Lynx star Maya Moore to skip ‘19 WNBA season
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 5
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore has decided to skip the upcoming WNBA season, seeking more time to devote to her family and her faith.
Moore announced Tuesday on The Players’ Tribune website that she’ll sit out in 2019. She already had taken the fall and winter off from international competition. The five-time first-team All-WNBA honoree has helped the Lynx win four championships since her rookie year, 2011.
“The success that I’ve been a part of in basketball truly blows my mind every time I think about it,” Moore said in her post. “But the main way I measure success in life is something I don’t often get to emphasize explicitly through pro ball.”
Raised by a single mother with strong Christian beliefs, Moore has spoken often about her desire for a well-rounded life steered by biblical principles. She quoted from scripture in her brief essay and, without citing specifics, said she plans to invest time in “some ministry dreams that have been stirring in my heart for many years.”
Reforming the justice system has been a particular passion of hers, including a personal interest she has taken in the case of Jonathan Irons , who was imprisoned in Missouri in 1997 by what his supporters contend was a wrongful burglary conviction at age 16.
“I’m sure this year will be hard in ways that I don’t even know yet, but it will also be rewarding in ways I’ve yet to see, too,” Moore wrote. “I’m thankful to my Lynx family and others close to me who have been walking with me during this shift, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Last season was only the second time since Moore was drafted first overall that the Lynx didn’t reach the WNBA Finals. Moore was eighth in the league in minutes and seventh in points in 2018. She has missed one game in eight seasons, with career averages of 18.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
“We support her in this exploration and will continue to provide her the love and care she has always known from her Lynx family,” general manager and head coach Cheryl Reeve said in a statement distributed by the team.
Moore, who went to high school in the Atlanta area she now calls home, was given the franchise tag last month by the Lynx, preventing her from becoming a free agent. Hours before announcing her decision to sit out, Moore signed a contract with the Lynx on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old, who won the WNBA Most Valuable Player award in 2014, expressed her fatigue — and her eagerness for some extended rest — near the end of the 2018 season, which saw the Lynx ousted in the first round of the playoffs. The league compressed the 34-game schedule by three weeks from the 2017 slate.
Moore was the top vote-getter for the All-Star game last summer in Minnesota, but she passed on the team captain responsibility that would have required her to draft from the 22-player pool. Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks took her place, joining Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics in assembling the sides. Moore had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the exhibition to earn her third straight All-Star Game MVP award.
Moore also opted out of the Women’s Basketball World Cup, the first major event she wasn’t on the U.S. national team for since the 2008 Summer Olympics, which took place before the start of her sophomore season at powerhouse Connecticut.
The Lynx, too, are in flux following the retirement of five-time All-Star point guard Lindsay Whalen, who became coach at her alma mater, Minnesota. They start their season May 25 against Chicago.
Cubs family patriarch apologizes for racist emails
Wednesday, February 6
CHICAGO (AP) — The patriarch of the family behind the Chicago Cubs has apologized after an online media outlet published emails in which he took part in racist comments and conspiracy theories.
Some of the emails Splinter News published Monday featured Joe Ricketts making Islamophobic comments, such as “Islam is a cult and not a religion.” Others included conspiracies about former President Barack Obama’s birthplace and education.
Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, apologized for the emails.
“Sometimes I received emails that I should have condemned. Other times I’ve said things that don’t reflect my value system,” the 77-year-old Ricketts said. “I strongly believe that bigoted ideas are wrong.”
Joe Ricketts and two of his sons, Pete Ricketts and Todd Ricketts, have long been influential figures in conservative politics. Pete Ricketts, who is the Republican governor of Nebraska, can be seen cautioning his father in some of the emails.
“My father said he deeply regrets and apologizes for some of the exchanges in his emails,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said in an email to The Associated Press.
Cubs’ Chairman Tom Ricketts issued a separate statement saying his father’s emails don’t reflect the values of the Cubs.
“We are aware of the racially insensitive emails in my father’s account that were published by an online media outlet,” he said. “Let me be clear: the language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society.”
Joe Ricketts sold 34 million shares of TD Ameritrade to help purchase the Cubs in 2009. Tom Ricketts said in the statement that his father isn’t involved in the Cubs’ operations.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has long been a critic of Joe Ricketts, also condemned the emails.
“The ignorance and intolerance he has espoused are not welcome in Chicago,” he said.
Emanuel pulled a $150 million public-funding package for renovations at Wrigley Field — the home of the Cubs — after news of plans for an anti-Obama attack ad that was linked to a Super PAC funded by Joe Ricketts.
