(Ted Crow, The Plain Dealer)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — After finishing his 13th NBA regular season, playing in an additional 21 playoff games, winning the 2016 NBA championship in California, celebrating in Las Vegas, participating in two civic parades and carrying around the two trophies associated with said championship, it’s understandable that Lebron James might need a little rest.

So it’s no surprise that LeBron chose not to participate in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and instead chose to stay home and concentrate on what’s next.

By Ted Crow

BY JOSE MARTINEZ

Image via bensimmons on Instagram

After receiving the first overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons is officially in the NBA and can’t wait to encounter everything the league has to offer—which includes matching up against LeBron James. On Friday, Simmons appeared on The Dan Patrick Show, where he was asked about his last interaction with James. It was a memorable one.

Simmons told Patrick that he got on FaceTime to speak with LeBron after Thursday’s draft. During their conversation, the 19-year-old told James that he was looking forward to the day they squared off against one another, and The King followed that up with a somewhat subtle yet humbling response.

Simmons: “I told him that I look forward to finally matching up against him.”

Patrick: “What did he say about that?”

Simmons: “He just flipped the camera and it was the championship trophy, so I couldn’t say anything back.”

Clearly, James isn’t going to take it easy on Simmons just because he’s signed to his management company, Klutch Sports Group. Instead, LeBron is going to remind anyone and everyone who became the first NBA team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals and gave the Cleveland Cavaliers their first title in franchise history.

We’re less than a week removed from the Cavs’ win, so if you are a rookie or veteran, whenever you interact with James, don’t be surprised if he tries to include a little Larry O’Brien trophy stunting. LeBron definitely earned the right to do it.

Compiled by Jerry McDonald

 

The Stanley Cup Trophy has long been known for making the rounds.

 It appears that if LeBron James has his way, the Larry O’Brien trophy will get the same treatment.
 James was spotted on an Instagram post enjoying himself at a Cleveland-area oyster bar over the weekend with the O’Brien trophy in tow, a reward for the Cavaliers’ seven-game win over the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
 

It remains to be seen whether James will stick around past this year, but the Finals MVP is free to negotiate with other teams, as is Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant.

James gambled on himself in 2014 and it paid off in a big way when he left Miami to sign with Cleveland, signing a one-year deal with a player option _ leaving himself open to the highest bidder each season.

According to ESPN.com, James’ base salary for the upcoming season would be $30.3 million. A four-year deal would earn James approximately $135 million.

If the NBA salary cap goes higher than expected, James’ income will only increase.

 Keep in mind that James signed a lifetime contract with Nike for a reported $1 billion.

So when James shows up at an oyster bar with the Larry O’Brien trophy, go ahead and assume he’s picking up the tab.

BY MATT WRIGHT

Jennifer Broadbent snapped a picture of the Cavs stars lounging aboard a yacht near Clifton Beach in Lakewood Sunday.

Courtesy: Jennifer Broadbent

A night earlier, on Saturday, LeBron James was spotted hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy into the air from a balcony at Alley Cat Oyster Bar in the Flats East Bank. Pictures posted by friends of his also showed the trophy as the centerpiece at their dinner table in a private room at the restaurant.

“We didn’t actually think he’d come out; I mean, it’s LeBron James, one of the greatest players of all time, so when we actually saw him we were pumped and happy to see him,” said Matt Morgan, who recorded video of James hoisting the trophy into the air as fans cheered.

Pictures posted by friends of James on Instagram also showed the trophy as the centerpiece at their dinner table in a private room at the restaurant.

One was captioned “Our high school team will still whoop on any other high school team, any era. Bet something.”

Cell phone video recorded later by other fans showed James taking the trophy to FWD Day + Nightclub, where he and his crew partied in a VIP cabana.

By  Ricki Barker

Brenda Roberts shares a hug with Blake Shelton.

Brenda Roberts, 70, never dreamed she would be able to attend one of her favorite country music artist’s concerts, much less meet the man himself.

But thanks to the staff of Hospice Care Plus (HCP) and Madison Health and Rehabilitation Center (MHR), Roberts’ wish came true June 7.

After attending a Blake Shelton concert at the Country Music Hall of Fame CMA Theater in Nashville, Roberts was surprised to find herself face-to-face with the “Honeybee” hit maker in an impromptu meet and greet.

