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MLB cancels All-Star Game for first time since 1945 – The Denver Post

LOS ANGELES — Dodger Stadium’s 40-year wait to host the All-Star Game is going to last even longer.

The game scheduled for July 14 was canceled Friday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Dodger Stadium was awarded the 2022 Midsummer Classic. The 2021 game is set for Atlanta’s Truist Park, home to the Braves since 2017.

Because of the pandemic, opening day had already been delayed from March 26 to July 23 or 24.

“Once it became clear we were unable to hold this year’s All-Star festivities, we wanted to award the Dodgers with the next available All-Star Game, which is 2022,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

This will be the first time since 1945 that no game will be held. Travel restrictions because of World War II kept the game scheduled for Boston’s Fenway Park and any player selections from taking place that year. It was pushed back to the next season.

The Dodgers hosted the only the Mid-Summer Classic in Dodger Stadium history in 1980, won 4-2 by the National League.

The stadium –third-oldest in baseball behind Fenway and Chicago’s Wrigley Field — is the only park in the majors not to have increased its 56,000-seat capacity since it opened in 1962.

That’s not to say it hasn’t changed, however.

Since 2013, the stadium that overlooks downtown Los Angeles has undergone a series of structural and behind-the-scenes improvements, including two entrance plazas on the field level, tiered seating and bar areas overlooking both bullpens. The ballpark has also gotten new HD video screens and sound systems, wider concourses and renovated restrooms, kids play areas, displays to honor the franchise’s storied history, new home and visiting clubhouses and batting cages.

And that doesn’t include the $100 million in renovations that helped the Dodgers land the 2020 game. Those feature two acres of food and entertainment offerings in a new center field plaza and spruced-up outfield pavilions. Also added were elevators, escalators and bridges to improve circulation around the ballpark without changing its picturesque look and feel. The speaker tower sound system in center field is being replaced. New so-called “home run seats” are being added in front of existing outfield seats.

The coronavirus delayed the start of the season and also slowed work at the stadium. In mid-April, retired Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully narrated a brief video of the project.

“When we get back to baseball, Dodger fans will be greeted with the most significant upgrade to the fan experience in the history of our storied venue,” he said.

“When exactly will that return to Dodger Stadium take place? Well, as that noted baseball philosopher Yogi Berra once said, ‘I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering that question,‴ Scully said, chuckling.

Scully, now 92, announced the 1959 All-Star game hosted by the Dodgers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (the second such game played that year). He joined Mel Allen on the call for NBC on Aug. 3.

It was the first Mid-Summer Classic to be played on the West Coast, and also one of only two games to be played outside the month of July. The other was in 1981, when it was held on Aug. 9 because of the players’ strike.

The Dodgers also hosted the game at Ebbets Field in 1949 before they moved to the West Coast from Brooklyn.

The Dodgers have produced four different All-Star Game MVPs: Maury Wills in 1962; Steve Garvey in 1974 and ’78; Don Sutton in 1977; and Mike Piazza in 1996. From the 87-year-old Wills to the 51-year-old Piazza, all are still living and may have played a part in this year’s festivities.

Scully would surely have made an appearance, either in person or via video, where he has turned up several times since retiring in 2016. He and Brent Musburger worked the 1980 game in LA for CBS radio.

The Dodgers had been planning to host the 91st All-Star Game since being chosen in 2018. They sent teams of planners to Washington, D.C., in 2018 and Cleveland last year to study what did and didn’t work for those host cities.

Besides the Futures Game, Home Run Derby and All-Star Game over three days at the stadium, there would have been a Fan Fest and other events and commercial tie-ins around the game.

In February 2018, the Los Angeles City Council estimated an economic impact of $89.4 million from hosting the game. The Dodgers had committed to paying $100,000 for city services needed as part of the game.


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Hong Kong: Asylum for ‘tortured’ consulate worker could give hope to other activists

A former worker at the UK’s consulate in Hong Kong has told Sky News that Britain’s decision to grant him asylum could set a precedent for others who fear Chinese persecution.

Hong Kong-born Simon Cheng, 29, said the Home Office recently approved his asylum request after he was forced to flee the territory last year following more than two weeks in Chinese detention.

In an interview with Sky News, the pro-democracy campaigner said he applauded a decision by Britain this week to offer millions of Hong Kong residents a path to UK citizenship if they hold the special status of British National Overseas (BNO).

