Items filtered by date: Monday, 31 July 2017

Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Is Convicted of Criminal Contempt

Photo: Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County Sheriff, at his new office in Fountain Hills, Ariz., in May. Credit Courtney Pedroza for The New York Times


Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio committed a crime by defying a court order to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants, a judge ruled on Monday, in the latest rebuke for a once-popular politician who was voted out of office last year.

United States District Judge Susan R. Bolton found Mr. Arpaio, 85, guilty of criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. Mr. Arpaio’s lawyers said he would appeal.

The conviction comes as sheriffs are under pressure to play a major role in the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown. The president has threatened to withhold federal funds from local governments that do not cooperate by holding jail inmates for deportation, and immigrant advocates have pushed back with lawsuits charging that such detentions violate constitutional rights.

Mr. Arpaio served for 24 years as sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., which includes Phoenix, building a national reputation for harsh conditions in his county jail, and for his campaign against undocumented immigrants. The criminal charge grew out of a lawsuit filed a decade ago charging that the sheriff’s office regularly violated the rights of Latinos, stopping people based on racial profiling, detaining them based solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally, and turning them over to the immigration authorities.

Hearing the suit, another federal district judge, G. Murray Snow, ordered the sheriff in 2011 to halt detention based solely on suspicion of a person’s immigration status, when there was no evidence that a state law had been broken. An appeals court upheld that ruling, and Judge Snow later reinforced it with other orders.

But Mr. Arpaio insisted, publicly and repeatedly, that his office’s practices were legal and would not change, and advocates said the detentions continued.

On Monday, Judge Bolton ruled that Mr. Arpaio had willfully violated the 2011 court order. “Not only did Defendant abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise,” she wrote.

Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the lawyers in the suit against Mr. Arpaio , said the verdict “is a vindication for all the victims of his illegal stops and detentions whose constitutional rights were violated.”

Some supporters of stricter immigration enforcement rallied behind Mr. Arpaio. Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the election of President Trump had vindicated Mr. Arpaio’s policies.

“Clearly Joe Arpaio won the war, even though he lost this particular battle,” Mr. Stein said. “Like any good American citizen, he recognized his obligation and was willing to pay the price for a form of civil disobedience.”

Jack Wilenchik, one of Mr. Arpaio’s lawyers, said Judge Snow’s 2011 order “was not clear and definite, and Judge Bolton did not adequately address that.” He added that Judge Bolton had also violated Mr. Arpaio’s rights by denying him a trial by jury.

The former sheriff lost the civil case in 2013, when Judge Snow ruled that his office had systematically violated the rights of Latinos, echoing the findings of a Justice Department report from 2011.

In 2015, Judge Snow found Mr. Arpaio in civil contempt of court for violating the initial order, and prosecutors charged him with criminal contempt. Mr. Arpaio maintained in both cases that he had not willfully defied the court, and that any violations were committed by his underlings.

Judge Bolton dismissed that claim, citing evidence that Mr. Arpaio understood the order, and noted the several times when he had said he would not change his ways.

She scheduled sentencing for Oct. 5.

Mr. Arpaio, who once called himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” made jail inmates wear pink underwear and served food that some prisoners called inedible. He regularly held undocumented immigrants past their court-ordered release dates to ensure that they would be picked up by immigration agents, and vowed to investigate President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

He was also accused several times of abusing his authority to investigate political opponents, and his legal troubles caused mounting bills for the county, Arizona’s largest.

Last year, frustration with his headline-grabbing tactics turned into a defeat at the polls.

Caitlin Dickerson contributed reporting.

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Here Are The People Who've Been Ousted From The Trump Administration So Far

 

Anthony Scaramucci

Tasos Katopodis / AFP / Getty Images
Former Title: Communications Director
Length Of Service: 10 days

Scaramucci was ousted on July 31, minutes after John Kelly took the oath of office as chief of staff.

Scaramucci repeatedly told reporters that he was willing to "fire everybody" in the White House communications office to stop leaks to the press from administration staffers.

