• Sports
    LA Times

    Conspiracy theories flying as Lakers lose to Pacers in limping to playoffs

    The Lakers, the West's top seed, lost 116-111 to the Pacers amid talk that other teams are trying to set L.A. up with a playoff matchup vs. Portland.

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  • Style
    Who What Wear

    The Low-Rise Bikinis Celebs Over Age 40 Can't Stop Wearing

    High-waisted? Sorry, we don't know her.

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  • U.S.
    The Daily Beast

    Even the Official Motorcycle Brand of the Sturgis Rally Thinks the Mass Gathering Is Too Risky

    The mass gathering at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally amid the pandemic is too crazy even for the company whose name is all but synonymous with the annual event.The Harley-Davidson company has been associated with the rally in the South Dakota town of Sturgis since its inception decades ago. The big, throbbing Harley “hog” is the rally’s official motorcycle. The town’s main intersection is Main Street and Harley-Davidson Way.The plaza at the center of Sturgis is the Harley-Davidson Rally Point, and those who assemble there stand on a huge Harley-Davidson Logo.Bill Davidson, grandson of company founder William Davidson, attended the plaza’s official opening in 2015, a ceremony that involved a blowtorch and a chain rather than scissors and a ribbon. As that was the 75th anniversary of the rally, the plaza included 75 bricks from Harley-Davidson’s hundred-year-old headquarters in Milwaukee, transported to Sturgis by a fleet of motorcycles.The opening ceremonies for the rally have been held at the plaza every year since then, featuring speeches, celebrity appearances, live music and a daredevil motorcycle jump, all accompanied by the rumble of thousands of Harleys. ‘Screw COVID’: 250,000 Bikers to Defy Common Sense for Nine Days at Sturgis RallyThe company was always a big presence during the nine days that followed. “Usually, we have trucks and staff and products and demos and everything,” a company spokesperson told The Daily Beast on Friday. “This year, we aren't doing that.” The difference is the pandemic, which makes a mass gathering of any kind dangerous, especially if the turnout is expected to reach 250,000 and the participants largely dismiss such proven precautions as wearing masks and social distancing. The dangers gave pause even to a company that counts on people’s willingness to risk being pinballed around without the protection of seat belts or air bags. To have participated in the rally as it had in past years would have meant being party to recklessness of a different order even than riding a motorcycle without a helmet.If you hop on a hog without a helmet, you are endangering only yourself.But if you go about without a mask you are endangering others.   This time, the company sent no staff, no truck, no products, held no demos.“We made the decision to kind of support it in a different way,” a spokesperson said. “This year, we're doing it in a way that supports social distancing.”Instead, the company came up with the “Let’s Ride Challenge,” which invites enthusiasts to embark on various mapped out, “curated” rides, ranging from short to “epic.”"More than building machines, Harley-Davidson stands for the timeless pursuit of adventure,” Jon Bekefy, General Manager of Brand Marketing, is quoted as saying in a press release. “The Let’s Ride Challenge is Harley-Davidson’s invitation for all riders in this challenging time to rediscover adventure through socially distanced riding to find freedom for the soul.”The breathless hype apparently seeks to convince Harley fans that you can feel the wind in your hair without the risk of getting COVID in your lungs, that freedom does not necessarily mean putting those around you in peril, that you can be adventurous out on the road without joining others in mass madness. The official opening was still held at Harley-Davidson Rally Point with its huge Harley-Davidson logo on Harley-Davidson Way, but there were no company representatives present, much less a descendant of the founder. And Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen pared the ceremony to simply reading a boilerplate proclamation. “Over the last decade, we’ve evolved the opening ceremonies,” he noted. “I didn’t think we’d evolve to this.”The mayor was nearly drowned out by the roar of a passing Harley, a sound that seems to be a big part of their allure. That attraction among hardcore bikers had survived the company’s spat with President Trump in 2018 when it said his tariffs were forcing it to move some production overseas. Its absence from Sturgis this year is not likely to cause Harleys to suffer the fate of Japanese bikes, which sound like supercharged sewing machines and have been piled up and burned during past rallies.Carstensen turned the microphone over to Noala Fritz, a Gold Star mother who is accompanying a traveling exhibit called “Remembering Our Fallen,” which is occupying part of the plaza during this rally. The exhibit presents photos of all the Americans who died in our two longest wars. “Home of the free because of the brave,” Fritz said. “All gave some, these men and women gave their all.”She said a few words about her son, Army Lt. Jacob Fritz, who was kidnapped and murdered along with three fellow soldiers in Karbala, Iraq, in 2007. She then spoke of all the fallen whose pictures now travel from state to state. “They all took an oath to defend our country against our enemies, foreign and domestic,” she said.None of the fallen could have likely imagined that we would face an unseen enemy at home that has so far killed more Americans than died in all our wars since the start of the conflict in Korea. And if health-care workers are now the ones on the front lines, we all need to be in this desperate fight against COVID-19. The very least we can do is take the simple precautions that have proven effective in diminishing the spread. “Enjoy the rally,” the mayor said after Fritz handed back the microphone.He was standing on that Harley-Davidson logo and behind him was an American flag.“Be safe,” he added.    Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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  • Politics
    CBS News Videos