Red carpet nixed after Liam Neeson reveals racist thoughts
Wednesday, February 6
NEW YORK (AP) — The red carpet for the premiere of Liam Neeson’s latest film was canceled Tuesday, a day after a British newspaper published an interview in which the actor discussed wanting to kill a random black person nearly 40 years ago when a close friend told him she had been raped by a black man.
Organizers of the New York premiere of “Cold Pursuit” said they were cancelling interviews and photo opportunities for the film hours after Neeson appeared on “Good Morning America” to explain his past racist thoughts. He told interviewer Robin Roberts he is not a racist and moved past his desire for violence after seeking help from a priest and from friends.
Neeson said in an interview published Monday by The Independent that after learning his friend’s attacker was black, he “went up and down areas with a cosh (stick or truncheon)” hoping a black person “would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”
“It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that,” Neeson said.
Neeson told Roberts he had asked about the race of the attacker, along with other descriptive characteristics. He said Tuesday the topic came up because the interviewer asked him about how he tapped into the feelings of revenge that he displays in “Cold Pursuit,” which tells the story of a father who seeks violent revenge for his son’s death.
“We all pretend we’re kind of politically correct,” Neeson, who grew up in Northern Ireland, told Roberts. “I mean, in this country, it’s the same in my own country too, you sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry, and it’s there.”
African-Americans’ economic setbacks from the Great Recession are ongoing – and could be repeated
February 5, 2019
Author: Vincent Adejumo, Lecturer of African American Studies, University of Florida
Disclosure statement: Vincent Adejumo does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: University of Florida provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
The financial crisis of 2009, the worst since the Great Depression, was hard on all Americans. But arguably no group felt its sting more than African-Americans, who were already the most economically and financially vulnerable segment of the population going into it.
Even today, a decade since the Great Recession hit, blacks still haven’t fully recovered and remain in a precarious financial condition. What’s worse, Wall Street and policymakers are beginning to worry another downturn may be on the horizon.
I teach a class at the University of Florida called “Black Wall Street,” in which we explore the issue of capitalism as it pertains to African-Americans and examine historical data on income and wealth. In a nutshell, the numbers show blacks are woefully behind other groups and may never emerge from their rut if political leaders don’t do something about it soon.
‘He merely exists’
The notion that blacks are especially prone to financial instability in the U.S. economy is hardly a new revelation.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for example, often highlighted the particular plight of African-Americans in his crusade for civil rights. In 1967, during a speech in Harlem, he said, “If a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists.”
The data before the Great Recession of 2008-2009 tell a stark story. In 2007, the average black family earned US$55,265, just 64 percent of a white, non-Hispanic household income of $86,732. For the poorest fifth of African-American families, the situation is even worse. They earned just 43 percent of the income of their white peers in 2005.
Furthermore, more than 20 percent of African-Americans earned less than $15,000 a year in 2008, nearly or more than double that of whites, Asians and Hispanics.
African-Americans are also far more likely to be unemployed. In the years before the Great Recession hit in 2008, for example, the jobless rate among blacks was typically around 10 percent, more than double what it was for whites.
Enter the Great Recession
Of course, the financial crisis was hard on everyone.
Millions not only lost their jobs but also had to contend with the prospect of defaulting on student loans and unpaid credit card debt, and even foreclosure on their homes.
And yet again, the Great Recession hammered blacks harder than other Americans because of their financial vulnerability.
The unemployment rate, for example, peaked at 10 percent in 2009 for all Americans. For African-Americans, it exceeded 16 percent – compared with a little under 9 percent for whites.
African-American family incomes also suffered more than whites’. The average black household earned $50,654 in 2010, 61 percent of a white family.
And even today, although black incomes have recovered, African-Americans are still making only 63 percent of what whites earn. Coupled with the net worth and homeownership figures not recovering and even regressed since the recession officially ended, it means that blacks are still vulnerable to future economic downturns.
In 2016, an African-American household had an average net worth of just $138,200, compared with $933,700 for a white family. This number is particularly high due to the fact that the vast majority of American billionaires are white.
This can be partly explained by a sharp difference in the rate of homeownership – one of the key pathways to secure, long-term financial stability. For blacks, it’s just 42 percent – down from a high of 48 percent in 2004 – compared with 73 percent for whites.
In addition, blacks tend to own less valuable homes worth just $94,400 on average, versus $215,800 for whites.
