Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Trial in Cuba Baseball Player Trafficking Case

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It has been reported (and here) that Court documents filed in U.S. court in Miami list Major League Baseball star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as a possible government witness in the case against Florida sports agent Bartolo Hernandez and his associate Julio Estrada, who are accused of smuggling Cuban ballplayers into the United States.  Chicago White Sox star Jose Abreu is also listed as potential witnesses in the trial, which is scheduled for Jan. 3 in Miami.  Hernandez and Estrada have pleaded not guilty.

A grand jury indictment unsealed earlier this year says baseball ballplayers paid more than $15 million to a smuggling ring to leave Cuba. The ring provided the players with phony documents, false identities and secret boat travel from Cuba to Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  The smugglers allegedly took a cut from any Major League Baseball contract signed by the players.

KJ

November 16, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Teenage Gambian soccer star dies during Mediterranean crossing

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More than 3,300 migrants have died in the Mediterranean this year, according to the IOM. Photograph: Imago / Barcroft Media/imago/Haytham Pictures

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Photo courtesy of NAIJ.com

Refugees continue to die seeking to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.  The latest:  The Guardian reports that the goalkeeper of the Gambia’s national women’s football team died crossing the Mediterranean in the hope of starting a new life in Europe, her former coach has said. Fatim Jawara, reportedly just 19, was on board a boat that ran into trouble in the Mediterranean in late October while crossing from Libya to Europe.

More than 3,300 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean this year, according to figures from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Jawara made her debut for the national team, known as the Scorpions, a year ago in a friendly against a team from Glasgow.

Jawara is said to have left the Gambia in September to cross the Sahara and head for Libya, where most African migrants begin the sea crossing to Europe.

KJ

November 3, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Immigrants Make It a Truly World Series

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It has been an exciting World Series 2016, more for Cleveland Indians fans than Chicago Cubs ones. Ahead in the series 3-1, Cleveland is on the verge of becoming World Champions.  

Stuart Anderson of Forbes focuses on the truly global nature of the 2016 World Series.  This World Series has players born in at least 13 different countries. The leading country of origin for players on 2016 Opening Day rosters (and disabled lists) was the Dominican Republic (82 players), followed by Venezuela (63) Cuba (28), Mexico (12), Japan (8), South Korea (8), Canada (6), Panama (4), Colombia (3), Curacao (3), Brazil (2) and Taiwan (2).

Today, approximately 26 percent of major league baseball players are foreign-born, a more than five-fold increase from the 1940s.

In the World Series, the Chicago Cubs have 6 foreign-born players and the Cleveland Indians have 5 foreign-born, players on their rosters.

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Carlos Santana, born in the Dominican Republic, hit a home run for Cleveland in Game 4.

 

KJ

 

October 30, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Julio Urias, Mexican Athlete, To Become Youngest Pitcher For MLB Postseason Game

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez refused to stay at Donald Trump's hotel in Chicago

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Los Angeles Dodger Adrian Gonzalez made a political statement of sorts in the team's trip to Chicago for the first two games of the National League Championship Series.  The Dodgers won game 2 1-0 on Gonzalez's home run. 

A.J. Perez of USA Today reports that Trump International Hotel and Tower didn’t host the Los Angeles Dodgers on their stay in Chicago for Games 1-2 of the National League Championship Series.  First baseman Adrian Gonzalez had the team find him accommodations. “I didn’t stay there,” Gonzalez told the Southern California News Group. “I had my reasons.” Gonzalez, whose solo homer proved to be the difference in the Dodgers’ NLCS Game 2 victory, did not name Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as the reason he decided to go solo on the trip to the Windy City. “We’re here to play baseball not talk politics,” Gonzalez said.

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Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago)

KJ

 

October 18, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Immigrant of the Day: Kenta Maeda (Japan), Los Angeles Dodgers

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Kenta Maeda, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, started the first game last night against the Chicago Cubs in the National League Chapionship Series.  The Cubs won the opener.  Maeda did not have his best outing in a no-decision.

Born in Osaka, Maeda previously was a star in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Earlier this year, Maeda signed an eight-year, $25 million, contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

Maeda made his Major League debut on April 6, 2016, pitching six shutout innings. He hit a home run in his second at-bat for his first major league hit. Maeda was selected by Baseball America to their all-rookie team.  He had a 16-11 record and a 3.49 ERA in his first year with the Dodgers.

October 16, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

RIP Jose Fernandez, Cuban American MLB Star

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ESPN reports some very sad news from Major League BaseballMiami Marlins pitching ace Jose Fernández, just 24 years old, was killed in a boating accident in Florida early this morning. The U.S. Coast Guard said Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach. 

