Posts Tagged ‘LeBron James’

Nike to air Kaepernick ad during ‘Thursday Night Football’

September 6, 2018

Nike will air its ad featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick during sporting events including the U.S. Open, MLB and the NFL’s opening telecast, “Thursday Night Football” this week, according to The New York Times.

The ad, called “Dream Crazy,” features Kaepernick and other sports stars such as tennis star Serena Williams and NBA star LeBron James, urging viewers to “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem to demonstrate against social injustices toward black men. He has remained unsigned for nearly two years.

A billboard on top of a Nike store features the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick at Union Square. Credit Eric Risberg/Associated Press

President Trump was quick to lead the charge against Kaepernick’s and subsequent NFL players’ protests, calling them unpatriotic and saying that NFL players should be fired and fined for such actions.

Trump recently attacked CBS and ESPN over their decisions not to broadcast the anthem. ESPN, however, has not aired the anthem in previous years.

The president on Wednesday slammed the NFL and Nike after Nike featured Kaepernick as the face of its latest ad campaign.

“Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!”

The ad led to a flurry of calls from conservatives to boycott Nike. The company’s stock dropped a little more than 3 percent on Tuesday following the ad’s release, and the decision to feature Kaepernick sparked protests among some customers who posted videos and photos of them destroying their Nike products to social media.


Nike’s ad with football player Colin Kaepernick creates controversy — Nike’s stock was down 2.5 percent on Tuesday

September 5, 2018

Sports giant Nike’s ad with American football player Colin Kaepernick is causing controversy on both sides of the political spectrum. The quarterback is the most prominent face of the “take a knee” protests.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, beard

Nike’s stock was down 2.5 percent on Tuesday after the company’s controversial new ad featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was unveiled on Monday.

Nike is just the latest sports brand to face boycott calls. Industry analysts said that their position could alienate some customers, while winning over others, but that such controversy often blows over quickly.

“Nike is not a stranger to backing sporting personalities who take views and act on them. Politicizing sport is likely to result in polarizing demographics,” said John Guy, an analyst at Mainfirst Bank in London.

Athletic clothing manufacturer Under Armour faced criticism last year after its chief executive made comments supporting Trump and Adidas was urged in May to cut its ties to rapper Kanye West after he described slavery as a choice and praised Trump.

Critics of Kaepernick, who have framed his protest as unpatriotic and disrespectful to the US military, took to Twitter to hit out at the Nike deal.

Some fans have burned Nike goods, with the hashtag #JustBurnIt (a play on Nike’s “Just Do It”) trending alongside #BoycottNike.

Country music singer John Rich posted a photo of a pair of slashed Nike sports socks.

“Our Soundman just cut the Nike swoosh off his socks,” Rich wrote on Twitter. “Get ready @Nike multiply that by the millions.”

One user going by the name Sean Clancy posted a video of burning Nike shoes, which was viewed more than 4 million times.

Sean Clancy@sclancy79

First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive?

Others however showed their support of Kaepernick.

“Colin Kaepernick drew our collective attention to the problem of continued racial injustice in America,” former CIA director John Brennan wrote on Twitter.

John O. Brennan


Colin Kaepernick drew our collective attention to the problem of continued racial injustice in America. He did so not to disrespect our flag but to give meaning to the words of the preamble of our Constitution—“in order to form a more perfect union.” Well done, Colin, well done.

Colin Kaepernick


Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt

View image on Twitter

Nike’s sponsorship deal with Kaepernick is liable to further advance the issue of the national anthem and player protests against police violence during the coming season, increasing pressure on the NFL to broker a solution.

In June, President Donald Trump canceled the visit of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House after several players indicated they would not attend.

NFL owners approved a new policyin May which made it mandatory for all players on the field to stand during the pre-match ritual of the US national anthem, albeit allowing them to stay in the locker room if they didn’t wish to take part.

However the new policy was shelved in July as the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to reopen dialogue to reach agreement on a new approach.

Controversy began in 2016

Kaepernick triggered a political firestorm for kneeling during the US national anthemin 2016 to protest racial injustice. He has not played in the NFL since early last year.

The new Nike ads, which were unveiled just days before the kick-off of the 2018 NFL season on Thursday, show a portrait of Kaepernick with the slogan: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Kaepernick posted the advert on his Twitter account followed by #JustDoIt.

Colin Kaepernick


Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.

ESPN has reported that Nike kept Kaepernick, who signed a sponsorship deal with the company in 2011, was on its payroll throughout the controversy of the past two years.

“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” said Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America.

The ad’s release comes just days after Kaepernick was cheered by spectators when he appeared alongside fellow player and activist Eric Reid at the US Open tennis tournament to watch Serena Williams on Friday.

Kaepernick’s protests on the football field have become a bitterly divisive issue amongst NFL fans after President Donald Trump reignited the controversy during a campaign rally in September last year.

Trump described players like Kaepernick who knelt for the anthem as “sons of bitches” who should be fired. The US president has repeated those criticisms frequently over the past year, even suggesting at one stage that protesting players “shouldn’t be in the country”.

av/msh (Reuters, AFP)


Serena Williams praises Colin Kaepernick’s new Nike ad campaign

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Says He Supports Colin Kaepernick (Is this good for Nike?) — Al Jazeera Loves It!

