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Novak Djokovic arrives in Dubai after deportation from Australia



Novak Djokovic arrives in Dubai after deportation from Australia

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Novak Djokovic arrived early Monday in Dubai after his deportation from Australia over its required COVID-19 vaccination ended the No. 1-ranked men’s tennis player’s hopes of defending his Australian Open title.

The Emirates plane carrying Djokovic touched down after a 13 1/2-hour flight from Melbourne, where he had argued in court he should be allowed to stay in the country and compete in the tournament under a medical exemption due to a coronavirus infection last month.

Dubai International Airport was quiet early Monday morning as flights from the Australia and Asia began to arrive. Passengers wearing mandatory face masks collected their bags and walked out of the cavernous terminal. The first Muslim call to prayers before the sunrise echoed over the terminal.

It wasn’t immediately clear where Djokovic planned to travel next. The Dubai Duty Free tennis tournament, which Djokovic won in 2020, doesn’t start until Feb. 14.

Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates, doesn’t require travelers to be vaccinated, though they must show a negative PCR test to board a flight.

Djokovic had won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles trophies, tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, and Nadal is the only former Australian Open men’s champion in the tournament that began Monday.


Gophers make top four schools for prized recruit Jaxon Howard



Gophers make top four schools for prized recruit Jaxon Howard

The Gophers football program made the top four options for prized in-state recruit Jaxon Howard on Monday.

The four-star prospect from Robbinsdale Cooper High School put Minnesota alongside Miami (Fla.), Louisiana State and Michigan. He plans to take official visits in June and make a decision in July.

“The past three years, I’ve been blessed to be offered by over 60 amazing colleges,” Howard wrote on social media. “I built genuine relationships with so many coaches and value all the time they have spent with me. After 41 unofficial visits and much prayer, I have narrowed my top four.”

RELATED: How Gophers are making case for Jaxon Howard’s commitment 

If Howard, the No. 1 recruit in the state of Minnesota, committed to Minnesota, he would be the second-highest rated pledge, behind only Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones, per’s composite rankings.

Howard, who could play tight end or defensive end in college, is listed at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds; he is the son of Willie Howard, who played defensive end at Stanford and was drafted in the second round by the Vikings in 2001.

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Johnny Cueto joins the Chicago White Sox, adding another veteran to the pitching staff: ‘He messes up hitters’



Johnny Cueto joins the Chicago White Sox, adding another veteran to the pitching staff: ‘He messes up hitters’

Joe Kelly saw how starting pitcher Johnny Cueto was progressing at Triple-A Charlotte while the Chicago White Sox reliever was on a rehab assignment.

He gave a positive review.

“Johnny Cueto looked good,” Kelly said last week. “Johnny’s a great dude. He messes up hitters with timing, multiple looks, leg kicks, slide steps. Johnny does it to try to get guys off balance and he’s a master at it. He was commanding all of his pitches for strikes.”

Cueto joined the Sox in Kansas City and started Monday’s game against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium after the team purchased his contract from Charlotte.

“He’s had a really impressive career,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said before the game. “He pitches with some style. … We’ve gone against him (when La Russa managed the St. Louis Cardinals) and he gives you this and he gives you that and then vice versa.”

The 36-year-old Cueto went 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA and 17 strikeouts in four starts with Charlotte after signing with the Sox as a minor-league free agent April 8.

“The road games were not his forte,” Kelly said, “just because the umpires — I’m not going to say they weren’t ready for Johnny, but when I watched him pitch with the automatic strike zone? Pfft. Good luck. He could dot.

“Some umpires give up on some of the ways his balls move, and they move a ton. So when he’s flipping pitches and they’re strikes in the strike zone but the umpire thinks it runs off, that might get him into trouble.

“But these guys up here, big-league umpires, they know that. They know Johnny, they know how it moves. He looks great. He’s definitely going to help us this year.”

Cueto is 135-97 with a 3.45 ERA in 330 appearances (329 starts) during a 14-year career with the Cincinnati Reds (2008-15), Royals (2015) and San Francisco Giants (2016-21).

The right-hander is a two-time All-Star (2014, 2016), finished second in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2014 and is 2-4 with a 4.54 ERA in eight career postseason starts. He made four starts in the 2015 postseason with the World Series champion Royals.

“I said hello to him and then I told him I still feel the effects of Game 5 in the 2015 (American League) Division Series,” Sox starter Dallas Keuchel said Monday. “He stuck it to us pretty good (when I was) with the (Houston) Astros and he got traded over to the Royals.”

Cueto allowed two runs on two hits and struck out eight in that playoff game on Oct. 14, 2015, a 7-2 Royals win.

“He’s one of the best to do it for over a decade,” Keuchel said, “and it’ll be nice to watch him on (our) side now.”

Cueto went 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA in 22 outings (21 starts) for the Giants in 2021.

Lucas Giolito was originally scheduled to pitch Monday, but he was placed on the COVID-19-related injured list Friday. Giolito began experiencing symptoms Wednesday.

“The good part of it is all the signs are looking up on (Giolito),” La Russa said. “He’ll pitch in the series, whether it’s (Tuesday) or make an adjustment for Wednesday. That’s the good news. We’re going to wait and see.”

