The Rundown for March 2, 2020

JUDGE RULES CUCCINELLI APPOINTMENT ILLEGAL… A federal judge ruled yesterday that President Trump’s appointment of Ken Cuccinelli as acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service was illegal. In ruling that the appointment violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, District Judge Randolph Moss voided Cuccinelli’s policy directive that gave asylum seekers less time to consult with legal counsel prior to their “credible fear” interview with a USCIS officer. Cuccinelli was appointed by Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan last June to lead USCIS after deputy director Mark Koumans automatically became the acting director under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. After Cuccinelli initially served as “principal deputy director” of USCIS, McAleenan changed Cuccinelli’s job title to “first assistant” and allowed him to overtake Koumans as acting director. Judge Moss wrote in his ruling that Cuccinelli’s newly created title did not satisfy the necessary legal standard and lacked “any substance.”

CORONAVIRUS PROMPTS NEW SCREENING PROCEDURES… Amid growing fears of the coronavirus, President Trump yesterday announced new screening procedures for travelers entering the U.S. from Italy, South Korea, Iran and China. Medical professionals and scientists, meanwhile, are alarmed that the U.S. has reportedly tested just 3,600 or so people for the virus but are relieved that state labs are now being allowed to create their own tests as the outbreak spreads. A preliminary finding in Washington state released yesterday claimed the coronavirus may have been circulating for weeks undetected. The virus has been blamed for the deaths of two people in Washington. State health officials say at least 50 members of a nursing facility in Kirkland have symptoms of the virus after two women there tested positive. In California, two health care workers in the San Francisco Bay area who cared for an earlier coronavirus patient were diagnosed with the virus yesterday. A third case has been diagnosed in Illinois while the first cases have been identified in Rhode Island and New York.

TALIBAN PEACE DEAL ON EDGE… The U.S. peace deal with the Taliban faces an unknown future after Afghanistan’s president publicly rejected the timeline for a prisoner swap yesterday. The deal the U.S. signed with the Taliban on Saturday calls for a March 10 deadline for an exchange of prisoners but Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says that a prisoner release was not a promise the U.S. could make. “It can be part of the negotiations but it cannot be a precondition,” Ghani declared at a press conference. During an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that the road ahead in Afghanistan will be “rocky and bumpy.”

BUTTIGIEG ENDS PRESIDENTIAL BID… South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced yesterday that he is suspending his presidential campaign. The announcement came a day after he finished fourth in the South Carolina Democratic primary. The 38-year-old Buttigieg became the first openly gay presidential candidate from a major party when he launched his run and he pledged he would do “everything in my power” to ensure a Democratic win in November’s election. The Democratic field is down to just six heading into tomorrow’s Super Tuesday, with its 14 nomination contests.

JOHN LEWIS SPEAKS TO SELMA MARCHERS… Civil rights icon and U.S. Congressman from Georgia John Lewis inspired others in attendance when he made a surprise appearance at yesterday’s “Bloody Sunday” commemorative march in Selma, Alabama. Lewis urged voters to use the ballot box as “a nonviolent instrument or tool to redeem the soul of America” as he spoke on the 55th anniversary of a 1965 civil-rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. As one of the original marchers, Lewis had his skull broken by white police officers. His participation in the commemorative event came into question after he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in December.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE… The K-pop band BTS tops the Billboard 200 chart for the fourth time, as its new release “Map of the Soul: 7” sold 422,000 copies. YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s “Still Flexin, Still Steppin” finished second after selling 91,000 units. Ozzy Osbourne’s “Ordinary Man” debuted at No. 3 on sales of 77,000 copies. Last week’s champ, Justin Bieber’s “Changes,” dropped to fourth place with 66,000 units sold. Roddy Ricch’s “Excuse Me for Being Antisocial” finished fifth on sales of 65,000 copies.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE… “The Invisible Man” took in $29 million to debut atop the weekend box office. “Sonic the Hedgehog” slipped into second place with $16 million. “The Call of the Wild” brought in $13.2 million to finish third. “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising” finished fourth with $5.1 million. “Bad Boys for Life” capped the top five with $4.3 million.

Milwaukee 93 – CHARLOTTE 85… Giannis Antetokounmpo had game-highs with 41 points and 20 rebounds in leading the Bucks past the Hornets. The victory was Milwaukee’s sixth in a row.

Dallas 111 – MINNESOTA 91… The Mavericks took control with a big second quarter and rolled past the Timberwolves. Kristaps Porzingis pumped in 38 points and grabbed 13 boards. Seth Curry added 27 points.

L.A. CLIPPERS 136 – Philadelphia 130… The Clippers fought off the 76ers for their fourth straight win. They got 30 points from Kawhi Leonard and 24 from Paul George.

DENVER 133 – Toronto 118… Nikola Jokic racked up 23 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists as the Nuggets downed the short-handed Raptors. Jamal Murray tossed in 22 points.

SACRAMENTO 106 – Detroit 100… The Kings rallied past the Pistons after trailing by 15 entering the second quarter. De’Aaron Fox led all scorers with 23 points.

L.A. Lakers 122 – NEW ORLEANS 114… A Lakers team playing without the injured Anthony Davis came on strong in the fourth quarter to top the Pelicans. LeBron James piled up 34 points, 12 boards and 13 assists. Kyle Kuzma added 20 points. Rookie Zion Williamson’s 35 points weren’t enough for New Orleans.

Washington 124 – GOLDEN STATE 110… Bradley Beal scored 27 of his game-high 34 points in the first half and Davis Bertans delivered 29 points off the bench as the Wizards handled the Warriors. Beal has scored at least 25 points in a franchise-record 18 straight games.

Utah is at Cleveland…
New York hosts Houston…
Portland is at Orlando…
Atlanta hosts Memphis…
Milwaukee is at Miami…
Chicago hosts Dallas…
Indiana is at San Antonio

Philadelphia 5 – N.Y. RANGERS 3… The Flyers skated past the Rangers for their sixth straight win. Derek Grant and Travis Konecny each had a goal and an assist. Jakob Voracek set up two goals.

Calgary 3 – FLORIDA 0… Goalie Cam Talbot stopped all 38 shots as the Flames blanked the Panthers. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist.

COLUMBUS 5 – Vancouver 3… The Blue Jackets scored four unanswered goals in the third period to upend the Canucks. Zach Werenski and Emil Bemstrom scored on power plays during the barrage. Riley Nash had a goal and an assist.

Washington 4 – MINNESOTA 3… Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and assisted on another to lead the Capitals past the Wild. Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists.

New Jersey 3 – ANAHEIM 0… Goalie Cory Schneider made 34 saves in his first shutout in more than a year as the Devils breezed past the Ducks. Pavel Zacha netted two power-play goals.

Los Angeles 4  – VEGAS 1… Anze Kopitar scored two first-period goals and the Kings coasted past the Golden Knights. Cal Petersen made 42 stops at goal.

Colorado is at Detroit…
Nashville hosts Edmonton

ST. JOHN’S 91, #10 Creighton 71…
#11 LOUISVILLE 68, Virginia Tech 52…
STANFORD 72, #21 Colorado 64…
#25 HOUSTON 68, Cincinnati 55

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