Week In Review
By Travis Marmara Edited by Elissa D. Hecker
Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Technology/Media, and General News:
A Kevin Spacey Accuser Tried to Sue Anonymously. A Judge Said No.
In a sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey, the victim, who said that he was 14 years old when he was sexually assaulted by Spacey, sought to maintain anonymity. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled earlier this year that the victim's attorneys would have to reveal the identity of their client privately to Spacey's lawyers. Further, this month Judge Kaplan ruled that the victim would have to identify himself publically if he wanted to proceed to trial. In such cases where anonymity is an issue, courts tend to weigh the benefits it affords the victim from potential harassment against the public's interest and the ability for the accused to mount an effective defense.
NBC Says It Will Not Air the Golden Globes in 2022
On February 21, 2021, the Los Angeles Times published an article detailing that the Hollywood Foreign Press "had no Black members, had more than $50 million in cash on hand at the end of October, and paid large sums to members for serving on committees." In response, leaders of the organization vowed to diversify its membership to be more inclusive and planned to increase membership by more than 50% over the next 18 months. NBCUniversal, which gave its blessing to the objectives, however, issued a statement saying that it will not broadcast the Golden Globes in 2022, citing that the changes would not be implemented in time for the show. NBCUniversal currently pays $60 million per year for broadcast rights to the show.
Leslie Moonves Receives Nothing From CBS Exit Package
Leslie Moonves led CBS as a chief executive for 15 years prior to leaving on September 9, 2018 in connection with allegations of sexual assault by more than a dozen women. The company had set aside $120 million as a potential severance package for the disgraced executive, but according to a federal filing, the company will pay nothing to Moonves, as the company found grounds to fire him under his contract. The company cited '"willful and material misfeasance, violation of company policies and breach of his employment contract"' justifying the firing and subsequent nonpayment of his allocated severance.
When Covid Dropped the Curtain on Broadway Actors, TV Kept the Lights On
In light of the pandemic, many of Broadway's bigger stars have opted to join scripted series as an opportunity to work, as theaters begin to rebound from the deadly virus. Normally, producers would have to work around the schedule of Broadway actors in order to lure one of these stars to its sets. Due to the pandemic, however, with theaters shutting down, scheduling has become easier and has provided an outlet for talent seekers and work for actors.
Tina Turner and Jay-Z Lead Rock Hall of Fame's 2021 Inductees
This year, inductees of the class of 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame features Jay-Z, the Foo Fighters, the Go-Go's, Carole King, Tina Turner, and Todd Rudgren. Out of the 15 individuals to be enshrined in Hall of Fame, 7 are women, marking a progress in eroding gender disparities in music. Some of the inductees, including Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Tina Turner, and Carole King, were already included as part of separate acts, including Nirvana, Ike and Tina Turner, and King as a songwriting partner with her former husband, Gerry Goffin. The ceremony will take place on October 30th in Cleveland, Ohio.
Il Divo Tenor's Ex-Wife Sues Him, Citing Sexual and Physical Abuse
Renée Izambard, the ex-wife of Sébastien Izambard, a singer in the classical group "Il Divo", sued the singer, accusing him of domestic violence, sexual assault, and battery. In the lawsuit, she alleges that "over the years he had tracked her movements, withheld medical care, subjected her to sex acts without her consent, and threatened to stop supporting their three school-age children."
She Used a Male Doll in a Joke. Now She's Accused of Sexual Harassment.
Two years after her first Netflix special, South Korean comedian Park Na-rae faced criticism for a joke that would rarely grab headlines in Western society. On a show on YouTube, Park "grabbed a male doll, placed its plastic arm between its legs and made a suggestive remark." The act made headlines for weeks in South Korea, and men in the country accused her of sexual harassment. Her supporters say that the outrage delineates a clear double standard "in a culture where men often brag about sexual conquests and where sexual harassment is endemic, but where women who dare to mention sex in public can be penalized." A few days after the news broke, Park resigned from her YouTube show.