The meeting was a surprise for Roberts, who had no clue people from HCP and MHR had been working behind the scenes for weeks to make Roberts’ wish a reality.

“I had no idea,” Roberts, who has a tracheotomy and is unable to speak, communicated by mouthing words during an interview with The Register this week. “I was shocked to see him.”

Roberts expressed the immense joy she felt when she met the star who stands 6 foot, 5 inches tall. He immediately hugged her and kissed her on the cheek.

“He was so nice and down to earth,” Roberts said of Shelton. “He spoke to everyone and was very sweet. He kissed me on the cheek and rubbed my shoulders. I didn’t know how to react; I was so surprised and happy.”

Roberts’ daughter Dreema said her mother’s meeting with Shelton was everything she had imagined.

“Everyone was so kind and Blake Shelton was amazing,” she said. “He hugged her over and over. He held onto her and rubbed her shoulder. He held her hand. He kissed her on the cheek and let her do the same. She mouthed the words, ‘I love you. I have cancer.’ He told her he knew, and he just hugged her.”

Roberts journey began back in May when she and her daughter met with Hospice Care Plus nurse Dorsie Puckett to learn more about hospice care.

Roberts, a resident of MHR and a patient of HCP, which partner to provide her care, is battling cancer of the larynx.

“We were sitting there and she was upset and tearful,” Puckett said of her meeting with Roberts. “I could see she felt that choosing hospice meant giving up and just waiting for the end. I wanted her to turn her focus to hope and to living, so I told her about our bucket-list program and asked her if there was anything we could do for her, anything special that was important to her that she really wanted to do.

“That’s when Dreema mentioned that Brenda loves Blake Shelton. And Brenda, who has a tracheotomy and is unable to speak, whispered very softly to me, ‘Yes I do. I’m not a great country music fan, but I think he’s the most handsome man in the whole world, and it would make my life to get to see him.’”

Fueled by the desire to make Roberts’ wish come true, Puckett immediately worked with her team and the entire Hospice Care Plus staff to develop a care plan for Roberts with her wish in mind.

HCP has an informal bucket-list program that uses donated funds to help make patient’s important wishes and dreams come true. The program utilizes donations, volunteers and help from the community to help fulfill requests, said Brenna Wallhausser, director of public relations for Hospice Care Plus.

Wallhauser said Puckett’s team began researching scheduled performances of Shelton’s that were nearby and were soon enough for Roberts to attend while her health still supported travel.

The bucket-list program provided the funds and secured affordable tickets for Roberts, her daughter and her son-in-law to attend the intimate concert in Nashville. MHR shared a portion of the ticket cost with HCP, and the family agreed to share the cost of the hotel.

Puckett then worked quickly to gather the medical equipment Roberts would need for a long drive and two nights away from her facility, which included a portable suction machine, 12 e-tanks for portable oxygen, a wheelchair-mounted carrier for the e-tanks, an adequate supply of all her medications, and numerous routine medical supplies.

“Thanks goodness her daughter is a nurse,” Wallhauser said. “We knew she would be well taken care of in her hands in case there was an emergency.”

However, members of HCP’s bucket list team were not satisfied with just a concert for Roberts. They wanted to go the extra mile to make the day special for her.

“We really thought it would be wonderful if she got to meet him,” Wallhauser explained. “We started contacting everyone we could think of, Blake Shelton’s manager, fan club, PR people – anyone we could think of that could help us. We started a social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook asking for help.”

On the morning of the concert, hospice had yet to receive a reply to their requests for a meeting. However, a Facebook message gave them hope that an industry executive had promised to look into the matter.

When Roberts family texted HCP staff to say they made it and were inside the venue, everyone was happy that she was about to see her wished-for concert, but also a little disappointed. It was assumed that, if anything special was planned for Roberts, it would have been made clear to them when they presented their tickets.

“We thought that was it,” Wallhauser explained. “I was texting two people who had worked incredibly hard to make it happen and I was preparing them for the fact that it wasn’t going to happen, but also thanking them and reassuring them that Brenda would not know any disappointment. To our knowledge, she didn’t know we were trying for the meeting. We agreed not to tell her, because we didn’t want to risk a let-down. We wanted her to feel nothing but joy at seeing him live in concert.”

Ten minutes into the performance HCP received an email from Shelton’s management group asking to speak with the staff.

“They told us that it had gone through, and Brenda was going to get to meet Blake Shelton. We were thrilled,” Wallhauser said.

