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Practical measures needed to curb illegal labor migration to China

LAI CHAU, Vietnam -- Many young people in the northern mountainous provinces of Lai Chau, Phu Tho and Lao Cai have rushed illegally across the border to China, leaving their parents and children behind in the hopes of finding a well-paid job to improve their lives.   Most are living in poverty, and are lured across the border by brokers' promises of jobs. Because of their illegal status, many are forced to work overtime and receive little to no payment in slave-like conditions. Some are even tortured by employers, police have said.   Figures from Lao Cai Province's Police Department showed that more than 4,940 people have illegally crossed the border to China fo...Keep on reading: Practical measures needed to curb illegal labor migration to China.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerJul 19th, 2018

Tourists from China are ‘illegal workers,’ Senate panel learns

By DJ Yap/inquirer.net – Tens of thousands of Chinese from mainland China have been entering the Philippines as tourists before obtaining short-term special permits to work in online gambling operations, a Senate panel learned on Monday. At a hearing of the Senate labor committee, Sen. Joel Villanueva expressed alarm and Read more ».....»»

Category: newsSource:  thepinoyRelated NewsNov 28th, 2018

Probe of workers won’t hurt PH-China ties, senators say

  Senators on Saturday said they saw no reason for tension to arise between Manila and Beijing over the planned investigation and crackdown on illegal Chinese workers amid concerns that foreigners may be stealing jobs from Filipinos.   Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the Chinese government actually supported moves against Chinese nationals who violated Philippine laws.   Sen. Joel Villanueva, who chairs the Senate labor committee, was set to open on Monday an investigation of the entry of Chinese nationals who work illegally and operate clandestine gambling operations in the Philippines.   Sotto said the planned probe "won't cause any ...Keep on reading: Probe of workers won’t hurt PH-China ties, senators say.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 24th, 2018

Senate to probe influx of illegal Chinese workers

  Sen. Joel Villanueva on Friday assailed the growing number of illegal Chinese workers who "shamelessly robbed" Filipinos of jobs and also operated clandestine online gambling as he urged authorities to stem the tide of illegal foreign workers, especially from China.   In a statement a day after police arrested 87 Chinese and 16 Filipinos suspected of running unauthorized online gambling platforms, the senator pushed authorities to run after illegals and to strictly enforce immigration and labor laws.   "We strongly believe there is a dire need to strengthen legislation and enforcement to stop illegal online gambling and proliferation of illegal Chinese...Keep on reading: Senate to probe influx of illegal Chinese workers.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 23rd, 2018

Deployment ban may abet illegal recruitment, says Bello

Banning the deployment of domestic workers to Kuwait may lead to the proliferation of illegal recruitment, according to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.   "A downside of banning the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait is the rise of illegal recruitment," Bello said.   He said rules and regulations must be tightened to curb illegal recruitment.   The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) said it would finalize over the weekend an order banning the deployment of domestic workers to Kuwait.   Bello will meet with senior labor officials on Monday to thresh out the details of the order.   Cases of abuse   The ban c...Keep on reading: Deployment ban may abet illegal recruitment, says Bello.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2018

UN bars 4 North Korean ships from ports — diplomats

UNITED NATIONS, United States --- The UN Security Council on Thursday denied international port access to four North Korean ships suspected of carrying or having transported goods banned by international sanctions targeting Pyongyang, diplomats told AFP. The ban of the four vessels -- the Ul Ji Bong 6, Rung Ra 2, Sam Jong 2 and Rye Song Gang 1 -- was requested by the United States along with measures targeting ships registered in other countries, they said on condition of anonymity. But China only agreed to target the four North Korean ships, diplomats said, as part of international efforts to curb Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs. "Only four ships have been accepted...Keep on reading: UN bars 4 North Korean ships from ports — diplomats.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 29th, 2017

INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS’ DAY | DOLE urged to look into foreign recruiters’ use of illegal agents in Mindanao

Recruitment and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani is asking Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to investigate the expansion of local agencies with foreign ownership - mostly controlled by backers from the Middle East, some of whom marry Filipinas to gain permanent residency in the Philippines and conduct their business......»»

