The 13 best moments of the Raptors’ rapturous title season

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The Raptors, improbably, are NBA champions. Relive the best moments from their title run.

The Toronto Raptors took an enormous risk shipping off their hometown favorite All-Star DeMar DeRozan in a deal for Kawhi Leonard, a player whose health status was murky and contract was set to expire. But the leap of faith paid off in the most magical way possible — a six-game series win over the back-to-back champion Golden State Warriors, all culminating in the franchise’s first championship.

The 2018-19 season was everything Toronto fans have been waiting to see. Here are the most memorable moments.

Sept. 24: Kawhi’s laugh set the tone for the entire season

Kawhi established from the get-go that he was a “fun guy,” and you know what, he wasn’t wrong.

“Ahah haha hahhh ahhahahhahha haha hahahhah”

Oct. 19: When Kawhi and Danny Green double-blocked Jayson Tatum

What better way to cool the nerves about a giant blockbuster trade than to have the two guys you acquired swat the freaking crap out of the Celtics’ next heir to the throne?

Oct. 24: The play where Kawhi proved he has a set of eyes behind his cornrows

The flexibility, vision, anticipation, and everything else involved in diving the wrong way with your back to the ball was unbelievable. This is the strongest case for Leonard being a robot programmed to play the game of basketball to perfection.

Jan. 17: Pascal Siakam’s game-winner over the Suns

The league’s newest All-Star caliber, long-armed masterpiece announced his arrival with this off-balance layup just before time expired. More than anything, this shot established he was here for the big moments, too. It was right around this time when we realized how special Siakam and this team were.

Feb 11: Kawhi’s game-winner over the Nets

Leonard came up big when his number was called all year.

Feb. 13: When Siakam set his SEVENTH career-high of the year with 44 points

Everyone knew what to expect from Kawhi and Lowry, but Siakam became the player in casual fans’ “Who’s that guy? He’s good!” conversation, before they clicked over to Google to find out who the heck he was.

Siakam will undoubtedly be the Most Improved Player, and this is the moment we’ll remember as his breakout one.

Feb. 22: Kawhi and Kyle Lowry validate the DeMar DeRozan trade

With the clock ticking below 20 seconds to play in a game the Spurs were leading by one point, Lowry and Leonard, the man traded for DeRozan just months prior, trapped the former Raptors star and snatched the ball for a coast-to-coast dunk. That was the game.

Could the symbolism have been stronger?

March 1: Kawhi’s game-winner over the Blazers

Off-balance, floating to his right side on the baseline.

Reminds me of another moment a few months later.

May 5: Kawhi Game 4 dagger vs. Sixers

Toronto fans have seen a great regular season amount to absolutely nothing in the postseason too many times before. It looked like that was happening again when they fell behind, 2-1, to the 76ers in the second round.

But Kawhi was on a mission for this year to be different. His first clutch test against the Sixers passed with flying colors, as he sunk this game-clinching three.

May 12: Kawhi hits THE game-winner against the Sixers

This is the shot fans in Toronto wIll always remember. Leaning to the side, bouncing infinity times off the rim, with the crowd going completely silent. This championship doesn’t come without this shot.

May 19: The double overtime win vs. Milwaukee

The Raptors were mere seconds away from falling down 3-0 to the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. Imagine how different the conversation would have been if that happened.

But then Leonard fought off injury to score 36 points and pull out the double overtime win.

May 25: The Raptors’ 26-3 run gave them a series lead

What. A. Comeback.

June 13: Shutting down Oracle Arena

There were so many heroes in the Game 6 clincher over the Warriors. Kyle Lowry, who dominated in the first half.

Fred VanVleet, who hit clutch 3 after clutch 3 in the fourth.

Pascal Siakam, who hit the biggest shot of them all.

What a season. What a team. Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors, the unlikely 2019 NBA champions.


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How Masai Ujiri built an NBA champion Raptors team without any lottery picks

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Ujiri’s relentless wheeling and dealing has finally paid off with Toronto’s first-ever title.

Masai Ujiri patiently waited his turn, like a chess-master with a fianchetto lurking in the backdrop. And once LeBron James’ stranglehold of the center loosened with his decision to leave the East to head out West, it was Ujiri’s time to strike. And strike he did.

