Wizards Trade Russell Westbrook to Lakers

July 29, 2021

By Terrance turner

The Washington Wizards are trading Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowrski. The Wizards are sending 2024 and 2028 second-round picks to the Lakers to complete the deal, sources told Wojnarowski.

The deal is not official until August 6, when the salary cap becomes official. But it has already generated huge buzz online and in the sports world, as Westbrook joins LeBron James and Anthony Davis on a L.A. team that is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2021 season. The Lakers lost the playoff series to the Phoenix Suns in June, after losing Game 6. It is the first time that a LeBron James team has been eliminated from the playoffs in the first round.

Kuzma scored a dismal 2 points in Game 6, matching his performance in Game 2. That sparked questions about his future in L.A. Caldwell-Pope suffered a knee injury in Game 3 of the Suns series and missed Game 4. Harrell had limited playing time in the series and exercised his player option this week, making the trade possible.

During his one season in Washington, Westbrook shined. In May, he broke the record for career triple-doubles — a record that legend Oscar Peterson had held since March 24, 1974. Westbrook now has 184. (LeBron James is top five on the all-time list, with 99.) Westbrook is from Los Angeles and played at UCLA in college. He posted a goodbye message to Washington, D.C. tonight. 

“Thank you DC! You welcomed my family and I with open arms from day one,” he wrote. “Everyone from the front office, to the training staff, the coaches, my teammates, and the fans. I’m grateful y’all took a chance on me and supported me every step of the way. I’m blessed to have been a part of such a stand up organization. It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization. Thank you! #thedistrict.”

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Rockets Select Jalen Green in NBA Draft

By Terrance Turner

July 29, 2021

“With the second pick in the 2021 NBA draft, the Houston Rockets select Jalen Green.”

With these words, Jalen Green made history as one of only three Filipino players to be drafted into the NBA. Green, a 6’6″, 178-pound shooting guard, was ranked No. 1 by ESPN in recruiting. Decked out in a glittery gray pinstriped suit, he made his way to the podium and shook hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Green was born and raised in California. He grew up on the edge of an almond farm, according to ESPN, and learned to play basketball there. Green played ball at San Joaquin memorial High School in Fresno. He averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds his freshman year. He improved to 27.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore. In his junior year, he averaged 30 points and 7.8 rebounds. He won his second consecutive Central Division Championship and broke a career scoring recored that had stood since 1971.

In his senior season, Green transferred to Prolific Prep in Napa, California. This time he averaged 31.5 points per game and helped his team win a national title. According to the Napa Valley Register, his team The Crew (31-3) defeated Our Savior Lutheran, 95-80, in the finale of the end-of-season tournament in March 2020. That won them the Grind Session Championship. Sports Illustrated named him All-American Player of the Year.

Despite getting offers from Memphis, Auburn, and Florida State, Green decided to forego college basketball. Instead, he signed a one-year, $500,000 deal with the NBA G-League’s Ignite, a developmental team. Green was the first player to sign with the team, which had oversight from the G League (the minor leagues of the NBA). Ignite was part of a developmental program “that will include professional coaching, top prospects and veteran players who will combine training and exhibition competitions,” according to ESPN writers Jonathan Givony and Adrian Wojnarowski.

“I think this is the best route to prepare myself,” Green said at the time. Now, he seems more than prepared for the big leagues. Green’s comments to the Houston Chronicle drip with confidence. “There’s a lot of talk about Cade Cunningham [who the Pistons took at No. 1] and other people … but I’m the best player,” the 19-year-old Green told GQ’s Tyler R. Tynes in a profile that published this week. “And I feel like nobody can do what I do. I show up every time the lights come on.”

In an introductory press conference, Green set lofty goals and assured the Rockets that they made the right choice picking him: “They’re going to say it’s a great choice, because the goals I have for myself, I plan on reaching them: Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We’re doing it big.”  

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Simone Biles Withdraws From Women’s Team Final (UPDATED)

Photo from the AP.

By Terrance Turner

July 27, 2021

Simone Biles has withdrawn from the women’s gymnastics Olympic team final.

Biles dropped out today after performing a vault. She was supposed to do an “Amanar”, consisting of a layout flip and 2.5 twists, according to Vox. But she did only 1.5 twists and barely saved her landing. “I didn’t know where I was in the air,” she said later.

She scored a 13.766 — the lowest vault score of her career, according to ESPN — and then disappeared. Instead of warming up for uneven bars, Biles simply walked off the mat and left. She returned later, wearing a white sweatsuit, to cheer on her teammates. And then came the bombshell announcement from USA Gymnastics.

“Simone has withdrawn frOm the team final competition because of a medical issue,” USA Gymnastics said. “She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.” The news sent shockwaves through the Olympics — indeed, throughout the world. But the issue was not physical; it was mental. In a subsequent press conference, Biles explained her decision.

“You have to be there 100%,” Biles told reporters after the meet. “If not, you get hurt. Today has been really stressful. I was shaking. I couldn’t nap. I have never felt like this going into a competition, and I tried to go out and have fun. But once I came out, I was like, ‘No. My mental is not there.'”

“I just felt like it would be a little bit better to take a backseat, work on my mindfulness,” she said. “And I knew that the girls would do an absolutely great job. and I didn’t want to risk the team a medal,” Biles explained. “I feel like I robbed them of a couple of 10s.”

