LEADING OFF: Kershaw starts for Dodgers

Colorado Rockies' Mark Reynolds flips his bat after striking out against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 28, 2017. The Giants won 5-3. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:



The Los Angeles Dodgers send Clayton Kershaw to the mound for the finale of their four-game Freeway Series against the rival Angels. Kershaw is 7-0 with a 2.38 ERA in his last 10 starts. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA in nine career starts against the Angels. He will be opposed by JC Ramirez, who pitched six effective innings in a win at Boston in his previous start on Saturday.


The Colorado Rockies get a sorely needed day off before beginning a weekend series at surging Arizona. Colorado has dropped a season-high eight in a row, falling off the pace in the loaded NL West. The Rockies have been outscored 66-23 during the skid. Right-hander Jon Gray, who started on opening day for Colorado, is set to come off the disabled list and start the series opener against the Diamondbacks. He has been out since April with a stress fracture on his left foot.


Corey Kluber looks to continue his roll when he pitches for Cleveland in the finale of a four-game set against Texas. The 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner is 3-0 with a sparkling 1.29 ERA in his last five starts. The right-hander has struck out at least 10 batters in four of his five June outings. Andrew Cashner is expected to come off the disabled list to start for the Rangers. He has been sidelined by a strained left oblique.


Kyle Gibson is hoping to add to a successful June when Minnesota closes out a four-game series at Boston on the anniversary of his major league debut in 2013. The 29-year-old right-hander is 3-1 with a 4.13 ERA in five starts so far this month. He has allowed only one run in 15 innings in two career starts at Fenway Park. David Price gets the ball for the Red Sox. Price has won his last five decisions against the Twins.


Homer Bailey makes his second start of the season when the Reds wrap up their series against Milwaukee. Bailey had surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow before the start of spring training. He was activated and gave up eight runs in only 1 2/3 innings at Washington on Saturday during an 18-3 loss. In the last three seasons, the two-time no-hit pitcher has started only nine games because of injuries, going 2-5 with an 8.00 ERA.


111 terminally ill people end their lives under California’s new right-to-die law: California Department of Health


California health officials said 111 terminally ill people have legally ended their lives since the state’s right-to-die law took effect in 2016.

The data was part of the first report by the California Department of Health since the End of Life Option Act became effective on June 9, 2016. According to the report, between June 9 and Dec. 31, 2016, 191 people who had six months or fewer to live, received life-ending prescriptions. According to the report, only 111 of them took the pills by the end of the reporting period in December.

The report found that of the 111 who died, 58.6% had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and 18% suffered from neuromuscular disorders like ALS and Parkinsons’s.

A little over 75% of the 111 people, were 60-89 years of age, and 89.5% were white. The majority of the people involved had at least some college education.

Oregon, became the first to adopt similar legislation in 1997, and U.S. doctor-assisted deaths are currently legal in Colorado, Montana, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C., according to AP.

California’s law gained momentum after Brittany Maynard moved from California to Oregon, so she could legally die with medication prescribed under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act.

Maynard, who was diagnosed with a stage 4 malignant brain tumor, died on Nov. 1, 2014.

The California data shows that the law is working as it should, according to Matt Whitaker, State Director of Compassion & Choices, which backed the California law.

“The state’s data show that even during the early months of the law’s implementation, the law was working well and terminally ill Californians were able to take comfort in knowing that they had this option to peacefully end intolerable suffering,” he said in a statement. “… We continue to work to ensure that every terminally ill Californian has equal access to all end-of-life care options, including hospice, pain control, palliative care and medical aid in dying.”

Jay-Z Is Promoting His Upcoming Album With a Mysterious ‘Kill Jay-Z’ Ad

His album is about to drop! Rapper Jay-Z has released a provocative trailer Kill JAY-Z on Tuesday, June 27, in advance of his highly anticipated new album, 4:44.

Filmed in black and white, the promo spot features a teenage boy sprinting through an alleyway with faint sound of sirens heard in the background. The boy sports a black t-shirt which reads: “stay black.”

There is speculation that Kill Jay-Z may be a nod to Jay-Z’s recent decision to “kill off” his current persona, adding back a hyphen and capitalizing his name.

