The Rundown for September 15, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 6,550,629 and the nation’s death toll stands at 194,411, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… A federal judge in Pennsylvania yesterday declared Governor Tom Wolf’s coronavirus restrictions unconstitutional. The ruling stems from a case brought on by four Pennsylvania counties, challenging executive orders that closed non-life sustaining businesses.

TRUMP-BIDEN DIFFER ON CLIMATE CHANGE… President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden expressed their differences yesterday over climate change’s role in Western wildfires. The blazes over the past month have killed 35 people in three states, destroyed thousands of homes and a half-dozen small towns, and charred more than 4 million acres. Trump insisted that the impact of the fires could be controlled through management programs that include removing dead leaves and trees that can “explode” from the forests. Biden on Monday called Trump a “climate arsonist” for failing to acknowledge the global warming’s role. Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration highlighted record heat in its global climate report released yesterday. The report found that this summer has been the hottest on record for the Northern Hemisphere and the month of August was the second-warmest in history for the entire globe, behind 2016. Scientists believe that “2020 is very likely to rank among the five-warmest years on record,” the NOAA said.

WATCHDOG TO INVESTIGATES BARR’S ACTIONS ON STONE CASE… The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General has opened an investigation into Attorney General William Barr’s unusual intervention in the criminal case against President Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone. The investigation centers on Barr’s efforts in February to seek a lighter sentence after prosecutors and an acting U.S. attorney chosen by Barr had already recommended a sentence of seven to nine years in prison following Stone’s conviction on seven felony counts. Barr faced widespread backlash for what was perceived as a political maneuver.

HOUSE PANEL TO INVESTIGATE HHS… The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis has launched an investigation into allegations that political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have sought to review and alter weekly scientific reports issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the coronavirus pandemic. Members on the committee are seeking voluntary testimony from seven officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, including Michael Caputo, the agency’s spokesman, and Paul Alexander, his senior adviser. The two have been accused of altering or halting the release of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Trump’s optimistic messages about the pandemic. Caputo met severe backlash over a bizarre rant that he posted on social media yesterday. He warned that government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the coronavirus pandemic and accused the CDC of conspiring to murder him. Caputo also claimed that armed, left-wing militants are being trained “all over the country” for armed revolt, among other conspiracies. During his rant, Caputo conceded he was having a tough time dealing with the media and that his mental health had failed.

WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT TARGETS IMMIGRANT DETENTION CENTER… A whistleblower complaint filed by several legal advocacy groups on behalf of a nurse claims that immigrants in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Georgia are being subjected to horrific conditions and treatment, including “jarring medical neglect” and a high rate of hysterectomies among women. Negligence includes poor safety precautions surrounding Covid-19 and generally hazardous and unsanitary conditions, according to the complaint. The nurse, Dawn Wooten, has been employed for the past three years at the privately-operated Irwin County detention center.

DAIMLER SETTLES EMISSIONS-CHEATING CASE… German automaker Daimler AG and its U.S. subsidiary Mercedes-Benz yesterday reached a $1.5 billion settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice and California Air Resources Board over alleged emissions cheating. Daimler has reportedly agreed to pay $875 million in civil penalties and $70,300,000 in other penalties. It also agreed to recall and repair emissions systems in Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. between 2009 and 2016 for a projected cost of $436 million and pay another $110 million to fund mitigation projects in California. The settlement stems from the discovery that Daimler manufactured, imported and sold more than 250,000 diesel vans and passenger cars with so-called “defeat devices” to circumvent emissions control software.

SALLY ARRIVING… Sally strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane yesterday and is expected to strike the Gulf Coast tonight into tomorrow morning. The storm is forecast to make landfall along the Mississippi/Alabama border. It is expected to bring up a storm surge of up to 11 feet and as much as two feet of rain. Hurricane warnings have been issued across eastern Louisiana, coastal Mississippi and Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle.

ENTERTAINMENT
WARRANT SERVED AT ‘CHEER’ STAR’S HOME
… FBI agents executed a search warrant yesterday afternoon at the Napierville, Illinois, home of Jerry Harris, who stars in the Netflix docuseries “Cheer.” Harris has been accused of soliciting sexually explicit photos and sex from minors, but not charges had been filed by last night. The investigation stems from information provided by a private company that dominates the cheerleading industry. The company, Varsity Brands, informed police in Florida and Texas last week that the 21-year-old Harris had been accused of “inappropriate sexual conduct.”

MACY’S PARADE TO BE VIRTUAL… The 94th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, there will be a live parade and a re-imagined parade will be created for television and online viewing. Macy’s says the TV broadcast-only parade will be filmed over two days and have about 25 percent of the usual number of participants. The parade will air November 26 on NBC.

SPORTS
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Pittsburgh 26 – N.Y. GIANTS 16
… Ben Roethlisberger found Ju Ju Smith-Schuster with two of his three touchdown passes and the Steelers fought their way past the Giants.

Tennessee 16 – DENVER 14… Stephen Gostkowski’s 25-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining sent the Titans over the Broncos. Ryan Tannehill hit Mycole Pruitt and Jonnu Smith with 1-yard touchdown tosses.

