The Rundown for July 13, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of conformed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 3,304,942 and the nation’s death toll stands at 135,205, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Florida’s 15,300 new cases yesterday were a daily high for any state during the pandemic. Arizona, Texas and California have also been hard-hit. There was good news in New York City, where health officials reported zero coronavirus-related deaths for the first time since the pandemic hit.

GRAHAM TO ALLOW MUELLER TO TESTIFY… Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham announced on Twitter yesterday that he will allow Democrats to bring in former special counsel Robert Mueller to testify about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, had denied Democrats’ previous attempts to bring Mueller before the committee but apparently changed his mind after reading an op-ed Mueller wrote in Saturday’s Washington Post. Mueller defended his office’s prosecution of former President Trump adviser Roger Stone and emphasized that he is still a convicted felon and “rightly so” even after President Trump’s commuted his sentence.

21 INJURED AFTER BLAST ABOARD NAVY SHIP… The Navy says 17 sailors and four civilians were injured yesterday after an explosion caused a three-alarm fire aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard as it was docked at Naval Base San Diego for routine maintenance. The hospitalized sailors were reported to be in stable condition and mostly suffering from either heat exhaustion or smoke inhalation. San Diego Fire Chief Colin Stowell said that the fire would “more than likely” burn the ship to the water.

FEDERAL EXECUTION SCHEDULED FOR TODAY… The first federal execution since 2003 is scheduled for today following yesterday’s decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court ruling staying the execution of a man convicted of murdering a family of three. 47-year-old Daniel Lewis Lee of Yukon, Oklahoma, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 4 p.m. at a federal prison in Indiana. He was convicted in Arkansas of the 1996 killings of a husband, wife and their 8-year-old daughter. Lee’s family tried to delay the execution by arguing that they would be put at high risk for coronavirus if they had to travel to attend the execution and vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.

GAS PRICES DOWN 2 CENTS… The average price for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline in the U.S. rose by 2 cents over the past two weeks, according to a nationwide survey of gas stations released yesterday. The highest average price found that the most expensive gas was in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it cost $3.20 per gallon. The cheapest gas was in Houston, where a gallon costs $1.79 on average.

ENTERTAINMENT
ELVIS’ GRANDSON DIES
… Singer and actor Benjamin Keough, the son of Lisa Marie Presley and the grandson of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, died yesterday from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in Calabasas, California. He was 27. Keough was the son of musician Danny Keough and the sister of actress Riley Keough.

POP SMOKE TOPS ALBUM CHART… Pop Smoke’s posthumous release, “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon” sold 251,000 copies to top the Billboard 200 album chart. The original Broadway soundtrack to “Hamilton” shot into second place on sales of 102,000 units. Last week’s champ, Lil Baby’s “My Turn,” dropped into third place after selling 62,000 copies. DaBaby’s “Blame It On Baby” sold 36,000 units to finish fourth. Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding” capped the top five with 36,000 copies sold.

SPORTS
REDSKINS TO CHANGE NAME
… The Washington Redskins are expected to announce a new nickname at a press conference this morning. The nickname has been criticized for years as racially insensitive and the franchise announced earlier this month that it would be conducting a thorough review. Team owner Dan Snyder famously told USA Today in 2013 to “put it in all caps” that he would never change the name. Meanwhile, major league baseball’s Atlanta Braves have informed season-ticket holders that that they will not be changing their nickname but will take a further look at the future of the tomahawk chop.

The Rundown for July 9, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… More than 60,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded yesterday to set a daily high and raise the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. to 3,055,004, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s death toll stands at 132,309. More than three dozen states have shown increases over the past week and health officials say hospitalizations and patients in intensive care have also risen significantly. California Governor Gavin Newsom blamed people who have ignored or defied precautions for yesterday’s record-setting 11,694 new cases. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy yesterday issued an executive order requiring face coverings outdoors where social distancing is not possible. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan for 1.1 million students in the nation’s largest public school district to return to classes in September, attending only two or three days a week and learning online in between. Meanwhile, President Trump threatened to hold back federal money if school districts don’t bring their students back in the fall and complained that his own public health officials’ safety guidelines are impractical and too expensive.

FEDERAL AGENTS TO COMBAT CRIME IN KANSAS CITY… Attorney General William Barr announced yesterday that the Department of Justice is sending federal law enforcement to Kansas City, Missouri, to combat a recent surge in violent crime. The city has recorded a 40-percent surge in homicides compared with 2019. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said he was caught off-guard by the announcement but said he would not oppose the initiative.