During his tenure he also called New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza and went on an expletive-laden rant about then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

Reince Priebus

Mike Theiler / AFP / Getty Images
Former Title: Chief of Staff
Length of Service: 189 days.

Priebus was replaced as the White House chief of staff by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Trump announced in a Tweet on July 28.

"I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff," Trump tweeted. "He is a Great American and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration."

Priebus told CNN that he offered Trump his resignation after he and the president talked about the administration's direction. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the president and Priebus had been discussing the timing of his departure for about two weeks.

Derek Harvey
Former Title: National Security Council Adviser

Retired Col. Derek Harvey was removed as an advisor on the National Security Council on July 28.

Harvey was appointed by Michael Flynn and served as the council's senior director for the Middle East.

Sean Spicer

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images
Former Title: Press Secretary
Length of Service: 182 days

Sean Spicer resigned as White House press secretary on July 21, minutes after Trump hired Scaramucci to be the administration's new top communications official.

Spicer's tenure was marked by a rocky relationship with the media. He often made false statements during White House press briefings — something that was routinely parodied on Saturday Night Live.

His tenure was among the shortest ever for a press secretary.

"It's been an honor & a privilege to serve @POTUS @realDonaldTrump & this amazing country. I will continue my service through August," Spicer tweeted.

As of July 31, Spicer has still been at the White House.

Mike Dubke

Andrew Harnik / AP
Former Title: Communications Director
Length of Service: 86 Days

Mike Dubke resigned as White House communication director on May 30, citing "personal reasons."

“But it has been my great honor to serve President Trump and his admin," he wrote in his resignation letter. "It has also been my distinct pleasure to work side by side, day by day, with the staff of the communications and press depts. This White House is filled with some of the finest and hardest working men and women in the American government."

James Comey

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Former Title: FBI Director
Length of Service: 109 days

President Trump suddenly fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9, after a memo from top Justice Department officials argued the bureau had suffered "substantial damage" under his tenure.

Trump later told NBC News' Lester Holt he was thinking about the FBI's investigation into Russia interference in the US election when he decided to fire James Comey.

Since then, Comey has testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding his interactions with Trump. Read more about that here.

K.T. McFarland

Kena Betancur / AFP / Getty Images
Former Title: Deputy National Security Advisor
Length of Service: 79 days

McFarland was asked to step down from her role as the White House's deputy national security advisor on April 9.

She has since been nominated to become the next US ambassador to Singapore.

Katie Walsh

Carlos Barria / Reuters
Former Title: Deputy Chief of Staff

Katie Walsh — a longtime advisor to Reince Priebus — served as the deputy chief of staff until March 30.

She has since returned to a senior role within the Republican National Committee.

Michael Flynn

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images
Former Title: National Security Advisor
Length of Service: 23 days

Flynn resigned as the administration's national security advisor on February 13 after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn fielded accusations that he had discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador Kislyak as a private citizen in December. Pence publicly defended the retired general, and reports said Flynn lied to the vice president about his conversations with the ambassador.

Sean Spicer said at the time that Trump asked for Flynn's resignation because trust between the two had "eroded."

Sally Yates

Aaron P. Bernstein / Reuters
Former Title: Acting Attorney General
Length of Service: 10 days

Trump fired Yates 10 days after his inauguration after she ordered Justice Department lawyers not to defend the president's refugee and travel ban.

In a letter sent to department lawyers before she was fired, Yates wrote, "[F]or as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order," detailing that she is "not convinced" that defending the order met with her responsibilities as head of the Justice Department "to always seek justice and stand for what is right."

Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mary Ann Georgantopoulos at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Trump’s Biggest Online Defenders Are Sad To See Scaramucci Go

The Mooch quickly became popular among some of Trump’s biggest supporters. Some in the base are disappointed he didn’t get more of a chance in the White House.

