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Bigger Than Sport: Alexander on the intersection of sports an politics –



If you truly believe that sports and politics don’t mix – that athletes should shut up and dribble and those in the media who cover them should stick to writing articles about blitzes, power-plays and home runs – then we’ll give you a minute here to gather up and move along.

Still here, some of you?

OK, thank you.

Look, we may differ on many aspects of this subject, but of this there is no debate: what’s happening across sports right now is both compelling and powerful.

A number of games in different sports leagues have been postponed this week in a show of solidarity as athletes stand up and use their voices to be heard about racism and social injustices.

These aren’t single individual acts, either, and that’s what gives the movement momentum.

As historic as the moment was, this is different than when Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier 40 years ago.

This is different than Muhammad Ali opposing the Vietnam War by declaring himself a conscientious objector, being stripped of the heavyweight boxing title while declaring, ‘I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.’

This is different than Tommie Smith and Juan Carlos raising black-gloved fists during the playing of the U.S. national them while on the medal podium at the 1968 Olympics in what Smith referred to as a ‘human rights’ salute.

These are moments where entire leagues are opting to step away or are gathering to spread a message to end racism. It’s a collection of athletes using their platforms to be heard and to bring about change.

And make no mistake, they are being heard.

Watching it all unfold from his home in Orlando this week has been Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Brandon Alexander, who previously offered his own personal account of a harrowing experience with racism on our site not long after the murder of George Floyd in late May.

Sadly, just a few months later yours truly reached out to him again this week for his thoughts on another incident with similar circumstances – a black man, Jacob Blake, being shot by police. That was then followed by 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse killing two people during the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests.

“To me, the weird thing about this situation is how only now are some people really starting to see it,” began Alexander. “We’ve known this has been going on for a long time. Even now that it’s prevalent on social media and there for everyone to see, it’s like it doesn’t even matter. It still goes on. It still happens. It’s blatant. And what’s also blatant is no one is getting in trouble for it.

“Who is doing something about it? We don’t have our leader – our quote-unquote leader – in President Trump come out and even say anything about it. Why not?

“We’re fighting this fight by ourselves. I’m not just saying people of colour, it’s anybody who stands with us.”

This is where sports and politics do mix and must mix.

“I had this conversation with somebody two days ago. I won’t mention his name, respectfully, but we had a wonderful conversation,” said Alexander. “One of the things he said was sports and politics really don’t mix. I’ve heard that from a lot of people, not just him.

“But in our community, our leaders or the people we look up to play sports or do music. A lot of them. We grow up watching these guys or listening to them because basketball, football and music is what we grow up on. That’s what drives millions and millions of dollars in revenue in the U.S. That’s important here.

“So when you have guys who are big time, like LeBron James or Jay-Z, the people we look up to because they are our skin colour… what happens if they do shut-up and not do anything? A lot of people will do the same exact thing. So when they come out, sports has to be mixed with politics.

“It’s a double-edged sword, though,” added Alexander. “What has happened this week is important, but I want sports to go on. It’s not just about LeBron, because we’re going to hear from him whether games are played or not. We’re going to hear from James Harden or Chris Paul because they are big time. But you’re not going to hear from George Hill or a Patrick Beverley or even Doc Rivers because they aren’t as prominent and if they’re not playing those voices don’t get heard. The reporters on TV have a voice and it’s not just about sports any more. The guys like Chuck, Shaq, Kenny and all those guys on there, they have a voice now.

“I think it’s a beautiful thing that they are standing up because it’s making other people make a decision – whether you are going to follow suit or go in another direction.”

More on Alexander’s thoughts:

1. Interestingly, what has happened this week comes four years this week since Colin Kaepernick sat, then later kneeled during the national anthem before a San Francisco 49ers games.

I asked Alexander if he was frustrated about that, about how Kaepernick’s decision seems like an eternity ago and how he was then vilified and criticized by so many while seeing his playing career vanish as a consequence.

