The Rundown for July 7, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,938,624 and the nation’s death toll stands at 130,306, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci noted yesterday that the average age of new coronavirus patients has dropped by roughly 15 years compared with only a few months ago. During a Q&A discussion with National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, Fauci said that the resurgence of cases in the U.S. is an extension of the original outbreak, not a second wave.

TREASURY DEPT. DISCLOSES PPP LOAN RECIPIENTS… The Treasury Department yesterday released names of more than 650,000 companies that received loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. Loans totaling $521 billion were intended to help companies to pay their employees amid the pandemic. Much of the money ended up in the hands of restaurants, small businesses and organizations, but some of the beneficiaries were called into question. They included groups that opposed government spending and taxes, companies with ties to lawmakers and their families, Washington, D.C., strategy firms and Kanye West’s fashion brand.

PIPELINES GET SHUT DOWN… Work on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines was brought to a halt by two court rulings yesterday. The Supreme Court denied the Trump administration’s request to allow for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline to continue in upholding a lower court’s decision that blocked a key environmental permit. A federal judge in Washington ordered the Dakota Access pipeline shut down for additional environmental review. Pipeline owner Energy Transfer announced plans to appeal. Yesterday’s rulings came a day after backers announced they were pulling out of the $8 billion Atlantic Coast gas pipeline in the Southeast.

ONLINE-ONLY CLASSES THREATEN INTERNATIONAL-STUDENT VISAS… International students in the U.S. on student visas must leave the U.S. or face possible deportation if their college or university switches to online-only classes in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. In announcing the policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that students on F-1 and M-1 visas “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.” Students on F1 visas who attend schools that provide a mixture of online and in-person classes will be permitted to take some online courses.

STATE OF EMERGENCY IN GEORGIA… Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency yesterday following a 4th of July weekend in which the shootings of 30 residents left five people dead. The order authorizes the deployment of 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops at state buildings and increases law-enforcement patrols. The Guardsmen will be assigned to protect state buildings, including the Capitol, the governor’s mansion and the headquarters for the Department of Public Safety.

ENTERTAINMENT
CHARLIE DANIELS DIES
… Country music star Charlie Daniels died yesterday after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83. Daniels, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, was best known for his song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Prior to achieving fame, Daniels was a session musician best known for his work with Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr and Leonard Cohen.

DISNEY ANNOUNCES KAEPERNICK DOCUMENTARY SERIES… The Walt Disney Co. announced yesterday that it is entering a partnership between ESPN Films and Colin Kaepernick for an exclusive documentary series on the former NFL player’s football career and racial activism. According to ESPN, the series will tell “scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social injustice and the quest for equity.” Disney will carrie the project across all its platforms, including Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Hulu, Pixar and The Undefeated.

SPORTS
MLB REVEALS SEASON SCHEDULE
… Major League Baseball announced yesterday that its 2020 regular season will get underway with a pair of games on July 23. The defending World Series-champion Washington Nationals will host the New York Yankees in the opener and the San Francisco Giants visit the rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the nightcap. A full slate of 14 games will be played the next day.

CHIEFS EXTEND MAHOMES… The Kansas City Chiefs announced yesterday that they have reached agreement with Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes on a 10-year contract extension that binds him with the team through the 2031 season. The deal is worth a reported $450 million. ESPN reported that the extension includes a $140 million injury guarantee and no-trade clause.

The Rundown for June 23, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,312,302 and the nation’s death toll stands at 120,402, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Over the past two weeks, at least 18 states have shown a rise in hospitalizations. Texas reached a record-high number of cases for an 11th consecutive day yesterday but Governor Greg Abbott says he does not anticipate a return to lockdown. Florida topped 100,000 cases yesterday, prompting Governor Rick Scott to vow a crackdown on businesses that don’t follow social-distancing guidelines.

PROTESTERS, POLICE CLASH NEAR WHITE HOUSE… Police sprayed a “chemical irritant” to break up a crowd that had tried to topple a bronze statue of former President Andrew Jackson near the White House yesterday. Hundreds of protesters had gathered at Lafayette Square statue and try to down the statue with ropes. There was a series of clashes between protesters and police after authorities tried to remove tents set up nearby. Later in the evening, the Secret Service made the highly unusual move of asking journalists to leave the White House grounds.