 

Photo: Carlos Barria / Reuters
Anthony Scaramucci is anything but politically correct. And in the days since he announced himself as the incoming White House communications director, he found over-the-top ways to bash the press, White House staff who talked to the press, and the GOP establishment — the kind of high-energy assault President Trump’s base craves.

The routine was too much, however, for Trump's newly installed chief of staff John Kelly, who on Monday dismissed Scaramucci just over a week after his appointment to the new job was announced, even with the White House still recovering from Friday’s departure of Kelly's predecessor, Reince Priebus. The rapid move has torn people in the president’s far-right base who had embraced Scaramucci and cheered on Priebus’s dismissal.

Those who saw Scaramucci, who is referred to by himself and others as "The Mooch," as the aide who had the president's back and wasn't afraid to speak his mind — even if it meant publicly ridiculing others to make his point — are upset that he wasn’t given a real shot in the White House. Others understand why he had to go, but believe the White House could still use a straight-talking Trump “mini-me” as communications director.

"This is a sign Trump is going to return to a more conventional media strategy," Mike Cernovich, a pro-Trump media personality who has reported on the administration, told BuzzFeed News. "It's a bad sign. I won't even try to spin this news — losing Mooch is bad for the movement."

A source close to the administration said most Trump loyalists were fond of The Mooch and aren’t thrilled about his early exit, but the source also acknowledged that he "wanted the focus to be on ending Obamacare, major tax reform, and infrastructure. If this helps those, then I'm for it."

Scaramucci, a major GOP donor in the last two presidential elections, dominated headlines since getting the communications director post — at first by taking his feud with Priebus public and later with tabloid reports about his impending divorce and absence at the birth of his newborn child.

The exclamation point of Scaramucci’s brief reign came in a New Yorker story published last Thursday, which featured an angry tirade from Scaramucci, who called Priebus "a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac," and said that he — unlike Trump's top adviser Steve Bannon — was not seeking publicity for himself.

“I’m not Steve Bannon — I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he told the New Yorker. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the president. I’m here to serve the country.”

A source close to the Bannon-wing of the administration who had cheered on Scaramucci’s hiring said that those comments made it tough to support The Mooch, even if they thought he could ultimately do the job well. “He told Steve to go suck his own cock, so,” the source said.

Some initial backers on the far right quickly soured on Scaramucci, as was apparent on the website Breitbart. The site, which Bannon previously ran as a top executive, welcomed Scaramucci's hiring, but turned against him by the end of his first week.

"In the first week of 'The Anthony Scaramucci Show,' the new White House communications director displayed numerous ways that he could give Trump and his family multiple headaches if he continues his one-man reality show," read a Breitbart story over the weekend, published after the New Yorker story, that listed Scaramucci's "blunders."

Although Breitbart’s tone shifted, several major pro-Trump media personalities mourned Scaramucci's firing Monday as a missed opportunity for the administration.

For Cernovich and others in the pro-Trump media, Scaramucci's first few days signaled the arrival of a like-minded communicator inside the West Wing, even though Scaramucci had previously publicly supported positions anathema to much of the far right movement. His rise to the top communications job suggested that, perhaps, the White House was poised to adopt some of the tactics of Twitter personalities like Cernovich, meaning more content — Periscopes and tweets — aimed straight at the base.

In an interview on Saturday at Politicon, Cernovich predicted that Scaramucci would bring the White House's messaging "direct to the people" and praised the new communications director for Periscoping moments during his first week, like Trump walking onto Air Force One (Scaramucci himself abruptly canceled his scheduled Politicon appearance). Cernovich hoped Scaramucci would usher in a White House where "Anything that doesn't jeopardize national security should just be GoPro — Have a guy with a GoPro walking around and streaming everything."

But Scaramucci never got the chance. Jack Posobiec, a member of the New Right and a pro-Trump activist, wasn't surprised by the firing, but lamented the personnel shake-up.

"Team Trump needs a brash, unscripted, dynamic figure leading the comms shop. If not Mooch, someone who fits the bill,” he said. “No talking points or canned speeches. Someone who can reach out and connect with the audience on a human level like Trump does and [outgoing press secretary Sean] Spicer never could."