Now, the Toronto Raptors are NBA champions, after defeating the Golden State Warriors, 4-2, in the NBA Finals. It was Toronto’s first Finals appearance and title in franchise history, and they would not have made it here without Ujiri, the general manager who built a powerhouse in Denver before taking on a similar challenge up north. Toronto’s slow process has finally paid off. The Raptors have an opportunity to win it all.

Toronto’s championship run has one face: it’s Kawhi Leonard, the do-it-all sensation who has shouldered the entire franchise on his way back to the NBA Finals.

But the Raptors would not have Leonard had it not been for Ujiri, whose wheeling and dealing landed Toronto the best hand the franchise has ever possessed. He’s somehow assembled a roster without a single lottery pick among the 10 players who have logged the most minutes.

Ujiri has been a chessmaster, sacrificing pawns and knights to develop rooks and queens, then trading his queen for a king. These are the moves that led to checkmate.

Almost (but not) blowing it up

When Ujiri left Denver for the Toronto job in May of 2013, he nearly opted to bulldoze the entire roster and build this thing from scratch. The roster he inherited hadn’t made the playoffs in the five seasons before his hire, and it was clear Ujiri was looking to upgrade it by any means necessary.

During the 2013-14 season, Toronto’s president of basketball operations was open to dealing his two franchise cornerstones. DeMar DeRozan’s name was mostly secure, but in December of 2013, a deal was in place that would have sent Kyle Lowry to the New York Knicks for Metta World Peace, Raymond Felton, and one of Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr. or a future first-round pick, according to The New York Daily News. “The deal was done,” Lowry told USA Today in 2016.

Th two sides had agreed to the trade, but Knicks owner James Dolan vetoed it at the last minute. Ujiri had already robbed New York blind in the Carmelo Anthony trade (with Denver) and the Andrea Bargnani trade (with Toronto, more on that later). “Dolan Didn’t want to get fleeced again by Masai,” a Knicks source told the New York Daily News. “They had a deal ready.”

At the time, Lowry was in and out of favor with coach Dwane Casey, having been benched for Jose Calderon the previous season. He was not the All-Star we know today. But Metta World Peace’s career was already on the downturn in New York, and Raymond Felton’s best season came under Mike D’Antoni as head coach. The Raptors weren’t getting a player of Lowry’s caliber in return in this deal, and then watched Lowry shed weight and become one of the league’s best point guards.

The trade falling through was a blessing in disguise.

Instead of dealing his backcourt, Ujiri moved everyone else

In the summer of 2013, he traded former No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks for:

In December, Ujiri pulled off an even more important deal, trading Rudy Gay — a marquee acquisition the year before by previous GM Bryan Colangelo — Quincy Acy, and Aaron Gray to Sacramento for Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Greivis Vasquez. The Raptors stunningly improved by 14 wins the following season, but immediate success wasn’t the vision. This was the first domino to fall in a series of more important ones.

After losing to Brooklyn in the first round of the playoffs, Ujiri flipped Salmons over to Atlanta for Lou Williams and Lucas Nogueira. More importantly, he traded Vasquez to Milwaukee the following summer. For what in return? The rights to second-round pick Norman Powell, and a 2017 first-round pick that became O.G. Anunoby. Not bad.

Ujiri’s wheeling and dealing was unrelenting. In 2017, he traded Terrence Ross and what became the No. 25 pick in 2017 to Orlando for Serge Ibaka. In 2018, to avoid living in the luxury tax, the Raptors dealt DeMarre Carroll’s massive contract (at the time: two years, $30 million remaining) along with 2019 picks No. 29 (Dzanan Musa) and 40 (Rodions Kurucs) to Brooklyn for Justin Hamilton, who was waived shortly after. That enabled Toronto to re-sign Ibaka and Lowry.

Last summer, of course, Ujiri dealt DeRozan, Poeltl, and Toronto’s top-20 protected 2019 first-round pick for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. That worked out pretty well.

Finally, in the wake of Philadelphia’s blockbuster move to acquire Tobias Harris at the trade deadline, Ujiri dealt Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round pick to Memphis for former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol. Gasol was integral in each round of the playoffs, defending Nikola Vucevic against the Magic, Joel Embiid against the Sixers, and helping on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Without blowing it up, Ujiri patiently turned DeRozan, an underachieving Lowry, and Gay into Leonard, a much-improved Lowry, Gasol, and Ibaka.

But what about the rest of this stacked team?