However, Mr Cheng said his case might mean those who do not qualify, including anyone who was born after Britain handed control of the city back to China in 1997, might be able to claim political asylum instead.

Speaking in London, he said: “I guess I’m the first case as a Hong Kong citizen to be granted political asylum in the UK, so it could be a precedent for more Hong Kong people if they cannot be protected by the BNO scheme.”

While supportive of the citizenship offer, he said Boris Johnson’s government should also impose sanctions on China in response to the national security law, which the UK says is in breach of a bilateral treaty that guarantees Hong Kong’s one country, two systems principle.

Mr Cheng warned that his experience of China’s police and justice system during 15 days in detention on the Chinese mainland last August was a portent of what the people of his home city could expect.

“That is the worst ever,” he said of the new legislation.

Pro-democracy protesters “can simply wave the flag or say something bad to the government and be detained and delivered back to mainland China,” he said.

Mr Cheng believes those Hong Kong residents standing up to what they see as Beijing’s encroaching rule should receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

But he warned that left unchecked, China could try to extend its influence further, possibly even leading to conflict over Taiwan or in the South China Sea.

“We give a warning signal to the world now,” he said. “The Hong Kong citizens now on the frontline, so in the future I do believe we are eligible to get the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Recalling his time in captivity, Mr Cheng said he had been returning to Hong Kong following a trip to mainland China when he was arrested on 8 August.

He believes he was stopped because he had taken part in a number of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, so perhaps his face had been recognised.

Mr Cheng describes being secured to a “tiger chair” in a cell, with a bar over his stomach and his hands cuffed together.

He alleged an interrogator began by asking him what crime he had committed, followed by what he thought about Hong Kong and whether the UK had anything to do with widespread pro-democracy protests.

“I never ever can imagine being interrogated with such questions,” Mr Cheng said.

He was eventually told that he could either confess to seeing prostitutes – not regarded as a serious offence – or be handed over to other security personnel, where he could face more serious charges.

Mr Cheng said he opted for the former, even though he says this was not true.

He claims he was then transferred to another location where he was placed in solitary confinement for a week, only taken out to be driven allegedly to a separate site where he claims he was made to stand in stress positions and beaten.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office last month released a six-monthly report on Hong Kong.

In the foreword, Dominic Raab referred to Mr Cheng’s “mistreatment”, saying the UK was “shocked and appalled”.

“His treatment in Chinese detention, for more than two weeks, amounted to torture,” he said.

China’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, has said previously on Twitter that Mr Cheng was placed under 15-day “administrative detention” by police in Shenzhen.

“He confessed all offences. All his lawful rights and interests were guaranteed in accordance with the law.”

Mr Cheng was set free on 24 August but not before he claims he was forced to confess on camera to soliciting prostitutes, treason and sharing UK secrets with the Chinese authorities.

“I was trying to be cooperating, yeah let’s do it,” he said, explaining why he agreed to do the recording. “If I can’t get out after 15 days I will be done.”

He said the false confession on prostitution was released by state media along with CCTV footage showing him visiting a massage parlour – which he did but for an ordinary massage.

The other two “confession tapes” have yet to be made public, Mr Cheng said.

Upon his release he decided he had to leave his parents and siblings in Hong Kong because he did not feel safe.

Mr Cheng travelled with his girlfriend to Taiwan and then they moved to the UK.

The coronavirus pandemic means he has not been able to find work yet so is dedicating his time to supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

Even though he’s left the territory, Mr Cheng still says he thinks he is being monitored.

“I feel I’m being followed sometimes in the UK,” he said. “I do feel some suspicious people around me stare at me. I’m not sure because I cannot prove anything.”

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Theresa May slams Boris for hiring security adviser with 'no proven expertise'

Theresa May has blasted Boris Johnson’s choice of new national security adviser as a ‘political appointee’ with ‘no proven expertise’.

Speaking in the Commons, she paid tribute to the departing NSA and chief civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill – but fumed over the decision to replace him with David Frost, who is the chief EU trade negotiator and Europe Adviser to Mr Johnson.

The appointment has also been criticised by a former chief civil servant, Gus O’Donnell, and a former NSA, Peter Ricketts, who feared it could undermine the impartiality of the security advice the PM receives.

