The Rundown for July 16, 2021

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 33,974,299 and the nation’s death toll stands at 608,387, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned yesterday that the impact misinformation about the COVID vaccine is dangerous. Murthy said the false information shared on social media is driving vaccine hesitancy, especially among young people. During her press briefing yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted that there are about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms… A rise in cases and hospitalizations has prompted Los Angeles County to reimpose its mask mandate this weekend. The new order will require masking indoors regardless of vaccination status. The county has seen more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases each day for the past seven days.

BIDEN HOSTS MERKEL AT WHITE HOUSE… President Joe Biden hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House yesterday in her final visit as head of state. The two leaders said they were united against Russian aggression related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline while remaining at odds on some details of the project. “Good friends can disagree,” Biden said afterward. The president praised Merkel for her “strong, principled leadership” and for “never failing to defend human dignity.” Merkel’s tenure lasted through four American presidents.

TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST PROTECTIONS RESTORED… The Biden administration yesterday announced plans to reverse a Trump-era move to open up Alaska’s Tongass National Forest for logging and other business operations. The USDA will restore protections to the nation’s largest old-growth forest as part of a $25 million strategy to conserve natural resources in Alaska, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Former President Donald Trump’s 2020 order opened the land to potential logging, mining and timber harvesting.

PAPERS HIGHLIGHT RUSSIAN SPY OPERATION TO SUPPORT TRUMP… The Guardian cited leaked Kremlin documents in reporting yesterday that Vladimir Putin personally authorized a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council. The session occurred on January 22, 2016, the papers suggest, with Putin, his spy chiefs and senior ministers all present. According to the report, those at the session agreed a Trump White House would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them “social turmoil” in the U.S. and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position.

CONGRESSWOMAN JOYCE BEATTY ARRESTED AT PROTEST… Democratic Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, was one of nine people arrested yesterday during a voting rights protest at the U.S. Capitol. The protest called for the Senate to pass a sweeping election reform bill that passed the House in March but is being held up in the Senate because of a Republican filibuster. The 71-year-old Beatty was charged with demonstrating in a prohibited area on Capitol grounds.

ENTERTAINMENT
LINDA RONSTADT HONORED ON 75TH BIRTHDAY
… Retired singer Linda Ronstadt was honored on her 75th birthday yesterday in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona. Mayor Regina Romero officially proclaimed the day as Linda Ronstadt Day earlier in the week. Ronstadt moved to Los Angeles in the mid-’60s to launch a singing career that spanned multiple genres, including rock, folk and country. She retired after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

MOVIE PRODUCER ARRESTED FOR PROSTITUTION RING… A California movie producer whose credits include the 2018 Maggie Gyllenhal film “The Kindergarten Teacher,” was arrested yesterday for allegedly running a “long-running” prostitution ring across the U.S. and abroad. Manhattan federal prosecutors also accused Dillon Jordan of money laundering for allegedly funneling ill-gotten gains through two “front companies.” Prosecutors claim that the 49-year-old Jordan ran the prostitution ring from about 2010 to May 2017, maintaining a “roster of women who resided around the U.S. and who, in exchange for payment, performed sexual acts for Jordan’s clients…” The indictment charges him with one count of conspiracy to violate the Mann Act, one count of enticement, one count of use of interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity and one count of money laundering. If found guilty on all counts, Jordan faces up to 50 years in federal prison. Jordan’s other production credits include 2018’s “Skin,” starring Jamie Bell, and 2019’s “The Kid,” starring Ethan Hawke.

SPORTS
MLB SCOREBOARD…
Boston – N.Y. YANKEES
(ppd)… Last night’s Red Sox-Yankees game was postponed after multiple positive COVID-19 tests within New York organization. No makeup date has been announced. Yankees pitchers Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta have been confirmed as COVID-19 positive and placed on the COVID-19 injured list. Three other players have received multiple positive diagnoses from rapid testing and are being quarantined while awaiting lab results.

TODAY’S MLB SCHEDULE
NATIONAL LEAGUE
Miami (Sandy Alcantara, 5-8; TBA) is at Philadelphia (Matt Moore, 0-1; Zach Eflin, 4-6) for a doubleheader…
Pittsburgh (TBA) hosts the N.Y. Mets (Marcus Stroman, 6-7)…
San Diego (Chris Paddack, 4-6) is at Washington (Erick Fedde, 4-6)…
Cincinnati (Tyler Mahle, 7-3) hosts Milwaukee (TBA)…
San Francisco (Kevin Gausman, 9-3) is at St. Louis (Adam Wainwright, 7-5)…
Colorado (Antonio Senzatela, 2-8) hosts the L.A. Dodgers (Julio Urias, 11-3)…
the Chi. Cubs (Kyle Hendricks, 11-4) are at Arizona (Madison Bumgarner, 4-5)

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Minnesota (TBA; TBA) is at Detroit (Jose Urena, 2-8; TBA) for a doubleheader…
the N.Y. Yankees (Domingo German, 4-5) host Boston (Eduardo Rodriguez, 6-5)…
Texas (Jordan Lyles, 5-5) is at Toronto (Robbie Ray, 7-4)…
Kansas City (TBA) hosts Baltimore (Keegan Akin, 0-4)…
Houston (Lance McCullers, Jr., 6-2) is at the Chi. White Sox (Dylan Cease, 7-4)…
the L.A. Angels (Andrew Heaney, 5-6) host Seattle (Chris Flexen, 8-3)…
Cleveland (Eli Morgan, 1-3) is at Oakland (Chris Bassitt, 10-2)

INTERLEAGUE
Tampa Bay (Michael Wacha, 2-2) is at Atlanta (Charlie Morton, 8-3)

BRAVES ACQUIRE JOC PEDERSON… The injury-plagued Atlanta Braves acquired outfielder Joc Pederson from the Chicago Cubs yesterday. In exchange, Atlanta sends Chicago minor league first-baseman Bryce Ball. The 29-year-old Pederson signed a one-year contract with the Cubs in February after winning a World Series with the Dodgers. He hit 11 homers and knocked in 39 runs during his half-season in Chicago. He’ll join an Atlanta team that has just lost Ronald Acuña for the season due to a torn ACL.

NBA FINALS RESUMES SUNDAY… Milwaukee visits Phoenix on Sunday for Game 5 of the NBA finals with the series tied 2-2.

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