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 July 3, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,739,879 and the nation’s death toll stands at 128,740, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Florida reported a daily-high record yesterday and there have also been surges in Texas, Arizona and California. Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday issued an executive order mandating that all Texans wear face masks if they live in a county with more than 20 cases. He also deputized local governments and courts the authority to impose restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people.

DEMS CRITICIZE TRUMP AFTER RUSSIA-BOUNTY BRIEFING… CIA Director Gina Haspel led a group of intelligence officials in briefing House and Senate leaders on emerging reports that Russia has been paying Taliban militants bounties for dead American soldiers. Afterward, Democrats in the “Gang of Eight” criticized President Trump for not acting on the intelligence. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement declaring that any threats against U.S. troops “must be pursued relentlessly” and criticized Trump for “being soft” on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

GHISLAINE MAXWELL ARRESTED… FBI agents yesterday arrested British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell on charges she helped lure at least three girls as young as 14 to be sexually abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein. She is also charged with perjury relating to alleged lies told in her deposition. The 58-year-old Maxwell has faced multiple, years-old accusations that she helped Epstein scout young girls for abuse. Maxwell was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where she was living on a wooded estate she purchased for $1 million last December.

GEOFFREY BERMAN TO TESTIFY BEFORE HOUSE PANEL… Geoffrey Berman, who was forced out of his job as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Thursday. Berman will discuss his removal, which came suddenly under suspicious circumstances. He had led the prosecutions of several President Trump associates before being ousted by Attorney General William Barr.

SUPREME COURT DENIES CURBSIDE VOTING IN ALABAMA… The Supreme Court voted 5-4 yesterday to block a lower court order allowing local officials to offer curbside voting in the July 14 runoff and loosen absentee ballot requirements in three of the state’s largest counties during the COVID-19 pandemic. The three counties are where plaintiffs in the lawsuit live. Groups that filed suit to make voting more accessible vowed to get the voting rules changed by the general election in November.

ENTERTAINMENT
HUGH DOWNS DIES
… Hugh Downs, who became one of television’s most familiar faces during a seven-decade career in broadcast news, died yesterday of natural causes. He was 99. Downs co-anchored NBC’s “Today” show from 1962 to 1971 and co-hosted the ABC evening newsmagazine “20/20” until his official retirement in 1999. He continued doing voice-over duties for a number of documentary films and specials through the 2000s.

CONAN MOVES SHOW TO COMEDY CLUB… Conan O’Brien is moving his late-night talk show to the Los Angeles comedy club where he got his start doing improv in 1987. O’Brien will start broadcasting from the Largo at the Coronet starting on Monday after filming from his home using an iPhone since march. He will continue to interview celebrity guests through Zoom and no audience will be present.

SPORTS
REDSKINS PRESSURED TO CHANGE NAME
… The Washington Redskins are facing increasing pressure to change their name. Yesterday, FedEx, which has naming rights to the stadium the team plays in, formally requested that the franchise adopt a new nickname. Later in the day, Nike.com removed all official team gear from the site. Team owner Dan Snyder has adamantly opposed changing the team’s name, despite it being considered an offensive racial slur toward the Native Americans.

The Rundown for July 2, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,686,249 and the nation’s death toll stands at 128,062, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The 50,203 new cases reported yesterday set a new one-day record. Arizona, California, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas were among states that recorded record highs. California yesterday rolled back reopening efforts by banning indoor restaurant dining in 19 counties, closing bars and stepping up enforcement of the restrictions as COVID-19 infections surge. Meanwhile, the Health Department announced yesterday that it is buying nearly all the next three months’ projected production of Covid-19 treatment remdesivir from U.S. manufacturer Gilead. Tests have found that remdesivir cuts recovery times but it is not yet clear if it improves survival rates. A course of treatment in the U.S. will cost $2,340.

MIDDLEMAN IDENTIFIED IN RUSSIAN BOUNTY PAYMENTS… As President Trump continues to dismiss intelligence reports of Russia paying Taliban-linked militants bounties to kill U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, additional details are emerging. The New York Times yesterday identified Afghan contractor Rahmatullah Azizi as the middleman between a Russian military unit and Taliban militants. American and Afghan officials say he paid out bounties as high $100,000 per dead American soldier for at least five years. Intelligence files of him collecting “hundreds of thousands of dollars” were among the materials provided to Congress this week.

