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Column: Chicago Cubs reach the All-Star break by ending a 9-game skid. Will the 2nd half bring signs of progress?

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Column: Chicago Cubs Reach The All-Star Break By Ending A 9-Game Skid. Will The 2Nd Half Bring Signs Of Progress?

Reporters eagerly inspected the damaged Chicago Cubs bat rack Sunday morning at Wrigley Field, searching for clues like paleontologists digging for dinosaur bones.

Pieces of metal either bent or ripped off, a broken hand sanitizer with a piece of masking tape holding it together and a splintered chunk of wood on the frame were telltale signs that someone — or perhaps multiple people — vented on the wooden structure holding the players’ bats and helmets.

The beaten-up bat rack served as a perfect metaphor for the 2022 Cubs season, which reached the end of the first half Sunday with a 3-2 comeback win over the New York Mets.

Nico Hoerner’s run-scoring single in the two-run eighth handed the Cubs their first win at Wrigley since July 2 against the Boston Red Sox.

“When you lose a lot of games in a row, you almost forget what it feels like,” starting pitcher Adrian Sampson said. “When you win a lot of games … you just know how to win. This is a good reminder for guys that this game is hard. We’re in the major leagues, and wins are hard to come by.”

The Cubs avoided their second 10-game losing streak and moved out of a last-place tie with the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central, improving to 18-32 at Wrigley. They’re on pace for 51 home losses, which would eclipse their all-time worst mark of 31-50 in 2013.

Sampson’s pitching and some late-inning heroics sent the crowd of 34,424 home in a good mood. The Mets scored their two runs off Sampson on a steal of home by Starling Marte in the first after a botched pickoff play at first base and an RBI blooper by Pete Alonso in the fifth that first baseman Frank Schwindel misplayed in short right field.

But Hoerner’s third single gave the Cubs the lead in the eighth, and David Robertson closed the door in the ninth.

After Saturday’s doubleheader loss to the Mets, manager David Ross lauded the team’s effort against “a first-place team with a $300 million payroll.” Actually it’s $259 million, but who’s counting?

Nevertheless, Ross seemed to suggest the Cubs are the little engine that could instead of a big-market franchise valued by Forbes at $3.36 billion. The truth is Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts chose this route and could compete with the Mets’ payroll if he wanted to.

But you can’t blame Ross for feeling as though he’s being asked to win battle after battle without enough weapons, even as he knew what he was getting into. The Cubs went 33-64 over their final 97 games in 2021 and are 35-57 at the break, giving them a .360 winning percentage (68-121) under Ross since June 13, 2021. His predecessor, Joe Maddon, posted a .581 winning percentage in five years on the North Side before being let go.

Before Sunday’s game, Ross said he welcomed the challenge of bringing this organization back to respectability.

“I think we all know we’re not where we want to be,” Ross said. “But the difficult challenges we go through make us better every single day, myself included. The players, being in the environments we’re getting put in right now, we’re going to be able to handle those moments better in the long run, years to come. Playing good teams (and) competing deep into games, extra-inning games, those are all really good things. We’ve just got to figure out ways to win ballgames, and I think we will.”

Whether most of the players learning from the first-half struggles will be here in “years to come” is doubtful. Some probably won’t be here after the Aug. 2 trade deadline, including All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, who was mired in a 1-for-36 slump before his eighth-inning single Sunday.

Cubs President Jed Hoyer is expected to unload in the next couple of weeks, though “unload” might not be the proper terminology. Back in 1997, when the Cubs lost their first 14 games and came out of the All-Star break with a win-or-else decree from the front office, manager Jim Riggleman corrected a reporter who used the term.

“This is not cattle here,” Riggleman said. “We don’t use words like ‘unload.’ It’s not a matter of unloading.”

Similarly, the Cubs would prefer you not use the word “rebuild” 25 years later. It’s always something with this organization. Perhaps they should hand out a list of forbidden words in spring training.

As bad as that ‘97 Cubs team was, it took a 37-50 record into the break in spite of the 0-14 start.

“You can’t get down and dislike each other because it can sure get nasty,” shortstop Shawon Dunston said then. “This is a good team. But when you win, everybody loves you. And when you lose, no one does. We have to like each other, whether we like it or not.”

This year’s team gets along fine, and Hoerner said there’s a lot to look forward to in the second half.

“Summer at Wrigley is always a positive to start with, so at least that’s guaranteed,” he said. “Take it for what it is, whatever is next. The Cubs have always done a really good job of putting quality people in the clubhouse, even with the turnover we’ve had in the last three, four years. That’s something I’ve always been very grateful for. … At the very minimum we have good people that are are going to be competing hard the rest of the season.”