The new album, 4:44, was heavily promoted across billboards in NYC in May. There was also strong promotional presence for the new album on Tidal’s social media accounts.

Fan have already weighed in on social media in advance of the album’s release: “Woo hoo! Been waiting on this for awhile! Summer jams already on deck! He’s about to kill the game with the rhymes!” added one excited follower in response to promotion on Tidal’s Instagram page. “Wow can’t wait to hear the new project!!” said another.

Jay-Z, who is a part owner of the music steaming service, just welcomed twins with his singer-songwriter wife, Beyonce.


5 things you need to know Thursday

South Korea Moon Jae-in Profile Picture

Trump to host new South Korea president at the White House

This one will probably be a little tricky. On Thursday evening, President Trump is hosting the new South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, and his wife at the White House before talks on Friday. The meeting is likely to be challenging because Moon, who is more liberal than his predecessor, Park Geun- hye, favors a more conciliatory approach to North Korea and its unpredictable dictator, Kim Jong Un. Trump, meanwhile, has taken a harder line with the rogue nation, especially in the wake of the death of captured American tourist Otto Warmbier.

Enforcement permitted on watered-down travel ban

Travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen might want to make sure they can still make it into the U.S. before heading to the airport. That’s because after months of back and forth between the Trump administration and federal courts, the Supreme Court voted Monday to allow a toned down version of the president’s travel ban, with enforcement permitted to begin on Thursday. The ban will allow only people with “bona fide” ties to the United States to enter the country.

The Supreme Court had a mixed ruling on President Trump’s revised travel ban. We broke it down. USA TODAY

High-ranking Vatican official expected to address sexual assault charges

A senior ranking Vatican official on Thursday denied sexual abuse allegations and denounced what he called a “relentless character assassination” in the media after being charged with multiple offenses in Australia. Cardinal George Pell, 76, is Pope Francis’ chief financial adviser and the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged in the church’s ongoing sex abuse scandal that goes back decades. For years, Pell has faced allegations that he mishandled cases of clergy abuse when he was archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney, the Associated Press reported. He has repeatedly denied all abuse allegations made against him.

Happy birthday, iPhone!

Wish happy birthday to the thing you likely see first thing every morning and the last thing you probably see each night. No, not your spouse; your iPhone. Apple’s main profit driver turns 10 on Thursday, meaning it is now older than some of the people using it. Despite its aging pedigree, the iPhone still holds its own in the market, with Apple poised to sell more than 200 million devices this year.

See how Apple’s iPhone ignited the evolution of mobile devices. USA TODAY

China’s Xi to make first official visit to Hong Kong

Chinese President Xi Jinping will make his first official visit to Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.  The visit will likely be met with massive protests by pro-democracy activists who have criticized the rising influence of Beijing on Hong Kong’s affairs. Xi will stay until Saturday, when he will attend a ceremony celebrating the handover anniversary and inaugurate Hong Kong’s new chief executive, Carrie Lam, who was elected in March. Xi will also visit a garrison of China’s People’s Liberation Army stationed in Hong Kong, according to the South China Morning Post .

Divided by age, wealth and politics, the people of Hong Kong will mark the 20th anniversary of its transfer from Britain back to China with contrasting emotions: anger and pessimism, pride and celebration. Video provided by AFP Newslook

Contributing: The Associated Press

Pass Senate health care bill ASAP


To suggest that Congress must choose between fixing the Affordable Care Act and passing the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act misses a key point: Even if the Senate bill becomes law, we will still need to fix the ACA.

The National Retail Federation supports the Senate bill because it would effectively repeal the employer mandate, eliminate the ACA taxes and expand flexibility for increasingly popular health savings accounts. The Senate should pass its bill as soon as it can.

We also support bipartisan improvements to the ACA such as fixing the burdensome reporting requirements, fully repealing the employer mandate, restoring the definition of a work week to 40 hours, and repealing the “Cadillac tax” on certain health plans.

But it is very hard to move these priorities to the president’s desk. That is why House and Senate leaders chose the budget reconciliation path, which allows a bill to pass the Senate with a simple majority.

Reconciliation will affect the ACA unevenly because it allows only a partial repeal. With either party able to block the other’s priorities, the need for bipartisan legislation becomes acute. Only by working together can lawmakers surmount the filibuster bar to pass the additional changes needed.

