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WNBA Players Walk Out During Anthem While MLB Players Weigh in on the Kneeling Debate

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  • Several MLB players from teams like the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers have knelt during the national anthem.
  • Even more players have chosen to kneel before the anthem plays for a moment of unity, where a recorded message calling for equality plays while athletes hold a black ribbon together.
  • Some, like San Francisco Giants player Sam Coonrod, have been vocal against kneeling. Coonrod was the only Giants player to not kneel during the moment of unity, saying he “can’t kneel before anything but God, Jesus Christ.
  • Meanwhile, the WNBA has dedicated their entire season to Breonna Taylor and the Say Her Name campaign. In a unified move, all the players on the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm walked off the court during the anthem.

Standing Vs. Kneeling in the MLB

Showing support for social movements on court or field during the national anthem has become a contentious subject in sports. During their opening games, many Major League Baseball players weighed in on the kneeling debate, while players for the Women’s National Basketball Associate chose to walk off the court entirely as the anthem played.

Since the MLB kicked its season off on Thursday, several players have opted to kneel during the national anthem, the same form of protest that got Colin Kaepernick booted from the NFL in 2016. Even more have knelt before the anthem during a moment of unity. That moment kicks off with a recorded message from Morgan Freeman about the importance of togetherness and equality. While it plays, the athletes join together by holding a long black ribbon. 

When the message ends, the stadium observes a brief moment of silence. During this moment, many teams have taken a knee, including the entirety of the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, and Los Angeles Dodgers. A handful of players on the Boston Red Sox did as well. Once the anthem begins, most rise. However, players from the Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox, Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants have knelt for the duration of the song, along with coaches from the Tampa Bay Rays. Other players on the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics raised their fists during the song.

“We have to keep the movement moving forward,” Yankees star Giancarlo Stanton told reporters. “For basic human rights in America. For equality. For all of us to have a fair shake.”

He was joined by teammate Aaron Hicks who said he knelt “because I’m a Black man living in America. I should be judged by my character not by my skin tone.” 

“And growing up, that’s kinda what’s happened. It felt right to do,” Hicks added. “It’s kind of a hard thing to talk about especially when it’s my life.”

Still, some baseball players have been vocal about their opposition to kneeling. When the Giants faced off against the Dodgers, every single player took a knee during the moment of unity except for Giants pitcher Sam Coonrod. 

“I meant no ill will by it. I don’t think I’m better than anybody,” he told reporters. “I’m just a Christian. I believe I can’t kneel before anything but God, Jesus Christ. I chose not to kneel. I feel if I did kneel I’d be a hypocrite. I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”

In addition to citing his religion, Coonrod also said he “can’t get on board” with a few things he has read about Black Lives Matter. The message played before the moment of sielnce, however, does not mention the Black Lives Matter movement specifically. It plays to a pretty down the middle call for equality and unity.

WNBA Teams Walk Off Court

Meanwhile, in the WNBA, the players stand on a more unified front when it comes to taking a stand against injustice. In addition to dedicating their season to Breonna Taylor and the Say Her Name Campaign, the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm walked off the court during the national anthem. 

Liberty player Layshia Clarendon told ESPN that many in the league found kneeling to be performative at this point. Several players in the WNBA knelt back in 2016 in solidarity with Kaepernick. The league has been known for standing for social justice.

“Kneeling doesn’t even feel like enough to protest,” she said. “I don’t want to hear the anthem, I don’t want to stand out there. I don’t want to be anywhere near it, because it’s ridiculous that justice and freedom are just not offered to everybody equally.”

The WNBA has worked with Breonna Taylor’s mother, politician Stacey Abrams, as well as other activists and organizers, to make sure their season is focused on fighting for social justice in a meaningful way. Before their Saturday game, the Liberty and Storm observed a 26 second moment of silence in honor of the age Taylor was when she was shot and killed by police officers in Louisville. None have been arrested yet. 

“We are also dedicating this season to Say Her Name Campaign, a campaign committed to saying the names and fighting for justice for Black women,” Clarendon said before the game. “Black women who are so often forgotten in this fight for justice, who do not have people marching in the streets for them.” 

“Black Lives Matter” was written on the floor of the court. Both the Liberty and Storm had Taylor’s name inscribed on the backs of their shirts. 

“Black women are so often forgotten in this world and in a league where we have 70% and plus black women, this is our reality,” Los Angeles Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike told reporters.

See what others are saying: (ESPN) (Sports Illustrated) (Seattle Times)

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Mother and Boyfriend Charged After Abandoning 3 Children in Apartment With Sibling’s Remains

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Authorities said the malnourished children had been living in the unit without their parents for months.


Abandoned Children Discovered in Houston

Police in Texas arrested a mother and her boyfriend on Tuesday after finding the woman’s three children abandoned in an apartment unit with the remains of their sibling.

