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Week In Review

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:

ENTERTAINMENT

Kelly Sexually Abused Underage Singer Aaliyah, Witness Says

A former backup singer for R. Kelly testified at his federal criminal trial in Brooklyn that she saw Kelly, then in his mid-20s, engaging in a sexual act with the R&B singer Aaliyah when she was only 13 or 14 years old. Kelly later married a 15-year old Aaliyah illegally in 1994 using falsified documents before her death in a plane crash in 2001. Kelly is currently undergoing trial for one count of racketeering and 8 counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. Kelly is accused by multiple victims of having sexual intercourse with them while they were underage.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/nyregion/r-kelly-trial-aaliyah.html


Testimony of R. Kelly's Former Employee Points to Picture of a Bizarre Workplace Culture

Multiple former employees of R. Kelly have testified at his ongoing federal criminal trial in Brooklyn regarding the bizarre lengths Kelly would go to control women in his sphere, including even accompanying them to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (and knowingly giving them herpes). Testimonies of the former employees support the government's contention that Kelly was not only a sexual predator himself, but also the ringleader of a decades-long conspiracy that used his stardom to prey on and control numerous women, men, and teenagers.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/nyregion/r-kelly-trial.html


Kelly Pressured His Victims to Write Letters Absolving Him, Prosecutors Say

Multiple victims in R. Kelly's ongoing federal criminal trial in Brooklyn have testified that they were sexually involved with the singer and that Kelly forced them prepare letters designed to exonerate him from the accusations now levied against him. Multiple victims have testified that, despite previous writing letters denying any sexual involvement with Kelly, they did in fact participate in multiple sexual acts with the R&B superstar when they were underage, and then were forced by Kelly to write letters exonerating him in an effort to conceal his abuse.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/16/nyregion/r-kelly-trial-letters.html


'The Queen's Gambit' Slights a Champion

Nona Gaprindashvili, a history-making chess champion, has sued Netflix in Federal District Court in Los Angeles after a line in the final episode of its limited series "The Queen's Gambit" referenced her by name as the female world champion, but stated that she had "never faced men." In actuality, Gaprindashvili, the first woman to be named a grandmaster, had numerous successes against male opponents. She is now seeking removal of the reference to her, as well as millions of dollars in damages for what the suit claims is a "devastating falsehood, undermining and degrading her accomplishments before an audience of many millions."

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/16/arts/television/queens-gambit-lawsuit.html


Russia Plans to Shoot Full-Length Movie in Space

A commission of medical and safety experts in Russia have approved a plan by Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, for an actress and director to blast off to space in October to film a movie, "The Challenge", which tells the story of a doctor launched on short notice to the International Space Station to save the life of a cosmonaut. Last year, NASA previously announced plans by Tom Cruise to film at the International Space Station, but "The Challenge" would be the first feature-length fictional movie in space.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/16/world/europe/russia-movie-space.html


ARTS

Bell v. Wilmott Storage Services LLC

The Ninth Circuit has ruled that, while the concept of de minimis copying is properly used to analyze whether so little of a copyrighted work has been copied that the allegedly infringing work is not substantially similar to the copyrighted work and is thus non-infringing, once copyright infringement is established (by proving ownership of a work and violation of one of the exclusive rights in copyright under 17 U.S.C. § 106), de minimis use of the infringing work is not a defense to an infringement act. In Bell v. Wilmott Storage Services LLC, plaintiff Bell alleged that defendant Willmott infringed his copyright in a photograph of the Indianapolis skyline when Wilmott publicly displayed the photo on its website without plaintiff's permission. Having concluded that Wilmott publicly displayed the Indianapolis photo, the Ninth Circuit panel concluded that the "degree of copying" was total because the infringing work was an identical copy of the copyrighted photo. Accordingly, there was no place for an inquiry as to whether there was de minimis copying. Agreeing with other circuits, the panel wrote that the Ninth Circuit has consistently applied the de minimis principle to determine whether a work is infringing by analyzing the quantity and quality of the copying to determine if the allegedly infringing work is a recognizable copy of the original work (e.g. whether the works are substantially similar). The panel concluded that the Ninth Circuit has never recognized a de minimis defense based on allegedly minimal use of concededly infringing material.

Bell v. Wilmott Storage Services copy.pdf


Broadway is Coming Back. It Won't Be Easy.