Despite doomsday predictions, if the Senate bill becomes law, most employers will continue to offer well-rounded coverage even without a mandate. Individuals are still likely to seek coverage, either from their employer or the open market. And states — even Republican states — are unlikely to race to the bottom of required coverage levels.

Most mandates have originated in the states, where politics are local. Essential benefit requirements are a floor, not a ceiling, and employers aren’t going to back off coverage in a tight labor market. The Congressional Budget Office understood none of this, and thus missed its estimates badly.

The Senate bill supports the employer-based health care system. We urge support for this legislation to help answer our longstanding call for relief from the ACA’s crushing compliance burden.

Neil Trautwein is vice president for health care policy at the National Retail Federation.

Memo to Democrats after special-election losses: Find better candidates


Fault-finding by Democrats has been in abundance since Republicans swept all four of this year’s special elections to fill vacant House seats. Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which appeared the most likely to flip after Democrats triggered a nearly $25 million avalanche of donations, was most disappointing of all. Some Democrats quickly blamed their youthful candidate, Jon Ossoff, for not embracing populist themes. But the recriminations also extended to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who drew criticism for everything from being too conspicuous a target for negative ads to simply having been around too long.

What few recognized was a single factor common to all four campaigns: The Republicans simply had better candidates.

Students of congressional elections use the term “quality candidates” to designate those most likely to end up as winners. What makes a quality candidate? One obvious factor is the ability to raise money. But strength on that dimension tends to obscure an element of equal importance in electoral success: government experience.

It may appear paradoxical that after having elected a presidential candidate who boasted of his remoteness from elective politics, formal qualifications are desirable in someone running for Congress. But voters have a much more complete picture of presidential candidates than they do of House candidates. That means job résumés loom larger in congressional races.

So who did the Democrats put up? Let’s start in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, a seat open because former Rep. Tom Price was named Health and Human Services secretary. Ossoff didn’t live in the district and his political experience had been as a mid-level staffer in the House. He was also a documentary filmmaker. These are slender qualifications compared to his GOP opponent, Karen Handel, who had served as secretary of State of Georgia. That is not a major office, but it sounds to voters like a solid résumé entry. She was also characterized by Democrats as a perennially unsuccessful candidate, but that too counts as campaign experience that Ossoff did not have.

The contrast in the Montana race to replace Rep. Ryan Zinke, who became Secretary of the Interior, on the surface was not so clear-cut. Neither Republican Greg Gianforte nor Democrat Rob Quist had ever held office or been a candidate. But Gianforte had considerable business and entrepreneurial experience that often serves as a surrogate for office-holding. Quist was a folk singer with no government experience aside from having been appointed to the Montana Arts Council. Being a native Montanan should have been an advantage against the New Jersey-born Gianforte, but the usually-reliable charge of carpetbagging didn’t persuade voters, especially in view of Quist’s uncertain performances on the stump and a history of bad debts. A stronger candidate might have been in a position to win after Gianforte’s assault on a journalist late in the campaign.

The experience gap was conspicuous in the special election contest in Kansas between former state treasurer Ron Estes and Democrat Jim Thompson, a first-time candidate. Estes benefited from a $120,000 cash infusion from the National Republican Campaign Committee, while Thompson was turned down by the Kansas Democratic Party for a modest $20,000 contribution. Had Thompson mastered the other attribute of a quality candidate — fund-raising prowess — he might have done better.


Finally, in the special election in South Carolina’s 5th District, where Democrat Archie Parnell came closer to victory than Ossoff did on the same day in Georgia, Republican Ralph Norman, a member of the state assembly, was able to prevail over a political novice whose principal credential was being a tax lawyer.

A more dramatic erosion of support for President Trump among Republican voters in red-leaning districts might have pushed all four Democrats to victory. That time may come, but it was not sufficiently advanced this spring to help them.

The most fundamental impediment was that all four ran in districts with a preponderance of GOP voters. In such places, experience may be necessary to be competitive if not necessarily to prevail. There are many other less lopsided Republican-held districts, however, where a solid, qualified candidate could win. Democrats would be foolish to waste such opportunities on contenders like the ones we’ve seen so far this year.

