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With National Anthem Edict, NBA Indicates It Wants To Back Off Politics – Forbes

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From start to finish, the 2019-20 NBA season was mired in political controversy. The campaign began with an international business crisis, prompted by then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeting support for the Hong Kong protesters, and ended with the league and its players at the center of the raucous nationwide debate over racial justice.

This year, it’s apparent the NBA wants to take a pause.

On Tuesday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban confirmed his team had stopped playing the national anthem before home games. Fans were allowed at Dallas’ American Airlines Center for the first time Monday (tickets were provided to 1,500 vaccinated healthcare workers and first-responders).

The revelation quickly started trending, and reignited the long-running debate about playing the national anthem before sporting events. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was even asked about President Joe Biden’s opinion on the practice.

On Wednesday afternoon, the NBA issued a statement clarifying every team will play the national anthem before games going forward. The league was aware of Dallas’ decision to amend its pregame operations while it was playing without fans.

An NBA spokesperson didn’t provide additional comment.

In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Cuban said he decided to cease playing the “Star-Spangled Banner” after holding conversations with players and people in the community. “In listening to the community, there were quite a few people who voiced their concerns, really their fears that the national anthem did not fully represent them, that their voices were not being heard,” he said.

While NBA guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf stopped standing for the anthem in 1996, citing America’s history of oppression, the issue became supercharged when Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the song in 2016. The San Francisco 49ers didn’t re-sign Kaepernick the following offseason, and he’s been out of the league ever since. In 2017, President Donald Trump poured verbal gasoline on the issue, calling kneeling NFL players “sons of bitches.”

When the NBA season resumed amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, kneeling during the anthem became commonplace. Many of the league’s superstars, led by LeBron James, spoke out about Black victims of police brutality, and players went on strike following the shooting of an unarmed Black man in Milwaukee. The NBA painted the “Black Lives Matter” logo on the court, while players wore social justice slogans on jerseys in-lieu of their surnames.

Meanwhile, TV ratings declined 51%, with the NBA Finals were down 49%. There are multiple possible explanations for the steep fall, including the proliferation of cord-cutting and upended schedules. Nearly every sports league experienced ratings declines in 2020.

But some findings indicate fans were not enamored with the players’ social commentary. A September Harris Poll found 39% of sports fans were watching fewer NBA games, with 38% of that sample saying the league had become “too political.” In addition, 19% of fans cited the league’s lucrative relationship with China, a sign that attacks from Republicans, who frequently criticized the NBA for its acquiescence to Beijing, were resonating.

In a nod to those numbers, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last fall the league’s social justice messaging would be scaled back in 2021 — even though he’s also said there’s “no data” that shows it negatively impacted ratings. “My sense is there will be somewhat a return to normalcy,” Silver told ESPN. “That message will largely be left to be delivered off the floor. And I understand those people who are saying, ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.’”

NBA ratings have increased so far this season, with national numbers up 34% through Martin Luther King Day. Once again, there are many potential explanations, beginning with the fact NBA games are now being played during their usual time, opposed to the late-summer and early fall.

But the league’s anthem edict shows they don’t want to take any chances. So far, the biggest stories this season have been trade requests and blockbuster deals. The NBA seemingly wants to keep it that way.

This post has been updated.

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On a frozen Minnesota lake, political antagonisms melt away – CNN

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In my years wandering the upper heartland, I’ve found that when you want to hear what people think, there are few more target-rich environments than an ice-fishing lake. Ninety-five percent of the sport involves sitting, drinking and talking. On a good day, you catch more new friends than fish.
Residents head out for some ice-fishing and conviviality.
But these have not been good days. In the 30 years since I covered sturgeon spearing for a tiny TV station in Minnesota, the United States has become is a lot less united. Covering the presidential election and inauguration in neighboring Wisconsin included more ply-wooded windows, body armor and “no comments” than I ever thought possible in my home state.
Walking out on Lake Minnetonka, I was worried. But it wasn’t 25 paces before a friendly couple walking huge dogs walked over and melted the worry with Midwestern warmth.
Kevin and Leah Beamish want people to get along, and sometimes that may mean avoiding talking about politics.Kevin and Leah Beamish want people to get along, and sometimes that may mean avoiding talking about politics.
“Everybody should be loving each other,” Leah Beamish told me as she played tug-o-war with Huxley. “There doesn’t need to be this …” she shook her head at the ice. “So divided. So divided.”
But as I walked from hole to hole, Northern pike to bluegill, Democrat to Republican, they all seemed united against disunity. “There’s no common ground anymore,” Tim Delaney said. “And everyone’s so angry about it. I think we’re just tired.”