Category: newsSource:  interaksyonRelated NewsDec 18th, 2017

Shadowy group calls for Duterte’s ouster

MANILA – A shadowy group called Patriotic and Democratic Movement or PADEM, composed of disgruntled military and police officers and members, has called for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte and cited 10 reasons for its action. It accused Duterte of treating the military and police as his private armies and for betraying and violating public trust. It also urged Filipinos to join PADEM in condemning and fighting Duterte and his administration and to stage mass actions and demand the President’s ouster. In a manifesto, Antonio Bonifacio, who claimed to be PADEM’s spokesman, called on members of the military and police to also join the people in demanding Duterte’s resignation and also his administration. It said the group is working for the withdrawal military and police support for Duterte.  “We urge all Filipinos as individuals and as groups in whatever social sector, field, institution or organization to exercise their right of assembly and expression to undertake mass actions demanding the ouster of Duterte and his administration. We call on our fellow officers and members of the AFP and the PNP to join the people in demanding the resignation or ouster of Duterte and his administration.” “We pledge to work for the withdrawal of military and police support for Duterte and his administration in conjunction with mass mobilization of the Filipino people in millions to manifest their demand for the resignation or ouster of Duterte and his administration. Upon the change of administration, we pledge to follow the principle of civilian supremacy and support a new civilian administration, in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and the rule of law,” the manifesto, released by Bonifacio &'' believed to be a nom de guerre – said. PADEM also condemned and holds accountable for gross crimes in betrayal of public trust and in violation of national sovereignty and democratic rights of the Filipino people. It cited the following reasons as alleged crimes of Duterte:   Treating the AFP and the PNP as these were his private armies and practising favoritism and violating professional and service standards in the promotion and assignment of officers; Corrupting the PNP and the AFP with a system of monetary awards for the extrajudicial killing of alleged illegal drug users and of NPA suspects; Condoning and protecting top-level illegal drug lords; Emboldening/inciting police officers to engage in extrajudicial killings of poor suspected illegal drug users and pushers by publicly telling officers to plant evidence and by guaranteeing their pardon and promotion in case of conviction; Aggravating corruption in government and criminality through the collusion of Duterte trustees and crime syndicates; Allowing China to occupy maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and to violate Philippine sovereign rights upheld by decision of the Arbitral Tribunal in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; Bungling the operations in Marawi City and indiscriminately destroying lives and property through aerial bombings, artillery and mortar; Favoring certain Chinese businessmen and Duterte relatives and cronies in the award of projected infrastructure projects using loans from China; Betraying the sovereign rights of the Filipino people by making the Philippines a debt vassal of China and offering to China the oil and gas resources under the West Philippine Sea as collateral for Chinese loans; and Seeking to replace the partnership with the United States in matters of national security with an even more lopsided relationship with China and Russia.  Television network GMA reported that the military has reiterated its support for the administration of Duterte and strongly denied PADEM’s allegations. Military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines, along with all the men and women of the uniformed services and all their civilian personnel, stand by the government and support Duterte, their commander-in-chief. Padilla said the accusations and issues cited by the group are unfounded and uncalled for. “Such issues are clearly politically motivated and a matter that the AFP does not and will not subscribe to,” GMA quoted him as saying, adding, they are the constitutionally mandated protectors of the people and will stand by law-abiding citizens whenever and wherever they are needed. “Having affirmed this, the AFP, however, will not hesitate in acting against forces who shall undermine the stability and security of our country and those who wish to destabilize our nation thru unconstitutional means,” he said. Communist rebels had previously said that the Central Intelligence Agency is plotting to oust Duterte alongside the plan to assassinate Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Sison, in a statement he issued in May, said those who continue to support him assert that performance in a year is not enough basis for a final judgment and that there is more than enough time ahead for him to accomplish promises that have most impressed them, such as the eradication of the drug problem, criminality, and corruption. He said Duterte has, in fact, pleaded that he needs three or four more years to bring about the significant changes that he previously thought would be done in six months’ time. His promised campaign against the pork barrel and other forms of corruption of the Aquino regime has not yet materialized. “Where he has been most successful at, projecting himself as a strong leader by calling on the police and the public to kill drug addict-pushers, he has attracted the most severe and sustained condemnation by institutions, the [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2017

Russia cancels meeting with US on improving relations amid updated sanctions – ABC News

