By Ariana Sarfarazi Edited by Elissa D. Hecker
Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Technology/Media, and General News:
Brooks v Dash
The Second Circuit has ruled that music mogul Damon Dash must pay damages to author E.W. Brooks for copyright infringement after Dash marketed and sold "Mafietta", a film about Brooks's female crime boss character, without her consent. In Brooks v. Dash, the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court's finding in favor of Brooks, ordered Dash to pay $300,000 in damages, and enjoined Dash from marketing, advertising, promoting, distributing, selling, or copying the film without Brooks's consent. Dash defended the copyright infringement suit by arguing that the film was a "joint work", meaning that he as "co-author" co-owned the copyright to the film that thus could not be liable for copyright infringement. Under federal copyright law, however, a co-authorship claimant must show that each of the co-authors fully intended to be co-authors. In this case, the District Court found, and the Second Circuit affirmed, that Brooks did not intend to be co-authors because (1) Dash was employed under the doctrine of work for hire to provide directing and marketing services for the film in return for a royalty of 50% and (2) because Brooks, as producer, retained the right to make all final decisions with respect to the film and its release. The Second Circuit also rejected Dash's argument on appeal that the parties orally agreed to a 50/50 split in ownership, finding that Dash's substantial contributions to the film did not evince a mutual intent of co-authorship, but rather reflected the provision of services for which Brooks offered to split the film's profits 50/50 with Dash. As to damages, the Second Circuit rejected Dash's argument that the District Court's award of $300,000 in damages was clearly erroneous, finding that when courts are confronted with imprecision in calculating damages, they "should err on the side of guaranteeing the plaintiff a full recovery."
Spears's Lawyer Asks to Step Down from Court-Appointed Role
Samuel D. Ingham III, a veteran of the California probate system who has represented Britney Spears for 13 years, has asked the court to resign after Spears called the conservatorship "abusive" at a hearing last month. Ingham was assigned to represent Spears in 2008, when a Los Angeles court granted conservatorship powers to her father and an estate lawyer amid concerns about her mental health and substance abuse. At a June 23rd hearing, Spears told the court that she had been forced to perform, take debilitating medication and remain on birth control, and also testified that she had been unaware of how to terminate the conservatorship arrangement (claiming that Ingham told her to keep her concerns about the conservatorship to herself) and that she wishes to hire a lawyer of her own. In his request to resign, Ingham asked the court to assign a new lawyer to Spears, but did not elaborate on his reasons for withdrawing from the case.
Spears's Case Calls Attention to Wider Questions on Guardianship
Recent revelations to the public about Britney Spears's wish to end the California conservatorship that has bound her decision-making and finances since 2008 has drawn attention to the legal mechanisms that are intended to support those with severe disabilities and who are incapacitated and incapable of making their own decisions. Under guardianships or conservatorships, which affect about 1.3 million people in America, those subject to them often lose control over their finances as well as other aspects of their lives, such as the right to marry, vote, drive, or seek and retain unemployment. Advocates for people with disabilities, however, say that guardianships have been used too broadly for those with disabilities who do not require such intense or continuous oversight, and are imposed without considering other options, such as supported decision-making or appointing a power of attorney. Once established, guardianships are often permanent, or at the very least are very difficult to undo despite state requirements that guardianships be reviewed annually, because the mechanisms that judges rely upon to determine whether an individual should be placed in a guardianship (IQ tests, psychological evaluations or medical evaluations) are inherently flawed measurements of decision-making capability.
"Bachelor" Starts Received Pandemic Loans
Several former cast members of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" have come under public scrutiny, with the public questioning why they received government loans during the Covid-19 pandemic. Several of the franchise's cast members were able to receive loans through the Paycheck Protection Program through their sole proprietorships (companies that employ no one other than the business's owner) after the Biden administration relaxed the requirement that sole proprietorships be profitable in order to qualify for the loan.
