June 27, 2020

Nearly four months after the 2020 Major League Baseball season was expected to start before the coronavirus pandemic shut down all major professional sports, the league reportedly has its sights set on an enticing Opening Day redux. The defending World Series champion Washington Nationals will host the New York Yankees on July 23 to launch what should be a weird, unpredictable 60-game season, The New York Post reports.

The Post notes that although the MLB Players' Union signed off on details about the new, regionally-based schedule (the two squads wouldn't have played this year at all under normal circumstances, let alone Opening Day), the product isn't finalized yet, so there's a chance things could change between now and then. Of course, it goes without saying that it's still unclear if play will even be possible since several states including California, Florida, and Texas — all of which have multiple MLB teams — have seen cases rise in recent weeks.

But if all does go according to plan, a Yankees-Nationals showdown isn't a bad way to get baseball up and rolling again. In that scenario, it's all but certain the Nationals would run out their veteran ace Max Scherzer against the Yankees' big ticket free agent acquisition Gerrit Cole, who faced Washington in the World Series last year as a member of the Houston Astros. It'll likely be a bittersweet moment for Nationals fans, however; they'll no doubt be excited to see their team back on their field, but the coronavirus will prevent them from attending and witnessing the raising of a World Series banner. Read more at The New York Post. Tim O'Donnell

3:02 p.m.

The White House is now claiming that when President Trump lashed out at NASCAR for banning the Confederate flag, he was actually taking no position on the issue.

Trump in a tweet on Monday wrongly claimed that NASCAR's "flag decision," in addition to the recent incident involving Bubba Wallace, resulted in the "lowest ratings EVER." The "flag decision" he was referring to was NASCAR announcing it would ban display of the Confederate flag at events.

When asked in a briefing on Monday afternoon why Trump is supporting the Confederate flag, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said he "never said that" and that the tweet is being taken "completely out of context." Yet when directly asked whether Trump believes NASCAR should ban the Confederate flag or not, McEnany didn't say.

When McEnany was once again asked what Trump's position on NASCAR's Confederate flag ban is, she simply said the president "was not making a judgment one way or the other" in the tweet but again avoided saying what he thinks about it. She repeated that talking point a second time when a reporter followed up with the same question, this time faulting the press for "focusing on one word at the very bottom" of his tweet.

Trump in his tweet also suggested Bubba Wallace, the series' only Black driver, should apologize after the FBI concluded he wasn't the target of a hate crime following a noose being found in his garage stall, even though Wallace didn't report the noose. McEnany during the briefing said Trump was making a point about not rushing to judgment but offered no explanation as to why Wallace should need to apologize. Brendan Morrow

2:54 p.m.

Not long after he lashed out at NASCAR and driver Bubba Wallace over the sport's investigation of a possible hate crime and decision to ban the Confederate battle flag from events, President Trump kept his focus on the professional sports world Monday. His next targets were the NFL's Washington Redskins and MLB's Cleveland Indians, whom he criticized for considering changing their nicknames, which he tweeted were symbols of "strength."

Trump apparently thinks the franchises, which both announced they were exploring the possibility last week, are simply trying to be "politically correct." It's the latest example of the president taking a strong stance amid a larger cultural debate about systemic racism in the United States that has gained steam since the killing of George Floyd, although calls for both organizations to change their names have existed for quite some time.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he also found a way to bring Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — who has drawn criticism in the past for claiming tribal heritage from both Trump and Native Americans — into the conversation. Tim O'Donnell

2:39 p.m.

Country singer, songwriter, and musician Charlie Daniels died Monday after suffering a stroke. He was 83.

Daniels had long been a powerhouse in country music, getting his start by co-writing the Elvis Presley song "It Hurts Me" in 1964. His guitar, fiddle, and banjo skills also landed him on other major artists' records around that time. Daniels launched his own singing career in 1971 with a self-titled debut album, and found his trademark in 1979 with the fast-fiddling No. 1 hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

Daniels and his eponymous band remained active for decades and toured the U.S. multiple times. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

Daniels spent his last days as he did every other: Tweeting "Benghazi ain't going away!" for the umpteenth time in a row. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:32 p.m.

Hong Kong's new national security bill alone has many residents and much of the international community concerned that China is severely limiting the city's freedoms, but some experts think the law's new implementation rules are what's really alarming.

