Bria Hartley, Mistie Bass, Dearrica Hamby & Taylor Hill have had babies in the past year. So according to the numbers, I identify as gay now
The WNBA has historically been the most forward-thinking sports league in America when it comes to gay rights. The league has actively courted LGBTQ fans for several years (, if anything), has had several star players come out of the closet with little controversy, and generally been ahead of the NBA, its relatively socially progressive parent league, on every related issue. While the WNBA hasn’t always made the LGBTQ community proud with how it chooses to promote and accommodate its gay players, it’s fair to say that they’ve made meaningful strides. There’s a level of acceptance on the court, in locker rooms, and in the stands that virtually every other pro league in the United States cannot match.
One prominent retired WNBA player says that culture consequently makes it difficult for straight players to thrive. Candice Wiggins, the No. 3 pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft and a champion in 2011 with the Minnesota Lynx, announced her retirement last March. In a new interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Wiggins says that “98 percent” of the WNBA is gay and that she would have played two more years if not for the “toxic” environment that affected her as a straight woman:
“I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state,” Wiggins said. “It was a depressing state in the WNBA. It’s not watched. Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. … My spirit was being broken.”
Wiggins, a four-time All-American at Stanford, asserts she was targeted for harassment from the time she was drafted by Minnesota because she is heterosexual and a nationally popular figure, of whom many other players were jealous.
“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply. […]
“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’” […]
“It comes to a point where you get compared so much to the men, you come to mirror the men,’ she said. “So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect. I was the opposite. I was proud to a be a woman, and it didn’t fit well in that culture.”
“Our union is only as strong as our loyalty to and support for one another. What is key to that loyalty and support is our commitment to diversity and inclusion. As a union, we should and we will continue to celebrate the diversity that makes us special and lead by example. We must respect the rights of those we don’t agree with when they speak their mind. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the comments made recently by a former player or whether one has seen or experienced anything like what she has described, anything that impacts an inclusive culture should be taken seriously.”
Megdal also reached out to WNBA president Lisa Borders, who declined to comment.
Several current players have strongly disagreed with Wiggins:
How i feel reading the recent article about heterosexuals being bullied in the WNBA .. ???????? pic.twitter.com/aGIgDMBNNR
It’s tough to assess all of Wiggins’s statements, because she is ultimately describing a personal experience that have not yet been refuted. It’s entirely possible that she was bullied by her teammates and had such a bad experience in the WNBA that retirement was her best option. Plus, the interview features several less controversial reasons for her decision to step away from the game, including the toll of having to play a physically demanding sport year-round due to the salaries in women’s basketball.
In fact, Wiggins specifically cited those financial and physical stresses — she’s had eight surgeries — when she retired via a The Players’ Tribune article. That piece did not feature any explicit reference to the pressure of being straight in a very gay league.
It’s difficult to read this piece, then, without wondering exactly where Wiggins is coming from. For one thing, her “98 percent” estimate seems laughably extreme. Each of the WNBA’s 12 teams has 12 players, which means it would take just three straight women to exceed her two-percent threshold. Using hyperbole to make a point is not inherently wrong, but doing it to cast a historically marginalized group (gay women, many of whom are also black) as a bullying force raises concerns. For that matter, Wiggins’s comment that she was “proud to be a woman” makes it unclear if she alienated her peers while they were looking down upon her.
There is clearly more to this story than what has been revealed. In such circumstances, the best approach is that of San Antonio Stars forward Monique Currie, who tries understand Wiggins even as she disagrees with much of what she has to say:
I can say in my eleven seasons in the WNBA I’ve never witnessed the kind of bullying Wiggins describes in her interview. This does not mean it did not happen but I’m proud to be apart of a league that supports inclusion and celebrates all players regardless of their race, religion or sexuality. We are a family made up of players that love and respect the game of basketball. We are dedicated to growing the game and our league through integrity, honesty and hardwork. I feel awful that Candice had these experiences while playing in the WNBA but I encourage her to not only speak out about the negative aspects of her career but also shed light on how we can prevent this from ever happening again. The WNBA gave you a platform to emerge as an advocate for HIV/AIDS in which you have a very personal connection. The WNBA supported you, worked with you, gave you a voice. Why now? Why bring down the league you say you want to be successful? Why not uplift, advocate, and encourage young women to be themselves as you were during your playing days. Let young girls know that it’s ok to be “different”, teach them how to overcome, how to survive and to come out on top. Your voice will be much more appreciated and received that way.