La Russa said Dylan Cease will start the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Game 2 is to be determined. Vince Velasquez and Keuchel are the probable Sox starters Wednesday and Thursday.

Cueto is expected to be a factor in the rotation going forward.

“We would be disappointed if he’s not,” La Russa said. “And we don’t expect to be disappointed. He’s done enough since he’s reported to Arizona (for extended spring training) and what he’s shown in Charlotte (that) we expect him to be helpful.”

In Monday’s corresponding roster move, the Sox optioned infielder Danny Mendick to Charlotte. Mendick is 5-for-23 (.217) with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs in 11 games during two stints with the Sox this season.


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Authorities: Hate against Taiwanese led to church attack



Authorities: Hate against Taiwanese led to church attack


LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. (AP) — A gunman in a deadly attack at a Southern California church was a Chinese immigrant motivated by hate for Taiwanese people, authorities said.

The shooter killed Dr. John Cheng, 52, and wounded five others during a lunch held by Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which worships at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, authorities said at a Monday news conference.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said the motive of the shooting was a grievance between the shooter, identified as a Chinese immigrant and U.S. citizen, and the Taiwanese community. China claims Taiwan is a part of its national territory and has not ruled out force to bring the island under its rule.

The suspect was identified as David Chou, 68, of Las Vegas. He has been booked on one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder and is being held on $1 million bail.

Chou is expected to appear in state court Tuesday and it was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. A federal hate crimes investigation is also ongoing.

Chou’s family was among many that were apparently forcibly removed from China to Taiwan sometime after 1948, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. Chou’s hatred toward the island, documented in hand-written notes that authorities found, seems like it began when he felt he wasn’t treated well while living there.

Barnes, the sheriff, said Chou drove from Las Vegas to the Orange County church, where he was not a regular attendee, secured the doors with chains, super glue and nails and started shooting. The gunman had placed four Molotov cocktail-like devices inside the church.

Barnes said Cheng, a sports medicine doctor who is survived by a wife and two children, heroically charged at the shooter and attempted to disarm him, allowing others to intervene. Cheng probably saved the lives “of upwards of dozens of people,” the sheriff said.

A pastor hit the gunman on the head with a chair and parishioners hog-tied him with electrical cords. But Cheng was hit by gunfire.

“I will tell you that evil was in that church,” Spitzer said, who added that Chou had “an absolute bias” against Taiwan and its people.

A former neighbor, meanwhile, says Chou’s life unraveled after he was nearly beaten to death several years ago.

Chou had been a pleasant man who used to own the Las Vegas apartment building where he lived, Balmore Orellana told The Associated Press.

But Orellana said Chou received a head injury and serious body injuries in an attack by a tenant and he sold the property. The neighbor said that last summer Chou fired a gun inside his apartment. No one was hurt but he was evicted.

Orellana says Chou’s mental ability seemed to diminish in recent months, he was angry that the government didn’t provide comfort in his retirement, and he may have been homeless.

At the California church, Jerry Chen had just stepped into the kitchen of the church’s fellowship hall around 1:30 p.m. Sunday when he heard the gunshots.

Chen, 72, a longtime member of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, peeked around the corner and saw others screaming, running and ducking under tables.

“I knew someone was shooting,” he said. “I was very, very scared. I ran out the kitchen door to call 911. ”

Samuel Nganga, a member of Geneva and a caretaker for the church, said he was starting to clean up in the kitchen when he heard the shots. He and others crawled out on their hands and knees to escape.

Four of the five people wounded suffered critical gunshot injuries. Authorities on Monday said two of the wounded were in good condition, two were in stable condition and the status of the fifth patient was undetermined.

Chen said a group of about 40 congregants had gathered in the fellowship hall for a luncheon after a morning service to welcome their former Pastor Billy Chang, a beloved and respected community member who had served the church for 20 years. Chang moved back to Taiwan two years ago. This was his first time back stateside, Chen said.

Everyone had just finished lunch and were taking photos with Chang when Chen went into the kitchen, he said. That’s when he heard the gunshots. People told him afterward that the gunman had stopped to reload when Chang hit him on the head with the chair.

“This is just so sad,” Chen said. “I never, ever thought something like this would happen in my church, in my community.”

The shooting came a day after an 18-year-old man shot and killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York in a racist rampage where the white gunman allegedly targeted a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

Laguna Woods was built as a senior living community and later became a city. More than 80% of residents in the city of 18,000 people about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles are at least 65.

Those wounded by gunshots included four Asian men, ages 66, 75, 82 and 92, and an 86-year-old Asian woman, the sheriff’s department said.

It was not immediately clear whether all of the victims were of Taiwanese descent.

Tensions between China and Taiwan are at the highest in decades, with Beijing stepping up its military harassment by flying fighter jets toward the self-governing island. China has not ruled out force to reunify with Taiwan, which split from the mainland during a civil war in 1949.

Taiwan’s chief representative in the U.S., Bi-khim Hsiao, offered condolences to the families on Twitter.

“I join the families of the victims and Taiwanese American communities in grief and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded survivors,” Hsiao wrote on Sunday.


This story has been corrected to show that Pastor Billy Chang has not retired.


Ritter reported from Las Vegas. Bharath reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press journalists Stefanie Dazio and John Antczak in Los Angeles also contributed to this story. News Researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York.


Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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