NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has heard all the reasons why the league should not have an All-Star Game in Atlanta next weekend. Silver, in an interview with The Associated Press, said the fact that about 100 million votes were cast by fans for All-Star starters shows that the people who follow the game globally wanted the league’s midseason showcase to be played. “It’s the largest factor, the amount of engagement we get from our fans around All-Star,” Silver said.
Shares of Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT) popped 9.8% on Friday after the mortgage giant delivered a blockbuster fourth-quarter report. The parent company of Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage made a boatload of cash in 2020 -- so much so that it announced a $1.11 per share special dividend. The mortgage leader's revenue surged 144% year over year to $4.7 billion, fueled by a 111% rise in loan originations.
Myanmar's U.N. envoy urged the United Nations to use "any means necessary" to stop a military coup there, making a surprise appeal on behalf of the ousted government as police cracked down on anti-junta protesters. The Southeast Asian country has been in crisis since the army seized power on Feb. 1 and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership, alleging fraud in a November election her party had won. The coup has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to Myanmar's streets and drawn condemnation from Western countries, with some imposing limited sanctions.
JUNEAU, Alaska — An Alaska Native corporation said it was unable to meet a deadline for aerial surveys of polar bear dens in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because a federal agency did not issue necessary the necessary work authorization in a timely manner. The Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. also took issue with what it calls a “blatant mischaracterization” of what happened and says it is owed an apology. On Saturday, Melissa Schwartz, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Interior, said the corporation had confirmed to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials that den detection surveys had not been conducted by a Feb. 13 deadline. The corporation was told “their request is no longer actionable, and the Service does not intend to issue or deny the authorization,” she said. Her comments echoed those of Regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Gregory Siekaniec in a letter to corporation President Matthew Rexford a day earlier. The corporation had sought authorization from the agency for activities that could disturb polar bears as part of a broader proposal to conduct what are known as seismic surveys to search for oil and gas deposits within the refuge's coastal plain. In December, the Fish and Wildlife Service released for comment a proposed authorization that would allow for “incidental harassment” of polar bears in the coastal plain during a set period for seismic work. More than 6 million comments were received, according to Siekaniec. In his letter, Siekaniec said the agency was unable to review and consider all the comments and “make appropriate refinements” to the proposed authorization and supporting documents before a "key milestone” in the corporation's request, noting the Feb. 13 deadline. Rexford, in a response to the regional director, said the corporation had gotten conflicting messages on the status of that review. He said that the agency had failed his corporation and community. Kaktovik is on the northern edge of the refuge, on the Beaufort Sea coast. He told The Associated Press the corporation is evaluating its next steps. Schwartz on Friday declined comment beyond her previous statement. President Joe Biden’s administration last month announced plans for a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the refuge after the Trump administration issued leases in a part of the region considered sacred by the Indigenous Gwich’in. The Interior Department says none of the lands proposed for seismic survey activity are within the area that has been leased. Pending lawsuits have challenged the adequacy of the environmental review process undertaken by the Trump administration. Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
Michael Colton is co-creator of upcoming sitcom 'Home Economics.' He also reigned as 'Jeopardy!' champ when he promoted the ABC series at TCA Friday.
Get inspired to show off your greenery. From Good Housekeeping
A surge in cases in some Indian states has scientists worried about a possible new wave.
The Time's Up movement on Friday launched a campaign criticizing the lack of diversity in the organization that hands out the Golden Globes for film and television. The Golden Globes are chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFP) and have grown to be one of the most popular award shows in the run-up to the annual Oscars. Prominent Black celebrities Kerry Washington, Sterling K. Brown, Ava DuVernay and TV producer Shonda Rhimes swiftly threw their support behind the campaign, along with the likes of directors J.J. Abrams and Judd Apatow.
Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart kicked off its eighth season Sunday night with a bang. The Season 8 premiere averaged three million Total Viewers and 397,000 Women 25-54 in Live+3, making it the most-watched original scripted series on ad-supported cable in the year-to-date among Total Viewers and Women 18+, accoording to Nielsen. The Season […]
WASHINGTON — Diplomats sat beside stacks of briefing papers, flanked by flags and emphasized their closeness. But they were geographically far apart Friday as Secretary of State Antony Blinken, because of the pandemic, started a new chapter in North American relations with virtual visits to Mexico and Canada in what was billed as his first official trip. Though symbolically important in any administration, the decision by President Joe Biden to dispatch Blinken to Mexico and Canada for the first visits, even virtually, is part of a broader effort to turn the page from a predecessor who at times had fraught relations with both nations. The three nations signed a revamped trade accord last year after then-President Donald Trump demanded a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. “The United States has long-standing relationships with both Mexico and Canada," Blinken said afterward. “Today’s meetings were an opportunity to dive deeper into shared priorities.” Biden will engage himself with his counterpart, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on Monday when the two leaders are scheduled to hold their own virtual meeting. The two leaders are expected to discuss migration, the COVID-19 recovery and economic co-operation, according to the White House. The secretary began his virtual visits with Mexico, a country Trump repeatedly disparaged in his campaign and early in his presidency, though relations turned more cordial under López Obrador. “I wanted to ‘visit,’ in quotation marks, Mexico first to demonstrate the importance that we attach, President Biden attaches, to the relationship between our countries,” Blinken told his counterpart, Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard. Blinken’s meetings with Mexico and Canada, two of the largest U.S. trading partners, covered economic issues as well as well as efforts to confront climate change and fight COVID-19, which prompted the countries to close their borders to all but essential traffic. Biden last week made his first bilateral meeting, also virtual, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who at times had a frosty relationship with Trump. Biden disappointed some in Canada with his decision upon taking office to reverse Trump and revoke the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which President Barack Obama's administration determined had only limited energy and economic benefits to the U.S. and conflicted with efforts to curb climate change. That didn’t come up in the public portion of Blinken’s meeting with Foreign Minister Marc Garneau, who welcomed Biden's commitment to "renew U.S. leadership and diplomacy.” The secretary later met privately with Trudeau. Ebrard, for his part, welcomed Biden's decision to reverse his predecessor and rejoin both the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization. He also praised the “initiatives” of the new administration, an apparent reference to the decision to set a new course on some immigration and border policies. “We understand that these are being done in recognition to the Mexican community,” he said, without mentioning any specific policy. “We are receiving them with empathy.” Biden ended Trump's policy of requiring migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico or to pursue their claims in Central America. He also restored protection for people without legal status in the U.S. who were brought to the country as children, many of whom are Mexican, and is backing legislation that would enable them to seek citizenship. The Biden administration has begun processing the asylum claims of about 25,000 migrants who had been in Mexico, often in unsanitary and dangerous conditions, but has not lifted a policy, imposed at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, of quickly expelling people captured along the border and has sought to discourage illegal migration. Blinken told reporters the administration is working to develop a “more rational” asylum process. Just before his visit with Ebrard, Blinken conducted a virtual tour of the busy border crossing at El Paso, Texas, and said the administration is working with Mexico and Central American nations to ease the conditions that drive people to try to illegally reach the United States. “To anyone thinking about undertaking that journey, our message is: Don’t do it. We are strictly enforcing our immigration laws and our border security measures," he said. Ben Fox, The Associated Press
BIDEN: "We will be true partners to help you recover and rebuild, from the storms and this pandemic and the economic crisis. We're in for the long-haul."President Joe Biden and the first lady were in Houston, Texas on Friday, days after the president issued a major disaster declaration to free up funds for the state as it grapples with the damage left by a powerful winter storm.Biden met with Republican Governor Greg Abbott, spoke with volunteers at a Houston food bank and workers at the Harris County emergency operations center in Houston.BIDEN: "You're saving people's lives and you're doing, as my mother would say if she were here 'you're doing God's work, kid.'"Biden’s Friday visit comes as Texas works to recover from a severe February storm that killed at least two dozen people, caused serious damage to homes and businesses, and left millions without power or clean water for days.The President was told scores of people still don’t have clean water."We still have multiple water utility districts that are still repairing their systems today and 57 thousand residents still have to boil there water."Last week, Abbott asked FEMA and Biden to issue a major disaster declaration for all of the state's 254 counties. Biden initially signed off on a declaration for 77 counties, which Abbott said was not enough. Biden added 31 more on Monday and signaled he was open to increasing the number.BIDEN: "When a crisis hits our states, like the one to hit Texas, it's not a Republican or Democrat that's hurting, it's our fellow Americans that are hurting. And it's our job to help everyone in need."The state's Republican leaders have come under fire for not heeding warnings that its power grid needed significant upgrades to defend against deep freezes like the one in mid-February.While Biden did not get into laying blame Friday, his deputy national security adviser did fault the Texas government for foregoing energy regulation that could have left it better prepared.
