The Rundown for December 25, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 18,649,352 and the nation’s death toll stands at 329,022, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… A forecasting model by researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now predicts there will be 567,000 deaths in the U.S. by April. They warned that deaths could surpass 5,000 per day by mid-February if governments don’t order additional restrictions… California became the first state in the nation to surpass 2 million cases, just 44 days after recording 1 million cases on November 11. The state also reported a record of 18,875 hospitalizations including another record with 3,962 patients in ICU units.

A SCALED-DOWN CHRISTMAS… 2020 leaves us with a scaled-down Christmas, as pandemic restrictions are limiting and altering normal holiday traditions. Fewer Americans are traveling to spend the holiday with family and friends and bigger churches are having to limit attendance at services. Last night’s Christmas vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica was moved up a few hours to comply with Italy’s 10 p.m. curfew. Pope Francis reflected on Christmas’ significance and urged followers to reach out to the needy.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS BLOCK STIMULUS BILL PUSH… House Republicans yesterday blocked Democrats’ efforts to raise Americans’ stimulus checks to $2,000. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the effort after President Trump called the previously agreed-upon $600 checks a “disgrace” but her GOP counterpart, Kevin McCarthy, denied her attempt to amend the bill by unanimous consent. Afterward, Pelosi released a statement urging Trump to rally Republican support in Monday’s full House vote. Experts say it will take at least two weeks for the Treasury to get cash into individuals’ bank accounts after any new legislation is signed.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN SUFFERS ANOTHER COURT LOSS… The Trump campaign was denied gain yesterday in its latest bid to persuade the courts to overturn his defeat in last month’s presidential election. A federal appeals court unanimously rejected Trump’s attempt to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Wisconsin. The three-judge panel consisted of Trump appointees. Judge Michael Scudder of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said the election changes were not significant enough to run afoul of the Constitution’s provision that state legislatures determine the manner of selecting presidential electors. He also faulted Trump for challenging those provisions after the election, rather than before.

CALIFORNIA FIRE PROMPTS EVACUATIONS… A wildfire near the Camp Pendleton Marine Base in Southern California forced the evacuation of about 7,000 people last night. The fire started the night before and by yesterday morning grew to 3,050 acres with zero-percent containment. Crews are containment lines for the blaze, which officials say was fueled by steep terrain, difficult access and winds.

ENTERTAINMENT
‘COBRA KAI’ SEASON 3 DEBUTS JAN. 1
… Netflix announced yesterday that Season 3 of the “Karate Kid” sequel series “Cobra Kai” will debut on New Year’s Day. The streaming service had originally scheduled the debut for a week later. The half-hour, action-dramedy picks up more than 30 years after high-school rivals Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) famously competed at the All Valley Karate Tournament. The frenemies are now senseis at their own vastly different karate schools. The show has already been renewed for a fourth season.

NEVERLAND RANCH SELLS… Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in California has a new owner. Billionaire businessman Ron Burkle purchased the 2,700-acre property near Santa Barbara for $22 million. The property was listed for $100 million in 2016 then dropped to $67 million a year later. In addition to a 12,500 square-foot main residence and a 3,700 square-foot pool house, the property boasts a separate building with a 50-seat movie theater and a dance studio. Other features on the ranch are a “Disney-style” train station, a fire house and barn.

SPORTS
TODAY’S NFL SCHEDULE

Minnesota (6-8) is at New Orleans (10-4)

SATURDAY’S NFL SCHEDULE
Tampa Bay (9-5) is at Detroit (5-9)…
Arizona (8-6) hosts San Francisco (5-9)…
Miami (9-5) is at Las Vegas (7-7)

SUNDAY’S NFL SCHEDULE
Atlanta (4-10) is at Kansas City (13-1)…
the N.Y. Jets (1-13) host Cleveland (10-4)…
Indianapolis (10-4) is at Pittsburgh (11-3)…
Jacksonville (1-13) hosts Chicago (7-7)…
the N.Y. Giants (5-9) are at Baltimore (9-5)…
Houston (4-10) hosts Cincinnati (3-10-1)…
Denver (5-9) is at the L.A. Chargers (5-9)…
Washington (6-8) hosts Carolina (4-20)…
Philadelphia (4-9-1) is at Dallas (5-9)…
Seattle (10-4) hosts the L.A. Rams (9-5)…
Tennessee (10-4) is at Green Bay (11-3)

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL..
Buffalo (11-3) is at New England (6-8)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCORE
Memphis 25, Florida Atlantic 10 in the Montgomery Bowl

TODAY’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL SCHEDULE
Marshall (7-2) plays Buffalo (5-1) in the Camelia Bowl

SATURDAY’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL SCHEDULE
No. 19 Louisiana plays Texas-San Antonio in the First Responder Bowl…
Western Kentucky plays Georgia State in the LendingTree Bowl…
No. 12 Coastal Carolina plays Liberty in the Mortgage Cure Bowl…

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS… Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and his favorite receiver DeVonta Smith have been named as Heisman Trophy finalists. Quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence of Clemson and Florida’s Kyle Trask are the other two plays up for the award. Jones and Smith are the eighth set of teammates to be finalists together since the tradition started in 1982. Smith is trying to become the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. The Heisman will be awarded January 5 during a virtual ceremony.

TODAY’S NBA SCHEDULE
New Orleans is at Miami…
Milwaukee hosts Golden State…
Brooklyn is at Boston…
the L.A. Lakers host Dallas…
the L.A. Clippers are at Denver

MLB NEWS… The Washington Nationals have acquired first baseman Josh Bell from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for pitchers Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean. The 28-year-old Bell was an All-Star in 2019 before an injury-shortened second half of the season. He hit just eight homers while batting a career-low .226 in 57 games for the Pirates in 2020.

The Rundown for December 22, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 18,035,209 and the nation’s death toll stands at 319,364, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. yesterday recorded a second straight day of fewer than 200,000 cases and a fourth straight day of declining deaths. The decline in cases followed a record high of 249,700 on Friday. Figures show that hospitalizations in the United States are leveling off.

CONGRESS APPROVES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF BILLS… Congress has approved more than $900 billion for coronavirus assistance following an agreement reached Sunday night. The House voted to approve the two long-awaited bills and the Senate followed. The legislation will now go to President Trump, who has said he will sign it. The package contains direct stimulus payments for individuals of $600 to $700. It also includes enhanced federal unemployment benefits of $300 per week, $330 billion for small business loans, more than $80 billion for schools and several billion dollars to cover the costs of distributing COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.

ROBERT E. LEE STATUE REMOVED FROM CAPITOL… A statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee was removed from the U.S. Capitol yesterday. Lee’s statue will be replaced by one of Barbara Johns, a Black woman who as a 16-year-old led classmates on a walkout of her segregated school. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam requested the removal of Lee’s statue over the summer.

