Monthly Archives: September 2017

Chart shows why Rick Pitino was so important to the University of Louisville

The University of Louisville’s men’s basketball program is once again in the middle of an ugly scandal. This time it is a bribery scandal, revealed Tuesday, in which 10 coaches and associates with ties to multiple major programs have already been arrested. On Wednesday, ESPN reported that Louisville’s head coach, Rick Pitino, had been fired.

Under most criteria, Pitino’s 16-year tenure at Louisville was good – but not as great as many may associate with his name and the program. His Louisville teams reached three Final Fours and won one championship, and since he took over the program 11 of his players were selected in the NBA draft. That is the same number of NBA draft selections as Maryland and Memphis had during the same period, fewer than that of Florida State and Oregon (12 each), and well behind that of Louisville’s in-state rival Kentucky (35).

But there is one criterion that shows how important Pitino has been to Louisville’s athletic department and why his job had survived until now: He led Louisville as it became the richest NCAA men’s basketball program, and it is not even close. Over the past 10 reporting years, Louisville men’s basketball has reported $356 million in revenue, $116 million more than any other program. In fact, only 12 other programs reported even $150 million in revenue during a period when the Cardinals were averaging more than $35 million a year.

COTD_9.27

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Mike Nudelman/Business Insider

Bears player suspended for terrifying hit that marred Packers-Bears game

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NFL Network/NFL

Thursday night’s NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears was overshadowed by a terrifying hit on Packers receiver Davante Adams by Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan.

The NFL announced on Saturday that Trevathan has been suspended two games for the hit. The suspension will also cost Trevathan about $235,000 in lost pay from his $2.0 million salary.

In the third quarter, Adams caught a pass in the red zone and was surrounded by several Bears defenders.

As Adams tried to push forward, Trevathan lowered his helmet and launched from the side. Their helmets collided, and Adams’ head snapped back. The hit was so violent that Adams’ mouthpiece went flying.

Here’s the hit:

Prayers out for Davante Adams,unnecessary hit by Danny Trevathan #PrayforAdams pic.twitter.com/KU0IRefIJB

#PrayforAdamspic.twitter.com/KU0IRefIJBSeptember 29, 2017

Adams was taken off the field on a stretcher. He gave fans a thumbs-up as he left and was taken to a local hospital. The Packers reported that Adams had movement in all extremities.

The hit was a scary reminder of the violence and possible repercussions of football. According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, the NFL was able to act, thanks to a new sort-of-zero-tolerance policy: Certain hits can result in ejections or suspensions, even on the first offense.

Seifert reported that NFL vice president Troy Vincent had said the league wanted to eliminate “catastrophic” hits, which fits the bill for what happened to Adams.

Trevathan said after the game that he did not intend to hurt Adams and that he planned to reach out to him. Trevathan also defended himself, saying it wasn’t a dirty hit because he’s not a dirty player.

However, regardless of Trevathan’s intent, the NFL may have needed to punish him to set a precedent. The league has already tried to cut helmet-to-helmet hits, and Trevathan’s tackle was exactly the type of unnecessary takedown it’s trying to eliminate.

Here are all the firings, resignations, departures, and job changes from the chaotic first 8 months of the Trump administration

Anthony Scaramucci, Tom Price, and Reince Priebus.

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Anthony Scaramucci, Tom Price, and Reince Priebus.
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Skye Gould/Business Insider

There’s been plenty of turnover in the first eight months of President Donald Trump’s administration.

More than a dozen prominent executive branch employees were unexpectedly ousted, had to resign, or quickly changed jobs.

The latest such change happened Friday, when the White House announced that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned.

Price’s exit came amid a growing controversy into his chartering of taxpayer-funded private flights

It was the latest in a string of top officials leaving within the past few months.

Since late July, senior-level officials such as former communications director Anthony Scaramucci, chief strategist Steve Bannon, chief of staff Reince Priebus, and press secretary Sean Spicer departed the White House. Others have included Trump’s longtime body guard Keith Schiller, the director of Oval Office operations, and Sebastian Gorka, an adviser known for his cable news hits defending the administration.

Many others have shuffled positions as a result. John Kelly went from Homeland Security secretary to chief of staff. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was promoted from deputy press secretary to the top post. And Chris Wray, who was nominated as FBI director after Trump’s surprise firing of James Comey, began his tenure as FBI director this week.

The breakdown:

Trump Resignations v03(2)

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Skye Gould/Business Insider

Trump’s attacks on San Juan’s mayor spark wide condemnation

Trump lashed out at San Juan, Puerto Rico's mayor on Saturday morning.

