Michigan GOP Senate rejects Trump’s claim of election fraud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game 7 is Friday night in Tampa, Fla.

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

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

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

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

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Lanco announces ‘Honky Tonk Hippies’ tour and new 5-song EP

Lanco is launching their 30-city Honky Tonk Hippies tour this fall, and will be releasing a new 5-song EP of the same name on July 2.  The tour will kick-off on Sept. 12 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina at The Wind Jammer with Ross Ellis, traveling through Georgia the Theatre in Athens, Georgia, The Van Buren in Phoenix, and Fremont Theater in California before wrapping up at the Grizzly Rose in Denver.

Lanco’s upcoming EP was self-produced by the five-man band –comprised of Brandon Lancaster, Eric Steedly, Chandler Baldwin, Jared Hampton, and Tripp Howell — and each song on the new project was written by at least two members of the group.

Tickets for the Honky Tonk Hippies tour will be on sale beginning this Friday, June 25 at lancomusic.com.

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Kenny Chesney joins Jimmy Buffett at Nashville Club Show

Jimmy Buffett performed a private, unannounced show with his Coral Reefer Band at the Nashville club Exit/In, the same small venue Buffett first performed in back in the 1970s.  As a surprise, country superstar Kenny Chesney joined Buffett to perform Mac McAnally’s “Back Where I Come From” and Buffett’s classic “Margaritaville.”

Both Buffett and Chesney shared video clips from the evening’s performances, with Chesney posting on Instagram: “Always a blast being on stage with my friends Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally, and the rest of the Coral Reefer Band. Thanks for the invite Jimmy.”

Opening in 1971, Exit/In celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  The venue has hosted a wide-variety of performances from artists including R.E.M., Tom Petty, The Police, as well as numerous country.  One of the most recent performances was in 2019, a pre-pandemic appearance from Miranda Lambert to preview songs from her album Wildcard.

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Television Academy to allow non-gendered ‘performer’ Emmy category

The Television Academy will recognize nonbinary performers in the Emmy competition.  The organization announced that performer category winners or nominees may now request that their nomination certificate and engraving on an Emmy statue carry the term “performer” in place of “actor” or “actress.”  The Television Academy will still use actor, actress, supporting actor and supporting actress in its categories, but it will now allow each individual to choose how they wish to be identified, including the new non-gendered “performer” label.  The organization’s decision comes after Billions star Asia Kate Dillon publicly questioned the use of gendered acting categories for the Emmy Awards in 2017, which appeared to exclude those who identified as nonbinary like Dillon. In the end, Dillon asked to be entered into the “supporting actor” category that year.

The Television Academy also said that any documentary film that screens on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website “will be deemed a theatrical motion picture and thus ineligible for the Emmy competition,” which may eliminate the so-called “double dipping” of documentaries for both Oscar and Emmy consideration.

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Michael B. Jordan apologizes after accusations of cultural appropriation over the name of his new rum brand

Michael B. Jordan has apologized for the name of his new rum brand, saying in his Instagram Stories that he will be renaming the brand. The 34-year-old actor said Tuesday that he will change the name of his rum brand J’Ouvert after accusations that the name appropriates Caribbean culture.

Jordan wrote: “I just wanna say on behalf of myself & my partners, our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture (we love & respect) & hoped to celebrate & shine a positive light on. Last few days has been a lot of listening. A lot of learning & engaging in countless community conversations…We hear you. I hear you & want to be clear that we are in the process of renaming. We sincerely apologize & look forward to introducing a brand we can all be proud of.”

J’Ouvert is a festival celebrating Caribbean culture that signals the start of Carnival. The festival is held annually in Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada, and celebrated by many Caribbean people worldwide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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