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Patchwork: Atlanta Braves cover All-Star logo on jerseys, shift hats

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Patchwork: Atlanta Braves cover All-Star logo on jerseys, shift hats

It was easy to spot the change on the jersey, with the outline of the All-Star patch hastily covered over. The Braves still have a patch on their left sleeves marking the 150th anniversary of the franchise.

The summer event had been scheduled for July 13 at Truist Park in Atlanta.

“I’m disappointed that it’s not going to being there,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said before a 4-0 loss to Philadelphia. “But I’m focused on playing baseball and what we’ve got going on this season. Other than being disappointed, that’s all I have to say on it.”

Said Atlanta pitcher Charlie Morton, in his 14th season big league season: “It’s about more than just the guys in the clubhouse. It’s about the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia, the Braves organization, people coming in from all over the country and the businesses in the area seeing a boost.”

“I’m disappointed for the Braves organization and those who are local who would have benefitted seeing the influx of business and excitement in the area. It’s a bad situation. Some of the guys who are likely to be on the team, it would have been nice to represent the team in their home park. People would have been able to see what was done in the ballpark,” he said.

“Other than that, I don’t know what to say about it. It just stinks,” he said.

A new site for the game hasn’t been announced.

MLB said the All-Star Game festivities will still feature a planned tribute to late Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, a civil rights hero. Houston manager Dusty Baker, who played with Aaron in Atlanta, and several others have suggested the event be held in Milwaukee — Aaron began his career with the Milwaukee Braves and finished with the Milwaukee Brewers.

“I think Major League Baseball made a good decision,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who added he’d like to see the game held in Milwaukee.

“Absolutely. I think it would be a thrill for the city, for sure,” he said. “It’s not a good thing for the city of Atlanta and some people who have lost some economic opportunities, but if it’s going to be somewhere else, it would be a thrill for the city to have it here.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star Game and events, along with the amateur draft, from Atlanta after discussions with individual big leaguers and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year.

“This all came together rather quickly,” said Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward, who is Black. “We had, I think, a day left in spring training. The Players Alliance, we gathered and got as many people as we could on a call. It was probably less than 50 guys on there out of the 100 or whatever. We had our conversation.

“We knew how we felt about it. We wanted to make sure, I think, that regardless of what happened, the decision was made, that we were there to do what we could in Atlanta,” he said.

Heyward, who grew up in the Atlanta area and was the Braves’ first-round draft pick in 2007, said “it was nice to see someone make a move pretty quickly and try to do it in a positive light, knowing it’s still a tough decision.”

“I think you’re not going to be able to please everybody. I know there’s a lot of people in Atlanta that love baseball and were looking forward to see an All-Star Game there. A Midsummer Classic, I think that’s special, as somebody growing up there and watching a lot of baseball,” he said. “But at the same time, I think when you talk about a message, the people are still out here pushing for equality.”

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McConnell vs. Trump: Why the GOP Is Right to Worry

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McConnell vs. Trump: Why the GOP Is Right to Worry

From the history of these spats, it makes sense that Republicans are still kneeling to an out-of-power president.

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Blinken names State Department’s chief diversity and inclusion officer

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Blinken names State Department's chief diversity and inclusion officer

“It’s perpetuated by policies, practices and people to this day,” Blinken said.

Abercrombie-Winstanley was the former ambassador to Malta during President Barack Obama’s second term, served as a senior career diplomat for more than three decades, and was the first woman to lead a foreign diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia.

“We have the talent to become a model in diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce,” she said after being introduced by Blinken. “We will ensure the Department of State is the organization that deserves the devotion, sacrifice and the dedication that so many of us have freely given.”

The department has long struggled to reflect the diversity of the United States, and the problem has gotten more pronounced in recent years by several measures. For instance, Black employees make up a smaller share of its workforce than in 2002, according to 2020 Government Accountability Office data.

State has also faced internal pressure, particularly among younger staff, to meaningfully address the issue.

Abercrombie-Winstanley has previously spoken about her experience working in the department amid colleagues who were overwhelmingly white and male.

“In many ways, it was very lonely. It was very lonely,” she said during a 2019 POLITICO podcast. “Walking down those long halls of the Department of State, you didn’t see a lot of people who looked like you. You certainly had to deal with impostor syndrome.”

Diplomats of color have also raised concern to POLITICO and others about the unwritten rules they feel the need to abide by in order to advance their careers in the State Department.

Abercrombie-Winstanley will report directly to the secretary of State, Blinken said.

President Joe Biden has promised diversity will be a key facet of his administration, though outside groups have at times had to lobby for representation in the cabinet and for other high-ranking positions throughout the federal government.

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‘Felt like a setup’: WhatsApp chat shows Gaetz ally scrambling to contain fallout

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‘Felt like a setup’: WhatsApp chat shows Gaetz ally scrambling to contain fallout

Greenberg also said he was paying the legal fees for the woman, who is now 21 years old.

The WhatsApp messages shed light on key aspects of the scandal consuming the Florida Republican congressman and close ally of President Donald Trump — and on the state of mind of the man Gaetz once called his “wingman” as he sought to manage the fallout.

