By La-Vaughnda A. Taylor Edited by Elissa D. Hecker
Twitch 'Disappointed' With Music Publishing Industry as Its Hit with 1,000 Copyright Infringement Claims
Amazon-owned live streaming platform Twitch told its users that it has been sent a "batch" of new copyright infringement claims from music publishers. The company sent out an email stating that these new Digital Millenium Copyright Act takedown notifications include "about 1,000 individual claims" over the use of copyrighted music played in the background of recorded VODs (on-demand videos). In the email sent to users, Twitch stated that "this is our first such contact form the music publishing industry." It believes that music publishers used automated tools to identify the copyrighted music in Twitch's users' clips, and says that it expects there will likely be more takedown notices on the way.
Seeking a Lifeline, Some Are Told They're Dead
Late last week, some business owners got the good news they had been long awaiting: They would be awarded a piece of a $16 billion federal grant fund intended to preserve music clubs, theaters, and other live-event businesses devastated by the pandemic. However, other applicants ran into fresh obstacles -- including the discovery that the government thinks they'e dead. It was the latest bureaucratic mishap for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant initiative, an aid program created by Congress late last year that has struggled at nearly every turn to disburse badly needed relief funds. The Small Business Administration has not released details on how many claims it has approved. Others received emails saying their name appears on the "Do Not Pay list with the Match Source DMF". DMF is a reference to the government's Death Master File, a record of more than 83 million people whose deaths have been reported to the Social Security Administration. The process to correct the mistake can be slow. The glitches were the latest to bedevil the program, which has suffered many delays, including a complete failure of its online system on the day when it tried to start accepting applications.
Broadway Theater Owner is Cited for Safety Violation in Stagehand's Fatal Fall
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Broadway's Shubert Organization with 4 safety violations in the accidental falling death of a stagehand at the Winter Garden Theater last November. The violations in the death of stagehand Peter Wright, 54, are categorized by OSAH as "serious," though not "willful" or "repeat". Fines totaling $45,642 have been proposed. Wright fell 50 feet to his death from a ladder on the fly floor above the stage on Nov. 12, 2020, while performing what was described as routine maintenance of the venue. The citations mostly involve the use or misuse of a ladder, including the use of a ladder that may have been coated with a material that might obscure structural defects. Another citation involves employer training regarding proper use of the ladder. The Shubert Organization has not commented on the findings pending a meeting with federal regulators to discuss the citations and the fines.
'Hotel Rwanda' Dissident Said to Be Denied Food
Paul Rusesabagina, a prominent dissident who was portrayed in the Oscar-nominated movie "Hotel Rwanda", is being denied food and medicine in a prison in Rwanda where he is being held on terrorism-related charges, even as the 66-year-old has complained of poor health. Resesabagina told family members that prison officials informed him that they would cut his access to food, water, and medicine . His family and lawyers believe the move by Rwandan authors was an attempt to pressure him to return to his trial, which he stopped attending in March after saying he did not expect to receive justice. The former hotelier whose efforts to save more than 1,200 people during the country's genocide were depicted in "Hotel Rwanda" later became a critic of the government of President Paul Kagame. The Rwanda Correctional Services tweeted later on Saturday that it treated all inmates "equally" and that Rusesabagina had access to meals and a medical doctor.
SCOTUS to Review H&M's 9th Circuit Win in Copyright Dispute
The U.S. Supreme Court has said it will hear an appeal of a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision that allowed H&M Hennes & Mauritz LP to escape a ruling that it infringes upon Unicolors Inc.'s copyright application. The Court will weigh in on whether the 9th Circuit correctly determined that evidence of fraud isn't required before invalidating a copyright registration based on inaccurate information in an application, a decision that Unicolors says created a Circuit split and countered Congressional intent. Unicolors sued H&M in Los Angeles federal court in 2016, alleging that H&M clothing infringed its copyright in a fabric design. A jury ruled for Unicolors in 2017, awarding it more than $800,000 in damages. U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte said that he would grant H&M's motion for a new trial on damages in 2018 unless Unicolors accepted reducing the award to $266,000, which it did. The court also granted Unicolors $514,000 in fees and costs, and H&M appealed.
