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.

… 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.

… 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 30, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,590,582 and the nation’s death toll stands at 126,141, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey yesterday issued an executive order shutting down bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks in the state among a surge in cases. Additionally, the order prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people ahead of the 4th of July weekend, delays the start of in-person school instruction to August 17 and pauses the issuing of special-event licenses until July 27. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed a directive extending Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan until the end of July after 37 percent of the state’s 17,894 positive cases occurred in the last two weeks. Also yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced malls in the state that seek to reopen under the state’s Phase 3 status must have air conditioning filters that can help reduce air particulates that could spread the coronavirus.

CONGRESS WANTS ANSWERS ABOUT RUSSIAN BOUNTIES… A bipartisan group of congressional leaders is demanding the Trump administration explain what it knew about reports U.S. intelligence concluded Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American troops. The White House briefed a group of House Republican lawmakers on the matter yesterday, leaving Democrats to call on Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel to provide all-member briefings to Congress. The New York Times reported yesterday that President Trump received a written briefing in February on possible Russian bounties and that the investigation into the matter is focused on the killings of three Marines in a truck bombing last year.

SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN LOUISIANA ABORTION LAW… The Supreme Court yesterday struck down Louisiana’s law regulating abortion clinics. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with four more liberal colleagues in ruling that the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violates abortion rights the court first announced in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Dozens more challenges state-imposed restrictions have yet to be heard in the courts.

WHITE HOUSE OPPOSES INFRASTRUCTURE BILL… The White House came out in opposition yesterday to a $1.5 trillion proposal from congressional Democrats to boost U.S. infrastructure over the next decade, calling into question the source of new spending. The Democratic-controlled House is set to begin debate today on the measure, which includes a massive boost in spending on roads, bridges, public transit, rail, ports and airports as well as water systems, schools and broadband internet. A final vote is expected later this week ahead of Congress’ September 30 deadline to reauthorize surface transportation spending.

‘GOLDEN STATE KILLER’ TAKES PLEA DEAL… The 74-year-old retired California police officer who was given the nickname “Golden State Killer” after being accused of committing multiple murders and attacks throughout California during the 1970s and ’80s took a plea deal yesterday to avoid the death penalty. Joseph DeAngelo Jr. pleaded guilty in Sacramento to 13 counts of first-degree murder and more than 25 other counts, including kidnapping, weapons and burglary charges in several California counties. He was linked to at least 13 DNA evidence collected from genealogy databases uploaded by family members was used to arrest DeAngelo in April 2018.

… John Legend has signed on to headline Saturday’s 2020 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular in New York. Entertainment will include performances by Lady A, the Killers, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and the Black Eyed Peas. Today co-host Craig Melvin will host the event, which airs at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.

BROADWAY REMAINS DARK… Broadway will remain dark through the rest of the year, as theater owners and producers are issuing refunds for tickets to shows through January 3. The Broadway League said it doesn’t know for sure when shows will open but producers say they don’t expect any openings before late winter or early spring. “The Minutes,” a play by Tracy Letts, is scheduled to open March 15, while David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” is slated to start April 14.

… Brooklyn Nets center DeAndre Jordan has tested positive for the coronavirus and won’t be with the team when the NBA season resumes next month in Orlando, Florida. Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie also has tested positive but it’s not known whether he’ll be able to play… In major league baseball, Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond announced yesterday that he will opt out of playing this season. Earlier yesterday, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake and Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross announced that they are also won’t be playing.

The Rundown for June 24, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. has reached 2,347,022 and the nation’s death toll stands at 121,228, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday that parts of the U.S. are beginning to see a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus infections and that he expects there will be a vaccine ready by early next year. Cases have been growing by at least 5 percent in 26 states and hospitalizations have been increasing as well.

PRIMARY VOTING… Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appears to have held off former longtime CNBC correspondent and anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera in yesterday’s Democratic primary election for New York’s 14th Congressional District. Voting went more smoothly than anticipated in Kentucky after the state dramatically reduced the number of polling places from 3,700 to fewer than 200, due to massive shortages of poll workers. Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath was leading state representative Charles Booker by just over 8 points in a race to determine which Democrat will face off against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. With 54 percent of precincts reporting, McGrath carried 45 percent of the vote to Booker’s 36.5 percent. In North Carolina, 24-year-old first-time political candidate Madison Cawthorn defeated President Trump-endorsed Lynda Bennett in the state’s GOP congressional primary. Joe Biden won yesterday’s presidential primaries in New York and Kentucky, raising his delegate haul to more than 2,300 after topping the 1,991 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination earlier this month. Biden’s rival, Bernie Sanders, suspended his campaign on April 8 but remains on the ballot.