September 4, 2018

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took to Twitter on Monday, to lend support to anthem-protesting former quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

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Ahmadinejad wrote:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad


The season will start this week, unfortunately once again @Kaepernick7 is not on a NFL roster. Even though he is one of the best Quarterbacks in the league.

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Ahmadinejad served as Iran’s president from 2005-2013. During that time he ruthlessly suppressed all political opposition. Most notably in 2009, when he oversaw the murder and incarceration of thousands who protested his contested reelection.

Colin Kaepernick has not played football since the 2016 season, and even then, he wasn’t one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. In fact, Kaepernick lost his starting job to journeyman quarterback Blaine Gabbert just prior to the start of that season.

However, the former dictator of one of the leading terrorist states in the world, has a different take. A take that happens to be consistent with most left-wing sports media opinions.

So, apparently, while ESPN loses loses thousands of subscribers in the United States, it seems they have at least one loyal subscriber left in the Islamic Republic of Iran.



From Al-Jazeera

Athletes side with Kaepernick as Nike ‘Just Do It’ ad goes viral

NFL quarterback who sparked debate over race-based police brutality becomes new face of Nike’s ‘Just Do it’ ad campaign.

Athletes side with Kaepernick as Nike 'Just Do It' ad goes viral
Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned this NFL season, leading some to accuse the NFL of blacklisting him [Twitter/Colin Kaepernick]

Some of the biggest names in sports, entertainment and politics have taken to Twitter to show their support for civil rights activist and Black Lives Matter supporter Colin Kaepernick after the former American football player became the new face of Nike’s ‘Just Do it’ ad campaign.

Kaepernick, 30, who is currently without a team, sparked a wave of protests across the National Football League and other athletic events in 2016 after he started kneeling during the American national anthem to protest against police brutality against African Americans.

“Believe in something,” Nike’s new tagline read in a tweet posted by Kaepernick.

“Even if it means sacrificing everything”.

The tweet immediately went viral, garnering millions of interactions and the #Nike hashtag became a worldwide trending topic.

Kaepernick, who has not played football since 2017 after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers, has repeatedly been attacked by US President Donald Trump over his public stand, with Trump calling on NFL team owners to fire players like him.

Brushing aside the issue of racism, Trump attacked the protesting players last year, accusing them of showing “total disrespect of our heritage”.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, Get that son of a b**** off the field right now. Out! He’s fired”.

Kenney Stills, a wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins tweeted: “#IMWITHKAP”.

Kenny Stills


Colin Kaepernick


Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt

View image on Twitter

Kelvin Beachum, who plays for the New York Jets tweeted a raised fist emoji, which is commonly used to show support for African American and minority rights issues.

Kelvin Beachum



Colin Kaepernick


Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt

View image on Twitter

Russell Okung, an offensive tackler for the Los Angeles Chargers, wrote on Twitter: “Be like NIKE, don’t be like Papa Johns.”

Papa John’s courted controversy last year after weighing in on the national anthem protest.

The Daily Stormer, a white-supremacist website, published an article asking whether Papa John’s was the “official pizza of the alt-right”.

Russell Okung


Be like NIKE, don’t be like Papa Johns.

Samuel L Jackson, who has starred in hit films such as Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained and the Avengers franchise tweeted: “Oh s**t @Nike done stepped in it now!!! Sanctions tbd!!!”

Samuel L. Jackson


Oh shit @Nike done stepped in it now!!! Sanctions tbd!!!

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who’s been tweeting with greater frequency as of late, called Kaepernick “one of the best quarterbacks in the league”.

“The #NFL season will start this week, unfortunately once again @Kaepernick7 is not on a NFL roster,” he wrote. “Even though he is one of the best Quarterbacks in the league”.

Murtaza Mohammad Hussain


Really didn’t expect Wokemadinejad to become a thing.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad


The #NFL season will start this week, unfortunately once again @Kaepernick7 is not on a NFL roster. Even though he is one of the best Quarterbacks in the league.#ColinKaepernick #NFL

US Senator Ted Cruz used the tweet for political point-scoring and quote-tweeted the former anti-American president.

“When a radical anti-Semite, anti-American Iranian dictator emphatically agrees with you, maybe that’s a sign that Beto, the NFL, and Nike are all on the wrong side of the American people,” Cruz wrote.

Ted Cruz


US Senate candidate, TX

When a radical anti-Semite, anti-American Iranian dictator emphatically agrees with you, maybe that’s a sign that Beto, the NFL, and Nike are all on the wrong side of the American people….

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad


The #NFL season will start this week, unfortunately once again @Kaepernick7 is not on a NFL roster. Even though he is one of the best Quarterbacks in the league.#ColinKaepernick #NFL

Meanwhile, some people took to Twitter to protest Nike’s decision to pick Kaepernick.

Twitter user @Jamierodr10, who describes himself as a “lover of liberty” shared a video showing a pair of Nike shoes on fire.

“First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive?” he posted.

Sean Clancy@sclancy79

First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive?

