Department State

State Department orders China to close its consulate in Houston – POLITICO

“The Vienna Convention states diplomats must ‘respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state’ and ‘have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that state,’” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. “The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, called the American order to close the consulate an “outrageous and unjustified move that will sabotage relations between the two countries.”

“The unilateral closure of China’s consulate general in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China,” Wang said in remarks that were reported by The Associated Press. Reciprocal actions by the Chinese could include closing U.S. consulates within its borders, but the ruling Communist Party has not yet announced any response.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington echoed Wang‘s statements and urged the U.S. to revoke the move, saying it would “only backfire on itself.”

“Otherwise, China will have to respond with legitimate and necessary actions,“ the embassy said in a statement on Wednesday.

The embassy also denied that it had violated any diplomatic conventions, calling the State Department‘s claims “groundless fabrications.“

“For the US side, if it is bent on attacking China, it will never be short of excuses,“ the statement said.

The further breakdown in relations between the world’s two largest economies is a significant shift from just six months ago, when the countries signed a “phase one” trade deal and Trump boasted that the U.S.-China relationship “might be the best it’s been in a long, long time.”

Now, in addition to closing the consulate, the U.S. is also considering a ban on Chinese-owned mobile apps such as Tik Tok, removing Chinese technology from the electrical grid, and sanctioning Communist Party officials over the internment of Muslims and a security law that effectively ends Hong Kong’s independent legal status.

Trump has also cut off additional trade talks and threatened to penalize China because he said “they could have stopped” the pandemic.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he “hopes” to travel to China before the end of the year to help quell tensions and establish crisis communication networks. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a tougher line Wednesday, saying in Denmark that the U.S. was “setting out clear expectations” for how China should behave.

“And when they don’t, we’re going to take actions that protect the American people, protect our security, our national security, and also protect our economy and jobs,” he said. “That’s the actions that you’re seeing taken by President Trump. We’ll continue to engage in this.”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has frequently criticized Trump’s posture toward China, and Trump is eager to appear tough on Beijing prior to November’s general election. Virtually all public polling shows him trailing Biden badly in the race for the White House.

In Houston, Chinese consulate staff were already preparing for their eviction Tuesday afternoon, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Firefighters also responded to a call at the consulate, though they were not permitted to enter. Local police told news station FOX 26 that consulate staff were burning “classified documents” ahead of their eviction, though it is not clear how they identified the fuel for the fire.

Nahal Toosi and Matthew Choi contributed to this report.

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Football State

Ohio State football could face new threats in reworked Big Ten schedule: Buckeye Take –

Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan (17) runs in for a touchdown past Ohio State cornerback Cameron Brown (26) during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2src19, in Indianapolis.

Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan (17) runs in for a touchdown past Ohio State cornerback Cameron Brown (26) during the first half of the Big Ten championship game, Dec. 7, 2019, in Indianapolis.AP

COLUMBUS, Ohio — We know Ohio State football will not play Bowling Green, Oregon or Buffalo in 2020 after the Big Ten’s Thursday announcement that it will play only conference games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rest of the Buckeyes’ schedule remains murky. The Big Ten has not announced exactly how many games its football teams will play, nor has it decided whether it will keep the original nine-game conference structure.

As it stands, Ohio State is scheduled to play its customary six Big Ten East opponents and three crossover opponents from the West: Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said he favors a 10-game model of conference games. If that simply means adding a road game against one of the other four West Division teams, the Buckeyes’ schedule could receive an intriguing boost.

One of those four teams has the same Oct. 3 schedule opening, plays only four home games compared to OSU’s five. It also happens to be located within a reasonable bus drive, if deemed preferable due to COVID-19 concerns.

That opponent — Purdue — happens to be the biggest thorn in Ohio State’s side among Big Ten teams over the past decade. The Boilermakers have won three of their last six meetings against OSU, with all three victories in West Lafayette. Ohio State fans certainly remember the 49-20 drubbing in 2018.

Rondale Moore, the Boilermakers’ star that day, remains in gold and black. Last year when Moore was injured, receiver David Bell emerged as a freshman All-American. So did defensive end George Karlaftis. Purdue could be lurking as a surprise team in the West after a 4-8 season.