WILLIAM BARR SEES NO NEED FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR… Attorney General William Barr said yesterday that he does not see a need for a special prosecutor in the criminal investigation of Hunter Biden or the November election. The announcement defied President Trump, who had been pushing for a special counsel to investigate the son of President-elect Joe Biden. Barr, who is stepping down effective tomorrow, will be replaced by Deputy Attorney General Jeffery Rosen.

HOUSE DEMS WANT ANSWERS ABOUT COVID RESPONSE… House Democrats have subpoenaed two top White House health officials. The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis wants to ask Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield about Trump Administration interference in scientific reports related to the coronavirus. Democrat Majority Whip James Clyburn said former HHS Assistant Secretary Michael Caputo, senior adviser Paul Alexander and other officials engaged in a “far-reaching campaign to influence CDC’s scientific reports, despite pushback from career staff.”

ENTERTAINMENT
JOHN MULANEY IN REHAB
… Comedian John Mulaney, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer who won an Emmy Award in 2018 for his stand-up special “Kid Gorgeous at Radio City,” has reportedly checked himself into a Pennsylvania rehab facility to receive treatment for cocaine and alcohol abuse. The 38-year-old Mulaney hosted “SNL” for the fourth time just days before the 2020 election and has been writing for “Late Night with Seth Meyers” in recent weeks. He has previously discussed his struggles with drugs and alcohol and first got sober at age 23.

K.T. OSLIN DIES… K.T. Oslin, the first female songwriter to win the CMA Award for Song of the Year for her 1987 hit “80’s Ladies,” died yesterday after a battle with Parkinson’s disease and Covid-19. She was 78. Oslin’s chart-topping 1987 debut country album “80’s Ladies,” featured the Top 10 title track and a pair of No. 1 country hits in “Do Ya” and “I’ll Always Come Back.” Oslin was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.

SPORTS
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

CINCINNATI 27 – Pittsburgh 17
… The Bengals (3-10-1) built a 17-0 halftime lead on the way to handing the Steelers (11-3) their third straight loss. Giovanni Bernard ran 4 yards for one second-quarter touchdown and caught a 14-yard pass for another. Quarterback Ryan Finley ran yards for fourth-quarter score. The victory was Cincinnati’s first over Pittsburgh in 12 tries.

NFL NEWS… Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene died yesterday of undisclosed causes, his family confirmed. He was 58. Greene was a two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection. His 160 career sacks rank third in league history behind only Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198). Greene, who played for the L.A. Rams, Pittsburgh, Carolina and San Francisco during his 15-year career, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES
No. 1 GONZAGA 95, Northwestern State 57…
No. 2 BAYLOR 99, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 42…
No. 6 TENNESSEE 102, Saint Joseph’s 66…
No. 21 FLORIDA STATE 72, Gardner-Webb 59….
No. 24 VIRGINIA TECH 84, Longwood 58

NHL NEWS… The NHL is preparing a 56-game season that will begin on January 13 with a temporary realignment of teams. Restrictions on crossing the U.S.-Canada border due to coronavirus concerns, the NHL is setting up an all-Canada division and realigning the other divisions. The top four in each division will make the playoffs. All regular-season games and the first two rounds of the playoffs will be played within the division.

The Rundown for December 21, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 17,840,080 and the nation’s death toll stands at 316,667, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 183,223 new cases and 1,414 deaths… Initial shipments of the Moderna vaccine shipped out of a Memphis-area factory yesterday and will be administered beginning today. The Food and Drug Administration (authorized their emergency rollout on Friday… President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday that the Trump administration’s timeline for COVID-19 vaccinations may be unrealistic and that many Americans may not get the shot until summer or fall.

SENATE AGREES ON STIMULUS PACKAGE… The Senate reached agreement yesterday on a long-awaited second stimulus package, with votes expected today. The $900 billion bill includes a $600 per-person stimulus check. The bill will also include $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits, as well as several billion dollars to be allocated for schools, transportation, and rental and hunger relief, the Washington Post reported. The package would be the second-largest economic stimulus in U.S. history, following a $2.3 trillion aid bill passed in March.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN PETITIONS SUPREME COURT… The Trump campaign plans to try again to get the Supreme Court to overturn results from the November 3 election. Despite mounting criticism for its effort to subvert the electoral process and sow doubt over the legitimacy of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, the campaign had filed a petition asking the high court to reverse three rulings by a Pennsylvania state court interpreting the state’s rules for mail-in ballots. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said the filing sought all “appropriate remedies,” including an order allowing Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature to award the state’s 20 electoral votes to Trump. Biden’s victory margin in the state surpassed 80,000 votes.

50 COMPANIES ‘IMPACTED’ BY HACK… The cyber-security firm that identified the large-scale hacking of U.S. government agencies says it “genuinely impacted” around 50 companies. Kevin Mandia, CEO of FireEye, said that some 18,000 companies had the malicious code in their networks, but only a fraction of them suffered major breaches. The Treasury, Homeland Security, State and Defense departments are known to have been targeted. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with the chairs of the Senate and House of Representatives’ intelligence committees, has blamed Russia for the hack.

ROCKETS TARGETED BAGHDAD GREEN ZONE… Iraq’s military and Iraqi officials reported last night that eight rockets targeted the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone. An Iraqi military statement said an “an outlawed group” launched the rockets, which injured an Iraqi security person and caused material damage to a residential complex and some cars. The U.S. Embassy’s C-RAM defense system, which is used to destroy missiles in mid-air, was activated to deflect the attack, the embassy said in a statement.

ENTERTAINMENT
TAYLOR SWIFT HAS 2 ALBUMS IN CHART’S TOP FIVE
… Taylor Swift’s “Evermore” sold 329,000 copies to give her an eighth No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Her previous release, “Folklore,” jumped into third place on sales of 133,000 units. Kid Cudi’s “Man on the Moon III: The Chosen” debuted in second place with 144,000 copies sold. Michael Bublé’s “Christmas” remained in fourth place after selling 58,000 units. Jack Harlow’s “Thats What They All Say” capped the top five with 51,000 copies sold.

L.A. FILM CRITICS PICK WINNERS… The Los Angeles Film Critics Association yesterday unveiled their picks for the year’s best in film. The association selected “Small Axe” as best picture. Chloe Zhao was named best director for “Nomadland.” Chadwick Boseman was chosen best actor for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” with Carey Mulligan winning best actress for “Promising Young Women.” Glynn Turman was selected best supporting actor for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and Youn Yuh-jung was named best supporting actress for “Minari.”

SPORTS
NFL SCORES

Tampa Bay 31 – ATLANTA 27
… The Buccaneers (5-9) overcame a pair of 17-point deficits to upend the Falcons (4-10). Tom Brady led five straight scoring drives in the second half and hit Antonio Brown with a go-ahead 46-yard touchdown pass with 6:19 remaining. Leonard Fournette scored on two touchdown runs.