She elaborated: “It’s been really stressful this Olympics games,” she said, citing “a lot of different variables’ including not having fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s been a long week. It’s been a long Olympic process; it’s been a long year. So, just a lot of different variable.s And I think we’re just a little bit too stressed out. But we should be out here having fun, and sometimes that’s not the case.”

“I don’t trust myself as much as I used to,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s age and I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun. This Olympic Games I wanted it to be for myself but I came in and I felt like I was still doing it for other people. It hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”

In the end, Biles made the decision that she felt she had to. And her teammates — Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum — stepped up to fill in the gap. Initially, Chiles was going to skip the uneven bars and balance beam and Lee would skip the floor exercise. But in Biles’ absence, they had to compete across four events. In the end, Team USA took silver. Russia’s team won gold, and the British team won bronze, according to ESPN.

“I’m OK,” Biles told NBC host Hoda Kotb after the medal ceremony. “Just super frustrated with how the night played out.” Kotb asked how she was feeling; Biles said that physically she feels fine, but her emotional state varies by the moment: “Coming to the Olympics and being head star isn’t an easy feat.” She praised her teammates for stepping in and added: “We hope America still loves us!”

Biles was quoted by ESPN as saying that she will take Wednesday as “a mental rest day”. When Kotb asked if she will compete in Thursday’s individual all-around final, Biles answered: “We’re going to take it day-by-day, and we’re just gonna see.”

UPDATE (July 30, 2021): Biles did not compete in the all-around final. She is also withdrawing from both the vault and uneven bars, per KPRC. “She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the floor exercise and balance beam,” USA Gymnastics stated today. MyKayla Skinner will take Biles’ place.

Biles said today that she had “the twisties”, a mental block that gymnasts often face when trying to execute moves in the air. She responded on social media to those saying that she had “quit”, posting a practice video in which she attempted to compete on bars and landed on her back:

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Searing, Emotional Testimony At Jan. 6 Commission Hearing

Officers Aquilino Gonell, Michael Fanone, Daniel Hodges and Harry Dunn are sworn in. Photo from the AP.

By Terrance Turner

July 27, 2021

Today, the House select committee began the first day of its investigation about the events of Jan. 6. The hearings were marked by harrowing testimony from Capitol Police officers who shared their experiences fighting the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol. Both lawmakers and officers grew emotional during the proceedings.

The committee consists of seven Democrats and two Republicans. The members are:

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), committee chairman
  • Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), former Navy commander
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who drafted the article of impeachment after the Capitol riot
  • Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA, 19th District)
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA, 28th District)
  • Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA, 31st District)
  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) selected two Republicans (Cheney and Kinzinger) to establish a bipartisan commission. Despite attacks from their party, both Republicans made opening statements that explained their decision to participate.

After thanking her committee members and the witnesses, Cheney said: “I want to begin by reflecting briefly on the investigation that we are launching today. Every one of us here on the dais voted for and would have preferred that these matters be investigated by an independent non-partisan commission, composed of five prominent Americans selected by each party, and modeled on the 9/11 Commission.” That did not happen; the 54-35 vote for a commission fell short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate.

“We cannot leave the violence of January 6th – and its causes – uninvestigated. The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6th,” Cheney said. “We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House – every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic,” she continued.

“I have been a conservative Republican since 1984 when I first voted for Ronald Reagan. I have disagreed sharply on policy and politics with almost every Democratic member of this committee. But, in the end, we are one nation under God.”

She went on: “When a threat to our constitutional order arises, as it has here, we are obligated to rise above politics. This investigation must be non-partisan.”

Rep. Kinzinger also spoke of the need to rise above politics. “For all the overheated rhetoric surrounding this Committee, our mission is very simple: to find the truth and ensure accountability.

Like all Americans, I am frustrated that six months after a deadly riot breached the United States Capitol for several hours on live television … we still don’t know exactly what happened. Why? Because many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight. It’s toxic, and it’s a disservice to the officers and their families, to the staff and employees on the Capitol Complex, and to the American people who deserve the truth. And it’s why I agreed to serve on this Committee,” he said. 

“This CANNOT continue to be a partisan fight. I am a Republican, I am a conservative. But in order to heal from the damage caused that day, we need to call out the facts. It’s time to stop the outrage and conspiracies that fuel violence and division in our country, and most importantly, we need to reject those that promote it. As a country, it’s time to learn from our past mistakes, rebuild stronger so this never happens again, and move onward.

In serving on this Committee, I am here to investigate January 6th–not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party, but because of it.” Kinzinger got emotional as he thanked the officers present who worked to save the Capitol that day:

But the most powerful moments belonged to the police officers who testified today. Four officers — DC Metropolitan Police Officers Daniel Hodges and Michael Fanone and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell — revealed horrific, life-threatening abuse at the hands of rioters. Their stories were graphic and emotional; some present were moved to tears.

“As a child in the Dominican Republic, I looked up to the United States as a land of opportunity and a place to better myself,” said Sgt. Aquilino Gonell. “From the moment I landed at JFK airport in 1992, I have strived to pursue that goal. Thankfully, I have achieved that goal on many levels: I was the first in my family to graduate college, join the U.S. Army, and become a police officer.”

