Tag Archives: America

Can America handle the truth about Trump?

There isn’t much that’s glorious in the history of America holding the rich and powerful accountable for their sins. 

But even in the context of its past failures of reckoning — over slavery, the invasion of Iraq, the global financial meltdown, et cetera — the country’s hesitation to adjudicate the last president’s role in the deadly insurrection on Capitol Hill last month seems egregiously self-destructive. 

Nevertheless, most Republicans, and even some of Donald Trump’s most ferocious critics, have recommended just letting it go. 

For the second time, the U.S. Congress has impeached Trump for his attempts to meddle in the 2020 election. Last February, he was acquitted in the Republican-controlled Senate of trying to strong-arm the president of Ukraine into making political statements against then presidential candidate Joe Biden. 

This time, Trump is accused of inciting the Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6, 2021, to prevent Biden’s confirmation as president. Trump’s trial is expected to begin Feb. 9.

Democrats and even some Republicans are convinced there is considerable evidence to support the case against him, and the seriousness of the charge is indisputable. Some rioters reportedly had plans to target members of Congress, and millions of Americans watched as a mob called for the murder of the vice-president, chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!” Pence escaped to safety, but five people, including a police officer, died. 

Whether Trump bears some responsibility for that seems like an important thing for everyone to know — but apparently, not everyone wants to know.

Sen. Marco Rubio was among 45 Republican senators who voted against holding a second impeachment trial for Trump. (Joe Raedle/Reuters)

“Give the man a break,” said Trump’s former UN envoy, Nikki Haley, arguing that Trump has had a tough four years and for the sake of national unity, everyone should just lay off him for a while.

“We already have a flaming fire in this country, and this trial is like taking gasoline and pouring it on the fire,” warned Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, as though letting Trump off the hook in his last impeachment hadn’t simply encouraged him to fan the fire that Rubio says so troubles him now. 

Worries about crossing Trump

It seems a bit late for Republicans to start worrying about national unity given that their party has made room for people like Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who apparently endorsed execution of Democratic leaders, according to a review of her social media posts from 2018 and 2019, before she was a member of Congress, by CNN. 

Both Haley and Rubio are likely more mindful of the effect running afoul of Trump could have on their presidential ambitions. Republicans generally avoid antagonizing the former president, likely in part because they fear the rancour and even violence of some of his supporters. Forty-five Republican senators voted against holding the impeachment trial.

But former FBI director James Comey, who was fired by Trump and quite openly despises the man, also says national unity would be better served if Trump just disappeared from public view.

“I’d rather him in his bathrobe yelling at cars on the lawn at Mar-a-Lago with the camera lights off,” Comey told National Public Radio just a few days after the riot. “I think that’s the best thing for the country now.”

WATCH | Former FBI director James Comey says Trump should be barred from running for office again:

Former FBI director James Comey says former U.S. president Donald Trump should be convicted in the upcoming impeachment trial 8:28

In truth, the question of whether Trump is held to normal standards of accountability is hardly new — it’s been the soundtrack of his presidency, and arguably his entire adult life. 

He was identified as a de facto unindicted co-conspirator in the election finance crimes for which his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was convicted; Trump is the defendant in ongoing civil actions related to sexual assault allegations against him; his tax returns are reportedly under scrutiny for fraud; and the Manhattan district attorney is investigating the family business, the Trump Organization, for insurance and tax fraud.

During his time as president, Trump agreed to pay a $ 25 million US settlement against Trump University for fraud and later admitted to defrauding his own charity

He seems to deal with accountability by resisting it, ignoring it or treating it as just the cost of doing business his way.  

Debate about accountability

The suspicion that there is much more that could be revealed, though, is close to the heart of the debate about accountability and, specifically, what form it should take in Trump’s case. Should he be exposed to prosecution just as any other citizen might be?

Even before the election, Elie Mystal, writing in The Nation, asked a question that had probably troubled many minds: “Does anyone reasonably think that we’ve caught all the actual criminals in this administration?” 

Mystal argued that the U.S. needs something like a truth and reconciliation commission to come to grips with everything that happened to the country under Trump. The scope of such a thing could be broad enough to include, say, the background discussions that informed the child-separation policy imposed at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as the extent of any potential corruption and conflicts of interest in the mingling of Trump’s private business with the nation’s business.