Earlier this year, the NFL announced that it would impose fines on teams should their players choose to kneel in protest during the national anthem


Democrat Beto O’Rourke is darling of left in Texas

September 3, 2018

If elections were decided by viral videos and fawning media profiles, Democrat Beto O’Rourke would win Texas’ Senate race in a landslide.

Video of the candidate defending NFL players’ right to protest during the national anthem had been viewed by millions even before NBA star LeBron James called it a “must-watch.” Another of him thrashing through a Whataburger parking lot on a skateboard is almost as popular, increasing the onetime punk rocker’s already considerable street cred.

National magazines are suggesting he could be a Democratic vice-presidential pick in 2020 — or even a White House contender, ala a young Barack Obama. Sure, O’Rourke may lose to incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, the argument goes, but just staying competitive in Texas, which hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office in nearly a quarter century, would still further boost his political star.

The White House is taking notice. President Donald Trump tweeted that he plans to stage “a major rally” for Cruz in October. Help from the president was long unthinkable in a race that for months looked like a Cruz cakewalk.

O'Rourke bets national attention lifts him in Texas race

FILE – In this June 22, 2018, file photo, Beto O’Rourke, who is running for the U.S. Senate, speaks during the general session at the Texas Democratic Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. If Senate seats were decided by viral videos and fawning national media profiles, O’Rourke would win in a landslide.

The hype machine powering O’Rourke has brought in piles of campaign cash and generated excitement nationally. But it also risks eventual backlash. Voters have often punished candidates for getting too big for their political britches — especially if they haven’t won anything yet. O’Rourke need only look to his opponent for an example of a politician whose ambitions irked voters he needed.

Still, the Democrat seems eager to test a Trump-era theory that, with such an outsized personality in the White House, voters may no longer want their politicians to stay humble.

O’Rourke has largely welcomed the spotlight. His stance on anthem protests landed him an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ TV show this week. O’Rourke also hasn’t disavowed descriptions of himself as “Kennedy-esque,” given his boyish good looks. He livestreams constantly and, in March, when he appeared on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the crowd in Los Angeles cheered so much that the host crowed, “It’s like when the Beatles came to America.”

“You can’t control it,” O’Rourke spokesman Chris Evans said of the attention. He disputed the idea that national praise could hurt back home, saying it’s “hard to say we’re not focused on Texas” since O’Rourke just spent 34 days of the congressional summer recess campaigning without leaving the state.

O’Rourke himself has shrugged off questions about whether too much attention could create unrealistic expectations. “The whole thing is not something he’s talked about, really,” Evans said.

Some Texans think the campaign might want to, though.

“Most voters in Texas still don’t know who Beto O’Rourke is. If the first thing they know about him is he’s like Obama, then that’s going to turn off more voters than it attracts,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.

Ironically, O’Rourke could ask Cruz about this problem. He arrived in the Senate and immediately laid the groundwork for a presidential campaign that saw him finish second to Trump in the 2016 primary. Cruz then alienated much of his base by refusing to endorse Trump at that year’s Republican National Convention, and though he’s since embraced the president, some Texas conservatives say they’re still wary, seeing what happened at the convention as putting personal ambition over party.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has also run into issues with political ambition clashing with his day job, and just ask former North Carolina Democratic Sen. John Edwards, who was already fading before word of his affair and a child with his mistress broke, about how well being dubbed the second coming of Bill Clinton went.

Texas Democrats, meanwhile, have been down this road before. Wendy Davis staged a marathon state Legislature filibuster in the name of abortion rights, rocketed to national stardom and launched a 2014 gubernatorial bid. Like O’Rourke, Davis was a strong fundraiser and the toast of liberals from Hollywood to Brooklyn. Largely unable to define herself beyond abortion, which resonated nationally but not at home, Davis eventually lost by 20-plus points to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

Bob Radnich, a retiree who lives near the Texas-Mexico border and donned an Uncle Sam costume to hold up a “Stand with Wendy Davis” sign on a street corner in 2014, is now backing O’Rourke — but trying to keep realistic expectations.

“He’s a real star,” Radnich said. “But we have to get the people to vote.”

Cruz’s internal polling is starting to show a much tighter race, those close to his campaign say. But during Texas’ primary in March, when Democrats angered by Trump notched their highest mid-term primary turnout since 2002, Cruz still netted 1.3-plus million votes. O’Rourke got less than 650,000, and only about 1 million total Democratic Senate ballots were cast between him and two-little known primary opponents.

Even if O’Rourke wins over those Democratic primary voters who didn’t support him, he’s looking at a 300,000-plus vote deficit. And, the more stories written about O’Rourke, the more energized Republicans may be to turn out to vote. That’s what Cruz is counting on.

“In Texas, there are a lot more conservatives than liberals,” Cruz said following a recent campaign stop. “So, my task politically between now and Election Day is very simple, turn out conservatives.”

Cruz has tried to paint O’Rourke as the preferred candidate of non-Texans. But 68 percent of O’Rourke’s contributions during the Senate race have come from in-state donors compared to just 39 percent for Cruz, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

That feeds into O’Rourke’s promises to concentrate on representing Texas full-time and championing having visited all of its 254 counties during his campaign — in contrast to Cruz, who hit all 99 Iowa counties on his way to winning that state’s 2016 caucus.

Too much national hype, however, could make such promises sound hollow.

