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April 16, 2021

Arkansas is one step closer to celebrating Arkansas Day instead of Confederate Flag Day.

On Thursday, the Arkansas House voted 80-7 in favor of legislation that would abolish Confederate Flag Day, established in response to the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock Central High School, The Associated Press reports. Confederate Flag Day is the Saturday before Easter.

The bill's authors wrote that Arkansas Day will honor the state's "rich history, national treasures, diverse cultures, unmatched hospitality, shared spirit spirit, and human resilience." The measure now heads to the state Senate, and if it passes, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said he will sign it. Catherine Garcia

December 16, 2020

It may have taken too long in the eyes of many, but Major League Baseball announced Wednesday it will formally elevate the Negro Leagues between 1920 and 1948, when baseball was segregated, to "major league" status, Ben Lindbergh reports for The Ringer.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, per a statement from the league, said "we are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as major leaguers within the official historical record."

That means statistics compiled in the aforementioned timeframe — for example, no-hitters thrown by Satchel Paige, or home runs hit by Josh Gibson — will be integrated into MLB's record book. While consistent record-keeping has been challenging for Negro League historians, the counting stats like hits and homers that have been tallied should transition fairly easily. On the other hand, there will likely be some debate over rate stats, like batting average, since Negro League seasons were shorter, although John Thorn, MLB's official historian, said he believes integration means integration, full stop.

Statistical discussions will take place over time, but, most importantly, the decision is seen as a long-overdue move to right a wrong, and it has been warmly received by baseball writers and former Negro League ballplayers, few of whom from the designated time period are still living, alike. Ron Teasley, a 93-year-old who played for the New York Cubans in 1948, told The Ringer "it's a wonderful thing." Teasley was actually signed by the Dodgers, per The Ringer, but never played a game for them. Now, he will officially have played in the majors regardless.

Of course, people who played in or are knowledgeable about the Negro Leagues never thought they weren't on par with the American and National Leagues. Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, told The Ringer the players "knew how good they were" and "didn't need the validation," but added that "for history's sake, this is significant." Read more at The Ringer. Tim O'Donnell

December 16, 2020

After months and months of negotiations, Congress may finally have a coronavirus deal.

Earlier Wednesday, congressional leaders pledged to stay in Washington until they passed a coronavirus stimulus bill and a package to fund the government. But they may not have to stay late after all, as Politico reports negotiators are "on the brink" of a new coronavirus relief bill that includes direct stimulus payments to Americans.

The last coronavirus relief bill expired at the end of July, and some of its unemployment provisions were set to run out at the end of December. A breakthrough in stagnating negotiations came last month as a group of bipartisan senators worked out a $760 billion relief package that Democratic leaders and some Republicans agreed to support. As of Wednesday, that package has increased to $900 billion, but details are scant, CNN reports. It will likely exclude the liability shield for businesses facing coronavirus-related lawsuits that Democrats opposed, as well as local and state funding Republicans weren't fans of. And while senators on both sides of the aisle demanded another round of stimulus checks, they may not be happy with how small they are.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), one of the centrist senators who organized the original bipartisan bill, affirmed to CNN on Wednesday that congressional negotiators will "maybe" agree to some direct payments "in lieu of state and local" funding. He wasn't sure exactly how much the checks would be, but said they "wouldn't be more than $1,200," and would likely be in the "$500-600 range." Kathryn Krawczyk

November 13, 2020

Kim Ng just made Major League Baseball history.

The Miami Marlins on Friday announced Ng has been hired as the team's general manager, making her the first female Major League Baseball GM, ESPN reports. She's also the "second person of Asian descent to lead an MLB team," MLB says. Ng was previously MLB's senior vice president of baseball operations since 2011 and before that worked for the Chicago White Sox, the New York Yankees, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I entered Major League Baseball as an intern and, after decades of determination, it is the honor of my career to lead the Miami Marlins as their next general manager," Ng said in a statement, going on to say that "when I got into this business, it seemed unlikely a woman would lead a Major League team, but I am dogged in the pursuit of my goals. My goal is now to bring Championship baseball to Miami."