An avid social media user while in office, Trump was indefinitely booted off both Twitter and Facebook for his repeated false claims about the 2020 election. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)

Mystal wrote that “failing to hold accountable those who abuse their power signals to future abusers that all will be forgiven.”

He was responding to a Washington Post op-ed by Jill Lepore, a Harvard University historian and author who had argued that a truth and reconciliation commission that focused on the Trump administration could become excessively prosecutorial and undermine national unity. 

In Lepore’s view, accountability could be served just as well, or better, by the investigations and commentary of the press and others exercising their free speech. Ultimately, it’s for history to judge, she wrote.

More informal censure

Meanwhile, the private sector is dishing out its own forms of accountability for Trump and some of his cronies.

Twitter and Facebook indefinitely banned the president after repeatedly warning him about his phony claims of election fraud. Then, for the same sort of offences, Twitter permanently suspended the account of Trump backer and MyPillow CEO Michael Lindell.

Dominion Voting Systems, the company Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell falsely accused of vote rigging, is alleging defamation and suing them for more than $ 1 billion each. It hasn’t ruled out including the former president in future suits.

Some of this might feel like Old Testament justice: harsh, rigid, retributive and, to some, deliciously satisfying.  

But investigation and prosecution, whether by Congress or the justice system, has another, arguably higher, purpose, and that is simply to know — to know what happened, how it happened and why.

Despite being out of office, Trump still commands large support among U.S. voters, including those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and believe that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election. (Mike Theiler/Reuters)

This seems especially important at this moment of epistemic crisis. Americans are deeply divided about knowledge, facts and truth. Their democracy is withering because of it. 

A group ransacked the Capitol buildings because they wouldn’t accept the demonstrated and verified lawfulness of the last election. A larger group thinks the attack was justified. A still-larger group thinks the election was rigged. 

Accountability through investigation and, if required, prosecution can be the mechanism for getting at the truth of all that. Some might argue America’s future depends on it.

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CBC | World News

Kathryn Nesbitt, 2020 Assistant Referee of the Year, becomes the first woman to referee a championship match in professional men's sports in North America by officiating the 2020 MLS Cup Final.

Kathryn Nesbitt becomes 1st woman to officiate men’s championship match in North America

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Kathryn Nesbitt becomes 1st woman to officiate men's championship match in North America

Kathryn Nesbitt, 2020 Assistant Referee of the Year, becomes the first woman to referee a championship match in professional men’s sports in North America by officiating the 2020 MLS Cup Final.

CBC | Soccer News

Iota weakens to storm in Central America but death toll rises as rain, floods bash region

 Unleashing torrential floods even as it weakened, Storm Iota churned through Central America on Tuesday, causing swollen rivers to burst their banks, flipping roofs onto streets and killing at least nine people across the region.

The strongest storm on record to reach Nicaragua, Iota struck the coast late on Monday, bringing winds of nearly 249 km/h and flooding villages still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Eta two weeks ago.

But by Tuesday night, the winds had fallen to 80 km/h as Iota weakened to a tropical storm but heavy rainfall continued, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Iota was drenching already saturated towns and villages as it moved inland over southern Honduras and as authorities reported many people missing with some of the worst-hit areas still cut off.

“We’re flooded everywhere, the rain lasted almost all night and now it stops for an hour then comes back for two to three hours,” said Marcelo Herrera, mayor of Wampusirpi, a municipality in the interior of northeast Honduras crossed by rivers and streams.

Women walk in the rain brought by Hurricane Iota, in La Lima, Honduras on Tuesday. The Honduran government closed bridges and highways across the country on Tuesday, while opening more than 600 shelters where some 13,000 residents sought refuge. (Delmer Martinez/The Associated Press)

“We need food and water for the population, because we lost our crops with Eta,” he told Reuters.

The Honduran government closed bridges and highways across the country on Tuesday, while opening more than 600 shelters where some 13,000 residents sought refuge.

The double punch of Eta and Iota marked the first time two major hurricanes had formed in the Atlantic basin in November since records began. The Nicaraguan port of Puerto Cabezas, still partly flooded and strewn with debris left by Eta, again bore the brunt of the hit.

Frightened residents huddled in shelters.

“We could die,” said Inocencia Smith at one of the shelters. “There is nothing to eat at all,” she added, noting Eta had destroyed local farms.

Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo said at least six people had died as they were dragged down by raging rivers.

The wind tore the roof off a makeshift hospital. Patients in intensive care were evacuated, including two women who gave birth during the first rains on Monday, the Nicaraguan officials said.

‘In the hands of God’

Two people died on Providencia island, part of Colombia’s Caribbean archipelago near the coast of Central America, after it was clipped by Iota, President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday evening.

Nearly all of the infrastructure on Providencia — home to some 6,000 people — had been damaged or destroyed.

Panama’s government said a person had died in its western Ngabe-Bugle region due to conditions caused by the storm.

A resident of Brus Laguna on the Honduran coast told local radio a boy was killed by a falling tree, although the mayor, Teonela Wood, said she had no reports of fatalities.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said flooding from Iota risked causing disaster after Eta.

Two people died on Providencia island, part of Colombia’s Caribbean archipelago near the coast of Central America, after it was clipped by Iota. In this photo released by the Presidency of Colombia, President Ivan Duque, second left, tours the island on Tuesday. (Nicolas Galeano/Colombia Presidential Press Office/The Associated Press)

“We are very concerned about the potential for deadly landslides in these areas as the soil is already completely saturated,” IFRC spokesman Matthew Cochrane told a media briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

About 100,000 Nicaraguans and Hondurans had been evacuated from their homes, authorities said.

Iota was about 56 kilometres southeast of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, the NHC said, moving west at 19 km/h where it could provoke “catastrophic flash flooding and mudslides.”

The center added that Iota could dump up to 76 centimetres of rain in some areas.

“We are in the hands of God. If I have to climb up trees, I’ll do it,” said Jaime Cabal Cu, a farmer in Guatemala’s Izabal province. “We don’t have food, but we are going to wait here for the hurricane that we’re asking God to stop from coming.” 

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Cuba braces for storm Eta after deadly toll in Central America

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans began evacuating their homes on Saturday as Tropical Storm Eta neared the Caribbean island’s southern coast, threatening torrential rain and flooding after killing dozens in Central America.

The storm is expected to make landfall in central Cuba overnight, the Cuban meteorology’s office said, warning of winds of 90-110 kkm/h, a storm surge and heavy coastal flooding.

Inundations could be a problem more broadly, it said, given that Cuba was already waterlogged in the wake of recent heavy rains, and Eta could potentially dump more than 30 centimetres of water on the country. Already, outer bands of rain had unleashed 9.5 centimetres of water on eastern Cuba.

Cuban authorities, who are known for preparedness in the face of natural disaster, said that farmers were moving their livestock to secure locations and harvesting as much crop as possible before the storm hit.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said damaging tropical storm-force winds, with hurricane-force winds possible, were expected from Sunday night in the Florida Keys and parts of southern Florida.

A soldier helps a person to cross a flooded street after passage of Eta in La Lima, Honduras, on Saturday. (Jorge Cabrera/Reuters)

Heavy rainfall could also spark flash flooding there, it said.

One of the fiercest storms to hit Central America in years, Eta struck Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday with winds of 241 km/h before weakening to a tropical depression as it moved inland and into neighbouring Honduras and Belize.

Across swaths of the mostly poor countries wedged between Mexico and Colombia, high winds, torrential rains and catastrophic flooding caused deadly mudslides and damaged hundreds if not thousands of homes.

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Nathan Chen, Mariah Bell capture Skate America crowns

Nathan Chen found himself in a familiar place Saturday on the top step of the podium.

The podium at Skate America, to be precise.

The American superstar landed five quadruple jumps over two programs in his first competition in nine months, easily out-distancing Vincent Zhou and the rest of the field to win his record-tying fourth straight Skate America. It also kept intact a streak of victories for Chen that dates to his fifth-place finish at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

“I made quite a few big mistakes in that program, things that I shouldn’t have made mistakes on,” said Chen, whose soaring personal standards left him shrugging at his latest performance. “It is what it is. I’ll learn from it and move forward.”

The two-time world champion built a big lead in his short program Friday night before a shaky free skate, where he had to double a planned quad Salchow and missed a triple axel. But it was still enough for Chen to win the free skate with 187.98 points and give him 299.15 total, while Zhou’s two second-place programs gave him 275.10 and the silver medal.