The Metropolitan Opera's Stagehands Settle on a Deal
The Metropolitan Opera (Met) has reached a tentative agreement for a new contract with Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the union that represents its stagehands, therefore increasing the likelihood that the company will reopen in September after its longest-ever shutdown. The deal, the details of which have not been made public, comes after the Met's roughly 300 stagehands had been locked out last year due to a disagreement over how long and lasting the pandemic cuts would be. The Met has also reached an agreement with the American Guild of Musical Artists, which includes chorus members, soloists, and stage managers. Negotiations with the third major union that represents the orchestra are still pending.
Diversifying Stage Management
A study recently published by the Actors' Equity Association revealed that between 2016 and 2019, 76% of stage managers employed on theatrical productions across the country were white, and only 2.63% were black. As calls increase for greater diversity of representation on Broadway and in theaters across the country, multiple new initiatives have been formed that aim to broaden the pool of stage managers of color and to introduce antiracist practices into graduate training.
Did Nazis Coerce Art Sale?
Decades after the end of World War II, it is still a matter of debate as to whether a work of art that changed hands during the Nazi persecution of Jews should be returned to the heirs of the original owner. Dutch, Swiss, and German institutions have agreed to either return or pay compensation to the heirs of original Jewish owners for art sold during Nazi persecution that wound up in their collections, but other institutions in the United States (such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art) have repeatedly rejected heirs' claims, arguing that there is not enough evidence that such art was sold under duress. Unlike in Europe, where the government makes the final decision, in the United States all decisions regarding whether to return or compensate for artwork are private and museums are free to reject or fight claims with no U.S. governmental oversight.
Charlottesville Removes Statue at Center of 2017 White Nationalist Rally
Officials have finally removed a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, along with another nearby monument to Stonewall Jackson, 4 years after a woman was killed and dozens were injured when white nationalists protested the statue's planned removal at the "United the Right" rally in August 2017. Charlottesville's City Council moved quickly to remove the statues after the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in April that the city could remove them, thereby reversing a 2019 lower court ruling, which had found that the statues could not be removed because they were protected by state law.
How 'Musical Chairs' Can Help Clear the Air
A new study has found that rearranging orchestral musicians, particularly players of "super spreader" wind instruments that aerosolize respiratory droplets, significantly reduces the health hazards imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The study found that moving wind instruments, such as trumpets, to the very back of the stage right next to air-return vents could significantly limit aerosol build up on stage, therefore allowing musicians to safely return to performance during the pandemic.
Pastor's Borrowed Words Expose Shortcut in the Preaching Life
The new leader of the Southern Baptist Convention has caused controversy for delivering sermons that contain passages from his predecessor. The controversy, known as "Sermongate", reveals a little-known reality that many pastors borrow sermons from one another. The norms around plagiarizing at the pulpit are not well-defined, with some religious leaders finding this to be an issue of morality and of Christian virtue, and others freely allowing carte blanche to borrow liberally from their works, saying that personal glory should never be the point of preaching. This may also raise issues relating to copyright.
As Games Approach, U.S. Officials and International Olympic Committee Are at Odds Over Protests
With the July 23rd opening of the Tokyo Games nearing and with a number of athletes signaling the possibility of some kind of protesting, including American hammer throw athlete Gwen Berry, American and International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials are in dispute as to where to draw the line for protests by athletes to promote social and political causes. Whereas leaders of the U.S. Olympic Committee have announced that they will not punish American athletes who exercise free speech rights at the Olympic Games as long as they do not express hatred toward or attack any person or group, the IOC has forbidden all demonstrations on the medals podium, on the field of playing during the competition, and at the opening and closing ceremonies. However, athletes have long been free to express political views during news conferences, on social media, or in the "mixed zone" where they speak with the news media after composition. While it remains unclear how the IOC will enforce its rules regarding protests, the U.S. has taken the position that, whatever the IOC does, it will not punish or reprimand athletes who make political statements.
