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July 23, 2020

MLB’s Opening Day, At Last.

This Day in History | 1885

Civil War hero and former president Ulysses S. Grant dies of throat cancer shortly after completing his memoirs with the assistance of Mark Twain. 

We’re going to take a break from our normal routine to bring you a report about something returning to normal. At least a new normal. You’ve probably heard that a lot lately. New normals.Today’s Major league baseball games will mark the return of America’s first major professional sport since COVID-19 shut everything down. What we will see reflected in tonight’s games is just how much America has changed since the first case was detected in the U.S. We’ll see players wearing masks, empty ballparks, piped in sound, It’s going to be wild. And a little sad. But at least it’s something. 

Also today, we have stories about the growing anger towards republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over their reluctance to pass another COVID-19 relief bill. Yes we said relief, not stimulus. We’re not there yet. We can’t talk about stimulus until the situation starts to improve with the disease. And things are obviously not getting better. 

Read all about it. 

-Fraser Dixon

Opening Day: Masks, Empty Parks, Social Justice

(AP) – A baseball season that was on the brink before it ever began because of the virus outbreak is set to start Thursday night when excitable Max Scherzer and the World Series champion Washington Nationals host prized ace Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees.

When it does get underway — the DC forecast calls for thunderstorms, the latest rocky inning in this what-can-go-wrong game — it’ll mark the most bizarre year in the history of Major League Baseball.

A 60-game season, stars opting out. Ballparks without fans, players wearing masks. Piped-in sound effects, cardboard cutouts for spectators. Spray-painted ads on the mound, pitchers with personal rosin bags.

And a rack of strange rules. DHs in the National League, well, OK. An automatic runner on second to start the 10th inning? C’mon, now.

“Gosh, it’s going to be fun,” Cole said. “It’s going to have fake crowd noise, and going to be 2020 coronavirus baseball.”

Read more here

‘Mitch Better Have My Money’: Unemployment Benefits Protest Held Outside McConnell’s Home

(ABC7) — Protesters marched to the D.C. home of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Wednesday afternoon, demanding an extension of pandemic unemployment benefits that may soon be reduced or expire.

Among the protesters were people left unemployed by COVID-19 who say a $600 a week unemployment benefit has helped them survive.

“Without the $600, we would be in dire straits,” said protester LaMarr Houston of D.C., whose family includes seven children. “With the kids being home during the pandemic, it helps an awful lot, because there’s always something needed, there’s always something that has to be done.”

See the protests here

Poll Shows Most Voters Agree Black, Hispanic Americans Face Discrimination

(NBC News) – Voters in growing numbers believe that Black and Hispanic Americans are discriminated against, and a majority of 56% holds the view that American society is racist, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

Amid a moment of national reckoning on racial issues and the mourning of one of the country’s most revered civil rights leaders, the country remains deeply divided over the prevalence of bigotry and its root causes.

The poll finds that voters in America are now more likely to say that people of color experience discrimination, to describe athletes kneeling in protest of racial inequality as appropriate, to view the Black Lives Matter movement as a positive force, and to support the removal of Confederate monuments in public spaces.

But at the same time, voters are deeply pessimistic about the current state of race relations, the country is sharply divided about whether racism is systemic or just perpetrated by “bad apples,” and partisan identity remains an overwhelming predictor of how voters view the experiences of people of color and the current movement for greater racial equality.

The poll — which was conducted July 9-12, before the death of Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the civil rights leader — found that a majority of voters, 56 percent, say American society is racist, while 40 percent disagree. That share is almost unchanged since The Associated Press found 55 percent of voters saying American society is racist in a July 1988 survey.

See the results here

Trump Warns U.S. Coronavirus Outbreak Will Probably ‘Get Worse Before it Gets Better’

(CNBC) – “That’s something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is, it’s what we have,” he said during a White House briefing on the pandemic. “You look over the world, it’s all over the world.”

Trump’s comments come as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the nation. The virus has infected more than 3.8 million Americans and killed at least 141,118 as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Texas and Florida hit a grim record Monday for daily coronavirus deaths based on a seven-day moving average, as hospitalizations continue to surge in 34 states across the United States.

Trump’s response to the pandemic has also come under increasing scrutiny. In recent weeks, Trump has downplayed the threat of the virus, tying the surge in new cases to an increase in testing. However, public health officials and infectious disease experts dispute those claims, saying the rate of cases that test positive in the U.S., hospitalizations and deaths remain high in some states.

Read more here

Battered US Dollar ‘Hanging by a Thread’ as Coronavirus Cases Grow

(Reuters) – A steady decline in the dollar has accelerated in recent weeks, as a resurgent coronavirus outbreak in the United States and improving economic prospects abroad sour investors on the currency. 

The buck is down 8% from its highs of the year against a basket of currencies =USD and stands near its lowest level since 2018. Net bets against the dollar in futures markets are approaching their highest level in more than two years.

“The dollar is hanging by a thread,” said Mazen Issa, senior currency strategist at TD Securities in New York. “At this point, the dollar-weakness mindset has become deeply entrenched.”

A range of factors are driving the U.S. currency’s decline. For years, expectations that the United States would outperform other economies kept the dollar elevated against many of its peers.

Low U.S. yields have also raised the allure of investments such as gold, which normally struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets. Prices for the metal are up 23% for the year.

Find out more here

‘Medicare For All’ Gets Nod In Democratic Platform For First Time Ever

(Huffington Post) – For the first time, the Democratic Party platform mentions “Medicare for All,” according to a draft version released this week. It’s a victory for progressives who worked to make the transformation of the health care system a central issue in the presidential campaign.

“Generations of Democrats have been united in the fight for universal health care. We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach; all are critical to ensuring that health care is a human right,” the document reads.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee for president, does not back Medicare for All, a policy that was central to the rival presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). So the platform does not endorse the idea, and the reference to it is brief. But supporters say it’s still a win to have their progress acknowledged ― and to have the idea enshrined in an official party document in a positive way.

Get the latest here

House Votes to Remove Confederate Statues from Capitol

(AP) – The House has approved a bill to remove statues of Gen. Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders from the U.S. Capitol, as a reckoning over racial injustice continues following the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.

The House vote also would remove a bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the author of the 1857 Dred Scott decision that declared African Americans couldn’t be citizens.

The bill directs the Architect of the Capitol to identify and eventually remove from Statuary Hall at least 10 statues honoring Confederate officials, including Lee, the commanding general of the Confederate Army, and Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president. Three statues honoring white supremacists — including former U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun of South Carolina — would be immediately removed.

“Defenders and purveyors of sedition, slavery, segregation and white supremacy have no place in this temple of liberty,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said at a Capitol news conference ahead of the House vote.

Read more here

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