“I’ve heard people say that we need change today. Or tomorrow,” said Alexander. “But it’s like the saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ And God did not create the whole universe in one day.

“It’s going to take time, but it has to start with something and it does start at the top and trickles down. If it starts at the bottom, nobody hears or sees you or knows who you are. But when you’re at the top and you do say something, people hear it. That’s why I’m happy to see so many athletes and musicians using their voices.”

FYI, two of the best reads I’ve come across on what has happened this week are from Kurt Streeter of The New York Times and Vinson Cunningham of The New Yorker.

2. Those voices are being heard by a number of athletes in a number of sports.

Indulge me for a moment while we cross promote and share a message from Andrew Jean-Baptiste of Valour FC of the Canadian Premier League.

Jean-Baptiste, an American of Haitian descent, finishes his statement with:

“… this is a world issue. Blacks, Aboriginals, Muslims, immigrants and members of the LBGTQ community have been mistreated and profiled and killed for being nothing less than who they are. Killed or beaten by people who don’t agree with who they are, or by the very people who are meant to protect us.

“We aren’t asking you to put us on a pedestal, or hierarchy of society. We are asking you to give us the benefit of the doubt, to be treated equally and not assume that we are capable of a crime or give us a more severe punishment because of the colour of our skin or religious beliefs.

“We are asking just to be equal. Judge me because of my character and not because of the colour of my skin, religion or sexual orientation. Help by any means to bring justice to the family and friends that lost a brother, mother, sister or father to people’s hateful ideologies. Don’t turn a blind eye just because this doesn’t affect you.

“Stand with us to fight for these families. Do what’s right and be on the right side of history.”

Well said.

3. It’s impossible to know what CFL Players might have done in support of Black Lives Matter and the fight to end racism if they were on the field this year, given the cancellation of the season.

But you can bet it would have been just as powerful, thanks to voices like Alexander and others in the Bombers dressing room and across the league.

The CFLPA did tweet this in a show of support on Thursday:

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Ukrainian Politics Again Get the Better of a Would-Be Reformer – Bloomberg



A reformer is stepping aside in Ukraine for the second time in less than five years — and with a similar feeling of unease.

Aivaras Abromavicius, who quit the previous administration complaining about corruption, is awaiting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s approval to resign as head of state-controlled arms producer Ukroboronprom. While this time his exit is planned, there are parallels — namely what he deems waning appetite to tackle graft and overhaul the economy.

Zelenskiy, 42, was elected in 2019 as an untainted newcomer who could clean up Ukraine’s murky politics, which have been dogged by corruption and influence from big business since the Soviet Union collapsed three decades ago. But after selecting a reformist government, the president dismantled it on the grounds it wasn’t delivering results, turning instead to old hands. Some were even part of the administration of disgraced former leader Viktor Yanukovych.

The reshuffle disappointed investors and voters alike, with changes at the top of the central bank and complaints by foreign directors serving on the boards of state-run enterprises adding to the gloom. Zelenskiy’s popularity is the lowest since he took office.

Read more: Ukrainian Leader Backs Calamitous Reshuffle to Deliver Results

“Progressive people are replaced with conservative ones — this is the biggest risk,” Abromavicius said in a phone interview. “This staff policy may lead to corruption, for sure.”

Lithuanian-born Abromavicius, 44, took Ukrainian citizenship to become economy minister after protesters ousted Kremlin-backed Yanukovych in 2014. But he resigned in 2016, saying he faced pressure over appointments at government-run companies and accusing a lawmaker close to then-President Petro Poroshenko of graft.

He arrived at Ukroboronprom in 2019 to oversee an audit, and boost transparency, corporate governance and efficiency. While he waived a salary, the issue of pay for foreigners working at Ukraine’s state-owned companies is concerning creditors abroad.

Foreign nationals appointed to supervisory boards to lift governance standards have seen theirmonthly wages capped at $1,660 — part of measures to mitigate the financial hit from the Covid-19 pandemic. While the limit applied to all public officials, many others have now had their full pay restored.