DALLAS 41 – San Francisco 33… The Cowboys (5-9) scored four times off of turnovers to get past the 49ers (5-9). With Ezekiel Elliott sidelined with a calf injury, Tony Pollard ran for a pair of touchdowns. Andy Dalton threw two scoring passes.

TENNESSEE 46 – Detroit 25… Ryan Tannehill ran for two scores and threw touchdown passes to three different receivers in leading the Titans (10-4) past the Lions (5-9). Derrick Henry rushed for 147 yards and a TD.

INDIANAPOLIS 27 – Houston 20… Philip Rivers hit Zach Pascal with a tie-breaking 5-yard touchdown pass with 1:47 remaining as the Colts (10-4) topped the Texans (4-10). Indianapolis’ defense recovered a fumble in their own end zone with 19 seconds left to seal the victory.

MIAMI 22 – New England 12… Tua Tagovailoa scored on two short fourth-quarter runs as the Dolphins (9-5) pulled away from the Patriots (6-8). Salvon Ahmed rushed for 122 yards and a score.

Chicago 33 – MINNESOTA 27… David Montgomery ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears (7-7) held off the Vikings (6-8). Cairo Santos booted four field goals to 48 yards.

Seattle 20 – WASHINGTON 15… The Seahawks (10-4) turned away a late rally to down Washington (6-8) and clinch a playoff spot. Seattle took a 20-3 lead into the fourth quarter after Carlos Hyde’s 50-yard touchdown run. Russell Wilson found Jacob Hollister with a 10-yard scoring strike in the second quarter.

BALTIMORE 40 – Jacksonville 14… The Ravens (9-5) built a 26-0 halftime lead and never looked back in their rout of the Jaguars (1-13). Lamar Jackson threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score.

N.Y. Jets 23 – L.A. RAMS 20… The Jets (1-13) held off the Rams (9-5) to notch their first victory of the season. Sam Darnold passed for 207 yards and a score.

ARIZONA 33 – Philadelphia 26… Kyler Murray’s 20-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins with 7:17 remaining proved to be the difference as the Cardinals (8-6) topped the Eagles (4-9-1). Murray threw for 406 yards and three scores on the day. Hopkins finished with nine catches for 169 yards.

Kansas City 32 – NEW ORLEANS 29… The Chiefs (13-1) fought off the Saints (10-4) for their ninth straight win. Patrick Mahomes threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns.

Cleveland 20 – N.Y. GIANTS 6… The Browns (10-4) took one step closer to a playoff berth in grinding out a win over the Giants (5-9). Baker Mayfield led two 95-yard scoring drives and threw second-quarter touchdown passes to Austin Hooper and Jarvis Landry.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Pittsburgh (11-2) is at Cincinnati (2-10-1)

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES
NORTHWESTERN 79, No. 4 Michigan State 65…
No. 6 HOUSTON 88, Alcorn State 55…
No. 9 Creighton 76, CONNECTICUT 74…
No. 11 Texas 77, Oklahoma State 74…
No. 19 RUTGERS 91, No. 13 Illinois 88

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS… Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame secured the top four spots in the final College Football Playoffs poll yesterday and will vie for the national championship. The semifinals are scheduled for January 1, with No. 1 Alabama battling No. 4 Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl, followed by No. 2 Clemson taking on No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The winners advance to the January 11 title game in Miami.

The Rundown for December 18, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 17,179,180 and the nation’s death toll stands at 310,325, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 250,160 new cases and 3,561 deaths… The Federal Drug Administration’s advisory panel has approved the coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna for emergency use. Formal approval could come as early as today, clearing the way for nearly 6 million doses to be shipped.

HACK TARGETED ENERGY, NUCLEAR AGENCIES… The Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration say they have evidence that hackers accessed their networks as part of an extensive espionage operation that has affected at least half a dozen federal agencies. They found suspicious activity in networks belonging to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories in New Mexico and Washington, the Office of Secure Transportation at NNSA, and the Richland Field Office of the DOE. According to officials, hackers have been able to do more damage at FERC than the other agencies, and officials there have evidence of highly malicious activity.

BIDEN PICKS HAALAND AS INTERIOR SECRETARY… President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly picked Democratic congresswoman Deb Haaland of New Mexico to be interior secretary. Haaland has been serving as vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. If confirmed, she would become the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary and oversee U.S. tribal lands and natural resources. Biden also plans to nominate North Carolina’s top environmental official, Michael Regan, to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The 44-year-old Regan was an air quality specialist with the EPA during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

JOBLESS CLAIMS RISE… The Labor Department said in its weekly report released yesterday that the 885,000 American workers who filed new unemployment claims last week were the most since early September. The number of new claims was 9,000 more than the previous week. There are more than 9 million continuing claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 5 million for those under Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Both programs are due to expire at the end of the month without an extension from Congress.

STORM POUNDS NORTHEAST… Much of the East is digging out from the storm that brought heavy snow from the central Appalachians to New England. Central Pennsylvania and south-central New York state got more than 3 feet of new snow and major cities were brought to a crawl. Snow was expected to continue falling in New England last night. More than a hundred flights were cancelled at Boston’s Logan Airport. Flights were also grounded at Newark-Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

ENTERTAINMENT
ACTOR JEREMY BULLOCH DIES
… British actor Jeremy Bulloch, who was best-known for playing Boba Fett in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” has died following an extended illness. He was 75. Bulloch was a mainstay on British television and appeared the James Bond films “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Octopussy.” Bulloch had a small cameo in “Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith” as Captain Jeremoch Colton.

FRANCES McDORMAND TO ADAPT ‘WOMEN TALKING’… Frances McDormand will star in and produce an adaptation of “Women Talking,” the best-selling novel by Miriam Toews. The story follows a group of women in an isolated religious colony as they struggle to reconcile their faith with a series of sexual assaults committed by the colony’s men. McDormand, whose awards include two Oscars, two Primetime Emmys and a Tony, appears in the upcoming films “Nomadland” and “French Dispatch.”

SPORTS
NFL SCORE

L.A. Chargers 30 – LAS VEGAS 27 (OT)… Justin Hebert’s touchdown plunge with less than 2 minutes remaining in overtime lifted the Chargers (5-9) over the Raiders (7-7). Herbert passed for 314 yards and two scores.