HOUSE PANEL TO SUBPOENA WILLIAM BARR… House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler announced last night that the panel is preparing to subpoena Attorney General William Barr for testimony on July 2. Committee members have been facing increasing pressure to question Barr following his abrupt firing of Geoffrey Berman as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York last weekend. Barr has yet to testify before the committee since his confirmation early last year. He initially defied a request to appear after Democrats said they intended to use committee counsel to question him.

TRUMP EXTENDS AND EXPANDS VISA POLICY… President Trump plans to sign an executive order that extends the 60-day pause on the granting of new green cards through the end of the year and expands the suspension of certain visa types. The White House described the order as a move to “free up more jobs for Americans.” An administration official said that the Trump administration is “hopeful that these are steps that will see broad bipartisan support,” but it already has been criticized by immigration advocates who consider it uses the cover of a pandemic to implement long-standing policy goals on restricting legal immigration into the country.

SOLDIER ARRESTED… The Justice Department has indicted a 22-year-old U.S. Army soldier from Louisville on charges that he gave classified information about U.S. troops stationed overseas to a European-based White Supremacist group. Ethan Melzer is accused of sending sensitive information including his unit’s location, movements and security to members of a London-based neo-Nazi and white supremacist group called Order of the Nine Angels. Melzer’s relationship with the group known for it their violent, anti-Semitic and Satanic beliefs, began last year. A document obtained by FBI investigators describes attacks and murders of U.S. personnel in April 2020.

ENTERTAINMENT
DIRECTOR JOEL SCHUMACHER DIES
… Hollywood director Joel Schumacher, who worked on a variety of films, died yesterday after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 80. Schumacher’s credits included “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “The Lost Boys,” “Dying Young” and the dark satire “Falling Down.” He was perhaps best known for directing “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin” in the 1990s.

MICHAEL KEATON IN TALKS TO RETURN AS BATMAN… Michael Keaton is reportedly in talks to return to the role of Batman. He would appear alongside Ezra Miller in the upcoming movie “The Flash.” Keaton first played Batman/Bruce Wayne in the 1989 blockbuster “Batman.” Keaton also played Batman in 1992’s “Batman Returns.”

SPORTS
MLB MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO SEASON
… Major league baseball owners and players have agreed to proceed with a 2020 season under the terms of an agreement previously reached in late March. Owners voted unanimously yesterday to proceed with a 60-game 2020 season and give commissioner Rob Manfred the power to implement a schedule of his choosing. Players have been asked whether they will be able to report to training in their respective cities by July 1 and whether their union will agree on the operating manual of health and safety protocols. Their answers are due by the end of today.

FBI JOINS INVESTIGATION OF NOOSE AT TALLADEGA… FBI agents have joined the investigation into the discovery of a noose in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama over the weekend. Investigators hope to determine whether there are violations of federal hate-crime laws. Wallace, who is the only Black driver in NASCAR’s Cup Series, has been outspoken in support of Black Lives Matter and the ban on Confederate flags. Yesterday, all 40 Talladega drivers and their crews walked with with him helped push his car to the front of the field.

The Rundown for June 22, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,279,879 and the death toll stands at 119,969, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Health officials note that an increasing number of young people are testing positive across the South. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis yesterday announced plans to more closely monitor businesses not following coronavirus guidelines as total cases in the state rose more than 49 percent in the past two weeks.

BARR FACING SCRUTINY OVER FIRING… Attorney General William Barr is facing increasing scrutiny following last Friday’s firing of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer yesterday called for an investigation into the removal of Geoffrey Berman. Barr initially claimed that Berman had resigned, but Berman disputed the claim and prompted Barr to explain that President Trump had fired him. Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, yesterday called the firing “totally inappropriate.” New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said his panel would investigate the dismissal but expressed doubt that the Republican-led Senate would agree to any sanctions.