Fernández was born in Cuba and made three unsuccessful attempts at defecting before he was successful. He was selected by the Marlins in the 2011 MLB draft. Fernández made his MLB debut with the Marlins on April 7, 2013. He was named to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game and was later named National League Rookie of the Year.

Fernández became the first pitcher in the modern era to win his first 17 career home decisions, as well as go 24-1 in his first 25 home decisions. He was one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball at the time of his death.

Fernández attempted to defect unsuccessfully three times; each failed defection attempt was followed by a prison term. Fernandez, along with his mother and sister, successfully defected in 2007. On that attempt, José's mother fell overboard and José had to dive into the water to save his mother's life.

KJ

September 25, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Eight Foreign-Born Olympians Win Medals for Team USA

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Michele Waslin for the American Immigration Council reports that nearly 50 foreign-born athletes proudly represented the U.S. as part of the Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro, and eight of them won medals.

 

 

  • Kerron Clement, born in Trinidad and Tobago, won Gold in the men’s 400 meter hurdles (Track and Field).
  • Kyrie Irving, who won gold with the U.S. Men’s Basketball team, was born in Australia to U.S. citizen parents and has dual citizenship.
  • Paul Chelimo, originally of Kenya, won Silver in the men’s 5,000 meter race (Track and Field). Chelimo is one of four immigrant Olympians who enlisted in the Army, train with the military’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), and competed for the U.S. in track and field.
  • Danell Leyva, who defected to the U.S. with his family from Cuba, won two individual Silver medals in Gymnastics.
  • Steffen Peters, who was born in Germany and became a U.S. citizen in 1992 won a team bronze in Dressage (Equestrian).
  • Phillip Dutton, who was born in Australia, won an individual bronze in Equestrian.
  • Dagmara Wozniak, who was born in Poland and came to the U.S. with her parents as a child, was part of the Bronze medal winning Saber Fencing team.
  • Foluke Akinradewo, born in Canada to Nigerian parents, won Bronze as a member of the Women’s Volleyball team.

The diversity of this year’s team was evident, not only in the athletes but also their parents, coaches, and all others who helped the team succeed. Geno Auriemma, coach of the gold medal winning women’s basketball team, was born in Italy and came to the U.S. with his family when he was a child. Marta Karolyi, national team coordinator of the gold medal winning women’s gymnastics team was born in a part of Hungary that is now Romania. She and her husband defected to the U.S. in 1981.

KJ

August 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ethiopian Silver Medal Winning Olympics Marathoner Protests Government

 

I was watching the finish of the Marathon in the Olympics yesterday and was not sure what the Silver Medal winner was trying to convey.  MSN explains that, when he crossed the Olympics marathon finish line, Feyisa Lilesa put his hands above his head in an "X." Lilesa was protesting the Ethiopian government's killing of hundreds of the country's Oromo people — an ethnic majority that has long complained about being marginalized by the country's government. The group has held protests this year over plans to reallocate Oromo land. Many of those protests ended in bloodshed.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 400 people have been killed since November. For months, the Oromo have been using the same "X" gesture that Lilesa, 26, used at the finish line.

Fearing for his life, Lilesa may not be returning to Ethiopia.

KJ

August 22, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Team USA Includes These Immigrants and Foreign-Born Athletes Competing for Gold

Michele Waslin for the American Immigration Council reminds us that, as the Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro, the U.S. is well-represented by its citizens – both native and foreign born. Forty-seven of those competing on Team USA were born outside of the country.

 

Some like basketball star Kyrie Irving, Boyd Martin who competes in equestrian, rugby player Madison Hughes, and water polo player Tony Azevedo were born abroad to U.S. citizen parents. Others, like sailor Bora Gulari, tennis player Denis Kudla, and fencer Dagmara Wozniak, came to the U.S. as children with their parents. Still other Olympians, like canoeist Michal Smolen, immigrated for college or as adults.

Their stories remind us how immigrants come from all over the world and contribute their talents to the U.S.  Runner Charles Jock was born in a refugee camp in Ethiopia after his parents fled civil war in Sudan. He came to the U.S. with his family at age three where they were granted asylum and settled in San Diego.  Nick Delpopolo, who competes in Judo was born Petra Perovic in Montenegro where he spent his first 21 months in a dirt-floor orphanage. He was adopted by American parents and grew up in New Jersey.

KJ

August 6, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

First-Ever Refugee Team Hit of Rio Olympics

 

The first-ever Refugee Team is a hit at the Olympics in Rio.  According to news reports (and here), the crowd at Maracanã Stadium during the Olympic opening ceremony last night reserved its loudest cheers for the Refugee Olympic team. The International Olympic Committee previously announced that it would field a team under its own flag earlier;  It announced a 10-person team in June. The team of six men and five women fled their home countries — Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo. They are swimmers, runners, and judokas.