‘People are a lot more optimistic’

Minnesota is understandably tense these days. Up north, they are bracing for a Standing Rock-sized standoff over the controversial Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline. Down in the Twin Cities, concertina wire winds around civic buildings as they brace for the start of the George Floyd murder trial. And in every town in between, the Covid-19 pandemic is met with varying degrees of fear, loathing and pent-up frustration.
In this blue suburb of Minneapolis however, where families perched on buckets fish in front of the frozen front yards of million-dollar homes, there is some cautious relief. “I’m really happy with our new President,” said Cindy Garin, a 63-year-old health care worker, said as she described her first vaccination and plans for a Florida escape. “I think things are getting better … and I think people are a lot more optimistic.”
Ben Calvert sees Democrats delaying fulfilling their promises.Ben Calvert sees Democrats delaying fulfilling their promises.
But Ben Calvert, 27 and at college to become a wrestling coach, is fast losing faith with Democrats given that they are in charge in the White House, the Senate and the House. “A lot of my friends are really frustrated because they were like, ‘We’ve got to elect these two senators in Georgia! We’ve got to get Joe Biden in office and then everything’s going to be better! It’s not a $1,400 dollar check, it’s $2,000 checks,'” Ben said, making gloved air quotes.
“But now, they’re putting that stimulus check and minimum wage hike on the back burner while they’re dropping bombs in Syria. And those bombs are kind of expensive for a dude who owes me $2,000.”

Calmer criticism

Ben’s father, Valdo, has more patience for the new President but told me, “I don’t see it smooth sailing for Biden. I see it always going to be about obstructionism, but at least it’s more calm.” And like so many others on the lake frustrated by American disunity, the retired Forest Service emergency manager wonders how to unite with true believers of conspiracy theories like QAnon.
Valdo and Ben Calvert say there are some people they can't be with any more, even with the bonhomie on the lake.Valdo and Ben Calvert say there are some people they can't be with any more, even with the bonhomie on the lake.
His son nods in agreement. “I grew up wrestling and playing sports. You get liberal people, you get conservative people, but we all got along. Now those guys aren’t my friends anymore because I know what they really think,” Ben told me. “Maybe it’s not who they are in their heart, but can you hang out with someone who’s like, ‘I think it would be a good thing to assassinate the sitting [Speaker of the House.]'”
But just a short, fragrant stroll away, barbecue smoke master Tim Delaney described his desire to replace Nancy Pelosi with Donald Trump.
Tim Delaney wants Trump back in power, even if he hesitates to say so among his friends of a different political persuasion.Tim Delaney wants Trump back in power, even if he hesitates to say so among his friends of a different political persuasion.
“What if Trump ran for Congress, right?” Tim said, waving a silver tallboy. “And then we took the House and we took the Senate and then he could impeach the President and Vice President. He would be president for the next two years plus then he would be reelected for another four. Good idea?”

Laughter overcomes politics

None of his friends thought it was a good idea. As far as I could tell, they were all Democrats who obviously believed in the peacekeeping mantra repeated to me by Leah’s husband Kevin Beamish as we walked on to the lake. “It’s the old story,” he smiled. “Don’t talk politics or religion with friends and family.”
I don’t have that luxury, and the energy shifted noticeably when I strolled over with camera and asked, “How’s everybody feeling after the election?”
His friends may not agree with the politics of Tim Delaney, left, but they're still happy to break bread with him.His friends may not agree with the politics of Tim Delaney, left, but they're still happy to break bread with him.
“We don’t go there,” Tim said before going there. And while he joked that his burst of MAGA honesty might spoil the barbecue brotherhood, the laughs proved the opposite.
I walked out onto Lake Minnetonka braced for icy suspicion and dread, but I walked off with a stomach full of barbecue and hope. I’ll take it.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the first name of Leah Beamish’s husband. His name is Kevin.

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Politics and the public good – Gazette

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The ongoing provincial election is unusual in more ways than one.

But faculty members from the Department of Political Science at Memorial are helping voters make sense of the situation through public engagement.

Dr. Kelly Blidook, an associate professor in the department, made a video explainer to help people understand Newfoundland and Labrador’s current political circumstances.

A question from anti-poverty advocate Dan Meades prompted Dr. Blidook to make the video, he says.

“There wasn’t anything out there that kind of captured the whole thing,” he said, adding that interviews with media can be piecemeal because they are usually reactionary and focused.