A year ago that breakthrough team from the West was Minnesota. The Golden Gophers waged a populist campaign for a College Football Playoff spot into November before settling for a top-20 finish. Minnesota has a talented quarterback in Tanner Morgan, an All-Big Ten receiver in Rashod Bateman and a coach in P.J. Fleck who has invigorated this program in a short amount of time.

Or maybe the Buckeyes will draw another meeting with Wisconsin. Ohio State has beaten the Badgers in two of the last three Big Ten championship games, along with last season’s 38-7 victory in Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes have only played in Madison once since 2012, and Wisconsin’s physical rushing attack potentially plays better there than in Lucas Oil Stadium.

None of those opponents equates to Oregon, which could again be in the playoff conversation. But none of them can be dismissed as a legitimate threat, either.

Or maybe the Buckeyes can get lucky and draw Northwestern, the same team it beat 52-3 in Evanston last season.

Then again, no one has benefited from an abundance of luck in 2020.

Ohio State Buckeyes Adult Face Covering

Fanatics has released Ohio State Buckeyes Adult Face Coverings. This 3-pack of adult masks, retails for $29.99.

New Ohio State face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Ohio State-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection. A 3-pack is available on Fanatics for $29.99.

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Chambers State

Penn State’s Pat Chambers apologizes for racially-charged ‘noose’ comment to Rasir Bolton –

Penn State men’s basketball coach Pat Chambers issued an apology Monday for comments he made to former guard Rasir Bolton

The 20-year-old Bolton began the conversation Monday morning with a social media post titled “Why I chose to leave Penn State.” In it, Bolton discussed the reason why he transferred to Iowa State following his freshman season.

A “noose” around my neck is why I left Penn State. Head Coach Patrick Chambers, the day after his one-game suspension in January 2019, in talking to me referenced a “noose” around my neck. A noose, symbolic of lynching, defined as one of the most powerful symbols directed at African Americas invoking the history of lynching, slavery and racial terrorism. Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue.

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Chambers responded on Twitter and accepted responsibility for his statement.

I’ve realized the pain my words and ignorance caused Rasir Bolton and his family and I apologize to Rasir and the Bolton family for what I said. I failed to comprehend the experiences of others, and the reference I made was hurtful, insensitive and unacceptable. I cannot apologize enough for what I said, and I will carry that forever.

I try and respond to mistakes I have made by learning and growing, and I hold myself accountable and strive to be a better person and a better coach. In talking with our players and their families, I a committed to seeking knowledge and gaining a better understanding of diverse perspectives and impact of bias in our society. I have much more to learn.

It is critically important for me to recognize my responsibility in better understanding the experiences of others and I am committed to doing the necessary work required to do just that. I love our student-athletes and want each of them to grow and succeed, individually, and as part of our team. I promise that I will keep listening. I will keep learning, and continue our conversations within our team and our Penn State family.

Chambers was reacting to the short essay posted Monday by Bolton, in which he explained his decision to leave Happy Valley.

For the past year, many have questioned why I left Penn State after my freshman year. I was a scholarship athlete on the Men’s Basketball program. I got playing time, I started part of the season and I was on the Dean’s List. I formed many relationships at Penn State that I still maintain today. However, no one ever stops to consider that there is more to a college athlete than the sport. We are human, we are young men and women, and in my case, I am a young Black man FIRST.

A “noose” around my neck is why I left Penn State. Head Coach Patrick Chambers, the day after his one-game suspension in January 2019, in talking to me referenced a “noose” around my neck. A noose, symbolic of lynching, defined as one of the most powerful symbols directed at African Americas invoking the history of lynching, slavery and racial terrorism. Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue.

I reported this immediately to my academic advisor. I confronted Coach Chambers. I spoke directly with the AD’s office myself. My parents contacted the AD’s office in writing and by phone. My parents drove the five hours to Penn State to meet with the AD’s office and Coach Chambers more than once. During this time Coach Chambers admitted to what he said.

I was provided one meeting and a phone number to text with a psychologist. I was taught “ways to deal with Coach Chambers’ personality type.”