A year and a half after the pandemic forced all 41 theaters to go dark and threw thousands out of work, the industry's shows are resuming performances, but it comes at a time of uncertainty when the Delta variant has sent cases skyrocketing again. In addition to the virus itself, Broadway faces other challenges, such as the fact that New York City is still facing a sharp drop in tourists, which historically make up two thirds of the Broadway audiences, businesses are postponing bringing workers back to their offices, and consumer appetite for live theater after months of anxiety and availability of streaming remains unknown.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/theater/broadway-reopening.html


Prize Possession of Ill-Fated Archduke Goes Home

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has announced that it will return a ceremonial pageant shield to the Czech Republic after scholars determined that it had once belonged to the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and was later confiscated by the Nazis during World War II. The shield, which was created by an Italian artist during the Renaissance, was a bequest to the museum, where it has been on display since 1976. The museum has been working with historians in the Czech Republic to evaluate the history of the shield since 2016.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/arts/design/philadelphia-museum-franz-ferdinand-shield.html


The Masks Come Off at Parties

As the fashion industry gathered at the Brooklyn Museum to celebrate the return of New York Fashion Week with the opening party for a new exhibit, "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams", partygoers were required to present evidence of Covid-19 vaccinations at the door and to wear masks indoors. However, despite announced precautions, the masks largely came off once inside. Later that night, partygoers attended an after-party at the Standard High Line hotel, and vaccinations cards were not consistently checked at the door, but vaccination cards were more closely scrutinized at fashion week events at Saks Fifth Avenue. For the rich and famous attendees of New York Fashion Week events throughout the city, "a pandemic, what pandemic?" vibe largely prevailed.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/14/fashion/nyfw-party-lorde-kacey-musgraves.html


SPORTS

U.S. Soccer Federation Announces That Men's and Women's National Teams Will Be Offered the Same Contract

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced that it will offer the respective players' unions for the men's and women's national teams the same contract proposal. This announcement comes after generations of U.S. Women's National Team Players have spoken out about the unequal treatment of female players and after multiple high-profile lawsuits for gender discrimination and unequal pay.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/15/us-soccer-federation-to-offer-men-and-women-players-same-contract.html


Judge Makes Final Rulings in Zion Williamson Lawsuit

A federal court judge in Greensboro has ruled that a contract between basketball player Zion Williamson, Florida-based agent Gina Ford and her Prime Sports Marketing agency is null and void because Ford violated North Carolina's athlete-agent laws by failing to register with the state pursuant to the North Carolina Uniform Athlete-Agent Act (UAAA). Additionally, the contract needed to include boilerplate language stating that any athlete signing the deal was forfeiting NCAA eligibility, which it did not. Although Williamson decided 6 weeks after signing the contract that he wanted to terminate the business relationship and sign with another agency, under the ruling, he does not owe the $100 million penalty to Ford for breaking the contract.

https://www.newsobserver.com/sports/college/acc/duke/article254271013.html


Federal Judge Blocks Vaccine Mandate for Western Michigan University Athletes

A federal judge in Michigan has issued a preliminary injunction blocking Western Michigan University's requirement that student athletes at the school be vaccinated against Covid-19. The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by multiple student athletes who applied for religious exemptions but were told they would not be able to participate in team activities, and argued that the mandate violates their religious rights. The judge ruled that the university, which does not require other students or staff to be vaccinated, has failed to provide the least restrictive means possible in an effort to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19.

https://wwmt.com/news/local/federal-judge-blocks-vaccine-mandate-for-wmu-athletes


Gymnasts Tell of Betrayal That Followed Abuse

Testifying before a Senate committee, U.S. gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nicholas blasted the FBI for botching the investigation of Lawrence G. Nassar, the former U.S.A. gymnastics team doctor convicted of sexually abusing hundreds of girls and women - including a majority of the members of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics teams. At the hearing, Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, apologized for the agency's "inexcusable" failures in its investigation, which included mishandling the case by failing to report the victims' abuse and mis-documenting the victims' claims. Wray's apology was the first time when anyone at the FBI had submitted to public questioning about the agency's failure to properly investigate the sexual abuse case.

https://ww.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/sports/olympics/fbi-hearing-larry-nassar-biles-maroney.html