WATCH | Nathan Chen wins Skate America title:

American Nathan Chen wins gold at Skate America with a total score of 299.15. 6:41

The high-flying Chen, who has taken leave from his studies at Yale to focus on the 2022 Beijing Games, is on a run of titles that includes a victory over two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu. His latest title at Skate America, one of the only Grand Prix events still going on amid the COVID-19 pandemic, matches the record shared by Michelle Kwan, Todd Eldredge and former Olympic champion ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

Bell edges Tennell in women’s event

In the women’s event, Mariah Bell edged 2018 national champion Bradie Tennell to win arguably the biggest title of her career. The 24-year-old fell on a triple lutz to finish her program Saturday, and her score of 136.25 was only the fourth-best of the free skates. But her sterling short program gave her 212.73 points total — just 1.66 points ahead of Tennell, who won the free skate with a solid program that began with a triple axel-triple toe combination.

WATCH | Mariah Bell wins 1st Grand Prix title:

24-year-old Mariah Bell won her first-ever top-level competition, scoring 212.73 overall points at Skate America in Las Vegas. 7:06

“I try not to look at outcomes, more how I feel,” Bell said. “I’m walking away from this performance a little disappointed, and I look back at nationals and that’s a program I was really proud of. I want to feel really great about what I did.”

Messing earns bronze

Keegan Messing of Canada and 16-year-old American skater Audrey Shin won the bronze medals, while the pairs and ice dance competitions conclude later Saturday night in the mostly empty Orleans Arena.

WATCH | Keegan Messing of Canada claims bronze medal:

Sherwood Park, Alta., native Keegan Messing finishes in 3rd place at Skate America. 7:35

“This is everyone’s first major competition this season and we all had time off the ice,” said Shin, who was making her Grand Prix debut, “but I felt like during those time I really focused on what I really love to do, and that’s skating. And coming back and training, I felt more motivated to improve. This was my time to perform and that was my goal here.”

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CBC | Sports News

Nathan Chen bursts out to resounding lead at Skate America after short program

Looking like a world champion even this early in the figure skating season, Nathan Chen easily won the short program at Skate America on Friday night with a personal best score.

Performing to Flamenco music in a spicy routine, the two-time world gold medallist and four-time national champion looked very much at home even without any fans at Orleans Arena. He hit a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, a superb quad flip and showed off masterful footwork. His 111.17 points beat his short program high of 110.38 in last year’s Grand Prix final.

Kicking off an already truncated figure skating season in the first event of the Grand Prix series, Chen was unchallenged.

“I felt great out there,” Chen said. “I am happy where I am at.”

WATCH | Chen eases to big lead in Las Vegas:

American Nathan Chen leads the men’s program at Skate America by nearly 12 points after his short program score of 111.17. 5:32

Chen is unbeaten since finishing fifth at the Pyeonchang Olympics in 2018. He’s already showing where his focus is long before the 2022 Beijing Games.

“Of course, Beijing and any Olympics are a huge motivator for me,” Chen said. “I think since I was a kid my family had raised me to be better, even if by a millimetre.”

Instead, he’s getting better by leaps and bounds, and he might not have another chance to show it until the U.S. championships in late January.

“As an athlete, we are really fortunate to have the opportunity to do this,” he said.

Vincent Zhou, bronze medallist at the 2019 worlds, was second heading into Saturday’s free skate, while Canada’s Keegan Messing sat third with 92.40 points. Messing lives and trains in Alaska.

WATCH | Messing 3rd after short program:

Sherwood Park, Alta., native Keegan Messing sits third overall at Skate America after his short program on Friday night. 5:50

Skate America is one of only four series events for 2020-21, with two others in Canada and France cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Grand Prix Final in Beijing also is cancelled.

Earlier, as expected, Mariah Bell and Bradie Tennell finished on top of the women’s short program.

Bell was smooth and solid in a program choreographed by 2018 Olympian Adam Rippon. Her 76.48 points were more than enough to beat Tennell, who had 73.29 and was marked down for under-rotation on her triple lutz-triple toe loop combination.

Bell, whose sensational free skate at the national championships in January earned her a silver medal behind two-time champion Alysa Liu — who is too young to compete in senior internationals — was grateful for the opportunity to display her routine.

