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Tiger Woods missed fairways but not opportunities to open the PGA Championship

Thursday August 6th, 2020 10:14:35 PM

Tiger Woods could've easily played his way out of the PGA Championship in his opening round at TPC Harding Park. He was, after all, spending a lot of time in the rough. But when it was all over, he'd fought his way to 2-under 68. Here's how it happened.

LeBron out vs. Rockets; Lakers cite sore groin

Thursday August 6th, 2020 07:53:02 PM

LeBron James will sit out the Lakers' game Thursday against the Rockets for what Los Angeles lists in the injury report as a sore right groin.

Report: Harbaugh, Day get chippy on Big Ten call

Thursday August 6th, 2020 09:22:29 PM

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh accused Ohio State of breaking practice rules during a Big Ten coaches call on Monday, according to a report by Bucknuts.com.

Sixers' Simmons sidelined with knee injury

Thursday August 6th, 2020 08:25:46 PM

Sixers forward Ben Simmons suffered a partially dislocated kneecap Wednesday, the team announced.

Clemson again No. 1 in preseason Coaches Poll

Thursday August 6th, 2020 09:32:43 PM

Clemson was ranked No. 1 in the preseason coaches top 25 football poll and is followed by Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia and defending national champion LSU.

FSU star Wilson critical of sitting out as protest

Thursday August 6th, 2020 08:37:06 PM

Seminoles defensive tackle Marvin Wilson insists he never considered sitting out this season, calling it "the easy way out," and says his focus is entirely local -- both on and off the field.







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Trump, McConnell Huddle With Virus Talks at Risk of Collapse

Thursday August 6th, 2020 07:50:40 PM Andrew Taylor

President Donald Trump and the Senate’s top Republican huddled Thursday over a huge COVID-19 rescue package, but hopes on Capitol Hill for a deal are souring and there’s increasing worry that bipartisan congressional negotiations might collapse.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a key player in the troubled talks and possesses far more experience than Trump’s negotiating team, which is publicly frustrated by the inflexible tactics of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The Democratic duo has not yielded much ground from an unprecedented $3.5 trillion House-passed rescue package.

McConnell seemed to downplay the significance of the Trump meeting, telling a reporter “we talked a little bit about everything.”

Pelosi and Schumer are exuding confidence in a political and legislative landscape that’s tilted in their favor. Trump and McConnell both badly want an agreement, but Democrats control the House and may actually provide the lion’s share of votes in the Senate. The votes, as Pelosi often says, are the currency of the realm.

The Democratic duo has stayed in sync throughout the talks — which they demanded — even reminding reporters Thursday that their relationship dates to Schumer’s time as a hard-charging House member in the 1980s and early 1990s.

They say the coronavirus package needs to be huge in order to meet the moment: a surge in cases and deaths, double-digit joblessness, and the threat of poverty for millions of the newly unemployed.

“We believe the patient needs a major operation while Republicans want to apply just a Band-Aid,” Schumer said. “We won’t let them just pass the Band-Aid, go home and leave America bleeding.”

After a Wednesday session that produced no progress, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were returning to Pelosi’s Capitol suite to confront the gulf in their negotiating stances. Both sides have set a goal of agreeing on a deal by week’s end — though that is appearing increasingly out of reach.

The White House is also promising that Trump will attempt to use executive orders to address elements of the congressional package involving evictions and jobless benefits. But there’s no evidence that the strategy would have much impact or be anything close to what’s necessary, and Pelosi appeared unimpressed at a morning news conference.

“I don’t think they know what they’re talking about,” Pelosi said dismissively.

Addressing reporters, Pelosi and Schumer staked out a firm position to extend a lapsed $600-per-week bonus jobless benefit, demanded generous child care assistance and reiterated their demand for food stamps and assistance to renters and homeowners facing eviction or foreclosure.

“Don’t nickel and dime our children,” Pelosi said. “Don’t say we want to give a tax break to a business lunch and not give more money for children to have food stamps.”

Pelosi was referring to a GOP proposal to increase the deduction for business meals from 50% to 100%. The idea seems likely to die, along with President Donald Trump’s efforts to cut the Social Security payroll tax. But Schumer and Pelosi continue to push to restore a tax break for state and local taxes paid mostly by wealthier people with high incomes and valuable homes.

McConnell, R-Ky., is likely to have to assume a higher profile if the talks are to come to a successful close, but he issued a grim assessment of the situation on Thursday, again complaining that Pelosi and Schumer are not negotiating in good faith.

“Day after day, they’ve stonewalled the president’s team. Day by day, they’ve tried to invent new euphemisms to create the illusion of progress,” McConnell said Thursday.

Frustration was palpable among Republican senators shuttling in and out of a GOP lunch session, some of whom say Schumer is intent on using the situation as a hammer against Republicans.

