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Talk about political football: No Eagles at the White House

By Jill Colvin and Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Taking on the NFL and football's Super Bowl champs, President Donald Trump gave the boot to a White House ceremony for the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday and instead threw his own brief "Celebration of America" after it became clear most players weren't going to show up. Both sides traded hot accusations about who was to blame. Trump tried to turn the fracas into a referendum on patriotism and tie it to the dispute over players who have taken a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality. However, Eagles players never knelt during the "Star-Spangled Banner," throughout the 2017 season and their march to the Super Bowl. The White House accused Eagles team members of pulling a "political stunt" and abandoning their fans by backing out at the last minute. Indeed, few apparently were going to come, though some expressed disappointment that they'd been disinvited and complained Trump was unfairly painting them as anti-American. Through it all, Trump appeared to revel in fanning the flames of a culture war that he believes revs up his political base. Trump had long been leery of the Eagles' planned visit to the White House, in part because the team's owner, Jeffrey Lurie, has been a Trump critic, and because several players have been vocal critics of the league's new policy that requires players to stand if they're on the field during the national anthem or else stay in the locker room. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the team notified the White House last Thursday that 81 people, including players, coaches, managers and others would be attending the Super Bowl celebration. But she said the team got back in touch late Friday and tried to reschedule, "citing the fact that many players would not be in attendance." The Eagles proposed a time when Trump would be overseas. Eagles officials declined comment on the White House version of events, sticking with a simple earlier statement: "We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season." No one connected with the team said the players' reluctance to attend had anything to do with the national anthem, as Trump tried to portray the situation. And comments by star players in the current pro basketball finals indicated it's not about football. "I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants the invite anyway. So it won't be Golden State or Cleveland going," said LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. There was no disagreement from Stephen Curry, who angered Trump last year when he said he wouldn't go to the White House after the Warriors' NBA triumph, leading the president to disinvite him and his team. Trump, furious about the small number of Eagles who were coming, scrapped Tuesday's visit, believing a low turnout would reflect poorly upon him. He had told aides last year he was embarrassed when Tom Brady, star quarterback of that season's champion New England Patriots, opted to skip a White House visit. Instead, the president held what he dubbed a "patriotic celebration" that was short and spare. A military band and chorus delivered the Star-Spangled Banner and God Bless America, with brief Trump remarks sandwiched in between. "We love our country, we respect our flag and we always proudly stand for the national anthem," Trump said. The White House crowd of roughly 1,000, mostly dressed in business suits, was light on Pennsylvanians and heavy on administration and GOP Party officials. Several in attendance blamed the players, not the president, for torpedoing the Eagles event. John Killion, a lifelong Eagles fan who now lives in Florida and traveled to Washington to see his team, said he was "devastated and infuriated" by a breakdown he blamed on the Eagles owners. "I waited my whole life for the Eagles to win the Super Bowl and they were going to be congratulated at the White House. And I don't really care who you like or dislike, it shouldn't be about that," he said. Bill Fey, a Republican state committeeman from southern New Jersey and an Eagles fan, called the decision "a black eye as far as I'm concerned with the NFL. I think that everyone should come to the White House. This is the peoples' house." Still, he said, "I think the Eagles did what they thought was necessary. I don't blame anyone." Trump's own patriotic event was not without its controversy. Following the playing of the anthem, a heckler shouted from the audience: "Stop hiding behind the armed services and the national anthem!" prompting boos. A Swedish reporter posted video of a man kneeling as the anthem was played. In a statement Monday, Trump placed the blame on Eagles players he said "disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country." Besides the fact that none of the Eagles had taken a knee during the anthem in 2017, defensive end Chris Long said the NFL anthem policy change and Trump's reaction to it were not even discussed by the players in meetings about making the visit. Those deciding to stay away had various reasons beyond Trump's opposition to the protests, including more general feelings of hostility toward the president, one official said. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who had planned to skip the ceremony "to avoid being used as any kind of pawn," said in a statement that at the White House a "decision was made to lie, and paint the picture that these players are anti-America, anti-flag and anti-military." Trump has long railed against the protests that began in 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began silently kneeling on the sidelines during the anthem to raise awareness around racism and, specifically, the killing of black men by police. At a rally last September, Trump suggested NFL owners fire "son of a bitch" players who "disrespect" the flag by kneeling. As for politics, Trump believes the anthem controversy is a winning issue for him and was pleased that last month's announcement of the league's new policy returned it to the news, according to people familiar with the president's thinking but not authorized to discuss private conversations. Even so, Trump made clear Tuesday he doesn't believe the policy goes far enough, tweeting: "Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!" The president told one confidant Monday that he aims to revive the issue in the months leading up to the midterm elections, believing its return to the headlines will help Republicans win votes. Trump's attempt to drive a wedge between the team and its fervent fan base could have political consequences in Pennsylvania, which Trump won by just 44,000 votes in 2016. The politics are already playing out in the state's Senate race, where Republican Rep. Lou Barletta is challenging Democratic incumbent Bob Casey. Barletta attended the White House ceremony sans Eagles, "representing the proud Pennsylvanians who stand for our flag." Casey tweeted he would be "skipping this political stunt at the White House" and invited the Eagles on a tour of the Capitol instead. ___ Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Catherine Lucey in Washington, Errin Haines Whack in Philadelphia and Associated Press Pro Football writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 6th, 2018