Pissarro Stolen by the Nazis Is Given to a U.S. University
A Holocaust survivor whose family's art collection was looted by the Nazis is transferring the title of a Camille Pissarro painting to the University of Oklahoma, giving up her long-running efforts to donate the painting to the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, where it is currently being exhibited. The agreement ensures that the painting will continue to be exhibited in both countries. The announcement appeared to end the dispute over the painting, which had spawned court cases in both France and the United States, and had already been the subject of an earlier negotiated settlement.
Memorials Dedicated to Floyd Are Removed From Site of His Killing
City crews removed concrete barriers around the south Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd was killed more than a year ago. The disruption of the memorial site prompted local activists, some of whom were angered and surprised, to respond by erecting makeshift barricades. The intersection has been closed to vehicle traffic and guarded and maintained by residents since Floyd was killed in May 2020. A sculpture of a raised fist several feet tall will remain. City leaders said after crews has dismantled barricades that they are "committed to establishing a permanent memorial at the intersection, preserving the artwork, and making the area an enduring space for racial healing." The modifications to the site, which included shirinking the garden around the fist sculpture, were temporary, and they were made to allow buses and firetrucks to pass through the intersection.
Gallery Honoring Tulsa Massacre is Defaced
The owner and curator of the Black Wall Street Gallery in SoHo, which has an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, said that the exterior of the gallery was vandalized 3 times last week and called on the police to treat the vandalism as a hate crime. The NYPD responded twice to calls about vandalism at the gallery. They are investigating but have yet to make any arrest and the department's hate-crime task force was notified after both reports were filed. The curator said that he was calling on the police to not only investigate the vandalism as a hate crime, but to immediately deem it as such.
A Tennis Star With Anxiety Quits a Major
At 23 years old, Naomi Osaka is a 4-time Grand Slam tournament winner and one of the world's highest paid female athletes. She recently posted on social media that she was going to decline press conferences during the French Open tournament due to mental health issues, stating that they induce a great deal of unhealthy stress and anxiety, especially as she is uncomfortable with public speaking. The French Open wasn't pleased with her decision and fined her $15,000 in a glaring lack of empathy. Osaka subsequently withdrew from the prestigious tournament.
With Candor on Mental Health, Osaka Confronts a Sports Stigma
In making herself vulnerable, Naomi Osaka joined other noteworthy athletes in pushing a once-taboo subject into the open. Her withdrawal from the French Open was a potent example of a movement among elite athletes to challenge the age-old notion that they are, and must be, as peerless in mind as they are in body, untroubled by the scourge of mental illness. Taken together, the disclosures by these athletes are forcing the sports community to acknowledge that the pressures of competition have assuredly contributed to illness among some stars -- and that those stars were never untouchable. Before Osaka's announcement, the swimmer Michael Phelps publicly discussed in recent years his history of depression and anxiety. Other athletes who have spoken up about their mental health struggles includes gymnast Aly Raisman, football player Brandon Marshall, basketball players A'ja Wilson, DeMar DeRozan, and Kevin Love, and Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard.
World Stirs, But Games Still Pour In
In a world let loose, video game makers are "doubling down." The companies won big when the pandemic forced people indoors. In a risky bet, they aren't slowing down even as behaviors shift again. Video game makers have warned that as people head outdoors again, their sales will plunge and spending on games may dip for the first time in at least a decade, although the companies aren't cutting back in anticipation. Video game companies are among the pandemic winners that are declaring they still plan to go full steam ahead, even as the coronavirus lockdowns that powered their businesses over the past 15 months have largely been lifted. Other tech companies that flourished while catering to a remote society -- including Zoom and Peloton -- have also said they expect to continue spending, expand operations and hire. It's a counterintuitive bet.
Test Confirmed, and Derby Champ May Lose Crown
Churchill Downs, the Louisville home of the Kentucky Derby, suspended horse trainer Bob Baffert after Medina Spirit, the colt that won this year's running of the Derby, failed a second test for banned substances. Baffert's suspension is for 2 years and blocks any trainer affiliated with his stables from entering horses in races operated by Churchill Downs. Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test last month and his Derby victory could be disqualified by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
L.G.B.T.Q. Hopes Dim as Tokyo Olympics Near
Legislation labeling discrimination "unacceptable" has been blocked by conservative lawmak-ers, showing how far Japan has to go to fulfill the goal of equality enshrined in the Olympic charter, that discrimination of any kind must be eliminated. What was supposed to be a first step toward equality has instead revealed once again the strong opposition to L.G.B.T.Q. rights from traditional family-values politicians in the governing Liberal Democratic Party. Japan ranks second to last in gay and transgender rights among the nearly 40 wealthy nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It is the only member of the Group of 7 industrial powers that has not legalized same-sex unions and no athletes scheduled to compete for Japan at the Olympic Games have come out as gay or transgender, choosing instead to remain closeted, advocates say, because of fear of a backlash from fans or sponsors.