“If people perceive him as being an ambitious climber then they might think twice,” Rottinghaus said. “He looks like a politician instead of a grassroots-inspired movement, and that’s problematic for voters who want to invest in something different.”

Associated Press

Evidence of Abuse, Deaths in Xinjiang Camps Emerges

August 23, 2018

An investigative report by Eva Dou, Jeremy Page, and Josh Chin of the Wall Street Journal has found evidence that extralegal political re-education camps in  have expanded rapidly in recent months. Meanwhile, detainees have given accounts of abuse while family members have reported deaths of their loved ones in the camps.

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Experts have estimated that over a million people, from the Uyghur minority as well as other Muslim ethnic groups in China, have been held in camps where they are reportedly indoctrinated to show loyalty to the Communist Party and to disavow any religious beliefs. From the WSJ report:

Satellite images reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and a specialist in photo analysis show that camps have been growing. Construction work has been carried out on some within the past two weeks, including at one near the western city of Kashgar that has doubled in size since Journal reporters visited in November.

The full extent of the internment program was long obscured because many Uighurs feared speaking out. Now more are recounting experiences, including six former inmates interviewed by the Journal who described how they or other detainees had been bound to chairs and deprived of adequate food.

“They would also tell us about religion, saying there is no such thing as religion, why do you believe in religion, there is no God,” said Ablikim, a 22-year-old Uighur former inmate who asked to be identified only by his first name.

The Journal also spoke to three dozen relatives of detainees, five of whom reported that family members had died in camps or soon after their release. Many said they had struggled to determine where their relatives were being held and the state of their health. [Source]

In a Twitter thread, Chin explains how he and his colleagues reported on the camps despite numerous obstacles.

An article by Akbar Shahid Ahmed in the Huffington Post looks at the increased willingness by exiled Uyghurs and others to speak up about the existence of the camps and how they get the word out despite tight restrictions on communicating with people in Xinjiang.

The Chinese government has denied any abuse or persecution has taken place in the camps, calling them “vocation centers.” In a blog post, Jeremy Daum of China Law Translate explores the legality of such centers, which the government claims are being used as education centers for criminals guilty of minor crimes. But Daum argues that there is no clear legal basis for holding such people longer than 15 days and without a trial:

As discussed above, the law is quite direct in saying when  is called for, and there is no mention of detention in the discussion of corrective mentoring for minor offenses. Even for more serious offenders, who were given court ordered criminal punishments, education is mentioned only as something to be carried out during their sentence, not as additional grounds for detention. The Xinjiang Regulation on De-extremification similarly use ‘education’ as the lowest form of punishment, for situations not even meriting administrative punishments, but it would defy logic to read this as authorizing longer detention than the 15 days maximum authorized for the more serious violations.[vi]

The exception to this rule is ‘educational placement’ [安置教育]. [vii] Educational placement is one of the Counter-terrorism Law’s most troubling features, and does provide for potentially indefinite detention. Its application is limited, however, to those who are sentenced by a court to a prison term for a terrorism crime, have served that sentence, and the court has then found that they are still too dangerous to release. It is possible that some of the new prison-like educational centers are intended for those in educational-placement, but their size would then suggest that such placements were the norm following criminal sentences. [Source]

In a post for the CESS Blog, Rachel Harris of SOAS, University of London, puts the existence of re-education camps in the context of Beijing’s broader crackdown on religious expression in Xinjiang and efforts to forcibly assimilate Uyghur culture and Muslim religious practices into mainstream Han society:

Testimonies hint at the psychological trauma inflicted on detainees. Reports also attest to the trauma suffered by the wider Uyghur population, both within Xinjiang and in the diaspora. We know that  within Xinjiang are struggling to maintain daily life with over 10% of the workforce in detention. Many children have been sent to state orphanages because both their parents have been detained.  living outside Xinjiang are suffering from crippling anxiety and guilt: they risk detention for their relatives if they try to contact them, and they fear worse consequences for their detained relatives if they speak out.

Individuals known to have been detained

  • Professional football player Erfan Hezim detained in 2017
  • Prominent religious scholar Muhammad Salih Hajim, 82, died in custody, January 2018
  • Xinjiang University President Tashpolat Teyip detained in 2017, accused as a “two-faced” official, insufficiently loyal to the state
  • Xinjiang University Professor Rahile Dawut detained in 2017, possibly in connection with her ethnographic research on Uyghur religious culture
  • Uyghur writer and Xinjiang Normal University Professor Abduqadir Jalaleddin, detained in January 2018
  • Elenur Eqilahun, detained in 2017, possibly for receiving calls from her daughter who is studying abroad
  • Pop star Ablajan Ayup, detained in February 2018, possibly for singing about Uyghur language education
  • Halmurat Ghopur, Vice Provost of Xinjiang Medical Institute, detained in 2017for exhibiting “nationalistic tendencies.”

This short list of prominent Uyghur intellectuals, artists and athletes who we know have been detained is only the tip of the iceberg, but it demonstrates that the scope of the campaign has gone well beyond the religious sphere. Current policies seek to quarantine Uyghurs from any foreign contacts, they target individuals who have promoted Uyghur language or culture, and people who resist, or are insufficiently enthusiastic about, the campaign. It suggests that the anti-“terror” campaign is being used as part of a wider set of policies – including the so-called “bilingual education” policy which has banned the use of Uyghur language in schools and higher education – which are designed to break down ethnic identity and affiliation, and absorb minority nationalities into the wider Chinese nation (zhonghua minzu).