The Russian deputy foreign minister has canceled his meeting with his American counterpart –- a long-planned summit to address more minor problems in the relationship –- because of the updated U.S. sanctions announced yesterday. Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon is traveling to London now, but he will not continue on to St. Petersburg Friday, as previously scheduled. The State Department officially announced his travel yesterday, seemingly caught off guard by Russia’s cancellation that dealt a serious blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to improve relations. In a strongly worded statement, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Rybakov said Russia was canceling the meeting because the U.S. ruined the circumstances by announcing updated sanctions yesterday and by not returning two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York. &'8220;The new American jab will not go without reaction from our side, including practical reciprocal measures,&'8221; he warned. Rybakov went on to rail against America for the current state of poor relations between the two countries and declare that sanctions will never force Russia to &'8220;submit.&'8221; &'8220;In the U.S., of course, they can further soothe themselves with the illusions that they can 'pressure' Russia. Many previous 'waves' of American sanctions have not brought the result on which their initiators counted. Just as futile will be any new attempts to force the Russian side to 'submit,'&'8221; he said. But the State Department fired back, offering a strong defense of those sanctions, while clarifying that the announcement yesterday simply brought them up to date without adding anything new. The Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it was adding 38 pro-Russian individuals and entities to existing sanctions against Russia. &'8220;Let’s remember that these sanctions didn’t just come out of nowhere. Our targeted sanctions were imposed in response to Russia’s ongoing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbor, Ukraine. If the Russians seek an end to these sanctions, they know very well the U.S. position,&'8221; said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert in her own strongly worded statement. She added that the U.S. remains open to future discussions, but those sanctions will remain until Russia ends its occupation of Crimea and meets its obligations under the Ukrainian peace deal known as the Minsk agreement. President Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been advocating for improving relations with Russia, arguing that the world's two greatest nuclear powers should not be at odds and that there are areas of common grounds, like fighting ISIS. The planned meeting between Shannon and Rybakov would have been the second, after a May meeting in New York. The two senior officials were tasked by their bosses, Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to lead a working group to deal with &'8220;irritants&'8221; in the relationship -– including the Russian diplomatic compounds. The State Department confirmed earlier this month that returning those compounds would have been part of the discussions at Friday’s summit, despite bipartisan calls on Capitol Hill not to do so. Now, it seems, their return has become more uncertain. In addition to the current updated sanctions, the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill last week that would expand sanctions on Russia and prevent the administration from making changes to any Russian sanctions without Congressional approval. The White House hasn't said if the president would sign the bill, but the Republican House leadership has held it up, citing a procedural issue that will delay a vote for now. Tillerson had expressed reservation about the legislation when testifying on the Hill last week, saying he needed &'8220;the flexibility to turn the heat up when we need to, but also to ensure that we have the ability to maintain a constructive dialogue.&'8221; After Russia scrapped Friday's summit, any sort of dialogue is expected to become more difficult.( The Russian deputy foreign minister has canceled his meeting with his American counterpart –- a long-planned summit to address more minor problems in the relationship –- because of the updated U.S. sanctions announced yesterday. Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon is traveling to London now, but he will not continue on to St. Petersburg Friday, as previously scheduled. The State Department officially announced his travel yesterday, seemingly caught off guard by Russia’s cancellation that dealt a serious blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to improve relations. In a strongly worded statement, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Rybakov said Russia was canceling the meeting because the U.S. ruined the circumstances by announcing updated sanctions yesterday and by not returning two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York. &'8220;The new American jab will not go without reaction from our side, including practical reciprocal measures,&'8221; he warned. Rybakov went on to rail against America for the current state of poor relations between the two countries and declare that sanctions will never force Russia to &'8220;submit.&'8221; &'8220;In the U.S., of course, they can further soothe themselves with the illusions that they can 'pressure' Russia. Many previous 'waves' of American sanctions have not brought the result on which their initiators counted. Just as futile will be any new attempts to force the Russian side to 'submit,'&'8221; he said. But the State Department fired back, offering a strong defense of those sanctions, while clarifying that the announcement yesterday simply brought them up to date without adding anything new. The Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it was adding 38 pro-Russian individuals and entities to existing sanctions against Russia. &'8220;Let’s [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2017