In a world where we are already so divided I think it is important for people to tell their stories and to share their experiences. It’s equally important for people to listen and to care. I commend Candice Wiggins for telling her story and I look forward to seeing how she uses her experiences to to ensure this never ever happens to anyone again.
If nothing else, this sensational story is an opportunity to learn more. Here’s hoping it doesn’t end with a few attention-grabbing headlines.
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Bill Gates Warns The World To Prep For Bio-Terrorism “A Respiratory Spread Pathogen Would Kill More Than 30 Million People In Less Than A Year”
President Barack Obama has vowed that the U.S. will respond to Russian hacking undertaken during the U.S. presidential campaign. Yet the public may never hear about it.
During his presidency, Obama favored a policy of deterrence when it came to responding to cyber attacks, in what U.S. officials call “naming and shaming.” He’s indicted Iranian and Chinese hackers and signed an executive order allowing the Treasury Department to impose financial sanctions on hackers. He could take similar steps against Russia, which has repeatedly denied accusations of hacking.
Another possible route, though, is an offensive cyber operation. Obama said Dec. 16 that he would respond in a “thoughtful, methodical way,” and some of it “we do publicly. Some of it, we will do in a way that they know but not everybody will.” Several former military and intelligence officials explained how an offensive response might play out.
Intelligence Agencies vs Pentagon Response
One key step would be deciding which part of the vast U.S. national security apparatus the administration taps for the job. The administration could turn to the Pentagon or the intelligence community to draft “proportional” responses to a breach, said Ted Johnson, a retired U.S. Navy commander and cyber fellow at the New America Foundation. That would ensure the U.S. plays by the norms of international conflict and reduces the risk of escalation.
“Your response to someone’s action against you should be proportional. So, if you get punched in the mouth you don’t blow up their home, because that’s not proportional,” Johnson said.
In making that decision, the president could choose a covert action by intelligence agencies, under a law called Title 50, or a military response, under the law known as Title 10.
Spy Agency Options
If a covert action by the Central Intelligence Agency or National Security Agency is sought, it would come after gathering as much data as possible on the specific “entities and individuals” involved in the U.S. attack, according to Terry Roberts, founder and president of cybersecurity firm WhiteHawk Inc. and former deputy director of U.S. Naval Intelligence.
That could involve wiping out hard drives connected to Russia’s intelligence community, exposing Russian hacking tools on the web or revealing where the hackers operate in the so-called dark web. Or if the specific hackers involved use bitcoin currency, the U.S. could delete their online financial cache, Roberts said. This could be done without attribution, so it’s not obvious the U.S. was behind the action.
“If I want to just quietly take out their capability and send a very sneaky message and not an overt message, I would probably do a covert action,” said Bob Stasio, a fellow at the Truman National Security Project and former chief of operations at the National Security Agency’s Cyber Operations Center.
Another possibility, according to another former NSA official, includes “deny, disrupt, degrade” attacks, where agency hackers could take down websites or networks, or break into non-government institutions and leak information. That could also include hacking into companies that have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin or leaders supporting him, or leaking information about Russia’s role in another country, deflecting the focus from the U.S.
If the president chooses an offensive military option, that would fall to U.S. Cyber Command, a relatively new agency headed by Admiral Michael Rogers, who also leads the NSA. This path requires the object of the action be a military target. Possible options here could include a cyber-strike against the systems of the FSB or GRU, Russian intelligence agencies, or launching a ransomware attack against them or manipulating their data.
Using the military could send a strong message and eventually the operation could be made public. Rogers, for instance, has said he expects to declassify some of the offensive tactics being used against Islamic State. But it also raises the idea of overt warfare.
