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Breanna Stewart is, by most reckonings, the best women’s basketball player in the world, and as she enters free agency in her prime at the age of 28, she has the potential to upend the WNBA. In more ways than one.
Stewart is leveraging the attention surrounding her decision and the question of whether she’ll be taking her talents to Brooklyn (the New York Liberty, who play home games at Barclays Center, are the likely front-runners among four finalists to sign her) to advocate for the league to scrap its low-budget travel policy and adopt the use of charter flights for its teams.
The charter-flight issue gets at the heart of the economic tensions in the WNBA’s growth from a fledgling league to a more mainstream, moneyed operation — and who’s footing the bill.
“I would love to be part of a deal that helps subsidize charter travel for the entire WNBA,” Stewart wrote Sunday on social media. “I would contribute my [name, image and likeness], posts + production hrs to ensure we all travel in a way that prioritizes player health + safety, which ultimately results in a better product. Who’s with me?”
The tweet, which had 3.6 million views as of Wednesday afternoon, was promoted by fellow WNBA stars Chiney Ogwumike and Elena Delle Donne, as well as NBA All-Star point guard Ja Morant and Connecticut phenom Paige Bueckers.
“I’m glad they’re speaking out. … I want this generation of WNBA players to really fight for what’s good for our league,” former WNBA All-Star Chasity Melvin told The Post.
“It was very difficult [when I flew commercial], because one thing that is difficult is the training aspect and the physical aspect, you know, the swelling of your knees and your feet. … You can have the best trainers but you’re not gonna get all that swelling out and you’re not gonna be stretched properly to play in the game. We practiced for long hours and we flew commercial and had to get up at 4 a.m. for flights. … So you take a full day to travel where you could use it as practice time if you have charter flights.”
Only it’s not nearly so simple as taking up a collection and then fueling up the private jets. The rules about travel standards are part of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union, and WNBA team owners — many of whom have balked at the added cost — would have to vote to modify the current system in which teams exclusively fly commercial and charter flights are prohibited.
In an interview this week with Sportico, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the projected cost of chartering flights across the league is $25 million-30 million per year and the current airfare budget is only a “very small fraction” of that.
“I think it would have to be a collective of companies, because $25 or $30 million a year is a big number — but if a bunch of players got a bunch of companies who wanted to help fund this, we’d absolutely partner with the players and talk to them about how it would work,” Engelbert said.
“Honestly, when we start to talk about the numbers that are involved here, that scares people away. That’s why longer term, it [happens] ultimately either through the right valuation of our media rights or a collective of sponsors who really want to step up and make this happen.”
The buck-passing to players and their sponsors is at least in part due to a divide in the ownership ranks about making the investment in charter flights out of their own pockets. Liberty and Nets owners Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai belong to a contingent of newer, deep-pocketed WNBA owners — said to include Las Vegas Aces owner Mark Davis and the Atlanta Dream group led by Larry Gottesdiener — willing to make seven-figure internal investments.
But for one team to fly private and another to continue to travel on commercial airlines is considered an unfair advantage. In 2021, the Tsais were discovered to have provided charter flights for the Liberty during the second half of the season, according to Sports Illustrated, and the team initially was threatened with “termination of the franchise” before ultimately agreeing to a league-record $500,000 fine — for treating the players too well.
(In related news, Clara Tsai led a Liberty contingent to Istanbul — not on United with a connection in Lisbon, we’re guessing — on Wednesday for a meeting with Stewart.)
Another wrinkle for the 2023 season involves All-Star Mercury center Brittney Griner, who plans to return to the WNBA after spending most of 2022 as a prisoner in Russia. ESPN recently reported there in an assumption that Griner will need to fly privately due to security concerns. And if one team flies private …
So the WNBA, now entering its 27th season, is experiencing the turbulence of a mid-sized pro league — similar to MLS or the G-League — trying to sync its ambitions and balance-sheet realities. As recently as 2018, a game was canceled after the Aces were forced to spend the night in an airport; last year, the league came up with the money for charters during the finals.
“At the end of the day, we’re not a G league,” Melvin said. “We’re the top tier women’s professional league. We have to find a way where we can get charter flights.”
Stewart is speaking up about the discomfort of commercial travel — but to reach new heights with charter flights, someone has to write the big check.
By: Ny Post
Chrishell Stause shares pic from hospital bed after removing ovarian cyst
Chrishell Stause spent her Wednesday in a hospital, revealing she underwent a “minor surgery” to have an ovarian cyst removed.
The reality TV star, who is best known for starring in the hit Netflix show “Selling Sunset,” shared a snap from the hospital bed shortly after the operation took place.
Stause told her 3.6 million Instagram followers that the cyst had caused her major discomfort, forcing her to have it removed.
“Had minor surgery today and had a large ovarian cyst removed,” the 41-year-old wrote on her Instagram Story. “Thank you Dr. Hakakha for taking such good care of me.”
Stause went on to issue a suggestion to her fans, urging them to get a check-up if they experience “bad, unexplained cramps.” She went on to tell followers, “Don’t ignore it.”
The “All My Children” alum added that she was “feeling good” and was “being looked after by my 💜,” possibly in reference to her partner, G Flip.
Stause revealed in May 2022 on a reunion episode of the hit Netflix show that she was in a relationship with G Flip, 28, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.
The pair first laid eyes on one another at a Halloween party in LA in 2021 but reconnected at another gathering months later.
Stause – who was fresh off her breakup with her “Selling Sunset” boss and co-star, Jason Oppenheim – said she shared a kiss with G Flip at the bash, but initially didn’t think much of it.
The lovebirds later had the chance to get to know each other while filming a steamy music video for G Flip’s single “Get Me Outta Here.” Stause played G Flip’s love interest in the clip.