BLOCK LIFTED ON TRUMP’S NIECE’S TELL-ALL BOOK… A New York Supreme Court judge yesterday removed a temporary restraining order that blocked Simon & Schuster’s publication of a tell-all book written by President Trump’s niece. “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” by Mary Trump is set for release on July 28. Whether or not Mary Trump might have breached a confidentiality agreement signed in the settlement of Fred Trump’s estate is still pending litigation.

POLICE CLEAR SEATTLE PROTEST ZONE… Seattle police cleared the city’s protest zone yesterday morning following an executive order from Mayor Jenny Durkan calling for protesters to vacate the area. Officers reported arresting 32 people who did not leave the several-block area. Protesters had gathered in the area for weeks amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The gatherings were mostly peaceful until two recent fatal shootings prompted Durkan to clear the zone.

DHS TASK FORCE TO PROTECT MONUMENTS… The Department of Homeland Security announced plans yesterday to deploy a newly established task force to protect federal statues and other monuments over the Fourth of July weekend. The establishment of the Protecting American Communities Task Force follows recent toppling of monuments with links to slavery, racism or colonialism. Acting Secretary Chad Wolf says his department will monitor potential civil unrest or destruction, deploy resources to protect federal monuments and work with the Interior and Justice departments to share intelligence.

ENTERTAINMENT
‘BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD’ RETURN
… Comedy Central announced yesterday that it is bringing back the classic MTV animated series “Beavis and Butt-Head.” Creator Mike Judge has agreed to fill a two-season order at the network. “Beavis and Butt-Head” ran for seven seasons on MTV from 1993 to 1997. The show was revived in 2011 for one season and made into the 1996 film “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.”

CARL REINER TRIBUTE TOMORROW NIGHT… CBS will be paying tribute to the late Carl Reiner with a pair of colorized episodes of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” tomorrow night. Two episodes prominently featuring Reiner, who created and co-starred in the series, will air at 8 p.m. on CBS and streaming service CBS All Access. Reiner died Monday at the age of 98. The episodes “Coast to Coast Big Mouth” and “October Eve” were colorized under Reiner’s supervision. CBS said Reiner considered “October Eve” as one of his favorite episodes.

SPORTS
NFL AIMING AT 2 PRESEASON GAMES
… ESPN reported yesterday that the NFL plans to shorten its 2020 preseason to two games. The move is part of a larger acclimatization plan for players amid a shutdown of workouts during the coronavirus pandemic. Most players are scheduled to report to training camps on July 28, but the first preseason games won’t be played until the third week of August. Each team will play one home game and one on the road in the preseason. Teams that travel will depart on the day before games.

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.

ENTERTAINMENT
SPLITSVILLE FOR KELLY CLARKSON
… 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.

SPORTS
NFL COMMITS $250M TO SOCIAL-JUSTICE ISSUES
… 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 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.

ENTERTAINMENT
LADY GAGA TOPS ALBUM CHART
… 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.

SPORTS
FORMER NFL RECEIVER FATALLY SHOT
… 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 May 21, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,551,668 and the death toll stands at 93,431, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. All 50 states now have taken some steps to reopen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a 60-page document offering guidance for reopening schools, mass transit and nonessential businesses. The plan outlines a “three-phased approach” for reducing social distancing and proposes the use of six “gating” indicators to assess when to move through another phase.

SUPREME COURT BLOCKS MUELLER MATERIAL FROM HOUSE… The Supreme Court yesterday temporarily blocked a lower court order requiring the Justice Department to turn over to the House grand jury material gathered by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators in their probe of President Trump’s Russia dealings. The stay requires the Justice Department to file a formal appeal by June 1. The House Judiciary Committee has sought the documents for more than a year. The lower courts said that grand jury records in the past have been turned over to Congress as part of impeachment investigations. The Trump administration argues that the case presents “serious separation of powers concerns” and should be examined by the High Court.