“As long as they calculate that they’re better off politically doing nothing, it’s going to be hard for us to move forward,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “And that’s the calculation they’ve made, it appears.”

McConnell is sending the Senate home rather than forcing impatient senators to bide their time while Democrats play hardball. That suggests a vote won’t come until late next week or even after. Progress has been scant in the talks despite more than a week of negotiation.

At stake is a massive rescue measure blending benefits for the jobless, more than $100 billion to help reopen schools, another round of $1,200 direct payments to most people, and hundreds of billions of dollars for state and local governments to help them avoid furloughing workers and cutting services as tax revenues shrivel.

White House negotiators made some concessions on jobless benefits and aid to state and local governments in a Tuesday session — and then promptly got scalded by Republicans after details leaked out.

But Pelosi, a sometimes imperious force whose experience in negotiations is far more extensive than Meadows, will likely have to make some concessions soon. Her number for aid to states and local governments far exceeds what independent experts such as Moody’s Analytics recommend, for example, and her position in favor of restoring the expensive state and local tax break is probably unsustainable.

“She’s not going to allow the negotiations to collapse. She knows what the right moment is to pull the trigger and to try and close the deal,” said Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf. “But she also knows when to wait and to let the other side come to you.”


Trump's Iran Envoy Quits Administration as US Pushes Embargo

Thursday August 6th, 2020 07:02:16 PM Matthew Lee

The Trump administration’s top envoy for Iran is stepping down just as the United States tries to moves ahead with a major diplomatic effort that would extend a U.N. arms embargo against Tehran in the face of widespread international opposition.

Brian Hook announced his departure on Thursday, a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would call for a U.N. Security Council vote next week on a resolution to indefinitely extend the embargo, which is due to expire in October.

That resolution is expected to fail, setting the stage for a showdown between the U.S. and the other Security Council members over the reimposition of all international sanctions on Iran. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal two years ago but his administration argues it retains the right to invoke the “snapback” of U.N. sanctions because it is a council member. Others disagree.

Hook did not give a reason for leaving, although he has young children and was frequently away from home on travel. He had just returned to the U.S. from an extended trip to the Middle East and Europe during which he tried to drum up support for the Iran arms embargo extension.

Hook, 52, had given few people inside the administration advance notice that he intended to leave and on Wednesday had appeared at a session on Iran at the Aspen Security Forum. Last year, he had been criticized by the now-fired State Department inspector general for alleged political retaliation against a career diplomat on the policy planning staff. Hook denied the charges and was not reprimanded.

Pompeo said in a statement that Hook “has been my point person on Iran for over two years and he has achieved historic results.” Hook will be replaced after an as-yet undetermined transition period by Abrams, a noted hawk on numerous policy issues who is the U.S. special envoy for Venezuela. Abrams also will continue in his job as Venezuela envoy, Pompeo said.

Abrams has led the administration’s push to try to force Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power by backing his main rival Juan Guaido.

Abrams is perhaps best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration in which weapons were sold to Iran to support anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua. Abrams, then a National Security Council aide, was convicted of withholding information from Congress about the matter, but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.

Hook, an early arrival in the Trump administration, was seen by his counterparts and analysts as a pragmatist, intent on carrying out his instructions despite abrupt changes in policy. His seamless adaptation may have accounted for his longevity in an administration known for major foreign policy personnel upheavals.

A longtime Republican foreign policy fixture, Hook served as the State Department’s director of policy planning under Trump’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. After Tillerson was fired, Pompeo appointed Hook to the Iran envoy position.

As policy planning chief, Hook tried to strengthen the Iran deal, which Trump denounced during the 2016 presidential campaign as the worst deal ever negotiated and pledged to pull out from. Central to his efforts was trying to persuade the European participants in the accord — Britain, France and Germany — to impose tougher restrictions on Iranian missile activity. Those efforts failed.

Once Tillerson was fired and Pompeo took over with a presidential mandate to withdraw from the deal and Trump pulled out of the agreement, Hook’s focus shifted to reimposing U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Since withdrawing, the U.S. has steadily ratcheted up pressure on Iran by imposing penalties on countries importing Iranian oil, declaring its Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization” and killing a commander of the paramilitary organization this year in a missile strike in Iraq.

Under the deal orchestrated largely by the Obama administration, Iran was granted billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program that the U.S. and others alleged was a cover for atomic weapons development. Once he became Iran envoy, Hook was in charge of identifying sanctions to be restored and lobbying Europeans and others to follow suit. Few have.

At the same time, Hook had some success in negotiating prisoner swaps with Iran, securing the release of two Americans in exchange for Iranians held in the United States. Hook twice flew to Zurich, Switzerland, to take custody of freed Americans.


