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Saint John drag king has no plans to stop hosting events for kids, despite online hate | CBC News

Saint John drag king has no plans to stop hosting events for kids, despite online hate | CBC News

Alex Saunders loves doing drag storytime for kids and has no plans to stop, even after being the target of online hate.   

Saunders, a Saint John drag king whose stage name is Justin Toodeep, has been a drag performer for 12 years.

They’ve also been a dedicated volunteer with the YMCA and the Salvation Army, as well as spending the past five years reading books and making crafts with kids through the public library with drag storytime.

“Doing drag is about first and foremost giving back to your community,” they said. 

The past week, though, Saunders experienced something they say they’ve been through before.

Alex Saunders, also known as Justin Toodeep, helped host a drag storytime with the Saint John Free Public Library on June 5. This is a photo from the actual event. (Supplied by Alex Saunders)

They’ve been receiving hate messages, some even threatening their life, after Saint John People’s Party of Canada candidate Nicholas Pereira made an online post about a drag storytime event.

Saunders was part of that event last weekend through the Saint John Free Public Library in Market Square.

Pereira paired the event’s information with an unrelated image of a young person tipping a burlesque dancer by putting money in their underwear, spreading misinformation about what drag story time is all about. 

He has since deleted the post, but not before it reached hundreds, causing both strangers and people Saunders knows to attack them online.

“I haven’t been letting it get me down too much,” Saunders said. “But it makes me feel very unsafe in my own community.” 

No plans to stop

Although they fear for their personal safety, Saunders has no intention of stepping back from drag performances, including events for kids.

Support from the community has kept pace with the hatred they’ve been experiencing, they said, and they plan to keep going and perform at more Pride celebrations in Saint John in August.

“The outpouring of love from my own community, and from supporters and allies has been unreal, absolutely unreal.”

The library said it has hosted four drag storytime events, intended to celebrate diversity during Pride Month, and people have been “very supportive.”

“Activities such as this are a healthy part of a child’s development as they develop an understanding of and respect for differences, while feeling free to explore identities,” head librarian Laura Corscadden said in an email.

“Programs such as this have been offered successfully over the past several years in many other public libraries in other jurisdictions around North America.”

Saunders said they want to be part of events for kids because kids don’t have very many queer role models.

“They see me out there, being my weird self and living my best life. And, you know, they fall in love with that,” Saunders said.

Saunders said because they have a charisma kids are drawn toward, the least they can do for the community is read to children and show them there are different kinds of people in the world.

“People need to know that they’re not alone. And that’s what I like about drag story time. Plus, how cool is it to read stories to kids, make them happy and give them cookies?”

What happens at drag storytime?

Blair Richardson and her family moved to New Brunswick from Toronto a year and a half ago.

Richardson, who has a young daughter nicknamed Mouse, said her family was always connected with the queer community in Toronto, going to events like drag storytime and drag brunches. 

“I think a lot of youth need to not only hear it if they are part of that community, or will eventually be, but also the kids that will just grow up to be straight,” said Richardson, a supporter of the drag storytime series in Saint John.

“It’s important that they hear the regularity of the stories that are presented here, the inclusion, the messages of love.”

While she’s noticed a difference in how many queer-friendly places are available in Saint John — there are no gay bars, for example — she said attending events like drag story time has helped her family find friends when they didn’t know anybody in the city.

She even worked with the library to expand storytime events beyond just Pride week in August.

Richardson said the drag storytime events themselves are always full of colour and costume — all outfits are appropriate for kids, she added.

Her daughter also loves books and reading.

“It really combines a lot of the passions that a five year old should have, which are, you know, stage and entertainment and literacy.”

Blair Richardson’s daughter, Mouse, plans to try out drag herself for the first time this summer — using the name ‘Mouse-tache’. (Supplied by Blair Richardson)

The stories the drag kings and drag queens read to kids usually focus on themes of acceptance and being yourself — Richardson pointed to a recent story by Michael Hall called Red: A Crayon’s Story about a blue crayon inside a red wrapper that goes on a journey to find its true colours.

On top of reading stories, kids get to do crafts and have a snack at drag story time. 

“It’s just a really beautiful event for kids to be a part of,” Richardson said.

Her daughter, who looks forward to drag storytime “more so than anything else in life,” is even trying out drag for the first time later this summer.

“Mouse just wants to be just like Alex, in kind of every aspect of life, and really looks up to them.”

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County seeks to stop luau, events at property in Paia

County seeks to stop luau, events at property in Paia

Musicians and others gather for an event on beachfront property at 49 and 65 Hana Highway in Paia in April. The photo is among exhibits included in a Maui County lawsuit against the property owners and a business owner operating a luau and other events on the properties. — Photo courtesy of Maui County

Maui County is seeking to stop a business owner from operating a luau and holding other commercial events without permits on shoreline property in Paia.

A complaint filed May 12 in 2nd Circuit Court alleges that Kihei resident Jenna Yap is operating her business Maui’s Finest Luau and hosting wedding events “almost daily” on adjoining beachfront properties at 49 Hana Highway and 65 Hana Highway.