Coach Chambers never apologized, he said he was “from the north and wasn’t aware.” Subtle repercussions followed. Some teammates were told I couldn’t be trusted and I was told the team didn’t trust me. I wasn’t “all in” and “loyal.” Because I stood up for myself? During my final player/coach meeting in April 2019, Coach Chambers told me he was really impressed with how well spoken and organized my parents were.” Yet, another subtle insult.

I only heard fro Penn State’s Integrity Office in reference to my situation six months later, once I was at my new school, requesting a waiver. I tell this story because it is not alleged, it was admitted to and documented.

I was provided what my family and I consider surface level resources while still finishing the season, practicing and participating in team events under Coach Chambers. Had I or my parents reacted differently, it would have only hurt me; had I quit, it would have only hurt me. I chose to use my head.

I wasn’t the first and I know I won’t be the last. Everyone’s position to speak out isn’t the same so I am only speaking for myself. There is serious need for change in the way players are protected and helped across the country when faced with these situations. Surface level resources are not good enough. In most cases it is the Coach who is protected, while the player is left to deal with it or leave.

BE the change you want to see.

On the court, Bolton played in 32 games at Penn State in 2018-19, starting in nine and averaging 11.6 points per game.

The next year at Iowa State, Bolton started 30 games and averaged almost 15 points per game.

Off the court, stories like the one told by Bolton are finally having a chance to see the light of day in the wake of the George Floyd protests following his death in May and the subsequent momentum built by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chambers is preparing for his 10th season as head coach at Penn State. The men’s basketball coach previously owned up to his noose comments to Bolton, telling The Undefeated, “I didn’t realize that word would hurt him, and I am truly, truly sorry for that.”

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Golden State

Golden State Killer Suspect Pleads Guilty To More Than A Dozen Murders – NPR

Golden State Killer suspect Joseph James DeAngelo (center) pleaded guilty on Monday in Sacramento, Calif., to 13 murders and other related charges.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

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Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Golden State Killer suspect Joseph James DeAngelo (center) pleaded guilty on Monday in Sacramento, Calif., to 13 murders and other related charges.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Wearing an orange jumpsuit and a clear face shield to protect against the coronavirus, former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. pleaded guilty on Monday to 13 counts of first-degree murder. The string of murders in the 1970s and ’80s terrorized California, and the suspect who committed them became known as the Golden State Killer.

DeAngelo, 74, sat in a wheelchair as he rasped out “yes” and “I admit” to the charges, after prosecutors described the grisly circumstances of each crime. Otherwise, he hardly spoke and did not look at the victims’ families.

“Mr. DeAngelo is acknowledging his guilt for the heinous crimes he has committed,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton. “There is really nothing that could give full justice because he has committed horrendous acts and murder up and down the state of California. But at least we can now begin the process — after decades — to bring some closure to families.”

The hearing took place in a makeshift courtroom within a ballroom at Sacramento State University, NPR’s Eric Westervelt reports from the scene. The chairs in the gallery were spaced 10 feet apart for social distancing, attorneys wore face shields, and sheriff’s deputies wore black face masks.

The long-unsolved murders grabbed headlines anew in 2018 when law enforcement officers announced they had identified DeAngelo as the suspect using DNA from a publicly available genealogy website to crack the case.

In Hunt For Golden State Killer, Investigators Uploaded His DNA To Genealogy Site

Investigators used the DNA evidence from one of the murder scenes to create a profile of the killer, which they then uploaded to the genealogy website. That site linked the killer’s profile to a distant relative of DeAngelo. Investigators then confirmed the link by collecting DeAngelo’s DNA from his car door and a discarded tissue, according to The Associated Press.

DeAngelo’s attorneys struck a plea deal with prosecutors that means DeAngelo will avoid the death penalty. California has not executed an inmate since 2006. In March 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order instituting a moratorium on the death penalty in the state. DeAngelo will face consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole.

Easy DNA Identifications With Genealogy Databases Raise Privacy Concerns

The use of genealogy data to find a murder suspect has raised privacy concerns. People who decide to have their DNA analyzed by popular services are potentially giving away data that could point to their relatives and their descendants.

“The police currently [are] using these techniques to find … [murderers] and bad people,” researcher Yaniv Erlich told NPR’s Rob Stein in 2018. “But are we OK with using this technique to identify people in a political demonstration who left their DNA behind? There are many scenarios that you can think about misuse.”

