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.

The Rundown for June 16, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,114,026 and the death toll stands at 116,127, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Vice President Mike Pence faced heavy criticism yesterday after he falsely told reporters that Oklahoma has flattened the curve ahead of President Trump’s scheduled campaign rally in Tulsa on Saturday. Last Saturday, Oklahoma reported 225 new cases in its highest one-day total since the pandemic began. On Sunday, Tulsa County reported 89 new case in its largest single-day increase.

PROTESTS CONTINUE… Peaceful protests and violent encounters continued in cities nationwide yesterday among social unrest over systemic racism and police brutality. President Trump is expected to make a minor concession today by signing a modest police reform order that helps law enforcement agencies better track excessive uses of force. There has been more outrage added to the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Police department recordings and transcripts released yesterday revealed that a dispatcher and two 911 callers voiced concerns over officer use of force. Also yesterday, a confrontation in Albuquerque turned violent when the son of a New Mexico Sheriff’s deputy shot a protester trying to tear down statues of Spanish Conquistadors. The shooter was reportedly a member of a right-wing militia that calls itself the “New Mexico Civil Guard.” Finally, the Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney is weighing charges for both officers involved in Friday’s fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks outside a Wendy’s restaurant. The coroner ruled the death a homicide and Atlanta police have released the disciplinary records for the two officers.

RECENT HANGINGS INVESTIGATED… Federal authorities have agreed to review local investigations into the hanging deaths of two black men in Southern California to determine whether federal law was violated. Local authorities claimed the deaths of Robert Fuller in Palmdale and Malcolm Harsch in Victorville were suicides. A third death by hanging occurred yesterday in Houston, where the death of a Hispanic man was again called a suicide.

SUPREME COURT DECISIONS… The Supreme Court ruled in defiance of the Trump administration in three major cases yesterday. The High Court ruled 6-3 that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under federal civil rights law. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch in the majority opinion. The Supreme Court also left in place a lower court opinion upholding one of California’s so-called sanctuary laws that limits cooperation between law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. The High Court also declined to hear eight cases involving a legal defense that can be used to shield government officials from lawsuits, including seven involving police accused of excessive force or other misconduct. In six of the seven cases involving police, plaintiffs who sued officers were challenging actions in lower courts that protected the defendants through qualified immunity. The other one involved two officers who argued they deserve such protection but lost in a lower court.

WILLIAM BARR BRINGS BACK FEDERAL EXECUTIONS… Attorney General William Barr yesterday directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the first executions of federal death row inmates since 2003. Barr ordered the executions of four men convicted of murdering children. The Death Penalty Information Center says there are currently around 60 federal inmates on death row.

FDA DE-AUTHORIZES HYDROCHLOROQUINE… The Food and Drug Administration yesterday ended its emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine in treating severe COVID-19 patients following worldwide concerns about its safety and effectiveness. The Trump administration has been pushing the drug but large clinical trials showed that the drug was “unlikely to produce an antiviral effect,” according to the FDA’s chief scientist, Denise Hinton. The agency first provided the authorization in March for COVID-19 patients, but opted to revoke it, along with another emergency use authorization for chloroquine, following a request from the acting director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

… The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced yesterday that it is moving the 93rd annual Academy Awards from February 28 to April 25 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Academy also extended the eligibility period for 2020 films to February 28. The submission deadline for films to be considered is January 15.

KENNY CHESNEY RESCHEDULING TOUR… Country star Kenny Chesney is rescheduling his summer tour to 2021 after postponing it during the coronavirus pandemic. The “Chillaxification” tour will kick off May 1, 2021, in Tampa, Florida. The tour features Florida Georgia Line, Old Dominion and Michael Franti & Spearhead.

… Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred angered the players’ union yesterday when he walked back his confidence that there will be a 2020 baseball season and expressed frustration with the union for a lack of dialogue. “I’m not confident. I think there’s real risk, and as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is going to continue,” Manfred told ESPN’s Mike Greenberg. Last week Manfred told ESPN that “unequivocally, we are going to play Major League Baseball this year.” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark responded with a statement that declared “Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told Players and fans that there would ‘100%’ be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season. Any implication that the Players Association has somehow delayed progress on health and safety protocols is completely false, as Rob has recently acknowledged the parties are ‘very, very close.’”