Ross K. Baker is a distinguished professor of political science at Rutgers University and a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @USATOpinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

Fallon, Meyers, Colbert, Jefferies on the GOP health care flop: Punchlines

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What are the differences between the Obamacare repeal proposals suggested by GOP members of the House and the Senate? According to late-night comic Jim Jefferies, it’s almost like comparing Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC. Find out what he means in today’s Punchlines, above.

And Stephen Colbert explains why Republicans in the Senate ran for the exits when the time came to vote on the bill.

Take a look at our favorite jokes, then vote for yours in the quick poll to the right. Watching from your smartphone or tablet? Then visit usatoday.com/opinion to cast your ballot.

Follow Eileen Rivers @msdc14. 

Punchlines audio! 

Want to listen to your laughs instead? Click below or download to take your laughs on the go:


Senate health care bill: An exit strategy



Scrambling for votes on their wildly unpopular health care bill, Senate Republicans find themselves with an unappealing choice. They can anger their base by ditching seven years of promises to repeal Obamacare. Or they can strip 22 million people — more than the population of Florida — of their health coverage.

On a moral basis, this is not a close call. And even as a political calculation, ramming through a plan supported by just 12% of the public doesn’t look like a brilliant move.

When Republicans come to see this, they will naturally be in the market for an exit strategy. Might we suggest one: Instead of just letting the matter drop, they should work to fix the flaws in Obamacare.

The way to start the process is simply to remove some of the uncertainty swirling around the future of the Affordable Care Act. Insurance companies hate unpredictability, which has prompted them to stop offering individual policies on some state exchanges.

To this end, the Trump administration should stop sabotaging Obamacare by threatening to block cost-sharing subsidies for insurers. The administration should also make clear that, as long as Obamacare is the law of the land, the requirement that all Americans have insurance will be enforced.



  • Increasing the penalties for not having insurance. This promotes personal responsibility and prevents people from waiting until they get sick to buy insurance. The more they do that, the more insurers hike their prices and pull out of markets entirely. Today’s annual penalty is as low as $347.50 a child under 18.
  • Increasing subsidies and tax breaks for having insurance. Obamacare is in much the same position that Medicare Advantage, a private option for seniors, was in the early 2000s. The problem went away when Congress decided to be more generous. The case for Obamacare is much stronger, as its customers don’t have traditional Medicare to fall back on.
  • Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. While not directly related to Obamacare exchanges, this change would free up as much as $121.3 billion over 10 years that could be used on subsidies. It would also help hold down drug costs across the board.
  • Bringing back the public option. The idea of a government insurance plan alongside private ones was nixed during consideration of Obamacare in 2009. But the argument for it grows much stronger when private insurers won’t sell insurance at any price in some parts of the country. The public option could be limited to regions lacking private options.

If Republicans don’t repeal Obamacare, they will take a hit from true believers within their party. But they are better off taking their medicine now and planning on a healthier future.

They might as well reach out to swing voters — and many Republicans who’ve come to realize how important Obamacare is to their communities — by fixing the program’s faults. Repealing the Affordable Care Act, and adopting a wholly unacceptable replacement, is likely to pave the way for a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system that Republicans will dislike even more than they hate Obamacare.

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.

To read more editorials, go to the Opinion front page or sign up for the daily Opinion email newsletter. To respond to this editorial, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com



Take Me Away: Copenhagen’s fairy tale cityscape


It’s home to harbors, herring, Hamlet and Harald Bluetooth. Also, to lots of bicycles and one of the oldest monarchies in the world.

Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark, and one of the largest cities in Scandinavia. And it’s a wet one. This Nordic city is not only surrounded by the sea, but there are canals running through it, creating small islets and regions within the city borders. All that water helped to shape its history. In fact, “Køben Havn” roughly translates to “Merchant’s Harbour.”

There’s no harbour more colorful (literally and figuratively) than Nyhavn, or “New Harbour.” This postcard-perfect spot is lined by brightly colored 17th- and 18th-century townhouses. The oldest was built in 1681. Nyhavn used to be where sailors from around the world would come dock, and where there are sailors, there are ale houses and pubs … and a couple of brothels too. In its more G-rated history, Nyhavn was the home to a Great Dane: Hans Christian Andersen.