From Britney Spears' 55-hour marriage to Kim K calling it quits after just 72 days.From Good Housekeeping
Chief executives of the nation's largest passenger and cargo airlines met with key Biden administration officials Friday to talk about reducing emissions from airplanes and push incentives for lower-carbon aviation fuels. The White House said the meeting with climate adviser Gina McCarthy and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also touched on economic policy and curbing the spread of COVID-19 — travel has been a vector for the virus. But industry officials said emissions dominated the discussion. United Airlines said CEO Scott Kirby asked administration officials to support incentives for sustainable aviation fuel and technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere. In December, United said it invested an undisclosed amount in a carbon-capture company partly owned by Occidental Petroleum. A United Nations aviation group has concluded that biofuels will remain a tiny source of aviation fuel for several years. Some environmentalists would prefer the Biden administration to impose tougher emissions standards on aircraft rather than create breaks for biofuels. “Biofuels are false solutions that don’t decarbonize air travel,” said Clare Lakewood, a climate-law official with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Real action on aircraft emissions requires phasing out dirty, aging aircraft, maximizing operational efficiencies and funding the rapid development of electrification.” Airplanes account for a small portion of emissions that cause climate change — about 2% to 3% — but their share has been growing rapidly and is expected to roughly triple by mid-century with the global growth in travel. The airline trade group says U.S. carriers have more than doubled the fuel efficiency of their fleets since 1978 and plan further reductions in carbon emissions. But the independent International Council on Clean Transportation says passenger traffic is growing nearly four times faster than fuel efficiency, leading to a 33% increase in emissions between 2013 and 2019. The U.S. accounts for about 23% of aircraft carbon-dioxide emissions, followed by Europe at 19% and China at 13%, the transportation group's researchers estimated. The White House said McCarthy, Buttigieg and economic adviser Brian Deese were “grateful and optimistic” to hear the airline CEOs talk about current and future efforts to combat climate change. Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group Airlines for America, said the exchange was positive. “Airlines are ready, willing and able partners, and we want to be part of the solution" to climate change, Calio said in a statement. “We stand ready to work in partnership with the Biden administration.” David Koenig, The Associated Press
TJ's has some tricks up its sleeve.From Good Housekeeping
Radnor, Pennsylvania--(Newsfile Corp. - February 26, 2021) - The law firm of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP reminds investors that a securities fraud class action lawsuit has been filed against Clover Health Investments, Corp. (NASDAQ: CLOV) ("Clover") on behalf of those who purchased or acquired Clover publicly traded securities between October 6, 2020 and February 4, 2021, inclusive (the "Class Period"), and/or purchased or acquired Clover securities pursuant or traceable to Clover's ...
Vancouver, British Columbia--(Newsfile Corp. - February 26, 2021) - Pan Andean Minerals Ltd. (TSXV: PAD) ("Pan Andean" or the "Company") is pleased to announce it has entered into a non-binding Letter of Intent ("LOI") agreement with Belmont Resources Inc. ("BEA" or "Belmont") to acquire a 25% interest in the A Block of the Kibby Basin Lithium Project (the "Kibby Lithium Property"). Belmont is the owner of the property known as the A Block, located ...
The human trafficking case brought against a former U.S. Olympics women’s gymnastics coach hours before he killed himself could signal a new approach to policing a sport already dogged by a far-reaching sexual abuse scandal involving a one-time team doctor. John Geddert, the head coach of the 2012 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team, killed himself Thursday hours after prosecutors charged him with 24 counts accusing him of turning his once-acclaimed Michigan gym into a hub of human trafficking by coercing girls to train there and then abusing them — one sexually. Although Geddert was charged with sexually assaulting one teenager and he worked closely with Larry Nassar, the imprisoned sports doctor who sexually abused dozens of women and girls under the guise it was treatment, the bulk of the case against Geddert was for human trafficking — a charge that even the state's top law enforcement official acknowledged might not fit the common understanding of such a case.
WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia's crown prince likely approved the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to a newly declassified U.S. intelligence report released Friday that instantly ratcheted up pressure on the Biden administration to hold the kingdom accountable for a murder that drew worldwide outrage. The intelligence findings were long known to many U.S. officials and, even as they remained classified, had been reported with varying degrees of precision. But the public rebuke of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is still a touchstone in U.S-Saudi relations. It leaves no doubt that as the prince continues in his powerful role and likely ascends to the throne, Americans will forever associate him with the brutal killing of a journalist who promoted democracy and human rights. Yet even as the Biden administration released the findings, it appeared determined to preserve the Saudi relationship by avoiding direct punishment of the prince himself despite demands from some congressional Democrats and Khashoggi allies for significant and targeted sanctions. Questioned by reporters, Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the approach. “What we’ve done by the actions we’ve taken is not to rupture the relationship but to recalibrate it to be more in line with our interests and our values," he said. “I think that we have to understand as well that this is bigger than any one person.” The conclusion that the prince approved an operation to kill or capture Khashoggi was based on his decision-making role inside the kingdom, the involvement of a key adviser and members of his protective detail and his past support for violently silencing dissidents abroad, according to the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Though intelligence officials stopped short of saying the prince ordered the October 2018 murder, the four-page document described him as having “absolute control” over the kingdom’s intelligence organizations and said it would have been highly unlikely for an operation like the killing to have been carried out without his approval. Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry responded by saying the kingdom “categorically rejects the offensive and incorrect assessment in the report pertaining to the kingdom’s leadership.” Shortly after the findings were released, the State Department announced a new policy, called the “Khashoggi Ban,” that will allow the U.S. to deny visas to people who harm, threaten or spy on journalists on behalf of a foreign government. It also said it would impose visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals who have engaged or threatened dissidents overseas. The State Department declined to comment on who would be affected, citing the confidentiality of visa records. But a person familiar with the matter said the prince was not targeted. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. The Treasury Department also announced sanctions against a former Saudi intelligence official, Ahmad Hassan Mohammed al Asiri, who U.S. officials say was the operation's ringleader. Democrats in Congress praised the administration for releasing the report — the Trump administration had refused to do so — but urged it to take more aggressive actions, including against the prince. Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, urged the Biden administration to consider punishing the prince, who he says has the blood of an American journalist on his hands. “The President should not meet with the Crown Prince, or talk with him, and the Administration should consider sanctions on assets in the Saudi Public Investment Fund he controls that have any link to the crime,” Schiff said in a statement. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, called for consequences for the prince — such as sanctions — as well as for the Saudi kingdom as a whole. Rights activists said the lack of any punitive measures would signal impunity for the prince and other autocrats. Without sanctions, “it’s a joke,” said Tawwakol Karman, a Nobel Peace Price winner from neighbouring Yemen and friend of Khashoggi's. While Biden had pledged as a candidate to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the killing, he appeared to take a milder tone during a call Thursday with Saudi King Salman. A White House summary of the conversation made no mention of the killing and said instead that the men had discussed the countries’ long-standing partnership. The kingdom’s state-run Saudi Press Agency similarly did not mention Khashoggi’s killing in its report about the call, focusing on regional issues like Iran and the war in Yemen. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has told reporters that the administration intends to “recalibrate" the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. Biden previously ordered an end to U.S. support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen and said he would stop the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia but has given few details of his plans. Though the Biden administration's relationship with Riyadh is likely to be more adversarial than that of Donald Trump's, the reality is that Riyadh's oil reserves and status as a counterbalance to Iran in the Middle East have long made it a strategic — if difficult — ally. The broad outlines of the killing have long been known. The document released Friday says a 15-member Saudi team, including seven members of the prince's elite personal protective team, arrived in Istanbul, though it says it's unclear how far in advance Saudi officials had decided to harm him. Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate to pick up documents needed for his wedding. Once inside, he died at the hands of more than a dozen Saudi security and intelligence officials and others who had assembled ahead of his arrival. Surveillance cameras had tracked his route and those of his alleged killers in Istanbul in the hours before his killing. A Turkish bug planted at the consulate reportedly captured the sound of a forensic saw, operated by a Saudi colonel who was also a forensics expert, dismembering Khashoggi’s body within an hour of his entering the building. The whereabouts of his remains remain unknown. The prince, an ambitious 35-year-old who has rapidly consolidated power since his father became king in 2015, said in 2019 that he took “full responsibility” for the killing since it happened on his watch, but denied ordering it. Saudi officials have said Khashoggi’s killing was the work of rogue Saudi security and intelligence officials. Saudi Arabian courts last year announced they had sentenced eight Saudi nationals to prison in Khashoggi’s killing. They were not identified. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Ben Fox in Washington and Ellen Knickmeyer in Oklahoma City contributed to this report. Eric Tucker And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada's governor on Friday unveiled a proposal that would allow technology companies to establish jurisdictions with powers similar to those of county governments, arguing the state needed to be bold to diversify its economy and pushing back against those who have likened the idea to company towns. “This proposal is an exciting, unprecedented concept that has a potential to position Nevada as a global centre of advanced technology and innovation, while helping to create immediate positive economic impact and shape the economy of the future,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said of his Innovation Zones idea. “As we’ve learned in the past, an emergency requires us to throw out the tried-and-true, discard the ‘How We’ve Always Done It’ manual and move on.” Under the proposal, companies developing cutting-edge technologies that have at least 50,000 acres (200 sq. kilometres) of land and promise to invest $1.25 billion could establish “Innovation Zones." The zones would be governed by a board responsible for overseeing zoning, taxation, law enforcement and other government functions on their land. It would override local county regulations. The governor’s office of economic development would initially appoint three members to govern the zone, including two required to be from the company. While the legislation does not specifically mention the company, the proposal is geared toward Blockchains LLC, a cryptocurrency company that owns 67,000 acres of land (270 sq. kilometres) in rural Storey County. Blockchains LLC hopes to build a smart city 12 miles (19 kilometres) east of Reno that would include underground data storage bunkers, 15,000 homes and a research and development park where entrepreneurs could invent applications of blockchain technology. Blockchain is a digital ledger known mostly for recording cryptocurrency transactions. Local governments have also taken advantage of its secure record-keeping capabilities to document marriage licenses and facilitate overseas voting. The Innovation Zone proposal has sparked concerns about ceding excessive amounts of power to technology companies. But Blockchains CEO Jeffrey Berns insists that the company's technology has the potential to empower people to control their digital footprint. “What we’re trying to build is a place where you have power instead of companies,” he told The Associated Press earlier in February. An economic impact study commissioned by Blockchains projects the company's Innovation Zone will create jobs, economic activity and revenue from a tax imposed on transactions made on the blockchain. The study projects Blockchains' proposal will eventually generate $2.2 billion in direct output annually, about 1.3% of Nevada's overall economic activity. But forecasting the economic impact of unproven technology is difficult, particularly because many of the potential applications of the company's ledger technology have yet to be invented. Applied Analysis’ Jeremy Aguero, who authored the study, said the projections were based on more than cryptocurrency transactions and encompassed any action on Blockchains' database made in Nevada or elsewhere. Blockchains, he said, planned to pilot its cryptocurrency in Nevada on industries like cannabis sales or in the gig economy and then expand its applications to other sectors and locations. All of the transaction taxes would be collected by Nevada. “When we think about it in terms of the revenue estimates that are being yielded, it’s not just related to cryptocurrency. It’s related to any of the transactions that will add a block to the chain,” Aguero said. Blockchain technology is already used to record financial transactions, store medical records and co-ordinate supply chain logistics. Sisolak said the purpose of innovation zones is to attract developers to Nevada as they devise new ways to use the technology. “The applications of the technology are limitless. We cannot even imagine what their technology could be,” he said. The yet-to-be invented applications are a key reason that Blockchains wants to establish an Innovation Zone. The company and the proposal's proponents say small jurisdictions are not the ideal governmental bodies to make decisions about new technologies and a massive development that, in Storey County's case, could increase the population tenfold. “The traditional forms and functions of local government ... are inadequate alone to provide the flexibility and resources conducive to making the State a leader in attracting and retaining new forms and types of businesses,” according to draft legislation. Some locals disagree. Storey County resident Eileen Gay said that the mechanisms in place for development and project approval protect local interests and the environment. “Oversight is what makes for safe, well-considered, well-balanced development," she told county commissioners at a Feb. 16 meeting. “What is to prevent this 800-pound gorilla of a neighbour from swallowing our small neighbourhood up?” Developers may indeed invent new ways to use the digital ledger, but at an August 2020 Storey County Commission meeting, Blockchains lobbyist Matthew Digesti described the company's proposal as something local governments routinely encounter: a “high-tech business park integrated with a master planned residential community." Sisolak said he understood the Innovation Zones was unconventional, but he said the pandemic had proven that Nevada needs to be bold to diversify its tourism-driven economy. He said government and the private sector needed to work together to induce economy recovery. "What we’ve been doing has not worked," he said. “We cannot wait for economic recovery to come to us. We must accelerate and pursue innovative ways to inject Nevada with new and organic economic growth, and more jobs.” ___ Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Sam Metz, The Associated Press
They'll love these almost as much as they love you. Awwww.From Cosmopolitan