USPS Official: Mail-In Ballot Surge Will Not Impact Service

Thursday August 6th, 2020 05:40:47 PM Farnoush Amiri

The U.S. Postal Service is prepared to handle an unprecedented influx of absentee ballots this November and any reports of the agency being overwhelmed or incapable are false, a senior postal elections official said Thursday at an event sponsored by Ohio’s elections chief.

Justin Glass, director of the postal service’s election mail operations, spoke with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and other state election officials about how the agency is preparing for the upcoming election.

The virtual meeting comes as USPS faces scrutiny nationwide over slow service amid the coronavirus pandemic. The issue reached a boiling point Monday when President Donald Trump said that he doesn’t believe the postal service is equipped to deal with the volume of mail that will come as a result of mail-in voting.

But Glass and other agency officials have stood resolute against naysayers, including Trump, in denying any doubt cast on their election operations.

“There is not going to be an impact on service,” Glass assured Ohio election officials Thursday. “There may be some temporary things as we adjust but those are all temporary.”

The postal service, like most agencies and businesses across the country, is operating under new circumstances as the pandemic takes a toll on staffing, delivery and even postal offices.

Last month, cost-cutting efforts were imposed by the new postmaster general that would impact delivery by a day or more. The agency has underscored that employees must adopt a “different mindset” to ensure the Postal Service’s survival during the coronavirus pandemic.

The changes include no longer authorizing late trips and if postal distribution centers are running late, “they will keep the mail for the next day,″ Postal Service leaders said in a document obtained by The Associated Press in July.

Glass denied that report, saying the postal service continues to operate with a lot of overtime but is also adhering to a schedule more than before.

“We are not going to cut off operations and really leave election mail sitting there by itself,” Glass said.


Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Tests Positive Ahead of Trump Visit

Thursday August 6th, 2020 04:58:27 PM Farnoush Amiri and Dan Sewell

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, an early advocate among Republicans of wearing masks and other pandemic precautions, tested positive Thursday for the coronavirus just ahead of a planned meeting with President Donald Trump.

The Republican governor’s office said he took the test as part of standard protocol before he was to meet Trump at an airport in Cleveland. He had planned to join the president on a visit to the Whirlpool Corp. plant in northwest Ohio.

“A big surprise to me and certainly a big surprise to our family,” DeWine said at a late afternoon news conference broadcast from his porch on his farm in Cedarville in southwestern Ohio, where he plans to quarantine for 14 days.

Dewine, 73, said he didn’t know how he contracted it. He said he’s already been spending much of his time at his farm keeping his distance from family members and staff. His diagnosis should not lessen the importance of wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, DeWine said.

“The lesson that should come from this is that we’re all human, this virus is everywhere and this virus is very tough,” DeWine said. “And yes you can contract it even if wearing a mask.”

The governor said “the odds are dramatically better” of avoiding a positive test if people wear a mask.

DeWine, in his first term as governor, is one of Ohio’s most familiar politicians, previously serving as a U.S. congressman, two-term U.S. senator, Ohio attorney general and lieutenant governor.

His office said DeWine had no symptoms. Before Trump landed, DeWine headed back to his official residence in suburban Columbus, where he was tested a second time along with his wife, Fran DeWine. DeWine then drove to Cedarville.

Trump offered DeWine his best wishes and said “he’ll be fine” in remarks after arriving at the airport, where he was greeted by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who tested negative.

“A very good friend of mine just tested positive,” Trump said. He added that DeWine “has done a fantastic job.”

Trump’s visit to Ohio comes amid signs that he faces a tight race with former Vice President Joe Biden in a state he carried by 8 percentage points in 2016.

DeWine becomes the second U.S. governor to test positive for the coronavirus after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced he contracted the virus last month.

The number of positive cases in Ohio had decreased after the first surge, hitting a low in late May. But numbers again began to rise in mid-June as Ohio began to reopen businesses. More than 3,600 Ohioans have died.

In recent weeks, DeWine has pleaded with Ohioans to take personal responsibility over the virus’ spread across the state. He had resisted a statewide mask mandate until July 23. DeWine’s first try at a statewide requirement for wearing masks inside businesses — back in April — drew backlash that led him to rescind that directive the following day, astutter among the aggressive moves that had won him early praise in his efforts to curb the virus.

Mask-wearing also has been a point of contention at the Statehouse, where many Democratic lawmakers have donned masks while many Republican lawmakers have not. DeWine has often found himself at odds with members of his own party on the policy.

The Ohio Democratic Party’s chair, who has praised DeWine’s pandemic response while sharply criticizing Trump’s, said the news was saddening and that the governor’s fellow Ohioans support DeWine and his family at this time.

“We know how hard he’s been working to keep Ohioans safe, and this is just one more reminder that this virus can impact everyone,” David Pepper said in a statement.

