August 28, 2020

If you wanted to watch baseball Thursday night instead of the final night of the Republican National Convention, well, you were out of luck. But if you tuned into the 7:10 p.m. game between the New York Mets and Miami Marlins — the only one of seven Major League Baseball games Thursday not postponed in protest of social injustice — you still got a show.

The Mets and Marlins jointly came up with the plan to take the field, remove their caps, stand in silence for 42 seconds in honor of Jackie Robinson, then walk off the field, leaving only a Black Lives Matter shirt on home plate, on Thursday evening. The impetus for the walkout was Mets outfielder Dominic Smith, though Miguel Rojas came up with the last-minute plan. "We wanted to do something special," he explained afterward. "We wanted to do something different."

"The words on the shirt speak for themselves, just having it in the center of everything, just knowing that both teams are unified, and that we agreed to do this," Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, Miami's leadoff hitter, told reporters. "And it was the right thing to do."

The Milwaukee Bucks were the first to call off their game in response to police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooting Jacob Blake, the latest unarmed Black person killed or seriously injured by police. (Blake is paralyzed from the waist down and, his family says, handcuffed to his hospital bed.) "We are scared as Black people in America," explained Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. "Black men, Black women, Black kids. We are terrified."

The NBA, WNBA, MLB, Major League Soccer, and NHL postponed games on Wednesday and Thursday, nine teams in the preseason NFL canceled practice, and the Western & Southern Open tennis semifinals were pushed back a day after Naomi Osaka threatened to withdraw from the tournament. "The PGA Tour event at Olympia Fields outside Chicago — less than 100 miles from Kenosha, Wisconsin — went on as scheduled Thursday," The Associated Press reports. "The LPGA Tour is set to begin play Friday in Rogers, Arkansas." Peter Weber

3:28 p.m.

In response to the military coup in Myanmar earlier this month, President Biden imposed targeted sanctions on the regime, freezing $1 billion in government assets in the United States and restricting exports to the military. Biden's hope is the financial hit will force the junta to release detained civilian leaders and cede power back to the elected government, but The New Yorker's Steve Coll examined whether the sanctions can actually produce such a change.

The chances seem slim based on decades of research, Coll points out, including scholarship that shows sanctions achieve their goals only a third of the time. Additionally, "when the goal in the targeted country is to promote democracy" sanctions may even backfire. Dursun Peksen, a political scientist at the University of Memphis and a longtime sanctions researcher, told Coll financial actions may indeed put pressure on their targets, but rather than give in, they'll often crack down on their political opponents even harder because of "an increased sense of vulnerability."

Of course, Biden's options were limited. "The alternative is often business as usual," David Baldwin, a political scientist at Princeton University, told Coll. "How do you justify doing business as usual with a regime like that?"

Ultimately, Coll writes, there is probably a third route aside from unilateral sanctions and no response at all, but it will take "fresh thinking in Washington, deeper collaboration among Democratic allies, humility, and experimentation" to figure out exactly what it looks like. Read more at The New Yorker. Tim O'Donnell

2:54 p.m.

A former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) who accused him of sexual harassment last year has revealed new details of her allegations.

Lindsey Boylan, former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to Cuomo, in a Medium post Wednesday alleged he "abused his power as governor to sexually harass me, just as he had done with so many other women," and created a workplace culture in which sexual harassment and bullying is "not only condoned but expected."

Boylan, who first accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in December, alleged the governor in October 2017 asked her to "play strip poker" while they were flying home from an event and on another occasion kissed her on the lips without consent.

Before then, Boylan describes Cuomo as having made frequent "inappropriate gestures" toward her and going "out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs." She also writes that she was told by her boss that the governor had a "crush" on her, and that the director of the governor's offices told her Cuomo wanted her to look up pictures of his rumored former girlfriend because they "could be sisters" and she was "the better looking sister." Cuomo's "pervasive harassment extended beyond just me," Boylan alleges, adding, "his abusive behavior needs to stop."

The new allegations come as Cuomo is under fire over his handling of data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths in the state, as well as after a Democratic lawmaker alleged the governor threatened him. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) called on Cuomo to "immediately" resign in light of Boylan's allegations.

The governor's press secretary denied the claims on Wednesday, calling them "quite simply false." In reference to the "strip poker" allegation, Cuomo's press secretary pointed to flight manifests in saying "there was no flight where Lindsey was alone with the governor, a single press aide, and a NYS trooper" in October 2017 like she describes. Brendan Morrow

1:28 p.m.

Twitter is probably the last place most of us expect to find thoughtful conversations about epistemology and the philosophy of science. But not all users of the popular social media platform are MC Hammer.

