The Rundown for June 17, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,137,731 and the death toll stands at 116,963, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Eight states have reported cases surging 50 percent over the past seven days compared with the previous week. The states are South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming, Montana and Arizona. Meanwhile, White House officials are reportedly fuming over the Food and Drug Administration decision to rescind its “emergency use authorization” for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment on Monday. The decision left the Trump administration with a stockpile of 66 million doses of the drugs.

SENATE PANEL CONSIDERS POLICE BRUTALITY… Members of the Senate judiciary committee yesterday listened to testimony regarding policing amid ongoing national protests against racism and police brutality. Two separate panels discussed on policing in the black community and made recommendations. Earlier yesterday, President Trump signed into law the Safe Policing for Safe Communities order, which contains measures requiring police departments to ban the use of chokeholds to receive certification for federal grants and moves to create a national registry to track officers with multiple instances of the use of excessive force. It also promotes the use of mental health professionals to help police deal with issues of homelessness and addiction.

TRUMP ADMIN SUES TO BLOCK BOLTON BOOK… The Trump administration has filed suit to block the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book discussing his time in the White House. Administration officials yesterday cited “national security” in asking a federal judge to prevent next Tuesday’s scheduled release of “In the Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.” The Justice Department alleges that the book is a breach of Bolton’s employment agreement with the White House. Bolton served as Trump’s national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019.

WHITE HOUSE SEEKS TROOP REDUCTION IN GERMANY… The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the White House is seeking a substantial reduction of U.S. military personnel in Germany. A cut of 9,500 of the approximately 34,000 U.S. troops stationed in the country is the current tentative planning figure, according to a U.S. defense official. A formal order is expected soon. CNN reported that U.S. and NATO officials were caught off-guard by the size and timing of the reduction and expressed fear that it would strike a major blow to solidarity within the NATO alliance.

U.S. TO IMPOSE SYRIA SANCTIONS… The U.S. plans to impose sanctions against Syria today as part of an effort to force the Middle East country to comply with U.N.-led negotiations to end its nearly decade-long civil war. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, said during a teleconference call with the U.N. Security Council yesterday that the sanctions would “prevent the Assad regime from securing a military victory” and to steer it and its allies back toward the U.N.-led political peace process.

CALIFORNIA UTILITY ADMITS GUILT IN FIRE DEATHS… California utility company PG&E has pleaded guilty to the deaths of 84 people in the 2018 Camp Fire. The state’s deadliest and most destructive was blamed on PG&E’s faulty equipment. In return for its guilty plea, the utility will pay a fine of no more than $3.5 million and cover the $500,000 costs of the investigation, but there will be no jail time for executives. In yesterday’s court hearing, a judge read the name of each victim aloud to the company chief executive.

… Jimmy Kimmel has agreed to return as host of the 72nd Emmy Awards show. ABC Entertainment and the Television Academy announced yesterday that Kimmel will be back at the mic on September 20 after previously hosting the 64th and 68th Emmy Awards. The nominees for the 72nd Emmy Awards are scheduled to be announced July 28.

STEFANI RETURNS TO ‘THE VOICE’… Pop music star Gwen Stefani announced yesterday that she is returning as a coach for the NBC’s “The Voice.” Other mentors confirmed for Season 19 of the singing competition include Blake Shelton, John Legend and Kelly Clarkson. No premiere date has been announced.

… As major league baseball owners and players remain at odds over proposals to open the 2020 season, they should also focus on an earlier ending date to avoid a second coronavirus wave, according to the nation’s top infectious diseases expert. In an ESPN interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advised against playing baseball deep into October. “I would try to keep it in the core summer months and end it not with the way we play the World Series, until the end of October when it’s cold,” Dr. Fauci said. Owners have proposed ending the regular season on September 27 as originally scheduled and confining the postseason to October.

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