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BLACKWATER USA | DAILY BRIEF

Afghanistan

  • The U.S. formally blamed Islamic State—rather than the Taliban—for last week’s attack on a maternity ward in Kabul. We already knew IS was responsible, but the U.S. is hoping its formal fingerpointing can convince the Afghan government to negotiate with the Taliban, rather than go on the offensive against it for an attack it wasn’t responsible for.

Russia

  • The Moscow Times estimates that over 60% of deaths among COVID-19 patients in Moscow are not being counted in the city’s death toll, which may suggest Russia is underreporting more broadly.

Venezuela

  • InSight Crime reports that Venezuelans in border regions are smuggling gasoline from Colombia and Brazil, where it sells for around one-third the Venezuelan price.

  • Venezuela needs around 150,000 bpd but because its refineries are in disrepair, it only produces 40,000 bpd—and must import the rest. Iran is sending some, but U.S. sanctions are hampering legal flows of imports, so there’s a severe shortage in Venezuela…which is why prices have jumped from being among the world’s cheapest to now being among its dearest.

  • Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, confirmed that it has discontinued all operations in Venezuela to avoid running afoul of U.S. sanctions. Rosneft said it would sell its assets in Venezuela back in March (albeit to a company wholly owned by the Russian government); it has now quit all JVs and trading activities there, too.

Sahel

  • There are reports of a major Boko Haram offensive against a Nigerien military base in Diffa that originated on the Nigerian side of the border, but the dust hasn’t settled yet. Some local residents told reporters the offensive was easily rebuffed.

COVID-19

  • Yahoo Sports had a neat article on sports during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic: apparently professional baseball and college football seasons initially played on (with both players and fans in face masks), but eventually leagues started to cancel events with large expected turnouts. Article pasted below.

U.S.

  • House Democrats pushed through a $3 trillion stimulus package, but Senate Republicans have already declared it a “totally unserious effort” and dead on arrival. Newsweek points out that the new bill includes more instances of “cannabis” than “job(s).”

  • JC Penney became the latest major U.S. retailer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It plans to close some stores and restructure the rest.

Other News

  • Italy said it would start easing travel restrictions within, into, and out of the country on June 3rd—right after a long national holiday weekend.

  • Félicien Kabuga, a Rwandan who was allegedly the main financier for the Hutu extremists who murdered 800,000 people during the 1994 genocide, was finally arrested in Asnières-sur-Seine, France, where he was living under a false identity. Kabuga was one of the most wanted outstanding genocide suspects, and the U.S. had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

Here's what sports looked like during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic (Yahoo)

The COVID-19 pandemic has halted all sporting events, as well as every other large gathering in the United States, and fans are wondering how and when games will return.

It’s worth it to look back at what sports looked like during the 1918 influenza pandemic, commonly called the Spanish flu. That pandemic lasted 15 months and killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people worldwide, including approximately 675,000 Americans, according to HISTORY. More than 500 million people — about one-third of the population— were infected around the world.

What did MLB look like during the 1918 Spanish Flu?

Flu masks were common in 1918 and 1919 during the influenza pandemic. Even MLB players, umpires and managers wore them during games.


Picture shows a baseball player wearing a mask during the Flu epidemic of 1918. (George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

Though the first case of the flu appeared in the United States in March 1918, the MLB season began as scheduled on April 16 and completed most of its slate. It cut one month off the end of the season and ended with Game 6 of the World Series on Sept. 11, which the Boston Red Sox won against the Chicago Cubs. The game played at Braves Field over Fenway Park due to the larger setting, and attendance was lower than usual.

But that game helped spread a new strain of the virus and caused a second wave of the influenza in the United States. In August, soldiers and sailors returned home from World War I and docked in Boston. Johnny Smith, a sports history professor at Georgia Tech and co-author of the new book, “War Fever: Boston, Baseball, and America in the Shadow of the Great War, told Forbes:

“And it’s during this period when the Red Sox and Cubs are playing the World Series that these social gatherings – three games at Fenway Park, a draft registration drive, a Liberty Loan parade – all of those events and the regular interactions that people had on streetcars and in saloons and so on helped spread the virus,” Smith continued. “And Boston becomes really the epicenter of the outbreak in September of 1918.”

The 1919 MLB season started one week later than it had the year before.

Was there a college football season in 1918?

The 1918 college football season also forged forward and changed the game for the next century to come.

“The football season of 1918 was one of the most peculiar in the whole history of the game and yet it will stand as an epoch-making one in the progress of the sport,” Walter Camp wrote for the “Spalding’s Official Foot Ball Guide,” per The Athletic.

Games didn’t start until October and November and teams played a condensed season. At least 18 teams did not play college football that season. Charity games were also popular.



This 1918 photo by Thomas Carter, a Georgia Tech graduate, shows a game at Grant Field during the pandemic. (Photo by Thomas Carter/Provided by Andy McNeil)


As with the MLB season, fans attending college football games wore masks as shown in these photos of a Georgia Tech game at Grant Field in 1918. Thomas Carter was an undergraduate at the time and took the photographs. He passed them down and now his great grandson, Georgia Tech graduate Andy McNeil, can look back at them with Carter’s handwriting on the back.


Fans showed up to games with masks on during the 1918 influenza pandemic. (Photo by Thomas Carter/Provided by Andy McNeil)

Other sports suffered a deeper impact. Once the flu began to expand exponentially with large crowds, high school games were canceled as was a high-profile boxing match between Jack Dempsey and Battling Levinsky. The 1919 Stanley Cup finals were canceled when players on both teams were hospitalized.

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