The Rundown for June 15, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,094,069 and the death toll stands at 115,732, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Alabama reported a record number of new cases for the fourth day in a row yesterday. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Carolina all had record numbers of new cases in the past three days. Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci says he doesn’t expect a return to “real normality” until next year. He says bans on international travel some other restrictions put in place could remain in place until a vaccine is developed.

PROTESTS CALL ATTENTION TO BLACK TRANS KILLINGS… Continuing nationwide protests yesterday addressed violence on Black transsexuals. Black Trans Lives Matter rallies followed last week’s murders of two black trans women in Philadelphia and Cincinnati. The killings raised the number of reported murders of trans and gender non-conforming people to 14 since the start of the year. The Human Rights Campaign says the number of deaths of trans people is likely undercounted.

ATLANTA COP FIRED… The Atlanta Police Department has fired the officer who fatally shot a Black man outside a Wendy’s restaurant on Friday night. A second officer has been placed on administrative leave. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed yesterday that an autopsy showed that 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks died of two gunshot wounds to the back and listed his cause of death as homicide.

CALIFORNIA POLICE UNIONS UNVEIL REFORM PROPOSALS… Three California police unions have unveiled proposed reform guidelines to improve “outcomes” between police and their communities. The guidelines were released by Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose police unions in response to nearly three weeks of worldwide protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Measures include the establishment of a national database listing officers who have been fired for gross misconduct, a stricter use-of-force standard and recurring crisis intervention training.

GROUND BEEF RECALL… The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced yesterday that a New Jersey company has recalled nearly 43,000 pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated with a strain of E. coli. Officials say the ground beef from Lakeside Refrigerated Services was sent to retailers nationwide and bear the establishment number “EST. 46841.” The issue was discovered during routine FSIS testing and there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions to consumption of the products.

… The next James Bond film, “No Time to Die,” will open November 20 in theaters. The spy thriller stars Daniel Craig as Secret Agent 007. His co-stars include Rami Malek, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Jeffrey Wright and Naomie Harris. The film was originally set to be released in April but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LIL BABY TOPS ALBUM CHART… Lil Baby’s “My Turn” sold 65,000 copies to reclaim the top spot on the Billboard 200 album chart. Last week’s champ, Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica,” slipped into second place with 64,000 units sold. Gunna’s “Wunna” rose to third place on sales of 39,000 copies. Future’s “High Off Life” jumped a spot into third place with 38,000 units sold. Drake’s “Dark Lane Demo Tapes” capped the top five with 37,000 copies sold.

… Daniel Berger won the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge yesterday in a playoff over Collin Morikawa. Berger’s birdie at the last hole of regulation slammed the door on a 15-under 265. Xander Schauffele, Jason Kokrak, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Rose were a stroke back.

The Rundown for June 12, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,023,385 and the death toll stands 13,818, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. A new modeling study by Cambridge and Greenwich universities found that 100-percent face mask use could crush second and third coronavirus waves. The masks don’t have to be top-of-the-line surgical or respirator masks, the study found. Homemade coverings that catch only 50 percent of exhaled droplets would provide a “population-level benefit.”

PROTESTS CONTINUE… Protests targeting police brutality and racial equality continued in cities nationwide yesterday. In Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan defended the city’s decision to let demonstrators create an “autonomous zone” despite President Trump calling the protesters “terrorists” and threatening to send federal resources to disrupt them. Louisville, Kentucky’s Metro Council voted unanimously yesterday to ban the use of “no-knock” search warrants. The “Breonna’s Law” bill was named after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency technician who was killed by police during a drug raid on her home in March. No drugs were found, her family claims in a lawsuit.

MILLEY APOLOGIZES FOR PHOTO-OP… Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley apologized yesterday for taking part in President Trump’s walk across Lafayette Plaza to a church photo op on June 1. “I should not have been there,” the U.S.’s to military official said in a prerecorded commencement address to National Defense University. Police and National Guard officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas to clear peaceful protesters from the square and make room for the president to walk. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” Milley offered. He also said he was outraged at the “senseless, brutal killing” of George Floyd. Last week, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who also appeared in the photo-op, said that he also shouldn’t have been there and claimed that he didn’t know where he was going when Trump led him to the church.