For the next few hours, Wallhauser said she and other HCP staff waited patiently for word from Dreema on how the meeting was going.

“She texted a photograph of her mother with Blake Shelton,” Wallhouser recalled. “When I saw it, I thought that it captured how special all of this was for Brenda. It was easy to see the joy on her face. Surprisingly, it also seemed to catch how special it was for Blake Shelton.”

Roberts said after the concert she was wheeled into a backstage area and was talking to her family when she felt a tap on the shoulder, behind her was Shelton.

Roberts said the singer spent some time joking and laughing with her and her family.

The 70-year-old recalled a funny moment between her and Shelton when the country music star spotted Roberts’ tattoo on her left shoulder that features the letter “b.”

“He asked me what it stood for, and I pointed at him and said it stands for Blake,” Roberts said of her joke with Shelton.

The 70-year-old said she will never forget the time she spent with the singer she considers “the handsomest man in the world” and is grateful for everyone’s efforts to make that magical moment happen.

Photos of her trip and meeting with Shelton now grace the walls of her room at MHR, and she delights in retelling her adventure with staff and visitors.

By Treva Bowdoin

Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton have done nothing to make fans think that they’re on the verge of a breakup, but rumors persist that the odd couple is about to split. Most big celebrity couples have to deal with tabloid reports that their relationships are doomed, and many times these high-profile relationships don’t last. However, it’s definitely possible for Hollywood love stories to have happy endings, even when the parties involved come from two completely different worlds like Gwen and Blake do. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are a perfect example of this.

According to Gossip Cop, a recent tabloid report alleges that Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton “are on the rocks.”

“They are out of the honeymoon phase,” a supposed insider told Life & Style. “They’re just very different people and it feels like the end of their relationship could be soon. They’re clearly on the rocks.”

However, as the Inquisitr previously reported, Gwen and Blake certainly haven’t been acting like a couple that is finally out of what has been a very long “honeymoon phase.” In fact, Gwen Stefani revealed that she spent Monday night admiring the “honeymoon” with Blake Shelton. This is why it should come as no surprise to “Shefani” fans that Gossip Cop has debunked the breakup reports.

Because Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton are two very different people, some of their fans might worry that what they have is a rebound romance that won’t last. However, the pop star and the country singer wouldn’t be the first celebrity odd couple to prove naysayers wrong by staying together.

As Entertainment Tonight reports, actress Nicole Kidman and country singer Keith Urban celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on June 25. Just like Cali girl Gwen and cowboy Blake, the Aussie stars come from two different worlds; Keith grew up on a farm, and Nicole was raised in the big city of Sidney.

Blake Shelton and Keith Urban have similar ‘odd couple’ relationships (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for BMI)

“At first it may have seemed like a surprising pairing, the statuesque Oscar winner and the Nashville-based country singer, but the couple have quietly proved countless times over just how right for each other they were,” E! News writes of the couple.

When Nicole Kidman talks about the beginning of her relationship with Keith Urban, her comments are very similar to what Gwen Stefani says when she talks about how she and Blake Shelton fell for each other.

“I think we were two lonely people. I would probably say that two very lonely people managed to meet at a time when they could open themselves to each other. We were a mixture of frightened and brave,” Nicole told Vanity Fair.

Gwen Stefani and Nicole Kidman are both in relationships with country stars (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

During an interview with Refinery 29, Gwen Stefani revealed that she and Blake Shelton were also in a dark place when they first started dating; they were both recovering from devastating divorces, and Gwen said that she was feeling pretty “hopeless” at the time. However, just like Keith and Nicole, she and Blake both happened to be at the right place emotionally at the right time.

“It was a really super-unexpected gift to find a friend, somebody who happened to be going through the exact same thing as me, literally mirroring my experience. I don’t think it’s an accident that that happened. It saved me,” Gwen said.

During an interview with People, Keith Urban similarly suggested that divine intervention played a part in bringing him and Nicole Kidman together when they needed each other.

“Definitely we both met each other exactly at the right time. She said early on that she wanted to be brave with me. I feel there was something else at work, bringing us together and then just continuing to watch over us.”

Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman got married after just a month of dating, and Nicole told Entertainment Tonight that they have a secret to keeping their relationship strong after a decade together.

