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July 10, 2019

The stock market is cruising, but investors are playing it safe.

Despite the bull market — in which stocks are up almost 20 percent this year — investors around the world have actually yanked over $140 billion out of equity funds so far this year and are shoveling their money into low-risk, low-yield government bonds and money market funds instead. That's because they fear the market's potential volatility, Axios reports.

"People don't trust the stock market," said Emily Roland, head of capital markets research at John Hancock Investment Management.

Roland added that the cautious approach is concerning. "We're seeing everybody embrace safety, which is fine, but from a long-term investing diversification standpoint, it doesn't end up working in your favor," she said.

Stocks have remained strong, though, mostly because of company buybacks and low volumes, Axios reported in May. In fact, despite some experts' concerns, the lack of action from investors is not necessarily a bad thing — because it means that investors aren't overconfident.

The second half of the year could shed more light on the situation, but it looks likely to present the same combination of optimism and pessimism. The labor market is doing well, and markets are expecting more easy monetary policy from central banks. But a slowdown in trade and global growth continues to loom over everyone's heads. Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

12:54 p.m.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) had some strong words for President Trump on Sunday.

In appearances on CNN's State of the Union and CBS' Face the Nation, Booker tore into Trump over his racist tweets directed at four democratic congresswomen. A lot of the discourse around Trump's tweets has been about whether Republican members of Congress were willing to condemn them, or the president himself, as racist. Booker, of course, is not in the GOP, but the 2020 Democratic candidate took the discussion to a new level.

In his CNN interview, Booker said Trump "is worse than a racist."

He doubled down on that line in his CBS interview, telling host Margaret Brennan that Trump is "using race like a weapon" to divide the country. He also added that this issue went beyond politics for him — if it had been a Republican on the receiving ends of the insults, Booker says he would react the same way. Tim O'Donnell

12:17 p.m.

The 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees each left a lasting mark on modern baseball en route to their enshrinement in Cooperstown. Here's a rundown of who's going in and why:

Edgar Martinez — The Seattle Mariners' legend had to wait far too long because voters felt that players who spent the majority of their careers as designated hitters didn't deserve to make it Cooperstown. Sure, fielding is an essential part of the game, but Martinez was one of the best hitters of his era. In a career that spanned from 1987 to 2004, he slashed .312/.418/.515, won two batting titles, and walked more than he struck out.

Mike Mussina — The cerebral pitcher, who split his career between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, was as consistent as they come, making at least 24 starts every season after his debut year in 1991. Mussina won 270 games, tossed 3,562.2 innings, and compiled a career 3.68 ERA. Mussina was a model fielding pitcher, capturing seven Gold Gloves.

Mariano Rivera — "The Sandman" is arguably the greatest closer in the history of the game and his unanimous election into the Hall speaks to that. Famed for his devastating cutter, which he threw over 85 percent of the time, Rivera, who hails from Panama, helped lead the Yankees to five world series during his 19-year career. The all-time saves leader won the World Series MVP in 1999 against the Atlanta Braves.

Roy Halladay — Halladay's induction will likely be the most emotional moment of the afternoon. The two-time Cy Young Award winner died in 2017 in a plane crash, so his wife, Brandy, will give a speech on his behalf. He's most famous for hurling just the second-ever no-hitter in a postseason game in the 2010 National League Division Series between the Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds.

Two other stellar players, Harold Baines and Lee Smith, are also going into the Hall after the Today's Game Committee voted them after their eligibility had expired. Tim O'Donnell

11:20 a.m.

Marvel can rest now.

Avengers: Endgame has officially passed Avatar at the worldwide box office and become the highest-grossing film in history, Disney has announced. The Marvel superhero event took in $2.790 billion by Sunday, Disney said, topping Avatar's previous record of $2.789 billion, reports The Hollywood Reporter. This is the first time the highest-grossing film worldwide unadjusted for inflation has been a movie not directed by James Cameron since before 1998's Titanic.

The milestone for Endgame, the culmination of more than a decade of Marvel Studios' storytelling, comes nearly three months after it landed in theaters with a mind-blowing domestic opening weekend of $357 million and a global opening weekend of $1.2 billion. For some time after, box office prognosticators were skeptical that Endgame could leap past Avatar, but a re-release prior to Marvel's Spider-Man: Far From Home helped provide a boost, and Disney also "found additional money when reconciling the movie's final global earnings," the Reporter notes.

