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    The Chicago White Sox have become the first team in the major leagues to extend protective netting from foul pole to foul pole, starting Monday night against the Miami Marlins. The extra netting at Guaranteed Rate Field was in place for Chicago's first home game since the All-Star break. The White Sox announced the safety measure last month, a week after a foul ball at the park sent a woman to the hospital with her head bleeding. On Sunday in Cleveland, another fan was hurt by a foul. Indians star Francisco Lindor said he was told his line drive put a 3-year-old boy in the hospital. 'It's a great idea,' White Sox pitcher Evan Marshall said. 'It's a shame it wasn't done sooner and just almost a standard across baseball, I think. Finally the players are speaking out because everybody is tired of seeing people get hit. 'It just sucks the air right out of the game and we see it happen. It's hard to move on to the next pitch or do whatever because somebody's going to the emergency room,' he said. Several fans, including a 2-year-old girl in Houston, have been injured by hard-hit fouls this season. Many players and fans have implored Major League Baseball to require pole-to-pole netting covering foul territory at every ballpark. The new netting in Chicago will be 30 feet high above the dugouts and reach a maximum height of 45 feet down the lines. As for ground rules, the nets will be treated like walls — as in, a ball that bounces or is thrown into the netting remains in play. White Sox rookie star Eloy Jimenez hit the foul last month that injured the woman. 'It's really good because now the fans are going to be more safe,' he said. 'Especially because line drive foul balls, most of the time they're super hard. I think it's going to be safe for the fans.' The Washington Nationals were among other teams to announce this season they would extend their netting. It was in place at Nationals Park on Monday when the game against Colorado was rained out. Commissioner Rob Manfred recently said extending protective netting down foul lines is a ballpark-to-ballpark decision because of differing configurations. MLB mandated before the 2018 season that netting extend to the far end of each dugout. As the crowd entered the park for the Marlins-White Sox game, there were varying views of the new netting. A fan named Michael, who declined to provide his last name, brought his 8-year-old son. They sat two rows off the field, two sections down from the White Sox dugout on the third base side. 'Tough call, safety versus pleasure,' he said. 'I would take safety. Now for sure you won't get hit, before you probably had to pay more attention. But the balls were coming off pretty hard, so anyone who's just not paying would get hurt. 'There's definitely an impediment with the net,' he said. 'It definitely changes the experience. It's not the same as before, getting balls, seeing through the net. It's not the same, but I'm sure people will get used to it.' Maybe not, said Missi Cundari, who brought 10-year-old son Dean. They had the same seats for a game earlier this season, three sections past third base dugout, a couple rows back. She wasn't happy. 'The view and also the ball boys would throw us balls and the players would come up and chat. This is terrible,' she said. 'We never felt unsafe. The balls that were hit over here were groundballs. 'Honestly, looking at this makes me dizzy. This is terrible. Luckily these seats were not expensive.' White Sox manager Rick Renteria applauded the extra netting at his home park and said he doesn't believe the nets will get in the way of the fans' enjoyment. 'I think every organization will continue to do everything they can to allow the fans to get the experience in terms of the human connection,' he said. 'You can still see people through the netting, it's not like a wall, a blocked off wall. 'I'm sure fans will find a way to still get items through to get signed autographs and things of that nature. You'll still be able to have physical contact if you truly want to touch somebody, it's still possible,' he said. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Marvel's push for more women and people of color in its immensely popular film franchise is extending to behind the camera as it launches its next round of films after the massive success of 'Avengers: Endgame.' Of the five films the superhero studio announced at Comic-Con on Saturday, only one is set to be directed by a white man. 'It's about fresh voices and new voices and great filmmakers who can continue to steer the (Marvel Cinematic Universe) into new places,' Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said in an interview after the studio's explosive Hall H panel. 'And I am as proud of that lineup of directors as you saw today as any.' In addition to a slew of women and people of color at the helm of the upcoming Marvel films, the weekend's announcements promised more diversity on screen. First up for release is the long-awaited solo film starring Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, the lethal assassin she has played for nearly a decade. The film is set for release in May 2020. Johansson said the search for 'Black Widow' director Cate Shortland wasn't easy. 'It's really interesting because when we were looking for a director, you start to see some of the systemic problems,' Johansson said. 