It also suggests that Turkic-speaking Muslim minority peoples are now collectively regarded as a threat to China’s national security. As one official from Kashgar reportedlysaid at a public meeting, “you can’t uproot all the weeds hidden among the crops in the field one by one – you need to spray chemicals to kill them all; re-educating these people is like spraying chemicals on the crops …  that is why it is a general re-education, not limited to a few people.” [Source]

Among the Uyghur intellectuals who have reportedly been detained is Professor Rahile Dawut, a scholar of Uyghur religious and cultural traditions who went missing last December after telling friends she was planning to travel to Beijing from Urumqi, where she taught. Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy report for The New York Times:

But until recently, Professor Dawut’s work was welcomed by Chinese bureaucrats, as evidenced by grants and support she received from the Ministry of Culture. She had earned an international reputation as an expert on Uighur shrines, folklore, music and crafts neglected by previous generations of scholars.

“I was deeply drawn to this vivid, lively folk culture and customs, so different from the accounts in textbooks,” she said in an interview with a Chinese art newspaper in 2011. “Above all, we’re preserving and documenting this folk cultural heritage not so that it can lie in archives or serve as museum exhibits, but so it can be returned to the people.”

While Chinese policymakers worried that Uighurs were increasingly drawn to radical forms of Islam from the Middle East, Professor Dawut’s work portrayed Uighur heritage as more diverse and tolerant, shaped by Sufi spiritual traditions anathema to modern-day extremists. In 2014, she told The New York Times that she worried about Uighur women drawn to conservative Islam.

[…] “The Chinese government, after arresting Uighur government officials, Uighur rich people, they’ve begun to arrest Uighur intellectuals,” Tahir Imin, a former student of Professor Dawut, said from Washington, where he lives. “Right now I can tell you more than 20 names, all prominent Uighur intellectuals.” [Source]

Nick Holdstock, who knows Rahile Dawut, wrote about her disappearance for the London Review of Books, concluding, “Her disappearance is part of a strategy, long in gestation, to eradicate all forms of dissent in Xinjiang by either brainwashing or intimidation.” Others who have reportedly been detained include philanthropist Ablimit Hoshur Halis Haji, who had set up an education fund to help elite Uyghur students study abroad. In a 2015 interview with the New York Review of Books after Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life imprisonment for “separatism,” writer Wang Lixiong explained why he thought Chinese authorities were targeting moderate Uyghurs like him, who did not advocate independence or engage in terrorist acts:

We all thought he wouldn’t be in trouble. But the only conclusion is dark: it’s that they don’t want moderate Uighurs. Because if you have moderate Uighurs, then why aren’t you talking to them? So they wanted to get rid of him and then you can say to the West that there are no moderates and we’re fighting terrorists. [Source]

While many of those detained have ties to Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries bordering China, neighboring governments have done little to speak out against the camps and restrictive policies in Xinjiang. Gene A. Bunin reports for Foreign Policy:

Though people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan all demand the reunification of their families and the safety of relatives in Xinjiang, their governments, despite not openly supporting China’s internal policies, still find themselves numb before an overwhelmingly powerful neighbor.

The numbness is understandable— too much of these countries’ future development depends on China. Kazakhstan, owing to its geographical location, seeks to benefit from being a crucial partner on the Belt and Road Initiative’s New Eurasian Land Bridge, a series of rail links set to traverse Xinjiang and Kazakhstan, cross through Russia, and terminate in Europe. The analogue for Pakistan is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $62 billion infrastructure project that is predicted to create hundreds of thousands of jobs while speeding up the country’s growth. For Kyrgyzstan, it’s less about ambitious projects and more about loans and investment—in addition to owning oil refineries, plants, and mines in the country, China also owns about half of its debt. Dependent on remittances and unable to generate enough income for investment, Kyrgyzstan is forced to borrow if it wants to maintain its growth.

However, despite cooperation from both governments and China-facing entrepreneurs in these Muslim-majority countries, the fact that the Chinese government is keeping as many as a million of its own  in concentration camps has not made for smooth partnerships. Of the three countries, Kazakhstan is the one where things have been the rockiest by far, as thousands of people—many of them Chinese “Oralman,” or ethnic  from China—have seen their relatives in Xinjiang detained over the past year and a half, in many cases for such simple “transgressions” as keeping in touch with them via WhatsApp, a chat client that is now banned in China. [Source]

Image result for LeBron James, photos

Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association has been operating a training camp in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region, since 2016. In Slate, Isaac Stone Fish argues that the NBA’s presence helps “whitewash a network of concentration camps,” and goes against league members’ stated support for racial justice in the U.S.:

NBA stars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have condemned police violence and racism in the United States, while players and executives have protested the Trump administration’s separation of immigrant children from their parents. According to his LinkedIn page, the NBA executive George Land oversees the Xinjiang training center. On Twitter, Land’s most recent activity is a retweet of the MSNBC host Chris Hayes condemning the U.S. separation of thousands of mothers from their children. But what about Xinjiang? Thousands of Uighur children are reportedly languishing in orphanages, awaiting their parents’ release from the concentration camps. The NBA didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment for this story. [Source]


Iran’s Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Takes Sides in Trump-LeBron James Beef — He’s “Tanned, Rested and Ready”

August 5, 2018

Iran’s former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s quest to return to the spotlight now includes weighing in on a spat between President Donald Trump and basketball star LeBron James.