“To be honest, I did not recognize my fellow citizens who stormed the Capitol on January
6, or the United States they claimed to represent. When I was 25, and then a sergeant in the
Army, I had deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom,” he said. “I volunteered to
travel on IED-infested roads to conduct supply missions for U.S. and allied military forces and
local Iraqi populations. But on January 6, for the first time, I was more afraid working at the
Capitol than during my entire Army deployment to Iraq. In Iraq, we expected armed violence,
because we were in a war zone. But nothing in my experience in the Army, or as a law
enforcement officer, prepared me for what we confronted on January 6.

The verbal assaults and disrespect we endured from the rioters were bad enough,” Sgt. Gonell said. “But the physical violence we experienced was horrific and devastating. My fellow
officers and I were punched, pushed, kicked, shoved, sprayed with chemical irritants, and even
blinded with eye-damaging lasers by a violent mob who apparently saw us law enforcement
officers, dedicated to ironically protecting them as U.S. citizens, as an impediment in their
attempted insurrection.

The mob brought weapons to try to accomplish their insurrectionist objectives, and they used them against us. These weapons included hammers, rebars, knives, batons and police shields taken by force, as well as bear spray and pepper spray. Some rioters wore tactical gear, including bulletproof vests and gas masks. The rioters also forcibly took our batons and shields and used them against us. I was particularly shocked at seeing the insurrectionists violently attack us with the very American flag they claimed they sought to protect.

The rioters were vicious and relentless. We found ourselves in a violent battle in a
desperate attempt to prevent a breach of the Capitol by the entrance near the Inauguration Stage. Metropolitan DC Police officers were being pulled into the crowd as we tried to push all the rioters back from breaching Capitol. In my attempt to assist two MPD officers, I grabbed one officer by the back of the collar and pulled him back to our police line. When I tried to help the second officer, I fell on top of some police shields on the ground that were slippery because of the pepper and bear spray. Rioters started to pull me by my leg, by my shield, and by my gear straps on my left shoulder.”

“We fought hand-to-hand and inch-by-inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob,” Gonell said. “It was a prolonged and desperate struggle. I vividly heard officers screaming in agony and pain just an arms-length from me,” he continued. “I, too, was being crushed by the rioters. I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, ‘this is how I’m going to die, trampled defending this entrance.’”

Gonell wept as he remembered coming home and being unable to hug his wife because of the chemicals on his clothes:

The House committee played bodycam footage of Officer Michael Fanone being attacked by rioters. Fanone can be heard screaming as he is tazed repeatedly by members of the mob. That footage is included in the YouTube video embedded below; it runs to about 1:56. The images that you’re about to see will be disturbing:

Fanone also testified. “My name, for those of you who don’t know, is Michael Fanone. And while I’ve been a sworn officer with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., for almost two decades, my law enforcement career actually began here in this building as United States, Capitol Police officer shortly after 9/11. In part, because of the 2001 attack on our country by terrorists, I felt called to serve.

In this line of work, it probably won’t shock you to know that I’ve dealt with some dicey situation. I thought I’d seen it all, many times over. Yet what I witnessed and experienced on January 6th, 2021, was unlike anything I had ever had seen, anything I’d ever experienced or could have imagined in my country.”

On that fateful day, Fanone and partner Jimmy Albright looked for an area where they could be of most assistance. They found it. “We made our way through door on the south side of the Capitol, walking then into the crypt and finally down to the Lower West Terrace tunnel.

It was there that I observed a police commander struggling to breathe as he dealt with the effects of CS gas that lingered in the air. Then I watched him collect himself, straightened his cap and trench coat, adorned with its Silvery Eagles, and returned to the lot. That commander was Ramy Kyle of the Metropolitan Police Department. And those images are etched into my memory, never to be forgotten.”

“The fighting in the Lower West Terrace tunnel was nothing short of brutal. Here, I observed approximately 30 police officers standing shoulder to shoulder, maybe four or five abreast, using the weight of their bodies to hold back the onslaught of violent attackers. Many of these officers were injured, bleeding, and fatigued, but they continue to hold the line.

As I don’t have to tell the members in this room, the tunnel is a narrow and long hallway. It is not the sort of space anyone would want to be pulled into hand-to-hand combat with an angry mob. Although the narrowness of the hallway provided what was probably the only chance of holding back the crowd from entering your personal offices, the House, and Senate chambers.”

Fanone continued: “At some point during the fighting, I was dragged from the line of officers and into the crowd. I heard someone scream, “I got one.” As I was swarmed by a violent mob, they ripped off my badge, they grabbed and stripped me of my radio, they seized ammunition that was secured to my body. They began to beat me with their fists and with what felt like hard metal objects.”

“At one point, I came face-to-face with an attacker who repeatedly launched for me and attempted to remove my firearm. I heard chanting from some in the crowd, “Get his gun and kill him with his own gun.” I was aware enough to recognize I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm. I was electrocuted again, and again, and again, with a taser. I’m sure I was screaming, but I don’t think I could even hear my own voice.”

“During those moments, I remember thinking there was a very good chance I would be torn apart or shot to death with my own weapon. I thought of my four daughters who might lose their dad.” 

Thinking of his daughters, Fanone tried to strategize a way out. “During the assault, I thought about using my firearm on my attackers, but I knew that if I did, I would be quickly overwhelmed. And that, in their minds, would provide them with the justification for killing me. So I instead decided to appeal to any humanity they might have. I said as loud as I could manage, ‘I’ve got kids.’ Thankfully, some of the crowds stepped in and assisted me. Those few individuals protected me from a crowd and inch me toward the Capitol until my fellow officers could rescue me. I was carried back inside.