SHOOTINGS IN MINNEAPOLIS, SYRACUSE… A shooting in Minneapolis led one person dead and 11 others injured early yesterday. Police say there is no reason to believe the incident is related to the Minneapolis Police-involved killing of George Floyd and an investigation is ongoing… Police in Syracuse, New York, said yesterday that a shooting at a large gathering on Saturday night left at least nine people injured. The victims included a 17-year-old male who was shot in the head and is listed in critical condition. The other eight gunshot victims sustained injuries that are not considered life-threatening.

NEWSPAPER APOLOGIZES FOR DOOMSDAY AD… The editor of the Nashville Tennesseean has apologized for a “horrific” full-page advertisement purchased by a religious group that ran in yesterday’s paper. The ad warned that a nuclear device would be used in an Islamic-backed terrorist attack planned for next month in Nashville. The advertisement also claims Donald Trump “is the final president of the USA” and features a photo of Trump and Pope Francis.

PROTEST TARGETS DEPUTY-INVOLVED FATAL SHOOTING… Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Compton station yesterday and demanded justice for Andres Guardado, an an 18-year-old security guard fatally shot by a deputy on Thursday. The sheriff’s office claims Guardado was carrying a loaded firearm and running from officers when he was shot but the dead man’s family members dispute the claim. Investigators say the deputies weren’t wearing body cameras and surveillance footage is being processed. Yesterday’s protest turned violent when deputies used flashbangs, pepper balls and smoke grenades to clear demonstrators.

ENTERTAINMENT
D.L. HUGHLEY TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
… Comedian D.L. Hughley revealed yesterday that he tested positive for COVID-19 after collapsing onstage in Nashville Friday night during a comedy club performance. The 57-year-old Hughley said he was treated for exhaustion and dehydration after losing consciousness. Hughley says he had been asymptomatic to that point and must now quarantine in a hotel room.

LIL BABY TOPS ALBUM CHART… Lil Baby’s “My Turn” sold 72,000 copies to top the Billboard 200 album chart. Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica” finished in second place with 44,000 units sold. DaBaby’s “Blame It on Baby” jumped into third place on sales of 40,000 copies. Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding sold 38,000 units to finish fourth. Drake’s “Dark Lane Demo Tapes” capped the top five with 36,000 copies sold.

SPORTS
MLB PLAYERS CANCEL VOTE ON PROPOSAL
… Major League Baseball players withdrew from a scheduled vote yesterday on the a 60-game proposal owners offered on Saturday. The withdrawal followed a letter commissioner Rob Manfred emailed to MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark offering to cancel expanded playoffs and the universal designated hitter for 2021 if a full season isn’t played in 2020. The players wanted more time to consider the tweaks to the proposal.

The Rundown for June 19, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,191,052 and the death toll stands at 118,434, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Florida set another new coronavirus case record yesterday with a jump of 3,207 new cases. The day before, California set a new record with 4,165 new cases. As hospitals in Florida complained about a shortage of ICU beds, Governor Ron DeSantis attributed the spike to increased testing. California Governor Gavin Newsom encouraged his state’s residents to wear face masks and social distance when leaving home. He said the state is closely monitoring the counties facing case increases. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, meanwhile, threatened to withhold $100 million in federal funds from the state’s local governments if they require residents to wear masks. Ricketts has encouraged people to wear a mask “but does not believe that failure to wear a mask should be the basis for denying taxpayers’ services,” his office explained. Finally, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci warned yesterday that American “anti-science bias” has presented great difficulty in curbing the pandemic.

SCOTUS BLOCKS TRUMP DECISION TO END DACA… The Supreme Court voted 5-4 yesterday to block the Trump administration’s effort to end the DACA program, which allowed non-citizens brought into the U.S. illegally as children to apply for protection from deportation. Justices found that the decision to end the program was arbitrary and capricious in rejecting White House arguments that DACA is illegal and that courts have no role to play in reviewing the decision to end the program. It appears unlikely that the Trump would be able to challenge the program before November’s presidential election.