The International Olympic Committee named 800m runner Rose Nathike Lokonyen, originally from South Sudan, to be the team’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony.  Rose carried the Olympic flag. The young runner arrived in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya in 2002 and is part of the Tegla Loroupe Foundation.

 

 

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In more Olympics news, NBC reports that people living in the world’s largest refugee camp will now be able to watch the 2016 Rio Olympics.   The International Olympic Committee has partnered with FilmAid International, an organization that brings film to displaced people across the world, to broadcast the games for almost 200,000 people living at the refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, for the next 16 days, according to olympic.org

KJ

August 6, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Immigrant of the Day: Robinson Cano, Professional Baseball Player, Dominican Republic

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Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano got his name from his father, who admired baseball great Jackie Robinson.  Born in the Dominican Republic, Cano came to the United States to play baseball.  In 2012, Cano became a U.S. citizen.

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Cano was born Oct. 22, 1982 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. The city is often called “The Cradle of Shortstops” because so many of them have come out of this city.  His father, Jose Cano, played briefly with the Houston Astros in the 1980s Cano spent most of this childhood in the Dominican Republic.

Canó is a six-time All-Star (2006, 2010–2014) and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2006, 2010–2013). He won two Gold Glove Awards (2010, 2012) and has been named American League Player of the Month twice (September 2006, April 2010). In 2011, Canó won the Home Run Derby. He was a member of the Yankees' 2009 World Series championship team and the Dominican Republic's 2013 World Baseball Classic championship team, for which he won the tournament's most valuable player award. 

 

KJ

July 4, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Soccer dream becomes an immigration nightmare

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Brooke Gemmell, Buba Jobe and Don Gemmell (Courtesy of Gemmell family)

This story is nothing less than an immigration nightmare!  .

Bubacarr Jobe was born in Gambia, a tiny West African nation where a third of the population earns less than $1.25 a day.  His passage to his soccer dream consisted of flights to Senegal, Morocco, Newark (N.J.), St. Louis, Memphis and finally Houston.  Jobe, or “Buba” as he’s known, misses those Houston skyscrapers. There’s a chance he won’t see them again, because Bubacarr Jobe is a young man has an immigration crisis.  He is an athlete with a team but without a country.

Buba Jobe’s journey to the United States began in 2011.  When he arrived in Texas, just 16 years old, he found himself stunned by luxuries like hot water and electricity and baffled by animals who lived inside people’s homes. 

Soon after he got to Houston, Buba tore his ACL. The coach of the Rush, Don Gemmell, along with his wife, Brooke, took him in. Through the rehab, the three became close.

Gemmell hoped to help Buba stay in the U.S., and a lawyer advised him to obtain a Special Immigrant Juvenile Visa. The family went ahead. But before that process was complete, Buba turned 18 and his visitor’s visa had expired.

“He became unlawfully present,” says John Sandweg, a former general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security. “He became illegal.”

The family wasn’t aware of this mistake until they traveled to Canada to apply for the new visa at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. Officials there looked at his case, immediately saw that Buba was in the U.S. without a valid visa, and banned him from returning to the States for 10 years.

“We were horrified,” Gemmell says. “My wife was in tears. So here we are in Ottawa. We have to put him on a train to Toronto to my hometown. Buba has never set foot on a train. It was so gut-wrenching saying goodbye. He was supposed to come back and play in the USL (United Soccer League).”

The Gemmells went back to Texas. Buba went to London, Ontario, to stay with Gemmell’s extended family.

“We all go to Canada and then I get rejected and they have to go back to the USA,” Buba says. “It was scary.”

Buba remains separated from his only family in the US while he lives in Canada.

 

 

KJ

July 1, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fox Sports takes reporter Emily Austen off the air after racist remarks

 

Cindy Boren of the Washington Post reports that Emily Austen, a Fox Sports Florida and Fox Sports Sun sideline reporter who covers the Tampa Bay Rays and Orlando Magic, has been taken off the air after making derogatory, racist and anti-Semitic remarks on Barstool Sports' "Rundown" show this week.   Austen disparaged Mexican, Chinese and Jewish people, as well as Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, on the daily show broadcast on Facebook Live.  Asked about a high school valedictorian who said on Twitter that she was an undocumented immigrant, Austen said: "I didn't even know Mexicans were that smart. . . .That's f---- up. I didn't mean it like that. You see, you guys know that the Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class." 

The above is an excerpt of the video, the entirety which can be found on Vimeo.