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said "we look forward to Kim bringing a wealth of knowledge and championship-level experience to the Miami Marlins," adding, "her leadership of our baseball operations team will play a major role on our path toward sustained success."

From 1998 to 2001, Ng worked as the New York Yankees' assistant general manager, and at 29, she made history at the time as the youngest person and second woman to serve in that role, NBC News reports. In addition to being MLB's first female general manager, according to ESPN, Ng will also become "the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations among the league's 30 teams." Brendan Morrow

September 18, 2020

President Trump is finally getting around to approving aid for Puerto Ricans hit hard by Hurricane Maria — three years after the storm devastated the island.

Trump will approve an $11.6 billion package orchestrated by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-N.Y.), CBS News' David Begnaud first reported. The funding will go toward rebuilding Puerto Rico's power grid that was largely destroyed during the hurricane, leaving some people without power for nearly a year, as well as to the island's education systems.

In a Thursday statement, Velasquez, who is from Puerto Rico and championed relief measures after Hurricane Maria, suggested Trump's motivations were largely political. Trump "dragged his feet and resisted allocating these badly needed funds" for the past three years, but "47 days before the election," seemed to have a change of heart, Velasquez said.

The Los Angeles Times' Chris Megerian was more explicit. In a tweet, he noted that Puerto Ricans are a "key demographic" in Florida; the more than 1 million estimated Puerto Ricans in the swing state could easily push it and the entire presidential race in Trump's direction. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 17, 2020

The results are finally in.

Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal and progressive, has officially defeated Rep. Eliot Engel in the Democratic race to represent the Bronx and parts of Westchester County in New York. Results had been pointing in Bowman's favor since the June 23 election, and with 100 percent of precincts reporting on Friday, Bowman was declared the winner with 55.5 percent of the vote to Engel's 40.4 percent.

Engel has held his seat for more than 30 years, was the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, and received endorsements from top Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Bowman. His victory has been compared to Ocasio-Cortez's triumph over another longtime New York Democrat in 2018.

Bowman campaigned to the left of Engel, and called him out for not returning to his district during the coronavirus pandemic. When Engel eventually did come back, he was caught on a hot mic saying he "wouldn't care" about speaking at a press conference about racial justice protests "if I didn't have a primary." Kathryn Krawczyk

April 21, 2020

The Senate Intelligence Committee has finally concluded what the rest of the intelligence community did years ago.

On Tuesday, the GOP-led committee released its report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. It confirms Kremlin-led interference in the election was aimed at helping President Trump, in contrast with what Trump has repeatedly brushed off as a "hoax."

The report released Tuesday is heavily redacted, but it's clear that it confirms the U.S. intelligence community's assessment made back in January 2017. It echoes conclusions made in the 2017 report, noting there was "specific intelligence reporting to support the assessment that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russian government demonstrated a preference for candidate Trump." The committee also concluded there was evidence showing Putin had "approved and directed aspects" of that interference.

"The committee found no reason to dispute the intelligence community's conclusions," Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.) confirmed in a statement. Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) added that there was "no reason to doubt that the Russians' success in 2016 is leading them to try again in 2020" — something former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and many other intelligence professionals have warned of for years. Kathryn Krawczyk

September 20, 2019

Antonio Brown is out of a job.

The wide receiver was released from the New England Patriots on Friday following an investigation into allegations of sexual assault. A woman has accused him of rape and sexual assault and sending threatening text messages, which Brown has denied through an attorney.

Earlier Friday, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick told a press conference of reporters that he wouldn't answer any questions about Brown. They asked anyway, and he abruptly ended the conference.

Brown has been at the center of several claims of wrongdoing, allegedly refusing to comply with NFL equipment policies and facing fines after an altercation with the general manager of the Oakland Raiders, in addition to allegedly failing to pay former assistants. He was released from the Raiders before the season began and picked up by the Patriots, playing one game with New England under a $15 million contract as the allegations became public. Kathryn Krawczyk

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