Israeli-American coach David Blatt reportedly on potential list for Lakers post
David Blatt, the Israeli American who was fired this season as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, reportedly is under consideration for the same post with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Blatt was listed this week in an ESPN report, citing unnamed league sources, as one of 10 potential candidates on the NBA team’s “long list” to replace Byron Scott, who the Lakers announced Sunday will not be returning next season. Scott, a former Lakers’ player, coached the squad to its two worst seasons ever.
Blatt has been rumored as in the running for head coach of the New York Knicks, though reports circulating this week say his candidacy for the position is a smokescreen to hide the team’s intention to hire interim coach Kurt Rambis. Blatt played basketball at Princeton University with the Knicks’ general manager, Steve Mills, in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
At the time of his firing in January, Blatt said he wanted to remain in the NBA, as opposed to returning to coaching in Israel and the European leagues, where he led Maccabi Tel Aviv to five national titles and the 2014 Euroleague championship. He also guided the Russian national team to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
At the time of his dismissal, the Cavaliers had the best record in the Eastern Conference. Some claimed the team’s superstar, LeBron James, undermined the coach. Blatt had led the Cavs to the 2015 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
White House prepared to make the largest ever military pledge to Israel
The White House said it is prepared to commit to the “largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history” in its defense assistance talks with Israel.
A White House official made the statement in response to a letter sent Monday by 83 U.S. senators to President Barack Obama urging him to substantially increase defense assistance to Israel.
“We have been holding intensive discussions with Israel aimed at concluding a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance to follow the current MOU worth $30 billion, which will conclude at the end of FY 2018,” the official said.
“We are prepared to sign an MOU with Israel that would constitute the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history,” the official said. “And we are ready to do this even though we are operating in a particularly challenging budget environment that has necessitated cuts on federal spending across a wide array of programs.”
The official said that discussions are continuing and “we remain hopeful” the sides can reach agreement.
It’s not clear what is obstructing the conclusion of talks over the memorandum. Reports have said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government wants as much as $5 billion per year over a 10-year period, while the Obama administration reportedly is prepared to reach close to that amount if it includes missile defense cooperation, which is now considered separately and amounts to nearly $500 million.
Netanyahu has walked back earlier comments saying he was willing to wait until a change in administration due to take place in January. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an author of the Senate letter, had advised the Israeli leader recently to conclude a deal quickly.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said last week that complications over how to incorporate the missile defense cooperation might be causing hitches.
“My assessment is it’s that part, which has never been negotiated in an MOU,” he told reporters.
Mexico’s president invokes Jews in stop Trump bid
President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico called on Mexicans in the United States to follow the Jewish community’s example and unite to defend their interests in an urgent effort to defeat Donald Trump.
The call was announced by the newly appointed Mexican ambassador to the United States, Carlos Manuel Sada, during an interview last week with the Noticanarias news portal, and made headlines in the Latin American Jewish press.
Unity among the 35 million Mexicans and their descendants in the United States — including 6 million residents, as many undocumented workers and another 23 million U.S.-born descendants — is urgent, Sada added, due to the rise of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Trump’s latest speech after his victory in New York mentioned Mexico again, which makes us vulnerable, certainly because we haven’t had a systematic strategy, which is part of a new strategy we are launching,” Sada said. “We’ll find models for promotion, dissemination and communication.”
All 58 Mexican consulates in the U.S. will join the effort in a special public relations campaign aimed at strengthening Mexico’s image and responding to distorted, biased attacks during the electoral period in America, he added.
Last month, Pena Nieto compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, and said it has hurt U.S.-Mexico relations.
Trump has sparked outrage in Mexico with his campaign pledge to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, and to make Mexico pay for the construction. He also accused Mexico of sending rapists and drug runners across the border, and vowed to increase fees on some Mexican visas and all border crossing cards to help make Mexico pay for the proposed wall.
“There have been episodes in human history, unfortunately, where these expressions of this strident rhetoric have only led to very ominous situations in the history of humanity,” Pena Nieto said last month. “That’s how Mussolini got in, that’s how Hitler got in; they took advantage of a situation, a problem perhaps, which humanity was going through at the time, after an economic crisis.”