Trades don’t account for Fred VanVleet, Toronto’s bulldog backup point guard. VanVleet put together brilliant performances in Games 4, 5 and 6 against Milwaukee. His play made all the difference for a Toronto team that needed help from anyone not named Kawhi Leonard.

VanVleet went undrafted in 2016, but signed a Summer League contract with the Raptors shortly after. Toronto signed VanVleet to a multi-year deal after that, and assigned him to their G-League affiliate Raptors 905 squad on numerous occasions.

That G-League team was coached by Jerry Stackhouse, who led them to a championship in 2017. Powell also spent time in the G-League his rookie season, as did Wright in his rookie season in 2016.

So did emerging star Pascal Siakam, drafted with the No. 27 pick in 2016. Siakam was an unexpected selection out of New Mexico State, but earned spot starter minutes in the NBA as a rookie. When he saw his role diminish the next season, he dropped down to the G-League for a handful of games and ultimately won G-League Finals MVP in leading Stackhouse’s club to the title. This season, he has been a revelation, becoming Toronto’s second-best player and its best non-Leonard building block for the future.

VanVleet, Powell, Siakam, Wright, and several others who went up and down the team’s G-League ladder were underrated talents drafted by Ujiri, but they were also developed through an organizational infrastructure that Ujiri built and fostered.

Then there’s Patrick McCaw, the former Golden State Warriors forward who flat-out refused to re-sign with the defending champs last summer. He signed a fully non-guaranteed two-year, $6 million contract with Cleveland on Dec. 28. The Cavaliers waived him on Jan. 7, and the Raptors signed him for the rest of the season shortly after.

McCaw’s numbers are so minuscule, we may as well not even mention them. But competing against a team he played for last season may have given Toronto some sort of an extra advantage.

Even were the Warriors healthy, Toronto still had the deepest roster of the two teams in the NBA Finals. They also may have possessed the best player in the series in Leonard, though that is at least debatable.

None of that would have been possible had Ujiri decided to stay in Denver, rather than leave for the Toronto franchise that bred him when he first entered the NBA. This is why Masai Ujiri will always be considered on of the best front office executives in the NBA. His vision has come to fruition.

The Raptors have achieved checkmate.


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Klay Thompson’s leg injury sent Oracle Arena into a roller coaster of emotions

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What an incredible moment in Game 6 of the Finals.

In the third quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Klay Thompson went up for a dunk, after he’d erupted for a barrage of threes to put the Warriors in the lead. Sadly, he landed awkwardly and bend his knee in such a way that left him on the floor, sitting there as all of Oracle Arena fell silent.

It was nothing short of devastating watching the Warriors’ player of the game, who had 28 points at the time, go down, 48 hours after Kevin Durant tore his Achilles, 11 days after Kevon Looney fractured his collarbone, 26 days after Andre Iguodala injured his calf, and 59 days after DeMarcus Cousins tore his quad. Not again. Not Klay Thompson. Not in his famous Game 6 performance.

Steph Curry could only go to the opposite side of the court and sit with his thoughts.

Klay was helped off the court without putting weight on the knee, and headed back to the locker room for what most assumed would be the game, and probably series. Another Warriors player would be selected to take his free throws, officially meaning Thompson couldn’t return.

Then, miraculously, Klay emerged from the locker room on his own after a commercial break. He not only took, but made his ninth and 10th free throws of the night to stay perfect. He refused to be taken out for the game by NBA rule. It was a microcosm of this entire Warriors series — one the basketball gods have refused to let Golden State take easily.

Even after the free throws, Thompson tried his best to remain in the game. Warriors coaches were always going to sub him out, but he tried to blend in among the crowd of Golden State towers and get in a defensive stance. He was eventually subbed, and ESPN’s Doris Burke reported that the injury will keep him out of the game.

He was seen on crutches during the fourth quarter:

The Warriors — no matter how unwise, and unsafe — refuse to let everything go wrong. They’re here to spite luck right in its cruel face.


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My pride in family: Why our chosen bonds are stronger than blood

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Joe and Frank getting hitched at SF City Hall

Juanita MORE! is a San Francisco Drag Queen, Activist, and regular Queerty columnist. 

Family, I have come to understand, means many different things.

For some, a family is what you are born into. For others, it is the community of people you choose to surround yourself with, one that shares in the joys and sorrows that life presents you. 