Popovich s odd alliance with red state fans

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SAN ANTONIO -- About 400 people gathered at the Oak Hills Country Club in June 2016 and paid $500 to $250,000 to sip iced tea and nibble hors d’oeuvres next to a golf course designed by noted architect AW Tillinghast, who built many. One is owned by the man who was feted at this political fundraiser, Donald J. Trump. The presidential campaign was in full blast and saltier than the crackers on the cheese plate being passed around. Fresh off the plane, Trump thanked the Republicans for the big ‘ole Texas welcome, witnesses say, before launching a blistering attack on the usual targets: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, illegal immigration. Then, near the end of his 30-minute lunchtime appearance, in an effort to connect with the locals, he pivoted and mentioned perhaps the most famous man in town: Gregg Popovich. Witnesses say Trump called Popovich “a great coach” and said “he does a good job” and then there was some fidgeting in the room when the soon-to-be polarizing leader of the free world said this: “I don’t know if the coach is on my side.” Confirmation came emphatically, right after Trump won a divisive election that November. The coach of the Spurs lit into the President over the next several months with a handful of rants that had the stealth of Kawhi Leonard ambushing a timid ball-handler. In no particular order, here were Pop’s Greatest Hits, all issued through the media and without prompting or provocation: “The disgusting tenure and tone and all the comments … have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in a country where half the people ignored that to elect someone.” And: “He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.” And: “The man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks he can only become large by belittling others.” And: “We have a pathological liar in the White House ... You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.” Popovich didn’t stop there with a President whose sensitivity and intelligence he questioned and accused of being guilty of “gratuitous fear-mongering.” When he took Trump to task for criticizing NFL players who knelt during the National Anthem and defended their rights to do so, Popovich also suspected a measure of the public outrage was racially motivated. “Our country is an embarrassment to the world,” he said. A 68-year-old wealthy white man, therefore, became a sports voice with weight in the political and social justice arena, where the NBA league office has greenlighted players and coaches to speak up. Popovich has done so with clarity and insight to gain national applause in certain corners. He wasn’t the first or the last in sports to verbally spank the president or tackle right-leaning sensitivities, yet he’s certainly the most unique in one respect. As a graduate of the Air Force Academy who works in a military town, and a five-time NBA champion coach who might symbolize the city more than The Alamo, Popovich has long been elevated to icon status, perhaps permanently so, in San Antonio, where folks are mad about the Spurs. Still, this is mostly conservative Texas, one of the most Republican of states based on the state legislature and the congressional delegation, a state that voted Republican in 10 straight presidential elections and saw 52.6 percent of voters punch for Trump. While voters in San Antonio-proper lean liberal, the surrounding areas swing solidly the opposite. Julianna Holt, the Spurs CEO and Popovich’s boss since March after assuming the position held for 20 years by her husband Peter, supported various Republican presidential candidates before eventually donating $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, according to Federal Election Commission records. Popovich is therefore a blue blood in a red state and the contrast makes for strange if not uncomfortable alliance between a beloved coach and a group of conflicted Spurs worshippers. His views have in fact shattered the sacrilege by generating hostility from a segment of the basketball flock, something no coach with his credentials would ever feel. The constant winning and acts of charity do not insulate him from those who would prefer Popovich stuff a sweat sock in his bullhorn. Party lines not Popovich's focus “While we all believe Gregg Popovich has the right to his opinions, where was Popovich when Hillary called half of us a 'basket of deplorables?’Many were Spurs fans who are now tired of being insulted ... many of us will never pay to see a Spurs game again.” -- Donna Howington  “The money I will save this year not attending Spurs games should buy me a nice set of golf clubs. Thanks Pop!” -- Jake Ingorgia  “I will never watch them again until Popovich is gone. He is just like all the other leftist celebrities.” -- Lee Harbach, Bulverde They arrive on cue, most from the dusty towns that orbit around San Antonio, some from the city itself. Popovich has unloaded three times this year on Trump, once after the election, once at the start of training camp and most recently by cold-calling Dave Zirin, a friend and liberal writer from The Nation, a progressive magazine. And each time, the letters land in the office of Ricardo Pimentel, the editor who coordinates the comments section of the Express-News, San Antonio’s newspaper of record. “It’s a cycle,” says Pimental, with a sigh. “He speaks out. People who disagree with him send us letters to the editor, then people who object to their disagreement write us letters to the editor defending Pop. Then they respond to one another.” The initial reaction, he said, is always stacked against Popovich and many identify themselves as Spurs fans ripping up their tickets or promising to never attend or watch games again. Even if those who made threats actually carried them out, the change in the Spurs’ home attendance is a blip, from 99.2 percent capacity last season to 98.6 so far this season. Popovich, of course, has been big for business since his first full season as coach in 1997-98. Besides the titles, the Spurs have reached the playoffs every season and won 50 games every season (except for the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 campaign, when they won 37). In short, Popovich's Spurs have a track record beyond reproach in the NBA. If the 2017-18 Spurs stay on pace, it’ll be 20 straight winning seasons for Popovich, one more than Phil Jackson for the all-time NBA record. He hasn’t been this politically vocal until lately, due to Trump, yet was always politically aware, say those who know him. Well-versed through his readings and observations, Popovich welcomes discussion with acquaintences about classism, leadership, government and preferably over a bottle of wine. His two-decades exposure to young black men from humble beginnings raised his awareness and sensitivities about race and bias. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr once played for the Spurs and lately has echoed many of the same thoughts as Popovich. But Kerr coaches in the Bay Area, where folks nod their heads in agreement. Kerr said he can only imagine the flak Popovich catches in Texas. “Here’s this iconic coach who stands for everything that’s right and for honor and integrity, he served in the military, you see him stand at attention for the American flag — man, Pop loves his country,” Kerr said. “And in the middle of Texas for him to be questioning the Republican President, some of the people down there are probably confused. Like, 'I don’t get it, we love this guy but he’s on the other side from us.' “What I love about Pop is that it’s not about party, not about politics. It’s about integrity and character and that’s what people need to pay attention to. It’s not about some policy, not about how much we pay in taxes. If we can just get back to the point where character matters, then we’ll be in better shape. The problem is, it’s clear character has gone down the tubes in many leadership positions in our country. That’s what Pop is calling out.” True enough, Popovich never publicly attached himself to a political party; to suggest he is against Republicans might be as misleading as believing Colin Kaepernick is against the military. When he played for Popovich, Kerr couldn’t recall a time when the coach was this annoyed by the country’s leadership. “The country was in a better place in terms of a relatively peaceful time back then,” Kerr said. “Yes, 9-11 happened and the whole world changed. But we didn’t have quite the same partisan nature, not only in politics but the national conversation. And so people could just admire Pop for who he was and people might not have been aware of his political leanings because they didn’t ask. When we won and went to the White House, Pop and the team went when Bush was in office. We went in ’99 when President Clinton was there. Republican, Democrat, didn’t matter. The times are so different now.” Kerr laughed quickly when asked about the semi-serious groundswell of social media support for a Kerr-Popovich ticket in 2020. Kerr said he hopes to be on his fifth NBA title as a coach then, but turned semi-serious about Popovich. “Our country needs somebody like Pop who can actually lead and unite from a position of authority and credibility,” Kerr said. “This guy served in the military, grew up in a melting pot, understands leadership. More than anything, he’ll cut through all the [expletive].” Since going nuclear on Trump, Popovich declined invites from the national political shows (and wouldn’t comment for this story). That proves what friends have maintained all along: Popovich doesn’t want to be anyone’s political hero or pundit. He’d rather speak when the moment calls for it, then be left alone. That last part is tricky, though. Empathy often marks Popovich's way “Can you imagine being Republican on the Spurs? Would you feel welcome? He’s like Berkeley -- for free speech unless you disagree with him. Shut up and coach, Gregg.” -- Shannon Deason  “When it comes to coaching basketball or drinking wine, Popovich has experience. When it comes to our country, his opinion is no better than anyone else’s." -- Harold Siemens, Seguin  “Open letter to the NBA referee who ejected Pop from the Warriors-Spurs game: Don’t feel bad about what Gregg Popovich called you. He called the POTUS worse and got away with it.” -- Larry Peabody Once the wheels touched down, the pilot jokingly announced over the loudspeaker: “Welcome to Gregg Popovich International Airport,” and one particular passenger noticed that nobody on the plane thought it was strange. Sean Elliott always knew how deeply rooted Popovich is with San Antonio. Aside from the famous Spanish missions and the River Walk, the city is known for the only professional sports team in town. And while George Gervin, David Robinson and Tim Duncan have come and gone, the one lingering reminder is a sometimes gruff and scruffy coach, maybe the NBA’s best ever. “He’s one of the pillars of the community,” said Elliott, twice an All-Star with the Spurs. “He’s looked at with great admiration. He is as respected as anyone who has ever lived in or been part of the city. It’s not just because he’s a basketball coach. Pop has been a big part of the community, huge contributor to charitable functions, good leader.” Elliott was a Spurs rookie in 1989 when their relationship began and he saw the start of Popovich’s reach in the region. Popovich then was an assistant coach under Larry Brown and just planting his feet in the NBA. That summer, Elliott and Popovich piled into a van with the team's "Coyote" mascot and conducted basketball clinics in San Marcos, Corpus Christi, Laredo and similar places. They were signing autographs in malls and running kids through drills in 100 degree heat, never hearing a complaint from the coach. Elliott said folks in those small conservative towns loved him. “If you sit and hear him talk about something, you tend to agree with him,” Elliott said. “He’ll put it in a logical way and he’s very thoughtful, well read and super intelligent, maybe the most intelligent person I’ve ever known.” The owner of the Spurs then was Red McCombs, a homespun Texan who made his fortune in car dealerships and media companies. McCombs didn’t give Popovich the coaching job after firing Brown, telling Popovich “you’ve got a chance to be a great coach” if he got more experience, which he did, going to the Warriors to work for Don Nelson. Popovich returned to San Antonio two years later as general manager, then became coach and the rest is history. Now 90, McCombs said: “Popovich has become the distinguished part of the franchise. He wears it well. Can’t say enough about what kind of man he is and what he’s meant to San Antonio. God has blessed us with Gregg Popovich.” McCombs loves to tell how Popovich, by chance, learned that a local family needed a car. The coach wrote a check, gave it to the father and walked away. McCombs said it was “typical Popovich” who has empathy for those with less. McCombs, curiously, has traditionally been one of the biggest Republican bankrollers in the state, who gave to the Trump campaign and is fully aware of what Popovich thinks of his choice for President. And so one of the most powerful men in Central Texas, who leans politically to the color of his nickname, had a strong reaction to that. “He’s earned the right to give his comments about citizenship or Trump or anything else,” said McCombs, voice rising. “Yes, he made some statements that others might disagree with. But I’ll tell you this: Popovich would be elected to anything he wants to in San Antonio.” Remaining silent never an option “Our country is not an embarrassment to the world. I will tell you what an embarrassment is. It is an American citizen who got a free education from the great Air Force Academy ... and then has the audacity to say that the greatest nation in the world is an embarrassment because the President rightly demands that Americans stand for the anthem. Popovich should be ashamed of himself.” -- Nick DeLouis, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Nowhere on God’s green Earth do they have the right to disrespect our flag and the men and women who died to keep us free. I’m appalled that you stooped so low to join in that disrespect. Shame on you!” -- Fred Martin, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Coach Pop has squashed my love and enthusiasm for the team. A national treasure, he is not. Coach Pop has a voice, but not my voice." -- Jo Ivan A few years ago Popovich was in New York with his daughter to catch a Broadway play when the coach had a last minute change in strategy. He learned that John Carlos was giving a lecture at New York University that night. So Popovich told his daughter to take one of her friends instead; said he was going to see “Dr. Carlos” speak. “When he came in I was surprised and delighted,” Carlos said recently. “Quite naturally, everyone knew who he was but he just wanted to sit and listen.” A year later, in 2015, Popovich flew Carlos to San Antonio to address the team and Carlos admitted to being star struck around Tim Duncan and others. Yet Carlos was most curious about Popovich and why the coach took a strong interest in an Olympic sprinter who raised a fist on the victory stand in 1968, which is frozen as an iconic civil rights moment. “Being with the Spurs gave me an opportunity to check his character out,” Carlos said. “I knew he was a whiz at putting players together to bring out their best ability. But through my conversations with him it became apparent that he was a social activist himself at one point in his life. He was teaching his players about activism and to be concerned about their fellow man and what was going on around their lives, not just basketball. “I was impressed. He just wanted them to know they had a larger role than just playing basketball in the society in which they live.” Carlos, therefore, was not surprised to see Popovich defend the rights of kneeling black football players who came under attack from Trump. On the first day of training camp in September, Popovich said: “Obviously race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly it is not going to get better.” What followed was another swirl of exchanges between Popovich critics and supporters in San Antonio, and Popovich acknowledged receiving mail from both sides. The anti-Pop mail, though, was jarring to Carlos, given the coach’s work in town. “When people write and lambast him for taking leaders to task for what they’re doing to society, that’s like water rolling off a duck’s back, man,” Carlos said. “When they write negative things about him, it encourages him to keep doing what he’s doing. Those people are the problem. Go ahead and throw stones and it just motivates him to do his job. “Look, I’m a black man who spoke out. Imagine what they think of him as a white man who speaks just as strong, to try and get people to see things in a better light? They throw stones at him even more, like, 'Hey you’re white, you have a great life. Keep your mouth shut.’ Well, God points people in certain directions. We know who we are. We do what we do.” And what Popovich does is enlist the help of giants in the social justice world and bring them into his world. He did that with Cornel West, the Harvard professor and civil rights activist, last fall. Popovich invited West to San Antonio to speak at an East Side community center with a few hundred mostly black and Latino students and their parents. Done without TV cameras or media invitation, the discussion was about the importance of education, the imperfect world, self respect and how to help communities. This was an audience that, presumably and unanimously, connected with a white man who didn’t live among them, but was with them. They were the people Popovich had in mind when he attacked present leadership. This was not the audience that writes to the Spurs and the Express-News asking him to take a vow of silence, though he is aware of them, too. “Some responses make you wonder what country you live in,” Popovich said, “and other responses make you very hopeful … overall, it renews my feeling that something must be done because there is enough people willing to listen.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2018

