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UCLA basketball players arrested in China

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY

Three UCLA men’s basketball players were arrested in China for shoplifting on Tuesday, media said, a day before U.S. President Donald Trump arrived on his first official visit.

The players arrested were freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, according to USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and ESPN, all of which cited unnamed sources familiar with the incident. Ball is the younger brother of National Basketball Association rookie Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Reached by telephone at a hotel in the eastern city of Hangzhou on Wednesday, Ball declined to comment. ESPN said the three had been picked up by police at their hotel on Tuesday and released on bail early on Wednesday. They were confined to their hotel pending legal proceedings, it said.

The University of California, Los Angeles, declined to confirm the arrests but said it was “aware of a situation involving UCLA student-athletes in Hangzhou, China”.

“The university is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter, and we have no further comment at this time,” UCLA Athletics said in a statement provided by spokeswoman Shana Wilson.

The UCLA team had arrived in China on Sunday with plans to play Georgia Tech in both teams’ regular-season opener on Saturday, according to statements from both teams.

It traveled to Hangzhou, about three hours by bus from Shanghai, to visit the campus of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd <BABA.N>, sponsor of the annual Pac-12 games in China.

The three players were questioned about stealing from a Louis Vuitton store next to the hotel where the team is staying, ESPN said. UCLA representatives, including coach Steve Alford, were at the police station while they were there, it said, citing an unidentified source.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement the conference was “disappointed by any situation that detracts from the positive student-athlete educational and cultural experience that this week is about.”

“Whether in the United States or abroad, we expect our student-athletes to uphold the highest standards. We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” he said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday the Chinese government had reported the case to the U.S. side in accordance with consular agreements.

“China is handling this case in accordance with the law and will guarantee the lawful rights in accordance with the law of those involved in this case,” she said.

In a video posted on Twitter on Wednesday by Arash Markazi, a senior writer at ESPN, LaVar Ball said his son, LiAngelo, would be fine.

“He’ll be fine. Everyone’s making it a big deal. It ain’t that big a deal,” said Ball, the outspoken CEO of athletic apparel maker Big Baller Brand.

Chinese President Xi Jinping led Trump on a private tour of the Forbidden City to kick off his visit on Wednesday.

White House officials could not be immediately reached for comment. Alibaba declined to comment, as did the Hangzhou police.

A U.S. State Department official said the department was aware of reports of three citizens arrested in China and stood ready to provide assistance but had no further comment due to privacy considerations.

Three players from Georgia Tech were questioned by the authorities in China on Tuesday at their hotel in Hangzhou but were later released by police, Georgia Tech athletics spokesman Mike Flynn said in a statement.

“During the questioning, it was determined that Georgia Tech student-athletes were not involved in the activities being investigated. They have resumed their scheduled activities,” Flynn said.

 

(Reporting by John Ruwitch in Shanghai and Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago,; Editing by Ben Klayman, Matthew Lewis and Nick Macfie)

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First Look at Epic Trailer For Elton John Biopic ‘Rocketman’

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There are moments in a rockstar’s life that define who he is. The movie “Rocketman,” about the life of Elton John, will take audiences to some of those moments in summer 2019.

The film’s star, Taron Egerton, tweeted before the trailer was dropped to say that he was looking forward to people seeing it, adding: “Words cannot describe how proud and excited I am.”

That’s because the trailer is fucking brilliant. Check it out.

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Kanye West Wants To Arrange Meeting Between Kaepernick and Trump

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WARNING: Kanye West has a new album to promote, so expect BIZARRE behavior.

Kanye West’s new album, “Yhandi,” was promised to drop during his Sept. 29 appearance on the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live.” That didn’t happen. Instead, the release date was changed to Nov. 23, a.k.a., Black Friday. In less than 48 hours, his outlandish conduct has included: controversy over wanting to abolish the 13th Amendment (which ended slavery), the filming of a music video in the grass by the parking lot outside of TMZ’s HQ, and announcing he’s trying to organize a meeting between Colin Kaepernick and President Donald Trump. More bat-shit craziness is likely to come.

Trump has been extremely critical of Kaepernick, strongly pressuring NFL owners to fire all of the “sons of bitches” who don’t stand for the national anthem.

But West wants to bring them together. During an interview Monday on “TMZ Live,” West said he’s reached out to Kaepernick to try to make that happen. Unless you’ve been trapped in human trafficking circles, you likely know Kaepernick was under intense scrutiny from Trump after kneeling during the national anthem at football games to shine a light on police brutality against black people.

He didn’t say if either side was open to the idea, but Trump has praised West for being a brilliant leader.

Meanwhile, Kim:

On a positive note, West did premiere a new song on “Saturday Night Live” that might just be his best song this decade. Check it out:

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Cardi B Turned Herself Into Police After Strip Club Fight

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Cardi B turned herself in to New York Police police at the 109th Precinct in Queens Monday morning over charges stemming from a fight at a strip club.

Sources told TMZ that Cardi B has “long-standing beef” with a bartender at the club, with whom she allegedly started the fight. The rapper was at Angels Strip Club back in Aug. 2018 to watch her husband, Offset, perform with Migos on the night of the incident, and she allegedly told her crew to attack the women with bottles and chairs after rumors swirled that one of them had slept with Offset.

The new mom was involved in another fight recently. In September, Cardi B was left with a welt on her head after she was involved in an altercation with Nicki Minaj at a New York Fashion Week party.

Joe Tacopina, the attorney representing the two female bartenders, released a statement to CNN stating: “Cardi B ordered and committed violent assaults against my clients, and is being called to justice for her crimes. Apparently, she thinks her celebrity status puts her above the law, since she has bragged to multiple people and on social media that she orchestrated these vicious attacks,” Tacopina said. “But reality is setting in, as justice does not care whether her name is Cardi B or Carly B, and she will now answer for her crimes.”
“We’re aware of no evidence that she caused anybody any harm on that night,” Jeff Kern, an attorney representing Cardi B told press outside the police precinct. “We expect that the matter is going to be resolved expeditiously.”

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