I met Frank at a nightclub in San Francisco when he was dating one of my friends. I introduced him to everyone as he followed me around that night. We became fast friends. Months later he drove me out to the East Bay to visit my family. After visiting my father and his new wife, we sat in Frank’s truck getting ready to leave.

Juanita with Frank

As I waited for him to start the engine I realized he was sitting there sort of paralyzed, and I pressed him as to why.

He replied, “Your stepmom is also my stepmom.”

We sat and talked about the connection and realized we were more than friends – we were family. Since that day, Frank has been my little brother and I have looked after him as such.

In 2000, Frank met Joe. The two were a perfect match in many ways. Together they became not only inseparable but a true force as activists and leaders for queer rights. In early 2004, when Gavin Newsom directed the city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Frank and Joe were one of the first 4,000 couples to be married between February 11 and March 11 of that year.

By August 2004, mere months later, those marriages were voided by the California Supreme Court, kicking people into action. That fall, Frank and Joe were part of the educational bus tour “Marriage Equality Express,” organized by the California chapter of Marriage Equality.

They stopped in 13 states talking about their love for each other. I watched them depart on this adventure with great pride. They had found a way to show and express their love for each other to the world. All of a sudden these two were thrust into the center of the political limelight surrounding gay marriage.

In most conservative political circles, it was unpopular to support these marriages. At the time, our friend and then-California Senator Mark Leno stuck his neck out and not only attended the kick-off rally in Sacramento but took the fight to Washington, D.C., speaking at the U.S. Capitol’s first ever National Marriage Equality Rally.

Frank and Joe returned from Washington, D.C., with even more determination to fight anyone in their way to affirm their right to marry. The following year in California, Senator Leno authored Assembly Bill 849 legalizing same-sex marriages, which helped pave the way for states across the country to do the same. It passed both the Assembly and State Senate only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

Frank and Joe with Mark Leno (center)

Related: Juanita MORE’s 12 great outfits that will make you stand out this Pride season

Fast forward to 2010. Frank complained to me that his labor union – yet another form of family – was using the Defense of Marriage Act to deny healthcare to Joe, even after two years of legal marriage. Again, Senator Leno stepped in by writing letters to the union and rallying other elected representatives, attorneys, union leaders, and advocates to the cause, eventually getting the union to change their policy of denying healthcare to same-sex couples.

I recently asked Mark Leno about all of this, and his response was humble and touching. He said, “There is nothing revolutionary about treating people fairly, respectfully, and equally under the law. It’s in our Constitution. Frank and Joe took a principled stance for justice. With their leadership, we won our battle at the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Together, my brother and brother-in-law have become fixtures in the fight for rights in San Francisco. As Sister Lourdes Mae Shepard of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Joe has brought blessings and guidance to so many over the years, and in doing so, has further expanded their family.

I’ll never forget when, in the overwhelming aftermath of the Pulse Orlando massacre, Sister Lourdes Mae Shepard provided a blessing at my performance with Glamamore, in which 49 friends and family wrote on our dresses the names of family members taken too soon.

Each year my brother dons his bunny suit for Easter in Golden Gate Park with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, bringing smiles to children and adults alike.

Whether through blood, wine, or water, my family tree has grown over the years. The connections I’ve made in San Francisco are intrinsic to the fabric of my life and experience. I am so proud to have two amazing activists as brothers. And I am blessed to have many families in this life, a loving thread sewn into a vibrant and comforting quilt.

As Pride month approaches, I start to get the same feeling that people do during the holiday season. It’s a time to be surrounded by those who are important to you. And when you are surrounded by those you love, you are truly blessed.


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“trump as samson” – Google News: Facebook reportedly brings on Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal as backers of its cryptocurrency – The Block Crypto

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Facebook reportedly brings on Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal as backers of its cryptocurrency  The Block Crypto

Social media giant Facebook’s yet-to-launch cryptocurrency appears to have attracted three major payments companies as backers, according to a report by The …

“trump as samson” – Google News


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Putin: Relations With US ‘Getting Worse By The Hour’ Under Trump – The Schpiel

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Putin: Relations With US ‘Getting Worse By The Hour’ Under Trump  The Schpiel

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that relations with the U.S. are rapidly “deteriorating” under the Trump administration because of sanctions against …


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Совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности • Президент России

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Michael_Novakhov
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Секретарь Совета Безопасности Николай Патрушев перед началом оперативного совещания с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности.