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Trump lashed out at San Juan, Puerto Rico’s mayor on Saturday morning.
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Getty Images/Pool

President Donald Trump kicked off the weekend by attacking the mayor of San Juan, who recently begged the federal government to send more help to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying,” Carmen Yulin Cruz, San Juan’s mayor, said Friday morning. “If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency.”

Cruz also implied that Puerto Rico had received far more help from corporations and private entities than from the federal government.

“This is what we got last night: four pallets of water, three pallets of meals and 12 pallets of infant food – which I gave them to the people of Comerio, where people are drinking off a creek,” Cruz said. “So I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell. So I am asking the members of the press, to send a mayday call all over the world. We are dying here.”

Trump responded shortly after, criticizing Cruz’s leadership ability in a Saturday morning tweetstorm. He made the remarks while staying at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” Trump said on Twitter. “…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”

Hurricane Maria left many of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million US citizens without shelter, water, power, and other basic necessities.

“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job,” Trump said on Saturday. “The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.”

Trump’s response to Cruz’s appeals for help earned immediate and sustained criticism, particularly from Democrats and celebrities, who blasted the president for attacking the mayor of a hurricane-ravaged city from the confines of his golf course.


Cruz issued a swift response to Trump’s tweets. “I’ll say what I have to say to save Puerto Rican lives,” Cruz said on Saturday morning.

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Twitter/@CNN

Source: CNN


Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator or “Hamilton” and a frequent advocate for Puerto Rico, told Trump he was “going straight to hell” for his attacks on Cruz.


“Don’t ever let this become normalized,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy wrote in response to Trump’s tweets.


Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said that the first thing Trump should do when he visits Puerto Rico on Tuesday is apologize for his comments.


Prominent conservative commentator Erick Erickson wrote that he had planned to speak out in Trump’s favor Saturday morning but that he had deleted the blog post. “He doesn’t deserve it,” Erickson wrote.


Comedian Chelsea Handler compared Trump’s Puerto Rico response to Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina. “Seems like someone hates Puerto Ricans,” Handler tweeted.


“I this it’s clear where the ‘poor leadership’ lies @realDonaldTrump Puerto Rico is part of the United States,” tweeted Lady Gaga. “This is our responsibility.”


The artist also made a reference to Trump’s frequent preoccupation with recounting his Electoral College victory in November, and implied that he was slow to respond to Puerto Rico because it does not have any Electoral College votes.


Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres chimed in with her own message of support for San Juan’s mayor. “I see you, I hear you, I love you,” DeGeneres tweeted. “You’re a hero.”


California Rep. Ted Lieu, a vocal Trump critic, called on the president to send help to Puerto Rico “before you golf.”


Kim Kardashian chimed in to ask Trump to “stop tweeting & golfing while people are dying” and to “please step up & help!”


Kumail Nanjiani, a stand-up comedian and one of the stars of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” observed that Trump “never talk this way about a predominantly white community.”


Others also noted the racial implications of Trump’s comments. Data journalist Nate Silver wrote that “it totally fits the pattern that Trump is attacking the mayor San Juan. She challenged him and she’s a woman (and Hispanic, obviously.).”


“The irony of Trump golfing and tweeting—saying the mayor of San Juan wants “everything to be done for them”—it’s as thick as his skull,” tweeted Star Trek alum George Takei.


Actor Chris Evans outlined “a Trump thread in a time of crisis” and called the president “narcissistic,” “defensive,” and “insulting.”


Several observers noted that Trump was slamming San Juan’s mayor from the comfort of his golf course.


“Trump mocks Mayor of San Juan from his private golf club,” tweeted comedian Dean Obeidallah. “Next Trump mocks homeless people from Trump Tower.”


Another journalist juxtaposed photos of where Cruz and Trump are currently spending their time. One showed Cruz wading waist-deep into a flooded area in Puerto Rico, and the other depicted Trump’s lavish golf resort.


Ian Millhiser, an editor at the left-leaning outlet, ThinkProgress, tweeted, “When all of this is done I hope Trump is sentenced to live in the most devastated neighborhood in San Juan.”


Politico’s Josh Dawsey said that Trump’s attacks on Cruz were part of an established trend. “Are you all surprised Trump took a swing at San Juan’s mayor? She criticized him. The pattern is pretty much tried-and-true, no matter,” Dawsey tweeted.