Avenatti Sentenced to Prison in Nike Extortion Case
Michael Avenatti, a lawyer who once represented pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against former President Trump, was found guilty in February 2020 of trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike for himself and has now been sentenced to two and a half years in prison. At his trial last year, prosecutors said that Avenatti told Nike he had evidence of scandal from his client (a youth basketball coach), demanded that Nike pay him $22.5 million to resolve the potential claims, and threatened to hold a news conference and reveal his claims to the public if Nike did not comply.
The Liberty Pushed for Social Justice Back When It Got Them Fined
The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) has risen as the leader in activism among professional sports leagues largely due to activism by players on the Liberty team. Five years ago, the Liberty players were fined by the WNBA for wearing unapproved shirts as part of a protest against gun violence and the fatal shootings of Black men, but did not cease protesting despite the fine. The WNBA eventually rescinded the penalties, and began embracing its players' desire to speak out against social injustices, even in defiance of then-existing league norms.
Comments Cost Reporter Sideline Spot on Broadcast
In an attempt to quell a yearlong scandal regarding ESPN's handling of internal conflicts centered around race, sideline reporter Rachael Nichols was removed from covering the National Basketball Association (NBA) finals this year in wake of disparaging comments she made last year about a Black colleague, Maria Taylor. Nichols's comments came during a private phone conversation that was caught on video and uploaded to the server at ESPN's headquarters, saying that Taylor was picked to host NBA finals coverage last season because ESPN was "feeling pressure" about diversity.
In Reversal, Pentagon Lets Navy Cornerback Delay Service for N.F.L.
Cameron Kinley, a team captain and class president at the U.S. Naval Academy, had previously applied to delay his 5-year service commitment after graduating and signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent. The U.S. Navy initially denied Kinley's request to push back his military commitment so that he could pursue a pro football career, but reversed its decision and approved Kinley's request. Kinley will be enlisted in the Inactive Ready Service and is expected to serve in the Navy after his time in the National Football League ends.
China Uses Tech to Limit Teenage Gamers
China has taken a number of measures to restrict video game usage among underage players and to limit screen time and keep internet addiction in check, including imposing a cybercurfew that bars those under 18 from playing video games between 10:00 pm and 8:00 am and requiring users to use their real names and identification numbers. To prevent children and teenagers from circumventing these restrictions by using their parents' devices, the Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent will now deploy facial recognition technology in its video games, thus sparking privacy concerns about the Chinese government's increasingly paternalistic control over the internet.
App Fees Prompt States to File Suit Against Google
A group of 36 states and the District of Columbia have sued Google over antirust claims that its app store abuses market power by forcing aggressive terms on software developers, such as forcing them to use Google's own system for payments inside their products, and taking a large cut of financial transactions in their apps, such as by charging a 30% commission on top of many transactions which developers say forces them to charge higher prices for their services. Google has called the lawsuit "meritless" and has questioned why attorneys are going after Google for monopolistic practices instead of its rival, Apple.
American Tech Giant Hits Back at Hong Kong Doxxing Law
A trade group representing the largest American internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and others, is challenging broad new rules in Hong Kong created to curb doxxing, the targeted disclosure of individuals' private information. Since Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests in 2019, doxxing has been used to identify both police officers and protesters during the protests, and Hong Kong authorities have used its national security law to curb this practice. Under the new rules, websites can be taken down and anyone posting personal information intended to harass, threaten, or intimidate could face jail time and hefty fines. A trade group representing American tech companies has penned a letter to Hong Kong's government, stating that such data-protection laws could impact the companies' ability to provide services in the city, arguing that the new rules would "result in grave impact on due process and risks for freedom of expression and communication", and could give police the power to impose fines and arrest local employees if the tech companies are not responsive to the new doxxing rules.