It is the first time Ms May has openly attacked Mr Johnson’s government since she stepped down last summer.

Singling out Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, Ms May said: ‘On Saturday, my right honourable friend said we must be able to promote those with proven expertise. Why then is the new national security adviser a political appointee with no proven expertise in national security?’

Mr Gove had attacked the ‘whirligig of Civil Service transfers and promotions’ in a speech to the Ditchley Foundation on the same day Mr Sedwill’s resignation was announced.

He said: ‘We must be able to promote those with proven expertise in their current role to perform the same, or similar, functions with greater status and higher rewards without them thinking they have to move away from the areas they know and love to rise in their profession.

‘We would not ask an Orthopaedics Registrar to become a psychiatrist in order to make consultant. So why should we require an expert in agriculture negotiations with the EU to supervise the Universal Credit IT system to see their career progress?’

Mr Sedwill held both the position of national security adviser and Cabinet Secretary, the most powerful civil service role, whereas the two roles will now be held by different people.

Mr Gove said previous NSAs were not all ‘steeped in the security world’ and said some were ‘distinguished diplomats’ like Mr Frost.

Ms May glared and shook her head as he gave his response.

In response to further questions by a Labour MP, he said: ‘The broader point is that David Frost is involved in one of the most complex diplomatic negotiations ever conducted and a diplomatic negotiation that relates specifically to defence and security cooperation as well as tariffs and trade.

‘He has been a civil servant for decades and it is the case that Mark Lyall Grant and Kim Darroch, who were national security advisers, were not people who were steeped in the world of intelligence and security.

‘They were gifted diplomats and gifted civil servants and they were, as David will be, supported by a superb team in the national security secretariat.’

Like Mr Frost, Mr Darroch held a number of diplomatic roles with the Foreign Office and was the PM’s Europe adviser for several years.

However his responsibilities included briefs on the Soviet Union and satellites towards the end of the Cold War, according to the New Statesman.

His successor, Mr Lyall Grant, had served mainly in ambassadorial roles and senior Foreign Office postings.

Neither men had the extensive security background of Mr Sedwill, who had held military-facing and counterterrorism roles in the Foreign Office and the United Nations respectively.

Before Ms May’s comments, Mr Gove claimed the civil service commissioner has agreed the job of national security adviser ‘can be regarded as a political rather than necessarily civil service appointment.’

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Parents could be fined for not sending children back to school

Parents in England could be fined if they do not send their children back to school in September, the Education Secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson said a return to school will be ‘compulsory’ and families may face financial penalties if they keep their children at home – unless there is a ‘good reason’ for the absence.

A detailed plan on how the Government will ensure that all children in England are back in the classroom in the autumn will be set out by the end of this week, the minister said.

But headteachers and teaching unions have urged against rushing to reintroduce fines as they say schools will need to rebuild confidence among families, rather than punish them.

Mr Williamson also suggested on Monday that the full return to school in September would not rely on social distancing in the same way as in pubs.

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‘It’s not about one metre, it’s not about two metres,’ he told BBC Breakfast, saying that safety would be based on ‘reducing the number of transmission points’ within schools.

Instead whole classes would become ‘bubbles’ separated from other pupils.

His remarks came as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the Government of being ‘asleep at the wheel’ on the issue of reopening schools, adding that there has been a ‘lack of planning’.

Speaking on Sky News, he said: ‘If you could put up Nightingale hospitals – a good thing to do – you can certainly put up temporary classrooms, you can certainly take over libraries, community centres.’

On the latest plans, Mr Williamson told LBC: ‘It is going to be compulsory for children to return back to school unless there’s a very good reason, or a local spike where there have had to be local lockdowns

‘We do have to get back into compulsory education as part of that, obviously fines sit alongside that.

‘Unless there is a good reason for the absence then we will be looking at the fact that we would be imposing fines on families if they are not sending their children back.’

Some children began returning to school at the start of this month – but, ahead of the phased reopening, the Government confirmed that parents who do not feel safe sending their children back to school would not face fines.

The latest Government figures show that around a third (34%) of all Year 6 children attended school on June 18, up from 26% on June 11.

Attendance was around a quarter (26%) in Year 1, up from a fifth the previous week, and 29% in Reception, up from 22% on June 11, the figures show.