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Iran’s Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Tanned, rested and ready.

Ahmadinejad used Twitter — which is banned in Iran — to write Sunday: “In my opinion everyone especially a President should love all, and not differentiate between them.” He added that he loved NBA greats James and Michael Jordan, as well as former Denver Nuggets player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

Trump wrote a tweet Friday night questioning James’ intelligence after he gave an interview to CNN and criticized the American president.

It’s not clear what prompted Ahmadinejad, who was blocked from running in last year’s presidential election. While president, he famously questioned the Holocaust and claimed there were no gays or lesbians in Iran.


Peace and Freedom Note: Ahmadinejad, the founder of Iran’s nuclear program, is letting Iranians know he is awake and engaged and ready to serve Iran again should the Supreme Leader and/or Rouhani suddenly become “unavailable.”

Trump Says U.S. Now Has the Upper Hand on China in Tariff Battle (It seems we’ll find out…)

August 5, 2018

President Donald Trump defended his use of tariffs that have inflamed tensions with China and Europe, telling an audience of diehard supporters on Saturday that playing hardball on trade is “my thing.”

“We have really rebuilt China, and it’s time that we rebuild our own country now,” Trump said Saturday during about an hour of free-wheeling remarks at a rally outside Columbus, Ohio. He added that Chinese stocks are down, weakening that nation’s bargaining power in the escalating trade war.


PHOTO: President Donald Trump waves to the cheering crowd as he arrives to speak at a rally at Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center, Ohio, August 4, 2018.Carolyn Kaster/AP
President Donald Trump waves to the cheering crowd as he arrives to speak at a rally at Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center, Ohio, August 4, 2018.

Hours before the rally, Trump posted a string of tweets on the issue, saying the U.S. market is “stronger than ever,” while the Chinese market “has dropped 27% in last 4 months, and they are talking to us.”

It was unclear which measure of Chinese stocks Trump was referring to. The U.S. S&P 500 index, a broad measure of major U.S. companies, has yet to regain highs made in January, just before the escalation of trade tensions initiated by the U.S.

“Tariffs are working far better than anyone ever anticipated” and would make the U.S. “much richer than it is today,” the president tweeted.

At the rally, Trump added that the Europeans are “dying to make a deal.”

Trump went to Lewis Center, Ohio, to stump for Troy Balderson. The Republican state senator is facing an unexpectedly close contest against Democrat Danny O’Connor in an Aug. 7 special election for the congressional seat vacated earlier this year by Representative Pat Tiberi.

In 2016, Trump carried Ohio’s 12th House district, but the current House race is rated as a toss-up in a seat Republicans have held for more than three decades. Whether Trump can help Balderson may be seen as another signal of how likely Democrats are to take control of the House of Representatives in November.

Steel Industry

In a nod to the Ohio economy, Trump said Saturday on Twitter that tariffs “have had a tremendous impact on our Steel Industry.” The president has said several times in the past two months, without evidence, that U.S. Steel plans to open six or seven new steel mills. He talked about steel at some length during the rally, saying the industry is making “one of the biggest comebacks.”

The Ohio stop was Trump’s third political rally in the past week, following stops in Tampa, Florida, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The president is expected to add additional events, one or more per week, through Labor Day.

The events give Trump a chance to frame on his own terms his much-debated moves on trade, foreign policy, media-bashing and interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And that may be a welcome distraction in a week when headlines were dominated by the start of the trial of his one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort on fraud charges connected to his work for Russians and Ukrainians.

Demonizing Critics

The rallies are also a venue for Trump to demonize high-profile critics whom he believes his political base also resents, including the media, Congressional Democratic leaders, and various celebrities.

On the eve of Saturday’s event, Trump took to Twitter to question the intelligence of basketball great LeBron James, who’s been critical of the president. James, 33, who left the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end last season to join the Los Angeles Lakers, was in the news this week for using his fortune and fame to launch a school for at-risk youth in his Ohio home town.

Trump didn’t talk about James at the rally, though. Earlier, a spokeswoman for Melania Trump said the first lady was open to visiting James’s new school and that the NBA star is “working to do good things.”

This week’s trio of rallies also underscores two tests this year’s midterm elections present for Trump: whether his enduring popularity with Republicans in swing states he won in 2016 can transfer to down-ballot candidates by driving turnout. And, conversely, whether a backlash to his administration energizes Democratic voters in November.

In the Ohio special election, Balderson’s rival, O’Connor, is 31 with little political experience, but has sought to appeal to the center, focusing on economic issues and keeping his distance from the top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. A similar strategy helped Democratic political newcomer Conor Lamb win a House seat in Pennsylvania in April.