HBO's 'I'll Be Gone In The Dark' Brings The Golden State Killer To The Small Screen

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Oregon State

Oregon, Oregon State Rivalry Will No Longer Reference Civil War – SportsLogos.Net News

The longstanding rivalry between the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers will no longer be referred to as the Civil War, the universities announced in a joint statement on Friday afternoon.

“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery,” Oregon State president Ed Ray said. “While not intended as reference to the actual Civil War, OSU sports competition should not provide any misconstrued reference to this divisive episode in American history. That we did not act before to change the name was a mistake. We do so now, along with other important actions to advance equal opportunity and justice for all and in recognition that black lives matter.”

“A number of student-athletes, alumni and friends of Oregon State University have questioned the use of the term Civil War in our rivalry series in recent years.” – @BeaverAD Scott Barnes

— Go Beavs (@BeaverAthletics) June 26, 2020

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, meanwhile, mentioned former Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon (2004-07) as the catalyst for the change.

“Today’s announcement is not only right but is a long time coming,” Mullens said. “We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War. This mutual decision is in the best interests of both schools, and I would like to thank Scott Barnes for his diligence as we worked through this process. We look forward to our continued and fierce in-state rivalry with Oregon State in all sports.”

As a player, he led us into a national championship race. Now, he’s a leading voice for change regarding today’s announcement.

Here’s Dennis Dixon on how the conversation took shape:

— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) June 26, 2020

The storied rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State dates back to 1894, when the latter was named the Oregon Agricultural College. It was referred to as the Oregon Classic or the State Championship Game until 1937, when it was officially dubbed the Civil War — though newspapers occasionally used that moniker as early as 1929.

The Ducks and Beavers have played 123 times, with Oregon leading the all-time series 66-47-10. It is the fifth-most played rivalry in the Football Bowl Subdivision, trailing only Minnesota-Wisconsin (129 games), Auburn-Georgia (124), North Carolina-Virginia (124) and Cincinnati-Miami, Ohio (124). This year’s matchup is scheduled to take place on Nov. 28 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis.

The basketball programs, on the other hand, have met a record 354 times. Interestingly enough, some combination of Oregon or Oregon State against one another, Washington or Washington State make up the five most-played games in college basketball history.

The rivalry had a corporate sponsor beginning in 1999, when it became known as the Northwest Dodge Dealers Civil War Series. PacificSource Health Plans stepped in when that 10-year partnership ended and held the title sponsor role until 2015, when it was joined by other sponsors such as Ford, McDonald’s, Safeway-Albertsons, Spirit Mountain Casinos, Toyota and Wells Fargo.

The Oregon and Oregon State football teams do not officially play for a trophy, though the Platypus Trophy was commissioned for the rivalry in 1959 because of its duck-like bill and beaver-like tail. It was awarded through the 1961 season, when it was stolen from the Ducks’ trophy case inside Gill Coliseum. It was returned, but then stolen a second time and somehow reappropriated as the trophy for the water polo teams. 

The trophy then went missing for nearly four decades before it was found in a closet at Oregon’s McArthur Court in 2005. It became the football game’s unofficial trophy two years later and is currently awarded to the alumni association of the winning school.

Barnes said the two schools will consider another moniker for the rivalry moving forward. Might we suggest the obvious, which would be to embrace trophy and name it the Battle for the Platypus – or Battylpus, for short.

Photos via the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Nike and the Daily Emerald.

Andrew Lind

Andrew Lind is an Ohio State football beat writer and photographer at Buckeye Sports Bulletin; founder of The Ohio State Uniform Database; and the NCAA and NFL writer at Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewMLind.

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Moves State

New York State Moves Swiftly On Police Reform Bills – NPR

New York Sate Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson, D-Brooklyn, speaks in favor of new legislation for Police Reform during a Assembly session at the state Capitol Monday, June 8, 2020, in Albany, N.Y.

Hans Pennink/AP

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New York Sate Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson, D-Brooklyn, speaks in favor of new legislation for Police Reform during a Assembly session at the state Capitol Monday, June 8, 2020, in Albany, N.Y.