“It was very interesting to not have a crowd here,” Bell said. “We are so fortunate to have this event. I really enjoyed getting to skate today.”

WATCH | Bell’s career-best skate vaults her into lead:

Mariah Bell leads the women’s program at Skate America after receiving a career-best short program score of 76.48. 5:41

Bell nailed her triple flip-triple toe loop combination and had a perfect triple lutz, making everything look easy — particularly for the first major competition of the season, even if Skate America is limited to Americans and foreigners training in this country.

“I kind of had to revert to what it feels like to practice at home,” she said, “and have to emphasize that and to put a little pressure on myself. I heard some [taped] clapping, and the stands are empty.”

Tennell, the 2018 U.S. champion, has changed coaches and now works with the renowned Tom Zakrajsek in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“We’ve tried to keep a lot of the things pretty much the same,” she said, “because I know it works for me.”

Audrey Shin was third heading into Saturday’s free skate. Karen Chen, the 2017 U.S. champ, was fourth.

WATCH | Full men’s short program:

Watch coverage of the ISU Grand Prix 2020 Skate America from Las Vegas, Nevada. 1:38:34

WATCH | Full women’s short program:

Watch coverage of the ISU Grand Prix 2020 Skate America from Las Vegas, Nevada. 1:39:59

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CBC | Sports News

Watch the Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate America

Click on the video player above to watch figure skating live action from the Grand Prix of Figure Skating’s Skate America event in Las Vegas. 

Coverage begins on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET with the ladies competition, followed by the men (8:55 p.m. ET), pairs (10:45 p.m. ET), and wraps with the ice dance competition (12:35 a.m. ET).

Return on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. for more Skate America action.

That Figure Skating Show

If you’re looking for more figure skating coverage, CBC Sports’ That Figure Skating Show, hosted by former Canadian national team members Asher Hill and Olympian Dylan Moscovitch is back for another season.

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CBC | Sports News

14 Canadians set to play as NWSL becomes 1st pro league in North America to restart

FIFA World Cup champions, Olympic medallists and 14 Canadians will be among the first North American professional athletes to resume play when the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup kicks off Saturday in Utah.

The NWSL is the first professional team sport to get underway since the coronavirus pandemic, deciding to play a tournament format instead of a shortened regular season.

In an attempt to get back on the pitch, the league has faced its share of challenges along the way.

One bombshell came earlier this week when Orlando Pride announced it would have to withdraw from the tournament after six players and four staff tested positive for COVID-19. Later in the week, three of the league’s stars, Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC) and Christen Press (Utah Royals FC) confirmed they were opting out of the tournament. (By the way, any player in the league is allowed to pull out without repercussions, and will still receive full salary and benefits for the year).

After Orlando’s withdrawal, the league had to make adjustments to the schedule, but with eight teams instead of nine, there is more balance. Teams will still play four games each in the preliminary round. All eight teams will advance to the knockout rounds, seeded by way of their results of their first four games. It’s single elimination all the way to the final, on July 26 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Robust medical protocols have been in place from the beginning. All players were tested prior to small group training. Full-squad training began in early June. All players and staff were required to test negative prior to boarding a plane to Utah. Once in Utah, everyone must be tested again.

Players and staff will live and train in what’s being called the NWSL Village. The Village has hotels and dormitories as well as stadiums and training facilities belonging to the Utah Royals of the NWSL and Real Salt Lake of MLS, both owned by Dell Loy Hansen, the tournament host.

Ahead of Saturday’s opening match between two-time defending NWSL champions North Carolina Courage and Christine Sinclair’s Portland Thorns, here’s more on the eight NWSL teams, in order of last year’s regular-season finish (wins-losses-draws):

North Carolina Courage 

2019 Record: 15-5-4 

Canadians on team: GK Stephanie Labbe (Edmonton), D Lindsay Agnew (Kingston, Ont.)

Notable international players:  D Abby Dahlkemper (U.S.), MF Debinha (Brazil), MF Crystal Dunn (U.S.), MF Samantha Mewis (U.S.), MF Denise O’Sullivan (Ireland), F Jessica McDonald (U.S.)

Preliminary-round games: Portland Thorns FC (June 27), Washington Spirit (July 1), Chicago Red Stars (July 5), Sky Blue FC (July 13)

Team notes: There’s a reason the Courage are back-to-back NWSL champions.

