Jill Biden's Tokyo trip, Milwaukee parade, Prince George's birthday: 5 things to know Thursday

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USA TODAY 22 July, 2021 - 05:06am 6 views

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Olympic softball has, unfortunately, been an on-again-off-again event since first being introduced in 1996, with the last two Games not hosting any softball, much to the chagrin of Team USA and the rest of the softball-starved world. ... Here's what you need to know about the 2021 Olympic softball tournament. Sporting NewsOlympic softball, explained: How group play, standings work in 2021 tournament format

First lady Jill Biden arrives in Tokyo for the Olympics, Milwaukee will celebrate the Bucks' NBA title and more news to start your Thursday.

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First lady Jill Biden arrived in Tokyo on Thursday to begin a busy trip in which she will head the U.S. delegation at the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday. Biden also plans to host several Olympic events and will also attend a meeting with Japanese Emperor Naruhito as well as a dinner with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his wife, Mariko Suga. President Joe Biden is not planning to attend the Games, the White House said. The first lady's trip is sandwiched between visits to Alaska and Hawaii to meet with military and veteran families and encourage COVID-19 vaccination.

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President Joe Biden's administration is beginning to make $3 billion in economic development grants available to communities — a tenfold increase in the program paid for by the massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed earlier this year. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said her agency on Thursday will begin accepting applications for the competitive grants, which officials hope will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and help struggling cities and towns make long-term investments. "This is about real help for communities across the country as they rebuild," Raimondo told The Associated Press Wednesday. The grants will be targeted at supporting local infrastructure, job training programs and developing new industries. Recipients will be selected on the basis of the anticipated return on investment to taxpayers. Raimondo was set to appear at Thursday's White House press briefing to promote the new program.

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that includes $1,400 stimulus checks. USA TODAY

After the Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns Tuesday in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Milwaukee will celebrate on the streets Thursday. The last and only other Bucks championship team famously didn't get a parade when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his teammates won the NBA title in 1971."It was just the third season of the team’s existence, so perhaps it happened too fast for unfamiliar city leaders to process and a still-developing fan base to clamor for," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jim Owczarski wrote. "Perhaps, as some feel, Milwaukee politicians didn’t want to so publicly acknowledge a team led by Black players or encourage a mixing of races downtown after years of marches and protests." This year, Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo said "this is time to celebrate." 

SportsPulse: In capturing the franchise's first NBA championship in 50 years, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks showed the rest of the league how a small market team can win with homegrown talent. USA TODAY

Thursday marks Prince George of Cambridge's 8th birthday. Tradition has dictated the royals release new photos to commemorate family members' birthdays each year. Kensington Palace delivered the evening before the young royal's birthday, with a new image of a smiling George looking more and more like the spitting image of his father, Prince William. Last week, George stepped out with his parents for England’s Euro 2020 finals and became an instant meme with his animated cheering. 

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Kanye West's long-awaited follow up to his 2019 album, "Jesus is King," will arrive Thursday night, when he debuts "Donda" in Atlanta. The album release will likely have 40,000 to 50,000 attendees and will be livestreamed on Apple Music. The public received a sample of what West's new album may sound like in a Beats by Dre commercial Tuesday, featuring U.S. track star Sha'Carri Richardson. The ad, edited by West, featured the song "No Child Left Behind," a song expected on his latest album. The album, named after West's mother, is the artist's 10th. 

Kanye West’s Yeezy Gap line product, a $200 blue puffer jacket, is the first product of the 10-year partnership agreement between Gap and Yeezy. Video Elephant

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Jill Biden headed to Japan for Olympics — but won’t have to sleep on a cardboard bed

New York Post 21 July, 2021 - 11:24am

By Steven Nelson

July 21, 2021 | 12:24pm | Updated July 21, 2021 | 12:55pm

First lady Jill Biden is en route to Japan to attend the Tokyo Olympics — but her accommodations will be far better than the infamous cardboard beds set up for athletes participating in the games.

The first lady’s office confirmed to The Post that she won’t have to sleep on the flimsy Olympic village furnishings, which some athletes suspect are designed to collapse under the weight of two people to discourage sex amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden spokesman Michael LaRosa also told The Post that she won’t be staying in a hotel. “She will not be staying in either,” he said.

LaRosa did not say where Mrs. Biden will be residing.

The first lady will represent the Biden administration at the Olympics’ opening ceremony on Friday — should the games go ahead. She will make a stop in Alaska on Wednesday and will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday.

The fate of the international event was cast into doubt this week when the local Olympics organizing committee chief said he may cancel the games at the last minute. Few Japanese are vaccinated against COVID-19 and infections are rising.

“We will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” Tokyo 2020 organizing committee leader Toshiro Muto said Tuesday.

“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

The 2020 Olympics already was delayed one year due to the pandemic, but Japanese medical leaders agitated for this year’s gathering to be nixed as well, including because of the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, which has torn through India, the UK and unvaccinated parts of the US.

In Japan, just 23 percent of people are fully vaccinated against the virus.

The “anti-sex” cardboard beds caught headlines as athletes arrived in Japan. The beds are ostensibly designed to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission, though Olympics organizers also banned alcohol to curb socializing.

“Anti-sex” beds at the Olympics pic.twitter.com/2jnFm6mKcB

American distance runner Paul Chelimo was among the first to call attention to the unusual boxsprings, writing on Twitter, “Beds to be installed in Tokyo Olympic Village will be made of cardboard, this is aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes.”

But Irish gymnast Rhys Mcclenaghan declared the anti-sex theory “fake news” and posted a shirtless video of himself bouncing on the bed.

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