Despite only one week on the job, Scaramucci seemingly won over the Trump internet last week with his on-record Priebus-bashing in the New Yorker. After the story published, a prominent 4chan personality flagged a tweet by user Adorable Deplorable with the note, "In one sentence...This is The MAGA Base." The tweet read: "I had my doubts about @Scaramucci, but NewYorker article is the best credential and vetting I could have ever asked for. I Love Mooch now."

Alt-right personality Baked Alaska responded with a crying face emoji to the news over direct message. On Twitter, he called it a "huge mistake" and said that "his pure lack of political correctness will be missed." (Baked Alaska is a former employee of BuzzFeed.)

Many conservative media sites were beginning to jump behind Scaramucci on Monday — roughy an hour before his removal was announced, The Federalist published an article with the headline "Why Anthony Scaramucci Is The Man Trump And America Need." Similarly, Sinclair Broadcast Group's chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn put out a new video op-ed expounding on Scaramucci's "fresh perspective" in the communications shop. And some in the MAGAland media — who're usually able to deftly spin the chaos inside the Trump White House — seem unmoored by the news.

"Mooch is BELOVED by MAGA," one pro-Trump media personality told BuzzFeed News. The person stressed the fear that the change will mean a more conventional White House social media strategy, "which has been an utter failure on all levels."

Perhaps most of all for the pro-Trump media, the shake-up is another sign that the White House isn't just impossible to read, but also might not always align with the media apparatus designed to parrot its message.

"The grassroots Trump supporters want to know they have a voice in the White House too, not just spoken to from behind the gates," Posobiec said of the news. "In those 10 days, Trump supporters really got on board with Mooch. Big shoes to fill."

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Online fundraiser for Leni’s counter-protest reaches P6 M

The online fundraising campaign launched by supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo to help finance her counter-protest against former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has raised about P6 million in almost a month. Office of the Vice President/Released, File


MANILA, Philippines - The online fundraising campaign launched by supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo to help finance her counter-protest against former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has raised about P6 million in almost a month.

More than 25,000 backers have responded to the Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni campaign launched by Robredo’s women supporters last July 4.

“Our movement is a testament how Filipinos from all over the country value and want to protect their votes,” Museo Pambata founder Nina Lim-Yuson, one of the campaign’s proponents, said.

“We will continue to ask support until we reach the amount needed,” she said.

Lim-Yuson, along with other women leaders, filed last June a petition before the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to allow them to contribute to Robredo’s counter-protest fee.

The other petitioners are former Pag-IBIG Fund chief executive officer Zorayda Amelia Alonzo, former human rights commissioner Paulynn Sicam, award-winning singer Celeste Legaspi-Gallardo, Ateneo de Manila University Press director Karina Bolasco and former social welfare secretary Corazon Soliman.

The PET, however, has yet to rule on their petition.

Earlier, the SC granted the request of Robredo’s lawyers for an extension of her deadline to pay the remaining P7.43 million required to process her counter-protest against Marcos.

Robredo paid the initial deposit of P8 million last May 2.

Marcos, on the other hand, has completed payment of the P66.02-million protest fee.

The former senator is contesting the poll results in 39,221 clustered precincts, while Robredo’s counter-protest covers 8,042 clustered precincts.

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Oil firms raisepump prices today

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and SeaOil Philippines Inc. said pump prices would increase starting at 6 a.m., with gasoline prices going up by P0.35 per liter, kerosene by P0.40 per liter and diesel by P0.50 per liter. File


MANILA, Philippines - Petroleum companies are raising pump prices for the fourth straight week today as higher demand and lower US production continue to induce price surges in the international oil market.

In separate text advisories yesterday, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and SeaOil Philippines Inc. said pump prices would increase starting at 6 a.m., with gasoline prices going up by P0.35 per liter, kerosene by P0.40 per liter and diesel by P0.50 per liter.