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Emily Austen

KJ

June 12, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Refugee Olympic Team to shine spotlight on worldwide refugee crisis

 

 

 

One might say that it is a sign of the global times.  The International Olympic Committee has announced the first Refugee Olympic Team for the Rio Olympics

Go Refugee Olympic Team!  As the Washington Post reports, they hail from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They’ve fled war and the destruction of their homelands. They’ve boarded inflatable boats and grown up in refugee camps. And they are all athletes who will compete on the world’s biggest stage in August.

The International Olympic Committee on Friday announced members of its first-ever Olympic team comprised of refugees. The six men and four women belonging to the Refugee Olympic Team will compete in swimming, judo, and track and field events — and they’ll be the first to enter Rio’s Olympic stadium for Opening Ceremonies, wielding the Olympic flag, marching in before host nation Brazil.

The athletes are:

  • Rami Anis (M): Country of origin – Syria; host NOC – Belgium; sport – swimming
  • Yiech Pur Biel (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 800m
  • James Nyang Chiengjiek (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 400m
  • Yonas Kinde (M): Country of origin – Ethiopia; host NOC – Luxembourg; sport – athletics, marathon
  • Anjelina Nada Lohalith (F): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 1500m
  • Rose Nathike Lokonyen (F): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 800m
  • Paulo Amotun Lokoro (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 1500m
  • Yolande Bukasa Mabika (F): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC – Brazil; sport – judo, -70kg
  • Yusra Mardini (F): Country of origin – Syria; host NOC – Germany; sport – swimming
  • Popole Misenga (M): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC – Brazil; sport – judo, -90kg
 
KJ

June 4, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

RIP Muhammed Ali (1942-2016)

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The world has lost a legend.  For tributes to Muhammed Ali, boxing great, Olympian, humanitarian, and cultural icon, see

Sports Illustrated

ESPN

New York Times

Louisville Courier Journal

Washington Post

 

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Ali/George Foreman 1974 Zaire "The Rumble in the Jungle"

 

 

In 1967, three years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali refused to be drafted into the armed services, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to the war in Vietnam. He was tried and convicted of draft evasion and stripped of his boxing title. Ali did not fight again for nearly four years. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 overturned his conviction. Ali's actions as a conscientious objector made him a countercultural icon.

 

Ali is the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion; he won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978. For many years, Ali reigned as the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion.

Nicknamed "The Greatest", Ali was involved in several historic fights.  Besides beating Sonny Liston twice, Ali had three fights with then-bitter rival Smoking Joe Frazier, and "The Rumble in the Jungle," which some say was his best fight, with George Foreman.

Ali will be missed.

KJ

June 4, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Foreign Born Players in Super Bowl 50

This Caribbean Today story identifies tow "foreign born" players who will play in Super Bowl 50.

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On the Carolina Panthers’ side is Star Lotulelei, who moved to the United States at the age of 9 from the Pacific Islands of Tonga.

 

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Running back Juwan Thompson, 23, is on the Denver Broncos. Thompson was born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, an insular U.S. territory.  U.S. Virgin Island residents are U.S. citizens so Thompson technically is not "foreign-born." 

KJ

February 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Super Bowl 50 and Human Trafficking

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Photo courtesy of NFL.com

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Super Bowl 50 is this Sunday and the parties no doubt will be memorable.  Behind the scenes, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been at work in ensuring safety and security for all at this big event.

Yesterday, DHS announced two new partnerships between the DHS Blue Campaign, the unified voice for the Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking, and the California Hotel & Lodging Association (CH&LA) and the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) Altamont Corridor Express (ACE). This announcement is especially important as the Department continues its efforts to help ensure the security of visitors and fans for Super Bowl 50. High-profile events, like the Super Bowl, draw large crowds and have become lucrative opportunities for criminals engaged in human trafficking. CH&LA and SJRRC ACE will display Blue Campaign materials at lodging and railway stops throughout California, providing residents and visitors to the area with information about the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it. Materials will also have resources and information on how to receive support for potential victims.

KJ

February 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Refugee will be a torch bearer in 2016, Refugee athletes will participate in 2016 Olympics

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The 2016 Olympics are already making the news.  The torch for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will pass through a refugee camp in Athens and one refugee will be among the torch bearers, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said last week. The torch will be lit in Greece's ancient Olympia on April 21 before leaving for Brazil. It will arrive in Brazil on May 3 to start its 100-day relay across the country.

Greece became the main gateway for refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. "The Olympic flame will pass through this camp here and will be shown to the refugees," IOC head Thomas Bach said during a visit to a refugee camp in Athens.. "One of the refugees will be invited to carry the torch." 

The IOC has said that top athletes who are refugees with no home country to represent will be allowed to compete at the Rio Games under the Olympic flag.

KJ

February 1, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Immigrant of the Day: Luis Ortiz, Professional Boxer (Cuba)