The Rundown for June 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rundown for June 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.