Speaking on Monday, Boris Johnson said the fact that more pupils are not back at school yet is a source of ‘deep frustration’ for him.

The Prime Minister told Times Radio that teaching unions and councils should be saying ‘loud and clear’ that schools are safe.

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Coronavirus: £400m for R&D projects as arts sector return outlined

Seven research and innovation projects are receiving more than £400m in government funding.

Businesses and universities in places including Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff and Kent are set to benefit, taking forward projects such as zero-emissions technology for maritime vessels, smart-packaging to cut food waste, and new health products to combat infections.

Ministers said each programme will deliver long-term economic benefits, creating thousands of jobs and encouraging more competitive and future-proof industries as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The projects include:

  • £114m for a consortium led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
  • £55m for a consortium led by the University of Edinburgh
  • £46m for a consortium led by the University of Bristol

A five-stage plan that could see the return of the performing arts has also been unveiled.

The first two stages of the plan are already in place: Allowing rehearsals to resume with no audience present and giving the go-ahead to recorded performances, provided social distancing rules are being followed.

Stage three will see outdoor performances with socially-distanced spectators, as well as pilots for indoor performances with a limited crowd.

The fourth stage of the plan allows for performances to take place inside with a limited, socially distanced audience.

The final stage will see performances permitted both indoors and outdoors, with more people allowed to watch.

Kate Varah, executive director of the Old Vic theatre in London, said she welcomes the “clarity and information” but added: “If we had some timelines that would be brilliant, because we can then start to plan our businesses around those rough dates.”

Julian Bird, CEO of UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre, said there needed to be “no earlier than” dates for stages three to five.

“Otherwise with no information at all, theatres and producers will have to assume a worst-case scenario and plan to be shut for a long period,” he cautioned.

“With the rest of the economy now reopening quickly, we firmly believe that with the right safety processes in place, we can get back to full audiences in theatres within months – we now need the government to confirm this.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We know the challenges – theatres must be full to make money, and performers need to be safe on stage as they sing, dance and play instruments.

“But I am determined to ensure the performing arts do not stay closed longer than is absolutely necessary to protect public health.”

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LeBron James secures $100m for media company

LeBron James and his business partner have secured $100m (£90m) in investments for their media company which aims to empower black audiences.

SpringHill Entertainment, is headed by James with his business partner Maverick Carter as CEO. Serena Williams is among those on the board.

It describes itself as a media company with an unapologetic agenda that will give a voice to creators and consumers.

The company is named after the Ohio apartment complex James was raised in.

Funding for SpringHill Entertainment closed in March but was announced on Thursday, according to Variety.

The company is a result of three projects merged together – production company SpringHill Entertainment, digital media company Uninterrupted and the Robot Co, a marketing agency.

James said his team comprises of more than 100 employees, “64% people of colour and 40% female in an industry that averages 25%”.

Our leadership team is a reflection of our entire organization. I want to thank everyone at The Springhill Company for believing in our vision! We closed this deal in March and I knew our work was going to keep getting more and more necessary. Let’s continue greatness. 🚀👑

End of Twitter post by @KingJames

In a statement, James said: “I’ve always wanted to use the platform of basketball to empower those around me. Now I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to build a company that empowers creators, consumers, and everything it touches.

“The SpringHill Company defines empowerment. You see it in the team we’ve built, the stories we tell, and the community our work will serve.”

SpringHill Entertainment is already working on a film about basketball with Netflix. It is set to feature Adam Sandler.

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Sadness and elation for Liverpool fans as they win title in pandemic

You wait 30 years for another top flight title and when it does come along, it’s in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, eventually sealed by another team playing in an almost empty stadium 220 miles away.

The circumstances of this title victory are utterly bizarre but should not detract from the achievement, because anyone sensible knows the trophy belonged to Liverpool long before lockdown.

No ifs, no buts, no asterisks. This is one of the greatest teams the Premier League has seen – if not the single greatest.

Its supporters have spent the last three decades imagining the feeling of lining the streets in the hundreds of thousands, their heroes parading by on an open-top bus, through the city centre and past the Liver Building, skirting the banks of the River Mersey, domestic champions once more.

Coronavirus means that is impossible, however. Official celebrations will be muted but it does not dull the sense of pride felt in the red half of Liverpool, where many were not alive when the Reds won the old first division in 1990.