As was the case during past recessions, houses with the least amount of equity and worth are ripe for foreclosure and owners of these houses have less opportunity to use their home as collateral in an emergency.
This lack of capital also forces African-Americans to incur more credit card debt than whites. And so even the slightest emergency in an economic downturn would result in a weakened ability to meet financial obligations.
But beyond income and wealth, if you look at post-secondary education attainment, business and enterprise development, rates of divorce, single parent-headed households and health disparities, you’ll see the same picture of African-Americans being left behind.
If these trends continue, the median wealth of black households – as opposed to the average or mean figures mentioned above – would fall from $1,700 as of 2013 to zero by 2053. For whites, median wealth is forecast to climb from $116,000 to $137,000.
I believe the central link tying all these data points together are the racist policies that have been entrenched in America’s financial, economic and educational fabric since the beginning. Examples include Jim Crow laws as it pertains to legal separation by race in public institutions and redlining policies concerning housing, which further allowed legal barriers to be put in place to impede the upward mobility of African-Americans.
If these problems aren’t addressed, I fear African-Americans may not have another chance to ever becoming equal economic players in this country. The further they slide financially, the harder it will be to reverse the decline. Another recession may make it irreversible.
And in Dr. King’s words, blacks would merely be existing.
First Study to Examine Cognitive Development in Deaf Babies Finds Differences Begin in Infancy
Hearing impairment doesn’t just affect language skills, but also visual learning
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Deaf children face unique communication challenges, but a new study shows that the effects of hearing impairment extend far beyond language skills to basic cognitive functions, and the differences in development begin surprisingly early in life. Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are the first to study how deaf infants process visual stimuli compared to hearing infants and found they took significantly longer to become familiar with new objects.
“This is somewhat counterintuitive because a lot of people assume that deaf children compensate for their lack of hearing by being better at processing visual things, but the findings of the study show the opposite,” said Claire Monroy, post doctorate otolaryngology fellow at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and co-author of the study.
To test their visual processing skills, researchers showed infants different objects on a screen. When a baby has successfully encoded the object, they will lose interest and look away. This familiarization is what researchers call habituation. “Deaf infants took longer to habituate to the objects and looked away from them less than hearing infants,” said Derek Houston, associate professor of otolaryngology at Ohio State. “These results were surprising because you wouldn’t expect there to be such profound differences in a test that really has nothing to do with hearing.”
However, researchers say the results don’t necessarily mean that deaf children are learning at a slower pace. “Because they use vision to process the world around them, they may pay closer attention to visual objects,” said Houston. “They might actually be processing more about each object.”
Future research will examine why these differences in visual learning exist so that each child is taught in a way that works best for them and leads to healthy development. “Understanding the source of these differences can really help us tailor interventions specifically for these children,” said Monroy. “And the earlier that happens, the better.”
Crisis escalates in Virginia; top 3 Democrats under fire
By ALAN SUDERMAN
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The political crisis in Virginia spun out of control Wednesday when the state’s attorney general confessed to putting on blackface in the 1980s and a woman went public with detailed allegations of sexual assault against the lieutenant governor.
With Gov. Ralph Northam’s career already hanging by a thread over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, the day’s developments threatened to take down all three of Virginia’s top elected officials, all of them Democrats.
The twin blows began with Attorney General Mark Herring issuing a statement admitting he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a rapper during a party when he was a 19-year-old student at the University of Virginia.
Herring — who has been among those calling on Northam to resign — said that he was “deeply, deeply sorry” about the costume and that the days ahead “will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve.”
Then, within hours, Vanessa Tyson, the California woman whose sexual assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax surfaced earlier this week, put out a detailed statement saying Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
The Associated Press typically does not identify those who say they were sexually assaulted, but Tyson issued the statement in her name.
Tyson, a 42-year-old political scientist who is on a fellowship at Stanford University and specializes in the political discourse of sexual assault, said, “I have no political motive. I am a proud Democrat.”
“Mr. Fairfax has tried to brand me as a liar to a national audience, in service to his political ambitions, and has threatened litigation,” she said. “Given his false assertions, I’m compelled to make clear what happened.”
Fairfax — who is in line to become governor if Northam resigns — has repeatedly denied her allegations, saying that the encounter was consensual and that he is the victim of a strategically timed political smear.
“At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, nor during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past 15 years,” he said in a statement.
Tyson said she suffered “deep humiliation and shame” and stayed quiet about the allegations as she pursued her career, but by late 2017, as the #MeToo movement took shape and after she saw a news article about Fairfax’s campaign, she took her story to The Washington Post, which decided months later not to publish a story.