JACKSONVILLE TO HOST GOP CONVENTION… The Republican National Committee made it official yesterday when it announced that the Republican Convention is being moved to Jacksonville, Florida. The convention was set to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, but the state’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper would not promise to grant the request of the RNC to allow 19,000 delegates and attendees into the Spectrum Arena. The announcement came on the same day that Florida reported 1,698 new coronavirus cases in its highest daily tally yet.

MNUCHIN DOESN’T WANT TO SAY WHERE PPP LOANS ARE GOING… Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a Senate committee hearing yesterday that he didn’t want to identify borrowers from the Paycheck Protection Program and the amounts they receive. Mnuchin said the information would be “proprietary,” and “confidential” in many cases. His claim contradicted the PPP loans applications’ premise that such data will “automatically” be released.

COP SHOOTER DEAD… A gunman believed to have murdered a transient and opening fire on law-enforcement officers was fatally shot by law-enforcement officers in Paso Robles, California, yesterday. 26-year-old Mason James Lira, a transient, had wounded a San Luis Obispo, California, sheriff’s deputy and targeted others in a series of attacks. Authorities say Lira had two stolen handguns and a box of ammunition at the time of his death. According to his father, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In a separate case north of Paso Robles, authorities say an Air Force sergeant allegedly scribbled far-right extremist phrases in blood after he killed a Northern California sheriff’s deputy and wounded two others in an ambush last weekend. 32-year-old Steve Carillo was charged with 19 felonies following the incident near Santa Cruz.

… Kelly Clarkson cited irreconcilable differences in filing for divorce from her husband, Brandon Blackstock, after seven years of marriage. The 38-year-old Clarkson submitted the filing on June 4 in Los Angeles. The couple has a 5-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son together.

NAME CHANGE FOR LADY ANTEBELLUM… Lady Antebellum announced yesterday that it is changing its name to Lady A due to the word antebellum’s association with the pre-Civil War south and slavery. Members of the country band said that their original name came from the antebellum style home their first photos were taken. The band also pledged a donation to the Equal Justice Initiative through their LadyAID fund.

… The NFL yesterday pledged to donate $250 million to social-justice programs over a 10-year period. The funding is intended to “combat systemic racism and support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African Americans,” according to a league official. The NFL will collaborate with players to focus on specific reforms and leverage its media properties to increase the awareness of social-justice issues.

The Rundown for June 11, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has topped 2 million and the death toll stands at 112,924, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released yesterday expresses dire warnings about increasing infection numbers that are increasing by 36 percent per day. International health experts insist that the pandemic is far from over and some have even predicted another 100,000 Americans will die.

PROTESTS CONTINUE… Protests targeting police brutality continued in cities across the nation yesterday. The largest demonstrations included those in Portland and Seattle. A statue of Christopher Columbus was beheaded in Boston and protesters tore down a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond. In Portsmouth, Virginia, about 80 miles from Richmond, protesters beheaded and then pulled down four statues that were part of a Confederate monument. In Minneapolis, where the killing of George Floyd in the hands of police sparked the protests,
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced the department would immediately withdraw from contract negotiations with the police union and would instead consult outside experts in creating a union contract that could be restructured to allow for reforms.

ADVISER SEEKS FLYNN PROSECUTION… Ex-judge John Gleeson argued in a court filing yesterday that U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan can and should deny the federal government’s motion to dismiss charges against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Gleeson said, “The facts surrounding the filing of the Government’s motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse.” Federal prosecutors took made an extremely unusual step by requesting that the court dismiss the case against Flynn after he had already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, prompting Sullivan to appoint Gleeson to counter the government’s case. Oral arguments for Flynn’s appellate case are scheduled for tomorrow.

TRUMP SCHEDULES RALLIES… President Trump raised eyebrows yesterday when he announced the scheduling of a campaign rally in Tulsa on June 19. The president’s first rally since the pandemic is scheduled on the anniversary of the emancipation of the last enslaved African-Americans and in a city where a racist massacre in 1921 destroyed the wealthiest Black community in the country and left dozens of community residents dead. Trump is planning more events in Florida, Texas and Arizona as well.

FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS SEEK BARR INVESTIGATION… A letter signed by more than 1,250 former Justice Department workers is urging Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to investigate Attorney General William Barr’s involvement in the June 1 effort to push back peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square. Authorities used horses and tear gas to clear the crowd so President Trump could walk to a church for a photo op. Signers of the letter say that they were “deeply concerned” about the Justice Department’s actions in response to the protests. Barr has repeatedly defended the move and falsely claimed that the protesters were being violent.

… A&E announced last night that it has halted production of “Live PD” amid nationwide protests over police brutality. The announcement came just a day after Paramount Network decided to cancel the long-running series “Cops.” A&E did not air “Live PD last weekend. The series has also come under fire this week amid a report that the show’s crew stood by and filmed a traffic stop in which a Black man died in the custody of Williamson County, Texas, sheriffs.

MORE MUSIC FESTIVALS CANCELLED… California state officials announced yesterday that the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach country music festival have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The cancellations came after both festivals had been postponed to October. On Wednesday, organizers of Chicago’s Lollapalooza announced that the event had been cancelled and would be replaced by a virtual event.

… NASCAR announced yesterday that it is prohibiting the display of Confederate flags at races. The ban applies to spectators as well as venues. The association released a statement explaining that, “The presence of Confederate flags at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors, and our industry.” On Wednesday, NASCAR’s only Black professional driver, Bubba Wallace, called for a ban on the flags. A T-shirt he wore at a race on Sunday read “I can’t breathe/Black Lives Matter.”

The Rundown for June 10, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has risen to 1,979,850 and the death toll stands at 112,006, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN yesterday that the disease is “my worst nightmare,” in some ways more than Ebola or HIV. Almost half the states in the country are seeing higher rates of cases as Americans gather to socialize or protest. South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune, the second-highest-ranking Republican in the upper chamber, told reporters yesterday that the next relief package likely won’t be passed by the Senate until at least mid-July.

PROTESTS CONTINUE… Protests calling for justice over George Floyd’s death in police custody and for police reform continued yesterday in cities large and small throughout the nation. Protesters in Seattle stormed city hall and called for the resignation of Mayor Jenny Durkan, whom they accuse of failing to stop “unnecessary violence” from being used at demonstrations. The action came on the same day that the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Korematsu Center at Seattle University School of Law and the law firm Perkins Coie filed a lawsuit against the city in U.S. District Court on behalf of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, protesters and a journalist. In Richmond, Virginia, protesters toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus into a pond in the city’s Byrd Park.

BIDEN WINS GEORGIA AND WEST VIRGINIA PRIMARIES… Joe Biden picked up more delegates yesterday with projected primary wins in Georgia and West Virginia, raising his number of delegates to 2,106. Problems with voting machines caused long lines at Georgia’s voting stations and prompted authorities to open an investigation into the “unacceptable” voting issues. In DeKalb County, officials reportedly ran out of paper ballots after voting machines failed.

AIR FORCE GETS NEW COMMANDER… The Senate voted unanimously yesterday to confirm General Charles Q. Brown as the Air Force’s 22nd chief of staff and make him the first African-American to lead a U.S. military branch. Brown, who is currently the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, will replace General Dave Goldfein. Last week, Alaska Republican Senator Dan Sullivan delayed Brown’s nomination due to questions about the KC-46 aerial-refueling tanker.

NEW YORK STATE VOTE TO MAKE COPS’ RECORDS PUBLIC.. Lawmakers in New York state yesterday repealed a decades-old law that has kept law enforcement officers’ disciplinary records confidential. State lawmakers also passed other bills that would provide all state troopers with body cameras and ensure that police officers provide medical and mental health attention to people in custody. Earlier yesterday, the passage came as criminal charges were brought against an NYPD officer over his rough treatment of a protester during recent demonstrations.

… The Paramount Network yesterday canceled production of the long-running reality TV series “Cops” amid worldwide protests against police brutality. Earlier, Paramount’s parent company, ViacomCBS, announced that it would not air the show’s episodes on any of its channels. The 33rd season of “Cops” was set to premiere June on Monday but wasn’t aired. Over the weekend, cable channel A&E pulled last week’s episodes of “Live PD.”

‘VANDERPUMP RULES’ CAST MEMBERS FIRED… Four “Vanderpump Rules” cast members have been fired for racist actions deemed racist by Bravo. Original cast members Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute were let go, as were new cast members Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni. Former cast member Faith Stowers, who was the only black cast member when she appeared in the show’s fourth season, recently revealed on Instagram that Schroeder and Doute once reported her to police for a crime she didn’t commit.