Hans Pennink/AP

New York’s legislature moved swiftly Monday to pass a first wave of police reform legislation, including a ban on chokeholds, a prohibition on race-based profiling, and a measure requiring police departments and courts to track arrests by race and ethnicity to help identify patterns of bias.

The session followed a historic wave of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. The protests evolved into a referendum on police brutality.

New York state, where marches drew thousands of people into the streets, has a troubled history of violence by police officers against unarmed black and Hispanic men.

State Sen. Luis Sepulveda told lawmakers police tactics have led to the death and “utter humiliation” of many people of color.

“I can speak from personal experience. When I was 18 years old, I was arrested because a police officer didn’t like the way I looked at him,” Sepulveda said.

The ban on chokeholds – which passed unanimously with bipartisan support – was named in honor of Eric Garner, a black man who was confronted by police for selling loose cigarettes in 2014. Garner died after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold. Garner’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” were captured on cell phone video and became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement nationwide.

The police officer in that case, Daniel Pantaleo, facing likely dismissal eventually resigned from the force, but a grand jury declined to indict him. Last year, the Trump administration’s Justice Department declined to bring civil rights charges in the case.

“We unfortunately have not been providing safety for African Americans in this country,” said Democratic state Sen. Brian Benjamin. “What this bill does is say, ‘You know what? We’re going to try to move closer to a system where everyone feels safe in this country.'”

Law enforcement organizations in New York tried to push back against these reforms. The head of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, Jeffrey Murphy, issued a statement rejecting the idea that systemic racism exists in law enforcement, calling the accusation “disgusting.”

The powerful New York City Police Benevolent Association called the measures “an attack on law enforcement.” But in stunning political development, police saw many of their Republican allies vote with the Democratic majority.

During floor debate Monday, Republican Sen. Fred Akshar, who worked in law enforcement before being elected, said he had intended to vote against the chokehold ban.

He switched sides after being assured that police who use chokeholds in acts of self-defense wouldn’t face charges.

Today’s rapid-fire votes reflect another profound shift in Albany. Many of the measures being approved had languished for years because they were essentially dead on arrival when they reached the GOP-controlled senate. But Democrats won control of that chamber in the 2018 election. The Assembly and Senate are now led for the first time in history by African American lawmakers, who control the agenda. They seized on the momentum generated by days of street protests to move these reform bills.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, promised Monday he would sign the measures when they reach his desk. Lawmakers are expected to take up a second package of reforms on Tuesday, including repeal of a law which kept police disciplinary records confidential.

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State swing

Key swing state warns of November election crisis – POLITICO

“My nightmare is that on Election Day in November, you’re waiting for Montgomery County’s results to declare Pennsylvania to declare who wins the White House,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence, a Democrat who chairs the Board of Elections there. “The reality is that all of our counties are going to be in that same situation, and it will take a while to actually count the ballots.”

Less than two weeks away from the state’s primary, some election officials in the state said they lack the needed funding and staff to handle the massive influx of mail-in ballots they’ve received for that race. They also said the fact that they legally can’t start counting those ballots until the morning of Election Day is complicating matters. In addition to delaying a final tally, the chaos and confusion could sow distrust ahead of the general election and give fodder to those seeking to discredit its results.

“I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me so far. They got the wrong party ballot sent to them. They got the wrong district ballot sent to them. And now I’m having people getting multiple ballots sent to them. These are the things that are inevitable when you rush the implementation of mail-in voting like we did here,” said Allegheny County Democratic Councilwoman and election board member Bethany Hallam. “But I’m worried that, if Donald Trump loses in November, do the Republicans use all these examples of errors with mail-in voting as their excuse to invalidate election results?”

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed no-excuse mail-in ballot voting and other reforms into law late last year, making the June 2 primary the first test of those changes. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, election officials expected to have months, if not years, to acclimate voters to the option of voting by mail. Instead, they’ve been forced to transform the system overnight.

In Philadelphia, the most populous part of the state, officials predicted before the pandemic that they would get 70,000 to 90,000 applications for mail-in and absentee ballots in the primary. Through Thursday, with several days to go until the deadline, they had already received about 158,000. They said the previous record, set in a presidential general election, was roughly 23,000.

The deluge has led to a backlog: Officials said last week about 18,000 ballots are still waiting to be sent to city voters.

In Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County, the second biggest county in the state, the situation is worse: It had a backlog of 80,000 ballots last week. It has received more than 225,000 mail-in and absentee ballot applications through Thursday — compared to the 10,000 absentee ballots it gets in a typical presidential primary, officials said,

“We don’t just have a perfect storm. We have perfect storms,” said Republican Al Schmidt, one of the three Philadelphia city commissioners who oversee elections here. “We have new voting technology. We have an election reform that pushed back all the deadlines. And we have mail-in ballots and the pandemic.”

Though election officials said they will process all of the mailed-in votes and that most of the errors with the ballots have been minor, they worry that news like thousands of ballots with flawed instructions being sent to voters in suburban Philadelphia’s Montgomery County will lead to increased suspicion of the new voting method.

It’s unclear which party will be harmed more by such doubts. In low-income and minority neighborhoods in Democratic-dominated Philadelphia, voters have requested mail-in ballots at lower rates than those in more affluent areas. Overall, though, 69 percent of applications processed for mail and absentee ballots in the state have come from Democratic voters, compared to 30 percent from Republicans, which some GOP insiders in the state blame on Trump’s opposition to the voting method.

Trump has railed against mail voting, claiming without evidence that it is “a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters.” On Wednesday, he inaccurately said that Michigan — like Pennsylvania, a Rust Belt giant that is critical to the president’s path to reelection — is sending absentee ballots to 7.7 million voters and threatened to withhold funding to the state “if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”

The state is sending applications, not the actual ballots, to all registered voters.

Pennsylvania has not sent mail-in ballot applications to all eligible voters during the primary, though some local governments, such as Allegheny County, have. Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is open to the possibility of sending mail-in ballot applications to every voter in the general election “with the necessary additional resources,” according to spokeswoman Wanda Murren. An aide to Wolf said he will make a determination on the idea “based on experience in the primary, as we understand county processing capacity and other factors.”

Boockvar also supports allowing election officials to start counting mail ballots before Election Day, but that would require action by the state legislature.

Ahead of the primary, some election officials said that unrealistic deadlines mean some voters won’t get their mail-in ballots in time. The final day a voter can apply for such a ballot is May 26, but it must be received by election administrators just a week later.

“The reality is if you apply on May 26 for your mail-in ballot, there’s no way we’re going to get it mailed out to you and you’re going to mail it back before June 2,” said Lawrence.

Montgomery County and other areas are putting out drop boxes so voters in that situation can deliver their ballots in person.

Officials said hiring freezes and budget cuts that have been implemented due to the pandemic are making a bad situation worse. In Philadelphia, commissioners planned to hire about 50 more employees to help process the new law permitting voting by mail. But they were only able to bring in 25 before the coronavirus hit.

Mayor Jim Kenney also initially proposed a $10 million increase to the City Commissioners Office this year, but withdrew the bump in a revised budget plan that he unveiled after the virus spread. Election officials throughout Pennsylvania said that the $14 million allocated to the state for election assistance in the CARES Act is far from enough.

“We would probably need millions in order to really adequately fulfill the huge lift,” said Lisa Deeley, a Democratic Philadelphia city commissioner. “My office has been a whirlwind.”

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Former State

Former Ohio State football star Carlos Hyde agrees to deal with Seattle Seahawks: Reports –

Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde carries the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 12, 2src2src in Kansas City, Missouri.

Former Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, who rushed for a career-high 1,070 yards with the Houston Texans in 2019, reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks.Getty Images

SEATTLE — Former Ohio State football star running back Carlos Hyde and the Seattle Seahawks reached agreement on a one-year deal on Friday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and other reports.

Hyde rushed for a career-high 1,070 yards last season with six touchowns for the Houston Texans. The 29-year-old Hyde carried 245 times and played in all 16 games for the second time in his six-year career.

Hyde joins a backfield in which top backs Chris Carson (hip) and Rashad Penny (ACL) both suffered season-ending injuries in 2019. He became a free agent, and his return to the Texans seemed unlikely after the team traded for former Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson.

Hyde previously played for the San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Browns. He rushed for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns as an Ohio State senior in 2013.