'Even looking for a female director who has had enough experience — who has had the opportunity to have the experience to sit at the helm of something huge like this, you know, choices are limited because of that. And it sucks.' The actress added that she was proud to see the diversity on stage during Marvel's Hall H panel. 'Looking out on that stage tonight, it was incredible. It was really moving, also just to see how incredibly diverse the universe is — and reflects what we see all around us. It's incredible,' she said. In terms of more diversity, 'Black Widow' is just the beginning. 'The Eternals' will feature a cast full of actors of color, including Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, and Salma Hayek. Simu Liu will become Marvel's first big screen Asian American superhero when 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' is released in February 2021. Natalie Portman will play a female Thor in the new 'Thor: Love and Thunder,' which will also feature Tessa Thompson's character, Valkyrie, as the MCU's first LGBTQ superhero. 'First of all, as new King (of Asgard), she needs to find her queen, so that will be her first order of business. She has some ideas. Keep you posted,' Thompson said during the panel. Feige later confirmed the news in an interview with the website io9. The studio is also reviving one of Marvel's most iconic black characters, Blade (previously played by Wesley Snipes), with the help of Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali. Feige told The Associated Press that right after winning his second Academy Award for 'Green Book' earlier this year, Ali set up a meeting. 'Within 10 minutes, he basically was like, 'What's happening with 'Blade'? I want to do it.' And we went, that's what happening with 'Blade.' Let's do it,' Feige said. 'Captain Marvel,' released in March, was the first of Marvel Studios film to be centered entirely on a female character. It earned $427 million domestically, and along with the DC Comics film 'Wonder Woman' has created momentum for more films with female heroes leading the way. 'Marvel is really focused on having very strong female characters at the forefront of their stories,' said actress Rachel Weisz, who also stars in 'Black Widow.' ''And I think that's great. This film has got three. It's Scarlett, Florence Pugh, myself. So I think yeah, they are doing wonderful work to represent women, people of color, and tell different kinds of stories.' The sliver of Hollywood still on the outside of the Marvel's cinematic empire was paying close attention to the news. Actress, writer and director Lena Waithe tweeted Sunday: 'Captain America is black. Thor is a woman. the new Blade got two Oscars. 007 is a black woman. And The Little Mermaid bout to have locs. (Expletive). Just. Got. Real.
  • Chris Kraft, the founder of NASA's mission control, died Monday, just two days after the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. He was 95. Kraft made key decisions on launches as the U.S. was learning how to put a man into space. Astronaut Neil Armstrong once called him 'the man who was the 'Control' in Mission Control.' The first manned flights started in 1961. Kraft had to decide life-and-death matters, such as whether conditions were safe for launch and what to do if a problem developed. Later in the '60s, he helped design the Apollo missions that took Americans to the moon in 1969. He retired from NASA in 1982 but continued to work as a consultant.
  • Mexico set a new record for homicides in the first half of the year as the number of murders grew by 5.3% compared to the same period of 2018, fueled partly by cartel and gang violence in several states. Mexico saw 3,080 killings in June, an increase of over 8% from the same month a year ago, according to official figures. The country of almost 125 million now sees as many as 100 killings per day nationwide. The 17,608 killings in the first half of 2019 is the most since comparable records began being kept in 1997, including the peak year of Mexico's drug war in 2011. Officials said 16,714 people were killed in the first half of 2018. In particular, drug cartel turf wars have become increasingly bloody in the northern state of Sonora, where the number of homicides was up by 69% in the first half of the year. But in Sinaloa, where the cartel of convicted drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is based, homicides declined by 23% so far this year compared to last. Given cutbacks and a widespread reorganization of security forces under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, it is not clear who, if anyone, is doing the analysis and intelligence work to find out exactly which conflicts are causing the rise in homicides. 'I could give you 10 potential, plausible reasons, but the truth is we don't know, and that is perhaps the biggest problem,' said security analyst Alejandro Hope. 'There is very little systematic research that would allow us to conclude what is really happening.' And other types of crime, like extortion, have become increasingly frequent and violent. As if to underscore that, officials said Monday the five men killed Sunday at a bar in the resort of Acapulco were allegedly part of a gang of extortionists who shook down business owners for protection payments. Guerrero state prosecutor Jorge Zuriel 'we now know that the members of this gang met daily at this bar to coordinate charging extortion payments and to collect the daily take.' One suspect has been arrested in the shootings, which left six people wounded. Zuriel said the killers were members of a rival gang.
