News you might have missed: LeBron James launches voting rights group


Also: The Senate takes a step toward removing Confederate names from military bases, and Illinois kicks off a program to help immigrants struggling during the pandemic.

This week, U.S. Soccer Federation reverses a policy against protesting, Elmer Fudd loses his gun, and Beyoncé celebrates the inherent beauty of LGBTQ graduates.

Read on to see what else you might have missed this week in the news.

LeBron James and other celebrities form voting rights group

On Wednesday, basketball star LeBron James announced that he and other black celebrities are forming a new group aimed at protecting the voting rights of African Americans against voter suppression efforts, the New York Times reported.

The group, More Than a Vote, will encourage African Americans to register to vote and to vote in the November general election.

"We're going to give you the background of how to vote and what they're trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting," James said.

Other stars involved with the group include current and former basketball players Trae Young, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Jalen Rose; NFL player Alvin Kamara; and comedian Kevin Hart.

US Soccer Federation reverses position on kneeling protests

U.S. Soccer's official governing body reversed a 2017 policy and will now allow players on its national teams to kneel in protest during the national anthem, CNBC reported on Wednesday.

"U.S. Soccer affirms Black Lives Matter," the U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement. "We apologize to our players - especially our Black players - staff, fans, and all who support eradicating racism," the group said, adding, "We can do more on these specific issues and we will."

The policy was put in place after Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem in 2016, becoming one of the first white athletes to take a knee in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protests against racist police violence.

In 2019, Rapinoe led the U.S. Women's National Team to its fourth World Cup title, was named MVP of the tournament, and was later named both FIFA's Woman World Player of the Year and Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year.

New York state Assembly passes the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act

On Monday, the New York state Assembly voted to make the use of chokeholds a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison if the tactic results in the injury or death of a person, CBS News reported.

The practice was banned by the NYPD in 1993, but the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, when enacted, will make it a crime.

The act is named for Eric Garner, who was killed in 2014 when a police officer used a chokehold on him.

Said Assembly Member Walter T. Mosley, a sponsor of the legislation, "Almost six years ago, we heard Eric Garner tell police 'I can't breathe' as he was put into a chokehold by an NYPD officer. His words now speak from the grave as we deal with the police killing of George Floyd under nearly identical circumstances."

The bill has already passed the state Senate. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign it into law.

Senate panel backs measure to remove Confederate names from military bases

The Senate Armed Services Committee this week voted to require the Pentagon to remove the names of Confederate figures from bases and other all other military property, including streets and ships, Roll Call reported.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), would require the names to be removed within three years.

"It's long past time to end the tribute to white supremacy on our military installations," Warren tweeted before the vote.

Illinois to provide assistance to all immigrants impacted by coronavirus

Illinois will provide assistance to immigrants affected by the coronavirus pandemic who are ineligible for assistance through federal programs, the state's Department of Human Services announced on Tuesday.

The administration of Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker announced the COVID-19 Immigrant Family Support Project to provide "pandemic-related emergency assistance funding to Illinois immigrants ... who are facing unemployment, loss of income, medical costs, and food and housing insecurity as a direct result of COVID-19."

Grace Hou, the Department of Human Services secretary, said, "Immigrants play an essential role in our society and make up the fabric of our communities across the state of Illinois. ... We want everyone to know help is here — for anyone who needs it."

The state will provide $2 million to the program, with a group of private foundations raising an additional $750,000.

Looney Tunes reboot nixes guns for Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam

Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and other classic Looney Tunes characters are back in a new series of cartoon shorts on HBO Max, but guns will not be a part of the reboot, the New York Times reported.

"We're not doing guns," Peter Browngardt, executive producer of the reboot, told the Times. "But we can do cartoony violence — TNT, the Acme stuff. All that was kind of grandfathered in."

The decision means that in one short, Elmer Fudd is hunting "wabbits" with a scythe instead of his usual shotgun. And Yosemite Sam will not have his six-shooters at his side.

The new episodes launched in late May.

Watch: Beyoncé celebrates LGBTQ students in graduation address

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter delivered an empowering speech to graduating high school and college students on Sunday night as part of YouTube's graduation special, "Dear Class of 2020."

"To all those who feel different, if you are part of a group that's called 'other,' a group that does not get the chance to be center stage: Build your own stage, and make them see you," Knowles-Carter said.

"Your queerness is beautiful. Your blackness is beautiful. Your compassion, your understanding, your fight for people who may be different from you is beautiful," she added.

Beyoncé was part of an all-star line-up of speakers that included former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Lizzo, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Yara Shahidi, among many others.