Greenberg went so far as to push Gaetz to use his influence with Trump for a pardon, according to two sources familiar with the discussions, including one who heard Greenberg say it repeatedly.

Asked about the request from Greenberg, Gaetz previously declined to confirm or deny that it occurred. But the congressman said he did not ask Trump to pardon Greenberg. Gaetz couldn’t be reached this weekend to discuss the WhatsApp messages that are the subject of this story.

Gaetz’s allies now fear that Greenberg is preparing to strike a deal with prosecutors to deliver Gaetz, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing. The congressman has not been charged and so far no evidence has surfaced against him beyond anonymous allegations he had sex with a minor or paid for prostitutes. But the scandal has seriously hobbled Gaetz, who built a national reputation as one of the staunchest defenders of Trump and has relentlessly attacked the very Department of Justice that’s now investigating him.

Greenberg faces decades of prison time from a total of 33 different charges, including identity theft, a host of financial crimes and stalking a political opponent he falsely smeared as a pedophile. But the alleged sex-trafficking of the former 17-year-old is the most serious charge and carries a 10-year mandatory-minimum prison sentence.

In the Aug. 14 WhatsApp chat with a politically influential Republican mutual friend of Gaetz and Greenberg, Greenberg initially referred to the young woman as “Vintage 99” — a fine-wine reference to her birth year that she used as her online name on SeekingArrangement, a dating website that connects women with so-called sugar daddies.

“I’m having to pay for vintage 99 to retain [a] lawyer,” Greenberg wrote in the WhatsApp chat to the friend, who discussed the messages with POLITICO on condition of anonymity. “They [federal agents] contacted her and are wanting her to talk. She doesn’t want to talk to them.”

Nor does she want to talk to the press. She blocked a POLITICO reporter on social media and her iPhone after she was called and texted to discuss the case Monday. Her attorney couldn’t be reached. POLITICO is withholding her name because she is the alleged victim of a sex crime.

Greenberg’s defense attorney, Fritz Scheller, said his client is not paying anyone else’s legal bills that he’s aware of, and noted he couldn’t speak to Greenberg’s arrangements before Scheller began to represent the defendant in December.

Scheller suggested his client might cut a deal.

“I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” Scheller said after a hearing last Thursday.

It’s not illegal for a suspect to pay the legal bills of a potential witness against him, but attorneys say the arrangement could raise questions about the case against him.

“Imagine if this was a drug case and the drug lord was paying the lawyer of a prosecution witness. What would people say?” said an attorney representing an individual who spoke to prosecutors in the case, and who was not authorized to speak on the record.

“Any time you get something of value, it’s a potential problem and you’re subject to impeachment. It can make a witness less credible,” the attorney said. “At the same time, to make this case [against Gaetz] work, the evidence just needs to be piled on … They’re interviewing everyone.”

In the WhatsApp chat obtained by POLITICO, Greenberg told the friend that his attorney at the time informed him that “everyone is going to need a lawyer.” But the friend then called Greenberg’s attorney — and determined that Greenberg wasn’t telling him the truth.

“I have nothing to do with any of this and think it is incredibly uncool you are trying to lawyer me up to be a part of it, Joel,” he wrote back via WhatsApp. “Not. F—ing. Cool.”

The friend told POLITICO that Greenberg’s message “felt like a setup.”

“It’s the same playbook he used against the teacher he falsely smeared as a pedophile,” the friend said, referring to a separate charge against Greenberg. “And he’ll do the same thing to Gaetz if he can get less prison time.”

Greenberg and Gaetz shared girlfriends, according to interviews with friends and associates who know the two men, and Greenberg introduced him to young women he met on SeekingArrangement. One friend who spent time in the company of both men said he was of the impression that the two engaged with women in more of a “sugar daddy relationship” where money changed hands, though it wasn’t explicitly prostitution.

“I know Joel and Matt paid some of their bills, rent, tuition, things like that,” the friend said. “This is a thing that happens when you’re successful and you have these relationships: ‘Are we not supposed to help these women who mean something to us and that we care about?’ Is that prostitution? Maybe if you’re a Puritan.”

Since many of the transactions in question took place on Venmo, Greenberg speculated in his WhatsApp messages that those mobile payment records were the likely evidentiary link to the woman who was allegedly sex-trafficked as a minor.

“I’m trying to let everyone know who came into contact with any of these girls that the feds are going through my Venmo history and don’t want anyone to be caught off guard,” Greenberg wrote to his friend, who promptly replied that he wasn’t on Venmo, had no such history with any of these women and begged him to “absolutely positively leave my name the f— out of any of this. I’m serious about this Joel.”

“Understood,” Greenberg replied. “My only concern is I don’t know what could possibly come out of their mouths, and if any of them mentioned places where we met etc. I would think you would want to at least have a heads up if some chick says she partied at your house or something. That’s all. I’m trying to cover every possible angle I can think of. I wouldn’t want anyone to be blindsided.”

The friend insisted that he had nothing to do with what Greenberg was describing and was not involved in his schemes.

“I know you aren’t. I didn’t mean to alarm you. You’ve done nothing wrong,” Greenberg replied.

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