Australian Company Loses Ugg Trademark Battle
In 2016, Deckers Outdoor, which owns UGG boots, sued Australian Leather alleging trademark infringement due to Australian Leather selling 13 pairs of UGG-styled boots in the United States. Australian Leather argued that Deckers Outdoor should have never been given the trademark "UGG" in the first place, as the word is used in Australia as a catchall for all sheepskin-lined boots with fleece that have been made since the 1930s. In response, Deckers Outdoor argued that it registered the brand in the United States after rightfully purchasing and trademarking the name "UGG Australia" in 1995 and holds the trademark in 130 countries. In 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled that while the term has a generic meaning in Australia, it does not in the United States. Australian Leather then appealed the decision, arguing that the lower court used the wrong legal standard to judge whether something is generic. After the appeals court affirmed the district court's ruling, Australian Leather says that it will be appealing to the Supreme Court.
Heirs Sue Over Ownership of a Pissarro, Saying It Was Seized by Nazis
In a suit filed in Federal District Court in Atlanta, heirs of Margaret and Ludwig Kainer are seeking to recover famed Pissarro painting, "The Anse des Pilotes, Le Havre," which they say was stolen by Nazis after the family left Germany. The painting is now believed to be in the possession of the Horowitz Family Foundation in Atlanta and its estimated value ranges from $500,000 to $1 million.
As Broadway Plans Its Return, 'Hamilton' Will Require Vaccines Backstage
In preparation for Broadway returning, the industry is addressing what a post-Covid world will look like. Some producers will be requiring its actors and production team to be vaccinated. As of now, ticket-buyers are being told they will be required to wear face masks. Some theaters are increasing safety protocols, such as an increase in cleaning, ventilation improvements, or a requirement of a negative Covid test prior to entering.
'We Are the Met': Opera Unions Rally Against Proposed Pay Cuts
While New York City is preparing to open up to pre-Covid levels, the Metropolitan Opera may have to wait due to a labor strike between some of its staff and the company. In December, the Met locked out its stagehands after union reps and the Met failed to come to an agreement. The Met is arguing that it "needs to cut the payroll costs for its highest-paid unions by 30 percent, with an intention to restore half of those cuts when ticket revenues and core donations returned to prepandemic levels."
A.O.C. Had a Catchy Logo. Now Progressives Everywhere Are Copying It.
Beyond being an unapologetic lightning rod for progressive ideas, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is trailblazing in a different way: her campaign logo. The logo, which features "condensed and bold typeface" and an "upward-sloping, dialog-box design" is being used in campaigns of various races, ranging from a governor's race in Virginia to an elementary school race in Queens. Political designers say the image portrays "insurgency, youth, diversity, and liberalism."
Hindu Sect Is Accused of Using Forced Labor to Build New Jersey Temple
Workers from India, who held temporary religious visas, alleged that Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, a Hindu sect known as BAPS, exploited them and lured them to build a temple in New Jersey, paying them $1 per hour to perform manual labor. Lawyers for the workers say that their clients labored for "nearly 13 hours a day lifting large stones, operating cranes and other heavy machinery, building roads and storm sewers, digging ditches and shoveling snow, all for the equivalent of about $450 per month."
Former Dance School Comptroller Pleads Guilty in $1.5 Million Fraud
Since 2017, Sophia Kim served as the comptroller of the Kirov Academy of Ballet. Founded in 1990, the school produced top ballet dancers each year, with some currently acting as principals at the American Ballet Theater and the National Ballet of Canada. Kim was arrested for using the coffers of the school to write checks to herself, for withdrawing cash at local casinos, and to pay off gambling-related debts. The plea comes 8 years after Kim was found guilty of embezzling money from the Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation that was used to gamble at New Jersey casinos.