The string of scandals that began when the yearbook picture came to light last Friday could have a domino effect on Virginia state government: If Northam and Fairfax fall, Herring would be next in line to become governor. After Herring comes House Speaker Kirk Cox, a conservative Republican.
Democrats have expressed fear that the uproar over the governor could jeopardize their chances of taking control of the GOP-dominated Virginia legislature this year. The party made big gains in 2017, in part because of a backlash against President Donald Trump, and has moved to within striking distance of a majority in both houses.
At the Capitol, lawmakers were dumbstruck over the day’s developments, with Democratic Sen. Barbara Favola saying, “I have to take a breath and think about this. This is moving way too quickly.” GOP House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert said it would be “reckless” to comment. “There’s just too much flying around,” he said.
The chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Del. Lamont Bagby, said, “We’ve got a lot to digest.”
Herring, 57, went public after rumors of a blackface photo of him began circulating at the Capitol. But in his statement, he said nothing about the existence of a photo.
The attorney general made a name for himself nationally by playing a central role in bringing gay marriage to Virginia, and he had been planning to run for governor in 2021. If he resigns, the legislature gets to pick his replacement.
In his statement, Herring said he and two friends dressed up to look like rappers they listened to, including Kurtis Blow, admitting: “It sounds ridiculous even now writing it.”
“That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others,” he said. But he also said: “This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the nearly 40 years since.”
Northam has come under pressure from nearly the entire state and national Democratic establishment to resign after the discovery of a photo on his profile page in the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook of someone in blackface standing next to a person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.
He admitted at first that he was in the photo without saying which costume he was wearing, then denied it a day later. But he acknowledged he once used shoe polish to blacken his face and look like Michael Jackson at a dance contest in Texas in 1984, when he was in the Army.
Herring came down hard on Northam when the yearbook photo surfaced, condemning it as “indefensible,” ”profoundly offensive” and “shocking and deeply disappointing.” He said that it was no longer possible for Northam to lead the state.
Herring, who was elected to his second four-year term in 2017, announced when he first took office that he would no longer defend the state’s ban on gay marriage, saying it was time for Virginia “to be on the right side of history.”
A federal judge overturned the ban, citing Herring’s opposition, and Virginia began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2014, nearly a full year before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.
Associated Press writer Matthew Barakat contributed to this report.
JIM CROW JUMPS INTO THE GAME
By Robert C. Koehler
History in blackface slaps the present moment awake.
What? The governor put that picture on his yearbook page? In 1984? The wave of outrage, the demand for his resignation — from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s own party, the Democrats — can’t be dismissed with a shrug and an apology. His career may be over, thanks not simply to an act of youthful stupidity but to the context that made it possible: good old American racism.
The controversial picture shows two guys standing next to each other, holding cans of (most likely) beer. One is dressed up in a Klan hat and robe; the other is smeared in blackface. For reasons that now seem incomprehensible, it was posted on Northam’s own page in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. He has publicly denied that he himself is in the picture, but … too bad. That’s not enough to make the scandal disappear. The picture’s impact is visceral.
Should Northam resign because of it? This is a question that instantly pulls me in two directions: yes and no. For now I’ll let it hover as “maybe” and move on to the real story here, which isn’t the governor’s youthful indiscretion or personal morality, but America’s dark, still-buried history: not simply of racism and violence, but the of the apple-pie normalcy of it.
Suddenly it is the normalcy of it that is being clawed into accountability and purged. Consider how much things have changed. Remember Robert Byrd? He was the longest-serving senator in U.S. history and a liberal Democrat. He was also a member, in his younger days, of the Ku Klux Klan — an officer, for God’s sake. He was a Kleagle and an Exalted Cyclops.
Remember Hugo Black? He was also a liberal Dem, serving for 10 years in the Senate and 34 years on the U.S. Supreme Court. He also joined the Klan in his younger days and never exactly apologized for doing so. “I would have joined any group if it helped get me votes,” he once said, by way of explanation.
All that was back in the days before racism had come undone as a core feature, if not a basic requirement, of being white in America. The fact that this has changed is worth acknowledging. Most Democrats, including most of the declared 2020 presidential candidates, have called on Northam to resign. I’m sure this is as much pragmatic awareness as moral outrage. The Dem base has no tolerance left for idiots in blackface, much less for pseudo-Klansmen. Unavoidably, a line of connection runs straight from the yearbook photo to the worst of American history: lynching, slavery, genocide.