You never know what the future will bring. The ‘98 Cubs, one of the most exciting rides in franchise history, followed the ‘97 debacle. Still, it could be a long climb to get back to where this team needs to be, and all it starts Friday in Philadelphia.

For now, take a deep breath and relax.

The worst part is over, right?

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX loses Starlink rural broadband subsidies

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Elon Musk'S Spacex Loses Starlink Rural Broadband Subsidies

The Federal Communications Commission has canceled more than $2 billion in grants previously awarded to Elon Musk’s SpaceX and a small internet service provider after the regulator ruled the companies were unlikely to meet the requirements of government funding to help expand broadband access.

The FCC had awarded SpaceX, formerly known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., $886 million in 2020 to provide faster internet to places with poor connectivity or no broadband through its Starlink satellite service.

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Lynx beat Mercury to seize control of playoff destiny with 2 games left

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Lynx Beat Mercury To Seize Control Of Playoff Destiny With 2 Games Left

With a pair of games left, the Minnesota Lynx controls their playoff destiny.

Aerial Powers scored 14 points off the bench and provided a fourth-quarter spark, and Minnesota won 86-77 at Phoenix on Wednesday night.

Moriah Jefferson scored just six points, including a dagger with 35 seconds left, but added a career-high 12 assists. Jessica Shepard scored 15 points and added a dozen rebounds.

Minnesota has won 20 of 23 regular-season games against Phoenix since August 2015, including 10 straight in Arizona.

Minnesota, Atlanta, New York and Phoenix are tied for seventh place in the standings at 14-20 with Los Angeles one game back. Only two will make the postseason; however, the Lynx own the first tiebreaker over the other three teams.

The Lynx, who have won four of their past five, have two tough games left: home against Seattle (20-13) on Friday and at Connecticut (22-11) on Sunday.

Powers, who’s started 30 of 33 games, returned to the Lynx lineup after missing Sunday’s game with left knee soreness.

She scored on a drive with 2:46 left and converted a pair of free throws after getting fouled next time down the floor for a six-point lead with 2:09 to go.

“I think she’s gotten to a place where she’s confident what’s going on medically, but now the next step is to not think about it,” coach Cheryl Reeve said pregame. “This is one of those things that’s going to continue to bother her, much like Moriah, that you just have to keep working though it.”

Sylvia Fowles converted a feed from Jefferson before the latter iced the win with a long jumper. Fowles finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Kayla McBride led the Lynx with 18 points.

Minnesota shot 46.2 percent but missed too many shots in the paint and open jumpers.

Still, it’s a win.

In her second game back after giving birth May 25, Napheesa Collier overcame early foul trouble, looked more comfortable in the offense and finished with 11 points.

Sophie Cunningham (24 points) and Shey Peddy (21) hurt the Lynx from deep, going a combined 11 of 20 on 3-point shots. Phoenix played without guards Diana Taurasi (quad) and Skylar Diggins-Smith (personal reasons).

Minnesota, thanks to a 13-5 run to end the first half, led 42-40 at the break. It was down 60-59 going to the fourth quarter.

To make room for Powers’ return, the Lynx released forward Nikolina Milić from her hardship exception. The 6-3 rookie averaged six points and three rebounds in 31 games.

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Cardinals tear up Rockies behind Nolan Arenado, Albert Pujols

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Cardinals Tear Up Rockies Behind Nolan Arenado, Albert Pujols

It’s the raw deal that continues to haunt the Rockies.

Cardinals star third baseman Nolan Arenado lambasted his former team on Wednesday night, finding themselves three shorts off the cycle in the Redbirds’ 9-5 win at Coors Field.

Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols hit four hits and also had a triple short of the cycle as St. Louis beat Colorado on 18 hits, much to the delight of the red crowd of 35,164. Shortstop Paul DeJong tied a career high with four hits.

The Rockies made some noise late, scoring three runs on five hits from reliever Chris Stratton, but it was too little, too late.

Colorado, last in the National League West, has fallen to 6-14 since the All-Star break. The Cardinals, leaders of NL Central, have improved to 9-2 in their last 11 games.

It was a tough night for Rockies starter Kyle Freeland, who entered the night on a three-game winning streak with a 2.41 ERA. The southpaw left after 4 1/3 innings, a victim of six St. Louis runs on 10 hits.

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland (21) in the dugout after a rough first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field on August 10, 2022. The Cardinals scored five runs in the first inning.

Arenado ripped an RBI double off Freeland’s left-field wall in the first, hit a single to him in the fourth and threw a two-out solo homer off left-hander Austin Gomber in the sixth.