Beijing is ‘fully prepared and will have to retaliate to defend national dignity and the people’s interests’

See also:

Xi Jinping sees some pushback against his iron-fisted rule


Cracks appear in ‘invincible’ Xi Jinping’s authority over China

Melania Trump backs LeBron James after Trump insults — Ivanka Reminds Dad on Immigration: “I am the daughter of an immigrant.”

August 5, 2018
From left to right: Donald Trump, Melania Trump, LeBron JamesImage copyrightAFP/GETTY

US First Lady Melania Trump has backed basketball player LeBron James, hours after her husband made insulting remarks about him on Twitter.

James had said in an interview that Mr Trump was divisive and had emboldened racists.

In response, Mr Trump questioned James’ intelligence, saying it was not easy to make the NBA player “look smart”.

However, Mrs Trump’s spokeswoman said James was “working to do good things” with a school in his Ohio hometown.

She said Mrs Trump wanted “to have an open dialogue about issues facing children”.

Earlier this week, James told CNN during an interview with Don Lemon that sport had offered him the opportunity to meet people of different backgrounds and race.

“Sports has never been something that divides people. It’s always been something that brings someone together,” he said.

“He [Mr Trump] is dividing us and what I noticed over the last few months is that he’s kinda used sport to divide us and that’s something I can’t relate to, because I know that sport was the first time I was ever around someone white.”

He also argued that Mr Trump’s actions had encouraged racists, saying: “I think [racism’s] always been there. But I think the president in charge now has given people – they don’t care now, they throw it to your face.”

On Saturday, the president responded on Twitter by saying: “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon.

“He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”

Mr Trump also suggested that he prefers NBA legend Michael Jordan over the LA Lakers star.

The president’s endorsement of basketball star Michael Jordan was perhaps a reference to the long-standing debate over whether Jordan or James is the better all-time player.

However, Jordan also expressed support for James. He told media outlets through his spokesperson: “I support L.J. [LeBron James]. He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”

BBC North America reporter Anthony Zurcher suggests the first lady’s statement contains veiled criticism of her husband’s tweet.

Presentational white space

Mr Trump has taken a harsh stance on the ongoing debate over players in the National Football League (NFL) who refuse to stand for the national anthem in protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

He has repeatedly said that anyone who kneels during the anthem should be fired.

During the interview, James also discussed a new school he has opened for underprivileged children in his home town of Akron, Ohio, which offers free meals and bikes to students, as well as job placement assistance for parents and an on-site food bank.

Interviewer Don Lemon criticised Mr Trump’s tweet, and responded by referring to the separation of child migrants from their parents: “Who’s the real dummy? A man who puts kids in classrooms or one who puts kids in cages?”

BBC News



Ivanka Trump said Thursday that her father’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents was a low point in his presidency and that she is “vehemently” against it.

“That was a low point for me…. I feel very strongly about that, and I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children,” she said during an Axios interview.“I think immigration is incredibly complex as a topic; illegal immigration is incredibly complicated. I am a daughter of an immigrant.”

The first daughter, did, however, hedge her views while trying to explain her father’s policy that led to forcibly removing nearly 3,000 children from their parents.

“We have to be very careful about incentivizing behavior that puts children at risk of being trafficked, at risk of entering this country with coyotes or making an incredibly dangerous journey alone,” she said. “These are not easy issues, these are incredibly difficult issues, and like the rest of the country, I experience them in a very emotional way.”

The White House senior adviser further distanced herself from her father when defending the news media and rebutting the president’s attacks. “I’ve certainly received my fair share of reporting on me personally that I know not to be fully accurate,” she said. “So I’ve had some sensitivity around why people have concerns and gripe, especially when they feel targeted. But, no, I do not feel that the media is the enemy of the people.”

President Donald Trump tweeted in July on his way to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin that “much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people.”

Ivanka stayed quiet when asked about the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. But she did say that she has not spoken to special counsel Robert Mueller or his team and that she had no prior knowledge of the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Trump taunts LeBron James on Twitter: ‘I Like Mike’

August 4, 2018

President Trump slammed frequent critic and basketball superstar LeBron James late Friday on Twitter — and threw in a cryptic apparent endorsement of fellow icon of the sport Michael Jordan.

“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, [CNN anchor] Don Lemon,” Trump tweeted. “He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”

James — who once said that Trump doesn’t “give a f–k about people” — is considered by many the greatest player in the sport’s history, rivaled by Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, suggesting that the tweet’s final line was another shot at LeBron.

The tagline of a famous 90s Gatorade commercial featuring Jordan urged viewers to “Be Like Mike.”

Twitter users chimed in with their takes on the line.

“I hate that Trump tweet about LeBron so much but I’m still laughing at the ‘I like Mike’ part,” said user @BrettRasdall. “Had to get his GOAT [greatest of all time] take in like everybody else.”

User @thatchriswalker posted, “Weird, Mike doesn’t seem to like you,” linking to a statement Jordan made supporting NBA players’ rights to protest against Trump’s policies.