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Seattle’s first openly lesbian mayor, Jenny Durkan, is fighting back for everyone

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Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan

Name: Jenny Durkan

Who she is: Mayor of Seattle

How she has contributed: The question is more like: How hasn’t she contributed? Durkan grew up outside of Seattle, the daughter of a Washington state senator and a newspaper editor. She spent her early career teaching English and coaching girls basketball in a Yukon fishing village in rural Alaska before getting her law degree.

Her legal career has been defined by her progressive values: fighting for victim plaintiffs, defending journalists called into court by the government, focusing on police reform and sentencing guidelines. In 2009, President Obama appointed her U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington – the first openly gay person to be appointed a U.S. Attorney. Her district encompassed 78 percent of the state population, and she got right to work creating a civil rights department within the district and pursuing an investigation in the Seattle Police Department’s excessive use of force.

In 2017, Durkan ran for Seattle mayor on a platform built around alleviating homelessness and building more affordable housing. She won 60 percent of the vote, making her the city’s first lesbian mayor. Earlier that year, you could find her at Sea-Tac Airport, assisting families who had arrived legally but were under threat of separation during President Trump’s first cruel and idiotic Muslim travel ban.

This past April, she went on Hardball to argue against Trump’s proposed “sanctuary cities” plan for immigrants. As we write this, Durkan is making news by protesting the U.S. Navy’s training exercises in Puget Sound, attempting to protect the endangered whales who would be harmed from the use of sonar and explosives.

Durkan has two sons with her partner, Dana Garvey, but we won’t likely hear her coming-out story any time soon. As The Stranger noted in a recent profile:

[Durkan and Garvey] are easily one of Seattle’s most powerful couples, if not the most powerful couple in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a story worthy of a book, although they’re not likely to publish it anytime soon. Durkan has described Garvey as ‘unbelievably private’ (according to the Seattle Times).

Why we’re proud: It’s refreshing to find a leader who has so gracefully integrated our causes into the broader progressive movement in Seattle and across the country. Indeed, Durkan sees a critical link between the two, taking the holistic stand that to advocate for the rights of any vulnerable group is to advocate for all.

As she told the crowd at the Seattle Pride Awards last year:

Back then it was just a small parade on Broadway. There were so many things we were marching for. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, we marched for our friends who died or were dying of AIDS; we marched for basic civil rights, in healthcare and at work, where we ate, shopped, and did our business; then we marched for family and marriage rights.

And now, we march for everyone’s rights. .. Our fight for equality is everyone’s fight – it includes our transgender brothers and sisters serving their country whose rights can be taken away with a tweet by our President. And it includes immigrants separated from their children wondering if they will ever hold their children again. It includes the struggles of LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness, or the many who live in states with no protections.

Unsurprisingly, Durkan will be one of the grand marshals for Seattle’s upcoming Pride parade on June 30. Good choice, Seattle.


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6:00 PM 6/13/2019

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Michael_Novakhov
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from The Trump Investigations Blog by Michael Novakhov – Review Of News And Opinions.

6:00 PM 6/13/2019

Image result for khamenei response to trump's letter

» Kolokoltsev had requested that Putin dismiss the two generals – Google Search
13/06/19 17:35 from Mike Nova’s Shared Newslinks
Michael_Novakhov shared this story from “Kolokoltsev had requested that Putin dismiss the two generals” – Google News. Putin Sacks High-Ranking Police Generals Over Golunov Case The Moscow Times – 10 hours ago Interior Minister…
» Putin sacks two senior police over reporter’s drugs arrest
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Michael_Novakhov shared this story . Date created : Moscow (AFP) President Vladimir Putin on Thursday sacked two senior police officers over the arrest of investigative reporter Ivan Golunov on trumped up drugs charges. The journalist’s …
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13/06/19 17:09 from Mike Nova’s Shared Newslinks
Michael_Novakhov shared this story . Khamenei to Abe: Trump ‘not worthy of exchanging messages’ Devdiscourse – 5 hours ago Khamenei to Abe: Trump ‘not worthy of exchanging messages’ … “I have no response for him and will not answer him…
» khamenei response to trump’s letter – Google Search
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Michael_Novakhov shared this story from “khamenei response to trump’s letter” – Google News. Shinzo Abe meets Iran supreme leader seeking to ease US tensions Dhaka Tribune – 11 hours ago … supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Kha…
» ‘You Will Go to Hell’
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Michael_Novakhov shared this story from CNS RSS Feed Navbar. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Screen Capture) (CNSNews.com) – Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatolla…
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13/06/19 17:05 from Mike Nova’s Shared Newslinks
Michael_Novakhov shared this story .
» Putin Sacks High-Ranking Police Generals Over Golunov Case
13/06/19 16:56 from Mike Nova’s Shared Newslinks
Michael_Novakhov shared this story . Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed two high-ranking police generals involved in the case against investigative journalist Ivan Golunov. Major General Yuri Devyatkin, the head of the Interi…

