White House confirms diplomatic boycott of 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing

The move is in response to China’s human rights abuses. American athletes will still be allowed to compete in the Games.

The Biden administration says the diplomatic boycott is a response to China’s “genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.” Above, a Games-themed sculpture is featured at Beijing Winter Olympic Park.

Psaki said the US doesn’t intend to stage a full boycott, which would prevent American athletes from attending. The last time the US staged a full boycott was during the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow during the Cold War.

On Jan. 19, the US State Department under the Trump administration declared that the Chinese government is committing genocide against Uighur people and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. This is just the latest action the US has taken against the Chinese government, intensifying an already strained relationship due to years of tensions over human rights abuses and trade.

Monday’s announcement comes two months before the Games are set to begin. “We feel this sends a clear message,” Psaki said during the press briefing.

In response to the boycott, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday said, “I want to stress that the Winter Olympic Games is not a stage for political posturing and manipulation. This wishful thinking and pure grandstanding is aimed at political manipulation. It is a grave travesty of the spirit of the Olympic Charter, a blatant political provocation and a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people.”

Mint Mobile’s ‘Bobby Bonilla Day’ promotion offers 25 years of service for $2,500

Who knew Ryan Reynolds and his wireless company were such big baseball fans?

Bobby Bonilla playing for the New York Mets in 1994.

You will need to pay $2,500 upfront to take advantage of the promotion. In the fine print, the carrier notes that it “reserves the right to buy back The Bobby Bonilla Plan under certain conditions,” adding that it is “mostly just impressed that you’re interested, honestly.”

Aron North, Mint’s chief marketing officer, says that you can upgrade higher data buckets, with the jump to unlimited running an extra $180 per year at Mint’s current rates. Mint sells its service in prorated three-, six- or 12-month plans. A caveat: You will need to make the change every year as at the end of 12 months the plan will revert back to the 4GB of data listed in the contract.

North notes the absurdity of that quirk and that his company is actually offering a 25-year plan. “We normally don’t have a 25-year plan so people normally pay every year, and then they’re given the opportunity to choose what level they want,” he says. “So it sort of puts a smile on my face now that I’m saying it out loud.”

While he says the company “didn’t really expect to sell any” of these plans, people are taking advantage of the offer. As of 11:15 a.m. PT, the company says that 23 people have signed up for the promotion.

North says the company is prepared to honor its end of the contract and provide service for 25 years. The carrier offers a seven-day return policy and recommends that those who do this plan contact its customer support about options if they decide later on that they don’t want to hang around for the remainder of the term.

Read more: Cheap phone plans compared: 8 affordable alternatives to Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T

Bonilla, who retired in 2001, has received a payment of $1,193,248.20 every year since July 1, 2011, and is set to continue to receive payments every July 1 until 2035. The unusual situation originated in 2000 when the Mets negotiated a buy-out with the one-time star for the $5.9 million he was still owed. Instead of paying a lump sum, the team agreed to make the annual payments for 25 years starting in 2011, with a negotiated 8% interest rate.

As noted by ESPN, the Mets ownership at the time had money invested with the fraudulent financier Bernie Madoff that “promised double-digit returns, and the Mets were poised to make a significant profit if the Madoff account delivered.”

That… didn’t happen, and in recent years Mets and baseball fans have turned July 1 into an internet holiday to mock the overly generous contract.

The virality of the day seems to have appealed to Mint Mobile and the wireless carrier’s owner, the actor and internet darling Ryan Reynolds. The company has even recruited Bonilla to star in an ad, with Reynolds taking to Twitter Thursday morning to note that the company has “actually sold 9 Bobby Bonilla Plans already!”

The deal, which can be found on Mint’s website, will be available until 11:59 p.m. PT Thursday (2:59 a.m. ET Friday).

Correction, 10 a.m. PT: Mint has clarified that customers taking advantage of the deal will have to pay $2,500 upfront, not $100 per year as we were previously told.

UFC 269 Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier: Start time, how to watch or stream online

UFC 268 is an absolute gem of a car, with two title fights.

Many consider Poirier the uncrowned champ.

But UFC 269 runs deep. Rising star Sean O’Malley features, Cody Garbrandt makes his flyweight debut and we have a host of compelling match ups all the through to the early prelims. Make no mistake, this Saturday is MMA Christmas.