Pentagon Cancels Deal It Awarded to Microsoft
The Defense Department will not go forward with a lucrative $10 billion cloud-computing contract with Microsoft that had been the subject of a contentious legal battle amid claims that President Trump interfered in the process that awarded the contract to Microsoft over its tech rival, Amazon. Although the Pentagon has determined that the previous contract for cloud-computing services to the federal government "no longer meets its needs", thus eliminating need for lengthy litigation, the federal government says that it will solicit bids from Amazon and Microsoft on future cloud-computing contracts.
Tennis Star Shows Power Shift in Sports Journalism
With tennis giant superstar Naomi Osaka recently declining to speak to the press at a required news conference at the French Open (and choosing to pay a hefty fine instead), guest-editing Racquet magazine, and penning a cover essay directly for Time Magazine, she has ignited a powerplay between athletes and sports journalists and has disrupted the status quo between athletes and traditional sports journalism that has existed for decades. While the media was once the main way that athletes found fame and lucrative endorsements, with the rise of social media and the ability to control one's own platform, as well as the increasingly direct access of athletes to a widening array of new media outlets, athletes like Osaka are paving the way for a new era of independent sports journalism.
Ransomware Salvo Hits 800 to 1,500 Businesses
Between 800 and 1500 businesses around the world were compromised by a cyberattack, which was the largest attack in history using ransomware, in which hackers shut down systems until a ransom is paid. A Russian-based cybercriminal organization known as REvil claimed responsibility for the attack against Kaseya, a Miami-based software maker that provides technology services to tens of thousands of organizations around the world. While the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the White House works to address the issue, the White House advised against companies paying ransomware and announced that American national security officials are in touch with Russian government officials over the attack.
Twin Hackings Tied to Russia, In Test of Biden
Two major cyberattacks by Russian hackers have occurred recently, including the hacking of a Republican National Committee contractor by Russia's S.V.R. intelligence agency (the same group that hacked the Democratic National Committee 6 years ago), and the largest global ransomware attack on record which was perpetrated by REvil, a Russian-based cybercriminal organization. The 2 attacks come only weeks after President Biden demanded that President Putin rein in Russia's cyber activities against the United States at a U.S.-Russian summit last month.
Biden Cautions Putin to Control Cybercriminals
In a call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden conveyed that if Putin continues to harbor cybercriminals on Russian soil issuing cyberattacks on the United States, then the attacks would be treated as national security threats, even if such attacks are not sponsored by the Russian state, thus provoking a far more severe response from the United States. Biden has stated that United States might attack the servers that Russian cybercriminals have used to hijack American networks (therefore knocking them offline), thus escalating a Cold War-like series of confrontations between the United States and Russia now fought in cyberspace.
Trump Sues Tech Giants over Bans On His Posts
Trump sued Facebook, Twitter, and Google and the companies' chief executives after the platforms took steps to ban him or block him from posting. Trump's legal team argued that the tech companies are state actors subject to the First Amendment and accused them of wrongful censorship in violation of Trump's right to free speech. Legal experts said that the lawsuit appears to be a major publicity stunt that has no chance of succeeding because under current law, social media companies are protected by Section 230, a federal provision that exempts them from liability for what is posted on their platforms. In the lawsuit, Trump asked the court to declare Section 230 unconstitutional and to restore his access to the sites, and even started a fundraising campaign for legal fees in the process.
New York City's Law Department Still Hobbled by Fallout From Computer Attack
After New York City's Law Department was hacked over a month ago by an intruder who used an employee's stolen password to gain unauthorized access to the agency's computer system, almost all of the agency's 1,000+ lawyers still do not have access to electronic case files, thus delaying lawsuits. While the Law Department's spokesperson claims its attorneys have resumed in person work to ensure there is minimal disruption to cases, recent court records show that the city's attorneys still regularly seek postponement in their cases, saying that they are without access to their electronic files. The Law Department hack was enabled by the Law Department's failure to comply with an April 2019 directive by the city's Cyber Command that all agencies implement multifactor authentication to improve security. After admonishment by the Mayor and reassignment of the Law Department's Chief IT Officer, a city official confirms that employees have now been given multifactor authentication.