Trump blasts Hillary for appearing onstage with Jay-Z after the rapper drops F-bombs and N-words during concert rally

November 5, 2016

  • Donald Trump clobbered Hillary Clinton on Saturday morning for appearing with Jay-Z in Cleveland
  • The rapper dropped one F-bomb and N-word after another, and then Hillary embraced him onstage
  • Clinton has been openly critical of Trump’s ‘tone’ and the ‘lewd’ language he has used in the past
  • ‘I tell you what: I’ve never said what he said – in my life!’ Trump declared in Tampa, Florida
  • Clinton held her campaign rally with Jay-Z and Beyoncé, drawing 10,000 people with free tickets
  • Many of them exited before Clinton spoke, and Trump drew a larger crowd by himself in Pennsylvania
  • He told a crowd in the town of Hershey: ‘I’m here all by myself… No guitar, no piano, no nothing’  
  • See more news on the 2016 U.S. election as Trump mocks Clinton for appearing on stage with Jay Z

Donald Trump mocked Hillary Clinton on Saturday for appearing alongside Jay-Z on a Cleveland, Ohio concert stage after the music superstar dropped F-bombs and rapped with N-word after N-word.

‘I actually like Jay-Z. But you know, the language last night! Ohhh! Ooooh!’ Trump said in Tampa, Florida. ‘Maybe I’ll just try it. Should I use that language? Can you imagine if I said that?’

‘So he used every word in the book,’ the Republican presidential nominee fumed. ‘I won’t even use the initials, because I’d get in trouble. It’ll get me in trouble. He used every word in the book last night.’

‘I tell you what: I’ve never said what he said – in my life!’

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Donald Trump has mocked Hillary Clinton for her campaign's decision to hold an event with Jay-Z and Beyonce on Friday night

Donald Trump has mocked Hillary Clinton for her campaign’s decision to hold an event with Jay-Z and Beyonce on Friday night

Jay Z was one of the headline acts for the Democratic presidential candidate's big musical night in Ohio 

Jay Z was one of the headline acts for the Democratic presidential candidate’s big musical night in Ohio

Beyonce, Hillary and Jay Z stand on stage during a massive Clinton campaign rally in Cleveland on Friday night

The rapper’s repertoire Friday night included his hit ‘F**kWithMeYouKnowIGotIt.’

He also performed a song called ‘Jigga My N***a,’ including a line that declared: ‘[I’m] Jay-Z, motherf***er!’

As he took the stage, a PA announcer blared: ‘You’re tuned into the motherf**king greatest!’

One portion of his rap included the lyrics: ‘If you feelin’ like a pimp n***a, go and brush your shoulders off.’

‘Ladies is pimps too, go and brush your shoulders off. N***a is crazy, baby, don’t forget that boy told you. Get that dirt off your shoulders.’

After telling the audience that ‘we’re stronger together,’ echoing Clinton’s campaign slogan, he called her presidential bid ‘historic – this is a moment in time.

The Democratic candidate carried on her use of celebrity endorsements with just four days to go until the election 

The Democratic candidate carried on her use of celebrity endorsements with just four days to go until the election

'We don't need Jay-Z to fill up arenas. We do it the old-fashioned way, folks,' Trump said to his supporters on Saturday morning

‘We don’t need Jay-Z to fill up arenas. We do it the old-fashioned way, folks,’ Trump said to his supporters on Saturday morning

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in the Special Events Center on the Florida State Fairgrounds

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in the Special Events Center on the Florida State Fairgrounds

Then minutes later he shifted gears and rapped,  ‘I don’t f**k with you. You little stupid-a** b***h, I ain’t f**kin’ with you.’

Jay-Z said onstage after he was done performing: ‘Ohio, we are on the doorstep of history. I am here tonight because respect matters. Respect matters to me.’

Trump also mocked Clinton on Saturday morning for drawing a smaller crowd than his own on Friday night, despite having both Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé at her side.

The trio attracted 10,000 people – many of whom filed out after the concert and before the Democratic nominee took the stage.

‘We don’t need Jay-Z to fill up arenas. We do it the old-fashioned way, folks,’ Trump said. ‘We fill it up because you love what we’re saying and you want to make America great again.’

‘Ohio we are on the doorstep of history,’ said Jay Z after the show. ‘I am here tonight because respect matters. Respect matters to me’

‘Ohio we are on the doorstep of history,’ said Jay Z after the show. ‘I am here tonight because respect matters. Respect matters to me’

Beyonce sported an 'I'm With Her' t-shirt as the trio spoke back stage before the concert 

Beyonce sported an ‘I’m With Her’ t-shirt as the trio spoke back stage before the concert

They cracked a laugh at one of Clinton's jokes as they prepared to take the stage in the key battleground state of Ohio 

They cracked a laugh at one of Clinton’s jokes as they prepared to take the stage in the key battleground state of Ohio

As Clinton was trying to rally Ohioans with star power, Trump attracted a larger crowd on his own in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The local fire department estimated Trump’s crowd at 11,500. Reports from outside describe an additional 3,000 people who arrived too late to get through Secret Service screening in time to hear the rally.

Trump, as he frequently does, inflated his crowd-count for dramatic effect.

In Hershey, Pennsylvania last night we had an arena. We had 27,000 people show up!’ he said.

Whatever the real number was, Trump gloated that his audience was bigger that Clinton’s

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Saturday

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Saturday

Donald Trump lifts up a baby as kisses it during a campaign stop in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday November 5

Donald Trump lifts up a baby as kisses it during a campaign stop in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday November 5

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