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Michigan GOP Senate rejects Trump’s claim of election fraud

A months-long probe of the presidential election led by Michigan Republican lawmakers found that claims by former president Donald Trump about widespread voter fraud were false.

According to a report released Wednesday, human error and lack of training were the only factors that contributed to inaccurate and unofficial vote counts, especially in Antrim County, where Trump and his supporters claimed votes were miscalculated in favor of Joe Biden. The report stated: “These errors were quickly discovered and rectified by the protective and redundant systems our state has built to verify and protect election integrity, including re-countable, paper ballots.  Even more significantly, the official vote count was never in doubt and was validated several times, including during a complete, hand recount.”

The four-person committee recommended that legislation strengthen the law regarding the conducting of “logic and accuracy” tests prior to the election, including prohibiting Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications. It also recommends Attorney General Dana Nessel consider investigating those who pushed false claims “to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”

Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes. Court decisions, canvassers and reviews by officials reinforced the outcome of the vote.

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President Joe Biden announces ‘major crackdown’ on illegal gun sales

President Joe Biden said that his administration will implement a “major crackdown” on illegal gun sales, unveiling a plan to slow the increase of gun violence in the United States. Biden announced on Wednesday that the plan included gun control measures, support for law enforcement and helping formerly jailed individuals re-enter society amid an increase in homicides in the country and an expected rise in violence in the summer months. “We are announcing a major crackdown to stem the flow of guns used to commit violent crimes,” the President said. “It is zero tolerance for those who willfully violate key existing laws and regulations.”

The President’s plan aims to hold “rogue” firearms dealers responsible for violating federal gun laws, give law enforcement resources to address traditional summer increases in crime, invest in community violence interventions, support unemployment and youth programs, and assist initiatives that help formerly incarcerated people successfully re-enter the community. Biden said: “If you willfully sell a gun to someone who is prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with the tracing requests or inspections, my message to you is this. ‘We will find you and we’ll seek your license to sell guns.’”

Gun violence has also risen significantly in the United States in 2021, with several mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., in March and San Jose, Calif., last month.

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Stanley Cup semifinals: NY Islanders defeat Tampa Bay Lightening in OT 3-2, tie series at 3-3

The NY Islanders’ Anthony Beauvillier scored 1:08 into overtime, as his team rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Wednesday night to force a deciding Game 7 in their Stanley Cup semifinal series.

Jordan Eberle and Scott Mayfield also scored for the Islanders, who rallied from two goals down in the second period. Semyon Varlamov finished with 22 saves. Brayden Point scored for the ninth straight game and Anthony Cirelli had a goal and an assist for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 25 shots.

Game 7 is Friday night in Tampa, Fla.

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Kawhi Leonard ruled out of Los Angeles Clipper vs. Phoenix Suns Game 3 with knee injury

The Los Angeles Clippers announced Wednesday that Kawhi Leonard will miss Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals due to a knee injury.  Game 3 will move to Staples Center on Thursday, after the Phoenix Suns took a 2-0 series lead at home.

Leonard hasn’t taken the floor since playing 34 minutes in a 14-point victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Through 11 games played this postseason, he is averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

Game 3 is set for 9 p.m. ET on Thursday to air on ESPN.

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Senate Republicans block voting rights reform bill in 50-50 vote

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights reform bill titled For the People Act in an evenly split vote. The Senate voted 50-50 along party lines, with Democrats failing to secure the 60 votes necessary to avoid a Republican filibuster on the procedural vote to open debate on the bill.

The For the People Act features a wide range of provisions aimed at expanding access to ballots, including automatic voter registration for all who are eligible and ensuring the right to vote for those who have completed felony sentences, enhancing federal support for voting security and tightening fundraising rules for super PACs.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell characterized the bill as a power grab by Democrats, saying, “At the end of the day which concocted crisis Democrats use as a justification for their top legislative priority doesn’t make much difference. They’ve made it abundantly clear that the real driving force behind S.1 is a desire to rig the rules of American elections permanently in Democrats’ favor.”  However, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called the Republican opposition to the bill “indefensible,” saying that members of the GOP had aligned themselves with former President Donald Trump, who claimed without evidence that widespread voter fraud led to his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who presided over the vote, said that “the fight is not over” as she and President Joe Biden will continue to push for voting reform including the more moderate John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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White House says U.S. will not hit July 4 vaccination goal

A White House task force announced Tuesday that the United States won’t hit President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% of all adults vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 shot by July 4th. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 177 million adults 18 years old and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 shot and more than 150 million are fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures. That accounts for 65.4% of adults with at least one dose, shy of the 70% target.  President Biden set the goal in May in an attempt to boost vaccination rates, which have slowed in recent weeks. The United States vaccinated a peak of seven-day rolling average of 3.38 million Americans in a day in mid-April, a figure that dropped to below 1 million in early June.  Biden also sought to have 160 million adults fully vaccinated by Independence Day.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said the United States should reach that goal “a few extra weeks” after the July 4 holiday weekend, adding that the country has met the 70% goal for Americans 30 years old and older, and should hit the goal by the end of July 4 weekend for Americans 27 and older.