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mikenov on Twitter: The Trump Investigations Blog by Michael Novakhov – Review Of News And Opinions: 6:00 PM 6/13/2019 trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/06/600-pm…

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The Trump Investigations Blog by Michael Novakhov – Review Of News And Opinions: 6:00 PM 6/13/2019 trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/06/600-pm…


Posted by

mikenov
on Thursday, June 13th, 2019 10:10pm

mikenov on Twitter


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mikenov on Twitter: RT @CNNPolitics: JUST IN: Press secretary Sarah Sanders is leaving her White House post, President Trump says cnn.it/2IdiSZD https…

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JUST IN: Press secretary Sarah Sanders is leaving her White House post, President Trump says cnn.it/2IdiSZD pic.twitter.com/llgkVZY1Nu



Posted by

CNNPolitics
on Thursday, June 13th, 2019 8:24pm
Retweeted by

mikenov
on Thursday, June 13th, 2019 9:22pm

239 likes, 66 retweets

mikenov on Twitter


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mikenov on Twitter: M.N.: Thanks to everyone who helped the truth to come out! Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠ trumpandtrumpism.com/mike-novas-sha… #Kolokoltsev had requested that Putin dismiss the two generals #Putin Sacks High-Ranking #Police Generals Over #Golunov Case themoscowtimes.com/2019/06/13/put…

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M.N.: Thanks to everyone who helped the truth to come out!
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
trumpandtrumpism.com/mike-novas-sha…
#Kolokoltsev had requested that Putin dismiss the two generals
#Putin Sacks High-Ranking #Police Generals Over #Golunov Case
themoscowtimes.com/2019/06/13/put…


Posted by

mikenov
on Thursday, June 13th, 2019 9:22pm

mikenov on Twitter


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How we should now evaluate the NFL offensive linemen who were drafted in 2016

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Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz looks back at a draft that was loaded with OL … in the first round.

This week, we’re looking back at the 2016 NFL Draft. You can also check out our list of the top 10 players, how we ranked the 15 quarterbacks, the six guys under the most pressure to perform this season, and five breakout candidates from that draft class.

Since I’m the resident offensive line expert at SB Nation, I’m going to explore the 2016 NFL Draft from that angle. We love immediate draft grades after the first, second, and third days, but those are knee-jerk reactions based on potential, team fit, and personal feeling about a player. Doing this exercise after three full seasons in the NFL is the appropriate time to revisit a draft.

So let’s take a look back at the offensive linemen who were drafted that year and evaluate what went right, what went wrong, and what trend we need to watch going forward.

Most — but not all — teams nailed it with OL in the first round

The 2016 draft started with a bang. Right before the first round began, Ole Miss offensive tackle, and presumed top-five pick, Laremy Tunsil was sabotaged. Video leaked of him smoking weed while wearing a giant gas mask. I don’t think the act of smoking was what caused the uproar but rather the device he was using. Either way, it scared away teams. Tunsil dropped down the board and Ronnie Stanley took advantage.

Stanley was drafted sixth overall by the Ravens. He’s improved each season and he’s on his way to being a stud. For reference, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 17th-best OT in football last season.

Next off the board was Michigan State’s Jack Conklin at No. 8 to the Titans. Conklin came out of the gate fast, earning first-team All-Pro honors as a rookie. Since then, he’s not been the same player, with injuries being a big reason why. At the end of the 2017 season, in the Titans’ playoff game against the Patriots, he tore his ACL. He missed the start of the 2018 season rehabbing his injury, then missed more time with a concussion and knee injury. The Titans declined his fifth-year option, so with an injury-free season in 2019, Conklin could be up for a huge payday.

