‘Ali! Ali!’: The Greatest is laid to rest in his hometown
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Greatest was laid to rest in his hometown Friday after an all-day send-off that was a lot like Muhammad Ali himself — serious at times, but also exuberant, bracingly political, and funny.
Ali made one final journey through the city he adored via a fist-pumping funeral procession through the streets of Louisville. The burial was followed by a star-studded memorial service where the boxing great was eulogized as a brash and wildly charismatic breaker of racial barriers.
“He was a tremendous bolt of lightning, created by Mother Nature out of thin air, a fantastic combination of power and beauty,” comedian Billy Crystal said in an address that had the crowd of about 15,000 laughing at nearly every turn.
The more than three-hour memorial capped nearly a full day of mourning in Louisville for Ali, the three-time heavyweight champion of the world who died last week at 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
An estimated 100,000 people holding signs and chanting, “Ali! Ali!” lined the streets as a hearse carrying his cherry-red casket made its way past his childhood home to Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery, where a private burial service was held.
Back in Washington, Clinton, Trump work toward party unity
WASHINGTON (AP) — The presidential race shifted to the nation’s capital Friday, with Democrats executing a carefully orchestrated plan to unify their party around presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
Her likely general election rival, Donald Trump, continued his months-long effort to win over the Republican base, with events wooing top donors and evangelical voters.
With the primary contests all but over, a series of top Democrats formally announced their support for Clinton, headlined by the glowing endorsement of President Barack Obama on Thursday.
Within hours, Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined that effort, both backing Clinton and signaling to many of Sanders’ supporters that it’s time to unite around the party’s presumptive nominee. Clinton and Warren met privately for about an hour Friday morning at Clinton’s home in Washington, intensifying speculation that the progressive stalwart may be tapped for the vice presidency.
“If you really want to electrify the base you’ve got to get somebody who’s been speaking to the base and is going to turn the base out,” said Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., one of Sanders’ top supporters in Congress. He said he and other progressives would be thrilled if Clinton tapped Warren for her ticket.
GOP insiders pressure Trump to steer clear of controversy
NEW YORK (AP) — Weary Republicans are looking for assurances that Donald Trump can maintain the discipline needed to stay on message as he prepares for a bruising general election run-up against Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s conciliatory, teleprompter-guided victory speech Tuesday appeared to stave off— at least for the time being — a near-revolt over his racially divisive attacks against the American-born judge of Mexican heritage hearing the case against his now-defunct Trump University.
As he kicked off his general election campaign Friday, a thorny question has arisen: How does the party keep Trump in check?
“A primary campaign against 16 opponents is very different and combative in a different way than a general election against a well-organized, well-funded Clinton machine,” said Rep. Chris Collins, who has been helping to coordinate Trump’s outreach to Congress.
Collins said he understood there would be lingering questions about Trump after the distracting episode, but said the speech was part of what he sees as a “total pivot” by the candidate.
Western-backed forces encircle key town in northern Syria
BEIRUT (AP) — Kurdish-led fighters completed their encirclement Friday of a key town held by the Islamic State group in northern Syria, part of a Western-backed offensive that could see a major strategic victory over the militants.
The advance on Manbij, near the Turkish border, coincided with a Syrian army offensive supported by Russian airstrikes that brought troops closer to the city of Raqqa, the IS extremists’ de facto capital.
Two years after their blitz across the Euphrates River valley, the IS militants are coming under increasing pressure on territory they control in Syria and Iraq, as well as on a stronghold in chaotic Libya.
In another battleground of Syria’s civil war, minimal food deliveries finally reached the Damascus suburb of Daraya, which has been besieged and blockaded by government forces for nearly four years, but opposition activists said heavy bombardment held up the aid’s distribution.
The surrounding of Manbij by the Syria Democratic Forces followed the capture of dozens of nearby villages and farms near the Turkish border by the predominantly Kurdish group.
Gawker files for bankruptcy, to sell itself to Ziff Davis
NEW YORK (AP) — Gawker Media is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and putting itself up for sale, strained by a jury’s verdict that that it must pay $140 million to pro wrestler Hulk Hogan in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit.
The filing by the 14-year-old website follows the revelation in May that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel bankrolled Hogan’s lawsuit as what he called a “deterrent” to Gawker’s no-holds-barred and sometimes gonzo style of journalism. Thiel’s secret role sparked anxiety over the possibility that more wealthy individuals might cow publications by covertly funding lawsuits against them.
Gawker says it plans to sell itself to publishing company Ziff Davis, although other bidders could emerge during the bankruptcy court auction. The sale will help it fund its appeal against the Hogan judgment in a Florida state court.
“We have been forced by this litigation to give up our longstanding independence,” Gawker founder Nick Denton said in a statement. “With stronger backing and disentangled from litigation, (Gawker writers) can perform their vital work on more platforms and in different forms.”
The move also allows Gawker’s web sites to keep operating normally, the company says.
Campaign to remove judge in Stanford rape case gains steam
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A fledgling campaign to recall the judge who sentenced a former Stanford University swimmer to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman gained momentum Friday as three prominent political consultants joined the effort.
