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Morning headlines: US-China diplomatic spat grows; stormy MLB opener; judge blocks agents from arresting observers
special report AP

Morning headlines: US-China diplomatic spat grows; stormy MLB opener; judge blocks agents from arresting observers

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Today is Friday, July 24, 2020. Let's get caught up.

These non-virus headlines are in the news this morning: China ordered the United States to close its consulate in the western city of Chengdu, ratcheting up the countries' diplomatic conflict; the Nationals and Yankees knelt together before the national anthem and MLB expanded the playoffs to 16 teams prior to Thursday's season opener; and a federal judge specifically blocked U.S. agents from arresting or using physical force against journalists and legal observers at protests in Portland.

Read on for these stories, other top headlines, celebrity birthdays and more.

Top stories

Always rocky, China-US relations appear at a turning point

Four decades after the U.S. established diplomatic ties with Communist China, the relationship between the two may have reached a turning point.

Tensions have risen to new heights on what has always been a rocky road, as the ambitions of a rising superpower increasingly clash with those of the established one. China ordered the closing of the U.S. Consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Friday, in rapid retaliation for the closing of its consulate in Houston.

Two weeks ago, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi asked aloud if relations could stay on track. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered an answer: The time has come to change course.


MLB, players agree to expand playoffs; players kneel before anthem

Major League Baseball and the players’ union agreed Thursday to expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16 for the pandemic-delayed season, a decision that makes it likely teams with losing records will reach the postseason.

The agreement was reached hours before the season opener between the New York Yankees and World Series champion Washington Nationals. The opening game saw zero fans, umpires wearing masks, Washington star Juan Soto sidelined by COVID-19 and all Nationals and Yankees kneeling together before the national anthem.


Judge blocks US agents from arresting observers in Portland

A federal judge specifically blocked U.S. agents from arresting or using physical force against journalists and legal observers at protests where President Donald Trump is testing the limits of federal power.

U.S. Judge Michael Simon made his ruling late Thursday, a day after Portland's mayor was tear-gassed by federal agents while making an appearance outside a federal courthouse during raucous demonstrations. Protesters have gathered in Oregon's largest city for nearly two months straight since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis.

In other news today ...

  • It doesn’t quite have the ring of “Morning in America” and “I Like Ike.” But the phrase “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.” is getting an unlikely moment in the spotlight as President Donald Trump has taken a detour into the politics of dementia three months before the election.
  • While the protests have taken on a new tone of opposition to federal intervention, Black leaders and protesters say the surge in activity — though often chaotic — hasn’t distracted from their anti-racist message. Instead, it's shined a spotlight on it.
  • Bowing to the coronavirus threat, President Donald Trump has scrapped plans for a four-night Republican National Convention celebration in Florida that had been set to draw more than 10,000 people to a pandemic hot spot to mark his renomination.
  • Five months after it kicked New Yorkers out of trusted traveler security programs in a spat over immigration policy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reversed itself Thursday and told a court it had misrepresented the facts in a lawsuit over the matter. The department announced that New Yorkers would once again be allowed to enroll and re-enroll in Global Entry and other federal travel programs that allow vetted travelers to avoid long security lines at airports and the U.S. border.
  • A prominent South Sudanese activist has fled to the United States with the help of the U.S. government, which issued emergency visas to him and his family after he said South Sudan’s president ordered him abducted or killed.
  • Hollywood has now gone more than four months without a major theatrical release. While some films have found new streaming homes, the biggest upcoming ones remain idled like jumbo jets on the tarmac. Now, movie houses say that despite far from ideal circumstances, it’s time for new movies.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says there’s enough scientific evidence that two rare plants in Nevada’s desert could go extinct to warrant a year-long review of whether to list them as endangered species, including one at the center of a fight over a proposed lithium mine.

Click on the links below for full versions of these stories and scroll further for trending stories, a look at today in history and celebrity birthdays.

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