… ESPN announced yesterday that the Major League Baseball Players Association is proposing an 89-game season with a full prorated share of salary and expanded playoffs. The proposal would bring the sides closer to an agreement because it is 25 games fewer than the union’s most recent proposal of 114 games at full pro rata. On Monday, owners proposed a 76-game season that would cover up to 75 percent of players’ prorated salaries. Per the players’ proposal, the season would start on July 10 and end on October 11. It also would expand the postseason to 16 teams (eight in each league) for 2020 and 2021.

The Rundown for June 9, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,961,185 and the death toll stands at 111,007, according to figures provided last night by Johns Hopkins University. A Harvard Medical School study released yesterday claims satellite images of hospital parking lots in Wuhan, China, as well as internet search trends, show the coronavirus may have been spreading in the country as early as last August. The study, which has yet to be peer-viewed, found overloaded parking lots at five Wuhan hospitals in the late summer and fall of 2019 and an uptick in searches of keywords associated with an infectious disease on China’s Baidu search engine.

HOUSE DEMS PRESENT POLICE REFORMS.. House Democrats yesterday introduced sweeping police reforms, including measures that make it easier to prosecute officers in criminal and civil court. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer and other senior Democratic lawmakers introduced the bill at a news conference. The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 follows two weeks of mass demonstrations nationwide over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.

BARR CONTRADICTS TRUMP OVER BUNKER… Attorney General Bill Barr yesterday contradicted President Trump’s claim that he visited an underground bunker as protests raged outside the White House last week. Trump said he visited the bunker briefly for more of an “inspection,” but Barr said during a Fox News interview that the Secret Service recommended the president go underground. Trump has since faced heavy criticism and derision for ducking out of harm’s way when he should have been providing leadership. The White House said it doesn’t discuss security protocols when asked about the apparent discrepancy between Barr’s and Trump’s stories.

KKK LEADER FACING CHARGES… A 36-year-old avowed KKK leader is facing felony counts of malicious wounding and destruction of property after plowing his truck through a line of Black Lives Matter protesters in Lakeside, Virginia, on Sunday, striking one person. Prosecutors in Henrico Commonwealth say they’ve opened a hate crime investigation against Harry Rogers of Hanover, Virginia, who is being held without bond. Rogers reportedly told arresting officers he was he was the state president of the Ku Klux Klan in Virginia and the highest-ranking member not in prison.

U.S. OFFICIALLY IN A RECESSION… The National Bureau of Economic Research announced yesterday that the U.S. economy is officially in a recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the bureau’s Business Cycle Dating Committee, the COVID-19-related drop in jobs and consumer demand ended the longest economic expansion in recorded U.S. economic history. Historically, a recession has been declared after two consecutive quarters of negative growth in U.S. production. The committee said a “significant decline” started in February.

… Singer Bonnie Pointer who joined with three sisters in 1969 to form the Pointer Sisters, died yesterday of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles. She was 69. Bonnie Pointer often sang lead in the group, which had early hits with the songs “Yes We Can Can” and “Fairytale.” The group had more hits after Bonnie signed with Motown Records in 1977 and left for a short and modest solo career.

HARTLEY SAWYER FIRED FROM ‘THE FLASH’… Actor Hartley Sawyer has fired him from the superhero television show, “The Flash,” in response to the discovery of racist, misogynistic and homophobic tweets. Hartley portrayed Ralph Dibny, also known as the Elongated Man, in the show. The tweets at issue were mainly from 2012 and 2014.

… Major League Baseball owners and players are continuing negotiations for a modified 2020 season. Yesterday, owners presented to the players’ association a proposal that calls for a 76-game regular season that would end on September 27 with a postseason finishing up by the end of October. The proposal also offered 75 percent prorated salaries, playoff pool money and no MLB draft pick compensation for signing players. Owners previously rejected the MLBPA’s recent proposal that would have featured a 114-game season and an expanded postseason.