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Fired State

Fired State Department watchdog was looking into whether Pompeo made staffer walk his dog, pick up laundry – NBC News

WASHINGTON — The State Department inspector general who was removed from his job Friday was looking into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning and make dinner reservations for Pompeo and his wife, among other personal errands, according to two congressional officials assigned to different committees.

The officials said they are working to learn whether former Inspector General Steve Linick may have had other ongoing investigations into Pompeo.

The officials say the staffer who was alleged to have been made to do personal tasks is a political appointee who was serving as a staff assistant. CNN reported last year that congressional Democrats were investigating a different complaint, this one from a whistleblower, alleging that Pompeo’s diplomatic security agents were made to perform similar personal tasks.

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The House first obtained details of the inspector general investigation late last week after learning of Linick’s sudden removal. Congressional oversight officials investigating the matter, believe the firing was direct retaliation for his pursuing the investigation.

A White House official told NBC News that Pompeo “recommended” Linick’s ouster and that President Donald Trump agreed with the move.

The State Department did not respond to requests for comment.

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In a letter Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Trump said it was “vital” to have “the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General.”

“That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General,” the letter said.

Linick’s removal drew criticism from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a co-chair of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus, who said Congress needs written reasons justifying a removal. “A general lack of confidence is simply not sufficient,” he said.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Saturday that they’re launching an investigation of Linick’s removal. They asked the Trump administration to turn over records and other details related to the firing by Friday.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has also fired the intelligence community’s watchdog, Michael Atkinson, and replaced acting Inspector General Glenn Fine at the Defense Department.

Image: Josh LedermanJosh Lederman

Josh Lederman is a national political reporter for NBC News.

Andrea MitchellAndrea Mitchell

Andrea Mitchell, NBC News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent, is the host of “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” an hour of political news and interviews with top newsmakers on MSNBC.

Haley Talbot, Tim Stelloh and Abigail Williams


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Reassessing State

State Reassessing Summer Camps Opening in Light of New Inflammatory Disease in Children –


Robert Mujica, NYS budget director, responding about summer camps during today’s press conference. (Screencap Governor’s Office)

At Sunday morning’s daily coronavirus press conference, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and his staff discussed the emerging guidelines for the opening of summer camps in New York State.

In response to a reporter’s question regarding the camp, Governor Cuomo first deferred to Robert Majica, the state budget director, who responded by stating that in light of the new cases of Kawasaki-like inflammatory disease that has presented itself in children, with New York State reporting over 100 such cases, there is a need to reassess the possibility of allowing the camps to open.

“With the new cases that are arising with children, we are relooking at those guidelines, and other states around us who were moving to open summer camps have slowed down that process,” Mr. Mujica said. “We do have guidelines for child care, but as far as camps where you have people sleeping away, how you do that in the context of the new cases, we are [still] looking at that. Generally they open at the end of June, so we will get guidance out and a decision way before that.”

Governor Cuomo then added that although there are only 120 cases that are being investigated at this time in New York, he believes that it is a syndrome which we are just discovering, and there are 16 states and 5 other countries which have said they have seen such cases as well.

“I think the numbers are going to be much, much higher,” the governor said. “And we need to know that as a society. We’ve been told that children are not effected, and we’ve been operating on that basis as far as summer camps. If you now change your facts again and say children may be effected, not with the traditional COVID respiratory illness but they may have this more serious inflammatory illness, which can be a heart disease issue, that’s a different set of facts. We have to respond to the facts, and it’s especially tricky if the facts change.”

Dr. Howard Zucker, the NYS Commissioner of the Department of Health, added that to date the number of cases across the country is over 200.

When asked if this could affect the opening of schools in the fall, Governor Cuomo responded that no one really knows the answer.” Nobody knows what the effect [of the virus] can be on children. I think we discovered this. I believe it is only 100 kids until you look, and I think that number is going to go up. The good news about schools is the fall is a “lifetime” away, [but] for summer camps it is relevant.”

“On the summer camps issue, and all children related issues, it’s really important for us to get the facts, is 100 kids an anomaly, or is it just the tip of the iceberg, and that represents thousands of kids that had this reaction,” said the governor as he ended that portion of his press conference.

The discussion seems to indicate that the state Health Department is taking a new look at the effect of COVID-19 on children, and will try to release guidelines for summer camps before the camp season begins at the end of June.

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