The International Monetary Fund urges an end to the ceiling, which risks halting further disbursements from a $5 billion aid program. Some directors have quit in protest — including Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist who’d worked at Ukraine’s state railway.

“The president and his loud MPs don’t believe in good corporate governance,” Aslund wrote last week in a column. Foreign board members “have been working hard to try to improve Ukraine’s state companies. From the president (the only Ukrainian president that I’ve never met), we only receive insults and obstacles.”

At Ukroboronprom, a comprehensive revamp is under way but politics are acting as a brake, according to Abromavicius. “Everything slows down bit by bit with every political change.”

But with Ukraine’s lowly ranking in Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index barely improving since 2015, the reformers are struggling to make headway.

“A fight is underway for which vector development of Ukraine will take, western or eastern,” Abromavicius said.

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    Twitter’s Jack Dorsey Slams Coinbase for Its No-Politics Stance



    (Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey joined a chorus of criticism for Coinbase Inc.’s newly announced policy of not debating politics at work, saying it runs counter to the core principles of cryptocurrency.

    In reaction to Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s blog post arguing that the company should be mission-focused and not “advocate for any particular causes or candidates internally that are unrelated to our mission, because it is a distraction,” Dorsey argued that the whole purpose of currencies like Bitcoin, which is traded on Coinbase, is social activism.

    “#Bitcoin (aka “crypto”) is direct activism against an unverifiable and exclusionary financial system which negatively affects so much of our society,” Dorsey tweeted. To not acknowledge and connect the related social and political issues “leaves behind people,” according to the Twitter chief. The bio section of Dorsey’s Twitter profile lists only “#bitcoin,” signaling it’s a key issue for him.

    Coinbase, a digital-currency exchange that has more than 35 million users according to its website, suggested that its push for an apolitical stance was a reaction to a growing movement within tech companies for employees’ beliefs to be better represented by their companies.

    “We’ve seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity,” Armstrong said in the post. “We are an intense culture and we are an apolitical culture.”


    Source: – BNN

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    Spotlight Politics: A Chaotic Presidential Debate



    The first Trump-Biden debate. A fiery hearing on corruption in Springfield. Chicago’s loosening COVID-19 restrictions. Our politics team tackles those stories and more in this week’s roundtable.

    Tuesday’s presidential debate was loud, but there often wasn’t much you could actually hear.

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    Perhaps the most notable moment came when moderator Chris Wallace asked President Donald Trump to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and ask them not to behave violently.

    “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said.

    State politics

    A House investigative panel met in Springfield on Tuesday to look into whether House Speaker Michael Madigan engaged in conduct unbefitting of his elected position.

    Madigan declined to testify, and it remains unclear whether he’ll face the pressure of a subpoena.

    The six legislators on the Special Investigative Committee met for about five hours, with much of that time spent peppering the Commonwealth Edison vice president who executed the deferred prosecution agreement, David Glockner, with questions about utility’s bribery scheme as described in the DPA.

    City politics

    Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this week the city is easing restriction on bars and restaurants after a drop in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

    However, Lightfoot said she was not prepared to announce whether Chicago Public Schools students would return to in-person classes in November.

    “We’re not there yet,” Lightfoot said, while detailing what she said were significant problems with remote learning. “We’d have to see more progress.”

    At a virtual town hall Tuesday evening, Lightfoot said that negotiations with community groups on police oversight are at an impasse.

    “We’re moving on from GAPA (the Grassroots Association for Police Accountability),” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to get it done, we’ve waited too long, we need to move forward and it’s unfortunate that the GAPA folks have not come forward to us with a concrete proposal that solves some of these outstanding issues, but the time is now for us to act. We can’t wait any longer.”

    Lightfoot said at the town hall she would propose an alternative proposal before the end of the year.

    Our politics team of Amanda Vinicky, Heather Cherone, Paris Schutz and Carol Marin discuss these stories and more in this week’s edition of “Spotlight Politics.”

    Source:- WTTW News

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