SATURDAY’S NFL SCHEDULE
Buffalo (10-3) is at Denver (5-8)…
Green Bay (10-3) hosts Carolina (4-9)

SUNDAY’S NFL SCHEDULE
Tampa Bay (8-5) is at Atlanta (4-9)…
Dallas (4-9) hosts San Francisco (5-8)…
Detroit (5-8) is at Tennessee (9-4)…
Indianapolis (9-4) hosts Houston (4-9)…
New England (6-7) is at Miami (8-5)…
Minnesota (6-7) hosts Chicago (6-7)…
Washington (6-7) hosts Seattle (9-4)…
Jacksonville (1-12) is at Baltimore (8-5)…
the L.A. Rams () host the N.Y. Jets ()…
Philadelphia (4-8-1) is at Arizona (7-6)…
New Orleans (10-3) hosts Kansas City (12-1)…
Cleveland (9-4) is at the N.Y. Giants (5-8)

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Pittsburgh (11-2) is at Cincinnati (2-10-1)

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES
No. 5 Kansas 58, No. 14 TEXAS TECH 57…
No. 9 Creighton 94, ST. JOHN’S 76

TONIGHT’S TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCORES
No. 13 USC hosts Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game

SATURDAY’S TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
No. 1 Alabama plays No. 7 Florida in the SEC Championship Game at Atlanta…
No. 2 Notre Dame plays No. 3 Clemson in the ACC Championship Game at Charlotte…
No. 4 Ohio State plays No. 14 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game at Indianapolis…
No. 5 Texas A&M is at Tennessee…
No. 6 Iowa State plays No. 10 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championshp Game at Arlington, Texas…
No. 9 Cincinnati hosts No. 23 Tulsa in the AAC Championship Game…
No. 24 San José State plays Boise State in the Mountain West Championship Game at Las Vegas

NBA PRESEASON SCORES
Charlotte 123, ORLANDO 115…
Detroit 97, WASHINGTON 86…
HOUSTON 128, San Antonio 106…
MEMPHIS 128, Atlanta 106…
Minnesota 129, DALLAS 127 (OT)…
Golden State 113, SACRAMENTO 109…
Utah 125, L.A. CLIPPERS 105

The Rundown for December 17, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 16,955,024 and the nation’s death toll stands at 307,226, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 246,996 new cases and 3,486 deaths… The 113,069 hospitalizations reported yesterday set a new record high and marked the 15th consecutive day that hospitalizations topped 100,000 in the U.S.

ELECTIONS SECURE, FORMER CYBERSECURITY EXPERT SAYS… The federal government’s former top cybersecurity expert yesterday defended his assessment that last month’s elections were secure during questioning. Christopher Krebs, who was fired by President Trump last month as head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency after he refuted false claims of voter fraud, assured members of the Senate homeland security committee that last month’s election was “the most secure in American history.” Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan denounced the legal efforts by Trump and his Republican supporters to sow public doubt about the election outcome. Trump and Republicans have gone 1-59 in post-election court challenges and have presented no evidence supporting voter-fraud claims.

10 STATES SUE GOOGLE… A group of 10 state attorneys general led by Texas’ Ken Paxton filed an antitrust suit against Google yesterday, accusing the company of working with Facebook illegally to boost online advertising. The complaint alleges that Google engaged in “anticompetitive conduct, exclusionary practices, and deceptive misrepresentations” across its huge suite of products. The Department of Justice also filed an antitrust suit against Google in October, accusing it of monopolistic behavior in its domination of online search.

RETAIL SALES DECLINED AGAIN IN NOVEMBER… Retail sales in the U.S. declined in November for the second straight month, according to the Commerce Department’s monthly report released yesterday. The department found that retail and food-service sales for the month were $546.5 billion, a decrease of 1.1 percent from October. Bars and restaurants saw a 4 percent decline in sales and business was down at U.S. auto dealerships, gas stations, department stores, clothing stores, home furnishing dealers and electronics stores. The National Retail Federation noted, however, that retail sales in November were still close to 9 percent higher than they were a year ago.

FED RAISES EXPECTATIONS… The Federal Reserve has raised its economic expectations slightly for the end of this year as well as for 2021. In its Summary of Economic Projections released yesterday, the central bank expects real gross domestic product to fall just 2.4 percent in 2020, compared with a decline of 3.7 percent predicted in September. The Fed also upped its 2021 real GDP forecast to 4.2 percent from its previous 4.0 estimate. The central bank estimates the unemployment rate to fall to 6.7 percent this year, further below the 7.6 percent previously predicted. The unemployment rate should fall to 5.0 percent in 2021, compared with the central bank’s previous estimate of 5.5 percent.

ENTERTAINMENT
‘NIGHT COURT’ REVIVAL IN PRODUCTION
… NBC and Warner Bros. Television are developing a sequel series to the 1980s sitcom “Night Court.” The original series ran for nine seasons from 1984 to 1992 on NBC. The revival will follow judge Abby Stone as she presides over an arraignment court in Manhattan during the night shift. The judge is the daughter of the show’s original main character, Harry Stone, who was portrayed by the late Harry Anderson. Original star John Larroquette will be reprising his role as attorney Dan Fielding in the revival. The actor earned four Emmy awards in the role.

‘LIZZIE McGUIRE’ REVIVAL NOT HAPPENING… Star Hilary Duff announced on social media yesterday that the long-awaited “Lizzie McGuire” revival won’t happen. She revealed that the Disney+ series has been officially shelved after multiple delays. The revival was placed on a production hiatus in February with two episodes already completed. Producers hoped to launch it 15 years after the original series went off the air following 65 episodes on the Disney Channel.

SPORTS
TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES

No. 7 VILLANOVA 85, Butler 66…
No. 11 TEXAS 79, Sam Houston State 63…
Purdue 67, No. 20 Ohio State 60…
No. 21 Duke 75, NOTRE DAME 65

NBA PRESEASON SCORES
NEW YORK 100, Cleveland 93…
Chicago 124, OKLAHOMA CITY 103…
DENVER 126, Portland 95…
L.A. Lakers 112, PHOENIX 107

TONIGHT’S NFL SCHEDULE
the L.A. Chargers (4-9) are at Las Vegas (7-6)

MLB NEWS… Players who played in the seven “Negro Leagues” that existed between 1920 and 1948 will now be considered major leaguers, Major League Baseball announced yesterday. “All of us who love baseball have long known that the Negro Leagues produced many of our game’s best players, innovations and triumphs against a backdrop of injustice,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in making the announcement. Major League Baseball did not integrate until Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Just two years earlier, Robinson was a member of the Negro Leagues’ Kansas City Monarchs.

The Rundown for December 15, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 16,515,717 and the nation’s death toll stands at 300,474, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 198,647 new cases and 1,619 deaths… An intensive care unit nurse in New York became the first person in the U.S. to receive the newly authorized Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. Sandra Lindsay’s vaccination comes months after she began treating the sickest of COVID-19 patients.

BIDEN, HARRIS WIN OFFICIAL… Joe Biden and Kamala Harris received 306 electoral votes yesterday to confirm their election as president and vice president. The 55 votes from California pushed them above the 270 votes required for victory. Subsequent votes from Hawaii gave them a final total of 306 to Donald Trump’s 232. During a prime-time speech last night, Biden called on Americans to “turn the page” on the Trump era and called for unity, noting that “democracy beats deep in the hearts of the American people.”