What happened afterwards is much less vivid. I had been beaten, unconscious and remained so for more than four minutes. I know that Jimmy helped to evacuate me from the building and drove me to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, despite suffering significant injuries himself. At the hospital, doctors told me that I had suffered a heart attack. And I was later diagnosed with a concussion, a traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Fanone grew angry as he described the efforts of lawmakers to downplay or deny the events that nearly cost him his life. “I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room, but too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist, or that hell actually wasn’t that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful!” he raged, slamming his hand down on the table.

Officer Harry Dunn also witnessed disgraceful behavior. But it had started like any other day.

“I reported for duty at the Capitol, as usual, early on the morning of January 6. We understood that the vote to certify President Biden’s election would be taking place that day, and that protests might occur outside the Capitol, but we expected any demonstrations to be peaceful expressions of First Amendment freedoms, just like the scores of demonstrations we had observed for many years. After roll call, I took my overwatch post on the east front of the Capitol, standing on the steps that lead to the Senate chamber. As the morning progressed, I did not see or hear anything that gave me cause for alarm.

But around 10:56 am, I received a text message from a friend, forwarding a screen shot of what appeared to be a potential plan of action very different from a peaceful demonstration.

The screen shot bore the caption “Jan. 6th–Rally Point – Lincoln Park,” and said the “objective” was “THE CAPITAL.” It said, among, other things, that “Trump has given us marching orders,” and to “keep your guns hidden.” It urged people to “bring…your trauma kits” and “gas mask,” to “[l]ink up early in the day” in “6-12 man teams,” and indicated there would be a “time to arm up.”

Description of the message that Harry Dunn received

Seeing that message caused me concern, to be sure, and looking back now, it seemed to foreshadow what happened later. At the time, though, we had not received any threat warnings from our chain of command, and I had no independent reason to believe that violence was headed our way.”

“Early that afternoon, Capitol Police dispatch advised all units over the radio that there was
an “active 10-100″ at the Republican National Committee nearby. “10-100” is police code for a
suspicious package, such as a potential bomb. That radio dispatch got my attention and I started to get more nervous and worried, especially because the crowds on the east front of the Capitol were continuing to grow.”

Dunn eventually made his way to the West terrace and near the Inaugural stage. “I was stunned by what I saw. In what seemed like a sea of people, Capitol Police officers and Metropolitan DC Police (“MPD”) officers were engaged in desperate hand-to-hand fighting with rioters across the west lawn. Until then, I had never seen anyone physically assault a Capitol Police or MPD officer – let alone witness mass assaults being perpetrated on law enforcement officers. I witnessed the rioters using all kinds of weapons against the officers, including flag poles, metal bike racks they had torn apart, and various kinds of projectiles. Officers were being bloodied in the fighting, many were screaming, and many were blinded and coughing from chemical irritants being sprayed in their faces.”

Dunn later went to the Speaker’s Lobby. “More and more insurrectionists were pouring into the area by the Speaker’s Lobby near the Rotunda, some wearing “MAGA” hats and shirts that said “Trump 2020.” I told them to leave the Capitol, and in response, they yelled back: “No, no, man, this is our house!” “President Trump invited us here!” “We’re here to stop the steal!” “Joe Biden is not the President!” “Nobody voted for Joe Biden!”

I am a law enforcement officer, and I keep politics out of my job. But in this
circumstance, I responded: “Well, I voted for Joe Biden. Does my vote not count? Am I
nobody?” That prompted a torrent of racial epithets. One woman in a pink “MAGA” shirt yelled,
“You hear that, guys, this nigger voted for Joe Biden!” Then the crowd, perhaps around twenty
people, joined in, screaming “Boo! Fucking nigger!”

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges vividly recounted the physical abuse he faced while defending the Capitol on January 6. He, too, landed near the West terrace. Later, donning his gas mask, he “descended a stairway into a long hallway, filled with smoke and screams. The hallways led outside, where the mob had breached.

“Eventually, it was my tun in the meat grinder that was the front line. The terrorists had a wall of shields that they had stolen from officers, as well as stolen batons and what other armanents they brought,” he said. “The two sides were at a stalemate at a metal doorframe that sat in the middle of the hallway. At the front line I inserted myself so the frame was at my back, in an effort to give myself something to brace against and provide additional strength when pushing forward.”

“Unfortunately, soon after I secured this position, the momentum shifted, and we lost the ground that got me there. On my left was a man with a clear ride shield that he had stolen during the assault. He slammed it against me, and with the weight of the bodies pushing behind him, trapped me.”

“My arms were pinned and effectively useless, trapped against either the shield on my left and the door frame on my right,” Hodges said. “With my posture granting me no functional strength or freedom of movement, I was effectively defenseless and gradually sustaining injury from the increasing pressure of the mob.”

“Directly in front of me, a man sees the opportunity of my vulnerability, grabbed the front of my gas mask and used it to beat my head against the door. He switched to pulling it off my head, the straps stretching against my skull and straining my neck,” Hodges continued.