The Recall Judge Aaron Persky campaign said media consultant Joe Trippi, campaign strategist John Shallman and pollster Paul Maslin would help secure the signatures and votes required to remove the Santa Clara County jurist from the bench next year.
Trippi has worked for a number of Democratic presidential candidates, while Maslin’s clients include Gov. Jerry Brown and members of Congress. Shallman has worked for the president of the California Senate, who spearheaded passage of a law requiring colleges and universities to apply a “yes means yes” standard in sexual misconduct cases.
Persky was re-elected in an unopposed election Tuesday, five days after sentencing Brock Turner, 20, to six months in jail and three years’ probation. The punishment for the Dayton, Ohio, native ignited intense outcry as too lenient.
Prosecutors had argued for Turner to spend six years in prison for three felony convictions that could have sent him away for 14 years.
Police shoot man amid domestic disturbance at Dallas airport
DALLAS (AP) — A police officer shot and wounded a man Friday outside a Dallas airport after the man attacked a woman believed to be the mother of his children and then threatened the officer with large rocks, police said.
Police Chief David Brown said Shawn Nicholas Diamond, 29, of Edgewood, Maryland, advanced menacingly with a rock in each hand toward an officer who had his gun drawn outside the Dallas Love Field terminal Friday, telling the officer, “You’re going to have to shoot.”
Diamond was in stable condition at a Dallas hospital, Brown said at a news conference.
The chief said Diamond’s ex-girlfriend was driving him to the airport for a flight home when he hit her. After arriving at the airport terminal, he said, Diamond was pulling his luggage from the woman’s car when he grabbed a traffic cone, smashed the car’s windshield with it, then began picking up large landscaping rocks nearby and hurling them through the car’s windows.
Silent surveillance video showed a police officer intervening and aiming his handgun at Diamond when he began advancing menacingly with a rock in each hand. When Diamond darted around the officer, the officer shot him and ordered him to stay down, Brown said.
Gas and glass: Rowdy soccer fans cause havoc in Marseille
MARSEILLE, France (AP) — Tear gas drifted through the air and broken bottles crunched under foot as French police struggled to control rowdy, drunken soccer fans causing havoc in the southern port city of Marseille on the opening day of the European Championship on Friday.
As France and Romania were getting the tournament underway in Paris, a second night of violence and hooliganism raged in Marseille’s Old Port district as police repeatedly clashed with fans from France, Russia and England flared deep into the night. England and Russia were meeting in a Euro 2016 game at the city’s Stade Velodrome on Saturday.
Troublemakers were seen throwing bottles and chairs from a roadside brasserie, and bare-chested, flag-waving England fans taunted baton-wielding policemen in scenes that will again mar the reputation of the country’s soccer supporters that had recovered since the dark days of hooliganism in the 1970s and ’80s.
There were no immediate reports of serious injuries and it was unclear how many people were detained during the skirmishes, which broke out at about 6 p.m. local time despite a massive police presence.
Families, women and elderly couples picked their way around the broken glass strewn across the cobbled streets of the historic quay side, a renowned tourist site, as the sirens of police vans and fire engines mingled with the constant chanting of England fans. People sat on terraces outside restaurants eating, as tear gas spread through the streets.
Curry says he needs to play better, and Warriors say he will
CLEVELAND (AP) — Turns out, Stephen Curry has not entered some level of basketball infallibility.
His unanimous MVP selection, the record 3-point total, the league scoring title, all those accolades while he was leading the Golden State Warriors to an NBA-record 73 regular-season wins may have made it seem like he was in some sort of permanent video-game mode.
And then came the NBA Finals.
The MVP is struggling, and what once looked like a Golden State stranglehold on a repeat title no longer does. Curry has been held to 16 points per game in the first three matchups in this series against Cleveland, which resumes when the Cavaliers play host to Game 4 on Friday night.
“We can definitely help Steph out and we will,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Thursday. “We can put him in better position. … The coaching staff has to figure out the best lineups and the best looks. Players have to perform. It’s on all of us to be better.”
Column: Just this once, ‘Mr. Hockey’ picked the wrong spot
Gordie Howe was equal parts sharpshooter and street fighter, and remarkably durable to boot. But nobody dominates a rough-and-tumble game for parts of five decades without knowing when to pick his spots. For all that, even “Mr. Hockey” had no say in the timing of his passing.
Howe’s death at age 88 was announced by his family Friday morning, even as the attention of the sporting world was riveted on Louisville, Kentucky, where the funeral of Muhammad Ali was taking place. The parallels between the two men are considerable: each brought unusual skills to a tradition-laden sport and over the course of a career, transformed it forever; by the time they walked away, both could fairly lay claim to the moniker, “The Greatest.”
Yet there is little doubt who cast the longer shadow.
Not to worry, because Howe will get his due, eventually, if only because Wayne Gretzky, himself dubbed “The Great One” and likely the only real contender for Howe’s spot at the top of the game, said without hesitation upon learning of his death, “To me, he’s the greatest hockey player who ever played.”
In the same ESPN interview a moment later, Gretzky struggled to pile on even more superlatives. There were many to choose from. Four-time Stanley Cup winner, six-time MVP, 23-time All-Star, record holder for games and seasons played.