APPEALS COURT HALTS TEXAS MAIL VOTE… A court ruling that allowed Texas to expand its mail-in voting amid the coronavirus was put on hold yesterday by a U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The three-judge panel sided with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in stopping the expansion from taking effect while it’s under review. The action reverts Texas’ qualifications limiting absentee ballots to voters who are 65 years or older. Texans under 65 can only qualify for a mail-in ballot if they cite a disability or illness, if they’ll be out of the county during the election period, or are confined in jail.

MICHIGAN FLOODING… Rising floodwaters unleashed by two dam failures left parts of the central Michigan town of Midland under five feet of water yesterday and forced the evacuation of about 10,000 residents. Days of heavy rain caused the Tittabawassee River to overflow its banks and breach the Edenville and Sanford dams on Tuesday. Dow Chemical reports that floodwater has mingled with chemical pools at its Midland plant, prompting fears of contamination. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called the destruction in Midland County “devastating” and asked for federal assistance.

MICHAEL COHEN TO BE RELEASED… President Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen is scheduled for release from prison to home confinement today. The 53-year-old Cohen, who is serving a three-year sentence for lying to Congress and campaign finance fraud, was originally due to be freed in November 2021. Fears of the coronavirus prompted his early release. Cohen admitted lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow and committing campaign finance violations for making hush money payments to women who allegedly had affairs with Trump. Cohen also pled guilty to tax and bank fraud charges unrelated to Trump.

ENTERTAINMENT
ACTOR DIES IN ATTEMPTED MURDER-SUICIDE
… Actor Hagen Mills, who’s best known for his appearance in the 2016 FX pilot “Baskets,” died in an attempted murder-suicide on Tuesday night in Mayfield, Kentucky, authorities confirmed yesterday. Police found his body after responding to the report of gunfire at a home. Investigators say Mills held his 4-year-old daughter and her grandmother hostage and then opened fire on the baby’s mother upon her arrival. After shooting the mother several times, Mills reportedly turned the gun on himself. The mother survived her wounds and is listed in stable condition at a hospital. The child and grandmother were not harmed. Among his other acting roles, Mills played Buck Barrow in the 2013 television movie “Bonnie & Clyde: Justified.”

LITTLE RICHARD LAID TO REST… Little Richard was laid to rest at a private service in in Huntsville, Alabama, yesterday. The pioneering Rock ‘N Roller was 87 when he died from bone cancer on May 9. Born Richard Penniman, he sold more than 30 million records worldwide and is best remembered for the hit songs ”Tutti Frutti, “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.”

SPORTS
NCAA LIFTS ACTIVITY BAN FOR THREE SPORTS… The NCAA Council yesterday voted to lift its moratorium on athletic-related activities for football and men’s and women’s basketball. The vote allows for voluntary athletic activities for the threes ports to run through June. The moratorium was set to expire on May 31.

The Rundown for May 20, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… At least 20,260 new coronavirus cases and 1,574 Covid-19-related deaths were reported in the U.S. yesterday, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There are now at least 1,528,568 cases nationwide and the death toll stands at 91,921. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield issued an order yesterday extending health restrictions on people migrating to the U.S. through Mexico and Canada “until he determines the serious danger from COVID-19 has ceased.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canada-U.S. border would be limited to essential workers until June 21. A federal judge yesterday ruled that all Texas voters, regardless of age, qualify for mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Fred Biery agreed with individual Texas voters and the Texas Democratic Party that voters would face irreparable harm if existing age eligibility rules for voting by mail were to remain in place.

TRUMP FRAUD SUIT GREENLIGHTED… A federal judge has given the go-ahead to a lawsuit accusing President Trump, his three eldest children and his company of collaborating with marketing company ACN in promoting a pyramid scheme. Trump attorneys were denied in their request for a stay. Plaintiffs claim President Trump, along with his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric, and daughter Ivanka, are guilty of fraud, false advertising, and unfair competition in their dealings with ACN. It claims the Trumps didn’t disclose their relationship with ACN and made millions by telling investors they would have a “reasonable probability of success” if they joined the scheme.