Brazil Has 60,000 New Virus Cases a Day. It will Host a Major Soccer Event.
Brazil has lost 207,000 people to Covid-19 in the past 3 months alone, but President Jair Bolsonaro decided to host the Copa América, arguing, "We have to live." This comes after Colombia and Argentina, the original hosts of the tournament, bowed out, deeming it impossible to welcome hundreds of players and their entourages while the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the continent. The backlash to Brazil's announcement has been withering. Brazil has been averaging more than 60,000 new coronavirus cases each day. The government's failure to control the contagion and vaccinate its people quickly has been the focus of a televised congressional inquiry that has angered and riveted Brazilians. Ricardo Lewandoswki, a Supreme Court justice, ordered the government to provide a detailed plan for the tournament, citing the "public health emergency."
China Halts Ultramarathons After 21 Runners Die
China has suspended all ultramarathon and long-distance races after 21 runners died when extreme weather struck a race last month. High winds and freezing rain hit participants in a 100km (60 mile) ultramarathon in Gansu province. The race was halted when some of the 172 runners went missing and a rescue operation was launched. Now China is suspending all high-risk sports events that lack clear oversight, rules, and safety standards. The suspended sports include trail running, desert trekking, wing suit flying, and ultra-long distance races. It is unclear how long the suspension will last.
Trump's Justice Dept. Secretly Seized Records of 4 New York Times Journalists
The Trump Justice Department secretly obtained the phone records of 4 New York Times reporters as part of a leak investigation. It is the third instance over the last month in which a news media organization disclosed that federal authorities seized the records of journalists in an effort to identity sources for national security stories published during Trump's administration. The Dept. of Justice also waged "a secret legal battle to obtain the email logs...", including a gag order on executives. The legal battle sought to reveal reporters' sources. The order prevented executives from disclosing the government's efforts even to the executive editor and other newsroom leaders.
President Biden has said he would not allow the Justice Department to continue the practice of obtaining reporters' records.
White House Disavows Knowledge of Gag Order
The Biden administration said that no one at the White House had been aware that the Justice Department was seeking to seize the email data of the 4 reporters and had obtained a gag order in March barring a handful of newspaper executives who knew about the fight from discussing it. The disavowal came one day after a court lifted the gag order, which permitted a New York Times lawyer to disclose the Department's effort to obtain email logs from Google, which operates the newspaper's email system. It had begun in the last days of the Trump administration and continued until last Wednesday, when the Biden Justice Department asked a judge to quash the matter without having obtained the data about who had been in contact with the reporters.
Facebook Plans to Stop Giving a Pass to Politicians
Facebook plans to end its controversial policy that mostly shields politicians from the content moderation rules that apply to other users, a sharp reversal that could have global ramifications for how elected officials use the social network. The change comes after the Oversight Board -- an independent group funded by Facebook to review its thorniest content rulings -- affirmed its decision to suspend former President Trump, but critiqued the special treatment it gives to politicians, stating that the "same rules should apply to all users." The board gave Facebook until June 5th to respond to its policy recommendations.
Facebook Keeps a Ban on Trump Until Early 2023
Facebook has also announced that Trump's ban will last at least for 2 years. Facebook said that the former president's actions on January 6th, which contributed to a violent mob storming Capitol Hill and staging an insurrection that led to five deaths, "constituted a severe violation of our rules," and that it was enacting this policy change as part of a new approach to public figures during civil unrest. It added that the 2-year sanction constitutes a time period "long enough" to be a significant deterrent to Trump and other world leaders who might make similar posts, as well as enough to allow for a "safe period of time after the acts of incitement." However, Facebook still has not made a final decision about the future of Trump's account. It will again evaluate whether there is still a risk to public safety and potential civil unrest after the two years expire.