Zients noted that the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus is spreading throughout communities in the United States and that the unvaccinated are particularly vulnerable, saying: “It’s now more important than ever for them to get vaccinated. Our work doesn’t stop at July Fourth or when we hit 70 percent.”   Zients highlighted that 16 states have hit the 70% goal, as well as Americans over the age of 30, saying in part: “That’s life-saving progress. Throughout the last 5 months the president has set goals to rally the American people behind defeating the virus with the most important and most ambitious being to celebrate our independence from the virus on July Fourth — for America to look like America again.”

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Toronto Blue Jays’ Alek Manoah receives 5-game ban, fine for throwing at Orioles’ Maikel Franco

Rookie right-hander Alek Manoah of the Toronto Blue Jays was suspended five games and issued a fine for throwing at Baltimore Orioles third baseman Maikel Franco over the weekend, causing a benches-clearing altercation.  MLB also announced that Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo received a one-game suspension. Montoyo served the ban Tuesday when his team played against the Miami Marlins, while Manoah decided to appeal his suspension.

Manoah was ejected from Saturday’s game against the Orioles for hitting Franco with a pitch after giving up back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning. Manoah plunked Franco on his left shoulder on the first pitch of the at-bat, triggering the benches and bullpens to empty, causin the umpires to eject Manoah from the game.

Manoah said after the game: “I tried to get that fastball in, and it slipped awayI was confused by [Franco’s] reaction. I was questioning, ‘What’s going on? What’s wrong?’ Those were my hand gestures as I was walking toward him. I didn’t understand the frustration there.”

The 23-year-old Manoah has a 1-0 record and 4.18 ERA over five starts for the Blue Jays, earning 27 strikeouts and nine walks this season.

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NBA to implement rules limiting non-basketball moves used to draw fouls

The NBA plans to implement new rules for the 2021-22 season that will limit non-basketball moves that players have used to draw fouls.  The changes must go through the Competition Committee and Board of Governors for final approval, but could go into effect in time for the Las Vegas Summer League season in August if officials receive training to properly call specific actions players use in an attempt to generate favorable calls:

Under the new rules, overt actions “will now be officiated as offensive fouls (if deemed more than marginal) or no-calls (if marginal).” There has been recent speculation that the NBA was looking at changing rules to limit players from making unnatural moves during jump shots in an attempt to draw fouls.  James Harden and Trae Young are among the notable players who have been accused of hunting fouls and manipulating their bodies in an attempt to get referees to blow the whistle.  The NBA’s new rules will result in those movements either being called an offensive foul or the officials just won’t blow the whistle.

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Trump Organization sues NYC after golf course contract canceled in wake of Capitol attack

The Trump Organization sued the city of New York on Monday, after it ended its contract for a golf course at Ferry Point Park in the Bronx, in the wake of the attack on the US Capitol on January 6. In a lawsuit filed in state court in Manhattan, the company alleged wrongful termination of the contract in mid-January, saying the city and Mayor Bill de Blasio had “denounced President (Donald) Trump in the most inflammatory terms” and “incited others to terminate business with Trump-related entities” the day after the riot.  The company also said in the lawsuit that “Mayor de Blasio had a pre-existing, politically-based predisposition to terminate Trump-related contracts, and the City used the events of January 6, 2021 as a pretext to do so.” The company had operated the Bronx golf course since 2015.
Mayor de Blasio’s spokesman, Bill Neidhardt, said on Twitter: “Donald Trump directly incited a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. You do that, and you lose the privilege of doing business with the City of New York. It’s as simple as that.”
New York City had moved in January to terminate its business relationships with the Trump Organization in response to the then-President’s actions on January 6. They include two of his banks, Deutsche Bank and Signature Bank, credit card processor Stripe, Shopify and the PGA of America, which announced it was pulling a major golf tournament from one of Trump’s courses.

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Judge dismisses lawsuits against federal officials in Lafayette Square protest

On Monday, a federal judge dismissed a series of lawsuits filed against the federal government for its use of force to drive Black Lives Matter protesters out of Lafayette Square last year. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that claims filed against local officers involved in forcibly dispersing the crowd on June 1, 2020, could go forward, but rejected claims for damages against former officials including President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper along with some current officials.

The lawsuits, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Black Lives Matter D.C. and individual protesters alleged that protesters’ First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights were violated when U.S. law enforcement agents fired tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and flash bombs to force them and other peaceful protesters to disperse as Trump posed for photos at a nearby church.

A report by an Interior Departments watchdog earlier this month said that U.S. Park Police cleared the protesters from the area to erect fencing and not to make way for Trump’s photo.

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