PENTAGON TOP FOREIGN POLICY OFFICIAL RESIGNS… Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed yesterday that the Pentagon’s top official overseeing international security affairs has resigned. Kathryn Wheelbarger announced her departure after the White House canceled her nomination for a prominent senior role. Wheelbarger became the second Pentagon official to resign this week, following acting comptroller Elaine McCusker, who stepped down on Tuesday. Both women say their nominations for new jobs were denied over concerns about their loyalty to President Trump.

FACEBOOK REMOVES TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADS… Facebook announced yesterday it has removed 88 ads produced by President Trump’s re-election campaign that featured a symbol that violated its policy against organized hate. The ads called on supporters to sign a petition in support of Trump’s call to make Antifa a terrorist organization, even though there has been of the unofficial group during recent social unrest. The ads featured a red, upside-down triangle featured was similar to one used by Nazis for political prisoners in concentration camps.

ATLANTA COPS CALLING IN SICK TO PROTEST… An unknown number of Atlanta police officers called in sick yesterday to protest the murder charges filed against a since-fired white member of the force who fatally shot a Black man in the back during a foot pursuit outside a Wendy’s restaurant last week. The Atlanta Police Department insists it still has the manpower to protect the city. However, just one officer showed up for work yesterday morning in Zone 6, which covers much of Atlanta’s east side and which several dozen are assigned to patrol.

ENTERTAINMENT
STADIUM TOUR RESCHEDULED
… Def Leppard, Motley Crue and Poison have rescheduled their planned North American summer stadium tour to 2021. The tour was originally scheduled to begin Sunday in San Antonio but will now start June 19, 2021, in Nashville. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will join the three bands on the tour.

WOODSTOCK ORGANIZERS SUE FINANCIER… Woodstock 50 organizers are suing the Japanese advertising firm Dentsu over last year’s failed attempt to produce a 50th anniversary festival. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in New York Supreme Court, organizers claim that Dentsu and its subsidiary agreed to finance the festival but then manufactured an excuse to breach their agreement, thereby depriving the organizers of millions in revenue. Plaintiffs are seeking tens of millions of dollars from Dentsu.

SPORTS
BASEBALL OWNERS REJECT 70-GAME PROPOSAL
… Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred quickly rejected a proposed a 70-game regular-season schedule the players union submitted yesterday. In offering a proposal that included expanded playoffs in 2020 and 2021, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark expressed confidence that it could bring both sides closer on an agreement to resume a 2020 season. Manfred was angered earlier in the week after his face-to-face negotiations with Clark failed to produce a deal.

NBA PLAYERS CAN OPT TO WEAR ‘SMART RINGS’… The NBA sent out a memo yesterday announcing that players will be offered the chance to wear a titanium “smart ring” that monitors their temperature as a coronavirus precaution once the season resumes. The league is currently planning to start a modified season on July 30 with games at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The league said players who wear the smart ring would help prevent the spread the virus to other players.

The Rundown for June 18, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has reached 2,163,290 and the nation’s death toll stands at 117,717, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. 10 states have reported record seven-day high averages of new cases since the pandemic began. The states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas. Despite the uptick in the number of cases and hospitalizations in his state, Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday announced he was barring cities from implementing any rules that would require face coverings.

BOLTON BOOK EXCERPTS… Multiple media outlets that obtained advanced copies of former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book,”The Room Where It Happened,” reported that it contains some damaging details about the Trump White House. Bolton, who served as Trump’s national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019, said at last June’s G20 Summit in Osaka, Trump pleaded with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 re-election by purchasing more U.S. farm products. Among other claims, Bolton says Trump tried to halt criminal investigations to help “dictators he liked” and there were multiple instances when Trump sought to intervene in law enforcement matters for political reasons. Bolton also noted that Trump was apparently not aware that Britain is a nuclear power and didn’t know that Finland is not part of Russia. Bolton says he reported cases of Trump’s potential abuses of power to Attorney General Bill Barr. Last night, the Justice Department stepped up its effort to block publication of the book by filing an emergency request. The new filing came in the same civil lawsuit the Justice Department filed the day before seeking to recoup whatever earnings Bolton made from the book. A second tell-all book about Trump by his niece, Dr. Mary Trump, is scheduled for release next week. The president is reportedly looking into suing his niece, who was the source behind a New York Times Pulitzer-winning exposé on Trump’s tax schemes.