With the video, he hopes to provide a beginners’ overview of the situation.

“I tried to think of it as a regular lecture for an introductory level class, or even for a high school class,” Dr. Blidook said. “It was meant to bring together a lot of different ideas and try to figure out what the best path is.”

Watch the video below.

[embedded content]

Sharing expertise

The video is one of several ways that he is contributing to public discourse about the election, which moved to mail-in ballots only when the province went into another pandemic-related shutdown in mid-February.

Dr. Blidook is also a regular commentator for CBC. He also does interviews with other media outlets and contributes to conversations online via Twitter.

“Academics, in Canada at least, are significantly funded by the public,” Dr. Blidook said.

Writing books and articles is one way he and his colleagues provide a public good, he says, but most people won’t read them. Social media and media interviews are a way to share knowledge and spur conversation in real time.

Department-wide contributions

Dr. Blidook is one of several instructors and faculty members in the department who are sharing their political science expertise with the public.

Dr. Amanda Bittner also does regular media interviews and appearances, and shares insights and expertise on social media.

Dr. Amanda Bittner is a professor in the Department of Political Science.

“This election is tough to navigate — both as a “regular” citizen and an expert on elections and voting,” Dr. Bittner said.

She says she values the behind-the-scenes conversations she has with colleagues as they try to make sense of both the election and what it means for the province.

Some of those Political Science colleagues are having conversations with the public, too. Dr. Russell Williams uses social media to engage on the election and also does regular media interviews.

And along with lawyer Lyle Skinner, his colleague Dr. Alex Marland helped with Dr. Blidook’s video content.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues for sharing their expertise on social media and in traditional media interviews,” Dr. Bittner said.

A positive response

Dr. Blidook says the response to his video, which he uploaded to YouTube a week ago, has been largely positive so far.

The 22-minute video has almost 600 views and sparked discussion on Twitter. In the meantime, Political Science faculty and instructors continue to do media interviews as the election continues.

Amid the ongoing discussion, Dr. Bittner says that nobody has a crystal ball for the province’s future. But she hopes the importance of planning and preparation is one takeaway from the “pandemic” election.

“We have much to learn from this. It is my hope that on a go-forward basis, we take political processes more seriously in the province.”

Terri Coles is a communications advisor with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. She can be reached at tcoles@mun.ca.

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'He's just checked out of politics': Kushner disappears from Trump's inner circle – CTV News

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As Donald Trump plotted his Conservative Political Action Conference appearance last week, and a broader, more-robust plan to return to politics as an omnipresent disruptor, one person was conspicuously absent from the confab.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, was notably not on the list of advisers assisting the former president. Kushner, who previously served as chief adviser-cum-micromanager with far-reaching responsibilities and had virtual carte blanche, has tapped out, say several people who worked closely with Kushner at the White House or are familiar with his thinking and told CNN on background in order to maintain relationships.

“Right now, he’s just checked out of politics,” says one person, echoing the mindset of Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, who is so over the political bubble she has told friends and colleagues of late to not utter anything to do with Washington.

Given Trump’s election loss and current out-of-power position, Kushner’s absence from the aftermath follows a pattern critics have previously pointed out: being present for the wins and MIA from the losses. A person with close ties to Kushner told CNN that Trump’s son-in-law is enjoying “some much needed time with his family,” and his retreat is unrelated to the ebb and flow of the former president’s popularity.

During the administration, Kushner was more than happy to speak on behalf of the moments that turned out well for the White House — but also conveniently skip the parts embroiled in turmoil.

As far back as 2017, when Trump’s health care plan floundered and failed, Kushner and his family were on the slopes of Aspen, Colorado. In 2018, they were vacationing in Florida amid the government shutdown, even though the White House insisted Kushner was actively leading negotiations. And in 2019, when Trump was under fire for multiple issues, from background checks to comments about Jews and Democrats, the couple was having downtime in Wyoming, something even Trump noted with a tweet of a photo of them on vacation: “Two incredible people. I can’t believe they’re not working (few work harder)!”

A Trump spokeswoman did not provide an on the record response to CNN’s request for comment.

It’s not clear, however, who is instigating this — at least for now — breakup. Some who have been in contact with Kushner place it at the feet of being done with his father-in-law’s antics. Sources closer to Trump say he’s angry with his son-in-law over the election loss.

TRUMP’S REGULARS, MINUS ONE

That Kushner has now developed anathema to his father-in-law’s political appetite is questionable in its timing, an indicator that Kushner again is putting space between his image and Trump’s, in the wake of the delusional flow of falsehoods after Election Day and the deadly Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Yet several people told CNN that Kushner is truly — this time — effectively done with Trump’s rhetoric.