Bezos' Exit Is Just One of Several at Amazon
In addition to Jeff Bezos's departure from Amazon this month, many of the company's vice presidents are also leaving for top jobs at public companies or high-growth start-ups, thus marking an usual level of disruption inside the business, where for years Amazon's leaders have been considered lifers.
Reining in Tech, China Reasserts That It Is in Charge
Days after the initial public offering of Didi, China's leading ride-hailing platform on the New York Stock Exchange, Chinese regulators have ordered the company to stop signing up new users, and have pulled the app from Chinese app stores over national security and data privacy concerns. Beijing's move sends a stark message to Chinese businesses about the government's authority over them, even if they operate globally and trade stock overseas, and reminds international investors in Chinese companies, including those on Wall Street, about the regulatory curveballs they may face.
For China's Big Tech Companies, There's No Escaping the Pull of Beijing's Politics
Despite the longstanding widespread belief among China's private sector that businesspeople should steer clear of politics, with the fallout from Beijing's crackdown on the U.S.-listed Chinese ride-hailing app Didi, steering clear of politics is no longer an option for China's business elites. The crackdown on Didi will have a deep impact on Chinese businesses seeking international investment, as it is a strong signal that the Chinese government will take action to discourage listings of Chinese tech companies in the United States as the countries battle for tech supremacy.
French Court Convicts 11 in Harassment of Teenager for Anti-Islam Rant in Video
Eleven men and women were found guilty in France of online harassment and issuing death threats after responding to a teenager's viral anti-Islamic rant on social media, which previously fueled fierce debates in France over free speech and religion. The case was a major test for French legislation passed in 2018 that broadened what is considered online harassment, and those convicted only posted a single tweet or sent the teenager one single message.
Biden Defends Afghan Pullout in Blunt Tones
President Biden has vigorously defended his decision to end the United States's 20-year war in Afghanistan, insisting that the U.S. has done more than enough to empower the Afghan police and military to secure the future of their own people, and asserting that the United States can no longer afford the human cost or strategic distraction of a conflict that had strayed far from its initial mission. The United States will formally end its military mission in Afghanistan at the end of August.
Biden Steps Up Mission to Rein In Big Business
President Biden has signed a sweeping executive order intended to increase competition within the economy and to limit corporate dominance, factors that have led to higher prices and fewer choices for consumers. The order reflects the administration's growing embrace of warnings by economists that declining competition is hobbling the economy's vitality.
U.S. Intelligence Agencies Turn to Scientists for Help
U.S. intelligence agencies are looking to increase their expertise in range of scientific disciplines as they struggle to answer unexplained questions, such as regarding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, potential U.F.O.s observed by Navy pilots, and a mysterious health ailment affecting spies and diplomats worldwide known as the Havana syndrome. To this end, agencies have created new positions and panels specifically to study these questions, which, according to the White House, reflects "a broader priority on science and technology" within the federal government.
White House Details Plan to Fight Voter Suppression
Facing an onslaught of state-level ballot restrictions and gridlock in Congress over federal voting-rights legislation after Republicans recently blocked the most ambitious voting rights bill, the White House announced a new plan for the Democratic National Committee to invest $25 million in voter outreach and litigation.