By the way, Gomber was part of the Feb. 1, 2021 trade that sent the disgruntled Arenado to St. Louis. By the way, the Rockies will pay $21 million of Arenado’s salary next season.

Arenado’s home run, his 23rd, traveled 403 feet and landed in the giant UC Health Charity glove beyond the left field wall. Every time a Rockies player hits the gauntlet, it triggers a $5,000 donation to the American Cancer Society through the Colorado Rockies Foundation. The gift is not automatically activated when an opposing player hits the glove.

Immediately after the Arenado homer, Pujols, playing his final season, homered 412 feet to the left of Gomber. It was Pujols homer No. 687, which ranks fifth in major league history, nine behind Alex Rodriguez.

St. Louis southpaw Jose Quintana, acquired from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline, held Colorado in check for six innings, scattering seven hits and giving up two runs.

In the third, Yonathan Daza led off with a single, took third on Charlie Blackmon’s double and scored on Jose Iglesias’ sacrificial volley on the right. Iglesias also doubled in the fifth and scored on CJ Cron’s triple in the right field corner. It was Cron’s third hat-trick this season.

Designated hitter Elehuris Montero went 2-for-4 and extended his hitting streak to nine games and has five straight multi-hit games, tied for most by a rookie in Rockies history.

Freeland was out of his game from the start.

He walked leadoff hitter Dylan Carlson, got a groundout from Tommy Edmonds, then allowed five straight hits, including a brace from Arenado to the left field line and a single from Pujols. By the end of the inning, the Cardinals had sent 10 men to the plate, taken a 5-0 lead and forced Freeland to throw 37 pitches.

Both clubs will play for the series win Thursday afternoon in Coors. The Rockies beat St. Louis, 16-5, on Tuesday.

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Social media model arrested in Hawaii for murder

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Social Media Model Arrested In Hawaii For Murder

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Law enforcement in Hawaii arrested social media model Courtney Clenney on Wednesday for second-degree murder with a deadly weapon.

Hawaii County Police said in a statement they assisted the US Marshals Service in the arrest of the 26-year-old man in Laupahoehoe, which is on the Big Island. Officers used an arrest warrant issued by Miami-Dade County, Florida.

She is being held at the East Hawaii Detention Center pending her first appearance in Hilo District Court on Thursday, police said.

The police statement gave no details of the charges against her, but the Miami Herald reported that Clenney is accused of fatally stabbing her boyfriend in April.

Her Miami defense attorney, Frank Prieto, told the Miami Herald that she was in Hawaii while in rehabilitation for drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I’m completely shocked, especially since we cooperated with the investigation and offered to hand her over voluntarily if charged,” Prieto said. “We look forward to clearing his name in court.”

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Sowing Distrust, Not Evidence: The Right’s Latest Effort to Attack the FBI

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Sowing Distrust, Not Evidence: The Right'S Latest Effort To Attack The Fbi
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The first few minutes after Donald Trump announced that his Florida estate had been raided by FBI agents went better than the former president could have imagined. His years-long effort to portray the office as inherently biased against him soon prompted even Trump-skeptical Republicans to side with him against the devious “deep state.” The wagon ride would have pleased Trump, whose team saw a new breath of unity with Trump as their goal.

That this reaction was based on allegations of political bias within the FBI that have no basis in the available evidence was irrelevant. The point was, the FBI became the opposition, just as Trump would have hoped.

But it turns out that wasn’t enough. Baseless claims of FBI impropriety and bias have now been taken up a notch with several figures on the right claiming – again without proof, let alone justification – that perhaps agents planted evidence while they roamed Mar-a-Lago. Because, it seems, any opponent of Trump should be cast in the most nefarious terms possible.

The FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club on August 8 as part of an investigation into whether presidential documents had been mishandled. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

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The insinuation was first made by Trump attorney Christina Bobb. Speaking to a right-wing streaming service, Bobb (herself a veteran of the right-wing One America News network) repeatedly tried to suggest that the FBI had acted improperly. She asked to see their warrant when she arrived at Mar-a-Lago on Monday morning; she claims they resisted at first. She hoped to observe the research; they prevented her from doing so.

what present as maybe suspicious.

“We’ll see what they find. If they did, it will be interesting – especially since they kept me from watching what they did,” Bobb said. “But at this point, I don’t necessarily think they would even go so far as to try to plant information. I think they just make stuff up.