Here’s everything you need to know.

The UFC 269 main card starts at 10 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. PDT) on Nov. 6. Here are all the details from multiple time zones.

The UFC now has a partnership with ESPN. That’s great news for the UFC and the expansion of the sport of MMA, but bad news for consumer choice. Especially, if you’re one of the UFC fans who want to watch UFC in the US.

In the US, if you want to know how to watch UFC 269, you’ll only find the fight night on PPV through ESPN Plus. The cost structure is a bit confusing, but here are the options to watch UFC on ESPN, according to ESPN’s site:

You can do all of the above at the link below.

MMA fans in the UK can watch UFC 269 exclusively through BT Sport. There are more options if you live in Australia. You can watch UFC 269 through Main Event on Foxtel. You can also watch on the UFC website or using its app. You can even order using your PlayStation or using the UFC app on your Xbox.

Need more international viewing options? Try a VPN to change your IP address to access those US, UK or Australian options listed above. See the best VPNs currently recommended by CNET editors.

As always, these cards are subject to change. We’ll keep this as up-to-date as possible.

NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Stream Canadiens vs. Lightning Game 5 live tonight

If they win, the Lightning will become the NHL Champions for a second straight year. The game streams on NBC and Peacock, no cable required.

Brett Kulak and the Montreal Canadiens (right) hope to hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 tonight.

Read more: NBA Finals 2021: How to watch, stream Bucks vs. Suns without cable

The Lightning has the home-ice advantage by virtue of finishing the regular season with a better record than the Canadiens. The series opened in Tampa Bay for the first two games, Games 3 and 4 took place in Montreal and afterward home ice alternates every game. Here’s the full remaining schedule:

*If necessary.

You don’t need cable or satellite TV to watch the action on the ice. The most affordable streaming option is NBC’s Peacock service, which will carry the entire series live. Peacock’s basic tier is free, but to watch the Stanley Cup Finals you’ll need to subscribe to the Premium version starting at $5 per month.

The remainder of the series will also be carried on NBC, which is available on most major live TV streaming services. The catch is that not every service carries every local network, so check each one using the links below to make sure it carries NBC in your area.

If you live in an area with good reception, you can watch the games on NBC for free on over-the-air broadcast channels just by attaching an affordable (under $30) indoor antenna to nearly any TV.

Peacock offers three tiers: a limited free plan and two Premium plans. The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium plan costs $10 a month. You need one of the Premium plans to watch the Stanley Cup Finals games live and full-game replays, though highlights are available on the free tier. Read our Peacock review.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue package includes NBC, but NBC is available in only a handful of areas.

Read our Sling TV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

AT&T TV’s basic $70-a-month package includes NBC. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

CDC eases travel restriction on Japan and other countries ahead of the Olympics

The agency says people should be fully vaccinated before traveling.

The CDC’s Level 4 risk assessment advises against all travel to a country and recommends being vaccinated if you must go there. Level 3 is more forgiving. The risk is still high, but the CDC doesn’t strictly recommend against it for vaccinated people.

The State Department has updated its travel recommendations to match.

Fans take a swing at Cleveland Indians changing name to Cleveland Guardians

“Yup, we named our team after bridge statues,” said one Twitter user.

One of the Guardians of Traffic sculptures on the Hope Memorial Bridge near Progressive Field, where Cleveland’s baseball team plays.

There was some positive social media reaction to the new name, though some people had fun with it, and others didn’t like the choice.

“Yup, we named our team after bridge statues,” said one Twitter user.

The winged baseball logo earned some attention.

Other people also noted that “Guardians” and “Indians” end in the same five letters, and joked that the team’s owners, the Dolan family, could save some money as a result.

Stay tuned for more social media name-change commentary someday soon. The Washington Football Team, formerly the Redskins, has yet to announce its new name.

UFC 265 Derrick Lewis vs. Cyril Gane: When it starts and how to watch

UFC 265 features a title bout between two strikers with markedly different skillsets.

Derrick Lewis and his post-fight interviews are the stuff of legend.

That said, this is still a compelling fight. Derrick Lewis is one of the UFC’s most recognisable stars and Cyril Gane is maybe the most technical striker in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Regardless of the reasons why the UFC set this fight up, it’s definitely going to be worth watching.