If the U.S. response is a military action, there could be questions around who oversees the operation. “Right now, the Russian geography falls within the European Command area of responsibility,” so the defense secretary or the president will have to determine who heads it up, Johnson, the former Navy commander said. “That is not a question that will be easily resolved.”
Is there precedent for making an offensive cyber attack public?
“The only publicly declared offensive cyber operation that the United States is conducting is against” Islamic State, though few details of that are known, according to Michael Sulmeyer, director of the Cyber Security Project at Harvard’s Belfer Center and a former senior cyber policy adviser at the Defense Department. “I suspect that’s why the administration, if they’re going to choose to go with an offensive cyber response, they’re probably going to be fairly quiet about it,” Sulmeyer said.
Case in point: North Korea. The isolated regime’s internet was disrupted for about 10 hours on Dec. 21 and 22, 2014, days after the Obama administration accused Kim Jong Un’s government of hacking Sony’s computer systems. Although the U.S. didn’t claim responsibility, the administration had vowed to retaliate against North Korea.
The Argument For Going Public
While policymakers face a challenge deciding whether to make a response public, not disclosing the attack raises the specter that the U.S. isn’t actually responding, according to Susan Hennessey, a national security fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former NSA lawyer.
“The idea of telling Russia, ‘we know it’s you and we might do something about it,’ the idea that that is sufficient in this case, I just don’t think that’s the case,” Hennessey said. “I think the White House has indicated that they recognize this is an area in which at least a partially visible and really quite consequential response is required.”
Former officials and analysts say the process for cyber offensive operations isn’t streamlined and can get bogged down by policy discussions. That could be hindering the U.S. from carrying out such campaigns.
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For instance, if Cyber Command presents an option to the president, the National Security Council and a joint task force made up of the intelligence community, including the State Department, “have to determine the collateral effects,” according to Stasio. They consider the impact of the action, such as relations with the other country and civilian casualties. It’s a similar approval process as for a tactical strike.
“There’s generally not a whole lot of agreement in these meetings,” Stasio said.
Despite all this, Obama could have already ordered an offensive operation. Or he may choose to pursue a non-cyber response, or decide to do nothing beyond the public statements he’s made. It all depends on what message the U.S. wants to send. Regardless, U.S. allies and adversaries will closely watch the response.
“We’re in new territory in the digital age, we’re seeing things that we haven’t dealt with before,” Roberts, the former naval intelligence officer said. “Our policies and statutes are woefully behind in keeping up with these new dynamics.”
Earlier in 2016, Russia delivered several divisions of S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran and now Tehran is deploying those same systems to the Fordo nuclear facility according to state television.
“Protecting nuclear facilities is paramount in all circumstances,” said General Farzad Esmaili, commander of Iran’s air defenses. “Today, Iran’s sky is one of the most secure in the region.”
He added that “continued opposition and hype on the S-300 or the Fordo site are examples of the viciousness of the enemy.”
The Fordo site, hidden into a mountain near the city of Qom, is one of Iran’s numerous nuclear enrichment plants.
Within 24 hours after transferring the missiles, Iran’s military detected a U.S. drone entering Iranian airspace on Monday and issued a warning for it to leave. The drone immediately retreated from its course according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
“Iran’s army air defense detected and warned an American drone in the eastern airspace of the country. It was coming from Afghanistan. The drone left the area,” the report says.
Iran continues to stand strong in its defense of the Persian Gulf, declaring last Thursday that “if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it’s an invasion, we confront.” Subsequently, the Iranian navy successfully intercepted a U.S. destroyer, followed by a verbal warning from U.S. officials.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle is accepting a plea deal on possession-of-child-pornography charges, according to WSVN.
The station cites sources saying Fogle will accept the plea deal Wednesday, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will discuss the deal and the charges against Fogle on Wednesday afternoon.
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Fogle’s attorney, Ron Elberger, did not comment, according to the report.
Jared’s home in Zionsville, Ind., was raided in July, in connection with a child porn investigation.
The 37-year-old Fogle became a Subway pitchman more than 15 years ago after shedding more than 200 pounds as a college student, in part by eating the chain’s sandwiches.
Subway suspended its relationship with Fogle after the raid.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.