Biden Fires Trump Appointee as Head of the Social Security Administration
Biden has fired Andrew Saul, the Trump-appointed head of the Social Security Administration, who refused to resign as requested by the President and has vowed to fight the firing as illegal. While heads of independent executive agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, have historically enjoyed a high degree of insultation from political dismissals, such deference has eroded since the Trump Administration. Democrats have sought the ouster of Saul for months after he wanted to issue regulations meant to reduce access to Social Security disability benefits, including denying benefits to recipients who do not speak English fluently, as well as terminated a telework policy at the agency and alienated federal employee unions over work force safety planning amid the pandemic.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Won't Detain Pregnant or Postpartum Undocumented Immigrants
Under a new policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICA) officers generally will not detain or arrest undocumented people who are pregnant or nursing or who are postpartum (defined as having had a baby within the previous year). The new policy comes after advocacy groups have sued both the Department of Homeland Security, ICE's parent agency, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for their treatment of pregnant immigrants in U.S. government custody detained in 2020. The new policy does not apply to pregnant, postpartum or nursing migrants in the custody of CBP, which typically hold migrants only for a few days before transferring them to ICE custody.
Justice Department Adds Little About Rights of Detainees
The Biden Administration has pulled back from a Trump-era claim that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison have no due process rights under the Constitution, but has stopped short of declaring that noncitizens held there are covered by such legal protections. The question of whether the Constitution's guarantee of due process applies to non-American detainees at Guantanamo has been raised since the Bush administration in 2002 and has never been resolved. In a much-anticipated brief filed under seal before the D.C. Court of Appeals, the Justice Department has taken no position the question of whether Guantanamo detainees have any due process rights following internal debate among the Biden legal team.
Rare Heat Seen as Proof Earth is Warming Up
A rapid analysis has found that the record-breaking heat in the Western United States and Canada is directly linked to climate change. A recent study found that the recent extraordinary heatwave, with temperatures reaching a record 116 degrees in Oregon and 121 in Canada, would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change.
Water Gives Little Shelter As Tide Pools Turn to Stew
The combination of extraordinary heat and drought that hit the Pacific Northwest and Canada has killed hundreds of millions of marine animals and continues to threaten freshwater species, a scene that some marine scientists say is reminiscent of "postapocalyptic movies".
The Food and Drug Administration Reversal Will Limit Drug for Alzheimer's
Previously under fire for approving a questionable drug for all Alzheimer's patients, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reversed course and now recommends that the drug be given only to those with mild symptoms. The approval of Aduhelm, the first new drug to treat the disease in 18 years, was one of the most contentious FDA decisions in years, with many scientists, as well as the FDA's independent advisory committee, saying that there is not enough convincing evidence that the drug actually works.
States Open Inquiries into Recurring Donation Tactics
Four state attorneys general in New York, Minnesota, Maryland, and Connecticut have begun investigating the fundraising practices of both political parties. The attorneys general have sent letters to WinRed, which processes online donations for Republicans, and ActBlue, which processes online donations for Democrats, seeking documents related to the use of prechecked boxes to enroll contributors to recurring donation programs that spurred a wave of fraud complaints and demands for refunds in the past year.
15 States Sign on to Deal for $4.5 Billion Settlement with Major Opioid Maker
Fifteen states, including New York and Massachusetts, have reached an agreement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, that would facilitate settlements in thousands of pending opioid cases. The states agree to drop their opposition to Purdue's bankruptcy reorganization plan in exchange for a release of some 33 million documents and an additional $50 million from the Sackler family, the company's owners. The settlement is now being voted on by over 3,000 plaintiffs who have sought to hold Purdue and its owners responsible for their roles in the opioid epidemic, throughout which more than 500,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses.
Cuomo Declares Emergency over Gun Violence in New York, a First for a State
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a new state of emergency around gun violence and has committed almost $139 million to reverse the trend of rising shootings and murders across the state. The emergency disaster declaration is the first by any state to address gun violence and will allow state officials to more quickly coordinate resources and to provide for community-led efforts to prevent and respond to shootings.