The remainder of the card features a few gems. A title fight between Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena was unfortunately cancelled after Nunes tested positive for COVID-19, but Jose Aldo and Vicente Luque are both fighting on the undercard. Both always deliver high octane fights.

The UFC 265 main card starts at 10 p.m EDT (7 p.m. PDT) but here are all the details from multiple timezones.

The UFC now has a partnership with ESPN. That’s great news for the UFC and the expansion of the sport of MMA, but bad news for consumer choice. Especially if you’re one of the UFC fans who want to watch UFC in the US.

In the US, if you want to know how to watch UFC 265, you’ll only find the fight night on PPV through ESPN Plus. The cost structure is a bit confusing, but here are the options to watch UFC on ESPN, according to ESPN’s site:

You can do all of the above at the link below.

MMA fans in the UK can watch UFC 264 exclusively through BT Sport. There are more options if you live in Australia. You can watch UFC 264 through Main Event on Foxtel. You can also watch on the UFC website or using its app. You can even order using your PlayStation or using the UFC app on your Xbox.

Need more international viewing options? Try a VPN to change your IP address to access those US, UK or Australian options listed above. See the best VPNs currently recommended by CNET editors.

As always, this fight card is subject to change. We’ll try and keep this as up-to-date as possible.

Bobby Green vs. Rafael Fiziev

Vince Morales vs. Drako Rodriguez

Alonzo Menifield vs. Ed Herman

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Penne

Manel Kape vs. Ode Osbourne

Miles Johns vs. Anderson Dos Santos

Victoria Leonardo vs. Melissa Gato

Johnny Munoz vs. Jamey Simmons

See hospitalized kids ‘run the bases’ at Dodger Stadium, via robots

Take me out to the ball game, bots.

Richie visits the baseball field from the hospital.

“Turn it that way, there we go,” Dodgers infielder Gavin Lux coached a patient, who was maneuvering the robot around the field from afar, using buttons that direct the bot backward and forward. “Hey, you did a great job running the bases,” Lux said, getting up close to the display atop the robot’s base, which let him interact with the young baseball fan via video chat. Young fans get to run the bases after some Dodgers home games, and this gave the ill children a chance to participate.

The foldable Ohmni Telepresence Robots, from OhmniLabs, stand just under 5 (1.5 meters) feet tall and weigh 20 pounds (9 kilograms). For this occasion, they wore blue and white Dodgers jerseys. Some of the patients also donned Dodgers garb.

“Experiences like this are incredibly powerful for patients who cannot leave their hospital rooms or homes because of their health conditions,” Kelli Carroll, director of the Child Life Program at UCLA Health, said in a statement.

Telepresence robots aren’t new. Among their many uses, they’ve allowed sick kids to attend school and beamed students who had to be out of town at prom time to the big event. But the coronavirus pandemic has brought the robots’ many potential uses into sharper relief.

“Hopefully, you get better and you can come out here, and we can play some catch,” a player told a patient named Crew who plays right center field and catcher. Here’s wishing Crew, and all others, a lifetime of home runs.

Social networks struggle to shut down racist abuse after England’s Euro Cup final loss

Social media users have been frustrated at having to perform moderation duties to keep racist abuse in check.

Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by head coach Gareth Southgate.

The vitriol presented a direct challenge to the social networks — an event-specific spike in hate speech that required them to refocus their moderation efforts to contain the damage. It marks just the latest incident for the social networks, which need to be on guard during highly charged political or cultural events. While these companies have a regular process that includes deploying machine-automated tools and human moderators to remove the content, this latest incident is just another source of frustration for those who believe the social networks aren’t quick enough to respond.

To plug the gap, companies rely on users to report content that violates guidelines. Following Sunday’s match, many users were sharing tips and guides about how to best report content, both to platforms and to the police. It was disheartening for those same users to be told that a company’s moderation technology hadn’t found anything wrong with the racist abuse they’d highlighted.

It also left many users wondering why, when Facebook, for example, is a billion-dollar company, it was unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the easily anticipated influx of racist content — instead leaving it to unpaid good Samaritan users to report.

For social media companies, moderation can fall into a gray area between protecting free speech and protecting users from hate speech. In these cases, they must judge whether user content violates their own platform policies. But this wasn’t one of those gray areas.