ATLANTA COPS CHARGED… Prosecutors have filed 11 charges, including felony murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Garrett Rolfe, the white Atlanta police officer who fatally shot a Black man twice in the back last week during a foot pursuit outside a Wendy’s restaurant. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said yesterday that Brooks was not a deadly threat and that the officer kicked the wounded black man and offered no medical treatment for over two minutes as he lay dying on the ground. At the time of the shooting, 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was holding a taser he had snatched from officers but held no darts and he was beyond its effective range anyway, Howard said. A second Atlanta police officer, Devin Brosnan, is facing three charges, including aggravated assault and violation of oath, for his role in the deadly encounter. Both officers have been fired and have until 6 p.m. today to surrender themselves.

AUNT JEMIMA, UNCLE BEN’S TO CHANGE BRANDS… Weeks of civil unrest has prompted the makers of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s rice to rebrand the products. Quaker Oats said it will replace the image of an old Black woman in its Aunt Jemima’s line because it was “based on a racial stereotype.” Mars, which owns Uncle Ben’s, said it would find a replacement for the 70-year-old image of an old man on the label, which was rooted in slavery and servitude. Quaker also announced a pledge of $400 million toward initiatives to oppose racial injustice.

NEW YORK MAKES JUNETEENTH A HOLIDAY… New York Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday signed an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state employees to commemorate the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. The governor also vowed to propose legislation next year making June 19 a permanent state holiday. The legislature is already considering a bill that honors the day in 1865 when news of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation reached slaves in Galveston, Texas, who became among the last to be freed by a proclamation that had taken effect on January 1, 1863. Texas was the first state to make it a state holiday in 1980. On Tuesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday there.

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR SIGNS VOTER LEGISLATION… Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation yesterday to expand the state’s vote by mail availability and make election day a state holiday. The legislation also extends early voting hours at permanent polling places and improves the signature verification process. Voters who submit their application for a VBM ballot by October 1 will receive their VBM ballot by October 6.

ENTERTAINMENT
DANNY MASTERSON ARRESTED ON RAPE CHARGES
… Actor Danny Masterson, best known as the star of “That ’70s Show,” was arrested in Los Angeles yesterday and charged with the forcible rape three women in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003. Masterson posted bond at L.A. County Jail and is scheduled for arraignment in September. He faces 45 years to life in prison if convicted.

D’ELIA FACING ONLINE SOLICITATION ACCUSATIONS… Multiple women have stepped forward on Twitter yesterday with claims that comedian and actor Chris D’Elia sexually harassed them when they were underage. The women accused D’Elia of grooming them and soliciting them for nude photos or sexual encounters. One Twitter user posted screenshots of DM conversations she said she had with D’Elia when she was 16 years old in 2014. D’Elia responded to the accusations by denying any wrongdoing and promising “to do better.”

SPORTS
MLB OWNERS PROPOSE 60-GAME SEASON
… Negotiations between major league baseball owners and the players union appear to have taken a significant step toward the resumption of a 2020 season. ESPN reported that the owners yesterday submitted to the union a proposal that calls for a 60-game season at full prorated pay. The season would reportedly begin July 19 and include an expanded playoff format.

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.

ENTERTAINMENT
KIMMEL TO HOST EMMY AWARDS
… 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.

SPORTS
EXPERT RECOMMENDS EARLY END TO BASEBALL SEASON
… 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 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.

ENTERTAINMENT
BONNIE POINTER DIES
… 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.

SPORTS
MLB NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE
… 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 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.

ENTERTAINMENT
STURGILL SIMPSON LIVESTREAM
… 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 nugs.tv 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.

SPORTS
MLB PLAYERS REJECT OWNERS’ RESTART PLAN
… 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.

ENTERTAINMENT
BRUCE JAY FRIEDMAN DIES
… 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.

SPORTS
MLB OWNERS REJECT PLAYERS’ OFFER
… 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.