Andersen wrote some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales. You can visit the H. C. Andersen Fairy Tale House to explore and celebrate his works, including The Snow Queen, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Match Girl and, of course, The Little Mermaid. For more Ariel fun, take your picture with the iconic Little Mermaid statue at Copenhagen Harbour. Set out in the middle of the water, this bronze statue was built in 1913, and has since become a pretty little symbol of the city.

There’s also a statue of Hans Christian Andersen at Kongens Have, or the King’s Garden, surrounding Rosenborg Castle. These gardens were originally created just for the royal family, but were opened to the public in the 1700s. Today it’s the most popular park in Copenhagen, with huge flowerbeds, a symmetrical Renaissance garden and even swans a’swimming in a sweet pond near the castle.

Rosenborg Castle was built in the 1600s in the beautiful Dutch Renaissance style. As stunning and opulent as it is, it was actually intended to be just a summer house for the royal family. Inside are the Crown Jewels of Denmark, prized furnishings and works of art, wonderful winding staircases, great tapestries commemorating great victories, and the two royal thrones located in the Knights’ Hall.

One of those thrones has a fascinating history: In the 1600s, the king wanted a throne made out of unicorn horn. Lacking the real thing, it was actually carved out of narwhal tusk. The king did get his life-sized silver lions though. You can still see them surrounding and protecting the throne today.

Next stop, Copenhagen’s super-sized Christiansborg Palace. One of the largest in the world, the palace and grounds are so big, they nearly cover the entire island of Slotsholmen. Today’s stunning neo-baroque castle replaced earlier versions that burned down over the centuries. At one point, more than 800 servants were needed to keep the palace running in royal style. Christiansborg is also unique because it’s one of the few palaces in the world to house all three branches of government.

It also sits on the spot where Copenhagen was founded in the 1100s by Bishop Absalom. The ruins of Absalom’s castle are still under Christiansborg Palace today.

Tivoli Gardens one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. It was built in 1843, six years before the Danish Constitution. King Christian VIII gave park designer George Carstensen 15 acres of land outside the city to create a public park. Tivoli was a success from the start, with daredevil rides, attractions, flower gardens, restaurants and even fireworks at night. Hans Christian Andersen attended the grand opening in 1843, and it is believed that he based The Nightingale on Tivoli’s Chinese Gardens.

Fast forward to the 1950s, and another famous fairy tale creator visited Tivoli. But this one was an American, looking for inspiration for his new park in California. That man was Walt Disney.  And if you’re a Disney fan, you will be wowed by the similarities in park design between Disneyland, Disney World and Tivoli Gardens.

And there’s one more fairy-tale-that’s-actually-true that we get from Danish history. Back in the 900s, a man named Harald Bluetooth was the King of Denmark and Norway. Yep, you guessed it: That’s where we get the name for our Bluetooth technology today. In fact, the Runic symbols for his initials “H” and “B” combine to make the Bluetooth symbol we see every day.

iOS 11: How to download and use it before it’s released to the public

Apple’s next operating system for iPhones and iPads doesn’t arrive until the fall. But you can start tinkering with iOS 11 right now.

On Monday, Apple launched the public beta for iOS 11, allowing users to get an early taste of the upcoming features on their iPhone or iPad.

Apple had unveiled iOS 11 during its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month. The update introduces several big changes to the iPad, including the ability to store data in Files, and a dock for frequently used apps. Apple is also adding support for augmented reality apps.

If you want to take the plunge and use iOS 11 this summer, here’s how:

Join the Apple Beta Software Program

Users who enroll here basically become Apple’s free beta testers, checking out early versions of iOS 11 and providing feedback through a separate app. As long as you have a valid Apple ID, you can participate.

What should I do to prepare?

As with any software update, you should back up your smartphone or tablet. You can use iCloud to back up the device wirelessly, or plug your device into a computer to back up through iTunes.

Should I worry about a bricked device?

Because it’s a pre-release version of iOS, there’s always the chance it can “brick” your device, making it unusable. It happened to many users enrolled in the iOS 10 beta. If that’s the case, you may need to put the phone in recovery mode.

Even better, if you worry about using it on your main device, it might not hurt to enter an older iPhone or iPad into the beta program to be safe.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.