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Nike axes boxer Manny Pacquiao over anti-LGBT slurs

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Nearing the end of a glorious decades-long boxing career, 37-year-old Manny Pacquiao is reinventing himself as a conservative Bible-bearing politician ahead of the Philippines May elections, when he is running for a senate sea (AFP Photo/Kena Betancur)

US sports equipment giant Nike axed Manny Pacquiao after he described gay couples as “worse than animals”, slamming the Filipino boxer’s remarks as “abhorrent.”

A Nike statement said the company had severed its ties with Pacquiao, who triggered a firestorm of controversy with his comments to a Filipino broadcaster earlier this week.

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“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” a Nike statement said.

“Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community… we no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”

Nike’s move was welcomed by gay rights campaigners in the Philippines Thursday.

“Philippine LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender)and allied groups plus Nike’s enlightened stand has struck down the fundamentalist posturing of a bigot who wants to be a senator of the land,” said Danton Remoto, head of Ang Ladlad (the Unfurled), a gay rights political party.

Devout Christian Pacquiao, 37, who is running for a seat in his country’s Senate, had issued an apology soon after the controversy erupted.

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“I’m sorry for comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt,” Pacquiao said in a video post on Instagram, his arms crossed.

Pacquiao said he was not condemning homosexuals but was standing by his conservative Christian faith.

“I love you all with the love of the Lord. I am praying for you.”

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Pacquiao told television station TV5 earlier this week: “It’s common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female.”

“If men mate with men and women mate with women, they are worse than animals.”

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Pacquiao’s comments were greeted with revulsion in the United States, where same-sex marriage is enshrined in law following a historic Supreme Court ruling.

Jason Collins, the first openly gay athlete in the NBA, dismissed Pacquiao as “bigoted.”

“I lost all respect for you,” Collins wrote on Twitter (Swiss: TWTR.SW – news) . “Bigoted people like you (& yes you are one) should never hold an office in politics.”

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Pacquiao’s long-time rival Floyd Mayweather — who outclassed the Filipino in their money-spinning mega-fight last year — also took aim at the remarks.

“We should let people live their lives the way they want to live their lives. To each his own,” Mayweather was quoted by TMZ Sports as saying.

While homosexuality is not criminalized in the Philippines, gay marriage is outlawed due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church and 80 percent of the country’s 100 million people subscribe to the faith.

But Pacquiao’s remarks angered some of his compatriots.

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Singer Aiza Seguerra, who recently married her actress-girlfriend in the US, called on Filipino voters to boycott Pacquiao, who is preparing for his last boxing fight with Timothy Bradley in April (LSE: 0N69.L – news) , calling him an “ignorant, bigoted hypocrite”.

“You just showed the whole country why we shouldn’t vote for you,” Seguerra said in a post on Instagram.

Filipino sports analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz told AFP there was a genuine risk Pacquiao would lose other international endorsement deals following Nike’s action.

“It will hit him in the pocket for sure,” Nathanielsz said.

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The Nike endorsement, whose terms were not disclosed, was Pacquiao’s most prominent sponsorship deal.

Forbes.com magazine put his earnings for 2015 at $160 million including $12 million from endorsements (Other OTC: UBGXF – news) .


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2020 Election

The future of Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat will likely hinge on control of the Senate

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Donald Trump may push Senate Republicans to try to jam a Supreme Court nominee through before the election, but I think it's more likely that he'll opt to run on the vacancy given that it's an issue that could bring Republicans who don't like him back into the fold. It would be better for him than running against the Democratic backlash that would follow a hasty confirmation before the election. And Senate Majority Mitch McConnell would also be hard-pressed to usher through a confirmation in that brief period, and he has vulnerable members who need to be home campaigning.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (I-AK) have said that they will not vote for a nominee before next year's inauguration. Mitt Romney (R-UT) was reportedly against moving a nominee this year as well, although his press secretary denied the accuracy of the story. If he's a no, then one more vote kills a confirmation, which would be a devastating blow to Trump just before an election.

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Bill Barr goes full-on right-wing nutjob

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Are you kidding me? Sedition? From 1798?

Just in case someone is not persuaded that this Trump Administration is falling off its rocker, the advice from Atty. Gen. William P. Barr to federal prosecutors to use a two-century-old law to stop people – no, specifically “violent” leftist protests outside federal courthouses – from seeking to overthrow the government should make us stop and scratch our collective heads.

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Experts: Trump and McConnell have to jump through 4 hoops to seat a Supreme Court justice in just 6 weeks

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United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, thrusting the acrimonious struggle for control of the Supreme Court into public view.

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have already vowed to nominate and confirm a replacement for the 87-year-old justice and women’s rights icon.

This contradicts the justification the Republican-controlled Senate used when they refused to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s pick for the Court after the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

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