The Rundown for June 8, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,942,363 and the death toll stands at 110,514, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. CNN reported yesterday that the federal government’s current supply of remdesivir, the only drug known to work against Covid-19, is on pace to expire at the end of the month. The government’s last shipment of the drug will go out the week of June 29. The company that makes the drug, Gilead Sciences, is ramping up to make more, but it’s unclear how much will be available this summer.

DEMONSTRATIONS SPREAD… Demonstrations targeting the recent police killings of African-Americans spread across major cities and small towns across the U.S. yesterday as the movement spanned its second weekend. The spreading of the protests comes as Minneapolis, Los Angeles and other cites have lifted curfews restricting protests. Yesterday, a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council voted to defund the city’s police department. On Friday, the city council approved a measure banning police from using choke holds and other neck restraints and requiring MPD officers to immediately report any instances of unauthorized use of force by fellow officers and attempt to intervene. Officials in some cities also have announced plans to review use-of-force policies, including those pertaining to less-than-lethal weapons used for crowd control at protests.

TRUMP BACKS OFF MILITARY CRACKDOWN ON PROTESTS… Federal and local leaders have begun easing restrictions and deployment of military forces in response to nationwide protests. President Trump announced on Twitter yesterday that he had ordered the National Guard to withdraw from Washington, D.C., but warned that they can “quickly return” if demonstrations once again escalate. On Thursday, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser called for Trump to withdraw all extraordinary law enforcement and military presence from the city. Similar calls came from New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

COLIN POWELL BLASTS TRUMP… Former Secretary of State and retired Army general Colin Powell yesterday became the fourth former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to condemn President Trump’s decision to use active-duty soldiers to confront protesters. Powell said the move was a clear indication that the president had “drifted away from the Constitution.” Last week, retired Navy Admiral Mike Mullen called Trump’s desire to use active-duty forces to suppress protests “sickening,” Retired Army General Martin Dempsey called it “dangerous” and “very troubling” and retired Air Force General Richard Myers said the tear-gassing of protesters outside the White House on Monday night filled him with “just absolute sadness.”

AIR FORCE SERGEANT SUSPECTED IN KILLINGS… Officials confirmed yesterday that an active-duty Air Force sergeant who killed a sheriff’s deputy on Saturday is also suspected in the killing of a federal security guard in Oakland last week. 32-year-old Steven Carrillo joined the 60th Security Forces Squadron at Travis Air Force Base in June 2018, an Air Force spokesman said. Investigators are examining possible links between the two killings. Both incidents involved a white van.

… Lady Gaga’s new release, “Chromatica,” sold 274,000 copies to top the Billboard 200 chart and give the singer her sixth No. 1 album. Jimmy Buffett’s “Life on the Flip Side” opened in second place with 75,000 units sold. Lil Baby’s “My Turn” dropped to third place on sales of 62,000 copies. Last week’s champ, Gunna’s “Wunna,” slipped to No. 4 after selling 49,000 units. Future’s “High Off Life” capped the top five with 44,000 copies sold.

TBS ORDERS COMEDY COMPETITION SHOW… TBS has placed a seven-episode order for a competition series called “Tournament of Laughs.” Former “Saturday Night Live” castmember Jason Sudeikis has signed on to host the show, which is set to premiere on June 21. The series will feature 32 comedians who will compete remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

… Former NFL wide receiver Reche Caldwell was shot and killed in Tampa Saturday evening, authorities confirmed yesterday. Attackers jumped out of a bush to rob Caldwell and shot him in the leg and chest, according to his girlfriend. Investigators said only that they do not believe the attack was random. Caldwell played six NFL seasons with the Chargers, Patriots and Redskins after being drafted in the second round in 2002.

The Rundown for June 6, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,872,660 and the death toll stands at 108,211, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The Centers for Disease Control predicted that the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could reach between 118,000 and 143,000 by June 27. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York City is still on track to begin “phase one” reopening on Monday.