On Tuesday, the rap legend behind "U Can't Touch This" and "2 Legit 2 Quit" shared a link to "The visibility of philosophy of science in the sciences, 1980–2018," an article recently published in the academic journal Nature, with his followers. When a user replied with a comment questioning the value of philosophical inquiry, it was Hammer Time:

Like any good Twitter pedant, Hammer followed up the tweet instantly to correct his own typo:

Many readers of the now-viral exchange were surprised to learn that Hammer has been engaged in public conversations about philosophy for several months. One of his most frequent interlocutors has been Zena Hitz, a tutor at St. John's College and the author of Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life, a book Hammer has described as "amazing." The rapper and the philosopher are set to continue their conversation on Friday with a public chat on the Clubhouse app.

Please, Hammer, don't hurt 'em. Matthew Walther

1:04 p.m.

Defections from the Republican Party have spiked in several key states in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Bloomberg reports.

In Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania around 57,000 voters combined have left the GOP in the weeks following the attack, which many people consider to have been inspired by former President Donald Trump. That number is small compared to the more than 74 million people who voted for Trump last year, but it could still have an effect on the shape of the party going forward and strengthen the former president's base within the GOP's ranks, Bloomberg notes.

The data also indicates that departures are much more significant among Republicans than Democrats. Per Bloomberg, there's always been some fluctuation, but in North Carolina, for example, Democratic and Republican voters had been leaving their parties at roughly the same rate as recently as December 2020. In the days and weeks after Jan. 6, however, the Republican numbers shot up dramatically, while the Democratic figures remained steady. And in Colorado, 11 Republicans have left for every Democrat. Read more about GOP defection data and how it could alter the political landscape in swing states at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

12:43 p.m.

When it comes to the drunk driving case against Bruce Springsteen, it sounds like prosecutors couldn't quite prove it all night.

Prosecutors dropped charges of drunken driving and reckless driving against Springsteen during a hearing on Wednesday, ABC News reports. He did, however, plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of consuming alcohol in a closed area and will pay a $540 fine.

Springsteen was arrested at Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey in November after he was reportedly spotted taking a shot of tequila before he got on his motorcycle. He acknowledged in a Wednesday hearing he had "two small shots of tequila" at the park, where the judge noted alcohol consumption was permitted up until a few years ago, Rolling Stone reports. Asked during Wednesday's hearing how long he needs to pay the $540 fine, Springsteen reportedly told the judge, "I think I can pay that immediately."

The rocker had initially declined to take a preliminary breathalyzer test, but ultimately took one at the ranger station that showed his blood alcohol content was 0.02, lower than the legal limit of 0.08, Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Baker said, according to ABC. Baker acknowledged the government couldn't "sustain its burden of proof" on the DWI and reckless driving charges, per Rolling Stone.

News of the charges against Springsteen broke days after he starred in a Super Bowl commercial for Jeep, which paused the ad "until the actual facts can be established." Brendan Morrow

12:30 p.m.

The House GOP's leadership split is far from patched up.

After former President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol building last month, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was among just a handful of Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the riot. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) meanwhile said he'd only support censuring Trump, as he "bears responsibility" for the attack.

But just a month later, McCarthy already seems ready to welcome Trump back into the party. When asked Wednesday if Trump should be speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend, McCarthy gave a quick "yes." Cheney, meanwhile, said the decision was "up to CPAC," but affirmed her belief that Trump shouldn't "be playing a role in the future of the party or the country."

Following the impeachment, more than a quarter of the House GOP voted secretly to remove Cheney from her leadership post, while Wyoming's state GOP censured her. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:29 a.m.

The Food and Drug Administration appears to be closing in on an emergency use authorization for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which a large clinical trial has shown to be safe and effective. And the "most encouraging" aspect in the FDA's analysis may be the data that suggest the shot works in areas where highly contagious variants are spreading, like Brazil and South Africa.

The overall efficacy rate — that is, protection against any symptomatic infection — in the South African trial was lower than it was in the United States initially, but the numbers did start to even out over time, and after a month, the shot's efficacy rate against severe infections was 82 percent. The figures out of Brazil show a similar trajectory, though the efficacy rate against severe infections was actually slightly higher than in the U.S.

Of course, the trial data is not a guarantee of the vaccine's effectiveness in a real-world setting, but the FDA's breakdown should still help alleviate growing concerns that the so-called South African variant, especially, can completely resist vaccinations, an outcome that would add to the challenge of slowing the pandemic going forward. Tim O'Donnell

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