  • The Latest on Venezuela's blackout (all times local): 7:35 p.m. Venezuela's socialist government is blaming a nationwide blackout on an 'electromagnetic attack' against the nation's hydroelectric system. Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez read a statement broadcast on social media Monday in which he said authorities were working to restore service as quickly as possible. He appealed for calm and said contingency plans had been activated so that medical facilities would not be affected. He said security forces were also being deployed to guarantee peoples' safety. Authorities attributed an almost week-long outage across Venezuela in March to a U.S.-sponsored electromagnetic attack on the Guri dam, source of around 80% of the nation's power. But government opponents laid bare years of underinvestment in the nation's grid by corrupt officials who mismanaged an oil bonanza in the nation sitting atop the world's largest crude reserves. __ 6:30 p.m. The lights have gone out across much of Venezuela, snarling traffic in the capital and reviving fears of the blackouts that plunged the country into chaos a few months ago. The power in the capital went out after 4 p.m. (2000 GMT) and immediately backed up traffic as stop lights and the subway stopped working during rush hour. 'This is horrible, a disaster,' Reni Blanco, a 48-year-old teacher, said as she joined a crush of people who flooded into the streets of the capital trying to make it home before nightfall. Authorities have yet to comment and it was unclear the scale of the outage. But there were reports on social media that 19 of 24 Venezuelan states were also affected. Netblocks, a group monitoring internet activity, said network data showed most of Venezuela was knocked offline with national connectivity at just 6% after the latest cuts. The normally non-stop state TV channel, a key way for the government to keep people informed, was also off the air, leaving frustrated Venezuelans to wonder how long they would be left in the dark. Blackouts roiled the country in March, leaving much of the capital without power and water for almost a week. President Nicolás Maduro blamed the outage on a U.S.-sponsored 'electromagnetic attack' against the nation's biggest hydroelectric dam.
  • President Donald Trump met with executives from several of the nation's leading chip and computer part makers Monday and discussed restrictions his administration has imposed on the sale of components to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, the White House said. Huawei is embroiled in a trade dispute between China and the U.S. The Trump administration in May sanctioned Huawei, which it has deemed a threat to national security, and curbed sales of U.S. equipment to the Chinese company. The move was widely seen as intended to persuade resistant U.S. allies in Europe to exclude Huawei equipment from their next-generation wireless networks, known as 5G. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently announced a partial reprieve: His department will issue export licenses to companies to sell technology to prohibited foreign companies such as Huawei only when it's determined there is no threat to national security. The White House said the tech CEOs requested Monday that the Commerce Department make timely decisions on equipment sales, and the president agreed. The executives also expressed optimism about the deployment of 5G networks in the U.S. Trump's executive order in May empowered the government to ban the technology and services of 'foreign adversaries' deemed to pose 'unacceptable risks' to national security. It didn't name specific countries or companies but followed months of U.S. pressure on Huawei, the world's biggest supplier of network gear. Meanwhile, Trump has been escalating tariffs on Chinese imports. The CEOs of chipmakers Micron, Qualcomm, Intel and Broadcom attended the White House meeting, as well as the chief executives of Western Digital, which makes data storage devices and cloud storage, and Cisco, which sells routers, switches and software. The companies' business has been hurt by the restrictions over Huawei. Also attending was Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Google supports Huawei's smartphones with its Android operating system. The tech giant