Environmentalists praised closure of 23 mining firms

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Environmentalists and anti-mining groups lauded the closure of nearly two dozen mining firms and vowed to support government efforts to curb destructive mining practices in the country. Environment Secretary Gina Lopez ordered the closure of 23 metallic mines in the country, while suspending five more, for serious environmental violations discovered during the industry-wide audit conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) since July last year. “My issue here is not about mining. My issue here is social justice. If there are businesses and foreigners that go and utilize the resources of that area for their benefit and the people of the island suffer, that’s social injustice,” Lopez said. She said the closure orders were based on the final results and recommendations of the multisectoral audit teams formed to look into the compliance of mining operators with the existing environmental laws and regulations. The mining firms ordered closed were the following: Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., and LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc., all in Zambales province, due mainly to siltation of rivers, destruction of a functional watershed and illegal tree-cutting. Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp., Emir Minerals Corp., and TechIron Mineral Resources Inc. in Homonhon mainly for siltation of coastal waters and destruction of functional watershed. AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration, Kromico Inc., SinoSteel Philippines H.Y. Mining Corp., Oriental Synergy Mining Corp., Wellex Mining Corp., Libjo Mining Corp., Oriental Vision Mining Phils. Corp., in Dinagat Islands mainly for siltation of coastal waters. ADNAMA Mining Resources Corp., Claver Mineral Development Corp., Platinum Group Metals Corp., CTP Construction and Mining Corp., Carrascal Nickel Corp., Marcventures Mining and Development Corp., and Hinatuan Mining Corp. in Surigao del Norte mainly for siltation of coastal waters and mining in functional watersheds. Benguet Corporation in Itogon, Benguet and Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp. in Bulacan were likewise issued suspension orders by Lopez. &'160; She also deferred to give a decision on the fate of Filminera Resources Corp. pending further investigation. The five mining companies that were issued suspension orders are Berong Nickel Corp., OceanaGold Phils., Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp., Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. and Strong Built Mining Development Corp. According to DENR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Maria Paz Luna, the companies can file for a Motion for Reconsideration to the DENR within 15 days from receipt of the order. Luna said the DENR decision can still be appealed to the Office of the President. The DENR had earlier assured the mining sector and the general public that due process was “meticulously observed” in the audit of all existing metallic mines nationwide. It also assured that the audit results “really promote the common good and social justice” espoused by Lopez and President Rodrigo Duterte. A staunch advocate of responsible mining, Lopez has made it clear that the common good and the protection of the environment would be her paramount concern, not money. She emphasized that no mining company can operate in a functional watershed which protects water sources. “Water is life. We will not allow the water of our people to be at risk for any business interest,” Lopez said. 16 Audit Teams Barely a week at the DENR, Lopez ordered an industry-wide audit in July last year to look into the adequacy and efficiency of environmental protection measures taken by the mining companies, determine gaps in those measures and identify the appropriate penalties for violations of mining and environmental laws. A total of 16 audit teams were formed to review the environmental compliance of mining companies in all regions in the country. Each team is composed of representatives from the DENR central and regional offices, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture and civil society organizations. The audit focused on safety and health; mine environmental management; social development; mining tenement; and compliance with laws on clean air, clean water, hazardous waste and solid waste. Technical experts from the different government offices that have been invited to conduct the audit all abide in the standards of truth, service, and the common good. “We based the checklist of the criteria for the audit on the items in compliance with the different mining and environmental laws. A cross-audit was also done, which means that the auditors who reviewed one site, have come from a different region,” Lopez said. “We also gave seven days for the companies to respond to the results of the audit, providing a leeway for them to clear the issues that were raised. We had to review the reported results of the audit for five months before we have to release it, ensuring that we followed the process meticulously.” Lopez said the issue is not about mining, but social justice. “If there are businesses and foreigners that go and utilize the resources of that area for their benefit and the people of that island suffer, that’s social injustice. We assure the industry and the general public that due process was meticulously observed in the mining audit conducted by the agency and that the results would be always anchored on integrity, social justice, and the common good,” she said. Zamboanga del Sur, Tawi-Tawi Environmentalists also urged Lopez to review again the mining operations of TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc. in Zamboanga del Sur’s Bayog town where Subanen natives opposed the entry of the company in [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsFeb 6th, 2017

Concrete measures on sex abuse needed, pope tells Vatican summit

VATICAN CITY (UPDATED) – Pope Francis on Thursday, February 21, opened  a landmark Vatican summit  on fighting child sex abuse, saying the world expected "concrete measures" on tackling pedophilia in the Catholic Church. Over the next three-and-a-half days, the pontiff will hold talks with bishops from around the world to discuss the Church's response ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated News5 hr. 1 min. ago

Labor chief wants stiffer penalties for hiring of illegal foreign workers

  MANILA, Philippines - Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Thursday said he wants stiffer penalties for companies who hire illegal foreign workers.   Bello said he is asking Congress to give the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) the authority to order the closure of erring firms who continuously hire illegal aliens.   He noted that the agency could only impose fines of P10,000 per illegal foreigner employee.   "'Yun nga ang hinihingi ko from Congress. They should give DOLE that power (to order the closure of erring companies)," Bello said.   "Sa ngayon fine pa pa lang eh," he added.   Foreign nationals who want to...Keep on reading: Labor chief wants stiffer penalties for hiring of illegal foreign workers.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated News6 hr. 48 min. ago

Oxford Economics: PH will be 2nd fastest growing emerging market in 2019-2028

MANILA, Philippines --- With an expanding labor force, the Philippines will be eclipsed only by India among emerging markets (EMs) expected to post the fastest economic growth in the next 10 years. In a February 15 report, UK-based Oxford Economics projected the Philippines' gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by an average of 5.3 percent between 2019 and 2028, only outpaced by India's 6.5 percent. For 2019, Oxford Economics had said its expects the Philippines' GDP growth at 6.1 percent, below the government's 7-8 percent target range. China and Indonesia's economies were both seen expanding by 5.1 percent during the 10-year period; Malaysia, 3.8 percent; Turkey, 3 percent; Thailand...Keep on reading: Oxford Economics: PH will be 2nd fastest growing emerging market in 2019-2028.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 20th, 2019

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

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