Eastern Petroleum Corp., Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. and PTT Philippines Corp. announced the same price increases on gasoline and diesel products effective 6 a.m. today.

In a separate advisory, Flying V said it would have the same price adjustments starting 12:01 a.m.

UniOil Petroleum Philippines Inc., on the other hand, said its price hikes would take effect at 6:01 a.m.

During last week’s trading, oil prices settled at $49.71 at the closing, its strongest week this year, Reuters reported.

High demand and a decline in US production were supportive factors in this week’s fuel price increases, Department of Energy (DOE)-Oil Industry Management Bureau director Melita Obillo said in a text message.

She said there was robust demand after recent data showing US, Singapore and Japan’s overall inventory drawdown and higher consumption from China and India.

The DOE official also said drilling for new US production is slowing down.

Meanwhile, the US threat of sanctions against Venezuela’s vital oil sector in response to Sunday’s election of a constitutional super-body also drove prices higher, Obillo said.

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Priest abused girl twice – probers

Photo:The girl said Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos “used” her twice in June and that she was paid P3,000 on their first encounter, said Senior Superintendent Roger Quezada, Marikina City police chief. Rizal-PIO, File


MANILA, Philippines - The 13-year-old girl who was rescued from a priest who wanted to bring her to a motel told police he had allegedly abused her twice before, an official said yesterday.

The girl said Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos “used” her twice in June and that she was paid P3,000 on their first encounter, said Senior Superintendent Roger Quezada, Marikina City police chief.

The same 16-year-old pimp, who was arrested along with Lagarejos, had set up the “meetings,” he added.

He left it to the city prosecutor’s office to file additional charges against Lagarejos following the girl’s allegations. The priest was charged with human trafficking on Saturday.

“We will pursue the case against the priest. We will not lower our guard on this,” said Quezada.

Lagarejos was arrested last Friday in an operation that was set up after the girl's mother reported to the Women and Children's Protection Desk.

Quezada clarified that Lagarejos’ arrest was not the product of a sting as the girl had no prior knowledge of the police operation.

The girl’s pimp reportedly received P500 from Lagarejos for the girl’s services.

Airtight case

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro declared yesterday that they have an airtight case against Lagarejos.

“There would be no whitewash in the investigation of the case and there is no pressure from anybody, including the Catholic Church,” Teodoro said in a text message to reporters.

Quezada briefed the mayor on the case yesterday.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, Lagarejos was being held at the Marikina police’s detention facility while the girl and her alleged pimp are in the custody of the local social welfare office.

Wake-up call

Meanwhile, retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who is in charge of investigating Lagarejos’ case, said yesterday that he is not discounting the possibility that President Duterte would cite the case in his tirades against the Catholic Church.

“He should do that to wake us up to make us a little straight in our actuations,” Cruz said.

He said he feels bad that some priests “violate their faith and morals but also their commitment to continence. This is not the first time that I have come across a case of this kind.”

However, Cruz said the action of one priest does not represent the whole church.

Cruz, a canon law expert and a veteran in investigating cases against priests, said he met with Antipolo Bishop Francisco de Leon last Sunday and was tapped to be the instructor delegate in the pedophilia case against Lagarejos.

He said he would ask both the girl and Lagarejos if they are willing to be interviewed or give him their statements.

Cruz said the investigation might take a year to process, depending on how fast he could acquire all the information he needs. The results of the investigation would be forwarded to the Congregation of the Faith at the Vatican. – With Evelyn Macairan

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LTO wants to regulate Angkas

LTO chief Edgar Galvante yesterday admitted that there are currently no clear rules or laws governing the use of motorcycles as public utility vehicles, putting the government in an uncertain situation with Angkas. File


MANILA, Philippines - The Land Transportation Office (LTO) wants regulatory powers over the motorcycle ride-hailing app Angkas following an accident that left a commuter seriously injured last month.

LTO chief Edgar Galvante yesterday admitted that there are currently no clear rules or laws governing the use of motorcycles as public utility vehicles (PUVs), putting the government in an uncertain situation with Angkas.