Kushner and Ivanka Trump got out of their posh Washington rental home soon after Jan. 20, the last moving trucks rolling towards their new high-rise, beachside Miami rental departing within 24 hours of President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Another person familiar with Kushner’s new chapter, says he wants closure and a fresh start, one that doesn’t include advising his father-in-law on a daily basis.

Yet two other people who spoke with CNN indicated the schism was instigated by Trump, who has been telling those in his inner circle he is angry with Kushner.

Late last week, when Trump convened what he believes is his strongest political brain trust for a meeting to discuss his political future he did not include Kushner. The group looked at the 2022 midterms and, more and more likely, say people who have spoken to Trump of late, a presidential run in 2024.

Ensconced in Trump’s private quarters at Mar-a-Lago, his club/post-White House headquarters/home in Palm Beach, the advisers consisted in part of former campaign manager Bill Stepien, adviser Jason Miller, former White House social media director Dan Scavino, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and another former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who Kushner fired at Trump’s request last summer and replaced with Stepien.

On the table was a push to create a super PAC to raise money, as well as a broader discussion of who would do what as Trump determined where and when and to whom to dole his outsized influence within a fractured Republican Party.

For Kushner not to be present at a strategic roundtable struck many who know his deep involvement in every aspect of Trump’s political messaging as odd.

“That’s about as 180 a turn as he could ever make,” said a third person, who worked inside the Trump White House with Kushner. “This was a guy who for four years did everything on behalf of President Trump. He lived that job.”

Another former White House colleague expressed surprise at Kushner’s decision to walk away, adding there was nothing in the administration’s portfolio that Kushner didn’t “meddle” in, according to this person.

From domestic policy, foreign policy, staffing, speechwriting, national security, criminal justice reform, budget, COVID-19, Kushner had a hand in it all.

“He was an ‘expert’ in everything,” said the former colleague, who noted Kushner’s flitting from one topic to the next was often the bane of some senior West Wing staff’s existence.

DISTANCED RELATIONSHIP

But Kushner’s — and similarly Ivanka Trump’s — ability to manoeuvre in and out of topics, day-in and day-out, was due in part to being family.

“It’s not like Trump could fire his son-in-law, or give him a nickname and attack him on Twitter,” said the person who worked inside the Trump White House.

As such, Kushner was able to be a chief strategist and an influential voice for the then-president.

Not so much now.

Two of the people who spoke to CNN say Kushner’s relationship with Trump, son-in-law or no, has been fractured since Trump’s re-election loss.

Trump, they say, has at times in the last several weeks expressed to those close to him that he faults Kushner for losing.

A person who speaks with Kushner frequently strongly denied any contention between the two men, noting Kushner and Trump met for lunch Wednesday in Florida at Trump’s Doral property.

Kushner, however, would be a plausible surrogate, seeing it was he who orchestrated much of the administration’s response to, essentially, most things, from the economy to immigration reform and ultimately coronavirus — and who can forget Kushner’s pledge last April during an interview that the United States would be “really rocking again” by July?

“We know the boss isn’t going to blame himself” (for losing the election), said one source speaking to the nature of their relationship, highlighting Trump’s habitual avoidance of personal responsibility.

However, if it is Trump who is keeping Kushner at arm’s length, or vice versa, one thing is clear to those who have talked to Kushner in recent weeks: “He wants a break,” said a person familiar with his thinking. But the source predicted that after a cooling-off period, and if and when Trump decides to launch a 2024 campaign, Kushner would likely come back into the fold as an adviser.

For now, however, Kushner is more than willing to see Trump Jr. or even Parscale assume the role of Trump whisperer and loyal first lieutenant, though Kushner’s close associate said he keeps tabs on Stepien, Parscale and Miller, and speaks with them frequently.

Several of the people who spoke to CNN noted Kushner’s peripheral interests still include an ongoing focus on the Middle East, brokering peace deals and helping ensure they take hold.

He would also like to be part of advancing criminal justice reform, such as reviving parole in the federal prison system, something that was eliminated in 1984 and Kushner feels deserves reexamination.

“He is trying to be someone you would go to on the Republican side to put a deal together,” said the person familiar with Kushner’s potential career path.

Yet for the foreseeable future, don’t expect to spot Kushner among the former presidential advisers eagerly volunteering for a second tour.

“The drama of politics wore him down. Eventually, Trump wears everyone down,” the person said.

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