Ukraine's Burial Mounds Offer Meaning in a Heap of History
Roughly 100,000 burial mounds can be found in Ukraine, which were built by the Scythians between the 7th and 4th century B.C. to send the dead to the afterlife with supplies, valuables, gold, and other goods. In the twentieth century, most of the mounds have been flattened to level the ground for farming. The ones that remained have mostly been looted with impunity. In response, a preservation group called the Guardians of the Mounds is seeking to lobby local governments to provide measures to prevent destruction and excavation of the mounds, even from archaeologists who are uncovering historical and cultural significance from such excavations.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Signs Name, Image, Likeness Bill for College Athletes
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed House Bill 1351, making the state the fifteenth to pass legislation providing for athletes to be compensated for their name, image, and likeness. The bill is set to take effect on January 1, 2022 and would prevent restrictions on athletes from "participating in endorsement deals, monetizing their social-media followings or getting paid for signing autographs amid an enterprise that generates billions of dollars for their schools."
Stanford Faces Two Lawsuits for Decision to Cut Sports
In 2 separate lawsuits filed by Stanford University students, the athletes argue that the university is violating state and federal law in connection with its plans to remove 11 sports at the end of the current year. "One suit, filed by eight athletes, is claiming fraud and breach of contract, arguing that Stanford did not disclose to recruits that it was formulating plans to drop the sports, which, the suit said, had been in the works for years. The other suit is asking for an injunction on behalf of five women, arguing that dropping their sports would violate Title IX laws." The suits echo one similar to Brown University students, wherein the university agreed to reinstate 5 of the 11 sports it had planned to remove the prior year.
Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit Fails Drug Test
In the wake of 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit's victory, it was reported that the horse failed a drug test. The horse could not be disqualified until a second sample confirmed that the first test was positive. If disqualified, however, Medina Spirit would be stripped of its victory and Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, will lose winnings from the race. The drug alleged to be used was betamethasone, which acts as a corticosteroid to reduce pain and swelling in joints.
After Years in a Supporting Role, Amber Sabathia Is in Charge
Amber Sabathia, wife of famed Yankees pitcher, C.C. Sabathia, announced that she will be joining Creative Artists Agency as an agent for Major League Baseball players. More recently, women have begun to hold higher positions in organizations, such as Alyssa Nakken being hired as the first full-time major-league coach for the San Francisco Giants and Kim Ng being named general manager of the Miami Marlins. Sabathia will be the first woman to negotiate playing contracts for the baseball division at Creative Artists Agency.
Michigan Ignored Warnings About Doctor Abusing Athletes, a Report Says
A recent report found that for over 20 years, the University of Michigan ignored complaints by students and warnings from others regarding Robert E. Anderson, a longtime doctor in the athletic department. The findings show that Anderson assaulted '"countless"' student athletes in the wrestling and football programs, who were subjected to unwarranted hernia or rectal exams. Anderson worked at the university for 37 years until 1999 and retired from the university in 2003, later dying in 2008.
Northwestern Athletic Director Resigns Amid Backlash Over Harassment Case
After only 10 days on the job, Mike Polisky resigned as the athletic director of Northwestern University, after criticism over his handling of racism and sexual harassment accusations within the cheerleading program when he served as the university's deputy athletic director. In a May 6th letter, the university president defended the hiring of Polisky, stating that "an independent investigator hired by Northwestern found Polisky had not violated school policies in preliminary findings from an inquiry into the complaints raised by cheerleaders." Despite the resignations, those in support of removing Polisky hoped these events will open more inquiries into the operation of other departments within the school.
A Police Shooting in Hawaii Has South Africans Demanding Justice
A former Rugby player in South Africa, Lindani Myeni moved to Hawaii to start a real estate career. Like so many others before him, Myeni was shot and killed by police officers who believed they were responding to a burglary. Myeni was found unarmed and without shoes, which his wife believes was a result of plans to enter the Hare Krishna temple next door. In South Africa, citizens are demanding justice and police reform for the unnecessary killings of unarmed Black men.
