Week In Review
By Angela Peco Edited by Elissa D. Hecker
Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Technology &Media, General News, and COVID:
Workers at Radio City Christmas Show Concerned About COVID Rules
While all workers are required to be vaccinated, the company will not be testing employees or requiring masks, which is the common protocol at other performing arts institutions.
How South Korea Became a Cultural Juggernaut
The article analyzes how Korean pop culture has grown popular worldwide due to its focus on universal issues like income inequality and the need for social change.
In Antitrust Push, U.S. Sues to Stop Publishers From Merging
The U.S. Justice Department is suing to block a $2.2 billion merger between Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. The move signals the administration's stance against corporate consolidation and is one of many antitrust lawsuits seeking to block a series of corporate deals this year.
Copyright Lawyer Richard Leibowitz Suspended from Practice
A New York state appeals court suspended Richard Leibowitz from practicing law in New York. Leibowitz is often called a "copyright troll" for filing thousands of low-value copyright infringement complaints. The Court noted that his behaviour had "made a mockery of orderly litigation processes."
As the Taliban Swept In, Afghanistan's Cultural Class Hurried Out
The article describes how hundreds of artists have left Afghanistan, fearing for their careers and their safety.
To Protest Iran's Anti-Gay Abuse, Artist Paints Dictator's Car
Nonprofit organization PaykanArtCar will select a different activist each year to paint a Paykan in a show of resistance against the Iranian government's stance toward the LGBTQ community. The Paykan was the first car manufactured in Iran and a symbol of national pride in the country.
Bettman Defends National Hockey League's Response to Sexual Assault Claims
Commissioner Gary Bettman defended the National Hockey League's (NHL) disciplinary actions, calling the $2 million fine of the Chicago Blackhawks "significant" and characterizing the role of some individuals in Chicago's front office as "minor." An independent third-party report found that Blackhawks management failed to act on player Kyle Beach's 2020 sexual assault allegations.
NHL Players' Association Votes on Investigation into How Union Handled Kyle Beach's Allegations
The NHL Players' Association is considering opening an investigation into its handling of sexual abuse allegations brought forward by Kyle Beach. Executive Director Donald Fehr has recommended the involvement of outside counsel. The executive board will be voting on the proposal but no timeline has been provided for the vote.
National Basketball Association to Investigate Allegations Against Suns' Sarver
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has launched an investigation after ESPN published a story containing allegations of racism and misogyny within the Phoenix Suns, directly implicating the Suns' owner Robert Sarver, who denied the allegations. Interviews with former and current Suns employees described a toxic and hostile work environment marked by racially insensitive and sexist language.
Black Coaches Are Elevated in the NBA
The article explains how players' demands for more diversity in the NBA's coaching and executive ranks have encouraged a number of teams to hire qualified Blank candidates. The league and the coaches' association also created a new "program aimed at developing young coaches and ensuring that qualified candidates are visible when jobs arise."
Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice Releases Final Recommendation
Released this week, the Council's fourth and final recommendation includes calls for governing bodies to: Conduct racial equity audits and determine how their current practices disproportionately or negatively impact members from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) groups; extend definitions of abuse to include racial discrimination; increase legal support for athletes filing discrimination cases; and create reporting mechanisms for athletes to report discriminatory practices.
Former University of Southern California Athletic Official Pleads Guilty to Fraud
Donna Heinel, a former athletic administrator at the University of Southern California, admitted to being part of a bribery scheme that helped fake athletic recruits gain admission into top schools. Heinel was paid $20,000 a month in consultancy fees, in exchange for helping students get into USC as recruited athletes.
New York Mets Dismiss Interim General Manager Two Months After Arrest
The Mets fired Zack Scott two months after his DWI arrest. Scott was placed on administrative leave in September.
Former FIFA Officials Charged with Fraud Over Secret Payment
Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were charged with fraud, criminal mismanagement, and forgery under Swiss law for arranging a $2 million secret payment from soccer's governing body to Platini in 2011. Platini was then the head of European soccer's governing body.
