the civil rights movement.

Chicago Suburb Shapes Reparations for Black Residents

Evanston, Illinois officials are considering how to distribute $10 million in reparations to Black residents who suffered housing discrimination. They are among the first communities to commit funds to programs "intended to address historical racism and discrimination" and distribute them by way of housing grants.

Postal Service Plans Price Increase and Service Cuts

The Postal Service's 10-year strategic plan would extend delivery times, raise prices, reduce post office hours and consolidate locations so as "to recoup $169 billion in projected losses over the next decade."

U.S. Joins Multinational Effort to Punish Chinese Officials for Human Rights Violations

The U.S. placed sanctions on Chinese officials, joining allies in punishing Beijing for human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority.

Coronavirus Update

AstraZeneca Vaccine Passes U.S. Trial, Found to Be 79% Effective

U.S. Officials Question AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial Results

Pfizer and Moderna Begin Vaccine Trials in Young Children

Governor Cuomo's Family Said to Have Received Special Access to Virus Tests

The New York Times is reporting that high-ranking state health officials were deployed to administer COVID tests to members of the Cuomo family in March 2020, when testing was not widely available to the public.

New York Gave Drug Executive Special Access to Virus Tests

The president of pharmaceutical company Regeneron "received special access to coronavirus testing last year as the first wave of the pandemic tore through New York and tests were severely limited." The chair of the judiciary committee of the state assembly said the issue of preferential access would become part of a larger inquiry into Cuomo's actions.

Some Nations Could Wait Years for COVID Shots

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