WILLIAM BARR STEPPING DOWN… Attorney General William Barr confirmed yesterday that he plans to step down before Christmas. His departure comes just a month before the conclusion of Donald Trump’s presidency and amid recent clashes with the White House over its election-fraud claims. Prior to the election, Barr faced heavy criticism for politicizing the Justice Department and taking a militant approach to protesters. Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will become acting attorney general, Trump announced.

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY TARGETED IN HACK… The Department of Homeland Security is among federal agencies that were targeted in hacks blamed on Russian intelligence. Cybersecurity analysts say the hacks exploited weaknesses in network security software from SolarWinds, a company whose products are used by more than 300,000 customers, including more than 400 of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies, five branches of the U.S. military and the Departments of Defense, State and Justice, as well as the office of the president. The Commerce and Treasury Departments also reported being hacked in an attack that began in the spring.

SENATORS PRESENT BIPARTISAN RELIEF BILL… A bipartisan group of 12 senators yesterday introduced their $908 billion, two-part COVID-19 stimulus bill. The legislation includes a $748 billion package focused on funding for education, vaccines and transportation in addition to a $160 billion add-on that includes state and local funding as well as a short-term liability shield for employers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dismissed Democrats’ calls for funding and hopes lawmakers pass a bill before lawmakers wrap up their legislative session at the end of the week.

ENTERTAINMENT
FILMS TO BE PRESERVED
… “The Dark Knight,” “Grease,” “The Blues Brothers,” and “Shrek” are among films selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry yesterday. The Library of Congress annually chooses 25 films on the basis of their cultural, historic or aesthetic importance. Other films selected included “Freedom Riders,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege,” “The Ground,” “Buena Vista Social Club,” “The Devil Never Sleeps,” “The Joy Luck Club,” “Illusions,” “Losing Ground,” “Wattstax,” “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “Lilies of the Field,” “The Man with the Golden Arm,” “Outrage,” “Cabin the Sky,” “With Cara and Camera Around the World,” “The Battle of the Century,” “Bread, “Kid Auto Races at Venice” and “Suspense.”

SHAWN MENDES TOPS ALBUM CHART… Shawn Mendes’ new release, “Wonder,” sold 89,000 copies to give him his fourth No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Last week’s champ, Bad Bunny’s “El Ultimo Tour del Mundo,” dropped into second place on sales of 57,000 units. Ariana Grande’s “Positions” jumped to No. 3 after selling 55,200 copies. Michael Bublé’s “Christmas” finished fourth with 55,000 units sold. Carrie Underwood’s “My Gift” sold 53,000 copies to cap the top five.

SPORTS
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Baltimore 47 – CLEVELAND 42
… Justin Tucker booted a tie-breaking 54-yard field goal with 7 seconds remaining and the Ravens (8-5) added a safety on the game’s final desperation play to cap a wild win over the Browns (9-4). After Cleveland scored back-to-back touchdowns in the fourth quarter to erase a 13-point deficit, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson threw a go-ahead 44-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown with 1:51 left. A two-point conversion gave the Ravens a seven-point lead that they couldn’t hold. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for a score to fuel his team’s fourth-quarter comeback. Jackson rushed for 124 yards and two scores to lead the Ravens’ ground game.

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES
Marquette 89, No. 9 CREIGHTON 84…
No. 19 Rutgers 74, MARYLAND 60

NBA PRESEASON SCORES
CLEVELAND 116, Indiana 106…
Toronto 112, CHARLOTTE 109…
New Orleans 114, MIAMI 92…
Dallas 128, MILWAUKEE 112…
Memphis 123, MINNESOTA 104…
UTAH 111, Phoenix 92

The Rundown for December 14, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 16,251,716 and the nation’s death toll stands at 299,163, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 187,901 new cases and 1,379 deaths… The first shipments of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine are en route. 184,275 vials of the vaccine were trucked out of Pfizer’s facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, yesterday. A combined 189 boxes of the vaccine is set to be distributed among all 50 states today. The shipments began immediately after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield gave his approval.

TREASURY, COMMERCE DEPARTMENTS HACKED… The U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments were hacked by Russian government-backed spies, Reuters and the Washington Post reported yesterday. The hack was serious enough that analysts briefed the National Security Council. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is in charge of advising the president on telecommunications issues, was reportedly targeted. Cybersecurity experts say the group behind the hacks – APT29 or Cozy Bear — works with Russia’s foreign intelligence agency. APT29 was blame early last week for a hack on a top U.S. cybersecurity firm.

TRUMP CONTINUES DEFENSE BILL VETO THREAT… President Trump yesterday offered China as the reason he remains determined to veto an annual defense policy bill that passed by a veto-proof majority in the Senate last week. “The biggest winner of our new defense bill is China!” Trump tweeted. “I will veto!” Lawmakers from both parties insist the bill, which covers the military’s budget for equipment and pay raises for service members, would be tough on China and must become law as soon as possible. The president has previously threatened to veto the bill over a requirement that military bases honoring Confederate leaders eventually be renamed. He also threatened a veto to try to force lawmakers to include provisions that punish social media companies he claims were biased against him during the election.

33 ARRESTED IN D.C. AFTER VIOLENT CLASHES… Police in Washington, D.C., arrested 33 people amid violent protests over the weekend. Protesters clashed with police and there were confrontations between supporters of President Trump and counter-protesters. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, charges ranged from assaulting a cop to general assault, illegal weapons possession and resisting arrest. Eight police officers were hurt. Four people also suffered non-life-threatening stab wounds in one confrontation. Vandals tore down a Black Lives Matter banner and sign from two historic Black churches and set the banner ablaze. Police are investigating the incidents at the Asbury United Methodist Church and Metropolitan A.M.E. Church as potential hate crimes.

NEW RELIEF BILL TO BE INTRODUCED… Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said yesterday that a bipartisan group of lawmakers plans to introduce a $908 billion COVID-19 relief bill today. During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Manchin said the bill would serve as an emergency measure to help the nation survive the first fiscal quarter of 2021. The bill calls for $288 billion in small-business support and $180 billion for extended unemployment insurance.

ENTERTAINMENT
JOHN leCARRÉ DIES
… Best-selling spy novelist John le Carre died at his home in England on Saturday. He was 89 and had been battling pneumonia. The author’s classics include “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “The Honourable Schoolboy.” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” published in 1974 was adapted into a 2011 film starring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth.

EDDIE VAN HALEN DIED OF A STROKE… Eddie Van Halen’s cause of death was a stroke, according to his death certificate obtained by TMZ. The certificate lists underlying causes, including pneumonia, the bone marrow disorder myelodysplastic syndrome and lung cancer. The certificate also listed a number of “other significant conditions”, including skin cancer on his head and neck and an irregular heart rate. Van Halen’s body was cremated 22 days after his death and his ashes were given to his son Wolfgang.

SPORTS
NFL SCORES

CHICAGO 36 – Houston 7
… The Bears (6-7) cruised past the Texans (4-9) to snap their six-game skid. Mitchell Trubisky passed for 267 yards and three touchdowns. Allen Robinson had nine catches for 123 yards and a score. David Montgomery rushed for 113 yards and a TD.