Handball Federation Changes Uniform Requirements
The International Handball Federation will no longer be requiring women's teams to wear bikini bottoms, allowing "short tight pants with a close fit" instead. The Norwegian women's handball team was fined earlier this year for not complying with the old requirements.
Tennis Star Peng Shuai Accuses Chinese Official of Sexual Assault
Peng disclosed that she had been sexually assaulted by a recently retired official in China's Communist Party. Her post appeared on social media platform Weibo and it has since been deleted.
Technology & Media
Smarmatic Sues Newsmax and One America Over Election Claims
The election technology firm has sued the right-wing media outlets for spreading false claims that it helped rigged the 2020 presidential election. Similar defamation lawsuits have been brought by Dominion Voting System, another voting technology company, against news outlets like Fox News.
Facebook Faces New Antitrust Lawsuit
The suit was filed by defunct start-up Phhhoto, accusing Facebook of feigning interest in the company, "stalling on a deal and then putting it out of business."
Facebook Shutting Down Facial Recognition System
The company's facial recognition system automatically identified users in photos and videos posted on the platform. The move is in response to growing concerns that facial recognition technology targets marginalized groups and compromises privacy.
Google Temps Fought Loss of Pandemic Bonus and Won
Google announced that it would be resuming a program that paid temps a weekly attendance bonus after workers organized a coordinated response to protest Google's decision to first pause and then end the program.
China Criminalizes Mocking Country's Heroes
Under a new law, China will prosecute citizens for slander of Communist heroes and has created hotlines to receive reports of violations. A woman has already been sentenced to seven months in prison for critical posts mocking a textbook war hero.
House Passes $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill
Progressive members of the Democratic Party supported passing the infrastructure bill "after extracting a promise from moderates that they would ultimately back the social safety net and climate bill" called the Build Back Better Act. The law would provide $550 billion over 10 years to modernize the nation's power grid and improve roads, bridges, and highways. The cost of the social safety net and climate bill remains an outstanding issue for moderates, with Speaker Pelosi estimating that it will take about a week for the Congressional Budget Office to provide official cost estimates.
Supreme Court Appears Open to Letting Providers Challenge Texas Abortion Law
The Court heard oral arguments in two cases challenging the Texas law that prohibits most abortions at around six weeks of pregnancy. One was brought by abortion providers and the other by the Justice Department. At issue was not the right to abortion itself, but "whether federal courts have the power to block the (Texas) abortion law, which prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right." The complicating factor is that the law was drafted in such a way that precludes state officials from being sued because they are statutorily forbidden from enforcing the law. Instead, the law authorizes private citizens to enforce it by reporting abortion providers and suing them in court.
The Justice Department is challenging the law because it attempts to nullify the Constitution by immunizing it from judicial review. The Supreme Court needs to decide whether to reinstate a federal court order blocking the law and whether the federal government "has the authority to bring this case against the State of Texas" to prevent state officials and private parties from enforcing it.
Based on questions asked during the hearings, the Court seemed inclined to allow abortion providers to challenge the law because of its novel structure. Justice Kavanaugh suggested that states could not totally evade challenges to laws that may be unconstitutional. This leaves the door open to providers potentially being able to sue state judges and court clerks. Justice Barrett, in her questions, raised concerns about the fact that providers cannot mount a full constitutional defense when they get sued because the defenses available to them under the law are too narrow.
Supreme Court Hears Free Speech Case on Politician's Censure
The case involves an elected trustee of the Houston Community College System who was censured by his board for his public criticism of that board. He argues that the reprimand violated his First Amendment rights. Part of his argument during the hearing was that a board has the authority to censure its members for comments made during the lawmaking process, but cannot reprimand for speech in other settings, a distinction with which at least one justice took issue.