SENATE PANEL APPROVES RATCLIFFE… The Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday approved Texas Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe as national intelligence director. The 8-7 was along party lines. Ratcliffe’s nomination advances to a full Senate vote following the 8-7 vote. The 54-year-old Ratcliffe has represented Texas’s 4th District since 2015 and has been a member of the House intelligence committee. He would be the first permanent director of national intelligence since Dan Coats resigned last July.

HOUSE DEMS SEEK MUELLER GRAND JURY EVIDENCE… House Democrats are seeking access to secret grand jury evidence gathered by former special counsel Robert Mueller during the Justice Department’s Russia investigation. A brief they’ve filed with the Supreme Court seeks to determine if President Trump committed an impeachable offense. Mueller said in his report that the investigation found several “episodes” of possible obstruction. House general counsel Douglas Letter says the committee’s investigation into Trump’s activities “is ongoing.”

EVACUATIONS FOLLOW DAM BREAKS IN MICHIGAN… Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared a state of emergency for Midland County following the breach of two dams last night. Whitmer warned that the city of Midland’s downtown area could be under nine feet of water today. Officials say about 3,500 homes and 10,000 people have so far been evacuated. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.

EXECUTION IN MISSOURI… A 64-year-old man convicted of killing an 81-year-old woman in 1991 was executed in Missouri last night. Walter Barton was administered a lethal injection hours after the Supreme Court refused to hear his case. He was convicted in the death of trailer park operator Gladys Kuehler after being tried five times in the killing. The first two trials ended in a mistrial and hung jury. The next two led to convictions but both were overturned. The final trial again led to a conviction and a death sentence.

ENTERTAINMENT
HELLA MEGA TOUR DELAYED… The North American Hella Mega tour featuring Green Day, Weezer and Fall Out Boy has been delayed until summer 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The three bands announced that they will soon announce summer 2021 dates at the same venues. Green Day was forced to postpone a number of concert dates throughout Asia due to the pandemic. Weezer recently delayed the release of its upcoming album.

‘GREYHOUND’ TO BE STREAMED… The Tom Hanks-fronted World War II drama ”Greyhound” has a new home in Apple TV Plus. The streaming service announced yesterday that it has purchased worldwide rights from Sony Pictures but didn’t disclose a release date. The film is based on C.S. Forester’s novel “The Good Shepherd.” Set in the early days of World War II, it centers on a Navy captain who leads an international convoy of 37 Allied ships in his first command on a U.S. destroyer.

SPORTS
NFL REOPENING FACILITIES… A limited number of NFL teams reopened their training facilities yesterday. The Cowboys, Falcons, Texans, Cardinals, Chiefs and Colts were expected to be among teams returning to their buildings. The Bengals are scheduled to reopen today. The Jaguars have set May 26 for their reopening, while the Broncos are also targeting next week. The Packers, Ravens, Dolphins, Vikings, Titans, Buccaneers, Browns, Panthers, Saints, Eagles and Packers also aren’t affected by government-imposed lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic but haven’t announced when they’ll reopen.

The Rundown for May 18, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,467,065 and the death toll stands at 88,709, according to figures released last night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said yesterday morning during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” that plans to reopen businesses, schools and other facilities do not rely entirely on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Azar also told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the Trump administration’s plan to prepare 300 million doses of a vaccine by the end of the year was a goal and “not a pledge.”

FED CHIEF TALKS RECOVERY… Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell conceded in an interview that aired on CBS’ “60 Minutes” last night that it may take more than a year for the economy to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Powell said the path to economic recovery could begin in early 2021. The Fed chief is expected to repeat his call for increased spending amid the crisis when he appears before Congress tomorrow.

POMPEO INVESTIGATION PRECEDED INSPECTOR GENERAL FIRING… Congressional officials told NBC News yesterday that State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was removed from his job Friday after investigating reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning and make dinner reservations for Pompeo and his wife, among other personal errands. The officials said they are working to learn whether Linick had any other ongoing investigations into Pompeo. President Trump announced on Friday that he was firing Linick because he no longer had the “fullest confidence in him.”