“Eventually, he succeded in stripping off my gas mask, and a new rush of exposure to CS and OC spray hit me,” Hodges said, referring to the technical terms for tear gas and pepper spray. “The mob of terrorists were coordinating their efforts now, shouting ‘Heave! Ho!’ as they synchronized, pushing their weight forward, pushing me further against the metal door frame. The man in front of me grabbed my baton that I still held in my hands, and in my current state I was unable to retain my weapon. He bashed me in the head and face with it, rupturing my lip and adding additional injury to my skull. At this point, I knew I couldn’t sustain much more damage or remain upright. At best, I would collapse and be aliability to my colleagues; at worst, be dragged out into the crowd and lynched.”

“Unable to move or otherwise signal to the officers behind me that I needed to fall back, I did the only thing that I could do and screamed for help. Thankfully, my voice was heard over the cacophony of yells and the blaring alarm. The officer closest to me was able to extricate me from my position, and another helped me fall back to the building again. I had found some more water and decontaminated my faced as best I could. I don’t know how long I waited in those halls, but soon after I got back on my feet and went to where the fight was again. Until reinforcements arrived, every able body made a difference.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates.

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Issa Wedding! Issa Rae Marries Louis Diame in France

Photos by Lauren Fair Photography.

By Terrance Turner

July 26, 2021

Issa Rae is married.

The actress, writer, and producer married businessman Louis Diame over the weekend in the French Riviera. The intimate ceremony took place in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a commune in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in Southeastern France.

Rae shared stunning photos of the nuptials, captured by photographer Lauren Fair, on Instagram: “A) Impromptu photo shoot in a custom @verawanggang dress. B) My girls came to help me, but they all coincidentally had on the same dress! They were sooooo embarrassed. C) Then I took a few flicks with Somebody’s Husband,” she joked in the caption. “Big thanks to @whiteedenweddings for being so gracious and accommodating and making this feel so real and special.”

Rae wore a white, strapless custom Vera Wang gown; Diame was decked out in a red Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo. Details on the wedding are scarce, which is likely how Rae wanted it. Though the two have been together for nearly a decade, their relationship has been out of the spotlight. “I get so much feedback about everything,” she told Marie Claire in 2018. “The one thing I don’t need feedback on is who I’m sleeping with.”

News of the engagement broke in April 2019, when Rae appeared on the cover of Essence magazine with a sizable diamond ring:

But it was actually two of Rae’s Insecure co-stars who confirmed her engagement news. “We all found out in different ways because we’re all on different text chains. We talk at different times, so we all found out at different times in different ways,” Jay Ellis told Entertainment TonightYvonne Orji added, “The reaction was all the same, like, ‘You out here in these streets getting married, boo?!’ That was the reaction.”

Reaction to the wedding (and to those pictures!) was rapturous. Rae’s makeup artist Joanna Simkin commented, “Love you two so much. The most magical day, and so honored to witness all of the beauty and love. You two are the most beautiful.” Additionally, Ashley Nicole Black commented, “You’re always stunning, but that picture of you with that lady’s husband has the most glow. Congrats!”

“You make a gorgeous Bride ❤️,” wrote Tina Knowles-Lawson.


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DaBaby Criticized For “Rolling Loud” Performance

July 26, 2021

By Terrance Turner

This story contains graphic language and images.

Tonight, rapper DaBaby performed at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami. He performed directly after Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion. And of all the people he could’ve chosen to bring onstage during his set, he chose the man who shot Megan just over a year ago.

“I’ll give somebody out here a million dollars if they can guess who in here,” DaBaby said to the packed crowd before the man inside a giant costume unveiled himself. Under the giant foam head was Canadian rapper Tory Lanez. DaBaby joined him for a performance of their song “Skat”, according to Complex. That came just minutes after he performed “Crybaby,” Megan’s hit song on which DaBaby is featured.

For context: On July 12, 2020, Megan and two others were riding in a car with Tory Lanez when an argument broke out. Officers received reports that shots had been fired outside a home in the Hollywood Hills. According to Variety, Lanez was arrested for possession of a concealed weapon. Lanez was arrested on felony charges at 4:40 a.m. Sunday and released on a $35,000 bond around six hours later. 

Three days later, Megan released a statement that explained the incident. She said, in part: “On Sunday morning, I suffered gunshot wounds, as a result of a crime that was committed against me and done with the intention to physically harm me. I was never arrested, the police officers drove me to the hospital where I underwent surgery to remove the bullets. I’m incredibly grateful to be alive and that I’m expected to make a full recovery,” she wrote. She added, “I was shot in both of my feet.”

Megan did not name her assailant, and the LAPD said that she did not report being a victim of any crime. However, Megan revealed in August that Tory Lanez had shot her. She said she hadn’t initially reported the shooting due to concerns about police brutality.

“Yes this n—a Tory shot me,” Megan says in an Instagram Live video. “You shot me, and you got your publicist and your people going to these blogs lyin’ and s–t. Stop lyin’. Why lie?” She added: “All this s–t goin’ on with the police? Police is shootin’ motherf–kers for anything. The police was literally killin’ Black people for no motherf–kin’ reason. Soon as the police tell us all get out the motherf–kin’ car, the police is really aggressive. You think I’m bout to tell the police that we, n—as, us Black people, got a gun in the car? You want me to tell the law we got a gun in the car so they can shoot all of us up?”