Under new regulations settled Monday during the first meeting of Hong Kong's Committee for Safeguarding National Security, police will, in "exceptional circumstances," be able to enter premises without a warrant, order internet firms to remove content — although several tech giants like Facebook and Twitter said they've suspended processing requests for user data from Hong Kong law enforcement — and demand information from political groups operating outside the city, The South China Morning Post reports.

"The new rules are scary, as they grant power to the police force that are normally guided by the judiciary," said Anson Wong Yu-yat, a practicing barrister. "For example, in emergency and special circumstances police do not need a warrant under one rule, but it never explains what it means by special circumstances."

Alan Wong Hok-ming, a solicitor, also noted that even if these rules do provide for some limits on police power, there's nothing stopping the government from expanding the policies to bypass "scrutiny, checks, and balances by other institutions like the Legislative Council." Read more at The South China Morning Post. Tim O'Donnell

1:52 p.m.

Colin Kaepernick and Disney are getting down to business.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who while in the NFL kneeled during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice, has signed a first-look deal with The Walt Disney Company, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The partnership between Disney and Kaepernick's Ra Vision Media will "focus on telling scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social injustice, and the quest for equity," a statement said, and the first project will be a documentary series about Kaepernick being produced by ESPN Films.

In the series, Kaepernick will "tell his story from his perspective," the announcement said, and it will make use of "extensive new interviews and a vast never-before-seen archive that documents his last five years."

This news comes after Netflix last week announced Ava DuVernay is working on a limited series about Kaepernick's high school years, which Kaepernick will himself narrate. Kaepernick on Monday called his partnership with Disney "historic," adding that he looks forward "to sharing the docuseries on my life story, in addition to many other culturally impactful projects we are developing.” Brendan Morrow

1:18 p.m.

Harvard University announced Monday it will only let 40 percent of its undergraduate students live on its Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus when the 2020-21 school year begins. But no matter where those students are learning from, they'll be taking all of their classes completely online to stem a resurgence of COVID-19.

Harvard will let first-year students live on campus in the fall so they can acclimate to college life, and will also prioritize housing for "those who cannot learn successfully in their current home environment," the school announced. Those students will still be encouraged to avoid socializing in person with other students, and will be subject to "virus testing every three days, face-masking, social distancing, and other measures," Harvard continued. In the spring of 2021, first-year students will largely head home and Harvard will let seniors return to campus instead, "unless public health conditions improve or worsen," Harvard said.

Harvard also announced that its annual tuition of $49,653 wouldn't be lowered despite the learning change, and didn't say if there would be a discount from the $72,391 cost of tuition, room, board, and fees combined.

Harvard says it came to its decision by looking at what other Ivy league schools and Northeast colleges have planned and took into consideration how hard the virus hit the dense area of greater Boston early on in the pandemic. Read Harvard's whole announcement here. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:57 p.m.

A hilarious documentary series following the launch of Quibi seems inevitable, but until then, a new report has arrived to provide some juicy details.

Vulture on Monday published a detailed report on Quibi, the mobile-centered streaming service that divides its programming into small chunks and had a disappointing launch earlier this year. It includes some interviews with the folks in charge, including CEO Meg Whitman — who despite being the head of a streaming platform apparently doesn't even like TV that much.

"I'm not sure I'd classify myself as an entertainment enthusiast," Whitman said when asked what she's watching on TV. Asked if she has any favorite shows, she responded, "Grant. On the History Channel. It's about President Grant."

Among the other standout details from the article include that staffers at Quibi agreed with most of the American public that the name was "cringey" and wanted to change it and that internal research showed people who watched the company's expensive TV ads came away with no real understanding of what Quibi even is.

"In market research following its Oscars and Super Bowl ads, 70 percent of respondents said they thought Quibi was a food-delivery service," Vulture reports.

There's also the revelation that Gal Gadot reportedly once came to Quibi and "delivered an impassioned speech about wanting to elevate the voices of girls and women," only for founder Jeffrey Katzenberg to wonder if maybe she could "become the new Jane Fonda and do a workout series for Quibi." A source told Vulture, "Apparently, her face fell."

Whitman didn't sound totally confident in the interview that consumers will largely stick with Quibi following the end of their 90-day free trial, saying, "We don't know quite what to expect." For his part, Katzenberg, presumably channeling his inner this-is-fine dog, told Vulture, "I would say things are going really well." Brendan Morrow

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