Women detail sexual allegations against Trump – CNN News

A group of women who have publicly accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment and assault detailed their accounts of being groped, fondled and forcibly kissed by the businessman-turned-politician at a news conference on Monday. “This was serial misconduct and perversion on the part of Mr. Trump. Unfortunately, this behavior isn’t rare in our society, and people of all backgrounds can be victims. The only reason I am here today is that this offender is now the President of our country,” said Rachel Crooks, a former Bayrock Group receptionist who accused Trump of kissing her on the mouth without her consent in 2005. Samantha Holvey, the former Miss North Carolina 2006 who has accused Trump of inspecting beauty pageant contestants, and Jessica Leeds, who has accused the President of grabbing her chest and attempting to move his hand up her skirt on a flight, also sat with Crooks at Monday’s event. The firsthand accounts come as a public conversation on sexual assault and harassment — spurred by a series of accusations against high-profile figures in politics, Hollywood and journalism — rages throughout the United States. Brave New Films, a production company that realized a film on the women who have accused Trump of sexual assault, hosted the event. At least 15 women have come forward with a wide range of accusations against Trump, ranging from sexual harassment and sexual assault to lewd behavior around women. Of the women, 13 say Trump attacked them directly and two others say they witnessed behavior that made them uncomfortable. All the alleged incidents took place prior to his assuming the presidency. On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the allegations took place “long before he was elected president” and that Trump has “addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations.” Sanders also claimed that “eyewitnesses” have backed up Trump’s denials. “The President has denied any of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses,” Sanders said. “Several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the President’s claim in this process and again, the American people knew this and voted for the President and we feel like we are ready to move forward in that process.” Asked by CNN to detail these eyewitness accounts, a White House official noted two reports that were made public during the 2016 campaign, one from The New York Post and another from The New York Daily News. The first eyewitness was Anthony Gilberthorpe, who the Trump campaign made available to the Post during the 2016 contest to rebut Leeds’ claim that Trump groped her on a flight. Gilberthorpe claimed to be on the same flight and has been known in British media for making claims about the sexual conduct of politicians. The second eyewitness is Katie Blair, the Miss Teen USA 2006 who told TMZ that she never saw Trump come backstage during a beauty contest. “As far as the rumors surrounding him coming backstage and things like that, dressing rooms — absolutely not,” she told TMZ, but Blair was not present at the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant, where Trump was accused of walking in. Trump bragged on the Howard Stern show in 2005 about going backstage during beauty pageants. “Before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” he said. “You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.” The White House failed to provide other examples of eyewitnesses corroborating the President’s denials. In addition to the woman at the press conference on Monday, Trump’s accusers include Temple Taggart, the former Miss Utah USA who accused Trump of kissing her on the lips in 1997; Mindy McGillivray, who accused Trump of grabbing her butt at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in 2003 and Natasha Stoynoff, who accused Trump of “forcing his tongue” down her throat during a photo shoot at Mar-a-Lago in 2005. Crooks called on Congress to “put aside party affiliations and investigate Trump’s history of sexual misconduct.” “In an objective setting, without question, a person with this record would have entered the graveyard of political aspirations, never to return,” she said. “Yet here we are with that man as President.” Leeds added that while some areas of society are “being held accountable for unwanted behavior … we are not holding our President accountable for what he is and who he is.” Trump has personally vehemently denied the accusations. “The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over,” Trump said months before the 2016 election in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Trump, however, has never filed a lawsuit against the accusers. Sanders said earlier this year that the White House’s position is that all the women are lying. “Yeah, we have been clear on that from the beginning and the President has spoken on it,” Sanders said in October. Trump opened the floodgates of accusations against him during the 2016 campaign when he downplayed the release of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video that showed him saying he was able to “grab them by the p**sy” because he was famous. Trump downplayed his remarks as nothing more than “locker room talk” at the second presidential debate and said he never kissed or groped women without consent. But not all those […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsDec 12th, 2017