Lanez denied the shooting. In September 2020, he dropped a 17-song album called Daystar — which, according to Variety, references the shooting on nearly every track. “How the f–k you get shot in your foot, don’t hit no bones or tendons?” he asks on one song. Later, he adds, “I would never put you in no danger — and if I did, you would’ve said it when you seen the cops.”

In September, Lanez was charged in the shooting. The New York Times reported that Lanez was charged with one count of assault with a semi-automatic handgun and one count of carrying unregistered, loaded firearm in the vehicle. He faces up to 22 years and 8 months in prison if convicted. The judge issued a protective order against Lanez, according to Rap-Up. He must remain at least 100 yards away from Megan and not contact her. He must also surrender any guns he owns.

DaBaby has done several songs with Megan, including “Cash S–t” in 2019 and her hit single “Crybaby” in Nov. 2020. But he has also worked with Tory. Last month he released his song “Skat”, which features Lanez. That collab drew criticism online:

Around the same time, DaBaby retweeted a “joke” about the shooting, which also referenced DaBaby fatally shooting a man in a North Carolina Walmart:

Megan called DaBaby out via Twitter:

Now, Twitter is ablaze over DaBaby’s decision to bring out Lanez for a performance — after “Crybaby” and before “Cash S–t,” no less:

He’s also being called out for homophobia after comments he made onstage. “If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two, three weeks, then put your cellphone light up,” DaBaby said. “Ladies, if your p—y smell like water, put a cellphone light them up. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking d–k in the parking lot put your cellphone light up. Keep it real.”

“Some of y’all n—as suspect as a motherf—er. Let’s be real,” added a man in the background (his DJ?).

UPDATE (3:04 pm): DaBaby has responded to the criticism. On Instagram.

“I’ma address this weak-ass internet s–t one time and then I’ma get back to giving my love to my fans,” he said. “What me and my fans do at the live show, it don’t concern you n—as on the internet, or you bitter bitches on the internet. It’s not your business… What I do at a live show is for the audience at the live show, it’ll never translate correctly to someone looking a little five-six second clip from they goddamn crib on they phone. It just don’t work like that.”

He then claimed that the Internet had “twisted up” his words. “All my fans at the show, the gay ones and the straight ones, we turned the f–k up,” he continued. 

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NFL Issues New Memo on COVID-19

By Terrance Turner

July 22, 2021

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell delivered a memorandum today that outlined the COVID-19 protocols and operating procedures for the 2021 NFL season. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the terms of the memo. Goodell is making headlines for language that sets firm rules — and strict penalties for those who do not abide by them.

“While there is no question that health conditions have improved from last year, we cannot be complacent or simply assume that we will be able to play without interruption — either due to COVID outbreaks that occur within our clubs or outbreaks that occur within the larger community,” Goodell wrote. “These principles are intended to help inform decisions, recognizing that, as in 2020, we will need to remain flexible and adapt to possibly changing conditions.”

“As of today, more than 75 percent of players are in the process of being vaccinated, and more than half the clubs have vaccination rates greater than 80 percent of their players,” he continues. “We know that vaccines are safe and effective and are the best step anyone can take to be safe from the coronavirus.”

“If a vaccinated person tests positive and is asymptomatic, he or she must isolate, and contract tracing will promptly occur. The positive person can return to work after two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. If an unvaccinated person tests positive, the protocols from 2020 will remain in effect. The person will be isolated for a period of 10 days and will be permitted to return to duty if asymptomatic.”

The memo makes clear that the NFL intends to play its new 17-game, 18-week season without a hitch. “The league will make every reasonable effort […] to complete the full 272-game regular season within the current 18 weeks and all postseason games as scheduled, in a safe and responsible way,” it says. “We do not anticipate adding a ’19th week’ to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled.”

“If a game is cancelled/postponed because a club cannot play due to a Covid spike among or resulting from its non-vaccinated players/staff, then the burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection,” the memo states. “If a game cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule due to a Covid outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the club with the outbreak will forfeit the contest and will be deemed to have played 16 games,” it says. If a game is canceled and cannot be rescheduled, the forfeiting team will be credited with a loss, and neither team’s players will receive their weekly salary.

Players reacted to the memo on Twitter. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins tweeted and then deleted his negative reaction to the rules. “Never thought I would say this, But being put in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the NFL,” he wrote.

“The NFL is pressuring/ ‘influencing’ guys to get the vaccine. They are saying if there is an outbreak, the team will be penalized heavily,” Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said on Twitter. “My point is no teammate of mine will feel that pressure from me because whether you are vaccinated or not, there is still a chance of getting covid.”

DJ Reader, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle, tweeted, “Talk about getting your hand forced smh.”

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Bucks Celebrate First NBA Title Since 1971

 (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

By Terrance Turner

July 20, 2021 (updated July 22)

The Milwaukee Bucks battled the Phoenix Suns tonight in a crucial Game 6. The Bucks led 3-2 in the series; they needed one more win for their first championship since 1971. The Suns had to win in order to force a Game 7 in their hometown. Game 6 featured wild wings in momentum and scoring, but the Bucks prevailed. With 17,000 fans inside Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum and thousands more outside, the home team delivered a championship to a city that hadn’t seen it in 50 years. Giannis Antetokoumpo delivered a performance for the ages, dropping 50 points to power the Bucks past the Suns, 105-98.

