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Russians Are Voting On 206 Reforms. The Most Important One Will Extend Putin’s Rule – NPR

“It is very important to him to have this popular endorsement, even if it is a farce, even if it is a travesty of popular will,” analyst Masha Lipman says of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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LeBron James says he won’t wear approved social justice message on jersey; Anthony Davis to follow, per report – CBS Sports

James says he was not consulted on the league’s list of approved social justice messages and will instead stick with his name

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LeBron James will wear his own name on the back of his jersey at Disney World rather than one of the NBA-approved social justice slogans, he revealed in a Zoom call with media Saturday. Fellow Los Angeles Lakers start Anthony Davis will also wear his own name on the back of his jersey, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. James explained Saturday that he was not consulted on the list of league-approved messages. 
“I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey,” James said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “It’s just something that didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal. I would have loved to have a say so on what would have went on the back of my jersey. I had a couple things in mind but I wasn’t part of that process and that’s OK.”
The NBA’s official list of approved social justice messages is as follows: Black Lives Matter, Say Their Names, Vote, I Can’t Breathe, Justice, Peace, Equality, Freedom, Enough, Power to the People, Justice Now, Say Her Name, Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can), Liberation, See Us, Hear Us, Respect Us, Love Us, Listen, Listen to Us, Stand Up, Ally, Anti-Racist, I Am A Man, Speak Up, How Many More, Group Economics, Education Reform and Mentor.
James is one of the most socially active players in the NBA. He has spoken out on a number of issues, including athlete activism and gun violence. He also opened a school in his hometown of Akron to serve underprivileged students and recently started a voting rights initiative with several other star players. His decision not to wear a social justice message is somewhat surprising through that lens, but so is the league’s decision not to consult him on possible messages. Aside from being the NBA’s most famous player, James is also a former union vice president and is close friends with Chris Paul, the union’s president.
James did not specify what messages he would have considered for the back of his jersey. Few players have yet specified what they plan to wear on the back of their jerseys, but LeBron’s dissatisfaction with the available options could impact their decisions. In its own way, it is a form of protest against performative, corporatized social efforts. When there was doubt over whether or not the season would restart, Patrick Beverley said that if LeBron wanted to play, the NBA would play. Sure enough, the NBA is playing. We’ll see if this decision has a similar impact.

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Almost 600K vote in Hong Kong pro-democracy primaries in protest against new security law | TheHill – The Hill

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents voted in the city’s …

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Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents voted in the citys pro-democracy primaries in protest against Chinas new security laws issued two weeks ago.
Almost 600,000 people voted in the unofficial election, higher than organizers expectations of 170,000 voters, the Associated Press reported. The organizers reported that 592,000 people voted online, and 21,000 voted with paper ballots, according to Reuters.
The pro-democracy primaries aim to single out the strongest candidates to contest elections in September to Hong Kongs Legislative Council, which is typically majority pro-Beijing. Pro-democracy activists have vowed to veto the governments budget if they get a majority in the legislature, according to the news services.
The primaries came weeks after China instituted a national security law prohibiting secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. The law gives police greater powers to conduct searches without warrants and command internet service providers and platforms remove messages. 
The voters turned out for the election, after Eric Tsang, Hong Kongs constitutional affairs minister, cautioned that the primaries could violate the new security law because it bans interfering with the responsibilities of local government, the AP reported. 
The law is widely viewed as going against the one country, two systems framework that was agreed upon when Britain transferred Hong Kong to Chinese ownership.
Despite the threat of the national security law, there are still nearly 600,000 people coming out to vote,” Au Nok-hin, one of the organizers of the primaries, said, according to the AP. We can see Hong Kongers are really brave.

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Iran blames Ukrainian jetliner shootdown on miscommunication, misaligned missile battery – Fox News

Authorities had initially denied responsibility but changed course days later after Western nations presented extensive evidence that Iran had shot down the plane.

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A report released Saturday by Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization blames the shootdown of a Ukrainian jetliner on a misaligned missile battery and miscommunication between troops and their commanders.
The report comes months after the Jan. 8 crash near Tehran that killed all 176 people on board. Authorities had initially denied responsibility but changed course days later after Western nations presented extensive evidence that Iran had shot down the plane.
FILE: Rescue workers search the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of Tehran, Iran.
(AP)
The report signals a new phase in the investigation into the crash, as the aircraft’s black box flight recorder is due to be sent to Paris, where international investigators will finally be able to examine it. It also comes as public opinion remains low over Iran’s government as it faces both crushing U.S. sanctions and vast domestic economic problems.
The shootdown happened the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting U.S. soldiers in Iraq, its response to the American drone strike that killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3.
At the time, Iranian troops were bracing for a U.S. counterstrike and appear to have mistaken the plane for a missile. The civil aviation report detailed a series of moments where the shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 could have been avoided.
The report said the surface-to-air missile battery that targeted the Boeing 737-800 had been relocated and was not properly reoriented.
UAE SAID TO BE HOLDING UP GULF DEAL THAT COULD END QATAR BLOCKADE AND PROTECT US INTERESTS IN MIDDLE EAST
Those manning the missile battery could not communicate with their command center, they misidentified the civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without getting approval from ranking officials, the report said.
The report notes that the Ukrainian flight had done nothing out of the ordinary up until the missile launch, with its transponder and other data being broadcast.
The plane had just taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport when the first missile exploded, the report said. The second missile likely struck the aircraft directly, as videos that night show the plane exploding into a ball of fire before crashing on the outskirts of Tehran.
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The report put the blame entirely on the crew of the missile battery. Already, six people believed to be involved in the incident have been arrested, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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