“As much as we love each other, we really like each other,” Nicole revealed. “I’m speaking for myself, but that is a huge part of being married. Always, the first person I want to share anything with is him. It’s true.”

 

Luckily for “Shefani” fans, Gwen Stefani already knows the importance of liking the man she’s with just as much as she loves him. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Gwen even penned a song titled “Make Me Like You” that’s all about Blake.

Gwen also shares Nicole Kidman’s desire to share big moments with her man. This is evidenced by a behind-the-scenes video from the set of the live “Make Me Like You” music video that aired during the Grammy Awards. As you can see, Gwen started desperately searching for Blake so she could share her happy moment with him.

Do you think Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton have a love that will last just like Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban? Sound off below!

[Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS]

 

By: Joris Luyendijk


 

Britain has not yet come to terms with its own irrelevance, and would only have got in the way of plans to create a more democratic pooling of sovereignty

‘The problem with Britain was bad faith and delusional thinking.’ Photograph: Reinhard Krause/Reuters

Democrats across Europe are in shock over Brexit, when they should be jubilant. That a slim majority of British voters – primarily English and Welsh – have acted against their own short- and long-term economic interests to leave us is a blessing. For decades British governments have played a double game: getting all the benefits of EU membership while opting out of its burdens, in the meantime undermining and even blackmailing the club from within. All of this is now over.

To understand why Brexit is such good news we must look not at the lies of the leave camp but at the arguments of remain. They consist essentially of two claims. The first is that leaving would only make things worse – what leave rightly derided as “Project Fear”. Second is remain’s promise that the EU would never be more than a market. Fears over the loss of sovereignty were misguided, remain argued, since the UK would block and veto any future moves in that direction.

Let us pause and reflect on what a remain win would have meant. If they are ever to become functioning and legitimate democratic entities, the EU and the eurozone must reform dramatically. In some cases this means the return of certain powers at regional or national level – all too often “European cooperation” has become homogenisation and needless centralisation. In other cases we may decide to invest more powers at European level if this strengthens its democratic nature and increases our power versus the corporate lobby.

Had remain won the referendum, the EU would have become hostage to British sabotage. Future British prime ministers would veto any fundamental change involving the transfer of sovereignty, arguing, correctly, that their people had voted only for the current set-up of the EU. Britain would continue to demand ever more opt-outs and concessions – playing to the fantasy that membership is a British favour to the rest of Europe. The British press and Europhobe politicians would go on portraying the EU in the most lurid, mendacious and derisory terms, making us look terrible in the eyes of Americans and English-speaking Asians, Africans and Russians.

The problem with Britain was not that it was critical of the EU. The problem was bad faith and delusional thinking. As the referendum debate has shown, the country has not come to terms with its own global irrelevance – hence its refusal to pool sovereignty. It continues to believe that as a sovereign nation it can get everything it had as an EU member, and more. When Europe’s democrats talk about “EU reform” they mean putting arrangements in place to make Europe’s pooling of sovereignty democratic. Britons mean the rollback of that very pooling of sovereignty. For this reason, Britain’s membership would have hit a wall sooner or later.

Which brings us to remain’s conception of the EU as merely “a market”. This is a disastrous view. Markets are never neutral arrangements but always political constructs. Consider whether you allow pharmaceutical companies to market antidepressants directly to consumers, as in the US, or not – as in Europe. Both are “markets”, but the difference in impact on society is profound. Think of environmental standards, genetically modified organisms, anti-trust law (when is a market an oligopoly?), privacy or priorities in enforcement of intellectual property violations. Then there is the question of what should be a market in the first place: education, health, the prison system?

Leaving these decisions to European technocrats means that we effectively hand over control of our society to the corporate lobbies that have direct access to those technocrats. These days global banks and other multinationals operate on a European level while politics still take place on a national level. The consequence is that big corporations can play off one European country against the other in a regulatory race to the bottom, demanding ever lower if not downright homeopathic tax rates.

Is this the EU we want? Or do we build a strong and democratically legitimate countervailing power that can operate on the same European level as the corporate lobby? If the latter, we need to construct a vibrant pan-European political space with real debate and real powers. It is crazy that Europeans have their own court, parliament and currency, but no pan-European public forum to debate what to do with these instruments.

Perhaps the construction of a European demos of this kind is all too much, all too fast. What is clear is that the current EU is corporate and undemocratic and the eurozone is a disaster. Europeans can throw in the towel, dismantle the whole thing and retreat to their powerless little countries. Or they can make a final attempt to make the European project work.