How ViacomCBS's Maneuvers Cost Taxpayers Billions
A new report from a Dutch nonprofit examines ViacomCBS's strategy of licensing international rights to their films by using a labyrinthine tax shelter designed to avoid paying U.S. taxes. It is common practice for multinational corporations to take advantage of tax shelters and the report offers a rare look at how one company has done it. ViacomCBS, a media giant that came into being after the 2019 merger of the sibling companies, has used the same strategy for all of its entertainment properties. Since 2002, ViacomCBS and its predecessor companies, Viacom and CBS, together avoided paying $3.96 billion in U.S. corporate income tax through a system that involved subsidiaries in Barbados, the Bahamas, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Britain. ViacomCBS has disputed the findings, saying in a statement that the study was "deeply flawed and misleading." The study on the media giant's tax structure has come out weeks after President Biden proposed a 15% minimum tax on overseas profits for U.S. companies, an effort designed to keep countries from competing with one another by lowering their tax rates.
How the World Learns About Bosses Behaving Badly
In the whisper networks of corporate America, people pass around the names of colleagues to avoid -- sexist, racists, creeps, toxic bosses. Lately, they've also been passing around the names of Ms. Steinhorn and Ms. Scorah, public relations executives whose firm, Lioness, had carved out a specialty helping people navigate the process of speaking out against workplace mistreatment. When an individual contacts Lioness, the pair typically vets and corroborates the story, identifying which parts would be of interest to the media. They work with a law firm that reviews nondisclosure agreements free. The pair then makes connections to reporters, explains how talking to the press works, checks facts, and follows up. Its the kind of behind-the-scenes media guidance that high-powered executives rely on but that others rarely see.
Facebook Faces Two Antitrust Investigations in Europe
European Union and British regulators have said they are beginning separate antitrust inquiries into Facebook, broadening their efforts to rein in the world's largest technology companies. The investigations by the European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-nation union, and Britain's Competition and Markets Authority, take aim at a key business strategy used by Facebook and other large tech companies; to use their size and power in one area to enter others. The regulators said they would start formal investigations of Facebook Marketplace, an eBay-like classified service introduced in 2016 for users to buy and sell products. Britain is also looking into Facebook Dating, a service the company introduced in Europe last year. The inquiries intensify the already wide-ranging scrutiny that tech giants are facing from governments around the globe. Regulators in the U.S., China, India, Australia, Russia, and around Latin America are investigating into and pressing charges against the companies, accusing them of squashing rivals and harming consumers.
Nigeria Bans Use of Twitter After It Pulls Leader's Post
According to reports form Lagos and the capital, Abuja, access to Twitter through Nigeria's main phone providers has been blocked. This comes after the government said that it was suspending Twitter operations in the country "indefinitely". The ban was due to "the persistent use of the platform for activities...capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence." Twitter said that the announcement from Information Minister Lai Mohammed was "deeply concerning."
Biden Declares Pride Month, Voting Push for L.G.B.T.Q. Rights
President Biden issued a presidential proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month, vowing to fight for full equality for the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community to be codified into law. The official recognition is a turnabout from the policies of former President Trump, who refused to acknowledge the celebration.
Justices Affirm Tribal Officers' Power to Detain on U.S. Roads
In a pair of unanimous decisions, the Supreme Court ruled that tribal police officers may sometimes detain and search non-Native Americans on federal highways and that there is no presumption that testimony form immigrants fighting deportation is credible.
U.S. Suspends Drilling Leases in Arctic Lands
The Biden administration is suspending oil and gas drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, reversing one of Trump's final environmental decisions before leaving office. The administration plans to further explore the environmental impacts of drilling in the fragile Alaskan region. The leases are suspended pending a comprehensive analysis. Republicans and the oil industry have been attempting to gain access to the refuge for decades, locked in an ongoing battle with Democrats and local activists.
Debate Over Scope of Racism Embroils Schools
In a culture war brawl that has spilled into the country's educational system, Republicans at the local, state, and national levels are trying to block curriculums that emphasize systemic racism. Across the country, Republican-led legislatures have passed bills recently to ban or limit schools from teaching that racism is infused in American institutions. From school boards to the halls of Congress, Republicans are mounting an energetic campaign aiming to dictate how historical and modern racism in America are taught, meeting pushback from Democrats and educators in a politically thorny clash that has deep ramifications for how children learn about their country.