    Trump leaves press conference when pressed on Veteran's Choice misinformation

    CBS News' Paula Reid confronts President Trump over his claims he passed Veterans Choice. Reid pointed out that the measure was passed under the Obama administration in 2014

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  • Business
    Bloomberg

    Saudi Arabia Turns Off America’s Oil Taps Again

    (Bloomberg Opinion) --  For the second time in three years, Saudi Arabia is slashing the volume of crude it’s sending to America in an attempt to force down stockpiles in the world’s most visible oil market and thereby hasten the rebalancing of supply and demand.Weekly U.S. oil inventory data — usually published on a Wednesday and covering the period up to the previous Friday — is routinely pored over by oil analysts and traders alike. Despite their shortcomings, the figures give the most up-to-date picture of changes in the oil balance and influence trading decisions and crude prices around the world.Shifts in the flow of crude into and out of American ports can have a big impact on the level of U.S. inventories. Riyadh has clearly decided it’s time to do its bit to bring them down from heights reached in May and June, when the coronavirus pandemic and the kingdom’s own output hike combined to drive the fastest ever surge in U.S. commercial crude stockpiles. In the five weeks between March 20 and April 24, the inventories increased at a rate of 2.1 million barrels a day and by the first week of June it was hitting new highs.Excess stockpiles act as a drag on oil prices and the most visible stockpiles are in the U.S. because the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration reports levels weekly. That’s in stark contrast to other places around the world where the data are much less timely, if they are published at all. China, for example, stopped divulging official data on inventory levels in 2017.It’s no wonder then that Saudi Arabia should focus on the U.S. This is precisely the same policy that it adopted three years ago, shortly after the wider OPEC+ alliance was formed and its first output deal was running into trouble.At the time, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and 10 non-OPEC allies, including Russia and Mexico, agreed to cut their production by 1.66 million barrels a day from the start of 2017 to bring down swollen global oil inventories built up as a result of the first U.S. shale boom. Poor implementation of the cuts and rising U.S. oil production meant inventories kept on growing, despite OPEC making its first output reduction in eight years.Fast forward to today and the reduction in the flow of Saudi oil to the U.S. is dramatic. In May and June tankers full of Saudi crude were arriving off the Gulf and West coasts of the U.S. almost daily, sometimes more than one a day. But in July and August that has dwindled to little more than one a week, as the chart below shows.That surge in ships, which I wrote about here, briefly drove U.S. imports of Saudi crude close to a six-year high, adding to the upward push on stockpiles. But it was short-lived and imports in the last week of July were just 190,000 barrels a day, their second-lowest level in weekly data that extends back a decade.The figure could fall even further in the coming weeks. There are only 6 tankers carrying 9 million barrels of Saudi crude currently showing a U.S. port as their destination, according to tanker-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg. With a journey time of about six weeks from the Persian Gulf to any of the major U.S. oil ports, that’s all the Saudi crude that’s likely to arrive by mid-September.And things aren’t likely to improve much after that. In setting its official crude prices for September, Saudi Arabia has made significant cuts to prices for European customers, where it’s competing with Russia, and smaller ones for buyers in Asia. But the kingdom has kept prices for the U.S. unchanged from last month.By doing so, Saudi Arabia is ensuring that its crude remains uncompetitive against domestic heavy sour grades from the Gulf of Mexico, or imports from Canada, in a market where the hoped-for recovery in demand has stalled.The leaders of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. both want to see oil prices rising from current levels — the kingdom’s budget still depends on oil revenues and the U.S. shale industry desperately needs higher prices to recover. President Donald Trump might be quite happy to see crude imports from Saudi Arabia curtailed — after all, it would feed in nicely to his rhetoric on U.S. energy dominance.By once again focusing its output cuts on the U.S. market, Riyadh is hoping to repeat the success of the second half of 2017, when oil prices rose by 51% from a low of $44.82 in mid-June to $67.87 by the end of the year.Unless the Covid-19 pandemic eases its grip on oil demand, Saudi Arabia may find 2020 more of a challenge.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Julian Lee is an oil strategist for Bloomberg. Previously he worked as a senior analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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