The Rundown for June 2, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus case in the U.S. has reached 1,811,277 and the death toll stands at 105,147, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. A comprehensive study published yesterday in the Lancet medical journal found that physical distance and perhaps the use of a mask were the two best ways to prevent transmission. The study urged people to stay at least three feet apart and more if possible. Also yesterday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer rescinded the state’s stay-at-home order, allowing many businesses to reopen later this week. Whitmer issued an executive order allowing retailers to open Thursday and restaurants to open on Monday with both being subject to capacity limits.

TRUMP THREATENS TO USE MILITARY ON PROTESTERS… Demonstrations and clashes with police continued in cities throughout the U.S. yesterday. President Trump threatened the nation’s governors that he would deploy the military to states that fail to end violent protests over police brutality. Later, police under federal command fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades at peaceful demonstrators so that Trump could walk to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church and pose for photos while holding a Bible. The bishop who oversees the church was “outraged” that the president would use that place of worship for a photo-op. “We need moral leadership and he’s done everything to divide us and has just used one of the most sacred symbols of the Judeo-Christian tradition,” lamented Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde.

WHITE NATIONALIST GROUP INCITING VIOLENCE… An account claiming to be associated with a non-existent national anti-fascist organization has been suspended on Twitter after sharing a tweet that incited violence. The account, which has been connected to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, declared, “Tonight’s the night, Comrades Tonight we say ‘F— The City’ and we move into the residential areas… the white hoods…. and we take what’s ours …” Twitter suspended hundreds of accounts and is conducting an investigation into the widespread use of disinformation to deflect blame for recent violence.

GEORGE FLOYD DEATH OFFICIALLY RULED A HOMICIDE… The Hennepin County Medical Examiner yesterday officially ruled last week’s death of George Floyd a homicide. According to the updated report, the 46-year-old unarmed black man died on May 25 due to a “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restrain, and neck compression” while Floyd was being restrained by law enforcement officers. Hours before the update was released, attorneys for Floyd’s family released the findings of an independent autopsy, which determined Floyd died of “asphyxia from sustained pressure” on his neck and back.

LOUISVILLE POLICE CHIEF FIRED… Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the firing of Police Chief Steve Conrad yesterday in response to the performance of his officers. The announcement came a day after the fatal shooting of the owner of a barbecue restaurant that offered meals to police officers. 53-year-old David McAtee died while police and National Guard opened fire while enforcing a curfew. He was inside his restaurant at the time. Mayor Fischer said police turned off their body cameras prior to the shooting.

BIDEN MEETS WITH BLACK LEADERS… Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden vowed to African-American leaders yesterday that he would fight institutional racism and re-establish a Justice Department police oversight body within the first 100 days of being elected president. Biden made the announcement while visiting with political, religious and education leaders at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware. The former vice president listened and took notes before standing to address the crowd.

ENTERTAINMENT
BANDS CANCEL STADIUM TOUR
… Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts announced yesterday that they are postponing their joint summer stadium tour until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The original stadium tour was set to kick off on June 18 in Jacksonville, Florida. Members of Motley Crue were looking forward to returning to the road together following the release of their Netflix biopic “The Dirt.” Poison was set to tour with its original lineup of Bret Michaels, C.C. DeVille, Bobby Dall and Rikki Rockett.

MUSIC INDUSTRY TAKING THE DAY OFF… The music industry will be observing a day-long “blackout” today in response to George Floyd’s killing last week. All three major record labels yesterday promised on social media “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community.” Workers at the labels have been given the day off as “a day of action,” intended to “provoke accountability and change.” Interscope vowed not to release new music this week.

SPORTS
MLB OWNERS FAVOR SHORT SEASON… ESPN reported yesterday that Major League Baseball owners are now willing to honor the March accord in which players agreed to prorate their 2020 salaries based on the number of games played but are also angling for a much shorter regular season. Owners are thinking in terms of a 50-game season, with players earning their full prorated salaries. Players have sought a full prorated portion of their salaries based on a March 26 agreement with the league. The Players Association on Sunday proposed a 114-game schedule that would cover 70.3% of their original salaries. A 50-game schedule with full pro rata would pay the players 30.8 percent of that number.