World Series champion Astros hold off on White House talk

By Joshua Koch, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — The World Series champion Houston Astros have not made the decision yet on whether they will visit the White House to meet with President Donald Trump if an invitation is extended. "We just won the first world championship in Houston Astros history," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said shortly before the team left for a celebratory parade through downtown Houston on Friday. "We're also in one of the most divided countries, polarizing countries in politics. I don't know that this is the best stage for everybody to declare one way or the other and try to comment on the moment and be too much of a political statement." The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Penguins and Clemson Tigers have all visited the White House in recent months to be congratulated by the president for their titles. The Golden State Warriors did not make the trip after being disinvited by Trump. The president has been outspoken for weeks about his opposition to players kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustices. Following the Astros' 5-1 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 on Wednesday night, Trump tweeted his congratulations to the team. Hinch said he believes that the Astros should savor their accomplishment, but a decision on a White House visit would need to wait. "What comes out of this moving forward on the political side or what we do or don't do or what sports has turned into, to kind of representing the country's tone — that'll be decided in time," he said. "We're not going to allow anything to polarize this moment that we want to celebrate with our fans." World Series MVP George Springer said his grandfather worked in Washington for years and he has respect for what a visit to the White House would mean. "That's the most historic place in our country, it stands for a lot, it means a lot to a lot of people," Springer said. "If the team goes I'm going. I'm not going to say no. I understand the impact of it. ... I understand the stuff that's been happening. Yes there are things that have to change but there are always things that have to change. There isn't anything that is ever going to be perfect. If the team goes I'll go." Also on Friday, general manager Jeff Luhnow said the team had exercised the options of All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve and utility man Marwin Gonzalez. Altuve's option is for $6 million and Gonzalez's for $5,125,000. Altuve led the majors with a .346 average and hit 24 homers with 81 RBIs. Gonzalez batted .303 with 23 homers and a team-leading 90 RBIs. Houston also has a 2019 option on Altuve for $6.5 million. The Astros also agreed to terms with New York Yankees third base coach Joe Espada to replace Alex Cora as bench coach. Cora was hired to manage the Boston Red Sox......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2017

Penguins coach: White House visit is not a political stance

em>By Will Graves, Associated Press /em> PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan insists the franchise's decision to visit the White House does not mean the team is wading into the increasingly charged intersection of sports and politics. Sullivan defended the decision Wednesday, stressing it did not serve as a signal that the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are picking a side in the increasingly heated debate between President Donald Trump and NFL players who protest during the national anthem. 'I think there appears to be a perception out there that our organization has made a decision to accept the invitation to the White House that we have taken a stance on the issue, when the reality is, it's just the opposite,' Sullivan said. 'We haven't taken any stance. The Penguins, as an organization and our players, have chosen not to use this platform to take a stance. There appears to be a perception that we have, and it is wrong.' The Penguins released a statement Sunday indicating they would attend a ceremony at the White House, a tradition for numerous championship teams. The announcement came after numerous media requests following Trump's decision to rescind an invitation to the NBA's Stephen Curry after the Golden State Warriors star indicated he would not attend. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said Sunday that he supported the team's choice to go to the White House, adding 'everyone's got the right to go or not go. But we've been invited and we accepted the invitation. I don't think you have to read into it any more than that.' Crosby faced criticism in his native Nova Scotia, with the Halifax Chronicle Herald — Atlantic Canada's largest-circulation newspaper — running an editorial cartoon Monday depicted Crosby meeting Trump in the Oval Office, with the hockey player saying, 'I'm Sid the Kid,' and Trump replying, 'I'm Donald the Baby.' An opinion piece from two local professors offered six reasons for Crosby to stay home, with the fifth saying: 'Remember your roots. You are from Cole Harbour, the flashpoint of black and white race relations in Canada for the past 30 years. The parallels between your hometown and the U.S. today are too obvious to ignore.' A column in Halifax's alternative weekly, The Coast, compared Crosby to a notably apolitical singer: 'The Taylor Swift of hockey has no problem joining his Stanley Cup-winning teammates in Washington.' One of Halifax's most outspoken social activists, El Jones, weighed in with a 900-word opinion piece that took the NHL star to task for failing to fall into line with other athletes. Jones, Halifax's former poet laureate, noted that Crosby said there was 'little to no discussion' in the locker room about the decision to visit the White House. Sullivan defended Crosby from what the coach views as external pressure on the sport's most popular player to make some sort of political statement. 'The fact that people seem to think that Sid needs to bear this burden of responsibility is unfair,' Sullivan said. 'This guy does nothing but go to the rink, help the Penguins win championships and be a good person every day. That's how we see it. Having said that, we have respect for those that choose to express themselves differently. I wish we would receive the same respect in return, and I wish our captain would as well.' Former NHL player Georges Laraque called Pittsburgh's decision 'an embarrassment.' Sullivan said 'everyone is well aware of what's going on' surrounding the anthem, though no Penguins have participated in any protests. San Jose Sharks forward Joel Ward told The Mercury News he wouldn't rule out kneeling during the anthem. Sullivan indicated neither he nor his players would talk further about the White House visit. Pittsburgh opens the regular season next Thursday. 'We want to play hockey, our players want to play hockey,' Sullivan said. 'That's what we want to do, that's what we love to do. From here on out, we're going to answer questions revolving around playing hockey, because that's where our focus needs to be right now, making sure we are prepared for game one.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 28th, 2017

Trump's comments about anthem, Curry inflame sports stars

CATHERINE LUCEY, Associated Press br /> TIM REYNOLDS, Associated Press br /> SOMERSET, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump sharply criticized protests by NFL players for a second straight day and rescinded NBA star Stephen Curry's White House invitation on Saturday in a series of tweets that outraged football and basketball stars and even prompted LeBron James to call the president a 'bum.' Trump started by announcing that Curry, the immensely popular two-time MVP for the Golden State Warriors, would not be welcome at the White House for the commemorative visit traditionally made by championship teams. Later, Trump reiterated what he said at a rally in Alabama the previous night that NFL players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired, prompting immediate condemnation from a handful of team executives, the league commissioner and its players' union. The Warriors said it was made clear to them that they were not welcome at the White House. They said that when they go to Washington this season they will instead 'celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion — the values that we embrace as an organization.' Curry had said he did not want to go to the White House anyway, but the Warriors had not made a collective decision before Saturday. 'U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going!' James tweeted in a clear message to the president — a post that Twitter officials said was quickly shared many more times than any other he's sent. 'So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!' James also released a video Saturday, saying Trump has tried to divide the country. 'He's now using sports as the platform to try to divide us,' James said. 'We all know how much sports brings us together. ... It's not something I can be quiet about.' Warriors general manager Bob Myers said he was surprised by the invitation being pulled. 'The White House visit should be something that is celebrated,' Myers said. 'So we want to go to Washington, D.C., and do something to commemorate kind of who we are as an organization, what we feel, what we represent and at the same time spend our energy on that. Instead of looking backward, we want to look forward.' Added Warriors coach Steve Kerr, after his team's first practice of the season: 'These are not normal times.' As a candidate and as president, Trump's approach has at times seemed to inflame racial tensions in a deeply divided country while emboldening groups long in the shadows. The latest sports comments come a little over a month after Trump came under fire for his response to a white supremacists' protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump later pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Arizona's Maricopa County, who had been found guilty of defying a judge's order to stop racially profiling Latinos. Trump's latest entry into the intersection of sports and politics started in Alabama on Friday night, when he said NFL players who refused to stand for 'The Star-Spangled Banner' are exhibiting a 'total disrespect of our heritage.' Several NFL players, starting last season with then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have either knelt, sat or raised fists during the anthem to protest police treatment of blacks and social injustice. Last week at NFL games, four players sat or knelt during the anthem, and two raised fists while others stood by the protesters in support. Other players have protested in different ways over the past season since Kaepernick began sitting during the 2016 preseason. 'That's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,' Trump said, encouraging owners to act. He added, 'Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired.' On Saturday, Trump echoed his stance. 'If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,' Trump wrote in an afternoon pair of tweets. 'If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!' Trump has enjoyed strong support from NFL owners, with at least seven of them donating $1 million each to Trump's inaugural committee. They include New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who Trump considers a friend. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell strongly backed the players while New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said the president's comments were inappropriate and offensive. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who has supported the players who have knelt, said the country 'needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness,' and San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York ripped Trump's comments as 'callous.' 'Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,' Goodell said in a statement. Plenty of other current and former stars from across sports weighed in Saturday. Richard Sherman of Seattle Seahawks said the president's behavior is 'unacceptable and needs to be addressed.' In his Friday remarks, Trump also bemoaned what he called a decline in violence in football, noting that it's 'not the same game' because players are now either penalized or thrown out of games for aggressive tackles. 'No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights,' DeMaurice Smith, the NFL Players Association executive director, said Saturday. 'No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety.' Trump has met with some championship teams already in his first year in office. Clemson visited the White House this year after winning the College Football Playoff, some members of the New England Patriots went after the Super Bowl victory and the Chicago Cubs went to the Oval Office in June to commemorate their World Series title. The Cubs also had the larger and more traditional visit with President Barack Obama in January, four days before the Trump inauguration. North Carolina, the reigning NCAA men's basketball champion, said Saturday it will not visit the White House this season. The Tar Heels cited scheduling conflicts. Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, said Trump has 'taken indecency to a new low.' 'I think that the president has forgotten that he is the standard bearer for our country, that little boys and little girls look up to the president,' he said. 'Little boys and little girls want to be like the president. They want to talk like the president. I think that the president has insulted the American people with this low level of verbiage.' Warriors forward Draymond Green said the good news was that Golden State won't have to talk about going to the White House again — unless they win another title during the Trump presidency. 'Michelle Obama said it best,' Green said. 'She said it best. They go low. We go high. He beat us to the punch. Happy the game is over.' ___ Reynolds reported from Miami. AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, California, and AP writer Corey Williams in Detroit contributed to this story. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2017