Baseball in Britain Confronts Issues With Sexism
On April 25th, the British Baseball Federation posted a tweet advertising the league. The image was a "rendering of a female player viewed from behind, wearing a helmet and holding a glove. The player appeared to be either topless or wearing a halter top and just to the left of the image sat the logo of the women's league, lending the appearance of its approval." Despite immediate outrage, the league defended the tweet and left it online for 12 hours. While the former president of the league subsequently apologized and was fired, the incident highlights similar events in the United States, where sexual harassment in the sport has been exposed more over the last few years.
As Congress Dithers, States Step In to Set Rules for the Internet
In a recent spate of legislation, "over the past six months, Virginia, Arkansas, Florida and Maryland have been among at least 38 states that have introduced more than 100 bills to protect people's data privacy, regulate speech policies and encourage tech competition." While Congress has held more hearings to reign in the power of tech giants in controlling the internet, states have taken action into their own hands to help set rules for the internet. The result is a hodgepodge of internet regulations that provides a different internet experience for different states and requires tech companies to tailor their products for these different markets.
Dozens of State Prosecutors Tell Facebook to Stop its Plans for a Children's Version of Instagram
Forty four Attorneys General have called on Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, to scrap its plan to offer a version of the popular photo sharing app to children. Research shows that "the use of social media, including Instagram, has led to an increase in mental distress, body image concerns and even suicidal thoughts." In response, Facebook points out that children are already on the internet and that by curating the experience for children, parents would have more control over what their kids view on the platform.
Washington Post Names A.P. Editor, Sally Buzbee, as Its Top Editor
The Washington Post announced that Sally Buzbee will lead the publication as its next top editor. The historic appointment marks the first time the newspaper will be led by a woman since its first publication in 1877. Buzbee previously started her career in 1988 at the Associated Press, where she began as a reporter in Topeka, Kansas, and ultimately rose to senior vice president of the organization in 2017.
Instagram to Give Australian National Rugby League Stars Power to Block Trolls
In what is seen as a positive step toward policing online bullying, "Instagram will provide a new tool for athletes to use that will automatically filter direct message requests which contain offensive words, phrases and emojis." In addition, Instagram will also provide a feature allowing the recipient of offensive direct messages to block a user and any other accounts they may create. The change comes after Australian National Rugby Stars have complained of threatening and racist messages from fans due to lost wagers on games.
As Ethiopia Fights in Tigray Region, a Crackdown on Journalists
When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power, "Ethiopia was among the most repressive countries for journalists in Africa, and he quickly won global praise for a series of sweeping reforms." Among his first actions was freeing journalists who were incarcerated under the previous regime. He also unblocked hundreds of websites, and Ethiopia hosted the World Press Freedom Day celebrations for the first time. Yet, since he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, a deadly civil war has broken out. As a result, Ethiopia has returned to the repressive ways of the previous regime, arresting journalists and creating an environment of intimidation for journalists in the hopes of quelling negative news associated with the war.
FBI Identifies Group Behind Pipeline Hack
A hacker group called DarkSide orchestrated a ransomware attack against Colonial Pipelines, a private company that controls a major pipeline of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from Texas to New York. The company says that disruptions were minimal and it expected its computer systems to be online by the end of the week. Evidence indicated that the group hailed from Eastern Europe, but it is unknown whether the attack was purely extortion by the group or a more coordinated attack with Kremlin ties. Colonial Pipeline since paid a ransom of roughly $5 million to recover the company's stolen data.
In response, President Biden signed an executive order that would be the equivalent of rating companies who wish to work with the government on the cybersecurity standards. According to the executive order, "the United States will require all software purchased by the federal government to meet, within six months, a series of new cybersecurity standards," and those who fail to meet these standards will risk securing a government contract.
Biden Administration Restores Rights for Transgender Patients
In a new policy, the Biden administration announced that "the Department of Health and Human Services will once again prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by health care organizations that receive federal funding." The change reverses a Trump-era policy that stated that the anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 do cover transgender individuals.