The timing of this announcement couldn't have been better, either, as Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was able to inform fans about the studio's achievement at the start of its Saturday San Diego Comic-Con panel, during which Marvel went on to preview its next several years of post-Endgame movies and TV shows, announcing a fourth Thor film featuring Natalie Portman as a female Thor, a new Blade reboot starring Mahershala Ali, and much more.

Given Endgame's unprecedented level of anticipation, it's difficult to imagine another film on the horizon that might outgross it, with one exception: Avatar itself. Several sequels are coming, and it's possible Disney will re-release the original Avatar prior to its follow-up, allowing Cameron to reign supreme once again. For now, though, the Avengers have won the box office fight of their lives. Brendan Morrow

11:03 a.m.

Fox & Friends may have been at the root of President Trump's racist tweets directed at four democratic congresswomen last week.

A report from The Washington Post, which relied on information from 26 White House aides, advisers, and lawmakers, details how even Trump's own top aides believed he did not understand the political ramifications of what he had done last Sunday when he tweeted that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) should "go back" to the "places from which they came."

It turns out that Trump was reportedly watching Fox & Friends, one of his favorite shows, after waking up in the morning when he decided he thought it would be a good idea to "elevate" the congresswomen, whom he reportedly believes make good political foils.

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway reportedly then had to explain to the president why the tweets had caused such stirring outrage throughout Washington and the media landscape.

While it's unclear what specifically about the show's segment on the congresswomen might have inspired the particular sentiment behind the tweets, it looks like another potential example of the reputed influence the cable news network has on the president's opinions. Read more about the fallout of Trump's tweets at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

8:23 a.m.

It was once again Iran's turn to send out a warning.

Tehran's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hamid Baeidinejad, warned the U.K. on Sunday against escalating tensions following Tehran's seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker, the Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. On Saturday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the U.K.'s response to the seizure would be "considered, but robust."

Baeidinejad said British political voices calling for action were "quite dangerous and unwise at a sensitive time in the region." He added that "Iran is firm and ready for different scenarios." The United States, France, and Germany have all expressed support for the U.K. Still, British Chancellor Philip Hammond said the government would pursue "every possible diplomatic route" in hopes of reaching a resolution with Tehran. Hunt said Parliament will be updated about "what further measures" the government would take on Monday.

In a recording of radio exchanges between a British Royal Navy frigate and Iranian armed forces vessels right before the seizure, the Iranian forces can be heard telling a ship, likely the Stena Impero, "if you obey you will be safe," while the British navy tells the ship that, because of international law, its passage must not be impeded. Tehran said the Stena Impero crew was in "good health." Tim O'Donnell

July 20, 2019

The 138th health care worker in the Democratic Republic of Congo was infected during the country's current Ebola outbreak, which was recently declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.

Helen Branswell of Stat News reports that infections of health care workers are generally common at the start of an outbreak before people realize that the disease is spreading, but the recent "steady stream" of infections is puzzling.

That's because the workers are aware they are at risk of infection and many have been vaccinated, including the worker who was recently infected. In short, Branswell doesn't "think this should be happening."

Branswell went on to write that the disease is "not relenting," citing that there have only been three days in July when the Ebola case increase was in the single digits. In total, since the beginning of the epidemic last August there have been over 2,400 confirmed cases, and over 1,600 confirmed deaths. Tim O'Donnell

July 20, 2019

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is the latest member of Congress to report on harrowing conditions after a visit to the southern border, where he and other lawmakers toured border facilities in Texas.

In a Twitter thread, Schatz described overcrowded quarters and a "harsh odor" filling the air, while writing that he spoke with some men through a chain-link fence that said they had been held at the border for more than 40 days.

He also shared a story about one mother with a young daughter who apparently has not been eating. The mother is supposed to travel to New York on Sunday to get her asylum claim adjudicated, but faces several challenges.

Schatz said that he "broke down" afterward, and called out President Trump, whom he blames for creating such a harsh environment at the border.

Read the thread here. Tim O'Donnell

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