“The situation is also dire in the US Virgin Islands,” said former Bush White House ethics lawyer, Richard Painter. “But at least he’s enjoying his golf game.”

Julian Assange is rallying behind Catalan separatists ahead of a historic referendum — and Russia has taken notice

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain

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    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain
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    Thomson Reuters

    Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange has been actively supporting Catalonia’s push for independence The Kremlin has seized on Assange’s support for Catalonia in an effort to destabilize the EU Edward Snowden, along with other anti-globalization groups, also support Catalonia’s independence

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has seized on a historic independence referendum set for Sunday in the Spanish region of Catalonia, using his Twitter account to pump out a pro-separatist narrative aimed at villainizing the Spanish central government and celebrating Catalan nationalism.

Assange, for all intents and purposes, has become the independence movement’s chief international spokesman. The vast majority of his tweets this month, in many cases written in Spanish and Catalan, have centered around promoting Catalan secessionism and “self-determination” as a bulwark against Madrid’s “repression.”

Russian news agency Sputnik has helped, too – and has taken notice of Assange’s tweets.

The outlet posted 220 stories about the Catalan independence movement between September 11 and 27, according to The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, most with false or misleading headlines and a clear pro-independence bias. The outlet’s headlines gave “more prominence to Assange” than either Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont or Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

“Catalan” was the third highest-trending hashtag among Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations as of this article’s publication, according to Hamilton 68, a digital platform that aims to track Russian propaganda in real time.

It is unclear how many of those users are bots. But a swarm of these automated accounts has also been promoting and parroting Assange’s accusations of misconduct and oppression by the Spanish central government.

“A significant part of the early amplification” of Assange’s most popular tweet about Catalonia came from automated accounts, The Atlantic Council reported. The pattern has extended to his other Catalonia-related tweets, including one where he compared events in Catalonia with those on Tiananmen Square in Beijing and another where he referred to Madrid as a “banana monarchy.”

Students attend a demonstration in favor of the banned October 1 independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain September 28, 2017.

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Students attend a demonstration in favor of the banned October 1 independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain September 28, 2017.
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Juan Medina/Reuters

The narrative Assange has been peddling is not, at its core, too far off-base: Madrid has declared the referendum illegal, and federal police raided a dozen Catalan regional government offices last week – and arrested fourteen regional officials – in an attempt to stall the vote. And while Catalan voters have never approved secession in past referendums, Madrid’s crackdown may make them think twice.

But Assange’s exaggerated characterizations of Madrid as a “banana monarchy” and the referendum itself as a “war” between “an occupying power” and “a liberation struggle” have created the kind of hysteria and division that risks fracturing not only Spain but the entire European Union – and that Russia, watching from a distance, thrives on.

“The fate of president Rajoy, PP (Spain’s ruling party), Spain’s security services and judiciary hangs in the balance over Catalonia,” Assange tweeted on Friday. “A shock wave is coming and no trick is too dirty, no lie is too bold and no escalation is too much for a deep state to save itself. Watch.”

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has also rallied to the cause, framing Catalonia’s independence movement as a human rights struggle. He tweeted a link last week to an op-ed written by the leader of Catalonia’s separatist movement, writing that “the Spanish crackdown on inconvenient speech, politics, and assembly in #Catalonia is a violation of human rights.”

Wikileaks, too, has been weaponized: Its Twitter account, which many believe to be operated by Assange, alleged last week that Madrid was trying to “crush” the October 1 vote.

A convenient propaganda tool

Mark Kramer, the program director of the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, said that WikiLeaks has become “a convenient propaganda tool for the Russian government” in its effort to wreak havoc among NATO states and the European Union.

“Julian Assange founded Wikileaks because of his virulent hostility toward the United States and other Western democracies, and he has increasingly converted himself into a Kremlin stooge to help undermine NATO and the EU,” Kramer said. “He and the Russian authorities share a deep animosity toward the democratic capitalist West, and Assange has become a reliable mouthpiece for Kremlin propaganda and disinformation.”

On Friday, Assange appeared to echo a Sputnik report published that morning that said Spain had closed the airspace over Catalonia to prevent small aircraft from taking photos of the referendum turnout.

The government did decide to restrict the airspace over the region in preparation for Sunday’s vote, but not for the reasons Assange or Sputnik would have their readers believe. Restricting low-flying aircraft from hovering over large crowds has long been standard procedure in Spain, which has implemented the rules ahead of large sporting events in the past.

Catalonia's regional President Carles Puigdemont and former regional President Artur Mas salute the crowd in Barcelona

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Catalonia’s regional President Carles Puigdemont and former regional President Artur Mas salute the crowd in Barcelona
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Thomson Reuters

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on Thursday that the Kremlin was “using the Catalan crisis as a way to deepen divisions within Europe and consolidate its international influence…in the form of websites that publish hoax stories, the activity of activists such as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a legion of bots – millions of automated social media accounts that can turn lies into trending topics.”

Murky links

The link between Assange, WikiLeaks, and Russia has always been murky. The US intelligence community believes the three worked together to undermine Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, while Assange has staunchly denied that Russia was its source for hacked Democratic National Committee emails.

But as journalist and Russia researcher Casey Michel noted this week, the Kremlin has not exactly been an unbiased observer of Spain’s recent political turmoil.

“Catalonian independence advocates are among those who’ve flown to Moscow to meet with a group that, as of 2016, received Kremlin funding to help network Western separatist groups,” Michel noted.

“This group, the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, issued a statement last week supporting the secession push, comparing Catalonia to Crimea – the latter of which continues to be widely regarded in the international community as a constituent part of Ukraine.”

The Anti-Globalization Movement, which partnered with California separatist group Yes California late last year, aims to promote “traditional moral values” and “supports countries and peoples who are … seeking an alternative agenda” to the “monopolization of the world system of relations and governance” by the United States, according to its website.

The movement’s first Dialogue of Nations conference, held in Moscow in 2015, was attended by separatist leaders from Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Uhuru black nationalist movement. Its second conference, partially funded by a Kremlin grant of $54,000, brought together “representatives of national liberation movements from all over the world.”

Kramer, of Harvard, said that Russia’s support for western secessionist movements has little if anything to do with “wanting to uphold the principle of sovereignty.”

He noted that Russia has been very selective about which separatist movements it wants to back and which it wants to suppress, pointing to Moscow’s stronghold on Chechnya and refusal to recognize Kosovo as an independent country while backing separatist forces in Georgia and forcibly annexing Crimea from Ukraine.

In Europe, Kramer added, Moscow supported the Scottish National Party’s bid for independence as part of its “vigorous campaign to sow turmoil and division within NATO and the EU…now the Russian authorities are doing the same thing with the Catalan independence referendum.”

Trump slams the mayor of San Juan after she criticizes the federal government’s response to the devastation in Puerto Rico

President Donald Trump on Saturday slammed the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s largest city, after she criticized the federal government’s response to the devastation in Puerto Rico.

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” Trump said on Twitter. “…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”

Trump has come under fire in recent days for his slow response to the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico, and has been criticized for appearing less attentive to the crisis in Puerto Rico than he was to Texas and Florida after those states were ravaged by hurricanes. It’s been compared to the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 under President George W. Bush.

Hurricane Maria left many of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million US citizens without shelter, water, power, and other basic necessities.

“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job,” Trump said on Saturday. “The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.”

The president told reporters on Friday 10,000 emergency responders and other personnel had been sent to the island. Emphasizing the difficulty of the task of rebuilding devastated areas, Trump noted that the US territory is “an island surrounded by water.”

The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Cruz, levelled direct criticism at the federal government’s response on Saturday, and said if Trump does not ramp up relief efforts, there could be “something close to a genocide.”

“We are dying here,” Cruz said in a press conference. “And I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles long.”

“I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell,” Cruz continued. “So I am asking the members of the press, to send a mayday call all over the world. We are dying here.”

“And if it doesn’t stop, and if we don’t get the food and the water into people’s hands, what we are going to see is something close to a genocide.”

Trump on Saturday morning also levelled some blame on the media, which he calls the “fake news,” for portraying the federal government’s response to Puerto Rico as inadequate.

“Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to “get Trump.” Not fair to FR or effort!” the president tweeted on Saturday. “The Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R’s. Shame!”

Later on Saturday, Trump added in a tweet, “Despite the Fake News Media in conjunction with the Dems, an amazing job is being done in Puerto Rico. Great people!”

Trump also announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump will visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

Puerto Rico may not get power for another 6 months — here’s a look at the hurricane’s devastating effects

People are lining up for miles to get gas in Puerto Rico.

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People are lining up for miles to get gas in Puerto Rico.
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Reuters/Alvin Baez

Puerto Rico is still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria that left 3.5 million people without power.

Hurricane Irma, which hit Puerto Rico earlier this month, left one million Puerto Ricans without power. The island was still recovering from the storm’s aftermath when Hurricane Maria hit, crippling the entire island’s electrical infrastructure.

Here’s what you need to know:


Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure was in need of repairs and upgrades before the hurricanes hit. PREPA, the island’s electric company, hasn’t had the funds to modernize the grid. Puerto Rico also lacks the number of workers required to make the repairs.

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REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Source: Vox


That means rebuilding the island’s electrical infrastructure will be an even longer process. San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz says it could take up to 6 months to revive the electric grid.

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Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Satellite night images show the extent of the damage. Hurricane Maria knocked out 80% of the island’s transmission lines, leaving most of the island in darkness.

Source: Associated Press


Puerto Rico is now relying on gas and diesel generators to keep the lights on.

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Reuters/Alvin Baez

Residents have lined up at gas stations for fuel.

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Reuters/Alvin Baez

Here you see trucks loaded with gasoline at Puma Energy petrochemical facility on Friday.

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Reuters/Alvin Baez

Cars have lined up for miles to fill up on gas while it’s in supply.

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Reuters/Alvin Baez

First hand responders say the issue isn’t so much that fuel is short supply, but that there aren’t enough trucks to distribute it to everyone who needs it. Diesel is first being delivered to hospitals and government buildings to keep their generators going.

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Reuters/Alvin Baez

Source: NPR


Cruz says the federal government needs to ramp up relief efforts to better distribute necessities like fuel and water. President Donald Trump criticized Cruz’s comments on Saturday, stating that 10,000 workers are on the island doing a “fantastic job.”

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Twitter/@CNN

Source: Business Insider


It will take time for Puerto Rico to fully rebuild. You can aid victims by donating to charities that are providing relief on the ground.

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Joe Raedle/Getty

Here are a list of charities that are helping victims in Puerto Rico.

FC Barcelona could join the English Premier League if Catalonia gains independence from Spain

Lionel Messi could move to the English Premier League without having to switch clubs.

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Lionel Messi could move to the English Premier League without having to switch clubs.
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Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Tensions are rising in northeast Spain as Catalonia fights to hold an independence vote. Now comes word from the region’s sports minister that independence could have a huge impact on one of the world’s most valuable professional teams – FC Barcelona.

According to Gerard Figueras, Catalonia’s sports minister, Barça would be free join another country’s football league, including England’s Premier League, if Catalonia gains its independence from Spain. This would also be true for the other two football clubs in the northeast Spanish region who currently play in Spain’s La Liga, Espanyol and Girona.

“In the case of independence, Catalan teams in La Liga – Barcelona, Espanyol and Girona – will have to decide where they want to play: in the Spanish league or a neighbouring country like Italy, France or the Premier League,” Figueras said, via the UK Independent.

In other words, the three clubs would effectively become free agents.

Barcelona would also have to want to leave La Liga and join the English sides. However, the Premier League’s $4.6 billion in annual broadcast rights is considerably larger than any other league. The German Bundesliga is a distant second at $1.6 billion and La Liga is fourth, taking in $1.3 billion annually.

That increase in revenue would have to at least be tempting for Barcelona and their status as the one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world would have to be tempting for the Premier League.

As noted by Figueras, there is a precedent for clubs playing in leagues based in other countries, including AS Monaco, which plays in France’s Ligue 1, and Welsh sides Cardiff and Swansea City, who have both played in the English Premier League.

Obviously, a lot must happen before the Premier League adds a club from outside the United Kingdom, including first and foremost, Catalonia must gain its independence. At this point, it is not even clear if there will be a vote. In addition, adding one or more top-tier teams to the Premier League might only make sense for the league if they are willing to expand to 22 or 24 teams.

The White House counsel reportedly almost resigned over concerns about Trump-Kushner meetings and the Russia probe

U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he and White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner depart the White House in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2017.

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U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he and White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner depart the White House in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2017.
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REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    White House staffers were reportedly worried that White House counsel Don McGahn would resign this summer McGahn was said to have been frustrated over President Trump’s frequent meetings with Jared Kushner Trump and Kushner are subjects in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and McGahn was reportedly worried their meetings could be seen as an effort to coordinate stories

West Wing staffers were concerned that White House counsel Don McGahn would quit earlier this summer because of his frustration over meetings between President Donald Trump and his senior and adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is focusing on both Trump and Kushner, and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the election in his favor.