CHINESE BOUGHT ACCESS TO TRUMP AND GOP… The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that people connected to the Chinese government used political donations to gain influence with President Trump and the Republican Party as early as 2017. The donations reportedly totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars and were directed at Trump’s re-election campaign. In return, the Chinese donors were provided seats at Republican fundraisers and in GOP leadership meetings. The Chinese nationals gathered intelligence that it then shared with Chinese national-security figures, according to the report. The Journal noted that there is no evidence that Trump was aware of the Chinese contributions, which were a violation of federal law.

LOUISVILLE COP FIRED… The Louisville Metro Police Department has fired one of the officers involved in the March fatal shooting death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. “I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” Police Chief Robert Schroeder wrote in a dismissal letter to Detective Brett Hankison. Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was killed on March 13, when officers entered her home looking for illegal drugs. Officials claimed the officers knocked on the door and announced themselves, and only started shooting after they were “immediately met by gunfire” from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. But Taylor’s family said in a lawsuit that the officers did not identify themselves, and that Walker — a licensed gun owner — thought someone was trying to break in. Chief Schroeder found that Hankison violated two standard operating procedures: obedience to rules and regulations and use of deadly force.

WALMART WON’T DISPLAY MISSISSIPPI FLAG… Walmart announced yesterday it will no longer display the Mississippi state flag at stores throughout the state. The flag is the last of any state’s to display the Confederate emblem in a state that has the highest percentage of African-American residents in the country. Walmart has already removed all Confederate items for sale online and in-store. The Mississippi flag flies at state buildings, the state capitol building and municipal buildings across the state.

… Pornography icon Ron Jeremy, whose legal name is Ronald Jeremy Hyatt, was charged yesterday with three counts of forcible rape and one count each of forcible oral copulation and sexual battery. The 67-year-old Jeremy is accused of sexually assaulting four women in West Hollywood since 2014, according to prosecutors. Jeremy faces a possible maximum sentence of 90 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged. His arraignment was initially scheduled for yesterday afternoon, but was continued to Friday. Jeremy remains in jail with bail set at $6.6 million.

COSBY APPEAL ACCEPTED… The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has accepted Bill Cosby’s appeal of his 2018 conviction on charges of drugging and raping a woman at his Pennsylvania home in January 2004. The court limited its review to two key issues from Cosby’s appeal, in which he objected to the conduct of his two trials. The 82-year-old Cosby is serving a three-to-10 year sentence in a state prison.

… Major League Baseball owners and players union yesterday agreed to terms on safety and testing protocols, paving the way for a 60-game season that is scheduled to start on July 24. As part of the modified season, each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and four games against each of the five clubs in the corresponding division. Most teams are expected to conduct preseason training in their home cities. Two new rules have been instituted for the 2020 season to promote player health and safety: The designated hitter will be used in both leagues and extra innings will begin with a runner on second base.

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.

… 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.

… 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.

… 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.

… 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.

… 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.”

… 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.

… Jimmy Kimmel has agreed to return as host of the 72nd Emmy Awards show. ABC Entertainment and the Television Academy announced yesterday that Kimmel will be back at the mic on September 20 after previously hosting the 64th and 68th Emmy Awards. The nominees for the 72nd Emmy Awards are scheduled to be announced July 28.

STEFANI RETURNS TO ‘THE VOICE’… Pop music star Gwen Stefani announced yesterday that she is returning as a coach for the NBC’s “The Voice.” Other mentors confirmed for Season 19 of the singing competition include Blake Shelton, John Legend and Kelly Clarkson. No premiere date has been announced.

… As major league baseball owners and players remain at odds over proposals to open the 2020 season, they should also focus on an earlier ending date to avoid a second coronavirus wave, according to the nation’s top infectious diseases expert. In an ESPN interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advised against playing baseball deep into October. “I would try to keep it in the core summer months and end it not with the way we play the World Series, until the end of October when it’s cold,” Dr. Fauci said. Owners have proposed ending the regular season on September 27 as originally scheduled and confining the postseason to October.

The Rundown for June 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rundown for June 9, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rundown for June 6, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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