SUPREME COURT DECISIONS… The Supreme Court handed down a pair of major decisions on religion and employers yesterday. Justices voted 7-2 to allow employers to opt out of birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act if they have religious or moral objections to birth control. The High Court also decided that religious school teachers are not covered by the federal government’s fair employment laws and threw out two discrimination lawsuits brought by teachers against their employers.

NEW YORK AG CALLS FOR POLICE REFORM… New York Attorney General Letitia James called for sweeping reforms of the New York Police Department in a new report released yesterday. Among other proposals, James recommends that New York City’s mayor give up sole control over the city police commissioner’s hiring. She urged the creation of a commission with representatives from the mayor, City Council, public advocate and comptroller who would oversee hiring and promotion of senior New York Police Department officials. The commission would have final say on the department’s budget and officer discipline. The Attorney General’s Office issued the report after receiving 1,300 complaints concerning police conduct during protests that erupted following the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd.

EXECUTION IN TEXAS… A 45-year-old man convicted in the 1993 fatal shooting an 82-year-old man was executed by lethal injection in Texas last night. Billy Joe Wardlow was put to death at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the killing of Carl Cole at his home in Cason, about 130 miles east of Dallas. Wardlow was 18 at the time of the slaying, and his attorneys argued that his brain was still developing at the time.

ENTERTAINMENT
LADY A SUES OVER NAME
… The band formerly known as Lady Antebellum has filed a trademark lawsuit over its new name, Lady A. In a suit filed in Tennessee District Court, Lady A seeks a ruling that would allow it to use the name without infringing on the trademark rights of Anita White, a Seattle-based blues singer who has been using the name for decades. The band claims it had been in negotiations with White but talks fell apart after she demanded $10 million dollars to allow them the new name.

SEARCH FOR NAYA RIVERA… A search-and-rescue effort extended into last night after former “Glee” actress Naya Rivera was reported missing at a Southern California lake. Authorities at Piru Lake in Ventura County say the search began after Rivera’s 4-year-old son was found floating alone on a rented boat three hours after the actress had rented it. The child was said to be unharmed and told investigators that he and his mother were swimming, but his mother never got back into the boat.

SPORTS
AMAZON PULLS REDSKINS MERCHANDISE
… Amazon yesterday became the latest company to announce that it is removing Washington Redskins merchandise from its website while the team considers a name change. Sellers were reportedly given 48 hours to remove the items. Nike, Walmart, Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods previously announced they were pulling Redskins merchandise.

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 29, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached
2,548,991 and the death toll stands at 125,803, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union” yesterday that the “window is closing” for the U.S. to control the pandemic. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced yesterday that he is ordering seven counties across the state to close bars immediately. Newsom also recommended eight other counties to take the same action.

TRUMP DENIES KNOWLEDGE OF RUSSIA-TALIBAN DEAL… President Trump denies knowing anything about an arrangement in which Russian military officials reportedly offered to secretly pay Taliban fighters for killing American troops in Afghanistan. The New York Times reported that two U.S. officials learned months ago of a Russian intelligence unit offering the bounties. American spies and special forces commandos reportedly told their superiors about the plot as early as January after discovering a Taliban outpost rife with U.S. currency. According to the report, American intelligence officials told the president about the findings in March and offered a number of options for reprimanding Russia, but Trump sought no retaliation. The Washington Post reported that U.S. forces suffered 10 deaths in 2018, 16 in 2019 and two so far this year due to hostile gunfire or bombs but it is unknown how many of the deaths resulted from the Russian bounty program.

TRUMP SHARES ‘WHITE POWER!’ TWEET… President Trump drew widespread condemnation yesterday after retweeting a video in which a man driving a golf cart with a Trump 2020 sign and Trump flag yells “white power!” The video was shot at a large retirement community in Florida where Trump supporters clashed with supporters. South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott called the clip “terrible” and “inappropriate.” The president undid the retweet.

MISSISSIPPI TO CHANGE FLAG… Lawmakers in Mississippi voted yesterday to remove the Confederate battle emblem from their state flag. The removal comes more than a century after white supremacist legislators adopted the design. Republican Governor Tate Reeves has vowed to sign the bill and if he does, a commission would design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and that must have the words “In God We Trust.” Voters will be asked to approve the new design in the November 3 election.

GAS PRICES JUMP BY 6 CENTS A GALLON… The average price for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline increased by 6 cents over the past two weeks to $2.22 per gallon, according to a nationwide survey of gas stations released yesterday. The Lundberg Survey found that the most expensive gas was in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it cost $3.15 per gallon. The cheapest gas was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where a gallon of gas cost $1.78.

ENTERTAINMENT
STONES WON’T LET TRUMP PLAY THEIR MUSIC
… The Rolling Stones are threatening President Trump with legal action over his use of their songs at his rallies despite cease-and-desist directives. In a statement released yesterday, that band claims its legal team is working with music-rights organization BMI to stop use of their material in Trump’s re-election campaign events. BMI has notified the Trump campaign that if it plays Stones music again at an event, it will be in breach of its licensing agreement.