Guilty Plea by Ex-Coach at University in Bribe Case

The former men's and women's coach for Georgetown University has pled guilty to taking bribes to designate at least 12 students as recruits to the Georgetown tennis team, including some who did not even play tennis competitively, between 2012 and 2018. Gordon Ernst is the latest person to plead guilty in the admissions scandal investigation that has rocked elite schools across the country. According to the prosecution, Ernst has agreed to a sentence of at least once year and up to 4 years in prison, 2 years of supervised release, and the forfeiture of $3.4 million in proceeds derived from the scheme.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/us/georgetown-tennis-coach-guilty-varsity-blues.html


Calling a Reverse, the National Football League Embraces Ads for Gambling

Although the founding fathers of the National Football League (NFL) were themselves gamblers, the NFL has for decades gone to great lengths to distance itself from the billions of dollars wagered on its games, such as by backing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act and fighting states' efforts to allow casinos and horse tracks to take bets on football games. However, as betting on football has ballooned into a multibillion-dollar industry and state after state has legalized it, the NFL was left with a stark choice - to continue to fight gambling on its games or embrace it in exchange for a significant cut of casino marketing dollars - and the NFL has chosen the latter. Starting this season, the NFL is now embracing betting advertisements and allowing the placement of gambling ads during its football game broadcasts.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/sports/football/nfl-betting-ads.html


Investigation Confirms Reports of Sexual Abuse of Female Basketball Players in Mali

Investigators with FIBA, basketball's world governing body, have confirmed the systematic sexual harassment and abuse of dozens of female basketball players in Mali since the early 2000s, the majority of whom were teenagers. However, investigators say that they cannot confirm whether the sport's top global official, Hamane Niang, knew about the reports of sexual abuse in his native country. Niang, who has not been accused of committing sexual abuse, stepped aside temporarily in June as the president of FIBA after the New York Times published an article alleging that he mostly disregarded the ongoing assault of women for years between 1999 and 2011 when he served first as president of Mali's basketball federation and then as the country's sports minister.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/14/sports/mali-basketball-abuse-investigation.html


TECHNOLOGY/MEDIA

Two Rulings Protect Social Media's Control

Two new rulings by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) protect the flexibility of major social media companies to control political content shared on their platforms, thereby rejecting complaints from conservatives that Big Tech improperly aided Biden's presidential campaign. In one ruling, the FEC dismissed a formal complaint brought by the Republican National Committee, which accused Twitter of "using its corporate resources" to benefit the Biden campaign during the 2020 election. In a second ruling, the FEC rejected a complaint by the Trump Campaign, which argued that Snapchat had provided an improper gift to Biden by rejecting Trump from its Discover platform in the summer of 2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/us/politics/fec-twitter-hunter-biden.html


Battle for Users' Privacy Will Transform Internet

Big tech companies have begun enacting privacy changes regarding how users' personal data is collected and utilized, including allowing users to determine how their data is shared with advertisers. Apple, for example, has introduced a pop-up window that asks users for their permission to be tracked by different apps. Google also recently outlined plans to disable tracking technology in its Chrome web browser, and Facebook is working on a new method of showing ads without relying on people's data. These moves herald a profound shift in how people's personal information may be used online, with sweeping implications for the ways that businesses make money digitally including potentially dismantling a $350 billion digital ad industry.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/16/technology/digital-privacy.html


Bitcoin Uses More Electricity Than Many Countries

Managing a digital currency like Bitcoin with no central authority takes a tremendous amount of computer power, particularly given that its popularity continues to grow. When cryptocurrency emerged in 2009, one Bitcoin could be mined using one computer in a living room, using a negligible amount of household electricity. Today, to mine one Bitcoin (worth $50,000), a room full of specialized machines, each costing thousands of dollars and 9 years' worth of household electricity costing about $12,500, would be used. The process of creating one Bitcoin to spend or trade consumes around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, more than is used by the entire nation of Finland (with a population of about 5.5 million) and today the Bitcoin network uses more than 7 times as much electricity as all of Google's global operations.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/09/03/climate/bitcoin-carbon-footprint-electricity.html


Apple Issues Urgent Fix to Software to Stop Spies

Apple has issued an emergency security update after security researchers at Citizen Lab uncovered a flaw utilized by NSO Group, an Israeli spyware company, that allows highly invasive spyware called Pegasus to infect anyone's Apple product without even a click and without the victims' knowledge. Known as a "zero click remote exploit", Pegasus is considered the Holy Grail of surveillance because it allows governments, mercenaries, and criminals to secretly break into someone's device without tipping off the victim. Pegasus, which has been found on the phones of activists, dissidents, lawyers, doctors, and even children throughout the world, allows the hacker to turn on a user's camera and microphone, record messages, texts, emails, calls, and send them back to NSO's clients at governments around the world. The discovery means that more than 1.65 billion Apple products in use worldwide have been vulnerable to NSO's spyware since at least March 2021.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/technology/apple-software-update-spyware-nso-group.html


