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Serena Williams to skip Summer Olympics in Japan

Tennis star Serena Williams said Sunday she won’t compete at the Summer Olympics in Japan. The 39-year-old declined to offer a specific reason for her decision to not travel to Tokyo.

Williams told reporters at Wimbledon, which is set to begin this week: “I’m actually not on the Olympic list, not that I’m aware of. If so, then I shouldn’t be on it…. There’s a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision. I don’t really want to — I don’t feel like going into them today. Maybe another day. Sorry, I have not thought about it. In the past, [the Olympics] has been a wonderful place for me. I really haven’t thought about it, so I’m going to keep not thinking about it.”  Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, is working for an eight Wimbledon title and a record-tying 24th major championship this week.

Williams has captured four gold medals in tennis, most recently in women’s singles play in 2012.  Williams beat Maria Sharapova in the women’s final to win gold at the London Games, and she partnered with her sister, Venus, to earn gold medals in doubles competition in Sydney in 2000, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.

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Harris English defeats Kramer Hickok in 8-Hole Playoff at 2021 Travelers Championship

Harris English birdied on the eighth sudden-death playoff hole –hole No. 80 –to defeat Kramer Hickok and capture his fourth career PGA Tour victory, and his second of 2021.  The eight-hole playoff is tied for the second-longest in PGA history (sudden-death format).

Marc Leishman finished third, one stroke off the lead. Abraham Ancer was fourth at 11 under, followed by a group of five golfers at 10 under highlighted by Brooks Koepka.

English now sits second in FedEx Cup standings. He’ll be looking to top a career-best of 15th in next month’s Open Championship.

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Florida building collapse: 3 dead, as many as 99 missing as search continues

At least three people are dead and as many as 99 are unaccounted for after a 12-story residential building partially collapsed early on Thursday in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small, beachside town of Surfside, about 6 miles north of Miami Beach, was reported around 1:30 a.m. A massive search and rescue operation was launched before dawn and crews are still carefully combing through the wreckage and remaining structure in hopes of finding survivors.

As of press time, crews have rescued 35 people who were trapped in the building and two others from beneath the rubble, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah. Officials said 102 people have been accounted for. Miami-Dade county officials say it’s been difficult determining how many people were in that section of the complex partly because there isn’t an on-scene management company that keeps track. The condominium is a mix of full-time residents, seasonal residents, renters and short-term visitors, so authorities have been relying largely on neighbors and word of mouth. The oceanfront condominium has 136 units, and approximately 55 of them collapsed along the northeast corridor.

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President Biden and bipartisan senators agree to $1.2 trillion framework infrastructure deal

President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators announced on Thursday that they’d reached a framework $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal. Speaking in the White House driveway, Biden said, “They have my word, and I’ll stick with what they proposed, and they’ve given me their word as well — and where I come from, that’s good enough for me. We made serious compromises on both ends. They did not — and I understand their position — the Republicans did not want to go along with the human infrastructure that I talk about, and we’ll see what happens in the reconciliation bill and the budget process. If we get some compromise there and if we can’t, see if I can attract all Democrats to the position where they can move it on the dual track.”

Biden said that while the deal isn’t exactly what he wanted, nor is it exactly what Republicans wanted, the fact that they did reach a bipartisan consensus makes their agreement all the more significant. The deal would see $1.2 trillion in spending over eight years, including $579 billion in new spending over the first five years.

However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday there “ain’t” going to be an infrastructure bill in the House unless the Senate passes a broader reconciliation bill that includes progressive priorities. Pelosi said: “We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill.  If there is no bipartisan bill, then we’ll just go when the Senate passes a reconciliation bill.  Plain and simple. In fact, I used the word ‘ain’t.’ There ain’t going to be an infrastructure bill unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate.”  She did add that she’s “hopeful” for bipartisanship.

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Montreal Canadiens eliminate Vegas Golden Knights in OT to advance to Stanley Cup final

The Montreal Canadiens have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993, after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in overtime on Thursday at the Bell Centre. Artturi Lehkonen clinched the win for the Canadiens with an overtime game-winner following passes from Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher.

The Canadiens took the series from the Golden Knights 4 games to 2 in the best-of-7 matchup. Montreal will now face either the Tampa Bay Lightning or New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Final.

Tampa will host New York for Game 7 of its Stanley Cup semifinal series tonight, 6/25 at 8 p.m. ET in Amalie Arena.

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Trai Turner agrees to 1-year contract with Pittsburgh Steelers after they release David DeCastro

Veteran offensive lineman Trai Turner agreed to a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, in the wake of Pittsburgh announcing earlier in the day that it released David DeCastro. DeCastro, 31, was released with a non-football injury designation.  He was in the final season of a six-year, $58.07 million contract, and the decision to part ways with him saves Pittsburgh $8.75 million in cap space.

DeCastro has started 124 of 125 games in which he has played during his NFL career. He was a First Team All-Pro in 2015 and 2017 and voted to six straight Pro Bowls from 2015-20.

The Los Angeles Chargers released the 27-year-old Turner prior to the start of the NFL’s official 2021 league year, a move that saved them $11.5 million in cap space. Turner, 28, started nine games at right guard in his only season with the Chargers in 2020. He missed one game with a knee injury and six with a groin injury.

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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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