PROTESTS CONTINUE… Protests targeting racism and police brutality continued yesterday in cities throughout the nation. Ongoing skirmishes between protesters and law enforcement has resulted in more than 10,000 arrests. A number of security personnel are also under scrutiny for overly aggressive responses to protesters. Two Buffalo police officers were suspended for shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground and leaving him there with a bloody scalp. Bloody clashes also occurred in New York, Los Angeles and other cities. President Trump is being blamed for the administration’s militant response to the protests and continues to be condemned by former military leaders. Retired Army general and former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Martin Dempsey told NPR, “The idea that the president would take charge of the situation using the military was troubling to me.” Retired Marine General John Allen, who commanded the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, told CNN’s Jake Tapper: “I’ve fought in overseas wars. I never believed the Constitution to be under threat until recently.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern about “increased militarization” and calling for full identification of all law enforcement and military agencies involved. The American Civil Liberties Union and others have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, alleging officials violated the civil rights of protesters who were forcefully removed from Lafayette Park near the White House on Monday by police using chemical agents so that President Trump could walk to a nearby church to have a photo taken of him holding a Bible. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington and claims that Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other officials “unlawfully conspired to violate” the protesters’ rights when clearing the park.

GEORGE FLOYD MOURNED AT FUNERAL… The man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police was mourned yesterday at a funeral service that attracted Hollywood celebrities, musicians and political leaders. The service at North Central University honoring 46-year-old George Floyd was just a few blocks away from a court where a judge set bail at $750,000 each for three of the four fired police officers charged with aiding and abetting murder in Floyd’s death on May 25. The fourth officer, Derek Chauvin, is facing murder charges.

AHMAUD ARBERY CASE HEADED TO TRIAL… An investigator testified in court yesterday that one of three white men charged in the Georgia killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery used a racial slur after shooting shooting him. At a hearing that determined that the case would go to trial, prosecutors claimed Arbery had been “chased, hunted and ultimately executed.” A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents said defendants William Bryan, Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, pursued Arbery in pickup trucks and tried to box him in as he was jogging in their neighborhood. Both McMichaels are charged with murder and aggravated assault. Bryan, a neighbor who recorded the cellphone video that prompted the arrests, was charged with murder and attempting to illegally detain and confine

HUNTER BIDEN CLEARED IN UKRAINE… Hunter Biden, the son of presidential candidate Joe Biden, has been cleared of wrongdoing related to his work in Ukraine. Ukrainian Attorney General Ruslan Ryaboshapka made the announcement following the audit of thousands of old case files. Republicans had accused the younger Biden of corruption in the case that became a key issue in the impeachment of President Trump

TENNESSEE, TEXAS VIE FOR MAIL-IN VOTING… A Tennessee court ruled last night that all eligible voters in the state may vote by mail for the entire year, including in the November presidential election. According to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office, absentee voting is available to voters who fall under specific categories, such as seniors, the sick and disabled who can’t access polling stations, out-of-country travelers, out-of-state students and those who will miss the vote due to jury duty, among others… In Tennessee, U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals extended its order blocking a lower court’s sweeping ruling that would have allowed all Texas voters to qualify to vote by mail during the pandemic. The ruling effectively eliminates the possibility that Texas voters will be able to legally request mail-in ballots solely because they fear a lack of immunity to the new coronavirus will put them at risk if they vote in person.

STATES SUE TO BLOCK DeVOS SEXUAL-ASSAULT POLICY… Attorneys general in more than a dozen states joined yesterday in filing a federal lawsuit to block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ new policy guiding schools and colleges in the handling of sexual assault cases. The lawsuit alleges that DeVos’ policy undercuts existing mandates in Title IX, the 1972 law barring discrimination based on sex in education. The suit also notes that DeVos’ order to implement the rules by August 14 is impracticable during a pandemic. Joining in the lawsuit are attorneys general in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California, with backing from a total of 17 states and the District of Columbia.

… Country singer Sturgill Simpson will perform a live stream concert tonight as a gesture of thanks to fans who donated to his recent fundraiser. The one-hour livestream will air at 8 p.m. ET from Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. It will stream on and Simpson’s Twitch account and YouTube channel. Simpson recently helped raise $250,000 for the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, Equity Alliance Nashville Tornado Relief and the Special Forces Foundation.

GABRIELLE UNION SUES… Actress Gabrielle Union yesterday filed a complaint with the state of California against NBC and the producers of “America’s Got Talent.” The complaint filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing claims Union was harassed and discriminated against because of her race and that she experienced retaliation for reporting the incident. Union, who is black, says she was exposed to racist jokes and remarks from judges, along with criticism of her hair. The complaint also alleges that NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy called Union’s agents to issue unspecified threats, shared confidential information on the controversy with celebrities that the show was looking to hire and sought to undermine an investigation of Union’s issues.