Texas Republicans Proposes Broad Limits on Voting
In their second attempt to pass a sweeping elections overhaul which failed in the last legislative session after the Democrats staged a late-night walkout, Texas Republicans fully unveiled their plans to overhaul the state's election apparatus. The GOP bills in the State Senate and House propose many new changes and restrictions to the state's electoral process, such as banning 24-hour voting and drive-through voting, prohibiting election officials from proactively sending out absentee ballot applications to voters who have not requested them, adding new voter identification requirements for voting by mail, limiting third-party ballot collection, increasing the criminal penalties for election workers who run afoul of regulations, limiting what assistance can be provided to voters, and greatly expanding the authority and autonomy of partisan poll watchers.
Texas Governor Pushes State Further to the Right on Voting Rights and Race
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas formally announced a special session of the Legislature in which he and fellow Republicans will try to push Texas further to the right on issues like elections and voting, transgender rights, and how schools teach about racism. This special session follows an ultraconservative legislation session last spring when the Texas legislature passed a near ban on abortion and a law permitting the carrying of handguns without permits. Texas Republicans are now seeking to pass a sweeping election overhaul bill that failed to pass last session but would be one of the most restrictive voting laws in the country. Abbot has also called for the Legislature to combat perceived censorship on social media platforms, ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools, further limit abortions, put new border security policies in place, and restrict transgender athletes from competing in school sports.
Texas Gives Citizens Authority to Enforce Its Law on Abortion
In a new anti-abortion law set to take effect in Texas on September 1st, Texas, like other states, has banned abortion after a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat (typically at about 6 weeks of pregnancy). Unlike any other state, however, Texas law deputizes ordinary citizens, including those outside of Texas, to sue clinics and others who violate the law and therefore people across the country may soon be able to sue abortion clinics, providers, and anyone aiding abortion in Texas.
Montana Puts Miles Between Its Tribes and the Ballot Box
The Republican-led Montana state legislature has passed a new law, H.B. 530, which includes new voting restrictions, such as ballot collection bans, earlier registration deadlines, and stricter voter ID laws and more, that will make it disproportionately more difficult for Native Americans to vote. In sprawling, sparsely populated states like Montana, where Native Americans have a history of playing decisive roles in close elections, Native Americans are disproportionately likely to use measures such as ballot collections to vote because geography, poverty, lack of transportation, and limited infrastructure create obstacles for them to vote in person.
Far-Right Extremists Find Ally in Congressman from Arizona
Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, a 5-term Republican, is closely associated with the leader of American First in Congress, a group that aims to preserve white, Christian identity and culture. Gosar's unapologetic and rarely scrutinized association with racist and similar far-right fringe organizations and activists is a vivid example of the Republican Party's growing acceptance of extremism, as more Republican lawmakers espouse and amplify the far-right ideologies of fringe groups.
In Surprise Move, Chief Guantanamo Prosecutor Is Retiring before 9/11 Trial
Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins, the Army general who had led war crimes prosecutions at Guantanamo Bay for a decade under the Obama and Trump administrations, is retiring and handing off the trial of 5 men accused of conspiring in the 9/11 attacks, which is set to take place in September 2021, to a not-yet-chosen successor. His decision to step down on Sept. 30th has come as a surprise, since he had obtained an extension to serve in the post until 2023. General Martins has, however, repeatedly butted heads with Biden administration lawyers in recent months over positions that he has taken on applicable international law standards, including the Convention Against Torture.
In the Rubble, Entire Branches of the Family Tree
Entire families have been lost in the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. As the disaster happened in the middle of the night, many parents, children, and grandparents living together in multigenerational households were killed together.
G20 Endorses Proposal Aimed at Tax Havens
Global leaders have agreed to move forward with the most significant overhaul of the international tax system in decades, with finance ministers from the world's 20 largest economies backing a proposal that would crack down on tax havens and impose new levies on large, profitable multinational companies. The approach marks a reversal of years of economic policies that embraced low taxes as a way for countries to attract investment and fuel growth. Though the plan may reshape the global economy, altering where corporations choose to operate, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at the G20 summit that the United States is hopeful that the new regime will be "fair for all of our citizens."
