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Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich placed on IL after testing positive for COVID-19

The Milwaukee Brewers announced that outfielder Christian Yelich has tested positive for COVID-19.  The Brewers’ president of baseball operations, David Stearns, shared on Tuesday that Yelich would be placed on the COVID-IL list. Yelich is fully vaccinated, but is experiencing mild symptoms. The 29-year-old is at home resting.

Because Yelich tested positive, he is required to quarantine for 10 days; due to contact tracing, infielder Jace Peterson has also been placed on the IL and will be out a minimum of seven days. The Brewers are one of the MLB teams that has reached the 85% vaccination threshold, allowing for relaxed protocols. Those include allowing fully vaccinated players and staff to stop wearing masks in dugouts, bullpens and clubhouses. Fully vaccinated players and staff are also permitted to eat in restaurants without restrictions.

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Simone Biles speaks out after she withdraws from Olympics gymnastics team final

Simone Biles is speaking out after withdrawing from the Olympic team final on Tuesday, leaving in the middle of the competition after she struggled to land a vault.

Biles said: “After the performance that I did, I didn’t want to go into any of the other events second guessing myself, so I thought it was better if I took a step back and let these girls go out there and do the job and they did just that.” Biles also mentioned her mental health, saying, “I was still struggling with some things. Therapy has helped a lot as well as medicine. That’s all been going really well. Whenever you get in high-stress situations, you kind of freak out and don’t know really know how to handle all of those emotions especially at the Olympic Games.” Fighting back tears, she added: “This Olympic Games I wanted it to be for myself. I came in and felt like I was still doing it for other people. That just hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”

For the final three events, Biles cheered on her teammates. However without her, the U.S. women did not have enough to defeat Russia, who claimed the gold medal. The U.S. women earned the silver medal.

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Department of Veterans Affairs mandates COVID-19 vaccine for medical employees

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs announced on Monday that it will mandate COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare personnel. The VA secretary said in an announcement the mandate applies to Title 38 VA healthcare personnel, such as physicians, nurses, dentists and chiropractors, “who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities, visit VHA facilities or provide direct care to those VA serves.” The mandate gives each of them up to eight weeks to become fully vaccinated. It’s the first such mandate at a federal agency in the United States.

The announcement comes on the same day over 50 major healthcare groups advocated for employers mandating COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare workers. Both moves come after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky comes recently warned that COVID-19 was becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” The CDC chief explained that there was a rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths due to the Delta variant, especially among the unvaccinated population.

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President Biden says US combat mission in Iraq will conclude by end of year

President Joe Biden said at the White House on Monday alongside Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi that the United States’ combat mission in Iraq will be over by the end of this year. Biden told reporters in the Oval Office the U.S. focus in Iraq will shift to an advisory one before 2021 is over, saying, “I think things are going well. Our role in Iraq will be to be available to continue to train, to assist to help, and to deal with ISIS as it arrives. But we’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission.”

Biden’s announcement came as al-Kahdhimi visited the White House to talk about the continued presence of U.S. troops in the country, and possibly changing their role. The U.S. military presence in Iraq, which dates to former President George W. Bush, hit a crossroads in January 2020 when a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, leader of that country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, while he was in Iraq.

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Sam Bennett signs 4-year, $17.6M extension with Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers signed center Sam Bennett to a four-year, $17.6 million contract extension on Monday. That contract carries a $4.4 million salary cap hit each year; he would have been eligible for restricted free agency starting on Wednesday.  Panthers general manager Bill Zito said in a statement: “Sam’s impact on our club this past season was seen immediately, injecting physicality, skill and energy into our lineup. We are thrilled to have him in our Panthers lineup and look forward to what he can bring to our offense in the upcoming 2021-22 season.”

Florida acquired Bennett from the Calgary Flames just before the trade deadline for a prospect and a second-round pick. Bennett finished the regular season with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 10 games before recording five points (one goal, four assists) in five playoff games.