In Tulsa, President Tells of a Massacre's Horrors
President Biden visited Tulsa, Oklahoma, to mark the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, becoming the first sitting president to visit the historic Greenwood neighborhood to acknowledge the atrocities that took place there. Biden toured the Greenwood Cultural Center and then privately met with survivors ahead of remarks in which he announced new actions his administration is taking to narrow the racial wealth gap between Black and white Americans. Biden also called for June to be a "month of action on Capitol Hill" on voting rights legislation and announced that he was appointing Vice President Harris to spearhead the administration's efforts to combat, what he called, "the assault on the right to vote." He also acknowledged that the history of the Tulsa attack was whitewashed and overlooked in the past 100 years -- made evident by the fact, he said, that he is the first president to visit.
Old-Guard Senators Defy Changes to Military Handling of Sex Assault
Over nearly a decade, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has painstakingly cobbled together a bipartisan Senate majority for legislation that would overhaul the way the military handles sexual assault and other serious crimes, a shift that many experts say is long overdue. Gillibrand's bill would remove military commanders from a role in the prosecutions of service members for sexual assault, as well as many other serious crimes, which would be a sea of change for the military justice system. The Senator has won backing from President Biden and numerous colleagues who voted against the bill the last time it came to the floor, a rare turn of events in a deeply divided body. Now she is running up against a final hurdle: opposition from the leaders of her chamber's Armed Service Committee: Senators Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, and James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma.
G7 Finance Leaders Reach a Deal to Curb Offshore Tax Havens
The U.S., the UK, and other large, rich nations reached a landmark deal to squeeze more money out of multinational companies, such as Amazon and Google, and reduce their incentive to shift profits to low-tax offshore havens. Hundreds of billions of dollars could pour into the coffers of governments left cash-strapped by the COVID-19 pandemic after the Group of Seven advanced economies agreed to back a minimum global corporate tax rate of at least 15%.
Postmaster General Faces Campaign Finance Investigation
The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy concerning possible campaign finance violations at his previous company. DeJoy, a prominent GOP donor and logistics executive, was previously the chief executive of North Carolina-based New Breed Logistics before joining the USPS in mid-2020. The House Oversight Committee had already been investigating allegations that DeJoy and other executives encouraged and gave bonuses to employees who donated money to Republican political candidates during DeJoy's tenure at New Breed.
Obscure Names on a Top 10 List of Big Polluters
As the world's oil and gas giants face increasing pressure to reduce their fossil fuel emissions, small, privately held drilling companies are becoming the country's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, often by buying up the industry's high-polluting assets. According to a new analysis of the latest emissions data disclosed to the Environmental Protection Agency, 5 of the industry's top 10 emitters of methane, a particularly potent planet-warming gas, are little-known oil and gas producers, some backed by obscure investment firms, whose environmental footprints are wildly rare relative to their production.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/02/climate/biggest-methane-emitters.html Meat Processor is Victim of a Ransomware Attack
A cyberattack on JBS SA, the largest meat producer globally, forced the shutdown of all its U.S. beef plants, wiping out output from facilities that supply almost a quarter of American supplies. Slaughter operation across Australia were also down and one of Canada's largest beef plants was idled. That came after a weekend attack on the Brazilian company's computer networks. It's unclear exactly how many plants globally have been affected by the ransomware attack, as Sao Paulo-based JBS has yet to release those details. The prospect of more extensive shutdowns worldwide is already upending agricultural markets and raising concerns about food security as hackers increasingly target critical infrastructure. In a statement, the FBI attributed the attack to REvil, also known as Sodinokibi, a Russian-speaking gang that has made some of the largest ransomware demands on record in recent months.
"Historic" Shift in Labor Force Favors Workers
The relationship between American businesses and their employees is undergoing a profound shift: For the first time in a generation, workers are gaining the upper hand. The change is broader than the pandemic-related signing bonuses at fastfood places. Up and down the wage scale, companies are becoming more willing to pay a little more, to train workers, to take chances on people without traditional qualifications, and to show greater flexibility in where and how people work. The erosion of employer power began during the low-unemployment years leading up to the pandemic and, given demographic trends, could persist for years.
Dept. of Justice Was Pressured by Trump Aide