After sparks flew, the pair decided to go public with their romance on the “Selling Sunset” Season 5 reunion.
Days after Stause went public with the relationship, G Flip got a tattoo on their leg of the song’s title.
As well as her ill-fated romance with Oppenheim, Stause was previously married to “This Is Us” star Justin Hartley. The pair tied the knot in 2017 but called it quits just two years later.
By: Ny Post
Elon Musk’s Neuralink may have illegally transported pathogens, animal advocates say – One America News Network
By Rachael Levy
(Reuters) – An animal-welfare organization said it plans to ask a U.S. government agency on Thursday to investigate Elon Musk’s brain-implant company Neuralink over records it said show potentially illegal movement of hazardous pathogens.
The Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine (PCRM) said in a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which was shared with Reuters, that it has obtained emails and other documents that suggest unsafe packaging and movement of implants removed from the brains of monkeys. These implants may have carried infectious diseases in violation of federal law, PCRM said.
The letter said records that the group obtained showed instances of pathogens, such as antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus and herpes B virus, that may have been transported without proper containment measures.
PCRM’s letter adds to the scrutiny facing Neuralink, which is developing a brain implant it hopes will help paralyzed people walk again and cure other neurological ailments.
In December, Reuters reported that Neuralink has been under a federal investigation over potential animal welfare violations and that some of its staff made internal complaints about experiments being rushed, causing needless suffering and deaths.
The incidents that involved potential breaches of hazardous material transportation regulations happened in 2019, when Neuralink relied on University of California, Davis to help carry out its experiments on primates, according to the documents cited by PCRM.
While Neuralink’s partnership with UC Davis ended in 2020, PCRM said the company continues to employ the neurosurgeon who oversaw the experiments and other staff involved may also still be employed.
Reuters reviewed the UC Davis records cited by PCRM in its letter. It is unclear whether further records exist that provide a different or fuller account of what happened. PCRM obtained the records from UC Davis through public information requests. Neuralink messages and records not shared with UC Davis are not subject to such information requests.
Representatives for Neuralink, including Musk, and the Department of Transportation did not respond to comment requests. A UC Davis spokesperson would only say that the university abides by all biohazard and lab safety regulations.
PCRM’s letter said pathogens were carried on removed implants from monkeys after improper sanitization and packaging. The group said those pathogens could cause serious health issues in infected humans, such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia and severe brain damage, among other problems.
PCRM, which opposes the use of animals in medical research, did not identify any harm as a result of these incidents, but said Neuralink’s actions “may pose a serious and ongoing public health risk.”
“The company’s documented track record of sloppy, unsafe laboratory practices compel DOT to investigate and levy appropriate fines,” PCRM said in the letter.
PCRM said it also found instances that appear to describe UC Davis employees urging immediate biohazard training for Neuralink employees following incidents that had caused contamination concerns. On one occasion in April 2019, a UC Davis employee wrote in an email that the university’s primate center is “at risk” for “monkey contaminated hardware.”
“This is an exposure to anyone coming in contact with the contaminated explanted hardware and we are making a big deal about this because we are concerned for human safety,” wrote the employee, whose name was redacted from the records.
PCRM has raised concerns about Neuralink in the past. Last year, it wrote to federal officials about alleged animal-welfare issues during Neuralink’s research partnership with UC Davis, citing another set of records it obtained. A federal prosecutor in the Northern District of California referred PCRM’s complaint to the USDA Inspector General, which later launched the federal probe into Neuralink, Reuters previously reported.
During its partnership with UC Davis, Neuralink grew frustrated with what it regarded as the slow pace of testing on primates, current and former company employees told Reuters, and has since built out extensive in-house animal testing facilities. The company has missed deadlines set by Musk to proceed to human trials, however. His pressure on Neuralink’s staff to make progress contributed to mistakes plaguing some experiments, Reuters reported.
(Reporting by Rachael Levy in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Greg Roumeliotis and David Gregorio)
Stephen ‘Twitch’ Boss’ widow Allison files for half of his estate after his death
Allison Holker Boss, the widow of Stephen “tWitch” Boss, has asked a California court to grant her half of the late dancer’s estate after he died without a will.
Stephen, who was a regular fixture on “The Ellen Show,” died by suicide on Dec. 13. He was 40.
In court documents obtained by Page Six Wednesday, Allison filed a California Spousal Property Petition in the Superior Court of California on Feb. 6 to formally request all of her late husband’s assets to be put in her name.
As Stephen did not have a will in place at the time of his death, Allison asked the court for “confirmation of property belonging to the surviving spouse” and “determination of property passing to the surviving spouse” — a standard procedure in such cases.
In the filing, Allison Boss, who shared kids Weslie, 14, Maddox, 6, and Zaia, 3, with the late dancer, said he did not have a net worth when they married in 2013.
Allison said he “owned only personal effects of little value” before landing a permanent spot on “The Ellen Show.”
The filing also mentions the property the mother of three wants to receive as Stephen’s surviving spouse but notes she is not requesting administration over her late husband’s estate.
“This includes any interest in a trade or business name of any unincorporated business or an interest in any unincorporated business that the deceased partner was operating or managing at the time of death,” the documents state.
She said there were “no written agreements between” them prior to his death, as she requested Stephen’s half of Stephen Boss Productions and his Goldman Sachs investment account.
Per the court filing, Allison is also requesting royalties from Cast and Crew Production Services; Disney Worldwide Services, Inc.; GEP Talent Services, LLC; and SAG/AFTRA.
Stephen was found dead in a Los Angeles motel room near his home in California at the age of 40 after he took his life via a gunshot wound to the head.
Authorities also found a suicide note which alluded to previous struggles but its exact contents have not been released.
If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.
By: Ny Post
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