Crisis Grips Haiti as Attackers Kill President in Home
Haiti's President Jovenel Moise was assassinated by a group of assailants in a nighttime raid on his home on July 7, 2021, months after protesters had taken to the streets to demand that he step down, therefore further shaking an already fragile nation. In response, Haiti's interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, announced that he and his fellow ministers had declared a "state of siege", therefore placing Haiti under a form of martial law, and announced himself as the new head of Haiti's government in control of the country. However, with a new prime minister scheduled to replace Joseph this week, the country is in total confusion with 2 prime ministers, and experts warn that the political vacuum left by the assassination has weakened an already weak state and could fuel a renewed cycle of violence.
Haiti Asks U.S. to Send Troops as Crisis Brews
After 24 hours of gun battles with 20 non-Haitians arrested in the assassination of the Haitian president, Haitian authorities are calling on the United States to send troops and other military assistance to help protect the country's fragile infrastructure. While the White House announced that FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials will assess how to help Haiti "as soon as possible", a senior Biden official has said that "there are no plans to provide U.S. military assistance at this time."
E.U. Fines Volkswagen and BMW More than $1 Billion for Emissions Collusion
European antitrust authorities announced that Germany's 3 largest carmakers colluded illegally to limit the effectiveness of their emissions technology, therefore leading to higher levels of harmful diesel pollution. As part of a settlement with the European Commission, Volkswagen and its Porsche and Audi divisions must pay $590 Million and BMW must pay $442 Million. Daimler, however, avoided a fine because it blew the whistle on the plot. Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler have all been tainted by emissions scandals in the past, and were found by the European Commission to have illegally agreed to deploy emissions technology that met minimum legal standards, but that was not as good as it could have been.
Biden Resists Call to Support Vaccine Edicts
In response to a steep decline in vaccination rates, Biden said the White House will send people door to door, set up clinics at workplaces, and urge employers to offer paid time off as part of a renewed push to reach millions of unvaccinated Americans. However, Biden continues to resist pushes by top health experts to coax people to get vaccinated, such as by encouraging states, employers, colleges and universities to require vaccinations. In response, some public health officials are worried that the Biden administration is not being aggressive enough to protect against continued spread of the coronavirus.
World's Official Covid-19 Death Toll Passes 4 Million Amid Vaccine Inequities
The world's known coronavirus death toll has passed 4 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. This figure only includes officially reported figures, which are widely believed to undercount pandemic-related deaths. The continued pandemic-related deaths are compounded by inequity in access to vaccines across the world, and by fast-moving virus variants.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advocates Fully Reopening Schools in the Fall
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance urging schools to fully open in the fall, even if they cannot take all of the steps the agency recommends to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and recommending that unvaccinated students and staff continue to keep wearing masks. This guidance, which acknowledges the suffering that many students have endured from months of virtual learning and recognizes the importance of children's socialization, is a departure from the CDC's previous recommendations for schools.
As Covid Spikes in Tokyo, Spectators Are Barred for Most Events
Although organizers of the Tokyo Olympics had announced in June that spectators would be permitted to attend the Olympic Games, with a sudden rise in coronavirus cases in Tokyo, spectators are now barred from attending. The decision to ban fans follows a declaration of a new state of emergency in Tokyo in response to a sudden spike in coronavirus cases, thought to be due at least in part to circulation of the more contagious Delta variant.
Comptroller Files Lawsuit Seeking to Restore Limits to de Blasio's Spending Power
New York City's comptroller, Scott Stringer, has filed a lawsuit against the city and Mayor de Blasio to end the Mayor's pandemic spending powers. In an effort to regain oversight of the city's pandemic spending, Stringer is seeking to restore the city's pre-pandemic procurement rules, claiming that during the pandemic the city has spent more than $6.9 billion in taxpayer money without proper supervision, leading to "widespread procurement failures, including overpayment and overpurchasing."