Authorities found the 7-, 10-, and 15-year-old boys on Sunday when the teen called police to report that his brother had been dead for a year and that his body was in the unit.

When authorities arrived at the scene, they found the children living in “deplorable conditions.” Police also found the skeletal remains of an 8-year-old, who they emphasized had been decomposing for an extended period of time.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the boys were fending for each other, with the eldest doing his best to care for the younger ones. According to the teen, his parents hadn’t been living in the apartment with them for months.

Gonzales called it one of the most shocking cases he had ever seen in all his years in law enforcement, and many are now asking how these kids could have been suffering for so long without anyone ever noticing.

Signs That Went Unnoticed

The Daily Beast reported that the kids hadn’t been attending school since May 2020, claiming that the school even conducted an unsuccessful home visit in September of that year.

On top of that, the children had been without power for several weeks, with one neighbor telling local reporters that the teen would often charge his phone at her place.

Another neighbor, Erica Chapman, said she had once found the teen sleeping on a playground slide, so she gave him some food and drinks.

I asked him if he was hungry. He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I brought him out some food and some drinks,” Chapman told KHOU.

She said he “wouldn’t talk about his parents,” and she didn’t push because she wanted him to feel safe coming to her if he needed food. Chapman added that she would drop off food at the apartment sometimes but said it was hard to tell what was going on inside.

Police also described a foul odor coming from the unit, which a different neighbor said she complained to management about more than once. That woman claimed the smell was so vile, she could not turn on her air conditioning.

Dianne Davis, who lived in the complex for two years, told The Houston Chronicle that the building manager performs regular inspections on the units, with the most recent one happening last week.

“How come they couldn’t detect this?” Davis told the paper. “How could that not have been found?”

Mother and Boyfriend Face Charges

According to Child Protective Services (CPS), the agency does have a history with the family, but there was no active investigation at the time the kids were discovered.

After they were found, the boys were treated at a hospital and placed with CPS while the agency seeks emergency custody of them.

At the hospital, doctors discovered fractures in the 7-year-old face and said two of the three boys were malnourished. Meanwhile, the medical examiner’s office said the deceased child suffered multiple blunt force injuries and ruled his death a homicide.

Police located the mother, 35-year-old Gloria Williams, and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Brian Coulter, on Sunday. They were interviewed and initially released without charges.

ABC13 reported that the teen texted his mother, who lived just 15 minutes, before calling the police.

On Tuesday, the couple was finally arrested while allegedly reading articles about themselves at a library. Williams, faces multiple charges, including injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence involving a human corpse.

Meanwhile, Coulter was charged with murder over the death of the child, though both he and Williams are expected to face more charges as investigators continue to unpack the details of this case.

See what others are saying: (The Houston Chronicle) (The Daily Beast) (The Washington Post)

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Man Spent COVID Relief Loan on $58,000 Pokemon Card, Feds Say

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The man is facing a wire fraud charge, which carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.


COVID Relief Funds Used on Pokemon Card

Authorities have accused a man in Georgia of misusing COVID-19 relief funds, claiming that he spent $57,789 on a single Pokemon card.

Prosecutors said Vinath Oudomsine made false statements about the gross revenue his business earns and the number of workers he employs when he applied for aid authorized under the CARES Act.

On his July 2020 application, Oudomsine allegedly claimed he had 10 employees and 12-month gross revenues of $235,000.

The following month, he was given about $85,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which means he spent nearly all of the money on the rare card.

Authorities have given few details about the specific card purchased, though they have said Oudomsine was charged with wire fraud and is expected to appear in court on Thursday.

The charge carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.

Misuse of COVID Relief Funds

Oudomsine is far from the first person to face charges for fraud related to small business loans issued amid the pandemic. Others who received relief funds have been accused of spending the money on Lamborghinis, nights at strip clubs, and even an alpaca farm, among other purchases.

In fact, the first person to be charged with fraudulently seeking a pandemic relief loan was recently sentenced to 56 months in prison following a nationwide search after the man faked his own death.

According to The Washington Post, a federal watchdog said this month that the SBA overpaid $4.5 billion in grants to self-employed people and that “no system of controls was in place to flag applications with flawed or illogical information.”

On top of that, the SBA inspector general determined earlier this year that the agency rushed to send out billions of dollars in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) “at the expense of controls” that could have blocked inappropriate aid.

In a statement on Sunday, the agency said that under the Biden administration, it has worked with Congress and the inspector general to add antifraud measures. Meanwhile, defenders of pandemic relief programs have argued that flagged loans and grants represent only a small fraction of the distributed aid that has been critical to small businesses and their pandemic recovery.

See what others are saying: (NPR)(USA Today)(The Washington Post)

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FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses

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The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.


New FDA Authorization

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.

The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.

Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.

Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.

Hazy Recommendations, For Now

Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.

The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.

In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.

However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.

An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.

Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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