Google denies Trump charge it rigs ‘Trump News’ searches

WASHINGTON --- President Donald Trump is accusing Google and other US tech companies of rigging search results about him "so that almost all stories & news is BAD" --- and though he is offering no evidence, a top adviser says the White House is "taking a look" at whether Google should face federal regulation. Google is pushing back sharply, saying Trump's claim simply wasn't true: "We never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment." The president's tweets Tuesday echoed his familiar attacks on the news media --- and a conservative talking point that California-based tech companies run by CEOs with liberal leanings don't give equal weight to opposing political v...Keep on reading: Google denies Trump charge it rigs ‘Trump News’ searches.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 29th, 2018

Trump accuses Google of biased searches, warns ‘be careful’

WASHINGTON --- President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused Google and other U.S. tech companies of rigging search results about him "so that almost all stories & news is BAD." He offered no evidence of bias, but a top adviser said the White House is "taking a look" at whether Google should face federal regulation. Google pushed back sharply, saying Trump's claim simply wasn't so: "We never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment." The president's tweets echoed his familiar attacks on the news media --- and a conservative talking point that California-based tech companies run by CEOs with liberal leanings don't give equal weight to opposing political viewpoints. ...Keep on reading: Trump accuses Google of biased searches, warns ‘be careful’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 29th, 2018

Palestinian soccer head banned for inciting Messi hatred

By Rob Harris, Associated Press FIFA has banned the head of Palestinian soccer from attending matches for a year for inciting hatred and violence toward Lionel Messi as part of a campaign to stop Argentina's national team playing in Israel. The FIFA disciplinary case against Palestinian soccer federation head Jibril Rajoub centered on statements he made to the media before Argentina abruptly abandoned the trip to Jerusalem for a game against Israel in June. Rajoub "incited hatred and violence" by calling on "football fans to target the Argentinian Football Association and burn jerseys and pictures of Lionel Messi," soccer's governing body said. Justifying canceling the game, Argentina Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said the players felt "totally attacked, violated" after images emerged of the team's white and sky-blue striped jerseys stained with red paint that resembled blood following Rajoub's comments. FIFA imposed the minimum ban allowed in its disciplinary code for inciting hatred or violence. It prevents Rajoub from attending matches or engaging with the media at or near stadiums on matchdays for a year from Friday. Rajoub, who is also head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, was fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,300). The Palestinian Football Association said FIFA "rushed to condemn" Rajoub based on "non-neutral media reports." He was filmed in June, saying in Arabic "we will target Messi and we will ask everyone to burn his t-shirt, his picture and to abandon him." Rajoub was not granted a hearing and his testimony was not considered by the disciplinary committee, the PFA said. The ban will apply for the 2019 Asian Cup in United Arab Emirates, which kicks off in January, and likely include the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifying program. But Rajoub is able to continue running the federation and attend FIFA meetings. He has been a constant thorn in the side of soccer's governing body as he tries to get sanctions imposed on Israel. At the annual FIFA Congress, Rajoub regularly addresses soccer nations to demand Israel be punished for restricting movement of Palestinian players, and for forming teams in West Bank settlements. Israel has rejected the Palestinian campaign as an attempt to politicize sports and has cited security concerns as the reason behind the occasional restrictions placed on Palestinian players, particularly in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Rajoub repeatedly used "threats and incitement" to advance a political agenda, said Gilad Erdan, Israel's minister for strategic affairs and public security. "International sports should be about bringing people together, not driving them apart," Erdan said. "I call on the International Olympic Committee to suspend Rajoub as well." Israel's plan to stage the Argentina game in Jerusalem also incensed Rajoub because the stadium that was to host the match is situated in a neighborhood built on the site of a former Palestinian village destroyed during the war surrounding Israel's creation in 1948. Palestinians claim the eastern sector of Jerusalem as their capital. Israel considers the entire city to be its capital after capturing east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

Back-to-back legal blows to Trump fixers jolt White House

WASHINGTON--- President Donald Trump confronted one of the most perilous moments of his presidency Tuesday after two onetime members of his inner circle simultaneously were labeled "guilty" of criminal charges. Although Trump largely ignored the jarring back-to-back blows at a campaign rally in West Virginia, questions mounted about his possible legal exposure and political future. In a split screen for the history books, Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted of financial crimes at nearly the same moment Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a series of felonies, including campaign finance violations that the lawyer said he carr...Keep on reading: Back-to-back legal blows to Trump fixers jolt White House.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2018

Pressure mounting, former Trump ’fixer’ turns aggressive

WASHINGTON --- The hiring of a Washington insider to be a public attack dog. Tantalizing leaks to the media. Puzzling allegations of actions that could fell a president. Talk of more to come. What is Michael Cohen up to? President Donald Trump's ex-lawyer has largely stayed out of the spotlight in the months since federal agents raided his office and hotel room and seized scores of records about his work for Trump. But this week, he has taken a sharply more aggressive and public turn, seeming to wage open warfare with the White House while weighing whether to cooperate with investigators. The moves suggest Cohen is looking for a way out of looming trouble. But his behavio...Keep on reading: Pressure mounting, former Trump ’fixer’ turns aggressive.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 28th, 2018

Kennedy Center to honor Cher, McEntire, Shorter, Glass

WASHINGTON --- Cher, composer Phillip Glass, country music star Reba McEntire and jazz legend Wayne Shorter will be honored for lifetime achievements in the arts at this year's Kennedy Center Honors. The national arts center also announced Wednesday a special award for the genre-bending musical "Hamilton," as part of the gala set for Dec. 2. Before last year's program, several honorees threatened a boycott if President Donald Trump attended. He and first lady Melania Trump decided to skip the event "to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction," as the White House put it. The White House said it's too early to know whether Trump will participate in th...Keep on reading: Kennedy Center to honor Cher, McEntire, Shorter, Glass.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 25th, 2018