Biden Taps Privacy Expert for Trade Commission

President Biden will nominate Alvaro Bedoya, an online privacy expert, for a seat on the Federal Trade Commission. Bedoya is a lawyer who has studied the way new technologies can violate privacy and is the author of a report that called for Congress to more closely regulate the use of facial recognition software by law enforcement. If he is confirmed by the Senate, Bedoya will join an agency primed to take aggressive action against the tech industry and other corporate giants, such as by issuing regulations that would limit Silicon Valley's power over commerce and personal data.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/technology/Alvaro-Bedoya-ftc.html


Apple's Veil of Secrecy Can't Hide Labor Unrest

Hundreds of current and former Apple employees are complaining about their work environment, a rarity for a company known among its Silicon Valley peers for a secretive corporate culture in which workers are expected to be in lock step with management. Apple CEO Time Cook recently answered questions from workers in an all-staff meeting since the public surfacing of employee concerns over topics such as pay equity and whether the company should assert itself more on political matters. Over the past month, more than 500 current and former Apple employees have submitted accounts of verbal abuse, sexual harassment, retaliation, and discrimination at work, according to an employee-activist group that calls itself #AppleToo.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/17/technology/apple-employee-unrest.html


Brazil Rejects Leader's Ban on Removing Social Media Posts

After Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued rules forbidding social media networks from removing many posts that the sites considered misinformation about the upcoming presidential election, Brazil's Senate and top court quickly overturned the ban. The Brazilian Court and Congress therefore killed one of the most restrictive and intrusive internet laws in a democratic country. When Bolsonaro issued the policy, it was the first time that a national government had moved to stop social media companies from taking down content that violates their rules, which had alarmed technology companies and Bolsonaro's political opponents alike.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/world/americas/brazil-bolsonaro-social-media-ban.html


Tech Giants Pull Navalny App After Kremlin Threatens Prosecution

Google and Apple, under pressure from Russia, have removed a voting app created by allies of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny from its stores, reflecting a new level of pressure against U.S. technology companies in the country. The app was intended to coordinate protest voting in Russia's elections, and its removal is a blow to opponents of President Vladimir Putin. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/17/world/europe/russia-navalny-app-election.html


Hong Kong Forces Group to Yank Online Profile

Hong Kong police have forced one of the city's most known activist groups, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, to scrub its online presence. The move exemplifies how Hong Kong officials have used a powerful national security law to restrict online speech and impose mainland Chinese-style internet censorship. The group, which has for decades organized annual vigils to commemorate the 1989 government massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing, openly criticized the government. Hong Kong's national security law empowers officials to order the removal of online content deemed to endanger national security.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/17/world/asia/hong-kong-tiananmen-square-alliance-facebook.html


GENERAL NEWS

Plan to Tax Rich Aims at Incomes, Not Big Fortunes

The Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee presented a plan to pay for its social policy and climate change package by raising taxes by more than $2 trillion, largely on wealthy individuals and profitable corporations. While the proposal intends to pay for trillions of dollars in social spending by taxing the rich, it leaves wealth gains and inheritances amounting to vast fortunes alone and instead targets income, thereby proposing to raise revenue by raising tax rates on income rather than targeting wealth itself.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/us/politics/tax-plan-democrats.html


U.S. Poverty Rate Falls to a Record Low as Aid Helps Offset Job Losses

The Census Bureau recently reported that when government benefits are taken into account, the U.S. poverty rate fell to a record low last year and a smaller share of the population was living in poverty in 2020 even as the pandemic eliminated millions of jobs. In its report, the Census Bureau reported than 9.1% of Americans were living below the poverty line last year, down from 11.8% in 2019, if government programs are taken into account. The official measure of poverty, which leaves out some major aid programs, rose to 11.4% of the population.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/14/business/economy/census-income-poverty-health-insurance.html