MLB SCORES
CINCINNATI 3 – Pittsburgh 1
… Rookie Tyler Stephenson hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to power the Reds past the Pirates in the opener of a doubleheader.

CINCINNATI 9 – Pittsburgh 4… Mike Moustakas blasted a go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Reds completed a sweep of the twinbill. Brian Goodwin homered with a runner aboard and Joey Votto added a solo shot.

MILWAUKEE 2 – St. Louis 1… The Brewers scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning to upend the Cardinals in the doubleheader opener. Keston Hiura’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth scored Avisail Garcia with the winning run after Ryan Braun stroked an RBI double.

St. Louis 3 – MILWAUKEE 2… The Cardinals eased past the Brewers after spotting them a two-run lead and claimed a split of the twinbill. Paul DeJong singled home Tommy Edman with a tie-breaking run in the top of the ninth inning.

SEATTLE 6 – Oakland 5… The Mariners rallied from five runs down in the fourth inning to edge the Athletics in the opener of a doubleheader. Tim Lopes doubled home the tying run and came around to score the go-ahead run on Kyle Lewis’ bases-loaded walk. Lewis also homered with a runner aboard. Luis Torrens and Jose Marmolejos added solo blasts.

Oakland 9 – SEATTLE 0… Mike Minor (1-5) tossed a complete-game two-hitter and the Athletics cruised past the Mariners in the nightcap. Mark Canha singled home a run and hit a two-run homer. Jake Lamb also went deep.

MIAMI 6 – Philadelphia 2… Marlins starter Pablo Lopez (4-4) held the Phillies to a run on three hits over seven innings. Miguel Rojas and Starling Marte smacked solo homers. Jesus Aguilar doubled home two runs.

BALTIMORE 14 – Atlanta 1… DJ Stewart and Jose Iglesias belted three-run homers during a nine-run bottom of the third inning. Ryan Mountastle homered with the bases empty and produced a pair of run-scoring singles. Pat Valaika also hit a solo homer. Starter Jorge Lopez (2-0) limited Atlanta to a run on five hits over seven innings.

CHI. WHITE SOX 3 – Minnesota 1… Adam Engel singled home a tying run in the bottom of the eighth inning and scored on Tim Anderson’s double as the White Sox toppled the Twins. Five Chicago pitchers scattered eight hits.

SAN DIEGO 7 – L.A. Dodgers 2… The Padres broke the game open with a five-run bottom of the seventh inning. Jorge Ona sparked the uprising with an RBI single. Trent Grisham and Wil Myers both homered with the bases empty.

TODAY’S MLB SCHEDULE
Pittsburgh (Josh Musgrove, 0-0) is at Cincinnati (Michael Lorenzen, 1-1)…
Miami (Sandy Alcantara, 2-1) hosts Boston (Tanner Houck, 0-0)…
Washington (Anibal Sanchez, 2-4) is at Tampa Bay (John Curtiss, 0-0)…
the N.Y. Yankees (Deivi Garcia, 1-1) host Toronto (Taijuan Walker, 2-2)…
the N.Y. Mets (Rick Porcello, 1-4) are at Philadelphia (Jake Arrieta, 3-4)…
Detroit (Matthew Boyd, 1-6) hosts Kansas City (Danny Duffy, 3-3)…
Atlanta (Bryse Wilson, 0-0) is at Baltimore (Tom Eshelman, 0-0)…
Milwaukee (Brett Anderson, 2-3) hosts St. Louis (Jack Flaherty, 3-1)…
Minnesota (Randy Dobnak, 6-3) is at the Chi. White Sox (Dane Dunning, 0-0)…
Houston (Jose Urquidy, 0-0) hosts Texas (Kyle Cody, 0-0)…
Cleveland (Carlos Carrasco, 2-4) is at the Chi. Cubs (Yu Darvish, 7-2)…
Colorado (Antonio Senzatela, 3-2) hosts Oakland (Sean Manaea, 4-2)…
the L.A. Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin, 0-0) are at San Diego (Zach Davies, 7-2)…
the L.A. Angels (Julio Teheran, 0-0) host Arizona (Madison Bumgarner, 0-0)…
San Francisco (Tyler Anderson, 2-3) is at Seattle (Ljay Newsome, 0-0)

NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF SCORE…
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(in Edmonton)
Dallas 3 – Vegas 2 (OT)… The Stars rallied from two goals down midway through the third period to eliminate the Golden Knights in five games and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. They await the winner of the Tampa Bay-N.Y. Islanders series in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Denis Gurianov found the net 3:36 into overtime. Joel Kiviranta netted the tying goal with 3:47 left in regulation. John Klingberg assisted on two goals.

TODAY’S NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(in Toronto)
Tampa Bay vs. N.Y. Islanders in Game 5 with the Lightning leading 3-1

TODAY’S NBA PLAYOFF SCHEDULE (games in Orlando)
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

Denver Nuggets vs. L.A. Clippers in Game 7