There were turnovers by both sides early, but the Bucks were up 15-11 before Bobby Portis hit a three-pointer. On the next possession, he hit another three to make it 21-14. Antetokoumpo made back-to-back baskets, driving with a spin move to put his team ahead by 11. Phoenix would respond, but Giannis was fouled again. Free throws have been a consistent issue for him, but he made them both. Then, after his shot didn’t go, teammate Brook Lopez rebounded and scored. That cemented a commanding lead: the Bucks led 29-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Phoenix roared back, outscoring the Bucks 31-10 in the second quarter. Phoenix would race out on a 10-0 run, cutting Milwaukee’s lead to just single digits. Buckets by Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and Chris Paul eventually erased the lead entirely. The Suns tied the game at 33 with 5:20 left. Then they took the lead. The Bucks had no answer for Suns guard Chris Paul, who outsmarted defenders to score one basket after another. They also struggled from the field (just 3-of-17, per SBNation). By the end of the quarter, the Suns had pushed their lead to five. It was 47-42 at halftime.

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Buccaneers Visit White House, Receive Super Bowl Rings

Photo from Buccaneers’ Twitter account.

By Terrance Turner

July 20, 2021 (updated July 22)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came to the White House today to be recognized for their victory in February’s Super Bowl 51. It’s the first time since 2017 that the Super Bowl championship team has visited the White House. There were some notable absences: Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receiver Mike Evans, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and linebacker Lavonte David. But in attendance was quarterback Tom Brady, visiting the White House for the first time since 2005.

Brady skipped the visit in 2015, after the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks. He also missed the visit in 2017, after the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons. According to a Boston CBS affiliate, Brady cited family concerns as a reason for his absence. (His mother was being treated for breast cancer.) When the Patriots beat the Rams in 2019, scheduling conflicts kept the team from getting to the nation’s capital.

But today, under President Joe Biden, the tradition was renewed. President Biden mentioned the Glazer family (the team’s owners) in his remarks. “To the players, the coaches, and the Glazer family, my good friends, it’s an honor to have you here,” Biden said. (The late Malcolm Glazer purchased the team in 1995. Three of his sons became executive vice-presidents, according to the New York Times.)

“This Buccaneer team is a testament to the fact that it’s never too late to come together and achieve extraordinary things,” Biden said. “Three-quarters of the way through the season, they found themselves in the middle of the pack [at 7-5]. But this is a team that didn’t fold and always got up, dug deep. They won their last four games and stormed through the playoffs — winning on the road in Washington, New Orleans, and Green Bay — and capping it all off back home in Tampa, becoming the first team to win the Super Bowl on their home turf,” Biden said.

The president singled out Chris Godwin, the wide receiver who grew up in Biden’s home state. Godwin was born in Philadelphia, but attended Middletown High School in Delaware. “Born in Pennsylvania, raised in Delaware — where I come from, that’s a heck of a combination,” President Biden said. “Chris, you’re inspiring a whole lot of kids back home in Delaware.”

Biden, who at 78 is the oldest president to take office, praised Tom Brady and head coach Bruce Arians — the oldest quarterback (age 44) and oldest head coach (at 68) to win the championship. “You know, a lot has been made about the fact that we have the oldest coach ever to win a Super Bowl and the oldest quarterback ever to win the Super Bowl. Well, I’ll tell you right now, you won’t hear any jokes about that from me. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with being the oldest guy to make it to the mountaintop,” Biden said, to applause.

The president lauded Brady as “just about the best to ever play”, commending him for reaching 10 Super Bowls in the past 20 years: “That ain’t bad, man.” Then Biden revealed that he, too, played football. He recalled playing as a kid in the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) in grade school. “I’ll never forget getting knocked out when I was in fifth grade, and my dad walked over and said, “Get up. Get up. Get up. Unless something’s broken, get up.” It was a lesson in resilience, one Biden would return to later on.

Biden also noted the impact of a team on a country ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. “You guys did it the hard way. And I hope you all know just how important it was,” Biden said, “after such a challenging year for the nation. In the middle of a long dark winter, every Sunday, people were able to sit down and watch you play. You created memories that helped folks make it through and believe that we could get back to normal again. And you did it as a team, trailblazing, including the first team with two women [in] full-time coaching positions.”

Assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar and assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust are the first female coaches to win a Super Bowl. (Photo from Twitter.)

The president also pointed out that the Raymond James Stadium was an early voting center. (The stadium offered early voting from Oct. 19 to Nov. 1, according to the Bucs’ website). He also acknowledged the stadium for administering the Pfizer vaccine for Hillsborough County residents: “Your stadium also became a lifeline for families in Tampa Bay this season, administering nearly 200,000 vaccine shots.” Biden urged players to get a shot, if they haven’t already. He stressed the importance of getting vaccinated:

“Getting vaccinated is about staying healthy and realizing that no one is invincible, even if you’re young and you’re fit. It’s about looking out for the front-line workers out there, like the ones that played in front of us on Super Bowl Sunday. Those workers remind us of a quintessential lesson about sports and America itself: that no matter how much and how many times we get knocked down, we always get up.”

Bruce Arians later took the podium, choking up as he spoke. “I get emotional,” he began. “This is very, very special. I want to thank our coaches, our players, our entire organization, that did such a great job of coming together and banding together — not to beat the other team; we had to beat the virus first,” he said. “And you sacrificed more than any other team I’ve been around.” He thanked the Glazer family (“the best owners I’ve ever known”) and the “outstanding” players.