Dallas 30 – CINCINNATI 7… Andy Dalton threw a pair of touchdown passes in his return to Cincinnati and the Cowboys (4-9) cruised past the Bengals (2-10-1). Aldon Smith returned a fumble 78 yards for a score.

Kansas City 33 – MIAMI 27… The Chiefs (12-1) held off the Dolphins (8-5) to clinch their fifth straight AFC West title. Patrick Mahomes threw for 393 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted three times. Travis Kelce had eight receptions for 136 yards and a score.

Arizona 26 – N.Y. GIANTS 7… The Cardinals (7-6) turned it up defensively in downing the Giants (5-8). Heason Reddick recorded five sacks and three forced fumbles. Kyler Murray passed for 244 yards and a touchdown. Deandre Hopkins had nine catches for 136 yards.

TAMPA BAY 26 – Minnesota 14… Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes as the Buccaneers (8-5) handled the Vikings (6-7). Defensively, Tampa Bay recorded six sacks.

Denver 32 – CAROLINA 27… Drew Lock passed for 280 yards and four touchdowns as the Broncos (5-8) held off the Panthers (4-9). K.J. Hamler had two TD catches. Diontae Spenser returned a punt 83 yards for a score.

Tennessee 31 – JACKSONVILLE 10… Derrick Henry ran for 215 yards and two touchdowns as the Titans (9-4) dealt the Jaguars (1-12) their 12th straight loss. Ryan Tannehill threw for 212 yards and two scores. A.J. Brown had seven receptions for 112 yards and a TD.

Indianapolis 44 – LAS VEGAS 27… Philip Rivers threw for 244 yards and hit T.Y. Hilton with a pair of touchdown passes as the Colts (9-4) topped the Raiders (7-6). Jonathan Taylor rushed for 150 yards and two scores.

SEATTLE 40 – N.Y. Jets 3… Russell Wilson threw touchdown passes to four different receivers before sitting out the fourth quarter and the Seahawks (9-4) dismantled the Jets (0-13).

Green Bay 31 – DETROIT 24… Aaron Rodgers ran for a tie-breaking touchdown in the third quarter and threw touchdown passes in leading the Packers (10-3) past the Lions (5-8). Devante Adams had seven catches for 115 yards and a score.

PHILADELPHIA 24 – New Orleans 21… The Eagles (4-8-1) built a 17-0 halftime lead and held off the Saints (10-3). Miles Sanders rushed for 115 yards and two scores. Jalen Hurts got the stars at quarterback and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring in the first quarter.

L.A. CHARGERS 20 – Atlanta 17… Michael Badgley booted a 43-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Chargers (4-9) over the Falcons (4-9). Justin Herbert passed for 243 yards and two scores.

Washington 23 – SAN FRANCISCO 15… Washington (6-7) dominated the 49ers (5-8) defensively in a hard-fought win. Chase Young returned a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown. Kamren Curl added a 76-yard interception return for a score.

BUFFALO 26 – Pittsburgh 15… Taron Johnson returned an interception 51 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in the first quarter and the Bills (10-3) never looked back in their win over the Steelers (11-2). Josh Allen threw touchdown passes to Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis in the third quarter.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Baltimore (7-5) is at Cleveland (9-3)

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES
No. 3 IOWA 103, Northern Illinois 53…
No. 4 MICHIGAN STATE 109, Oakland 91…
No. 11 WEST VIRGINIA 87, No. 19 Richmond 71…
No. 22 OHIO STATE 67, Cleveland State 61…
No. 23 Arizona State 71, GRAND CANYON 70…

MLB NEWS… The Cleveland Indians plan to change their nickname after 108 years. They become the latest professional sports franchise to remove Native American imagery amid accusations that its use is racist. Cleveland has not settled on a new nickname.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS… Auburn has fired head football coach Gus Malzahn after eight seasons. The Tigers went 68-34 under Malzahn and reached the BCS National Championship in his first season in 2013… Lovie Smith is out as head football coach at Illinois after five seasons. The Illini went 17-39 (10-33 in the Big Ten) under. Smith, who guided the NFL’s Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2006.

The Rundown for December 11, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 15,599,122 and the nation’s death toll stands at 292,001, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 217,779 new cases and more than 2,974 deaths… The Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee yesterday recommended the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use authorization. The FDA hasn’t said when it will decide on approving the vaccine. Should it get FDA approval, the vaccine would then be approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control. The vaccine, which showed to have about 95-percent efficacy in late-stage clinical trials, has already been approved for emergency use in Britain and Canada.

BIDEN HIRINGS… President-elect Joe Biden continued to fill out positions in his new White House yesterday with the selections of Susan Rice to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council and Denis McDonough as Veterans Affairs secretary. Rice, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama, will coordinate Biden’s domestic policy agenda. McDonough served the Obama administration as White House chief of staff, deputy national security adviser and chief of staff of the National Security Council. Biden asked former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack to return as agriculture secretary and also announced the naming of Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge as housing and urban development secretary and attorney Katherine Tai as U.S. trade representative.

REPUBLICAN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SUPPORT TEXAS SUIT… 106 Republican members of Congress joined yesterday in filing a brief in support of Texas’ highly-criticized Supreme Court lawsuit aiming to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The lawsuit targeting four swing states claims that they changed their voting systems in a way that facilitated fraud. Legal experts expect the suit to be dismissed, since Texas has no authority over other states’ laws and GOP claims of election fraud have been shot down to the tune of 55-1 in post-election challenges. Prominent members of the Republican caucus who signed on to the letter included House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan, ranking member of the powerful Ways & Means Committee Kevin Brady, Senator-elect Roger Marshall of Kansas and Governor-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana. Republicans who refused to sign on included Senate GOP Whip John Thune, who noted, “I just don’t know why a state like Texas, which never wants anybody telling them what to do, now wants to tell a bunch of other states how to run their elections.”

MUSLIM TRAVELERS CAN SUE FBI AGENTS… The Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday that a group of Muslims can sue the FBI agents who placed them on the No-Fly List in retaliation for refusing to inform on their communities. Justice Clarence Thomas found that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act plainly provides a right to seek financial damages against government officials that impede their freedom of worship. An attorney for the civil-rights group said the ruling affirms that American Muslims can fight against injustice.

FEDERAL INMATE EXECUTED… The federal government last night executed a man convicted of killing a married couple in 1999. 40-year-old Brandon Bernard was administered a lethal injection at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. The federal execution was the first during a presidential lame-duck period in 130 years and came after the Supreme Court denied a plea by Bernard’s attorneys to appeal the case based on allegations that prosecutors withheld evidence they said may have spared their client the death penalty. Bernard was 18 when he and four other teenagers abducted and robbed Todd and Stacie Bagley on their way from a Sunday church service in Killeen, Texas.

