The 2020 Major League Baseball season has finally started today. This season is historic because it is the first to include the international expansion which includes Latin American teams such as the Monterrey Mexicans, Santo Domingo Islanders, and Puerto Rico, not to mention the domestic newcomers Portland Cascades. The opening game was played in Stadium against the Portland Cascades. Senator Rubio attended the game and was able to throw the first pitch. Rubio stated that it was an honor since his parents were Puerto Rican, and that he supported the commonwealth's ambitions for statehood. The game itself was rather close. The Cascades and Spindalis were tied at 5 during the 6th inning, but it was a home run from the 17 year old Puerto Rican Rafael Sanchez that won the game. The game had significantly more viewership than most baseball games as well as being the most watched sporting event in Puerto Rico, topping the Puerto Rican National Team's games in the World Baseball Classic that was hosted in San Juan in 2006.
The Monterrey and Santo Domingo teams will play their first games next week. Havana came close to getting a team, but significant opposition stemming from Cuba's poor record on democracy and the US still not allowing full travel to the country caused the plan to fall apart. Looking further into the future, the MLB has explored expanding into Tijuana, Mexico City, Costa Rica, and Vancouver. There is also talk of making an International Baseball League with teams in Japan and the Koreas. President Biden has stated that he thinks if the Puerto Rico deserves a baseball team, then they probably deserve statehood. The second federally funded plebiscite is to be held on Election Day, and their new MLb team has boosted support for statehood on both sides.
The Kurdish fight for greater self-determination that has significantly intensified since President Biden's tentative support of the movement in 2018, has made a huge advance today in Turkey. The Turkish Parliament has voted by a fairly wide margin to devolve a significant amount of legislative power to the southeastern Kurdish region of the state in order to halt the increase in sectarian violence in the region ahead of the high profile Istanbul Summer Olympics in just a month. Kurdish leaders celebrated a huge victory today, calling Turkey a "bastion of liberty for their people." Recent moves by Turkey have largely regained the title of an ideal Arab republic for the country, which it lost after the violent protests over PM Erdogan plans in 2013 and has solely been held by Egypt since its 2016 revolution. Kurdish people in Syria and Iran are considered to be the most oppressed, while Iraqi Kurds have decent autonomy, but it has been gained mostly by force against the Shia dominated government in Baghdad.
EU leadership has stated that these developments are promising, and that granting Kurdistan total autonomy would greatly increase its chances of entering the EU, at least among countries sceptical of extending the EU outside of Europe proper like France and Germany. Meanwhile, PM Miliband has stated that the UK is continuing to support Turkish EU membership like it has wholeheartedly for the past decade. Iraq has expressed anger towards the announcement since it will likely drive their Kurdish population to do the same. No matter what happens, this decision stabilizes Turkey for the time being and improves its standing in the eyes of most countries, which is critical during an Olympic Games.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Kirsten Gillibrand has announced today that her running mate will be Colorado native Senator Michael Bennet. At a rally in the city of Pueblo in southern Colorado, Gillibrand came up on stage with Bennet and announced him as her running mate at the very beginning of her speech. Bennett spoke about how he can take what he has done in the Senate so far and take it farther. After his speech, they toured the Hispanic neighborhood on the east side of town, and talked with local store owners about how they could improve the local economy. Pueblo is the largest city in a generally conservative district, but Gillibrand and Bennet's visit resonated well with the locals.
The general consensus from the online community was her pick was a surprise, and that they expected the other Coloradan politician on the list, Secretary Hickenlooper. Some have suggested that her decision to pick Bennett was smarter in the long run, since she balances out her progressive record with a more moderate record that increased her voter base. Picking Hickenlooper, even though he has experience, only would accentuate the progressiveness of the ticket. Thus far, Gillibrand has taken Colorado from toss up state to Democratic lean, and has made slight gains in New Mexico and Arizona.
Secretary of State Huntsman, who has been running an independent campaign for president with Sandoval as his running mate, has held a large rally in New York City. He dubbed it America's Convention as an opposition to the party conventions coming up in about a month. Most Democrats have stick to endorsing Gillibrand, but with a Republican Party still divided going into convention, some Republicans have jumped ship and endorsed Huntsman instead. Many Utah politicians have made an endorsement of their popular former Governor, such as Rocky Anderson.
The highest profile person to endorse Huntsman has been Senator Rob Portman, who became "disillusioned" with the Republican establishment after Cruz's attacks on Brown and many other moderate Republicans for being too soft ideologically. Another notable speech was from Rocky Anderson, the former Salt Lake city mayor that ran for President in the 2012 election on the Justice Party ticket. He pushed the point about how Huntsman is the first real chance in over two decades to break the duopoly and bring real change to he system. Huntsman’s running mate, former Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval spoke. He stated how he did not fit the Republican brand, referencing his pro-choice stance and other social beliefs most of the Republican Party does not hold, but that he fit the American brand. Sandoval is very popular in his home state of Nevada, and the state has polled as a Independent lean since their announcement.
The big speech of the night as from Huntsman himself, saying that his ticket is going to show the Republican Party what they should become, but cannot. He made yet more promises towards bi-partisanship not seen since "before the Cold War." He talked about his experience with foreign policy and how well he can handle situations diplomatically without resorting to war. He stated that, as President, he would be confident he could find a peaceful situation to the question of Kurdish and Palestinian states. He also talked about how he wanted to remove the damage President Obama made on the economy that President Biden has not fixed, such as heavy banking regulation and “ominous” healthcare packages he stated would run the defecit sky high. Instead, he introduced his own brand of healthcare, which would not create a government program but encourage private corporations to drive prices down and provide more coverage. Huntsman was met with tremendous applause after his speech.
Many people have attacked Huntsman over his electability, claiming that Reganite economics and Biden-esque social policy are not compatible for a single voter. However, most of these attacks have come from the tea Party caucus of the Republican Party, the Democrats have mostly avoided Huntsman as a talking point. As of now, Huntsman is polling at just below 20%, very close to Perot's performance in the 1992 general election. Huntsman will, barring a major incident, participate in debates, which will likely be the deciding factor in whether or not he has a chance to win the general election.