A minority in Britain wanted to be part of this, but the mainstream did not. Let Europe now play hardball in the negotiations and then wish all the best to its British neighbours.

Source: The Guardian

The US president said in an interview with NPR that a ‘pause button has been pressed’ on full European integration rather than drastic, immediate changes

Barack Obama has warned against financial and global hysteria after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, saying that while full European integration may be on pause, cataclysmic changes are unlikely.

“There’s been a little bit of hysteria post-Brexit vote, as if somehow Nato’s gone, the trans-Atlantic alliance is dissolving, and every country is rushing off to its own corner. That’s not what’s happening,” Obama told National Public Radio in an interview that aired on Tuesday.

Obama’s comments come as global financial markets recovered slightly on Tuesday after the shock result of Thursday’s vote wiped a record $3tn off shares worldwide. Still, trading was volatile even as policymakers vowed to protect their economies.

The vote also unleashed political chaos, prompting the resignation of British prime minister David Cameron, igniting uncertainty about the rest Europe, and raising concerns about democratic order in an era of globalization and rising populism.

US officials have said the American economy is strong enough to withstand the “headwinds” following Brexit and vowed to maintain its relationships with the United Kingdom and Europe.

Obama, who has said he respected the British voters’ decision even though he had opposed the move, in the interview on Tuesday said the vote has signaled that UK voters were reacting to a European Union that was growing too fast and “without as much consensus as it should have”.

“The best way to think about this is, a pause button has been pressed on the project of full European integration,” he told NPR.

“This will be a moment when all of Europe says, ‘Let’s take a breath and let’s figure out how do we maintain some of our national identities, how do we preserve the benefits of integration and how do we deal with some of the frustrations that our own voters are feeling’,” Obama said.

Asked about Obama’s warning that a Brexit vote would put Britain at the back of the trade queue, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday: “What is true is that the UK would not benefit from the years of progress we’ve made in negotiating a trade agreement with the EU.

“The UK does benefit from the special relationship they have with the United States, they benefit from the important economic relationship that already exists between our two countries but, if and when those negotiations were to start, they start in a different place because of the progress that we’ve already made in trying to complete an agreement with the EU.”

On Tuesday, House speaker Paul Ryan called on the US to pursue a free trade agreement with the UK once it has formally separated from the EU.

Earnest responded: “I think in terms of what additional steps could be taken to enhance the economic relationship between the United States and United Kingdom, it’s something that policy makers in both countries will have to consider in the years ahead and presumably that picture for that path forward will be clearer once it’s clear exactly how the UK will pursue the process of extricating itself from the UK.”

Earnest was also asked if the president favoured a new referendum on Brexit that would allow Britain to change its mind. “The British ambassador to the US was pretty definitive about the finality of this decision,” he said.

“The question of whether or not it could happen is something British leaders and British people will have to determine. It will be up to them to render a judgement about the path forward here. Our hope is the process, as it moves forward, will be orderly, will be as transparent as possible, and we have been pleased to see a commitment to those principles both by leaders in the UK and the EU.”

Earnest declined to comment directly on a possible second vote on Scottish independence but did say: “A united UK is in the best interests of the US. It makes them a stronger partner. It makes them more effective in contributing to the Nato alliance.”

He also emphasised the strength of the US-UK relationship in security matters. “The special relationship between the US and UK will endure. The close financial, economic, commercial and trade ties between the US and UK will remain. That’s good news because that’s critically important to both our economies. The UK-US defence partnership will remain strong.”

Reuters contributed to this report

A series of deadly explosions tore through crowds at Istanbul’s Atatürk international airport on Tuesday evening, leaving at least 36 people dead and scores more injured in an attack officials blamed on the Islamic State terror group.

Shortly before the blasts, assailants armed with AK-47 rifles exchanged gunfire with security guards outside the airport’s international terminal, according to officials.

The gunmen then detonated what are believed to have been suicide bombs. Three attackers died on the scene, said the Turkish prime minister, Binali Yıldırım.

Five of the dead were police officers, according to the Turkish national broadcaster TRT, which reported that at least 147 people were injured in the attack.

In a press conference in Istanbul on Tuesday night, Yıldırım said: “No matter where the terror comes from, our country is strong enough to fight against this terror. I call on every citizen to act in unity and stand by each other.” He said that by 2.22am local time air traffic was “back to normal and flights are resumed”.