Switzerland, Serbia coaches don t want to talk about Kosovo

By Mike Corder, Associated Press KALININGRAD, Russia (AP) — The coaches of Serbia and Switzerland only want to talk about football, not about an entrenched political dispute casting a shadow over their teams' World Cup showdown in Russia. Tensions have been building in Serbia before the Group E match Friday in Kaliningrad. Not between Swiss and Serbian fans, but between Albanian and Serbian supporters. That is because several players in the Swiss squad have Kosovo Albanian roots, including midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri who was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Serbia doesn't recognize Kosovo's independence and relations between the two countries remain tense. Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic didn't want to discuss the issue Thursday. When a reporter asked Petkovic him how he would discuss it with his players, he sidestepped the question. "We will tell them we had a great match against Brazil. That's not enough; we have to play better against Serbia," Petkovic said through an interpreter. Switzerland held Brazil to a 1-1 draw in their opening match, while Serbia beat Costa Rica 1-0 to top the group after one round. Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic was equally reluctant to be drawn into the debate. "I'm not into politics," he said, also speaking through an interpreter. "We have our goals. We're here for sports to represent our country in the best possible way and we're not at all interested in anything else." Shaqiri makes no secret at his pride for his heritage at the World Cup. At training Thursday, he wore football boots with Kosovo's flag on his right heel and the Swiss flag on his left. Midfielder Valon Behrami grew up in what is now Kosovo, moving to Switzerland with his family in 1990 amid rising tensions between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. He has the flags of Switzerland and Kosovo tattooed on his left arm. Such displays have angered some Serbian fans, who often wear T-shirts bearing the map of Kosovo with the Serbian flag on it. The reaction of some Serbian players has also been sharp. "If they are such great patriots, why don't they play for their own countries instead of Switzerland?" Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic asked recently. Friday's match also features two coaches who both come from Bosnia, a country that emerged from the former Yugoslavia after a bitter war in the 1990s. Bosnia finished third in its qualifying group and didn't make it to Russia. "I think that Mr. Petkovic is from Sarajevo. I hail from Zenica," Krstajic said. "So we have two coaches from Bosnia-Herzegovina representing different teams at the World Cup." Zenica is a town about 70 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Sarajevo, Bosnia's capital. ____ Associated Press writer Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Trump not inviting NBA champions to White House

WASHINGTON --- Whichever team wins the NBA championship, President Donald Trump says he won't be inviting them to the White House. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors have both said their teams have no interest in a visit. Trump told reporters on Friday: "I didn't invite LeBron James, and I didn't invite Steph Curry. We're not going to invite either team." READ:Warriors, Cavaliers say they're not going to White House Trump canceled a visit by the Philadelphia Eagles to commemorate their Super Bowl win after most of the players decided they'd skip it. But Trump said he'd be happy to host the Washington Capitals, who jus...Keep on reading: Trump not inviting NBA champions to White House.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 8th, 2018

Israel in uproar over Argentina pre-World Cup friendly snub

By Aron Heller, Associated Press JERUSALEM (AP) — The sports-crazed nation of Israel was in uproar Wednesday over Argentina's abrupt cancellation of a World Cup warmup match following pro-Palestinian protests, with some of the country's leaders accusing Lionel Messi and his teammates of caving to terrorism. Israel was eagerly awaiting the sold-out international friendly scheduled for Saturday night at Jerusalem's Teddy Kollek Stadium and the arrival of some of the world's best players. Argentina is one of the most popular national teams among Israelis and fans had been scrambling to get a chance to see Messi in person. But after a fierce Palestinian campaign, which included images of Argentina's white and sky-blue striped jersey stained with red paint resembling blood and threats to burn Messi posters, Argentina's football federation announced it was skipping the event. Claudio Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association, apologized for cancelling the match but said the safety of the players was at stake. "What has happened in the last 72 hours, the actions, the threats that have occurred have led us to take the decision not to travel," he said during a news conference in Barcelona, where the Argentine team is training prior to the start of the World Cup next week. "(We) apologize to the Israeli community. It's nothing against the Israeli community, the Jewish community and I would like everyone to take this decision as a contribution to world peace," he said. "In the end, they've done the right thing, and this is behind us," Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain told ESPN. "Health and common sense come first. We felt that it wasn't right to go." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri and urged him to intervene, to no avail. Later Wednesday, Israel's Sports Ministry said a "negotiation" about the match was underway, perhaps in hopes of salvaging it, but gave no further details. "It's unfortunate the soccer knights of Argentina did not withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters, whose only goal is to harm our basic right to self-defense and bring about the destruction of Israel," said Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "We will not yield before a pack of anti-Semitic terrorist supporters." The head of the Palestinian football association, Jibril Rajoub, had called on Arab soccer fans to burn Messi posters and T-shirts if he participated. He has long tried to get soccer's world governing body, FIFA, and the International Olympic Committee to impose sanctions against Israel. Rajoub believes Israel should be punished for restricting movement of Palestinian players, and for forming teams in West Bank settlements. Rajoub had also objected to holding the match in Jerusalem, whose eastern sector the Palestinians claim as their capital. Although the Kollek stadium is in west Jerusalem, it is located in a neighborhood built where a Palestinian village once stood before it was destroyed in the war surrounding Israel's independence in 1948. Following the move, he held a press conference in Ramallah featuring a picture of him with Messi and a sign reading: "From Palestine, thank you Messi." Rajoub had accused Israel of playing politics with the game, by moving it from its original location in Haifa to Jerusalem, and by trying to link it to celebrations surrounding Israel's 70th anniversary. He called it a victory for "ethics and values" of sports. "They tried to use sport as a tool for political ends, and for this I think, they failed," Rajoub said. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said it was a sad morning for Israeli sports fans, including his own grandchildren. "But there are values that are greater than even Messi. The politicization of the Argentinean move worries me greatly," he said. Opposition figures, however, accused Israel's headline-seeking sports minister Miri Regev of bringing on the politicization of the sporting event by insisting on moving the game from Haifa to contested Jerusalem and by trying to orchestrate a politicized photo-op with Messi. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognized. Israel considers the entire city to be its capital, while the Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Regev rejected the backlash at a press conference Wednesday evening saying "there is no bigger lie" than claims her decision to hold the match in Jerusalem aided in its cancellation. She said the Argentinians had not objected and that Messi himself had wanted to visit sacred Christian and Jewish sites in the holy city. Regev said the match was canceled following "threats by terror elements sent to Messi and his family and to other players." Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called the snub a "spectacular own goal" by Regev that delivered victory to boycotters of the Jewish State. Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay called for a police investigation into Regev's "corrupt conduct." "We just absorbed a shot in the face. This is not just sports," he tweeted. "This, unfortunately, could start an international tsunami." Regev claimed that "terrorist" groups had made threats against Argentina's players and their families, sending them images of dead children, though she gave no further evidence. She accused members of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, of backing the boycott advocates. "Unfortunately, we have Trojan Horses in the Knesset who give headwind to terrorism," she said. The Palestinian militant Islamic group Hamas praised Argentina for canceling the game. Spokesman Husam Badran said Hamas "applauds" the move and reiterated its position that rejects "all forms of normalization" with the Jewish state. A senior official at the Argentine Football Federation said the national team decided to call off the match with Israel after receiving threats from Hamas. The official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to safety concerns, did not provide evidence or details of the alleged threats. A Hamas official mocked reports that the group had threatened the players, calling them unrealistic, and saying they don't deserve a comment. The Hamas official was not authorized to comment in the issue and also spoke on condition of anonymity. Hamas is sworn to Israel's destruction and has ruled Gaza with an iron fist since it took over the territory in 2007. Israel and the United States consider it a terror organization for its bombings, shooting and rocket attacks targeting civilians. Israel has largely fended off the boycott campaign with only a small number of artists and organizations shunning the country. Argentina's snubbing would appear to be the boycott movement's greatest achievement thus far. The grassroots movement advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel in what supporters say is a way to promote Palestinian rights through nonviolent means. Israel says the campaign goes beyond Israeli occupation of lands claimed by the Palestinians and masks a deeper aim of delegitimizing or even destroying the country. It has formed a government ministry whose primary mission is to combat the boycott movement. The Argentinean move, which featured on the front pages of all the major Israeli dailies, raised fears that it could serve as a template for future boycotts of Jerusalem, most notably next year's scheduled hosting of the popular Eurovision song contest. The Palestinians celebrated the cancellation as a major triumph. Israeli organizers said an offer had been floated to have the game played in Barcelona instead, but it was highly unlikely. "I think sports should never be involved with politics," said Shahaf Ashraga, a fan in Jerusalem. "It just makes me sad to think that the game has to be canceled because of the Palestinian pressure." Argentina opens its Group D campaign in Russia against Iceland on June 16. It then plays Croatia on June 21 and Nigeria on June 26. It is unclear whether Argentina will play another warmup, or if it will arrive in Moscow ahead of schedule. ___ Associated Press writers Debora Rey and Victor Caivano in Buenos Aires, Argentina, contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

