CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 3,363,056 and the death toll stands at 135,605, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. A spike in cases in California has prompted governor Gavin Newsom to re-close indoor dining, bars, movie theaters, zoos and museums. 30 California counties will be forced to close gyms, churches, hair salons, malls and other businesses. Meanwhile, California’s two largest school districts have announce plans to start the fall semester with online-only classes in defiance of the Trump administration’s calls for schools to reopen for in-person instruction. Los Angeles Unified, the country’s second-largest school district with roughly 700,000 students, will begin instruction August 18; San Diego Unified, which serves more than 100,000 students, is set to start August 31.
JUDGE RULES GEORGIA ABORTION LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL… A federal court yesterday permanently blocked Georgia’s “heartbeat” abortion law. The law outlawed most abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, or about six weeks into a pregnancy. In his ruling, District Judge Steve C. Jones wrote that the law violated a woman’s constitutional right to access to the procedure as established by the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 481 into law last year.
LAWSUIT FILED OVER VISA RULE… Seventeen states and the District of Columbia, along with dozens of universities, have joined in a lawsuit that challenges the new federal rule that strips international students of their visas if their coursework is entirely online when classes resume in the fall. 18 attorneys general say the Trump administration’s rule “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States.” The lawsuit names the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement as defendants.
MARY TRUMP CLEARED TO PUBLICIZE MEMOIR… A New York Supreme Court judge yesterday lifted the restraining order that would have prohibited Mary Trump from publicizing her memoir about her uncle Donald Trump and his family. “Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” is scheduled for release today. President Trump’s brother, Robert Trump, had tried to stop the book’s publication on the grounds that it violated a confidentiality agreement Mary signed as part of an inheritance settlement from her grandfather in 2001. Judge Hal Greenwald ruled that the confidentiality clause in “what appeared to be somewhat nasty [intrafamily] litigation” was “so overly broad, as to be ineffective.”
TEXAS SUPREME COURT SHUTS DOWN STATE GOP CONVENTION… The Texas Supreme Court yesterday struck down an appeal by the Republican Party of Texas that would have allowed the group to host its convention in Houston this week. Mayor Sylvester Turner had ordered the event to be canceled over coronavirus concerns last Wednesday prompting the state GOP’s executive committee to file suit. The state supreme court court ruled that though the party has the right to hold a convention, “those rights do not allow it to simply commandeer use of the (convention center).” State Republican Party officials are now planning to host a convention virtually.
NAYA RIVERA’S BODY FOUND… Authorities in Southern California announced yesterday that they have found the body of “Glee” star Naya Rivera five days after she was reported missing at Lake Piru in Ventura County. The 33-year-old actress and her boy were last seen renting a pontoon boat at the lake’s marina. The boy was later found sleeping alone on the boat and told investigators that he and his mother had been swimming and he got back into the boat but she didn’t. Authorities said the following day that they believed Rivera had drowned and shifted from a rescue mission to a recovery operation.
4 CHARGED IN MURDER OF POP SMOKE… The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced yesterday that two men and two teenagers have been charged in the murder of rapper Pop Smoke. The rapper was fatally shot during an alleged robbery in February. The 19- and 18-year-old men are eligible for the death penalty since the alleged murder occurred during an alleged robbery. They also face gang and gun charges.
SCIENCE-SHOW HOST GRANT IMAHARA DIES… Grant Imahara, an electrical engineer and roboticist who hosted the popular science shows “MythBusters” on Discovery Channel and Netflix’s “White Rabbit Project,” died suddenly yesterday following a brain aneurysm. He was 49. Imahara joined “MythBusters” in its third season and left the next year with co-hosts Kari Byron and Tory Belleci. The three reunited in 2016 for “White Rabbit Project.”
WASHINGTON DROPS REDSKINS NICKNAME… The Washington Redskins made it official yesterday by announcing that they will replace their nickname and logo amid decades-long complaints that they are racial slurs. Pending trademark issues will determine when the new nickname is revealed. Team owner Dan Snyder had vowed for years that he would never change the team’s name but apparently changed his mind amid recently applied economic pressure from investors, sponsors and vendors.