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The pandemic's impact on how sports are played

Sports are back, and on the surface, the actual gameplay looks fairly similar to when we last saw them.

But beneath that facade of normalcy lie some interesting trends spurred on by fan-less environments, long layoffs and condensed schedules.

NBA: Free throw attempts — and percentages — have risen.

  • Before the shutdown, the 22 bubble teams attempted 23.05 free throws per game and made 77.65% of them. In the bubble, those numbers have risen to 27.91 and 79.42%, respectively (through Wednesday).
  • Officials are calling more fouls because they can actually hear the contact, and players are shooting better without a wall of fans trying to distract them.
  • "I feel like it's a hooper's gym," said Suns guard Devin Booker. "It's easier to shoot in here with less depth perception."
  • Worth noting: Overall shooting percentage among the 22 teams is down in the bubble.

MLB: Pitchers are getting injured at an unprecedented rate.

  • During the season's first 10 days, there were 30 pitcher arm injuries, which is 2.5x more than in any previous season's opening stretch (12). In the three days since then, four more pitchers have landed on the shelf with arm injuries.
  • The culprit appears to be the stop-and-start nature of spring training, which has led to a disconnect between fine-tuning mechanics and building the muscle required to execute them.

WNBA: Pace of play is at an all-time high.

  • In the past three seasons, six teams surpassed 80 possessions per 40 minutes. Through Wednesday's bubble action, nine teams were north of that mark.
  • Pace has been rising for years now, but this season is faster than ever in part because players' legs have never been so fresh. Those who play overseas normally enter the WNBA season right after their abroad seasons end. But this year, those campaigns were shut down in March, so they're well-rested.

Two officers shot in Louisville amid Breonna Taylor protests

Louisville Metro Police Department said two officers were shot downtown in the Kentucky city late Wednesday, just hours after a grand jury announced an indictment in the Breonna Taylor case.

Driving the news: Metrosafe, the city's emergency services, said it received reports of a shooting at South Brook St. and Broadway Ave., near the area where protests were taking place. A police spokesperson told a press briefing the injuries of both officers were not life-threatening. One officer was "alert and stable" and the other was undergoing surgery, he said.

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Biden: Breonna Taylor indictment "does not answer" call for justice

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday condemned the grand jury indictment of a Louisville police officer who entered Breonna Taylor's home in March in a botched drug raid that led to her death, saying in a statement the decision "does not answer" for equal justice.

The big picture: Biden called for reforms to address police use of force and no-knock warrants, while demanding a ban on chokeholds. He added that people "have a right to peacefully protest, but violence is never acceptable."

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Trump refuses to commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses

President Trump repeatedly refused to say on Wednesday whether he would commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election to Joe Biden, saying at a press briefing: "We're going to have to see what happens."

The big picture: Trump has baselessly claimed on a number of occasions that the only way he will lose the election is if it's "rigged," claiming — without evidence — that mail-in ballots will result in widespread fraud. Earlier on Wednesday, the president said he wants to quickly confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he believes the Supreme Court may have to decide the result of the election.

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U.S. no longer recognizes Lukashenko as president of Belarus after rigged election

The U.S. no longer recognizes Aleksandr Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus, the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has clung to power with the support of Russia amid seven weeks of protests that have followed a blatantly rigged election. Fresh protests broke out Wednesday evening in Minsk after it emerged that Lukashenko had held a secret inauguration ceremony.

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Trump says he wants 9 justices in case Supreme Court must decide 2020 election

President Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that part of his urgency to quickly push through a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is that he believes the Supreme Court may have to decide the result of the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump claimed at the Republican National Convention that the only way he will lose the election is if it is "rigged," and he has declined to say whether he would accept the results of November's election if he loses to Joe Biden.

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Judge orders Eric Trump to testify in New York probe before election

A judge on Wednesday ordered Eric Trump to comply with a subpoena to testify in a New York probe into his family business before the presidential election.

The state of play: New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) last month said her office had filed a lawsuit to compel the Trump Organization to comply with subpoenas related to an investigation into whether President Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of its assets on financial statements.

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Podcast: Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus on the rise of Silicon Valley SPACs

Silicon Valley venture capitalists are no longer content with investing in startups and then eventually handing them off. Instead, many are now forming SPACs, or blank-check acquisition companies, to ride tech unicorns into the public markets themselves.

Axios Re:Cap digs into this trend with the co-founders of a new tech SPAC called Reinvent Technology Partners: Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn and partner at Greylock, and Mark Pincus, the founder and former CEO of Zynga.

California moves to phase out gasoline-powered cars

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is issuing an executive order that seeks to eliminate sales of new gasoline-powered cars in his state by 2035.

Why it matters: California is the largest auto market in the U.S., and transportation is the biggest source of carbon emissions in the state and nationwide.

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