Trump says Philadelphia Eagles won’t attend White House ceremony amid national anthem dispute – Fox News

President Trump announced Monday the Philadelphia Eagles will not visit the White House this week to celebrate the team’s Super […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

Kim Kardashian West goes to the White House to talk pardon

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West paid a visit to the White House Wednesday to make a star-powered case to President Donald Trump and his staff on behalf of a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 31st, 2018

Kim Kardashian West goes to the White House to talk pardon

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West paid a visit to the White House Wednesday to make a star-powered case to President Donald Trump and his staff on behalf of a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 31st, 2018

Trump attacks ex-CIA chief over ‘hit job’ Russia probe

WASHINGTON, D.C.: President Donald Trump attacked the probe into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia as a “political hit job” on Monday, as a part of a mounting White House effort to paint the probe as politically motivated. In the latest salvo from Trump’s administration and his Republican Party, the president assailed former CIA [...] The post Trump attacks ex-CIA chief over ‘hit job’ Russia probe appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Draw of another title lights postseason path of Warriors

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst One of the Golden State Warriors’ people, walking out of Smoothie King Center Sunday (Monday, PHL time), summarized the team’s season so far in detailing Kevin Durant’s 38-point performance against the Pelicans in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. “Sometimes, people forget,” he said, a wry smile on his face -- and, yes, they do. With all that has gone on around the league this season, the Warriors’ storyline hasn’t been quite as eyeballed nationally this season compared with previous years. (Not that they should care. It’s just an observation.) The Cleveland Cavaliers blew things up last summer and reformed in the fall, blew it up again in the winter and reformed again in the spring. The Boston Celtics are displaying amazing resilience through seemingly devastating injuries to put themselves on the brink of another conference finals. The Philadelphia 76ers have their Fun Bunch. There was Paul George’s trade to Oklahoma City (and all that entailed, now and later) and the Toronto Raptors’ dramatic and successful changes throughout the year. And, at the forefront, there was the Houston Rockets’ rise as a legit and serious challenger to the Warriors in the Western Conference. During the regular season, the Warriors’ energy and productivity dropped off ever so slightly, like the planet killer in “The Doomsday Machine,” one of the all-time best original “Star Trek” episodes, after the doomed Commodore Decker drove a Shuttlecraft right down its throat. (Of course, Captain Kirk figured out to destroy it. Dude, come on. This is James Tiberius Kirk we’re talking about.) And at the end of the regular season, they were hit with a series of body shot injuries: Stephen Curry’s MCL strain, Durant’s ribs, Klay Thompson’s thumb injury, Draymond Green’s hip, and on and on. Those all sapped their continuity and made them look mortal down the stretch of the 2017-18 season, and the Warriors went 7-10 as the season waned. But, after dispatching the Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs in five games in the first round, and taking a 3-1 lead on the Pelicans now, they’re again on the precipice of the Western Conference finals. A date with Houston is looming and a chance at a third title in four seasons is still on their racket. “I think as the playoffs go on, every series requires a different intensity level,” Green said last week. “I think we met that standard that it takes to win playoff games at the level we’re at right now, which is the second round. It’s not our first rodeo. We’ve been here a lot of times and we know what it takes.” Steve Kerr rolled the “Hamptons Five” lineup out Sunday (Monday, PHL time), the Lineup Formally Known as Death -- Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Green and Durant. It’s been their trump card for almost two years, the lineup that can’t be solved by the opposition, even as it’s chipped away at most of Golden State’s other conventional units. Durant went for 38, and the Warriors rolled to a 118-92 win and a 3-1 series lead. They didn’t use it much this season -- that quintet only played 127 minutes together this season, after logging 224 minutes last season -- because of all the injuries, because they tried to limit their biggest players’ minutes and because using Iguodala as a starter thins out Golden State’s bench. The Warriors’ most frequently used five-man unit this season featured Zaza Pachulia at center; among five-man units leaguewide that played 200 minutes or more together this season, per NBA.com/Stats, that quintet was third in the league in Offensive Rating, at 118.6. But Pachulia hasn’t played a minute in the playoffs, and if the Rockets are the Warriors’ next opponent, he may not play much then, either, against Clint Capela. Kerr often points out that the Warriors have six centers on the current roster, and most of them have gotten at least a little run at various points. But after JaVale McGee was ineffective in Game 3 against New Orleans Friday (Saturday, PHL time), Kerr pulled his trump card. It’s still a game-changer, and when a season comes down to a best-of-seven series, one game can be the difference. “We all bring the best of each other,” Curry said of the Hamptons unit. “We increase the pace of the game, but the versatility [is] at the defensive end -- Andre, Draymond, KD shoring up the paint, switching a lot of the screens and the action from the offense and Klay doing what he does on the perimeter. I think the biggest thing offensively is that we’re all playmakers, try to look for the best shot, stay within ourselves and just make the right play.” Going back to the old playlist may give the Warriors comfort in what has been another drama-filled season, with the contretemps about being disinvited from the White House by President Trump in September getting things off to a rollicking start. But the end of the season was what raised eyebrows around the league. Curry’s absence down the stretch combined with a teamwide ennui -- “I really don’t like talking about it,” Thompson said -- that gave potential playoff opponents hope they might be able to catch Golden State napping. The Warriors’ boredom showed up most at the defensive end. After being in the top seven in both unadjusted and adjusted Defensive Rating in each of the last four seasons -- including first in the league in both categories in the first championship season of 2014-15 -- Golden State fell to 11th and 12th, respectively, in the regular season. They came out of the All-Star break focused -- they were fifth in the league in Defensive Rating on March 1. But all the injuries blunted their momentum, and the scariest of all -- a serious injury to second-year guard Patrick McCaw in Sacramento March 31 (April 1, PHL time) -- shook the team more than people on the outside realized. “Throughout that time, we had spurts,” Durant said. “We played a great OKC team. We went in there and won. Then we lost to Indiana by 20, and then it’s like, when you’re riding just on emotion a lot, you tend to go up and down. It’s like a roller coaster. I think that’s what it was. We had those spurts where we played well and played a focused game, but then Patty goes out, boom, and there was just so much that went on with that. Then Steph goes out with a freak injury. So much went on with that. I think we were just so up and down emotionally it kind of blinded us from our goal, which was to be good every single night as basketball players.” McCaw’s injury -- a bone bruise suffered when he fell after a dunk attempt against the Kings, which required him to be carried off the court in Sacramento on a stretcher -- hit everyone hard. “When Pat got injured, I think that took a little bit out of us,” Durant said. “It took a little bit out of Steve as well. You could just feel it, when Steph went out, then I went out, then Draymond, then Klay. Our emotions were so up and down. When your emotions are, you have too many emotions in the game of basketball, it can kind of blind you from what you really have to do. This is a technical game. So when you put too many emotions into it, it kind of took us away from what we wanted to do.” McCaw, who played in 57 games this season, was not only a part of Kerr’s rotation. He is also a well-liked person who was getting better on the floor. He was re-evaluated last week and will be checked out again in a month. Though he’s been traveling with the team during the playoffs, his season is almost certainly over. And as his injury came during the Warriors’ many injuries down the stretch, its chilling effect was multiplied. “It definitely got to everybody,” Green said. “Kind of the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going on with him. The rotations. Everybody’s like, ahh, kind of tiptoeing around, trying to make sure you get to the playoffs healthy. A lot of that makes a difference. I mean, that’s our brother. To see him down like that, not be able to walk off the court under his own power, him not being around us for two or three weeks, it was kind of like the unknown. It sucked. And I think it definitely had an effect on everything.” But Durant doesn’t like the metaphor of the proverbial switch being turned on at playoff time explaining the team’s improvement the last couple of weeks. “I don’t like when you call it a switch,” he said. “Because guys come in and get extra work in every single day. They