In declarations accompanying the complaint, longtime residents of nearby Ae Place said the luau and other events, which have occurred six to 10 times a month since July, are “incredibly loud,” with amplified music, live bands or disc jockeys.

One neighbor reported closing windows and moving to the far side of his house to try to drown out noise, including screaming from a crowd and Tahitian-style drumming. Another neighbor described a rap concert “with a lot of swearing and ‘F-bombs’ “ that ended at about 10 p.m.

In addition to Yap and Maui’s Finest Luau, the lawsuit was filed against Paia Bay Properties LLC, which owns the parcel at 49 Hana Highway and has a long-term lease for 65 Hana Highway. Yap leases both properties, according to the complaint.

A fire knife performance is shown in advertising for Maui’s Finest Luau. The photo is among exhibits included in a Maui County lawsuit against the property owners and a business owner operating a luau and other events on the properties. — Photo courtesy of Maui County

In a statement Thursday, Yap said she is in the process of hiring a law firm to respond to allegations of code violations in the lawsuit.

“We appreciate the opportunity to clarify some misunderstandings, including the longstanding history the county has had with the particular properties involved and particular personalities,” her statement said. “We are simply a small business that employs our local community and provide cultural experiences to visitors and kamaaina alike.

“Although we appreciate the hard work of our county officials, we hope that they zealously pursue all alleged code violators with the same or similar zeal. We also understand that the public may have questions at this time and we believe those answers will be borne out through the judicial process. As such, we ask the media and the public to be patient and await judicial review.”

According to the lawsuit, the commercial activities are occurring in special management and shoreline setback areas, requiring assessments and permits, which neither Yap nor the property owners have obtained.

Michael Baskin of Paia Bay Properties said in a statement Thursday that the property at 65 Hana Highway received a certificate of occupancy from the county to operate as a restaurant in October 2017.

“All inspections and approvals for SMA and building permits were approved,” he said. “It took over five years to obtain these permits. All parking has been approved.”

He said the restaurant has health permits and food establishment permits from the state Health Department.

“Restaurants are permitted to serve food, have music and host events,” he said.

According to the lawsuit, the mauka portion of this property is zoned business country-town, while the makai portion is zoned residential.

Baskin said the property at 49 Hana Highway is zoned public/quasi-public, which allows for parking and church uses.

The lawsuit says a zoning inspector was assigned to investigate Aug. 5 after the county Planning Department received video footage from neighbors showing a commercial luau operating on the properties.

The next day, Yap and an associate went to the department to discuss plans to host Hawaiian cultural events on the properties. At the meeting, which included Planning Director Michele McLean, Yap was told she needed to apply for permits and couldn’t operate her business on the properties until receiving permits, according to the lawsuit.

At the meeting Yap “was also informed that in the past, the owner of the property had held events in which musicians and guests were located on the residential portion of the property, which is prohibited by the zoning and within the shoreline area,” the complaint says.

On Aug. 7, the day after the meeting, Yap hosted what appeared to be a wedding a reception on the properties, according to the lawsuit.

Warning notices for Coastal Zone Management Act and zoning violations were posted at the property Aug. 13 after Yap refused to accept the notices from a county zoning inspector, according to the county. The warning notices said Yap could face civil and criminal penalties if activity continued without permits and said fines could be up to $100,000 per incident and up to $10,000 a day.

After the county reported she continued to hold events on the properties without permits, Yap was served with violation notices on Dec. 29.

The notices ordered Yap to “cease and desist all activity immediately.” The notices also ordered Yap to pay a fine of $71,666 by Jan. 27, with additional fines accumulating during the period the violation continues.

The notices allowed Yap to contest the violation orders.

Since receiving the violation notices, Yap has continued to hold events without permits and the Planning Department has continued to receive complaints, as well as documentation in video and photos, from neighbors who live within 100 feet of the property, according to the lawsuit.

“Several times a week, they are subjected to loud, amplified music, noise from crowds, and streams of people entering and exiting the properties from the Hana Highway as well as the beach,” the lawsuit says.

On its website, Maui’s Finest Luau advertises a two-hour full Hawaiian/Polynesian show, including a Polynesian fire-knife dancer, food and nonalcoholic beverages, through the end of the month. Starting June 1, the website offers a “cultural show and dinner experience” lasting two and a half hours. Those attending can bring their own alcoholic beverages, the website says.

Prices range from general admission of $125 for children and $165 for adults to VIP admission of $169 for children and $199 for adults.

Attorney Terrance Revere, who represents Paia Bay Properties, said Thursday that the lawsuit is “just more harassment.”

“Others and I have been saying and proving for years that the planning director has been using county resources to engage in personal vendettas,” Revere said.

In a separate case in 2015, Maui County fined Baskin $500,000 for 30 notices of violation over issues that included short-term rental, special management area, zoning and building code laws.

