CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,680,625 and the death toll stands at 98,902, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Amtrak yesterday asked Congress for an additional $1.5 billion in federal funds to help it maintain operations amid the effects of the pandemic. The company said it is taking “significant steps” to reduce its operating costs by about $500 million to offset revenue losses. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court declined to block a lower court’s order requiring the federal government to transfer medically vulnerable inmates in Ohio to safer conditions. Last month, a federal judge ordered the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution near Canton to identify prisoners who could be transferred to home confinement or safer prisons, or given compassionate release or furlough.
TWITTER FACT-CHECKS TRUMP… Twitter yesterday began placing labels indicating potentially harmful or misleading information on President Trump’s tweets. Two of Trump’s tweets alleging the widespread use of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election will be “substantially fraudulent” were flagged with a notice that directed users to “get the facts about mail-in ballots.” Twitter also announced it would not remove Trump tweets that falsely implicate MSNBC morning-show host Joe Scarborough in the death of a former congressional assistant.
THREE SENATORS OFF THE HOOK IN STOCK SCANDAL… The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Justice Department is closed investigations into stock sales made by three senators shortly before financial markets bottomed out amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Senators Dianne Feinstein, Kelly Loeffler and James Inhofe were notified of the decision. The Justice Department is keeping open its insider-trading investigation into North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr, whose trades were worth up to $1.7 million. The FBI executed a search warrant for his cellphone earlier this month.
GLENN FINE RESIGNS FROM PENTAGON POST… Glenn Fine resigned yesterday as the Pentagon’s principal deputy inspector general, just a month after being removed as acting inspector general. His resignation will be effective June 1. Fine, who had been the acting inspector general since 2016, was removed by President Trump after serving as director of the new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Trump named Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general Sean O’Donnell as acting Department of Defense inspector general while maintaining his EPA role.
4 MINNEAPOLIS COPS FIRED AFTER FATAL ENCOUNTER… Four Minneapolis Police Department officers were fired yesterday and public demonstrations ensued following the release of a video that appeared to capture an officer keeping his knee on the neck of a handcuffed African-American man who later died. Activists and the family of the deceased man, identified as George Floyd, have say the lethal use of police use was racially motivated. The Minneapolis Police Department says the four fired officers were responding a report of someone trying to pass a counterfeit bill at a grocery store and found a man matching the suspect’s description on the hood of his car. The FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension have joined the investigation of the fatal encounter.
FX RENEWS ‘SUNNY‘… FX announced yesterday that it is renewing the sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” for a 15th season. The series stars creators Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton, along with Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito, and centers on the misadventures of a group of friends who run a bar together. The show first debuted in 2005.
DOOBIES POSTPONE 50TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR… Ongoing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic are forcing the Doobie Brothers to postpone their 50th anniversary tour. The rock band plans to reschedule the tour to 2021. It will reunite Michael McDonald, Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons and John McFee for the first time in nearly 25 years.
NHL ANNOUNCES RE-OPENING PLANS… The NHL yesterday announced plans yesterday to reopen team training camps by mid-July and hold a modified Stanley Cup playoffs in two “hub” cities. League officials say 24 of the NHL’s 31 teams will return to the ice for the playoffs. Each of the two conferences will conduct its games in a “hub” city to be selected from among Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver. The top four teams in each conference will play a round-robin series to determine seeding, while the conference’s remaining eight teams will play a best-of-five qualifying round, with the winners joining the top seeds for the playoffs’ first round. Game dates and series formats are yet to be announced and will depend on medical conditions and government regulations. Commissioner Gary Bettman also said the league intends to hold an 82-game season in 2020-21.