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QB Aaron Rodgers expected to finalize deal to return to the Green Bay Packers for 2021 season

The Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers are close to an agreement that would bring the quarterback back to the team for the upcoming season. According to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said at a shareholders meeting on Monday that hat he hoped Rodgers will be the Packers’ quarterback “beyond” the 2021 season, Schefter said the agreement “would set up Rodgers’ departure from Green Bay” after this season.

Schefter said the team had agreed to void his final year under contract — 2023 — and would “review” the status of the 2022 season after the upcoming season. This means Rodgers could potentially return for two more seasons.

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House Speaker Pelosi nominates Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger to join Jan. 6 committee

On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Ilinois to serve on the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Pelosi noted Kinzinger’s experience as an Air Force veteran and Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard, and said he “brings great patriotism” to the committee after vetoing two of five selections for the committee made by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.  Said Pelosi:  “On January 6th, insurrectionists attempted to overthrow the government during the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812. It is imperative that we get to the truth of that day and ensure that such an attack can never again happen. That is why we established the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, which is bipartisan.”

Kinzinger tweeted that he has accepted Pelosi’s nomination:  “For months, we have searched for answers and what process we should use to get them. For months, lies and conspiracy theories have been spread, threatening our self-governance. For months, I have said that the American people deserve transparency and truth on how and why thousands showed up to attack our democracy, and ultimately, what led to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Complex on January 6, 2021.”

Kinzinger will join Pelosi’s other picks: Republican Rep. Liz Cheney; Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Adam Schiff, Pete Aguilar, Stephanie Murphy, Jamie Raskin, Elaine Luria, and Rep. Bennie Thomas, who will chair the committee nomination.

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California’s Dixie Fire continues to grow, destroying 16 structures; Oregon’s Bootleg Fire reaches 46% containment

Fire officials said Sunday that California’s Dixie Fire — the largest active blaze in California — has destroyed 16 structures throughout the state as multiple wildfires continue to burn on the West Coast.  According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, more than 10,700 structures in Butte and Plumas Counties remain threatened by the Dixie Fire as it has grown to 190,625 acres and is just 21% contained

Officials deployed 5,022 fire personnel to combat the fire, but weather conditions have made efforts difficult.  The U.S. Forest Service said in a statement: “Atmospheric conditions are less stable and therefore large pyrocumulus clouds are expected to develop over the fire increasing the potential for spot fires and rapid fire growth.”

Firefighters in Oregon worked to improve containment on the Bootleg Fire, the largest active blaze in the United States, increasing containment to 46% as the blaze has burned 408,930 acres. Joel Hessel, incident commander for the Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team said: “The progress that we have made is due to the continuous, vigilant work by our crews. Severe fire weather conditions and extremely dry fuels continue to challenge us on this fire.”

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San Diego Padres acquire second baseman Adam Frazier in trade with Pirates

San Diego has acquired All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier in a trade with the Pirates, in return for three minor league players in the deal: shortstop Tucupita Marcano, right-handed pitcher Mitchell Miliano and outfielder Jack Suwinski.

The 29-year-old Frazier has been among baseball’s breakout stars this season, batting .324/.388/.448 with 58 runs scored in 98 games. He currently leads the majors with 125 hits this year and will not be a free agent until after the 2022 season.

San Diego already has an All-Star at second base in Jake Cronenworth, though he also has experience at first. Frazier’s arrival could possibly move Cronenworth there, reducing play time for current first baseman Eric Hosmer.

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France defeats Team USA for their first Olympic men’s basketball loss since 2004

France defeated Team USA 83-76 in the 2020 Summer Games basketball tournament Sunday in Saitama, Japan. The win snapped Team USA’s 25-game winning streak at the Olympics. The loss on Sunday was the first time Team USA were defeated in an Olympic men’s basketball competition since a defeat to Argentina in the 2004 Summer Games.

Evan Fournier scored 28 points to lead France to victory. Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday scored a team-high 18 points, and Kevin Durant to just 10 points.

The Czech Republic, Italy and Australia picked up wins in their first-round games at the 2020 Summer Games men’s basketball tournament Sunday. The first round of the women’s tournament starts Monday. Team USA will next face Iran in another preliminary round game on Wednesday.

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