U.S. to Swiftly Depart Throngs of Haitians Camping Out at the Border

The U.S. will begin deporting Haitians in South Texas back to Haiti and other countries as President Biden struggles to manage an already buckling immigration system. The Haitian migrants have gathered in the thousands at the southern border in the past week after illegally entering the United States and are overwhelming the South Texas town of Del Rio. The administration temporarily paused deportation flights to Haiti after the country was struck by a devastating earthquake in August, but the sudden surge in migrant crossings over the past week has prompted it to change course.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/18/us/politics/biden-administration-haiti-texas.html


Report Warns of Catastrophe Over Warming

The United Nations has warned of a "catastrophic pathway" as evidence shows that the global average temperature will rise 2.7 degrees Celsius by century's end, even if all countries meet their promised emissions cuts. The rise in temperature is likely to worsen extreme wildfires, droughts, and floods and is likely to increase the frequency of deadly heat waves and threaten coastal cities with rising sea levels.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/17/climate/climate-change-united-nations.html


Hot Summer Nights Get Hotter and More Dangerous

This summer, minimum temperatures were the hottest on record for every state on the West Coast and parts of the Northeast, and most other states neared their record highs for overnight temperatures from June through August. This is a trend that aligns with the predictions of climate models - that nights are warming faster than days across the U.S. This effect is amplified in cities, which are typically warmer than their surroundings.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/09/13/upshot/up-hot-nights.html


Justice Department Aims to Ensure That Grant Recipients Prevent Racial Bias

The Justice Department will review how it enforces prohibitions on racial discrimination by law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding, a move that could broaden the Biden administration's efforts to combat systemic racism in policing, prisons, and courts. The review is part of the Biden administration's efforts to make preserving civil rights a priority.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/16/us/politics/justice-department-civil-rights-protections.html


Clinic Urges Court to Reaffirm Roe v. Wade

Abortion providers in Mississippi have urged the Supreme Court to reaffirm Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. In a new brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a major abortion case before the Supreme Court, a clinic and a doctor have asked the Court to strike down a state law that largely bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/us/politics/mississippi-abortion-supreme-court.html


U.S. Tries to Halt Deal Shielding Sacklers From Opioid Suits

The Justice Department has moved to block a bankruptcy plan that would grant broad legal immunity to the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, whose drug OxyContin has been at the heart of the nation's opioid epidemic. The deal, which would release the Sackler family which owns Purdue Pharma, from future legal liability in exchange for a $4.3 billion financial contribution from the family's own fortune, had been approved by a New York federal judge. However, the U.S. trustee for the Justice Department filed a motion in federal court to halt confirmation of the settlement while the Department appeals the judge's decision to approve the deal.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/16/us/politics/sackler-bankruptcy-plan.html


Legal Defense is Formed for Harassed Poll Workers

Threatened by extremists and under fire by politicians, election workers now have their own legal defense network - the Election Official Legal Defense Network, which was formed to counter waves of political pressure and public bullying that election workers have faced in the last year. The organization, which is the creation of 2 powerhouse lawyers in Republican and Democratic legal circles, pledges free legal services to anyone involved in the voting process.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/18/us/election-workers-legal-aid.html


Judge Says Sept. 11 Trial is at Least a Year Away

A new judge presiding in the September 11th case at Guantanamo Bay has said that the trial of the 5 men accused of plotting the attacks would not begin for at least another year. The timeline set by the judge, Col. Matthew N. McCall, means that the trial of the 5 men, including the accused mastermind of the plot, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, would not get underway until more than 21 years after the attack.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/us/politics/gitmo-9-11-trial-start-date.html


Drone Attack Was a Mistake, Pentagon Says

The Pentagon has acknowledged that the last U.S. drone strike before American troops withdrew from Afghanistan was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians, after initially claiming that it had been necessary to prevent an attack on troops. The acknowledgement of a mistake came a week after a New York Times investigation of video evidence challenged previous assertions by the military, finding that almost everything senior defense officials asserted in the hours, days, and weeks after the August 29th drone strike turned out to be false.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/17/us/politics/pentagon-drone-strike-afghanistan.html


Special Counsel on Russia Said to be Seeking Charges Against Lawyer

John H. Durham, the special counsel appointed by the Trump administration to scrutinize the Russia investigation, will ask a grand jury to indict Michael Sussamann, a prominent cyber security lawyer, on a charge of making false statements to the FBI. Sussmann, a former federal prosecutor and now a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm, represented the Democratic National Commit