Supreme Court Revives Its Procedures to Tame Unruly Oral Arguments
The Supreme Court has settled on a hybrid model for how to organize questions during oral submissions. The model is a combination of the traditional "free-for-all questioning with a round of optional one-at-a-time questions, proceeding in order of seniority, once per lawyer." This latter model was introduced during the pandemic as a way of curtailing interruptions during phone arguments. The model is influenced, in part, by a 2017 study that showed that female justices were disproportionately interrupted by both their male colleagues and by male lawyers.
Justice Department Sues Texas Over Voting Restrictions
The Department of Justice argues that the law "would disenfranchise several groups of vulnerable Texans," including those with limited English proficiency, older voters, and people with disabilities. The federal government takes the position that restrictions around unsolicited absentee ballot applications and limits on what help poll workers can provide voters violate federal voting and civil rights laws.
How America Got to Charlottesville
Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt is expected to testify to the persistence of antisemitism and its links to present-day politics as part of a civil case brought against two dozen neo-Nazis and white nationalist groups who organized the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
Robert Santos Confirmed as First Latino to Lead Census Bureau
Santos's confirmation brings a permanent director to the data collection agency. Santos is a prominent statistician and had bipartisan support.
Albany County District Attorney Says Cuomo Sex-Crime Charge May Be Defective
In a letter to an Albany, New York judge, District Attorney (DA) David Soares raised concerns about the local sheriff who "unilaterally and inexplicably" filed the criminal complaint without his knowledge, when the DA's office had an active investigation into Cuomo. He also suggested that the filing itself may be defective because it did not include a sworn statement from the complainant. Former Governor Cuomo is charged with forcible touching.
New York State Bans Swastikas, Confederate Flags on Public Property
Governor Hockul signed legislation that "bans the selling or displaying of hate symbols on public property and taxpayer-funded equipment." Confederate flags and neo-Nazi symbols are included in the ban, except where they are used to serve an "educational or historical purposes," such as in museums or books.
Eric Adams Elected Mayor of New York City
Eric Adams, a former police captain and a Democrat, will be the second Black mayor in the city's history.
Alvin Bragg Elected Manhattan's First Black District Attorney
Alvin Bragg is a "former federal prosecutor who campaigned on a pledge to balance public safety with fairness for all defendants."
University of Florida Allows Professors to Testify in Voting Rights Case
The university had previously blocked the professors' testimony in a voting-rights lawsuit, where they were expected to testify as expert witnesses against the state. The political science professors have already sued the university for violations of the First Amendment rights and are seeking a court order barring the school "from limiting their outside work on matters opposing the state's interests."
G20 Nations Agree to Stop Financing Coal-Burning Plants Overseas
The commitment to end investment in coal-fired power came after China made a similar commitment at the United Nations General Assembly in September. Including to a recent study, the only three "holdouts" among all development financial institutions are the Development Bank of Latin America, the Islamic Development Bank, and the New Development Bank.
The Race to Save History
Climate change is contributing to our understanding of past events by exposing long-frozen artifacts. At the same time, climate events are also causing these artifacts to decay rapidly.
Biden's Vaccine Mandate With a January 4th Deadline for Big Private Employers Temporarily Blocked by Court
New guidance from the Biden administration gave large companies until January 4th to mandate vaccinations or start weekly testing of their workers. The guidance would have covered about 84 million workers. By December 5th, companies with at least 100 employees were supposed to require those who remained unvaccinated to wear masks indoors.
A federal appeals panel then issued a temporary injunction. The parties are expected to file briefs and the Court will decide whether to grant a permanent injunction or let the mandate proceed. At issue is whether the Occupational Safety and Health Act gives the Occupational Safety and Health Administration the authority to issue this mandate or whether that mandate needs to be passed by Congress.
Pfizer Says Antiviral Pill Highly Effective in Treating COVID
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Approves Pfizer's COVID Vaccine for Children 5 to 11 in the U.S.
Global COVID Death Toll Exceeds 5 Million
Johns Hopkins University estimates that over five million people have died from COVID-19, with the U.S. recording over 745,000 deaths.