Oct 24, 2019

Mike Pence blasts the NBA in speech on China

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

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.

George Floyd updates

Thousands of protesters march over the Brooklyn Bridge on June 4 in New York City. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

All four former Minneapolis police officers have been charged for George Floyd’s death and are in custody, including Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, who were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

The latest: Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against President Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr and other federal officials on behalf of Black Lives Matter and other peaceful protesters who were forcibly removed with rubber bullets and chemical irritants before Trump's photo-op at the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday.

The long journey to herd immunity

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The sought-after state of herd immunity — in which widespread outbreaks are prevented because enough people in a community are immune to a disease — is complicated by open questions about the effectiveness of a future vaccine and how COVID-19 spreads.

Why it matters: Unless a sufficient level of immunity is achieved in the population, the coronavirus could circulate indefinitely and potentially flare up as future outbreaks.