Waitress Amy Douglas, 28, from Formby, is one of them. As a season ticket holder, she is consumed by mixed feelings.

“I keep bursting out crying,” she says, “I’m excited, I’m completely delighted. But it is heart breaking, too, watching the games on TV with all that fake crowd noise. It’s that feeling of ‘I should be there’. But hopefully we can do it again next year without COVID-19.”

To understand what this title means, you have to be in Liverpool, to feel how football pulses through the city, both binding and dividing it.

I got a taxi from the train station a few months ago and the female driver, a part-time beautician, needed no prompting, “Jurgen Klopp,” she said “we just love him, he’s one of us now. The men want to be him and the women want to sleep with him.”

The 53-year-old from Stuttgart, with the magnetic charm and high-resolution smile, arrived in Merseyside four years ago as the hottest property in football management and has more than justified the billing.

He has made smart purchases – notably in Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane, two of Liverpool’s brightest stars – but he has also invested time in the academy, demonstrating a much heralded adeptness for recognising and nurturing young talent.

Trent Alexander-Arnold grew up five minutes’ drive from Liverpool’s Melwood training ground. He turned 17 one day before Klopp took over and is now a mainstay of the team, his perfectly placed free kicks earning warranted comparisons with David Beckham.

The area immediately around Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, with its back-to-back red and yellow brick terraced housing, is undergoing regeneration but remains one of the ten most deprived neighbourhoods in England.

Here, football offers an escape from the often harsh realities of everyday life and residents delight in Alexander-Arnold. He is a genuine homegrown success story – an increasingly rare commodity in football.

On the wall of one of the end terraces is a three-storey mural of the right-back, who has proven himself to be not just one of English football’s most prized youngsters but also an ambassador for the local community, volunteering for charities that deliver food parcels in his spare time.

The young star, who is mixed race, has also been an outspoken advocate of ending discrimination in football and society, saying the situation has been “too wrong for too long” – a frankness encouraged by his manager.

Comparisons will naturally be made with the last Liverpool team to triumph in the top division, back in April 1990, with two games to spare.

Of the current squad, only four – James Milner, Adrian, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana – were alive at that time.

Liverpool have won the Champions League twice and three FA Cups in the intervening period but the long wait for this one makes it the sweetest of all.

In 2014, Liverpool’s charge towards the title was derailed by a now infamous slip by then-captain Steven Gerard, who is still haunted by the moment.

One man who knows what it feels like to win a title with Liverpool is John Barnes, a key part of the team which won in 1990, led by Kenny Dalglish.

“This one will be slightly different,” Barnes says, “because it’s been 30 years. In 1990 we’d won it two years earlier. I’m not saying we were blasé about it, or complacent.

“But what you learned is that the way you treated success should be similar to the way we treat failure – in that you go into every game with authenticity and determination. If you win, you win, and if you lose you lose, which is what Jurgen Klopp has brought back to this club.”

Just metres away from Anfield is another sign of the changing times, a Black Lives Matter mural with “Merseyside Together” written above it.

They may be united in fighting discrimination but where the more trivial matter of football is concerned, the city remains split in two; red or blue; Liverpool or Everton.

Nobody knows that better than Dave Prentice, an Everton fan and journalist for the Liverpool Echo who has covered both teams for the last 30 years.

“It’s a way of life in Liverpool, you’re blue or your red, that’s all anyone wants to talk about,” he says.

“You jump in a cab, it’s the only conversation. In the pub, football’s all anyone wants to talk about. Gerard Houlier (former Liverpool manager) spoke about it when he signed Nicky Barmby from Everton and he couldn’t quite believe the furore it created. It was as if he had changed his religion, but in many it was, because he changed sides.”

The entire city, to its great credit, continues to stand united on the Hillsborough disaster which claimed 96 lives in April 1989. “There is that civic pride and togetherness, most notably around Hillsborough,” says Prentice. “Liverpool had that famous banner ‘LFC thanks EFC’ so it’s a strange city in many ways but it’s also a close one.”

The Liverpool motto in recent years has been “This Means More” – a sentiment often pushed by the marketing department and bought into by the supporter base, which understandably irks rival fans.

But given the weight of feeling, the history and the 30-year wait, maybe, just maybe, it does.

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