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Vice President Pence. Photo: Stringer/Getty Images

Vice President Pence denounced the NBA in a speech on Thursday, saying the league is "siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech ... acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime."

The big picture: Pence's accusations come after the general manager of the Houston Rockets incensed Chinese leaders with his support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. NBA commissioner Adam Silver then backed GM Daryl Morey up, saying the league is "not willing to compromise" with China on freedom of expression for league employees.

Key quotes:

  • "Past administrations have come and gone; all were aware of the abuses. None were willing to upset the established Washington interests who not only permitted these abuses, but profited from them."
  • "[S]ome of the NBA's biggest players and owners, who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country, lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of other peoples."
  • "Nike promotes itself as a so called 'social-justice champion,' but when it comes to Hong Kong, it prefers checking its social conscious at the door."
  • "A progressive corporate culture that willfully ignores the abuse of human rights is not progressive — it's REpressive."
  • "[T]he United States does not seek confrontation with China. We seek a level playing field, open markets, fair trade and a respect for our values."
  • "China should know that U.S. values run deep, that our commitment to these values remains as strong as it was for our founding fathers and there will never be a day when the bright lights of democracy and freedom go out."

The bottom line: China is among the biggest markets for the NBA. After Morey’s tweet, almost all of the NBA’s Chinese partners cancelled or suspended their relationships with the league.

Go deeper: America strikes back against China's censorship

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Saudi dissident claims MBS said he could get "poison ring" to kill king

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attending the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, via video link, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Photo: Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A former senior Saudi intelligence official who worked with the U.S. on counterterrorism alleged to "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed in 2014 killing the kingdom's then-monarch.

Why it matters: The claim by the exiled Saad al-Jabri, whom Saudi authorities describe as "a discredited former government official," that the crown prince, known as "MBS," allegedly said he could obtain a "ring from Russia" to carry out the attack, is one of several serious but unproven allegations he made on the CBS show.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.