The history of blackface makes this clear. A singing-and-dancing white man with his face blackened by burnt cork was at the center of what was once the country’s most popular form of entertainment: the minstrel show. It’s where Jim Crow began:
Weel about and turn about and do jis so,
Eb’ry time I weel about I jump Jim Crow.
“Jim Crow grew to be minstrelsy’s most famous character,” Blair L. M. Kelley wrote at TheGrio. “…The gag in Jim Crow performances was that Crow would show up and disturb white passengers in otherwise peaceful first class rail cars, hotels, restaurants, and steamships. Jim Crow performances served as an object lesson about the dangers of free black people, so much so that the segregated spaces first created in Northern states in the 1850s were popularly called Jim Crow cars. Jim Crow became synonymous with white desires to keep black people out of white, middle-class spaces.”
The history of blackface entertainment grows ever more chilling, populated with such characters as Jim Crow and Zip Coon and Mammy the faithful slave, with her illiterate, disposable pickaninny children.
“Minstrelsy,” Kelley wrote, “desensitized Americans to horrors of chattel slavery. These performances were object lessons about the harmlessness of Southern slavery. By encouraging audiences to laugh, they showed bondage as an appropriate answer for the lazy, ignorant slave. Why worry about the abolition of slavery when black life looked so fun, silly, and carefree? Even the violence of enslavement just became part of the joke.”
What begins to emerge with increasing clarity is how little this country has atoned for its past. No, a shrug and an apology aren’t quite enough.
Suddenly the governor of Virginia is assigned the role of scapegoat. This also concerns me. His resignation may have pragmatic necessity, but the blame for the horrors summoned by his yearbook photo require a collective acceptance of responsibility.
As Rhae Lynn Barnes wrote recently in the Washington Post: “In Jim Crow’s century-long reign, a strange, visible and highly pervasive world of blackface minstrel shows took hold in nearly every city and town in the United States. Amateur blackface minstrel shows and parades were so central to civic and campus life in 20th-century America that it’s hard to find a university yearbook without a blackface image or a town that didn’t hold such a parade.
“… Northam’s blackface yearbook spread is a small shard of an expansive and ever-present national story, one that shows how racism defined what it means to be a patriotic, successful and civically oriented white man in modern America.”
The undoing of American racism has been a long, fierce, painful process, and we’re hardly beyond it. From our prison complex to police shootings to voter purges aimed at people of color to Muslim bans, border cages and the brutal thuggery of ICE, racism still rules. Standing in moral judgment of the past won’t, in and of itself, heal the harm we’re inflicting on the future.
Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is available. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at commonwonders.com.
R. Kelly says he’d tour internationally, then deletes post
NEW YORK (AP) — R. Kelly said Tuesday he is planning an international tour, but an Australian lawmaker wants the country to bar him from performing there if the concert plan goes forward.
The embattled musician announced on social media Tuesday that he’ll be going to Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, but the tweet was later deleted.
“See y’all soon” the post said, accompanied by a picture of Kelly and the declaration “The King of R&B.” No dates or venues were revealed.
The tour tweet was deleted following a backlash from Twitter users who urged fans not to buy concert tickets and criticized the announcement, pointing out the irony that “R. Kelly is going on tour instead of jail.” No new criminal charges have been filed against Kelly since the most recent alleged sexual misconduct was brought to light. Several previous cases have been settled out of court. In 2008, he was found not guilty in a trial on child pornography charges.
Kelly’s career has been stifled since a #MuteRKelly campaign gained momentum last year to protest his alleged sexual abuse of women and girls, which Kelly denies. Lifetime’s documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” last month drew even more attention to the allegations, and his record label has reportedly dropped him.
Australia has denied entry to other foreigners on character grounds, among them troubled R&B singer Chris Brown, convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning, anti-vaxxer Kent Heckenlively and Gavin McInnes, founder of the all-male far-right group Proud Boys.
“If the Immigration Minister suspects that a non-citizen does not pass the character test, or there is a risk to the community while they are in Australia, he should use the powers he has under the Migration Act to deny or cancel their visa,” senior opposition lawmaker Shayne Neumann said in a statement.
Australia’s Home Affairs Department said it did not comment on individual cases. But the department said in a statement there were strong legal provisions to block entry to anyone “found not to be of good character.”
Kelly is a multi-platinum R&B star who has not only notched multiple hits for himself, but also many high-profile performers.