The North Carolina Courage celebrate with the championship trophy following their win over the Chicago Red Stars in an NWSL championship soccer game in Cary, N.C., on October 27, 2019. (File/The Associated Press)

Even without two-time Olympic and World Cup champion Tobin Heath, who chose not to participate because of the uncertainty around COVID-19, this side is blessed with talent and depth. That will come in handy in the Challenge Cup’s compact tournament.

Their starting midfield of NWSL Championship most valuable player Debinha, Dunn, Mewis and O’Sullivan is considered the best in the league, while Lynn Williams (12 goals last season, second in league), Kristen Hamilton (nine) and McDonald provide firepower up front.

Chicago Red Stars

2019 Record: 14-8-2

Canadians on team: D Bianca St Georges (St-Charles-Borommée, Que.)

Notable international players: GK Alyssa Naeher (U.S.), D Tierna Davidson (U.S.), D Julie Ertz (U.S.), D Casey Short (U.S.), MF Morgan Brian (U.S.), F Yuki Nagasato (Japan), F Katie Johnson (Mexico)

Team notes: Losing back-to-back Golden Boot winner and 2019 league MVP Sam Kerr’s 18 goals is going to sting. The Australian captain signed a deal with Chelsea in the off-season.

Despite the loss of Kerr, the Red Stars are solid from back to front and haven’t had many roster changes from last season. Naeher played every minute in Team USA’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup run, Ertz and Short were both named to the league’s Best XI last season and Nagasato was the league’s top playmaker (eight assists). Midfielder Alyssa Mautz won’t be available after tearing her ACL in training.

St. Georges has yet to cap with the Canadian senior team, but she did suit up at the youth level at both the FIFA U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups.

Forward Kealia Watt comes to the Red Stars after a trade with Houston. The former American youth and senior international, who is legally blind in her right eye, is perhaps better known under her maiden name, Ohai. She married Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt in February 2020.

Portland Thorns FC

2019 Record: 11-6-7 

Canadians on team: F Christine Sinclair (Burnaby, B.C.)

Notable international players: D Becky Sauerbrunn (U.S.), MF Lindsey Horan (U.S.), MF Rocky Rodríguez (Costa Rica)

Preliminary-round games: NC Courage (June 27), Chicago Red Stars (July 1), Washington Spirit (July 5), OL Reign (July 13)

Team notes: When you have international soccer’s all-time leading scorer Christine Sinclair (186 goals in 296 matches for Canada) captaining your squad, naturally you’re going to be competitive.

Perhaps the biggest news in the offseason was the acquisition of Sauerbrunn in trade with Utah. Sauerbrunn is a two-time World Cup champion and three-time NWSL defender of the year. She’ll fill the gap left by fellow national team defender Emily Sonnett, who was sent to the Orlando Pride in exchange for the No. 1 overall draft pick.

With that pick, Portland chose highly-touted Sophia Smith out of Stanford. The 19-year-old American has featured at the FIFA U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups and U-20 World Cups and was recently invited to a senior camp in January.

The Thorns have won two NWSL titles (2013, 2017).

OL Reign FC

Record: 10-6-8

Canadians on team: MF/D Rebecca Quinn (Toronto)

Notable international players: D Celia Jiménez Delgado (Spain), MF Allie Long (U.S.), MF Jess Fishlock (Wales), MF Shirley Cruz (Costa Rica), F Nicole Momiki (Japan), F Jodie Taylor (England), F Rosie White (New Zealand)

Preliminary-round games: Sky Blue FC (June 30), Houston Dash (July 4), Utah Royals FC (July 8), Portland Thorns FC (July 13)

Team notes: The Reign will miss star Megan Rapinoe, who has chosen not to play. Well known for her social activism, Rapinoe and partner, WNBA star Sue Bird, recently co-hosted the ESPY Awards alongside Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to great aplomb.

The Reign has 16 returning players and 12 new signings. Two key newbies are Costa Rican midfielder Shirley Cruz and American defender Alanna Cook, who’s on loan from Paris Saint-Germain.

Frenchman Farid Benstiti takes over head coaching duties from Vlatko Andonovski, who now runs the American women’s national team.

The Reign normally play out of Tacoma, Wash., a half hour south of Seattle, but they based their training camp out of the University of Montana in Missoula, MT.