“We live by three words: trust, loyalty and respect,” Arians said. “One team, one cause. I hope the Senate and the House start helping you,” he told Biden.

Tom Brady also delivered remarks. “I think what’s behind me is an amazing group of players,” he said. “We bonded together, we worked really hard, we sat our individual agendas aside, and we came together as a team.” Though they are different ages and come from different backgrounds and different schools, Brady said, they are all committed to the team: “Sports has an amazing ability to bring people together.”

Brady threw in some veiled, teasing references to the 2020 election, which Biden’s opponent refused to accept. “Not a lot of people think that we could have won. In fact, I think about 40% of the people still don’t think we won…”

“I understand that,” Biden interjected, to laughs from the audience.

“You understand that, Mr. President?” Brady asked jokingly.

He continued: “We had a game in Chicago where I forgot what down it was. I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing and they started calling me ‘Sleepy Tom’. Why would they do that to me?” Brady asked, making light of the ‘Sleepy Joe’ nickname that Donald Trump gave Biden during the debates.

“You know, we’re on the eve of football season. We start tomorrow — practice — and we’re going to do everything we can to work to achieve another one of those Lombardi Trophies,” Brady concluded. “We’re excited for the opportunity to compete and work hard and show everyone what we’re made of.”

Photo from Twitter.

UPDATE (July 22, 2021): Members of the Buccaneers team received their Super Bowl rings today. Each ring is designed with 319 diamonds — representing the 31-9 score by which the Bucs won Super Bowl 51. And for the first time in history, the ring comes with a removable top. Inside the ring is a hand-engraved stadium logo, commemorating the fact that the Buccaneers were the first team in history to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

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Federal Judge Rules DACA Unlawful

By Terrance Turner

July 16, 2021

A federal judge in Texas has ruled the DACA program unlawful. Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of the United States District Court in Houston, ruled that President Barack Obama exceeded his authority when he created the program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) by executive order in 2012. But the judge chose not to immediately end the program, so the hundreds of thousands of immigrants it shields remain protected — for now.

In his decision, Judge Hanen addressed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which instituted the policy. Hanen ruled that the DHS violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which governs the process by which federal agencies develop and issue regulations.  “DHS violated the APA with the creation of DACA and its continued application,” the judge wrote. He partially granted a judgement to Texas and several other states that had sued the United States government over DACA. But he stopped short of completely dismantling the program.

While Hanen vacated the DACA memorandum and the program it created, he added: “Nevertheless, these rulings do not resolve the issue of the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and others who have relied on this program for over a decade. That reliance has not diminished and may, in fact, have increased over time. Therefore, the order of immediate vacatur as it applies to current DACA recipients (but not the order of remand) is temporarily stayed,” Hanen wrote. He added: “DHS may continue to accept new DACA applications and renewal DACA applications,” but cannot approve them.

Simply put: immigrants already protected by DACA will remain so; they cannot be deported. Those who have already applied for the program will have their applications accepted by DHS. But while the Department can accept those applications, it cannot approve them.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created in 2012 under then-President Barack Obama. Under the program, immigrants brought to the U.S. as children could stay in the States temporarily. They could apply and file for a two-year “forbearance” that would shield them from deportation. They have to be within 15 and 30 years of age, with no felony convictions. They must also pass a background check. According to NPR, DACA recipients must also be currently in school, a high school graduate, or honorably discharged from the military. The fee to renew and apply is $495.

Obama was moved to create the program after activists staged sit-ins in congressional offices and protested outside the White House. DACA was launched after the DREAM Act, which had similar protections, failed to pass Congress. (It was blocked in the Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Senator John Cornyn.)

According to ImmigrationHelp.org, the bill would have made Dreamers eligible for a “conditional residency” status that would let them live and work in the U.S. for six years. After six years, they could get lawful permanent resident status, better known as a “green card.” Despite support from both Democrats and Republicans at the time, that bill never became law because it couldn’t get enough support in the Senate.

In lieu of Congress passing the legislation, Obama issued an executive order that directed the DHS to implement DACA. Since then, some 826,000 immigrants have received legal protection and work permits under the program. (NAACP’s website says that while over 80% of DACA recipients are Mexican, 36,000 Africans are also eligible for the program.)

After Obama left office, his successor worked to end the program. But last June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s 2017 attempt to end the program was “arbitrary and capricious”. Then, in December, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to begin accepting new applications for DACA. This new ruling stops those applications from being fully processed. (CNN reported on Wednesday that roughly 13,000 renewal cases have remained pending for longer than four months, according to correspondence from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.)Those applications are now in limbo.

But the fight is not over. According to NPR, supporters of DACA will appeal this decision in the Fifth Circuit Court. That leaves the fate of the program up to the Supreme Court (again) or to Congress. President Joe Biden has pledged to protect DACA or place something similar in its place.On June 15 (DACA’s ninth anniversary), he stated: “I will continue to work towards passage of legislation protecting Dreamers and creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.”

Vice President Kamala Harris agreed. On June 15 (the ninth anniversary of DACA), Harris noted the uncertainty that Dreamers feel and called for a pathway to citizenship. “Even with DACA in place, we know that Dreamers live in a constant state of fear about their status and about their future,” Harris said. “It is critically important that we provide a pathway to citizenship to give people a sense of certainty and a sense of security.”

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