AIR FORCES LAUNCHES ROCKETS… The Air Force yesterday successfully launched its Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral. The rocket is carrying a X-37B space plane for a secretive mission. It will deploy a satellite into orbit and also test power-beaming technology on its sixth mission in space.

FIRST NAMED STORM TARGETS NORTH CAROLINA… Tropical Storm Arthur was expected to bring heavy rain and minor flooding to North Carolina’s Outer Banks today. National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a tropical storm warning. Arthur became the first named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season when it formed Saturday in waters off Florida. The storm produced top sustained winds of 45 miles per hour as it tracked off the Southeast coast yesterday.

ENTERTAINMENT
DIRECTOR LYNN SHELTON DIES… Hollywood is mourning the passing of director Lynn Shelton, who died Friday in Los Angeles of a previously undiagnosed blood disorder. She was 54. Shelton was best known for the films “Humpday” and “Your Sister’s Sister” and the series “Little Fires Everywhere.” Her partner, comedian Marc Maron, said Shelton collapsed Friday after having been ill for a week.

ACTOR GENO SILVA DIES… Actor Geno Silva died earlier this month from complications related to dementia. He was 72. Silva had memorable roles in the films “Scarface” and “Mulholland Drive.” His credits include “Amistad,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Man Apart.”

SPORTS
BILLS’ DEFENSIVE TACKLE ARRESTED… Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver was arrested on DWI and weapons charges in Montgomery County, Texas. Oliver was pulled over after a witness called 911 to report a vehicle weaving in and out of lanes. Police say he had an open beer between his legs while behind the wheel of a pickup. A pistol was also found in the truck.

The Rundown for May 15, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,384,930 and the death toll stands at 83,947, according to figures released last night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC yesterday released six “decision trees” aimed at helping schools, workplaces, camps, childcare centers, mass transit systems, bars and restaurants decide on whether it’s safe to reopen. Six one-page “decision tool” documents use traffic signs and other graphics to tell organizations what they should consider before reopening.

VACCINE EXPERT TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS… Vaccines expert Dr. Rick Bright told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce yesterday that the Trump administration’s hopes of developing a coronavirus vaccine within 18 months are likely too optimistic. Bright, who was removed last month as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, warned that Americans face “the darkest winter in modern history” if proper preparations aren’t taken. He said he was “alarmed” at a lack of plans from federal agencies and the administration and complained that his warnings about supply shortages were ignored multiple times. Bright also noted “There were some attempts to bypass” a vetting process for hydroxychloroquine, which the administration hyped.

SENATE VOTES TO EXTEND FISA… The Senate voted 80-16 yesterday to approve a 2-1/2-year extension of parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act following its expiration two months ago. The measure must be approved by the House and it’s not known when a vote would be taken. The Senate version amended House legislation passed in March to improve legal protections for those subject to surveillance.

SENATOR BURR LEAVES SENATE PANEL POST… North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr announced yesterday that he will step down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the end of today’s session amid the investigation into his mass selloff in stock at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. FBI agents seized Burr’s cellphone on Wednesday as they examine Burr’s transactions around the same time the intelligence committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings. Though he told the public the virus would not cause much harm, he warned private audiences that the effects would be disastrous. The sales saved him millions of dollars in potential losses. Meanwhile, Georgia Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is reportedly complying with federal law enforcement and financial authorities about the sales of millions of dollars of stock owned by her and her husband at the outset of the outbreak.

MICHIGAN CANCELS SESSION AMID ARMED PROTESTERS… The Michigan state legislature canceled yesterday’s session and closed the Capitol rather than face heavily armed anti-lockdown protesters who showed up to demand the easing of shelter-in-place restrictions. Members of a militia group gathered on the Capitol steps in Lansing instead. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has faced recent death threats over her stay-at-home order, which has been extended until the end of May.

ENTERTAINMENT
MARY-KATE OLSEN MUST WAIT FOR DIVORCE… A Manhattan Supreme Court Justice yesterday rejected former “Full House” actress Mary-Kate Olsen’s emergency petition for a divorce from her husband of five years. The 33-year-old Olsen filed papers Wednesday claiming that her 50-year-old husband, Pierre Olivier Sarkozy, was trying to evict her from their apartment by Monday. The judge in the case decided that it wasn’t an essential matter.