After the slide out of top 10, Tunsil was taken by the Dolphins at No. 13. Tunsil has been the best lineman in the draft so far and he’s lived up to his billing as the potential top-five pick. The Dolphins got a steal and they of course picked up his fifth-year option.

Three picks later, the Lions drafted Taylor Decker. He started all 16 games his rookie season and continually improved throughout that season. Decker missed half of 2017 while recovering from a shoulder operation and then played well last season. Like Stanley, he’s on his way to being an elite offensive tackle. The Lions picked up his fifth-year option, which was a no-brainer for them.

Next up, the Colts selected center Ryan Kelly out of Alabama. He’s been the backbone of their young, physical, and improving offensive line. He’s exactly what they expected him to be and will be their center for a decade.

To round out the first round, the 49ers drafted Joshua Garnett, who’s mostly been a disappointment and doesn’t start for the Niners. In the same division, the Seahawks drafted Germain Ifedi. He got better last season but even then, he hasn’t put it all together.

Ifedi is an example of a high-potential offensive lineman who just doesn’t have enough practice time to improve. He was rushed into playing and it’s been a struggle. His fifth-year option wasn’t picked up and if he plays decently this season, someone will pay him lots of money heading into 2020. In the end, Ifedi could get the last laugh.

The Ravens, Dolphins, Lions, and Colts get passing grades from me. The first three found their franchise left tackles and the Colts have their franchise center. All these teams filled a need without drafting these players too high.

The 49ers failed on Garnett and the Seahawks reached for Ifedi. But, when looking at the other options for the Seahawks at tackle, there weren’t many in the draft. I can understand them taking a chance on the Ifedi. So while I’d grade this a C for the Seahawks, I don’t think it’s as bad as some would like to make it.

There hasn’t been as much OL depth in the later rounds lately

Hitting on first-round draft picks can be “easy” compared to finding steals later in the draft.

After the first round, the 2016 draft produced some starters — including a few stars — in the second and third rounds. We have the TexansNick Martin (second round, pick No. 50), the Bears’ versatile Cody Whitehair (second round, pick No. 56), the Patriots’ Joe Thuney (third round, pick No. 78), the EaglesIsaac Seumalo (third round, pick No. 79), and the Lions’ Graham Glasgow (third round, pick, No. 95).

While none of these guys have been home runs, there were quality linemen selected later in this draft. Austin Blythe, a seventh-round pick for the Colts, is now a starter for the Rams at right guard. Connor McGovern is sliding over to center for the Broncos this season, and he’s not the only fifth-rounder who has had to step up. Brandon Shell is the starter at right tackle for the Jets, Joe Haeg has started double-digit games for the Colts and will provide depth, and Caleb Benenoch started all 16 games at right guard for the Bucs last season.

It’s been harder to land those OL gems after the third round, which is an unfortunate trend in recent years. The last drafts that produced outstanding linemen after the third round were in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, there was David Bakhtiari (fourth round, Packers), J.C. Tretter (fourth round, Packers), Ricky Wagner (fifth round, Ravens), and Ryan Jensen (sixth round, Ravens).

2014 also gave us four stars after the third round (Corey Linsley, Matt Paradis, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Charles Leno), but there were only two in 2015 (Daryl Williams, Shaq Mason).

In review, the 2016 NFL Draft produced about what expected at the top of the draft. We have a few elite linemen as usual — Stanley, Tunsil, Decker, and Kelly — and then a dud or two. The upper to middle part of the draft yielded the diamonds in the rough.

At the bottom of the draft, I don’t see any above-average linemen in the later rounds, unlike previous years. Could this be a product of the lack of development at the position group in college and in the NFL? That’s a trend we need to keep an eye on when we start evaluating the 2017, 2018, and 2019 drafts in the future.


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Popular YouTuber and BBC Host Dan Howell Comes Out as Gay to 6.4 Million Subscribers: WATCH

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Dan Howell, a popular YouTuber and BBC presenter, came out as gay on Thursday in a 45-minute video to his 6.4 million subscribers. Howell often collaborates with another YouTuber, Phil Lester, who has 4 million subscribers. The other reveal in Howell’s video was that he and Lester, who presents with him on BBC, once dated.