… The Major League Baseball Players Union yesterday “resoundingly rejected” the owners’ plan to begin the season, according to a statement from the union. The two sides discussed the issue during a two-hour conference call that included the union’s executive board and player leaders. On Wednesday, one the owners rejected the players’ proposal to play 114 games with full prorated salaries. Talks now appear to be at a standstill.

The Rundown for June 4, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,851,520 and the death toll has topped 107,175, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 19,699 new cases and 995 virus-related deaths reported yesterday. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has selected five companies as the most likely to produce a Covid-19 vaccine.

PROTESTS CONTINUE… Protests continued at cities across the nation yesterday as demonstrators targeted police killings of African-Americans and called for peace. More military leaders have stepped forward to criticize President Trump’s handling of domestic unrest and its threat to the Constitution. Defense Secretary Mark Esper yesterday said he opposes the use of the military against protesters in defiance of Trump’s threat to deploy federal troops to “dominate the streets.” Trump’s former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who resigned in 2018 over the commander-in-chief’s Syria policy, expressed support of protesters in a scathing interview published in The Atlantic. Mattis singled out Trump’s “bizarre photo op” Tuesday at St. John’s Episcopal Church after police cleared out the area by tear-gassing peaceful protesters as the president approached. The former Defense chief called it “an abuse of executive authority” and accused Trump of a “deliberate effort” to divide citizens rather than unite them.” Trump has been trying to pin violent episodes that have marred the protests on the non-existent “antifa” organization while the evidence of white-supremacy groups’ involvement continues to mount. Yesterday, three Nevada men with ties to a right-wing extremist group advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government were arrested on terrorism-related charges. Federal prosecutors say the three men conspired to spark violence during recent protests in Las Vegas. Also yesterday, prosecutors charged three more police officers in the death of George Floyd and filed a new, tougher charge against the officer at the center of the case. The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck. Chauvin is now facing a second-degree murder charge as well as charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. A full autopsy of Floyd was released yesterday and noted that he had previously tested positive for the coronavirus.

OBAMA HOSTS TOWNHALL… Former president Barack Obama yesterday made his first public remarks since protests broke out throughout the U.S. Addressing viewers on a live-streamed town hall, Obama said that the structural and societal challenges faced by people of color in the U.S. have been “thrown into high relief.” Nevertheless, the former president vowed that “as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been, they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlying trends.” Obama did not mention President Trump during his roughly 15-minute-long presentation.

RAND PAUL BLOCKS ANTI-LYNCHING BILL… Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul yesterday blocked a bill that would have made lynching a federal hate crime. The bill drew bipartisan support and its sponsors put it up for a unanimous consent vote, but Paul’s opposition derailed it. Paul defended his position by claiming the bill would “conflate lesser crimes with lynching” and give those who inflict “minor bruising” a decade in prison.

ROBERT E. LEE STATUE TO BE REMOVED… Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is expected to announce plans today to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond. The removal would end a years-long effort by civil rights activists to take away what they consider a symbol of hate and sedition. Under Northam’s plan, the statue would be moved off its massive pedestal and put into storage until a new location is decided upon.

… Screenwriter, playwright and author Bruce Jay Friedman died of undisclosed causes yesterday in New York. He was 90. Friedman’s screenwriting credits include the comedy films “Stir Crazy” and “Splash,” for which he shared an Oscar nomination. His acting credits included “You’ve Got Mail” and Woody Allen’s “Husbands and Wives.”

JOHN BOYEGA INSPIRES PROTESTERS WITH LONDON SPEECH… Lucasfilm hailed Disney actor John Boyega as a hero yesterday for a powerful speech he delivered at a Black Lives Matter protest in London. Boyega, who appeared last year in the Star Wars film “The Rise of Skywalker,” spoke about the death of George Floyd, racism and police violence. After expressing concern that his views could get him fired, he received commendations from Lucasfilm and is corporate partners.

… Major League Baseball owners yesterday rejected the players’ offer for a 114-game regular season with no additional salary cuts. The owners also informed the players’ union that they don’t intend to offer a counterproposal Last week, owners proposed an 82-game regular season that would open June 30. The fear of a second wave of the coronavirus hesitant to extend the season into November.