work on their bodies every day, they get treatment. You come in here any time, you see guys in here working on their games. I think when you say ‘a switch turned on,’ if guys went cold turkey on everything as professionals during the season, and just tried to pick it up in the playoffs, I think that’s turning on a switch. Mentally, focus-wise, game plan-wise, I think you can turn on a switch, because you can lock in on an opponent, you know their tendencies, you can just focus in on one group of players instead of one day it’s San Antonio, the next day it’s Phoenix, next day it’s Sacramento. You’re going so up and down. If that makes sense. “So I think everybody’s putting in that work individually all year, and as a team, you know, stuff has to come together. We have to focus in on what we need to do, game plan wise, tendency wise, just try to take away things. I think that’s where you kind of turn it up just a bit.” Golden State has performed in fits and starts in the first two rounds. The Spurs didn’t have enough firepower to be a serious threat, but they played hard and were increasingly effectively on defense as the series went on. The Warriors didn’t really have an answer for LaMarcus Aldridge after Game 1. New Orleans had, until Sunday (Monday, PHL time), been more and more successful at making the Warriors shoot contested shots. That certainly gibes with Curry’s return after five weeks. He’s healthy, but rusty. After his adrenaline-filled return last Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) in Game 2 against the Pelicans, he made just 14-of-33 from the floor in the two games in New Orleans. There was talk afterward about breakthroughs for Curry cardiovascularly. The next few games will tell whether Curry is truly recovered and ready to be two-time Kia MVP Steph … or will he just be on the floor (as he was for long and important stretches in the 2016 playoffs after returning from a Grade 1 knee sprain). The Warriors still made The Finals, but Curry wasn’t Curry against Cleveland, and everyone, starting and ending with LeBron James, knew it. No one in NBA history has changed the geometry of basketball more than Curry, and when he’s on the floor, the ball starts flying around. “Our formula is simple: if we out-pass people, we win,” Warriors forward David West said. “Ball movement. With guys going in and out of the lineup, it causes moments where guys try to carry the load, maybe try to shoulder the load individually. But the strength of the group is the group.” But the Warriors can still throw so many different things and people at you. Iguodala shot a career-worst 28.2 percent on three-pointers in the regular season. He’s at 39.3 percent in the 2018 playoffs. Does anyone doubt he was biding his time until the postseason? No one wearing an NBA uniform is in better shape than the 34-year-old Iguodala, no one is smarter about the game or matchups, and no one is a prouder, fiercer competitor. The 2015 Finals MVP brings his bag of intangibles with him on the road even more than at home, as he did Sunday. In that game, he was making life miserable for the Pelicans’ Nikola Mirotic, creating deflections, making the right reads and impacting the game despite scoring just six points. Kerr likened him to Scottie Pippen after Game 4, but Iggy wasn’t buying it -- “Steve just does that to make sure I don’t get mad ‘cause I don’t shots,” Iguodala quipped. He may be right. But Iguodala and Green have a mind meld defensively that’s at the heart of the Hamptons’ effectiveness. “Andre and I, we’re usually on the same page,” Green said. “Two guys who really think the game, especially on that side of the ball. Sometimes we can talk things out and it works perfect and not say a word, and know what each other’s going to do. It definitely helps our team out defensively kind of having two coaches out there on the floor on that side of the ball.” Whether it’s switching to guard each other’s man, running at an open shooter to close before the ball gets there with the other man rotating, they know what the other guy is going to do. And that second or so the Warriors save defensively keeps them from being broken down. “How fast can you make that decision?,” Green says. “How demonstrative are you going to be about that decision? Are you going to second guess that decision? That’s usually when it doesn’t work; if you’re going to go, just go. That’s kind of the motto that Andre and I go by. If you’re going to go, just go; everybody else fall in line and rotate, and we’ll work it out from there.” And while Green and Rajon Rondo have been exchanging pleasantries throughout this series, Green didn’t pick up his first postseason technical foul until Sunday (Monday, PHL time). He’s been under control, coming up to the edge without going over. Someone without access to the internet asked Kerr if he’d ever played with anyone who instigated or tried to get under the skin of opponents. It’s a testament to Kerr’s comic timing that he actually did wait a beat before answering. “I did play with Dennis Rodman,” he said. Never be fooled by Kerr’s overall pleasant disposition and quick-with-a-quip acuity, though. He is a fierce competitor that wants to win big, the same as his current point guard, who is similarly underrated on the competition scale. Kerr has seven rings as a player and coach, and it’s not a coincidence he’s frequently been around teams that got it done in June. But the Warriors are playing for even bigger stakes than just winning the 2018 title. Legacies are created this time of year. A third title in four seasons, with four straight Finals appearances, would put Golden State in very rarified air in the modern game. San Antonio won three titles from 2002-07. But the Spurs, famously, never have won back-to-back titles. The Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal-led Lakers, which won three straight from 2000-02, are the closest modern-day team to pulling off what the Warriors are trying to accomplish. Before then, you’re talking about the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, with six titles in eight seasons -- the two non-title seasons coinciding with Jordan’s sojourn to the minor leagues of baseball. Moreover, the Warriors are the hub around which the modern NBA now spins. And that is an even bigger legacy. Almost everyone (hi, Thibs!) tries to play the way Golden State does now -- the quick hitters, ball movement, pace. Teams do it in different ways. The 76ers look very different than the Warriors, with Joel Embiid their centerpiece of operations, and with 6'10" Ben Simmons taking up so much space with the ball in the halfcourt. The Rockets look different still as there’s not a ton of ball movement. There’s just an unending series of screen and rolls with Chris Paul and James Harden with the rock, looking for the inevitable open man in the corner or way, way behind the three-point line. A lot of things have happened the last 15 years to lead us where we are now. The league changed almost all the rules regarding zone defense, and got rid of almost all defensive contact on the perimeter. Rockets GM Daryl Morey and others led the burgeoning analytics movement, which championed shooting more and more three-pointers as a primary means of scoring, not as a novelty. Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns went with Amar’e Stoudemire at center, surrounding him with four smalls that could all shoot it from deep, and scoring came out of its coma leaguewide. Kerr and Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry have always been quick to credit D’Antoni’s influence on the modern game, starting in Phoenix and working through his current team in Houston. “He’s the guy that just eliminated the center position -- let’s just go small and fast and shoot more threes,” Kerr said of D’Antoni. “I was inspired by Mike, but I was also inspired by Pop (the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich) and Phil Jackson in terms of basic ball movement, screening. But pace is the name of the game these days, and people go about it in different ways. Ironically, Mike’s team (in Houston) is the slowest team in the league now. I didn’t see that coming.” But no one has put all of it together -- pace, small ball, shooting and defense -- like the Warriors have the last four seasons. The Rockets are the closest thing we’ve seen to Golden State, and they’re hungry, and they’re coming. And the Warriors and Rockets are just a win apiece away from seeing the clash of the Western Conference titans. They are in the middle of it, so they can’t stop and think about what it all means. We get that. But everyone wants to put a marker out there that’s hard to catch. LeBron is chasing a ghost. The Warriors have already made their mark on the game. They’re almost in position to do more. History is forever. “It’s important, because it’s what’s right in front of us,” Curry said Sunday. “We don’t think about the historical context of anything. For us, we have an amazing group of guys, amazing coaches sitting behind us. We’re appreciating the moment. That’s really all it is. You have tunnel vision for Game 5 at home, then a new series, hopefully (after that). The historic context doesn’t really seep into the locker room when it comes to what that means. It’s just about this year.” Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. 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......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2018

U.S. scolds China over Orwellian airline demands

WASHINGTON, US – The United States on Saturday, May 5, scolded China for attempting to impose "political correctness" on American carriers by asking them to classify Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese territories. A sternly worded White House statement excoriated Beijing for the demands, which it termed ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMay 6th, 2018