“Queer people exist,” said Howell. “Choosing not to accept them is not an option. To anyone watching this that isn’t out, it’s okay. You’re okay. You were born this way. It’s right. And anyone that has a problem with it is wrong. Based on your circumstance you might not feel ready to tell people yet, or that it’s safe, and that’s fine too. Just know that living your truth with pride is the way to be happy. You are valid. It gets so much better. And the future is clear. It’s pretty queer.”

The post Popular YouTuber and BBC Host Dan Howell Comes Out as Gay to 6.4 Million Subscribers: WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Nicholas Sparks, Bryan Singer, Daughtry, Bhupen Khakhar, Air Force One, Kellyanne Conway, Arianna Grande, Ewan McGregor: HOT LINKS

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BHUPEN KHAKHAR. Indian artists’s groundbreaking 1980 erotic gay work sells for $3.2 million at Sotheby’s.

RIP. Sylvia Miles.

NICHOLAS SPARKS. The author’s Christian school is a hotbed of bigotry, racism, and homophobia. “Schultz came into the office Wednesday for the first time in months and met with the staff, according to a person in the room. He announced that he was letting everyone go except those in senior leadership positions, adding he would not make a decision about running for president until after Labor Day. “

BRYAN SINGER. X-Men director reportedly settling rape case for $150,000.

HOWARD SCHULTZ. Starbucks billionaire cuts staff, puts campaign on hiatus.

PETE BUTTIGIEG. Supports a post-office Trump criminal investigation: “I would want any credible allegation of criminal behavior to be investigated to the fullest.”

VERY SAD THING. Nancy Pelosi repeats allegations of a “criminal cover up” by Trump. “Everybody in the country should be totally appalled by what the president said last night. Should be totally appalled. He has a habit of making appalling statements. This one borders on so totally unethical but he doesn’t even realize it. However, what we want to do is have a methodical approach to the path we’re on and this will be included in that. But not any one issue is going to trigger, oh now we’re going to go do this.”

KELLYANNE CONWAY. Federal watchdog agency recommends Trump adviser be removed from federal office over violations of Hatch Act. ‘The decision about whether to remove Conway is up to Trump. A senior White House official said Thursday the president is unlikely to punish Conway and instead will defend her. The White House counsel immediately issued a letter calling for the agency to withdraw its recommendation that Conway be removed — a request the Office of Special Counsel declined.’

HMM. Trump’s color scheme for Air Force One looks like the failed Trump Shuttle airline and his personal jet.

GRACE PETRIE. The folk singer writing new gay anthems: “Petrie is a thirtysomething folk singer who specializes in guileless, self-penned protest songs about Brexit and income inequality and gay rights—a sort of butch-lesbian Billy Bragg. “

DEANNA DAUGHTRY. Wife of American Idol rocker Chris Daughtry says she’s bisexual. ‘Today, the song, “As You Are,” is the brand-new single off Daughtry’s latest album Cage to Rattle. But the couple reveals it’s more than a unique, first-time collaboration. The ballad, both tender and powerful, is Deanna’s “coming out,” her victory in a lifetime struggle to embrace her bisexuality. 

ARIANA GRANDE. Singer hits back at anti-gay protester.

TRAILER OF THE DAY. Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, starring Ewan McGregor.

THIRSTY THURSDAY. Bad Boy Tony Harth by David Anthony.

View this post on Instagram

Break the internet!

A post shared by Tony Harth (@tonyharth) on

The post Nicholas Sparks, Bryan Singer, Daughtry, Bhupen Khakhar, Air Force One, Kellyanne Conway, Arianna Grande, Ewan McGregor: HOT LINKS appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Britain “deeply concerned” about reports of explosions on vessels in Gulf of Oman

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines.

LONDON, June 13 (Reuters) – Britain said on Thursday it was deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.

Shipping firms and industry sources said two oil tankers were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crews have been evacuated, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck.

“We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Strait of Hormuz. We are in contact with local authorities and partners in the region,” a British government spokeswoman said. (Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)


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mikenov on Twitter: Britain “deeply concerned” about reports of explosions on vessels in Gulf of Oman news.yahoo.com/britain-deeply… via @YahooNews

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Britain “deeply concerned” about reports of explosions on vessels in Gulf of Oman news.yahoo.com/britain-deeply… via @YahooNews


Posted by

mikenov
on Thursday, June 13th, 2019 7:00pm

mikenov on Twitter


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