announced in May it would comply with the U.S. restrictions meant to punish Huawei. Google said it would continue to support existing Huawei smartphones but future devices would not have its flagship apps and services, including maps, Gmail and search. Only basic services would be available for future versions. Huawei's smartphone sales in the U.S. are tiny, and the Chinese company's footprint in telecom networks is limited to smaller wireless and internet providers. That means any impact on U.S. consumers of a Google services cutoff would be slight. Spokesmen for Google and Intel declined to comment Monday. Qualcomm spokespeople didn't return a message seeking comment, and representatives of Micron, Broadcom, Western Digital and Cisco couldn't immediately be reached.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is announcing his first campaign staff hires in the early voting state of Nevada. The five staffers announced Monday by the former Texas congressman come months after other candidates in the packed Democratic presidential field announced their first hires in the Western state, with most of the top-tier campaigns boasting at least 30 paid staff. O'Rourke, who has struggled to break out following his much-hyped debut in the field of White House hopefuls, has been relying on volunteers and traveling staff on recent campaign visits to Nevada, which has a nearly 30% Latino population and is seen as the first test of a candidate's appeal before a diverse electorate. To serve as his state director in Nevada, O'Rourke has hired Marina Negroponte, who helped organize the Hispanic community for We Are All Human Foundation, a civil rights nonprofit, and who spent a decade working in international development for the United Nations. O'Rourke's early states director is Abe Rakov, who recently served as president and executive director of voting rights group Let America Vote. The organization ran a 2018 volunteer campaign in Nevada and four other states on behalf of Democratic candidates. O'Rourke's Nevada organizing director will be Sean Hoey, who worked on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and at the consulting firm co-founded by veteran Democratic strategist Jen O'Malley Dillon, who is O'Rourke's campaign manager. Cameron Miller, who worked on several Nevada state legislative campaigns, has been hired as O'Rourke's Nevada political director, and Aman Afsah, who has been working for the Democratic Party of New Mexico, will be the regional organizing director in Nevada.
  • A man suspected of fatally shooting an off-duty Pittsburgh police officer more than a week ago has been charged with criminal homicide, police announced Monday. The indictment against Christian Bey, 30, in the death of Officer Calvin Hall, 35, is sealed, so further details will not be provided, said Cmdr. Victor Joseph. Officials said earlier that Bey was arrested last week on a parole violation. 'The arresting detectives took great satisfaction in placing Calvin's handcuffs on the actor,' Joseph said. He thanked the victim's family for its 'patience and understanding' and thanked the community for providing 'critical information.' Hall died Wednesday at a hospital after he was shot three times in the back early July 14 during a street dispute in the Homewood neighborhood as a party was going on. Officials have said that there was a 'strong possibility' that Hall, although off duty, 'was in fact acting under the color of the law when he was fatally shot.' It was unclear whether Bey had an attorney to speak for him; a number listed for him was out of service Monday. Family members told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Hall was visiting cousins but decided to leave because a party across the street was getting rowdy. He then returned to make sure everyone was safe after his cousin was threatened by someone with a gun. His cousin, Darnell Coates, said an argument among a small group of people in the street, including Hall, escalated. He and Hall tried to leave, and shots rang out, hitting Hall, he said. Mayor Bill Peduto ordered flags to fly at half-staff through Hall's funeral Tuesday, calling the officer 'a man who was deeply committed' to public service. A viewing for the slain officer was taking place Monday afternoon as the charges were announced.