ENTERTAINMENT
ACTOR TOMMY LISTER DIES
… Actor Tommy “Tiny” Lister, who appeared in the films “Friday,” “Austin Powers in Goldmember” and “The Fifth Element” died at his Los Angeles-area apartment yesterday after displaying symptoms of COVID-19 in recent days. He was 62. Lister also spent time in World Championship Wrestling, using the name Z-Gangsta. His television credits included “Matlock” and on “In the Heat of the Night.”

CHADWICK BOSEMAN CHARACTER NOT RECAST IN ‘BP2’… Marvel Studios announced yesterday that Chadwick Boseman’s character won’t be recast in the new “Black Panther” movie. The actor, who died of colon cancer in August, played T’Challa in the original film and the sequel will honor his legacy. “Black Panther 2” is set to be released July 8, 2022.

SPORTS
NFL SCORE

L.A. RAMS 24 – New England 3
… Jared Goff capped the game’s opening with a 1-yard touchdown run and threw a -yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter as the Rams (9-4) rolled past the Patriots (6-7). Linebacker Kenny Young returned an interception 79 yards for a second-quarter touchdown. Running back Cam Akers gained 171 yards on 29 carries.

SUNDAY’S NFL SCHEDULE
Houston (4-8) is at Chicago (5-7)….
Cincinnati (2-9-1) hosts Dallas (3-9)…
Kansas City (11-1) is at Miami (8-4)…
the N.Y. Giants (5-7) host Arizona (6-6)…
Minnesota (6-6) is at Tampa Bay (7-5)…
Carolina (4-8) hosts Denver (4-8)…
Tennessee (8-4) is at Jacksonville (1-11)…
Las Vegas (7-5) hosts Indianapolis (8-4)…
the N.Y. Jets (0-12) are at Seattle (8-4)…
Detroit (5-7) hosts Green Bay (9-3)…
New Orleans (10-2) is at Philadelphia (3-8-1)…
the L.A. Chargers (3-9) host Atlanta (4-8)…
Washington (5-7) is at San Francisco (5-7)…
Buffalo (9-3) hosts Pittsburgh (11-1)

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Baltimore (7-5) is at Cleveland (9-3)

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORE
No. 24. San Diego State 80, No. 23 ARIZONA STATE 68

SATURDAY’S TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
No. 1 Alabama is at Arkansas…
No. 6 Florida hosts LSU…
No. 9 Georgia is at No. 25 Missouri…
No. 10 Miami hosts No. 17 North Carolina…
No. 13 Coastal Carolina is at Troy…
No. 14 Northwestern hosts Illinois…
No. 15 USC is at UCLA…
No. 16 Iowa hosts Wisconsin…
No. 18 BYU hosts San Diego State…
No. 21 Colorado hosts Utah…
No. 22 Oklahoma State is at Baylor…
(*six games involving seven ranked teams were canceled due to COVID)

The Rundown for December 10, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 15,381,450 and the nation’s death toll stands at 289,357, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 225,441 new cases and more than 3,000 deaths for the first time yesterday. The U.S. is averaging about 2,230 new death reports per day. California, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have reported record-high hospitalizations.

ELECTION CERTIFICATIONS COMPLETE… West Virginia yesterday joined the 49 other states and the District of Columbia in certifying their presidential-election results. With the certifications complete, the 538 electors who make up the Electoral College are scheduled to meet Monday and cast their ballots. Congress will count their votes on January 6. Joe Biden is expected to receive 306 votes to President Trump’s 232.

TRUMP, 17 STATES JOIN TEXAS LAWSUIT… President Trump and 17 states he carried are joining Texas’ lawsuit against four swing states in what law experts say appears to be the last gasps of a dying administration. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced earlier this week that he would file the suit in the Supreme Court against Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania over their voting processes. Biden won all four states and plaintiffs are waving off the filing as a publicity stunt. President Donald Trump filed a motion to intervene in the case “in his personal capacity” as a presidential candidate.

HOUSE PASSES FUNDING BILL… The House yesterday passed a short-term funding bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week. The stopgap measure passed by a 343-67 vote. It would extend the funding deadline from tomorrow to December 18 after a previous extension at the end of September. Congress sought a one-week extension as lawmakers have struggled to agree to a new sweeping omnibus funding bill. An agreement on legislation has been held up by disagreements over immigration provisions, abortion language and other issues.

SENATE DEFENDS UAE WEAPONS SALES… The Senate yesterday defeated a pair of Democrat-led measures that would have blocked the Trump administration’s proposed sale of advanced military weapons to the United Arab Emirates. Twin votes centered on the transfers of F-35 stealth fighter jets and Reaper drones to the Gulf nation fell largely along party lines. A 46-50 vote failed to advance a resolution disapproving of the Reaper sales. A vote to block the F-35 sale failed 47-49. The proposed sale is valued at $23 billion.

FTC, STATES SUE TO BREAK UP FACEBOOK… The Federal Trade Commission, along with a bipartisan coalition of 48 state attorney generals led by New York’s Letitia James, are seeking to end the monopoly that they believe exists at Facebook. Both groups yesterday filed lawsuits to force a breakup of the social-media giant. The FTC accused Facebook of engaging in “a systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition and specifically asked a court to force the company sell off its Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services. James said at a press conference that Facebook “used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users.”

ENTERTAINMENT
KEVIN HART, WESLEY SNIPES TO PLAY BROTHERS
… Kevin Hart and Wesley Snipes have signed on to play brothers in a new Netflix series. The 41-year-old Hart and 58-year-old Snipes will star in “True Story,” an eight-episode series about Kid, a world-famous comedian, and his wayward older brother, Carlton. The series follows Kid after a lost evening with Carlton threatens to destroy everything he has ever worked for.

GOOGLE SEARCH RESULTS… Google released its 2020 Year in Search yesterday, outlining the top trending topics of the year by category. “Coronavirus,” “Election Results,” and Kobe Bryant were the three most-searched phrases. Tom Hanks was the most-searched Hollywood star and ranked fifth in the most-searched people category. “Parasite,” “1917” and “Black Panther” were the three most-searched films. In the television-show category, “Tiger King,” “Big Brother Brasil” and “Money Heist” topped the list.

SPORTS
TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES

No. 2 BAYLOR 83, Stephen F. Austin 52…
No. 13 TEXAS 74, Texas State 53…
No. 13 (tie) WISCONSIN 73, Rhode Island 62…
No. 17 TEXAS TECH 51, Abilene Christian 44…
No. 19 RICHMOND 78, Northern Iowa 68…
No. 20 FLORIDA STATE 69, Indiana 67 (OT)
(*four games involving five ranked teams were cancelled due to Covid)

MLB NEWS… Major League Baseball umpire Brian O’Nora pleaded not guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor solicitation charges filed in Youngstown, Ohio, according to court records released yesterday. He and a dozen other men were arrested last Sunday as part of a prostitution sting. The 57-year old O’Nora was released on a $5,000 bond and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on March 3, 2021. O’Nora has umpired in the major leagues for more than 20 years and has officiated three All-Star Games, the 2008 American League Championship Series and the 2012 World Series.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS… LSU is adding to its list of self-imposed sanctions stemming from the NCAA’s investigation into improper booster payments to its football players by forgoing any bowl game this season. LSU is 3-5 with two games remaining on its schedule but could still have finished bowl-eligible due to pandemic-related waivers granted by the NCAA. Last month, LSU self-imposed a loss of eight scholarships over two years; a reduction in recruiting visits, evaluations and communication; and a ban of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from its football facilities for two years. Beckham, a former star at the school, gave $2,000 in cash to four LSU football players on the field after the team’s 42-25 victory over Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship game on January 13.

TONIGHT’S NFL SCHEDULE
New England (6-6) is at the L.A. Rams (8-4)

The Rundown for December 9, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 15,161,807 and the nation’s death toll stands at 286,189, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 208,121 new cases and 2,913 deaths yesterday… Rhode Island’s average of 123 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people is the nation’s highest using the metric. Indiana, Utah, South Dakota and Alaska are also in the top five. Rhode Island, Connecticut, California, and Tennessee are among states seeing the quickest rise. The average number of cases per 100,000 people is rising in more than half the country… President-elect Joe Biden yesterday presented his plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic during his first 100 days in office. Biden vows that his administration will vaccinate 100 million Americans, push to reopen schools and strengthen mask mandates… Documents released yesterday by the Food and Drug Administration raised no new red flags over the safety or efficacy of the vaccine pharmaceutical company Pfizer developed with Germany’s BioNTech SE.

SUPREME COURT WON’T STOP PA FROM CERTIFYING ELECTION RESULTS… The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a Republican bid to stop Pennsylvania from certifying its presidential election results. The High Court’s brief order offered only that: “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied.” There was no mention of dissenting judges. Pennsylvania Republican congressman led the legal effort after claiming absentee voting violated the state constitution. Republicans are now 1-51 in post-election court challenges after a Michigan Federal Court denied a motion to maintain and preserve election data and machines for inspection. Meanwhile, the Arizona Supreme Court voted unanimously to affirm Biden’s victory in Arizona, upholding a lower court’s finding that there was no misconduct, fraud or illegal voting in the general election.

HOUSE PASSES DEFENSE BILL… The House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to approve a sweeping defense bill under a veto threat from President Trump. The 335-78 vote carried a veto-proof majority in sending the National Defense Authorization Act to the Senate. The $740 billion bill includes pay raises for soldiers, modernizations for equipment and provisions to require more scrutiny before troops are withdrawn from Germany or Afghanistan. Trump has vowed that he won’t sign the bill unless it includes a repeal of the law that shields internet companies from being liable for what is posted on their websites by them or third parties. Trump also opposes a limit on how much money he can move around for his border wall and the renaming of military bases that were named after figures from the Confederacy.

FLYNN CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED… A federal judge who dismissed criminal charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn yesterday revealed that he had been leaning towards denying a Justice Department request to drop the criminal case before Flynn received a pardon from President Trump. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District Court of the District of Columbia wrote that the pardon issued two weeks ago rendered the case moot. Flynn was facing one charge of lying to the FBI about his meetings with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. The former Army general initially pleaded guilty to the charge, but later filed to withdraw his plea. Attorney General William Barr later made the unusual move of directing the Justice Department to drop the case.

14 SENIOR OFFICERS PUNISHED AT FORT HOOD… An investigative panel looking into violent crimes and abuse at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas reported yesterday that it had found a command structure that was “permissive” of sexual assaults, harassment and violence. In response to the investigation’s findings, the Army announced that 14 senior officers will be punished in response to the murder of a soldier and several other deaths at the base. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy conceded that the issues at Fort Hood are “directly related to leadership failures.”

ENTERTAINMENT
ABC ANNOUNCES ‘NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE’ HOSTS
… ABC announced yesterday that actor/singer Billy Porter and actress Lucy Hale will join Ryan Seacrest as hosts of the 2020 Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve TV special. Porter stars as Pray Tell in the FX series “Pose.” Hale portrayed Aria Montgomery on the Freeform series “Pretty Little Liars.” The three will host the event from Times Square in New York; Ciara to host the West Coast celebration from Los Angeles. ABC will air festivities on December 31 at 8 p.m. Eastern.

LENNON REMEMBERED… Fans throughout the world gathered yesterday to remember John Lennon on the 40th anniversary of his death. The former Beatle was honored with flowers, candles and songs at worldwide ceremonies. Lennon was with his wife, Yoko Ono, when he was fatally shot on December 8, 2020, outside his apartment building in Manhattan. The shooter, Mark David Chapman, remains in prison. Lennon’s former bandmates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr joined Ono in paying tribute on social media.

SPORTS
NFL SCORE

BALTIMORE 34 – Dallas 17
… Lamar Jackson threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran 37 yards for a score in leading the Ravens (7-5) past the Cowboys (3-9). Miles Boykin hauled in a 38-yard scoring toss. Gus Edwards rushed for 101 yards.

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES
No. 3 IOWA 93, No. 16 North Carolina 80…
No. 5 KANSAS 73, No. 8 Creighton 72…
No. 6 Illinois 83, DUKE 68…
No. 12 TENNESSEE 56, Colorado 47…
Penn State 75, No. 15 VIRGINIA TECH 55…
No. 21 RUTGERS 79, Syracuse 69…
No. 22 Ohio State 90, NOTRE DAME 85

BASEBALL MOURNS DICK ALLEN’S PASSING… Baseball is mourning the loss of Dick Allen, a seven-time All-Star who died at age 78 on Monday at his home in Wampum, Pennsylvania, after an extended illness. Allen was awarded the 1964 NL Rookie of Year as third-baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies and he won the 1972 AL MVP award as a first-baseman for the Chicago White Sox. Allen’s 37 homers and 113 RBIs were league highs in that MVP season. He also led the AL with 32 homers in 1974. Allen’s career included single-season stops with the L.A. Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland Athletics before retiring after the 1977 season. Allen batted .292 with 351 homers and 1,119 RBIs during his 15-year career. Despite his success on the field, his defiance of racism during the 1960s in Philadelphia resulted in his media-induced reputation as a malcontent and may have cost him election into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2014, Allen fell one vote short of Cooperstown in a Hall committee election. The Phillies retired Allen’s No. 15 in September despite the franchise’s longstanding “unwritten” policy of only retiring the number of players who are in the Hall of Fame.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS… The top six spots in this week’s college playoff rankings remain unchanged. Alabama stays atop the rankings and is followed in the top five by Notre Dame, Clemson, Ohio State, and Texas A&M. Florida is at No. 6, with Iowa State, Cincinnati, Georgia and Miami completing the top 10.