U.S. Defends Detention of Afghan at Guantánamo Despite Pullout
A Guantánamo habeas corpus hearing was held for Asadullah Haroon Gul, an Afghan citizen who has been held by the U.S. military since 2007. Haroon previously served as commander of the Hezb-i-Islami militia, which fought alongside the Taliban and al Qaeda against the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. The hearing came amongst the backdrop of President Biden's order to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan this year.
White House Says Undocumented Students Can Receive Pandemic Aid
The Biden administration announced that undocumented students would be eligible to receive a portion of the $36 billion allocated to colleges as part of the emergency relief bill. The funds are expected to "bolster academic support services, purchase laptops and expand mental health programs." The decision reversed a Trump-era rule that prevented undocumented students from accessing money as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed into law by then-President Trump.
Senate Panel Deadlocks on Voting Rights as Bill Faces Major Obstacles
A Senate committee held a vote on the For the People Act, which is a wide-ranging bill aimed at election reform and combating the restrictive voting laws being enacted in Republican-held territories. Such laws include, for example, a bill by Arizona Republicans to limit the distribution of mail ballots through an early voting list. The list automatically distributes ballots to people for each election, and the new Arizona bill would remove individuals from the list if they do not cast a vote every 2 years.
The provisions in the For the People Act would create a nationwide floor for ballot access. Additionally, "each state would be required to implement 15 days of early voting, no-excuse vote-by-mail programs like the ones many states expanded during the pandemic, and automatic and same-day voter registration." The vote ended in a 9-to-9 tie and does not prevent Democrats from moving forward with the bill.
Biden Administration to Repeal Trump Rule Aimed at Curbing Environmental Protection Agency's Power
As head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Michael S. Regan is instituting policies the reverse the previous administration's actions. Most recently, Regan is moving to repeal the cost-benefit rule, which would have required economists in the agency to "calculate the public health benefits that stem directly from a new regulation and separately the value of ancillary benefits, or "co-benefits" -- such as the reduction of pollutants not directly governed by the regulation." The cost-benefit rule was previously lobbied for by the fossil fuel industry, which argued that the government set arbitrary economic formulas that led to strict pollution regulations.
Climate Change Is Making Big Problems Bigger
In a recent report by the EPA, data indicates that rising global temperatures are exacerbating existing environmental issues, such as hurricanes, droughts, and flooding. The EPA report notes that, "since 1901, surface temperatures across the lower 48 states have increased by an average of 0.16 degrees Fahrenheit each decade; since the late 1970s, that rate has jumped to as much as half a degree per decade." The result is that the frequency of heat waves have tripled since the 1960's and rising sea levels have led to five times as many floods since the 1950's.
Mysterious Ailments Are Said to Be More Widespread Among U.S. Personnel
In a recent increase in most overseas incidents leading to mysterious ailments, the government is dedicating resources to understand the issue. According to the National Security Council, the episodes "involve personnel experiencing '"sensory phenomena,"' such as sound, pressure or heat, along with or followed by physical symptoms, such as sudden-onset vertigo, nausea, and head or neck pain." In response, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report in December highlighting that a microwave-based weapon explains the injuries and is the most likely cause. Government officials are pointing to Russia as a source of the attacks, and Russia has denied any involvement.
House Democrats and White House Reach Deal Over Testimony by Ex-Trump Aide
According to a court filing this week, former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II will testify before Congress regarding former-President Trump's alleged actions to obstruct the Russian investigation. The case marked a litmus test and a source of disagreement amongst Democrats, some of whom wanted to forge ahead with a subpoena after years of stonewalling, while other saw the subpoena compelling McGahn to testify as a dangerous precedent for Republicans to use to one day force Democrats to discuss internal matters.