  • The lights have gone out across much of Venezuela, snarling traffic in the capital and reviving fears of the blackouts that plunged the country into chaos a few months ago. The power in the capital went out after 4 p.m. (2000 GMT) and immediately backed up traffic as stop lights and the subway stopped working during rush hour. 'This is horrible, a disaster,' Reni Blanco, a 48-year-old teacher, said as she joined a crush of people who flooded into the streets of the capital trying to make it home before nightfall. Authorities have yet to comment and it was unclear the scale of the outage. But there were reports on social media that 19 of 24 Venezuelan states were also affected. Netblocks, a group monitoring internet activity, said network data showed most of Venezuela was knocked offline with national connectivity at just 6% after the latest cuts. The normally non-stop state TV channel, a key way for the government to keep people informed, was also off the air, leaving frustrated Venezuelans to wonder how long they would be left in the dark. Blackouts roiled the country in March, leaving much of the capital without power and water for almost a week. President Nicolás Maduro blamed the outage on a U.S.-sponsored 'electromagnetic attack' against the nation's biggest hydroelectric dam. More recently, as power service in the politically crucial capital has improved amid widespread rationing in the interior, officials have even taken to downplaying the outages as similar to recent ones in Argentina and even one that knocked off the power for several thousand residents of Manhattan for a few hours amid the summer heat. But his opponents said the outage laid bare years of underinvestment in the nation's grid by corrupt officials who mismanaged an oil bonanza in the nation sitting atop the world's largest crude reserves. 'They tried to hide the tragedy by rationing supplies across the country, but their failure is evident: they destroyed the system and they don't have answers,' opposition leader Juan Guaidó said on Twitter. Guaidó, who the U.S. and more than 50 other nations recognize as Venezuela's rightful leader, reiterated an earlier call for nationwide protests on Tuesday. 'We Venezuelans won't grow accustomed to this,' he said. Much of the government's focus since the March blackouts has been on repairing transmission lines near the Guri Dam, which provides about 80 percent of Venezuela's electricity. José Aguilar, a power expert who lives in the U.S. but hails from Venezuela, said that alternative power plants running on diesel fuel and gas are unable to make up the difference. 'Venezuela simply doesn't have enough megawatts available,' he said on Twitter. 'Any failure shuts down the entire system.' Despite the risks of another extended collapse, some Venezuelans were taking the blackout in stride. Cristian Sandoval, a 37-year-old owner of a motorcycle repair business, said he is more prepared for a prolonged outage having equipped his home with a water tanks and a generator for his worship. As Venezuela's crisis deepens, the sale of electric generators is one of the few growth industries in a country ravaged by six-digit inflation and cratering public services. 'If the blackout continues we'll have another round of dessert,' he chuckled while sharing a piece of chocolate cake with a friend at a cafeteria growing steadily dark as the night began to fall. 'But it's very difficult for the people,' he conceded. 'This creates a lot of discomfort.
  • Tim Duncan is back with the San Antonio Spurs, this time as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich. Duncan, the Spurs' all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots — and the only player to be on all five of San Antonio's NBA championship teams — officially returned to the franchise Monday. The Spurs, per their usual style, made the announcement in a very understated way, not even putting Duncan's name in the headline of the news release. 'It is only fitting, that after I served loyally for 19 years as Tim Duncan's assistant, that he returns the favor,' Popovich said in the release. Duncan didn't even get top billing in the announcement. That went to Will Hardy, who will be taking on an expanded role as one of the Spurs' assistant coaches. Hardy has been with the Spurs since 2010, working his way up from the video room at first. 'Will Hardy is a talented, young basketball mind who has earned a great deal of respect from everyone in the organization thanks to his knowledge, spirit and personality,' Popovich said. The entirety of the Spurs' description of Duncan in the release was this: 'Duncan, a 1997 Wake Forest graduate, played 19 seasons with the Spurs before retiring in the summer of 2016.' No mention of his rings, his 15 All-Star nods, his three NBA Finals MVP awards, his two NBA MVP awards or anything else. Duncan retired from playing three years ago, but has worked at times with San Antonio's post players. He has long been one of Popovich's favorites, even going back to 1997 in the days leading up to San Antonio taking Duncan with the No. 1 overall pick in that year's draft. Popovich went to the Virgin Islands before that draft to get to know Duncan, and was immediately sold. 'We lived on the beach for a few days and we swam and we talked,' Popovich said at Duncan's retirement ceremony. 'From that moment I knew he was a special individual because he basically talked about everything but basketball. And we've been the recipients of that intelligence and that outlook on life since he's walked in here.' Duncan's hiring and Hardy's expanded role will help the Spurs replace former assistants Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka, who left earlier this offseason for new jobs. Becky Hammon and Chip Engelland are also returning as Spurs assistants. ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports