‘Her ambition got it wrong about Joe’: Harris faces debate backlash

 Former Vice President Joe Biden

Some Joe Biden loyalists said they thought it was misleading of Sen. Kamala Harris to attack him on civil rights. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO — Kamala Harris might be reveling in her sudden burst of attention after roasting Joe Biden over racial issues on the debate stage last week, but a backlash is already brewing.

Biden supporters and Democrats who have attended the former vice president’s events in the days after the first nationally televised debate, are describing Harris’ assault on Biden as an all-too-calculated overreach after she knocked him on his heels in a grilling over busing and his remarks on segregationist senators.

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“She played low ball, which was out of character. And he didn’t expect it, nor did I,” said Lee White, a Biden supporter who attended his remarks at the Jesse Jackson Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “She should not have gone that route. She’s much too intelligent, she’s been able to be successful thus far, why do you have to do that.”

One major Biden supporter from California who declined to be named for publication said Harris’ direct attack on Biden was a mistake that would haunt her.

“It’s going to bite her in the ass,” the supporter noted. “Very early on there was buzz … Biden-Kamala is the dream ticket, the best of both worlds.’’

After this week, “That shit ain’t happening.”

The criticism of Harris over her rough treatment of Biden is among the first signs of backlash — including in her home state — against the California Democrat who had a breakout moment in the first presidential debate. It’s also a sign of the goodwill and loyalty that many still feel toward that the vice president, who has managed to keep many of his backers in his camp, even amid criticism of what was roundly viewed as a subpar debate performance. Indeed, sources say Biden walked away with a $1 million haul after two fundraisers in San Francisco alone this weekend.

“We can be proud of her nonetheless, but her ambition got it wrong about Joe,” said former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman to serve in the Senate. “He is about the best there is; for her to take that tack is sad.”

Harris stunned Biden in the debate, knocking him back on his heels by noting his past “hurtful” efforts to work with segregationists and what she defined as his opposition to school busing. Harris’ emotional recounting of her own experience in the Berkeley school district as a child who was bused to more segregated schools — “that girl was me,’’ she said — became a defining debate moment, and bruised Biden’s status as the Democratic front-runner.

But one of Biden’s supporters called the attack by Harris “too cute by half” after her campaign tweeted out — and quickly began merchandising — a photo of Harris as a young girl. “Couldn’t they at least pretend that it was semi-organic?” the Biden supporter asked, referring to the planned nature of Harris’ debate night ambush.

Some Biden loyalists said they thought it was misleading of Harris to attack Biden on civil rights, given what they said was his lifelong advocacy on that front.

White, who is African American, said of the underlying segregationist issues Harris attacked: “I thought it was old news.”

Sam Johnson, a Columbia, S.C.-based public affairs consultant who represents many minority clients, accused Harris of “desperately overreaching.”

“I don’t think a lot of folks are saying, ‘well, there’s a lot of credibility of her going after Biden,’” said Johnson, who has not backed a 2020 candidate. “I don’t think it was received by the majority of folks as an attack that is going to move the needle. Most folks aren’t looking at that as something where, hey, ‘Biden was against civil rights carte blanche.’”

“It was planned, and it was staged and it was rehearsed — and they were ready to raise money on it,’’ another Bay Area Biden supporter said of Harris’ roundhouse punch.

But former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown — whose patronage of Harris helped put the then-Alameda County assistant district attorney on the political map in her early years — bridled at the suggestion that Harris may have muddled her political future with her attack on Biden. He told POLITICO that the vice president has no one to blame but himself for a lackluster and unprepared performance.

“They better hope she would accept [a VP nomination],’’ he said. “Otherwise, he’s a guaranteed loser.”

But Brown, who also served as speaker of the California Assembly, said Biden’s stunned reaction only underscored that — on the issue of civil rights — he has so far failed to be completely honest with voters and should simply admit his past unpopular actions and positions.

“At this point, she may be the only life raft he has,’’ he added, “because, as of this moment, he’s on the Titanic.”

Biden, in comments to supporters this weekend, appeared to acknowledge the possibility that his quest may not end in success — an unusual departure from the script of most presidential candidates who confidently toss off phrases like “as your next president.”

Speaking to about 150 backers in the bay-side Marin County community of Belvedere, Biden dismissed the idea that he was making a sacrifice to run for president, but said that he felt an obligation at a time when the country is at a crisis point with the Trump presidency.

“My family and I believe very strongly that you kind of have certain things fall in your wheelhouse,” he said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to win, doesn’t mean I’m the only person who can be a good president, I’m not saying that.”

He told two different audiences that civil rights is a lifelong “passion’’ and also made reference to his Democratic competitors. While never mentioning Harris by name, he appeared to address her sharp criticism about working with segregationists, pushing back at the notion that reaching across the aisle is an outdated notion.

“I know I’m criticized heavily by my qualified contenders who are running,” he said, “when I say, ‘folks, we’ve got to bring the country together.’”

“Some will say, ‘well, that’s old Joe, they’re the old days,’’ he said. “[But] if that’s the old days,’’ he told supporters, “we’re dead … that’s not hyperbole.”

Former San Francisco Supervisor Leslie Katz, who has known the former San Francisco district attorney for years and is a member of Harris’ finance committee, defended the senator’s approach.

“She was giving him a chance to address the issues that would plague him. … She was gracious, and she personalized it: She said she didn’t think he was a racist,’’ Katz said. “What stunned me was that he wasn’t prepared for that topic, and he needs to figure that out, sooner rather than later.”

Debbie Mesloh, a longtime Harris adviser, also defended Harris’ question to Biden as on the mark — and entirely fair. “She was ready, and she was bold, and she delivered,’’ she said. “She really showed what she can do.”

Harris, meanwhile, was met in her hometown of San Francisco like a conquering hero post-debate, facing a sea of ebullient supporters at a packed #LGBTQ fundraiser during San Francisco’s PRIDE weekend.

But after reveling in the moment, Harris also delivered a reality check about the long campaign still ahead.

“It will be tough. It will be excruciating. It’s going to be a long haul,’’ she told them.

“We’re going to have good weeks. We’re going to have bad weeks. It’s not going to be given to us … but we are going to be joyful about this,’’ she said. “As much success as we’ve had — there’s still much to do.”

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JJ Redick Reportedly Agrees on 2-Year, $26.5M Contract with Pelicans in FA

Philadelphia 76ers' JJ Redick (17) reacts after making a 3-point basket against the Charlotte Hornets during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Free-agent guard JJ Redick agreed to a twoyear, $26.5 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.  

This comes after the guard signed a pair of one-year deals with the Philadelphia 76ers.

In his 13th year in the league, Redick is coming off one of his finest seasons to date. He averaged a career-high 18.1 points on 44 percent shooting. His 39.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc was second on the team to only Mike Scott (41.2 percent in 27 games), and Redick had the highest three-point percentage among Sixers players who made at least 28 appearances and finished the season in Philadelphia.

The guard is a career 41.3 percent shooter from distance.

Prior to Redick’s arrival in 2017, Philadelphia was in the midst of a five-year playoff drought as “The Process” continued. The Sixers went two-for-two in playoff appearances with Redick in the mix, as his veteran presence and consistent perimeter shooting provided a boost to a young core that lacked both.

Redick nearly left Philadelphia for the Indiana Pacers last summer, as he revealed on his podcast (via The Score’s Mitch Robinson) in July 2018. He ultimately wound up re-signing with the Sixers, but this time around, he has decided it was time for a change after a second-round exit.

Redick will now move on to his fifth organization as he continues to chase that elusive championship ring. He will join a rebuilding Pelicans roster centered around Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball and more after New Orleans traded Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Report: Kevin Durant to Sign Nets Contract in FA, Leave Warriors After 3 Seasons

Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The Brooklyn Nets have reportedly landed arguably the biggest prize on the free-agent market with Kevin Durant agreeing to sign a contract with the franchise.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Durant’s plans ahead of the 6 p.m. ET start of free agency. Wojnarowski added Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan will join Durant in Brooklyn.

The 30-year-old will have a long road to recovery after suffering a ruptured Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, his first game back after missing over a month with a calf strain.

Per Wojnarowski, he is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season.

As Faizal Khamisa of Sportsnet noted, most former NBA players have taken about eight to 12 months to return from the injury. Durant’s former teammate DeMarcus Cousins needed about a full year to return to the court after suffering an Achilles injury in January 2018.

His new team would be smart to remain conservative with his recovery and not force him back too soon.

Despite the injury concern, there is no question about Durant’s ability on the court. The 2013-14 MVP has already earned 10 All-Star selections in his 12-year career, adding four scoring titles to his resume.

He has been one of the most consistent players in the NBA over the past decade, finishing in the top 11 in win shares in nine of the last 10 years, per Basketball Reference. The only exception came in 2014-15 when an injury limited him to just 27 games.

Durant has also showed the ability to step up when it matters as well, earning the Finals MVP award in each of his two healthy years with the Golden State Warriors. He also averaged a league-best 32.3 points per game during the playoffs last season while the team couldn’t close out the title without him.

Even if he can’t return to 100 percent of his former self, the forward is still one of the best in the NBA and a game-changing player on the court.

This would be a major boost for the Nets, who can become a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference just two years after losing 54 games.

Alongside Irving and Jordan, Durant provides another upgrade to a team that has an impressive young core with Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen.

He can alter the landscape of the NBA if he returns in time for the 2020 playoffs, but in any case he will likely be a major factor in future seasons under his new deal.

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Ankara warns Haftar over arrests as LNA says hit Turkish drone

Authorities have halted flights at the only functioning civilian airport in Libya‘s capital after it was hit by forces loyal to renegade General Khalifa Haftar, amid rising tensions between the eastern-based commander and Turkey.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which has been waging an armed campaign to seize Tripoli from the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), said on Sunday its air force destroyed a Turkish drone parked at Mitiga airport.

“Our fighter [jets] targeted and destroyed a Turkish Bayraktar aircraft as it was taking off,” the LNA said in a statement on Facebook. “The aircraft had been prepared to target our armed forces’ positions,” it said.

Earlier on Sunday, Turkey’s foreign ministry accused Haftar’s forces of arresting six of its citizens, and warned that the LNA would become a “legitimate target” if the Turks were not released immediately.

For its part, the LNA said it had arrested two Turks in the northeastern oil town of Ajdabiya.

Gharyan: Libya’s UN-recognised forces retake strategic Haftar base

Ankara has supplied drones and trucks to forces allied to the GNA, while Haftar’s GNA has received backing from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, according to diplomats. Turkey says it is in Libya to support “regional peace and stability”. 

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said airport authorities had air traffic until further notice following the air raid.

“Authorities at Mitiga airport said the air strike hit near the runway with no substantial damage,” he said.

Gharyan loss

The LNA launched an offensive on April 4 to capture the capital but it has been pushed back by the Tripoli government’s forces.

Pro-GNA fighters this week retook the strategic town of Gharyan, in a surprise attack and a major setback for Haftar.

Following the loss of Gharyan during a GNA operation he accused Ankara of backing, Haftar ordered his forces to target Turkish companies, ban flights and arrest Turkish nationals in Libya, his spokesman said on Friday.

Ankara has warned that it is ready to retaliate against attacks.

Haftar’s Tripoli offensive has upended UN-led plans to stabilise Libya after years of conflict that have left the oil-producing country divided and caused living standards to plummet.

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Kevin Durant Rumors: Warriors UFA to Announce Free-Agency Decision Sunday Night

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) against the Denver Nuggets during an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Kevin Durant‘s free-agent tour isn’t expected to last long with a decision expected to come Sunday night. 

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the two-time NBA Finals MVP will make his announcement on his company-owned business network. 

Per Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Golden State Warriors will offer Durant the full five-year max extension worth $221 million as soon as free agency opens at 6 p.m. ET. 

Wojnarowski reported the Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers are the four teams Durant will talk to, though not all of them will be in-person meetings. 

There is expected to be some combination of face-to-face meetings and communications by other means with Durant and his business manager, Rich Kleiman, front-office sources told ESPN,” Wojnarowski wrote.

The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II reported Stephen Curry is in New York, along with team president Bob Myers, to speak with Durant as part of Golden State’s pitch. 

Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported Durant and Kawhi Leonard have discussed the possibility of teaming up, with the Clippers and Knicks mentioned as the most likely destinations if that happens. 

Durant will likely end up missing the entire 2019-20 season rehabbing his ruptured Achilles. The 30-year-old averaged 26.0 points and 6.4 rebounds in 78 games for the Warriors last season. 

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D’Angelo Russell Rumors: T-Wolves Confident, Top Nets PG’s List Amid Lakers Buzz

Brooklyn Nets' D'Angelo Russell looks on during the first half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 122-100. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly preparing to make a major run at signing free-agent point guard D’Angelo Russell.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times: “Minnesota is at the top of D’Angelo Russell’s free-agent wish list as the opening bell nears, league sources say—with the Timberwolves increasingly confident they can make the necessary salary-cap moves to land him.”

Stein added that the Los Angeles Lakers are also gunning for Russell, calling their interest “undeniable,” though he added that “Minnesota has made the All-Star guard its top priority in free agency knowing that the Brooklyn Nets mere hours away from the momentous addition of Kyrie Irving.”

While the Wolves can focus on Russell, the Lakers are still reportedly in the running for Kawhi Leonard. Until he makes his decision or makes it clear he isn’t interested in the Lakers, they’ll be in something of a holding pattern.

The Wolves find themselves in their own holding pattern, needing to clear the cap space to be able to sign Russell.

But Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports reported Saturday that “multiple teams have heard that Minnesota is confident that they can trade Andrew Wiggins this summer. Doing so could open up the cap space necessary to sign Russell, who is tight with Karl-Anthony Towns.”

Getting off of Wiggins’ huge contract—he’s owed $122.3 million over the next four seasons—would be a huge accomplishment for new Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas. But moving off the salary for the stagnating Wiggins and signing Russell this summer—with teams like the Lakers also reportedly interested—would be an absolute coup.

While Wiggins has never offered an impact on the defensive end, hasn’t developed a consistent three-point shot (33.2 percent from deep for his career) and has devolved into a truly inefficient scorer, Russell is fresh off his best season as a pro. He averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game, shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from three.

He’s become one of the game’s craftier pick-and-roll operators—a role he played frequently in Brooklyn’s offense—and a one-two punch of Towns and Russell would be a lot of fun, at least on the offensive end. Add in Robert Covington and Jarrett Culver on the wings, and the Wolves could have quite the foursome to build around.

Everything will depend upon the Wolves moving Wiggins and Russell choosing them in free agency. It’s possible that Russell is using the Wolves to leverage every last dollar out of the Lakers. But it feels like a real possibility he could end up with Minnesota.

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PA condemns US envoys’ presence at Israeli settler-linked event

Palestinians have condemned the attendance of two United States officials at the inauguration of a tunnel at a contested archaeological site in occupied East Jerusalem that was organised by an Israeli settler-linked group.

White House adviser Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador to Israel David Friedman took part in Sunday’s event, which marked the completion of the project next to the Old City in the neighbourhood of Silwan, according to the group, the City of David Foundation.

In a statement, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it viewed “the American attendance and celebration of the Judaisation activities in occupied East Jerusalem as hostile acts against the Palestinians”.

“The administration of President Donald Trump proves day by day its … unlimited affiliation to the colonial settlement project led by the extremist right in the state of the occupation (Israel),” it said.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community. It sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Palestinians reject Kushner’s $50bn proposal

US President Donald Trump in 2017 broke with decades of US policy by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and later moving its capital there from Tel Aviv.

The White House, which has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian aid, organised last week an economic conference in Bahrain meant to kickstart a long-awaited Middle East peace effort – but the Palestinians boycotted it.

Friedman has been a supporter of Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law, and Greenblatt last week said he preferred to call them “neighbourhoods and cities”.

‘Path of Pilgrims’

Called the “Path of Pilgrims”, the tunnel was excavated during the last six years by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. It was found in 2004 during repairs after a sewage pipe burst in the middle of Silwan neighbourhood.

The City of David Foundation says the tunnel served as a pilgrimage route to the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago.

Greenblatt dismissed accusations that the US officials’ attendance at the event was further acknowledgement of Israeli sovereignty over occupied East Jerusalem.

Palestinians say Kushner peace plan won’t solve their problems

The Palestinian Authority “claims our attendance at this historic event supports ‘Judaisation’ of Jerusalem/is an act of hostility vs. Palestinians. Ludicrous,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We can’t ‘Judaise’ what history/archaeology show. We can acknowledge it you can stop pretending it isn’t true! Peace can only be built on truth.”

Friedman said at the ceremony that the excavation project uncovered “the truth, whether you believe or not … the truth is the only foundation upon which peace will come to this area”.

After his speech, Friedman, along with Greenblatt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s wife, Sara, and donors to the project, wielded hammers to break through a wall and open the subterranean path to the holy site revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the al-Aqsa compound.

In its statement, the Palestinian foreign ministry condemned “in the strongest terms the colonialist plans to replace the existing reality in occupied Jerusalem and the environs of the Old City”.

Erasing line between East and West

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith said this was the first time the US had sent its representatives to East Jerusalem, “recognising that all of Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

“[With] the Americans, walking into East Jerusalem, they’re erasing the difference between East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem. The Palestinians say it’s all part of an Israeli plan to try erase their heritage, their history on this land,” said Smith, reporting from East Jerusalem.

“Palestinians say Israel is trying to make this city more important for one group than for others.”

The project’s parent group, Elad, helps settle Jewish families in Palestinian neighbourhoods, raising suspicions that its tourism projects have the deeper agenda of erasing the lines between East and West Jerusalem.

Observers said the presence of Friedman and Greenblatt was likely to deepen suspicions that the US supported “Judaising” East Jerusalem.

“We are in a time that Israel feels very, very free to advance its strategic aims in East Jerusalem,” said Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at Ir Amim, an advocacy group that pushes for equality between Palestinian and Jewish residents of the city.

Emek Shaveh, an Israeli group that opposes the “politicisation” of archaeology, also condemned the US move presence, calling it “a political act which is the closest the US will have come to recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Old City basin of Jerusalem”.

Critics have accused operators of the sites of pushing a nationalistic agenda at the expense of Palestinian residents.

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