It is certainly true that law enforcement has in the past withheld evidence from suspects. But the idea that they would in this context makes no sense. They took about ten boxes of material; if the officers at the scene wanted to inject anything incriminating, there were plenty of opportunities to do so once they left Mar-a-Lago. After all, planting evidence at a crime scene would usually be done in an effort to convince other officials not in on the scheme that they were there all along. If all the officials are aware, it is not necessary. And if all the agents didn’t know about the allegedly infamous at Mar-a-Lago, the problem would be spotted by other agents more than Trump’s lawyers.

All of this runs the obvious risk of treating this insinuation as credible. This is not the case, even in Bobb’s vague formulation. There’s literally no reason to think the FBI wanted to add anything to the evidence that wasn’t already there. To say there’s reason to think so requires you to believe (or want others to believe) that the bureau is inherently corrupt and out to get Trump, which begs the question.

Anyway, it got worse. Another Trump attorney, Alina Habba, appeared on Fox News Tuesday night with host Jesse Watters. Watters, whose track record of accuracy is not without blemish, quickly raised the idea that the FBI was up to something.

“What the FBI is probably doing is planting evidence, which they did during the Russian hoax,” he said. “We also have a hunch they doctored evidence to get the warrant – again, which they did during the Russian hoax.”

Watters’ intuition should be seen as strongly correlated with demonstrated reality, just as I should be seen as a nominee for this year’s Cy Young Award. Yes, an FBI official pleaded guilty to altering an email used in a warrant application, but he avoided jail time in part because a judge ruled the information he added was exact. The “evidence implantation” statement refers to a convoluted claim made by special counsel John Durham that has never been substantiated. But each is a good example of how isolated, decontextualized claims against the FBI have spread through the conservative bubble with the central goal of casting the office, not Trump, as the dodgy actor.

Habba, of course, agreed with Watters.

“Quite honestly, I’m afraid they planted something,” she said. “At this point, who knows? I don’t trust the government, and that’s a very scary thing as an American.

Here, of course, is how it works: using unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing against the government as a reason to distrust the government and using distrust of the government as a reason to suggest the government has done wrong . This is exactly how the defenses of Trump’s voter fraud claims have worked. He insisted that a fraud was going to happen, and then it happened. Many people believed him. This belief was later cited as a reason to fight voter fraud, which reinforced the feeling that something needed to be fixed.

On Wednesday morning, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), long a vocal critic of the intelligence community and how the government wields power, echoed the baseless notion that the FBI could produce evidence .

“Do I know the boxes of gear they took from Mar-a-Lago, that they won’t put things in those boxes to trap him?” said Paul. “How do we know? … How do we know they’re going to be honest with us about what’s actually in the boxes? How do we know it was in the box before it left the residence if the lawyers weren’t allowed to see everything?”

After all, he added, the FBI had “lost a lot of faith” – thanks in part to years of misreporting FBI actions.

Skepticism about law enforcement is still justified and still an important part of the American system. But there is a difference between informed skepticism and an effort to use eroded trust in law enforcement to further erode trust in law enforcement.

Consider where Paul’s framing differs and does not differ from that of Trump himself, who gave his take on his bespoke social media network Wednesday morning.

“Everyone was asked to leave, they wanted to be left alone, with no witnesses to see what they were doing, taking, or hopefully not ‘planting,’” Trump wrote. “Why did they STRONGLY insist that no one was watching them, everyone outside?”

This is not skepticism. It is Trump who for years has continued to denigrate the integrity of the FBI at every opportunity, only to inoculate his followers against the occasions in which he was or could be the focus of FBI interest. For occasions, that is, like this.

There is an added benefit to this line of argument. If the FBI announces that it has discovered something incriminating among the documents, Trump et al have a ready-made answer: you put it there. Base inoculated once more.

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NEXT Weather Alert: Dangerous Heat, Excessive Humidity Peaking Before Philly Area Sees Relief

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Next Weather Alert: Dangerous Heat, Excessive Humidity Peaking Before Philly Area Sees Relief

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Dangerous heat and excessive humidity are expected to peak on Tuesday. It will be another brutal afternoon for the region as heat indices climb into dangerous territory of up to 105 degrees.

Fortunately, the change is near and we will start to see these impacts from the afternoon.

A few severe thunderstorms are possible later in the day. Some of the most severe storms could trigger a severe thunderstorm warning, however, the threat of severe weather is low.

A bigger threat is the possibility of heavy rain. By Wednesday, a cold front will locally trigger heavy rain.

Thunderstorms will develop from west to east during the afternoon hours.

Heavy rains could lead to flash flooding in some areas. It’s important to make sure you have a way to stay alert and aware of the weather.

Once the cold front dissipates, humidity begins to drop on Thursday and temperatures will drop on Friday, giving way to a cool weekend and weekend.

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