CHESNEY WON’T TOUR… Kenny Chesney announced yesterday that he will not tour in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The country singer says he’s pushing back all dates of his planned “Chillaxification” Tour to 2021. Chesney had planned to play NFL stadiums nationwide this year.

SPORTS
NFL PLAYERS WANTED FOR ARMED ROBBERY… Florida authorities yesterday obtained felony arrest warrants for New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar. Miramar police say multiple witnessed accused the two of committing an armed robbery at a cookout on Wednesday night. According to the warrant, Baker pulled out a handgun after a fight broke out. He, Dunbar and two other men allegedly then robbed people at the party of thousands of dollars in cash, watches and other valuables. The two players face four counts each of armed robbery with a firearm. Baker faces an additional four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. The warrants note the suspects will be denied bond when taken into custody.

The Rundown for May 6, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has topped 1.2 million and more than 71,000 patients have died, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced yesterday that barbershops and nail and hair salons can reopen on Friday, May 8, and gyms could reopen on May 18 with restrictions. The announcement came after Texas recorded more than 2,000 coronavirus cases over May 2 and May 3 in the highest two-day increase since the coronavirus crisis began.

WHITE HOUSE CLOSING CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE… Vice President Mike Pence announced yesterday that the White House’s coronavirus task force will wrap up its work around Memorial Day. Members of the task force have begun discussing a transition plan with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Pence said. White House officials say task force doctors will “continue to play an important advisory role” after more states reopen.

WHISTLEBLOWER SLAMS WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE… Dr. Rick Bright, who helped lead the government’s coronavirus vaccine efforts, slammed the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic in an extensive whistleblower complaint he filed yesterday. Dr. Bright claims his removal last week as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was the result of politics and White House cronyism. He claims that his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored and that superiors responded with skepticism and surprise when he raised urgent concerns about shortages of critical supplies. The 89-page complaint alleges that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar pressured Bright to allow the distribution of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which was in clinical trials before the Food and Drug Administration warned against its use due to the risk of heart problems.

RATCLIFFE QUESTIONED AT CONFIRMATION HEARING… Texas Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe faced tough questions from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday on the first day of his confirmation hearing to become director of national intelligence. Senators from both parties asked Ratcliffe how he’d respond to pressure by Trump, who has been critical of U.S. intelligence agencies. The nominee vowed that he would not let politics cloud his judgment.

2 AMERICANS CAPTURED IN MADURO-ASSASSINATION PLOT… Two American mercenaries are among 13 men captured in Venezuela and accused of conspiring to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The captured Americans were identified as employees of Florida-based security company Silvercorp USA. The company’s owner has confirmed that the two captives were taking part in an operation that sought an insurrection against Maduro as part of a deal with U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.

ENTERTAINMENT
TOM CRUISE IN TALKS WITH NASA OVER SPACE-SHOT FILM… NASA confirmed yesterday that it is working with Tom Cruise to film the first movie shot in space. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine says a film shot aboard the space station could inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists. SpaceX is reported to be involved in the project.

APPEALS COURT REDUCES QUINCY JONES JUDGMENT… A California appeals court yesterday overturned most of a 2017 jury verdict that awarded Quincy Jones $9.4 million in royalties and fees from the Michael Jackson estate over the use of Jones-produced Jackson hits in the concert film “This Is It” and two Cirque du Soleil shows. The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that the jury misinterpreted a contract and removed some $6.9 million that jurors had said Jones was owed for his production of “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” and other Jackson hits. The court kept intact $2.5 million of the award. Jones had sought $30 million from the estate when he first filed the lawsuit in 2013.

SPORTS
FAVRE DRAGGED INTO MISSISSIPPI AUDIT… NFL Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre’s name has turned up in an audit of the state of Mississippi’s Department of Human Services. The audit resulted in the indictment of Human Services Director John Davis and others charged with embezzling about $4 million. Records showed Favre received two payments from the state totaling $1.1 million. In exchange for the money, the former quarterback was supposed to speak and appear at multiple events but never did. Favre isn’t facing any criminal charges.