Activists and Ex-Spy Said to Have Plotted to Discredit Trump 'Enemies' in Government
During the Trump administration, an organized network of former aids, activists, and spies worked together to gain information on those not perceived as loyal to Donald Trump and whose purpose was to purge the White House and other government agencies of "deep state" enemies of Trump. Operations were organized by Project Veritas, which is a nonprofit that "has a history of conducting sting operations on news organizations, Democratic politicians and advocacy groups." A major contributor to the effort was Richard Seddon, "a former undercover British spy who was recruited in 2016 by the security contractor Erik Prince to train Project Veritas operatives to infiltrate trade unions, Democratic congressional campaigns, and other targets."
Over 100 Republicans, Including Former Officials, Threaten to Split from The G.O.P.
In a letter expected to be released this week, more than 100 Republicans are threatening to create a new party if the Republican party does not make changes. Amongst the signees are "former officials at both the state and national level who once were governors, members of Congress, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, state legislators and Republican Party chairmen." A seed of division within the party stems from a group in the Republican party who have continued to create an alternate reality of the events on January 6th. In a House Oversight and Reform committee, some used their time to discuss Antifa, while others said that the events looked like a "normal tourist visit" to the Capitol. The news of a potential new party culminated with a closed-door vote to oust Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from Republican leadership, who was critical of the narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.
In Rebuke to National Rifle Association, Federal Judge Dismisses Bankruptcy Case
In a long-running investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York State is trying to remove current the chief executive of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Wayne LaPierre, from power and shut down the organization. In a now failed legal maneuver, LaPierre relocated to Texas and filed for bankruptcy there. At the conclusion of a 12-day trial, Judge Harlin D. Hale noted that "the NRA is using this bankruptcy case to address a regulatory enforcement problem, not a financial one" and that any effort to revive the bankruptcy case in Texas would lead to the appointment of an outside trustee to oversee the organization and its finances.
'Staggering' Legal Fees in Boy Scouts Bankruptcy Case
In connection with the bankruptcy case involving the Boy Scouts of America and victims of sexual abuse, lawyers representing both the organization and the children have submitted lawyer fee applications that thus far have surpassed $100 million, and are expected to reach $150 million by August. The money would be taken from the Boy Scouts of America's estate, which is used to pay out claims to the victims in any settlement. The organization estimates that the payout to abuse victims will range from $2.4 billion to $7.1 billion.
Efforts to Weed Out Extremists in Law Enforcement Meet Resistance
In the wake of the riot on the Capitol on January 6th, lawmakers in California, Oregon, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Washington D.C. have proposed new legislation that would empower police departments to root out extremist members from its force. Certain pieces of legislation, like one drafted in California, would "reject all candidates who had been members of hate groups, participated in their activities or publicly expressed sympathy for them." Constitutional scholars, however, believe that laws defined in this way would be overinclusive and would be met with legal challenges based on First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly.
Memorandum in Support by New York State Bar Association
The New York State Senate repealed Judiciary Law Section 470, which required that those who reside outside of New York but who are licensed to practice law in New York must maintain a physical office in the state. The decision came in the wake of working from home, done by necessity due to Covid, but which trial led to the successful adoption of electronic filings, virtual meetings, and court proceedings. To pass as law the bill must next be adopted by the Assembly.
Cuomo Accusers Are Subpoenaed as State Inquiry Enters a Critical Phase
Moving beyond the fact-find phase, New York State Attorney General Letita James issued subpoenas to testify under oath to 4 women who have accused Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. Two prominent attorneys hired by James have also been investigating whether "Cuomo or his aides broke any laws, destroyed documents or other evidence or sought to retaliate against the governor's accusers or interfere with the investigation in any way."
Atlanta Spa Shootings Were Hate Crimes, Prosecutor Says
Robert Aaron Long, who killed 8 Atlanta residents of Asian descent at various spas, was indicted on murder charges. The prosecutor plans to seek the death penalty, citing that the victims were targeted because they were Asian. Long denied killing the victims because of their race, but rather said he experienced a "sex addiction," which is why he targeted the spas. The grand jury also indicted Long on one count of domestic terrorism for causing fear in Georgia residents.