“You say their numbers are increasing. We’ll look into that and see how it will be regulated. I only heard of Angkas after the accident,” he said in an interview.

The LTO and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have been pointing fingers on who has responsibility over Angkas.

LTFRB spokesperson Aileen Lizada said they do not have jurisdiction over two-wheeled vehicles but Galvante said they cannot meddle with the accreditation or franchising of PUVs, which should be under the regulatory board.

The LTFRB, earlier this year, ordered three ride-sharing companies, including Angkas, to cease operations because they have no valid authority or franchise from the government.

Lizada said Angkas has not communicated with the regulatory board.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary for Roads Tim Orbos said he will pursue the matter with both the LTO and LTFRB.

A GMA News report showed Alejandro Cajano’s family appealing for help after he was seriously injured during a ride he booked through the app. He was hit by the front wheel of a Toyota Fortuner on July 15.

Angkas said they sent a representative to provide assistance to the injured driver and rider and have coordinated directly with traffic enforcers and the police.

“We are also helping them claim their insurance, which Angkas provides to all passengers and bikers who are booked through the app,” Angkas said in a statement.

Galvante said they will summon the registered owner of the vehicle as well as the driver, identified as Zammy Banzeula, for a hearing regarding the accident.

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Blackwater replaces injured Trevis Simpson, taps Henry Walker

Henry Walker. PBA IMAGES


Blackwater will sign up a familiar face in Henry Walker as its replacement import this 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup.
Team manager Johnson Martines said that the Elite have decided to bring back the 29-year-old scorer in a bid to end the team’s woes in the season-ending conference.
This will be Walker’s third stint in the PBA after previously suiting up for Alaska and NLEX.

In his last ride with the Road Warriors, he averaged 30.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals as he led his team to a seventh-place finish before bowing out in the quarterfinals against San Miguel.
Martines shared that Walker is set to arrive to the country on Wednesday once his papers get cleared.
Blackwater has stumbled to a 0-3 start this conference, with import Trevis Simpson suffering a torn groin muscle.
The 25-year-old forward was netting 24.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in his first two games, before being hounded by his injuries and going scoreless in the Elite’s 118-93 loss against the Beermen on Saturday.
Walker will make his debut for Blackwater on Sunday against Rain or Shine. JE

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Reyes gets his birthday wish as complete Gilas 12 attend practice

Photo: Chot Reyes. (File photo from AFP)


Desperate to have a full lineup in his national team practices, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes’ birthday wish was finally been granted when all the players named in the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup and 2017 Southeast Asian Games rosters showed up Monday at Meralco Gym.
Absent for the past sessions, Calvin Abueva made his long awaited return, much to the delight of the outspoken mentor who turns 54 on Tuesday.
“Got an early bday wish granted – our 1st complete practice!” he posted on his Twitter account with an accompanying video of the team doing the drills.

Also present for the session were Fiba Asia-bound players June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, Jio Jalalon, Matthew Wright, Roger Pogoy, Raymond Almazan, Christian Standhardinger, and Carl Cruz.
Practice player Ed Daquioag was also in attendance.
The cadet-laden SEA Games crew also made their presence felt, with Kiefer Ravena, Ray Parks, Kobe Paras, Raymar Jose, Mike Tolomia, Almond Vosotros, Von Pessumal all present.
Mac Belo rounded out the set for the evening sessions.
Curiously, PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa also paid the national team a visit. /atm

 

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Mayweather-McGregor is a stale act already

Image: This July 13, 2017, photo shows Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Conor McGregor, of Ireland, facing each other for photos during a news conference at Barclays Center in New York. So far fans aren’t exactly storming the box office to buy tickets for Mayweather Jr.’s fight next month with McGregor. A check online Saturday, July 29, 2017 revealed hundreds _ even thousands _ of seats still available from Ticketmaster at the T-Mobile arena for the Aug. 26 fight. There are so many open seats that fans with enough room left on their credit cards can buy six tickets together in 162 different spots throughout the arena. AP


LAS VEGAS, United States — There’s a reason tons of good seats remain for what was supposed to be the year’s hottest ticket.
Actually, there are two reasons the hype bubble surrounding the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor has been punctured, at least a bit.
In their quest to extract every dollar possible, promoters wildly miscalculated their audience. This isn’t boxing, with an established wealthy fan base willing to pay thousands of dollars as they did for Mayweather’s 2015 fight with Manny Pacquiao.