Some foreigners were among the victims, he said.

A witness told Reuters that before the explosions one of the gunmen opened fire at random as he walked through the terminal.

“He was just firing at anyone coming in front of him. He was wearing all black. His face was not masked. I was 50 metres away from him,” said Paul Roos, 77, a South African tourist on his way back to Cape Town with his wife.

“We ducked behind a counter but I stood up and watched him. Two explosions went off shortly after one another. By that time he had stopped shooting.”

The scene left by two explosions and gunfire at Turkey’s biggest airport. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

“He turned around and started coming towards us. He was holding his gun inside his jacket. He looked around anxiously to see if anyone was going to stop him and then went down the escalator … We heard some more gunfire and then another explosion, and then it was over.”

Security camera footage circulating on social media was said to show the moment one of the attackers was shot by a security guard. The footage, which could not be verified, showed the assailant dropping what appeared to be an assault rifle before collapsing to the floor. Seconds later he appeared to activate a suicide bomb.

“There were the sounds of gunfire, it was like thunder, then there was a fireball everywhere,” a taxi driver, named as Fatih, told CNNTurk. “My front window blew out, the car in front of me was turned into scrap.”

Fatih said that at the most two minutes passed between the gunfire and the explosion.

Guardian graphic

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on all governments, especially in the west, to join forces in taking a “firm stand against terror”.

“The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world. Make no mistake: for terrorist organisations there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome.

“Unless all government and the entire mankind join forces in the fight against terrorism, much worse things than what we fear to imagine today will come true.”

Turkey’s justice minister, Bekir Bozdağ, told parliament in Ankara of the attack.

“I harshly condemn those who executed this terrorist attack, and those who gave the orders for it,” Bozdağ said.

A policeman sets up a security perimeter as people leave the airport. Photograph: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

Jared Malsin, a correspondent for Time, tweeted from the scene: “Hundreds of travellers now streaming out of the airport. Some saying they were trapped inside for 2+ hours … several witnesses confirming two separate explosions, the second one triggering a stampede inside the arrival hall.”

One witness, whose name was given as Omar, told TRT that his brother was wounded in the explosion at the arrivals hall as he was fetching his luggage. Covered in blood and in obvious distress, Omar described hearing both “the explosion” and “a lot of gun[fire]”.

He ran inside to look for his family, he said, and saw his brother lying on the floor. “I don’t know what to do,” he said.

In the immediate aftermath police barred access to the airport and some flights were diverted away from Istanbul. Videos on TRT showed travellers being evacuated to safety.

People stand outside the entrance after the attack at Istanbul Ataturk. Photograph: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

Turkish authorities issued a broadcast ban on the attack and Erdoğan held an emergency meeting with the prime minister and military commanders on Tuesday night.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts.

British foreign office officials said they were “urgently seeking further information” following the attack. The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, said he was “shocked” but “we stand ready to help”.

Turkey has been on high security alert after a string of terrorist attacks. Two deadly bombings in Istanbul earlier this year were blamed on Islamic State.

In early June a car suicide bomb killed 12 people in the central Vezneciler district of Istanbul in an attack claimed by radical Kurdish militants.

Facebook activated its safety check feature in the wake of the explosions. The tool lets users who are at or near the site of a natural disaster or terrorist attack mark themselves and others as safe, as well as check if any of their friends have been affected. Facebook’s disaster response pageposted a status in relation to the blasts.

Source: The Guardian

Judge tells wrestler’s lawyer to stand down on threat of more litigation for media company’s CEO

Wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, testified in court March 8 against Gawker Media Group. A bankruptcy judge on Wednesday told a lawyer for Mr. Bollea to ‘stand down’ on threats of further litigation against Gawker Chief Executive Nick Denton. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Gawker Media Group and former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan agreed to a temporary cease-fire Wednesday in their bitter legal battle, which has landed the digital-media company in bankruptcy.

At Gawker’s first court appearance since filing for chapter 11 protection, Judge Stuart Bernstein of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan told a lawyer for Terry Bollea, whose wrestling name is Hulk Hogan, to “stand down” on threats to ratchet up the pressure in the dispute by targeting Gawker founder and Chief Executive Nick Denton.