'A Measure of Peace' for Families of Maryland Lynching Victims
Eighty-eight years ago George Armwood was accused of attacking a white woman. Despite pleading his innocence, Armwood was later jailed, where a lynch mob later found him. He was then '"beaten, stabbed, and kicked, before he was tied to the back of a truck and driven to the place he would be hanged."' Last week, Armwood and 33 other Black men and boys who were lynched in Maryland between 1854 and 1933 were formally pardoned. The pardons were also prompted by the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, a nonprofit group whose goal is to share stories of lynching victims and their families, along with a group of students who learned of the lynchings as part of a juvenile justice project and had been working on a pardon to the governor in connection with lynchings in the state.
University of California Will No Longer Consider SAT and ACT Scores
In a 2019 lawsuit brought by students, advocacy groups, and the Compton Unified School District, the plaintiffs argued that "college entrance tests are biased against poor and mainly Black and Hispanic students -- and that by basing admissions decisions on those tests, the system illegally discriminates against applicants on the basis of their race, wealth and disability." In a settlement, standardized SAT and ACT test scores will no longer be a component to determine school admission or qualification for scholarships for students applying between fall 2021 and spring 2025.
China Targets Muslim Women in Push to Suppress Births in Xinjiang
In response to declining birthrates, authorities in China are encouraging women to have more children. Paradoxically, in the Xinjiang region, women are discouraged from having children with the goal of "tightening its grip on Muslim ethnic minorities and trying to orchestrate a demographic shift that will diminish their population growth." The coordinated plan comes after China's leader, Xi Jinping, put hundreds of thousands of Muslim minority Uyghurs and other Central Asian minorities in Xinjiang internment camps. Authorities are said to have pressured women to use IUDs or get sterilized. In the event that women resisted or had more children, they would face punitive fines or detention in an internment camp, where some were raped or forced to take drugs that would stop their menstrual cycles.
China's Mars Rover Mission Lands on the Red Planet
In what many are heralding as a new era of space competition, a Chinese aircraft landed on Mars. This comes after a new orbiting space station was launched last month and plans for China to send 3 astronauts into space. The Chinese aircraft joins NASA's Ingenuity, a small helicopter built to demonstrate the possibility for a helicopter-like aircraft to operate on the red planet, and Hope, an orbiter launched by the United Arab Emirates on February 9th to study Mars.
Vaccinated Americans May Go Without Masks in Most Places, Federal Officials Say
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans who are fully vaccinated against the Coronavirus are free to stop wearing masks or social distance in most settings. The new recommendations stem from a precipitous drop in coronavirus cases (where infections decreased by nearly one third over the past 2 weeks) and due to the prevalence of vaccines. While some have praised the announcement as one that was long overdue, others say the new guidelines were too swift for an organization known to be conservative in its approach.
Food and Drug Administration Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for Children 12 to 15
The Food and Drug Administration authorized that the Pfizer vaccine could be used to immunize children in the 12 to 15 year old age group, providing more opportunities for in-person education and the attendance of summer camps. Similarly, the CDC recommended that the vaccine could be safely used to inoculate children within that age group. As of now, "roughly one-third of eighth graders, usually 13 or 14 years old, are still learning fully remotely," and the age group covers roughly 17 million people in the United States.
A Coronavirus Variant First Found in India is Now Officially a 'Variant of Concern,' Said World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is citing a newer variant of coronavirus as being most prevalent in the outbreak of cases in India. Known as the B.1.617 variant, it has been linked to cases in 32 countries, including the United States. Official figures show that in the country, there are "more than 350,000 new infections daily this month and nearly 250,000 total deaths -- some experts say that the numbers are a vast undercount and estimate that India is on pace to suffer more than one million deaths by August."