LIL BABY TOPS ALBUM CHART… Lil Baby’s “My Turn” topped the Billboard 200 chart for the fourth time after selling 70,000 copies. Bob Dylan’s “Rough and Rowdy Ways” opened in second place with 53,000 units sold. A Boogie Wit da Hoodie’s “Artist 2.0” leaped into third place on sales of 43,000 copies. DaBaby’s “Blame It On Baby” slipped into fourth place on sales of 37,000 equivalent album units. Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding” capped the top five with 36,000 copies sold.

SPORTS
PATRIOTS SIGN CAM NEWTON
… ESPN reported last night that former NFL MVP Cam Newton has agreed on a one-year deal with the New England Patriots. ‬‪Newton was released by the Carolina Panthers on March 24 after nine seasons with the team that picked him as the No. 1 overall selection in 2011. He joins Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer atop New England’s quarterback depth chart following Tom Brady’s free-agent signing with Tampa Bay… In other Patriots news, the team will lose a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and pay a $1.1 million fine with its video crew will not allowed to record games during the 2020 season. The sanctions are punishment for a the team employing a video crew that got caught filming from the Cincinnati Bengals’ press box during the Bengals’ home game against the Cleveland Browns last season.

The Rundown for June 26, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,422,310 and the death toll stands at 124,416, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that at least 23 million people may have been infected, based on findings that there are actually 10 other infections for every one that’s reported. Officials in Texas announced yesterday that the state is halting any further phases to re-open amid recent increases in cases and hospitalizations. Public-health officials at Johns Hopkins University released a statement declaring they were “stunned and troubled” that West Virginia’s health commissioner, Dr. Cathy Slemp, was asked to resign. Her departure came a day after Governor Jim Justice blamed Slemp for using outdated numbers on active coronavirus cases in some areas of the state.

SUPREME COURT ALLOWS DEPORTATIONS… The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Trump administration can deport some people seeking asylum without allowing them to appeal before a federal judge. The 7-2 ruling applies to people who fail their initial asylum screenings, making them eligible for quick deportation, or expedited removal. The case stemmed from a ruling in the case of a man who said he fled persecution as a member of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority but failed to persuade immigration officials that he faced harm if he returned to Sri Lanka.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SEEKS TO INVALIDATE ACA… The Justice Department last night filed its opening brief asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. The Trump administration argues in the brief that “the remainder of the ACA cannot survive” because the law’s individual mandate is no longer operative. Justices will hear arguments in the case sometime next term, possibly after the November election.

HOUSE PASSES POLICE REFORM BILL… The House voted 236-181 yesterday to pass a police reform bill. Democrats got support from three Republicans in passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would weaken “qualified immunity” and make it easier for abuse victims to sue police officers and for officials to fire and prosecute officers over misconduct. It would also ban chokeholds and “no-knock” search warrants at a federal level by basing funding to state and local governments on whether those tactics are banned and would require bias training and more data sharing regarding police use of force. On Wednesday, Democrats in the senate blocked a Republican-backed police reform package.

BORDER MILITARIZATION EXTENDED… The Pentagon announced yesterday that it plans to continue the formal militarization of the southern border through September 2021. Some 2,600 active-duty and 2,400 National Guard personnel are currently deployed at the border. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has authorized 4,000 troops to continue “detection and monitoring, logistics, and transportation support” missions for Customs and Border Protection forces.

ENTERTAINMENT
THE DIXIE CHICKS DROP ‘DIXIE’ FROM NAME
… The Dixie Chicks announced yesterday that they are dropping the “Dixie” from their name and will be known simply as The Chicks. The name change is being made to disassociate the band from the Confederacy amid a nationwide reckoning over racial injustice. The band’s website and social media channels have all been updated to include the new name.

BIEBER FILES DEFAMATION SUIT… Justin Bieber has filed a defamation lawsuit against two social media users who accused him of sexual assault in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The 26-year-old pop star is seeking $10 million each from the two defendants for making “malicious” claims. Lawyers for Bieber say they have “indisputable documentary evidence” that proves the accusations to be “outrageous, fabricated lies.”

SPORTS
NFL PREPARES FOR TRAINING CAMPS
… NFL executive vice president/general counsel Jeff Pash announced yesterday that the league has advised teams to expect training camps to start next month. Most teams will require players to report by July 28. The league has canceled its annual Hall of Fame Game, which was originally scheduled for August 8. League officials are considering the preseason prior to the September 10 regular-season opener.

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 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.