Gawker filed for bankruptcy Friday after a judge in Florida upheld a $140 million jury judgment stemming from an invasion of privacy lawsuit Mr. Bollea brought against the company and Mr. Denton, who wasn’t in court Wednesday. Gawker is appealing the ruling.

Eric Fisher, a lawyer for Mr. Bollea, said in court Wednesday that he planned to seek sanctions against Mr. Denton for allegedly misrepresenting the value of stock he pledged to secure a bond that would temporarily halt payment of the judgment while Gawker pursues an appeal.

“He led the court to believe he was pledging something of great value,” Mr. Fisher said in court Wednesday.
Mr. Denton, who owns 30% of Gawker, pledged his shares the day before the company filed for bankruptcy and revealed a preliminary bid for its assets. In a memo posted to Gawker’s website, Mr. Denton confirmed that the legal woes had “undoubtedly depressed” the company’s valuation and had been “financially draining.”

After a private meeting with lawyers in his chambers, Judge Bernstein announced that both sides had agreed to a “complete standstill” on litigation tied to the judgment until next month, when another hearing is slated to take place in bankruptcy court.

Gawker is facing lawsuits from several former subjects of its articles, including Mr. Bollea, blogger Charles C. Johnson, journalist Ashley Terrill and tech entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai.

“We can no longer afford to litigate on all of these fronts,” Gregg Galardi, Gawker’s lawyer, told the judge Wednesday.

Gawker is shielded from pending lawsuits while under chapter 11 protection. The media company also is hoping to shield Mr. Denton, Executive Editor John Cook, former Gawker.com Editor in Chief A.J. Daulerio and several current and former writers—all of whom are targets of pending litigation related to Gawker articles—from facing any of the lawsuits, at least while the company pursues a bankruptcy-court supervised sale process.

The prospect of the additional litigation could have a “potentially disastrous chilling effect” on the company’s workforce, Gawker’s lawyers have said in court papers. And the legal tumult could present a “significant burden and distraction” for Mr. Denton, potentially forcing him to file for personal bankruptcy. The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 13.

Gawker filed for chapter 11 with a prearranged plan to send its assets to the auction block. Gawker already has lined up a $90 million opening bid from online and magazine publisher Ziff Davis LLC, which is subject to higher bids.

Speculation has swirled that Ziff Davis might shutter Gawker.com if it completes the deal. In a note to employees explaining the move, Ziff Davis Chief Executive Vivek Shah highlighted how Gawker Media’s other properties—such as Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku and Jezebel—would fit into Ziff Davis’ stable of properties, which include AskMen.com and IGN. But Gawker.com was noticeably absent from that description.

Mr. Denton, however, continues to strike a defiant tone, saying “Gawker.com is as indestructible as a New York cockroach” and “more famous than ever,” in the memo posted on the company’s website.

“If it does not fit an acquirer’s portfolio, Gawker.com will find an investor with a tolerance for controversy,” Mr. Denton wrote. “I will happily contribute.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, Gawker won bankruptcy court permission to begin drawing down $22 million in emergency financing to support its embattled digital media business while it navigates chapter 11. Judge Bernstein signed off on $14 million in fresh cash for the publisher, which could will be followed by another $8 million pending final court approval next month.

An affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management LP is providing the lifeline, the bulk of which, $12.3 million, will pay off existing lender Silicon Valley Bank, court papers show. Cerberus was the only financier willing to provide the new loans, according to Gawker’s lawyers.

Mr. Galardi said Wednesday that the company’s advertising revenue had been hurt by the closely followed dispute with Mr. Bollea and other legal woes. Silicon Valley billionaire and investor Peter Thiel has acknowledged financing Mr. Bollea’s legal fight and other battles involving people who Mr. Thiel feels have been targeted unfairly by Gawker. A post on Gawker’s now-defunct Valleywag blog outed Mr. Thiel as gay in 2007.

In addition to the financing package, Judge Bernstein also approved a number of other routine matters Wednesday that are meant to keep Gawker running smoothly while in bankruptcy, including continued access to its bank accounts, permission to pay taxes and approval to pay wages and benefits to employees.

The bankruptcy sale process is designed to preserve Gawker’s underlying business and raise funds that will be funneled to a trust to finance further litigation or to cover final judgments handed down following appeals, which could take years to resolve. Gawker has said it expects it will ultimately prevail.

By

TOM CORRIGAN