Racist abuse is classified as a hate crime in the UK, and London’s Met Police said in a statement that it will be investigating incidents that occurred online following the match. In a follow-up email, a spokesman for the Met said that the instances of abuse were being triaged by the Home Office and then disseminated to local police forces to deal with.

Twitter “swiftly” removed over 1,000 tweets through a combination of machine-based automation and human review, a spokesman said in a statement. In addition, it permanently suspended “a number” of accounts, “the vast majority” of which it proactively detected itself. “The abhorrent racist abuse directed at England players last night has absolutely no place on Twitter,” said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, there was frustration among Instagram users who were identifying and reporting, among other abusive content, strings of monkey emojis (a common racist trope) being posted on the accounts of Black players.

According to Instagram’s policies, using emojis to attack people based on protected characteristics, including race, is against the company’s hate speech policies. Human moderators working for the company take context into account when reviewing use of emojis.

But in many of the cases reported by Instagram users in which the platform failed to remove monkey emojis, it appears that the reviews weren’t conducted by human reviewers. Instead, their reports were dealt with by the company’s automated software, which told them “our technology has found that this comment probably doesn’t go against our community guidelines.”

A spokeswoman for Instagram said in a statement that “no one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram.”

“We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules,” she added. “In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs. No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.”

The social media companies shouldn’t have been surprised by the reaction.

Football professionals have been feeling the strain of the racist abuse they suffer online — and not just following this one England game. In April, England’s Football Association organized a social media boycott “in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.”

English football’s racism problem is not new. In 1993, the problem forced the Football Association, Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association to launch Kick It Out, a program to fight racism, which became a fully fledged organization in 1997. Under Southgate’s leadership, the current iteration of the England squad has embraced anti-racism more vocally than ever, taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before matches. Still, racism in the sport prevails — online and off.

On Monday, the Football Association strongly condemned the online abuse following Sunday’s match, saying it’s “appalled” at the racism aimed at players. “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team,” it said. “We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”

Social media users, politicians and rights organizations are demanding internet-specific tools to tackle online abuse — as well as for perpetrators of racist abuse to be prosecuted as they would be offline. As part of its “No Yellow Cards” campaign, the Center for Countering Digital Hate is calling for platforms to ban users who spout racist abuse for life.

In the UK, the government has been trying to introduce regulation that would force tech companies to take firmer action against harmful content, including racist abuse, in the form of the Online Safety Bill. But it has also been criticized for moving too slowly to get the legislation in place.

Tony Burnett, the CEO of the Kick It Out campaign (which Facebook and Twitter both publicly support), said in a statement Monday that both the social media companies and the government need to step up to shut down racist abuse online. His words were echoed by Julian Knight, member of Parliament and chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“The government needs to get on with legislating the tech giants,” Knight said in a statement. “Enough of the foot dragging, all those who suffer at the hands of racists, not just England players, deserve better protections now.”

As pressure mounted for them to take action, social networks have also been stepping up their own moderation efforts and building new tools — with varying degrees of success. The companies track and measure their own progress. Facebook employs its independent oversight board to assess its performance.

But critics of the social networks also point out that the way their business models are set up gives them very little incentive to discourage racism. Any and all engagement will increase ad revenue, they argue, even if that engagement is people liking and commenting on racist posts.

“Facebook made content moderation tough by making and ignoring their murky rules, and by amplifying harassment and hate to fuel its stock price,” former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao said on Twitter on Monday. “Negative PR is forcing them to address racism that has been on its platform from the start. I hope they really fix it.”

The Staples Center will be renamed Crypto.com Arena

Crypto continues to elbow its way into major-league sponsorships.

With just 16% of the US population using or investing in cryptocurrency, the name change may come as a shock to many sports fans — and players. When Clippers point guard Reggie Jackson was told of the change, he responded, “What?”

But this name change is only the most recent example of a cryptocurrency exchange launching the type of high-profile promotional effort previously undertaken by traditional financial services and Fortune 500 corporations. The Miami Heat now play in FTX Arena, named for another crypto exchange (that is also the official cryptocurrency exchange of Major League Baseball). And FTX has purchased ad time during the upcoming Super Bowl.

The new logo for the Crypto.com Arena will debut on Christmas Day this year, when the Lakers face off against the Brooklyn Nets. The arena’s signage is scheduled to be completely replaced with the new name by June 2022.