The 20-something UFC fans that are driving this promotion for the most part don’t have 10 grand to blow on a pair of seats. They’ll have to be content to sit in front of the television with a few friends, cheering on McGregor from the couch instead of inside the arena.
The other reason might be that the con job that is Mayweather and McGregor has been exposed. And, in a revealing twist, it was done by the fighters themselves.
The drama has already played out, almost before it really got started. The act is tired, as anyone who saw the media tour or watched the first “All Access” episode on Showtime can attest.
See Floyd play with his money. Watch Conor model fur coats and boast that his net worth will quadruple.
Listen as they scream profanities at each other, then try not to laugh at the inside joke they share as they face off for photographers.
It’s all a big tease, a fantasyland built on dreams and hopes. It’s as phony as the $100 million check that Mayweather likes to wave around when the truth is he can’t even afford to pay his taxes without selling some of his assets.
That’s enough to sell it to home viewers at $99.95 apiece. It’s entertainment, much like Wrestlemania, and a good excuse to get a few friends together for a party.
But it’s a little tougher to justify $15,000 (plus $1,292.81 in service fees) for two seats in Section 4, Row S of the T-Mobile arena that are so far from ringside you’ll need to spend another $100 for a pair of binoculars to see the action.

The bottom line is that there’s no there there. This is more reality show than fight, and the reality is that it’s such an awful mismatch that Nevada boxing regulators should be ashamed of themselves for even sanctioning it.
But Mayweather is starved for cash, and doesn’t mind making a fool of himself to replenish his bank account. The boxer who likes to wear hats proclaiming himself “TBE'” (The Best Ever) is so desperate to sell this fight that he’s promoting it by suggesting he’s not that good anymore.
“That’s what makes this fight so entertaining,” Mayweather said on the All Access show. “I’m not the Mayweather of the past.”
He’s right, because the Mayweather of the past was at least mildly interesting. But the money act is as dated as the check from the Pacquiao fight that Mayweather seems to have trouble cashing.
Gone are the days when he and 50 Cent used to toss around stacks of bills, then head out in the Bugatti to the strip clubs to throw dollar bills at dancers. The Big Boy mansion doesn’t seem so big anymore, and there are only so many times you can watch Mayweather sitting in his private jet.
The same holds true for McGregor. His fur coats seem nice enough — though it’s hard to be sure the one he wore at the media tour stop in New York was really made of polar bear — and he’s thrown out a few genuinely funny lines.
But it mostly feels forced, like the UFC star has been rehearsing too long. Yes, it’s easy to mock Mayweather for allegedly not being able to read, but 50 Cent delivered the same material years ago after he and Mayweather had a nasty split.
Indeed, by the time the tour hit New York the trash talk was stale. Aside from the F-bombs thrown out like red meat to the eager crowd, there wasn’t anything that screamed “Buy me!” about the fight.
And to think there are three more All Access episodes remaining. That’s about three too many for this one-trick pony.
Still, the bottom line is that McGregor’s true believers really believe. They’re putting money on their man despite the fact he has no chance — other than something truly bizarre happening — inside the ring. They may not be able to afford seats in the arena but they will buy the pay-per-view in numbers that rival the 4.6 million sold for Mayweather-Pacquiao.
Expanding that outside the core of fans driving this fight will be more difficult, though, as shown by the resistance to the insanely inflated ticket prices.
Proof, perhaps, that even a freak show is worth only so much. CBB

 

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