Kushner invited scrutiny after he met with two Russian officials – Russia’s former ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, and the head of a sanctioned Russian bank, Sergey Gorkov – during the transition period. Kushner was also present during a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between top members of the Trump campaign and several Russians, including a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who had offered compromising information on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Mueller’s focus on Trump appears to center primarily around his decision to fire former FBI director James Comey in May and his motivations for doing so. The White House initially said Comey had been dismissed because of his handling of the Clinton email investigation, but Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt that “this Russia thing” was a factor in his decision.

Given their proximity to the Russia probe, McGahn was reportedly concerned that the frequency with which Trump and Kushner met could be seen as an attempt to coordinate their stories, three officials familiar with the matter told The Journal.

Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump transition team, gets into an elevator in the lobby at Trump Tower, November 15, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump is in the process of choosing his presidential cabinet as he transitions from a candidate to the president-elect.

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Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump transition team, gets into an elevator in the lobby at Trump Tower, November 15, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump is in the process of choosing his presidential cabinet as he transitions from a candidate to the president-elect.
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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House counsel was so frustrated that then chief of staff Reince Priebus and then chief strategist Steve Bannon had to urge McGahn not to resign. He ultimately decided to stay after learning that Trump had hired a legal team, headed by white-collar defense attorney Ty Cobb, tasked with handling the White House’s response to Mueller’s investigation, according to the report.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote on Friday that part of McGahn’s concern regarding meetings between Kushner and Trump could center around the fact that both men were witness to McGahn’s thought process surrounding Comey’s firing.

The weekend before he fired Comey on May 9, Trump put together a draft letter laying out his reasons for dismissing the FBI director at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey. Kushner, who reportedly argued strongly for Comey’s firing, was also at the club that weekend, as was top policy adviser Stephen Miller and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. Cobb confirmed to Business Insider earlier this month that the letter is in Mueller’s possession.

After the letter was drafted, McGahn reportedly advised Trump against sending it to Comey and gave Miller a marked-up copy of the letter, highlighting several sections that he believed could be problematic and needed to be struck. McGahn is one of the White House staffers Mueller is interested in interviewing, likely because of his involvement in the events leading up to Comey’s firing.

It’s unclear what, if any, role Kushner had in crafting the letter. But if both he and Trump were witness to McGahn’s thought process around Comey’s firing, their statements to one another could be “fair game” for Mueller to dig into as part of his investigation, Mariotti wrote. If the president met frequently enough with Kushner, Mueller could probe into their conversations and find inconsistencies in their stories, he added.

“McGahn is doing what any good defense attorney would do in these situations–create a protocol to ensure there is a ‘prover’ in the room for these conversations so that the third person could verify that issues relating to the investigation were never discussed,” Mariotti wrote.

There’s a big board battle brewing at Uber

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

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Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
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Thomson Reuters

There’s a new battle brewing in the ongoing war for control at Uber as the company prepares to reset itself after appointing a new CEO.

On Friday night, former CEO Travis Kalanick surprised the company by appointing two new members to the board, apparently without notifying the company and other board members. An Uber spokesperson told Business Insider the move was “a complete surprise.”

Kalanick’s appointments came ahead of the board’s meetings to consider new rules of governance for the company that would change shareholder voting rights and potentially the structure of the board.

In a statement to Business Insider Friday night, Kalanick basically admitted his surprise appointments were designed to get in front of the proposed changes to the board structure. Kalanick had power over those two empty seats, and he appointed Xerox chairwoman Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain.

“I am appointing these seats now in light of a recent Board proposal to dramatically restructure the Board and significantly alter the company’s voting rights,” Kalanick said in his statement. “It is therefore essential that the full Board be in place for proper deliberation to occur, especially with such experienced board members as Ursula and John.”

Recode’s Kara Swisher and Theodore Schleifer reported more details on the proposals that the board is considering next week. Some of the changes could reduce the voting power Kalanick and other shareholders have. According to Recode, some of the options on the table include:

    Removing special voting power of some shareholders like Kalanick and the VC firm and early Uber investor Benchmark. Kalanick would lose one of the three board seats he controls, and a representative from SoftBank, which is considering a major investment in Uber, would get the seat instead. Kalanick would be able to appoint someone to the third board seat he controls, but with restrictions attached, like approval from Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The seat must also be filled by a c-suite executive from a Fortune 100 company.

Obviously, most of these new proposals would limit Kalanick’s power on the board, which could explain why he decided to appoint members to the empty board seats he controls without any warning. Recode’s report says some of these proposals will be considered by the Uber board on Tuesday.