Canada’s Rebecca Quinn, right, a midfielder/defender with the OL Reign. (Peter Power/Canadian Press)

Washington Spirit

Record: 9-8-7

Canadians on team: Jenna Hellstrom (Sudbury, Ont.)

Notable international players: MF Rose Lavelle (U.S.), F Kumi Yokoyama (Japan)

Preliminary-round games: Chicago Red Stars (June 27), NC Courage (July 1), Portland Thorns (July 5), Houston Dash (July 12)

Team notes: Midfielders Lavelle and Andi Sullivan are the heart of the Spirit.

Lavelle was a breakout star for the U.S. at last summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, while team captain Sullivan is a former No. 1 draft pick who’s been capped at every level for the Americans.

Aubrey Bledsoe was named the league’s top goalkeeper last season.

Washington has to play the ‘Big 3’ in the league thanks to the rescheduling, but playing the best teams can help sharpen your game.

Of note, backup keeper Devon Kerr is a dual Canadian-American citizen. She was born in Toronto, grew up in Barrie and played for Canada at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2014, but has since represented the U.S.

Utah Royals FC

Record: 10-10-4

Canadians on team: MF Diana Matheson (Oakville, Ont.), MF/D Desiree Scott (Winnipeg)

Notable international players: D Rachel Corsie (Scotland), Katie Bowen (New Zealand), Kelley O’Hara (U.S.), MF Vero Boquete (Spain), MF Aminata Diallo (France), MF Gunny Jonsdottir (Iceland)

Preliminary-round games: Houston Dash (June 30), Sky Blue FC (July 4), OL Reign (July 8), Chicago Red Stars (July 12)

Outlook: Trading two-time World Cup champion and three-time NWSL defender of the year Becky Sauerbrunn leaves a hole in Utah’s backline and they’ll miss the services of  two-time World Cup champion Christen Press, who chose not to play in the tournament, but this team has plenty of veterans.

Amy Rodriguez or ARod, two-time Olympic gold medallist and 2015 World Cup Champion, captains the team. Former American national team goalkeeper Barnhart, O’Hara and Scottish captain Corsie at the back and Matheson, Scott and Boquete in the midfield give the Royals decades of international experience.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Utah hoped to land French national team goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi and German international Dzsenifer Marozsan of Olympique Lyonnais in Division 1 Féminine, but both players signed long-term deals keeping them overseas.

Craig Harrington, a former assistant with the Red Stars, is in his first year as head coach.

Diana Matheson’s goal against France secured Canada a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. (Associated Press)

Houston Dash 

Record: 7-12-5

Canadians on team: D Allysha Chapman (Courtice, Ont.), F Meaghan Kelly (Kansas City, Mo.), F Nichelle Prince (Ajax, Ont.), MF Sophie Schmidt (Abbotsford, B.C.)

Notable international players: F Rachel Daly (England), F Kayla McCoy (Jamaica)

Preliminary-round games: Utah Royals FC (June 30), OL Reign (July 4), Sky Blue FC (July 8), Washington Spirit (July 12).

Team notes: While no one is celebrating Orlando’s withdrawal from the tournament, the Dash might be breathing a sigh of relief thanks to the re-jigging of the schedule. They will no longer play last year’s finalists NC Courage and Chicago Red Stars in the preliminary round.

Daly is always dangerous up front. She had five goals last season (down from her 10 from 2018) amid her duties with England at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Houston made several changes to their roster in the off-season, which could impact how quickly they gel in such a compact schedule. After six seasons with the Dash, Kealia Ohai Watt was traded to Chicago. Key playmaker Sofia Huerta is now with OL Reign and they’ll have two new centrebacks in Katie Naughton (Chicago) and Megan Oyster (OL Reign).

Sky Blue FC 

Record: 5-14-5

Canadians on team: GK Kailen Sheridan (Whitby, Ont.), F Evelyne Viens (L’ancienne-Lorette, Que.)

Notable international players: D Jennifer Cudjoe (Ghana), D Sabrina Flores (Mexico), D Estelle Johnson (Cameroon), D Chantelle Swaby (Jamaica), MF Naho Kawasumi (Japan)

Preliminary-round games: OL Reign (June 30), Utah Royals (July 4), Houston Dash (July 8), NC Courage (July 13)

Team notes: Sky Blue took a major hit ahead of the tournament with injuries to American internationals Carli Lloyd (left knee) and Mallory Pugh (hip). Both are ruled out for the Challenge Cup as is defender Caprice Dydasco (right ACL).