DeWine’s key health adviser during the pandemic, Dr. Amy Acton, left government this week. In the early months, she joined DeWine at daily briefings and was a popular figure. However, backlash against state restrictions helped lead to a protest at her home and her decision to step away from the spotlight.

Since early in the pandemic, DeWine has hosted his daily briefings from a private room above where the press corps gathers at the Ohio Statehouse. He would appear on a television in front of the reporters, who could step up to a microphone and ask questions.

DeWine held one of those briefings Tuesday but no other public events had been announced for this week besides his meeting with Trump.

In at least two briefings, DeWine has shared how the virus has taken the lives of several friends, urging the public to think about their loved ones, especially grandparents, when leaving the house and not following social-distancing protocols. The governor has 23 grandchildren.

Notably, DeWine and his wife, Fran, had avoided political rallies or meeting with members of the White House since the pandemic began. In June, the governor was scheduled to appear at a former General Motors plant in Lordstown but decided against it when Vice President Mike Pence announced he was going. The facility is now occupied by Lordstown Motors, which plans to build electric pickup trucks there.

“Quite candidly, throughout this pandemic, (first lady) Fran and I have avoided crowds,” DeWine said. “We have not gone out to be close with a lot of people. So we’re not going to do that.”

___

Sewell reported from Cincinnati. Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

___

This story has been corrected to show the Lordstown plant is a former General Motors plant, not a current GM plant.


Republicans in At Least 4 States Are Helping Kanye West Gain Ballot Access

Thursday August 6th, 2020 04:37:40 PM

Republicans in at least four states, including a crucial swing state, appear to be helping music superstar Kanye West gain ballot access for November’s election, actions that raise new questions about the hip-hop star’s presidential bid.

West’s bid has been marred by missed deadlines and faulty filings that have frustrated his efforts to make the ballot in enough states to actually win the presidential election.

But people connected to Republican politics have worked to get him on the ballot in states like Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois, NBC News reported. And his fledgling campaign did successfully submit paperwork Tuesday aimed at getting on the ballot in Wisconsin, a pivotal battleground state President Donald Trump won by about 23,000 votes in 2016, seemingly with Republican help.

“It’s hard not to feel like Republican operatives are using a mentally ill, very famous rapper who is not going to be president because they think for some reason that it’s going to take Black votes away from Joe Biden,” said Jesse Lehrich, a Democratic strategist who worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016. “To the extent that people are using him for their own political gain, it’s pretty gross and I hope he gets whatever help he needs.”

Read the full story on NBCNews.com.


New York Sues to Dissolve the NRA, Alleging Widespread Fraud

Thursday August 6th, 2020 03:39:45 PM

What to Know

  • New York filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association
  • The suit alleges NRA executives, including CEO Wayne LaPierre, misused charitable funds for personal expenses
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating the NRA’s finances since early 2019

New York filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing the leaders of the National Rifle Association of rampant fraud for their personal benefit, and seeking to have the powerful pro-gun lobbying group dissolved.

The state alleges that NRA leadership, including long-time CEO Wayne LaPierre, diverted millions of dollars in charitable donations for personal use. Over a three-year period, the state claims their behavior cost the group $64 million.

“Mr. LaPierre exploited the organization for his and his family’s personal benefit and a close circle of NRA staff, board members and vendors,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said at a news conference announcing the suit.

James said LaPierre and others used the NRA as their “personal piggy bank” and said her office had to act now because they had “destroyed all the assets of the organization.”

The organization blasted the lawsuit as little more than a political stunt and said it would fight back aggressively.

“This was a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend,” NRA President Carolyn Meadows said in a statement.

President Trump also addressed the lawsuit outside the White House, suggesting that the group simply relocate. (The NRA is registered as a not-for-profit organization under New York law, and has been for nearly 150 years, giving James’s office jurisdiction to look into its operations.)

“I think the NRA should move to Texas and lead a very good and beautiful life. I’ve told them that for a long time. I think they should move to Texas,” Trump said.

James’s office has had a long-running investigation into the NRA. The AG issued subpoenas to the group 16 months ago, following a campaign promise to probe its finances.

A year ago, the attorney general’s office deposed former NRA president Oliver North as part of its investigation — a deposition the NRA sued to listen in on, unsuccessfully.

More recently, the NRA was forced to cut staff and salaries and cancel major events due to the coronavirus pandemic, limiting what otherwise would have been a major presence in the 2020 election.

James declined to answer a question about whether NRA funds were inappropriately used in any way for a political campaign, but did say her office’s investigation was ongoing.

In addition to dissolving the NRA, the suit seeks to force LaPierre and three other executives to pay restitution, and to bar them from ever serving on the board of a New York-registered charity again.








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