Sheridan recorded 111 saves last season, tied for best in the league, and had three shutouts.

Viens, who was selected fifth overall in the NWSL draft (the highest Canadian pick since Rebecca Quinn went third overall in 2018), has yet to suit up for Canada internationally at any level. She’ll certainly be on the radar if she keeps up her prolific pace from her collegiate career – 73 goals in 77 career games at University of Southern Florida.

Midge Purce, who scored eight goals for Portland last year, is a key off-season signing.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Pledges to ‘Take Action’ To End the ‘Disenfranchisement of Black America’

Leonardo DiCaprio Pledges to ‘Take Action’ To End the ‘Disenfranchisement of Black America’ | Entertainment Tonight

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Blake Wheeler says ‘America is not OK’ amid protests following George Floyd’s death

Winnipeg Jets forward and Minnesota native Blake Wheeler joined a growing list of athletes speaking out following the death of George Floyd. 

Wheeler took to Twitter Saturday night amid another day of tense protests, which began in Minneapolis following Monday’s death of Floyd after a police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

Officer Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd’s death has also resulted in protests across the United States. with police cars set ablaze and reports of injuries mounting on all sides as the country lurched toward another night of unrest after months of coronavirus lockdowns.

“I’ve wanted to say something for a while, but it’s been really difficult knowing what to say. My hometown is burning. Businesses where I grew up are being boarded up. America is not OK,” Wheeler wrote.

“Growing up outside Minneapolis, I always felt sheltered from racism. That’s because I was,” he continued. “Most people I grew up with looked like me. I never had to be scared when I stopped at a traffic light or saw the police in public. My kids will never know that fear either.

“I’m heartbroken that we still treat people this way. We need to stand with the black community and fundamentally change how the leadership in this country has dealt with racism. I’m sorry it has taken this long, but I’m hopeful that we can change this NOW. George Floyd’s life mattered. Ahmaud Arbery’s life mattered. So did every other life that has been lost by this senseless violence and racism,” Wheeler concluded.

WATCH | Police fire tear gas on protesters:

CBC senior correspondent Susan Ormiston reports from Minneapolis, where police fire tear gas on protesters 5:01

Wheeler was not the only NHL player to speak up about Floyd’s death. San Jose Sharks forwards Evander Kane and Logan Couture also took to Twitter to share their thoughts.

Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests have prompted many sports figures — including athletes, coaches and league officials — to speak out in recent days.

“As an organization and a community, we come from all over the world. We are diverse. We speak different languages. But our shared humanity unites us,” the Toronto Raptors said in a released statement Saturday night.

“When we see racism and violence committed against someone because of the colour of their skin, we should, and do, feel outrage. We cannot accept this. While we grieve for those we have lost, we know grieving is not enough. We must honour their memory by acknowledging these ills exist, confronting them, and coming together to create a better society. It is far past time.

Former Raptors coach Dwane Casey, now with the Detroit Pistons, also released a statement.

“Fifty-four years ago, I was an 8-year-old boy living in rural Kentucky when the schools were desegregated,” Casey said. “I walked into a white school where I was not wanted nor welcomed. At that time, there were no cellphones to record my treatment, no cable news stations with 24/7 coverage, no social media to record the reality of the situation or offer support nor condemnation.

“But I can remember exactly how I felt as an 8-year-old child. I felt helpless. I felt as if I was neither seen, nor heard, nor understood. As I have watched the events unfold in the days following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a city where I coached and once called home, I see how many people continue to feel those same feelings — helpless, frustrated, invisible, angry. I understand the outrage because it seems the list continues to grow: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. The injustices continue to mount and nothing seems to be changing.

“Fifty-four years later, my son is now 8 years old and I look at the world he is growing up in and wonder, how much has really changed? How often is he judged on sight? Is he growing up in a world where he is seen, and heard, and understood? Does he feel helpless? Will he be treated like George Floyd or Ahmaud Abrey? What have we really done in the last 54 years to make his 8-year-old world better than mine was? We all have to be and do better.”

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