Planning Director McLean said: “There is nothing personal about our enforcement actions against Maui’s Finest Luau. They have conducted multiple events that have violated both zoning and Special Management Area requirements that were brought to our attention by several neighbors.”

A hearing is set for July 1 before 2nd Circuit Environmental Court Judge Peter Cahill on the county’s request for a preliminary injunction.

“As the violation is continuing, an injunction against further violations is necessary,” according to the county.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at

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Phoenix Fan Fusion doesn’t stop after dark: Your list of the top after parties, events

Phoenix Fan Fusion doesn't stop after dark: Your list of the top after parties, events

Just in case you thought that Phoenix Fan Fusion at the Phoenix Convention Center ended once the sun went down, think again. 

This year’s Fan Fusion will offer several events including after-parties and evening events that might be worth staying up for. 

Several events are back from previous years, including comedy shows, “Queen Lantern Corps Dragstravaganza” and “Masquerade” Costume Contest are back. There are new events as well.

Here are some of the top Friday and Saturday evening events and after parties connected with Phoenix Fan Fusion 2022. Events take place at the Phoenix Convention Center.

For a full schedule of events see this list

Make sure you check the programming schedule to see which events are for adults 18 and older.

What to know about Fan Fusion: Your complete guide to Phoenix Fan Fusion 2022 guests, weapon policy, costs and more


Queen Lantern Corps Dragstravaganza 

Join several drag queens and kings from across the Valley for a geek-themed drag show, hosted by Barbra Seville. This after dark event is free. Guests must be 18 years and older to attend. Panelists include Marcus Leathem, Jessica Bechhoever, Gigi DeMilo, Na-il Emmert, Patrick Jervis Jr., Delores Latcher, Hanna Maher, Andi Norton, Elijah Palles, Christopher Rapinz-Kesler, Cierra Ruiz, Jace Ryden, Barbra Seville and Jacqueline Stevenson. 

Details: 7-8:30 p.m., West 301BCD,

‘Kids Need To Read’ Charity Poker Tournament 

This 18 and older event — presented by Lupine Entertainment — will open doors for registration at 7 p.m. Games start at 8 p.m. Guests must pay a $20 donation to participate. All guests are invited to watch the tournament for free. 

Details: 7 p.m.-2 a.m. West 106 ABC,

Horror Trivia

The evening event will include a discussion on cult classic horror films and its history, in addition to a jeopardy style game that invites guests to distinguish all the different genres of horror.

Details: 9-10 p.m., North 230,

Wizarding Game Night

This event features several fun, interactive games from watching Harry Potter characters play Cards Against Muggles and Harry Potter 20 questions. The event is for ages 18 and older. 

Details: 9-10 p.m., West 105BC.

A Comedy Show with Fan Fusion

The event will feature a range of local comedians who focus on their two passions: Comic books and video games. The event is for people 18 years and older. 

Details: Friday 9-10pm, Saturday 7:30-8:30 p.m, and Saturday 9-11:30 p.m,

Anime Rave with DJ HeavyGrinder 

It’s a dance party that’s free but includes one of the best DJ’s in town. This event is for ages 18 and older. 

Details: 9 p.m.-1 a.m., North 120CD,

Burlesque at Phoenix Fan Fusion

Burlesque is back at Phoenix Fan Fusion — it’s free to attend, too. It’s a blend of geeky, nerdy and hot. Guests must be 18 and older to attend the event. General admission seating is free. 

Details: 9-11:30 p.m.,

The stars are out: Chuck Norris, Kate Mulgrew among headliners for Phoenix Fan Fusion


Comedy Show with Fan Fusion

The event will feature a range of local comedians who focus on their two passions: Comic books and video games. The event is for people 18 years and older. 

Details: 7:30-8:30 p.m, and 9-11:30 p.m,

P.U.G.S. (Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown)

This event features eight fans as they debate comic-fest related topics. Sign up for the P.U.G.S. Friday panel event for a chance to make it to the top eight contestants. 

Details: 7:30-8:30 p.m., North 132ABC,

Grogu’s 51st Birthday Party 

It’s baby Yoda’s first birthday. Join Din Djarin to celebrate the birth of his son — the event will feature a full cast of Star Wars friends, too. The evening will be complete with music and a dance party filled with all your favorite Star Wars characters. 

Details: 8 p.m.-1 a.m., North 120CD,

Masquerade Costume Contest: 

This annual event welcomes anyone to see costume creators on the big stage of the Phoenix Convention Center. It will feature cosplayers who have submitted their costume designs prior to the event. Winners will be announced. 

Details: 8-11:55 p.m., West 301BCD,

Drinks with Authors 

Join authors and other creators for a drink. The event will include door prizes, giveaways and raffles to support Kids Need to Read. 

Details: 8-11:30 p.m. West 106ABC,

‘Strut your Stuff’ dance contest  

Doors open at 8:30 p.m. for individuals and groups to sign-up and dance on stage for a panel of judges. If you don’t feel like dancing, you can sign up to be a guest judge.  The show will begin at 9 p.m. where superheroes, furries, zombies, anime otaku, sci-fi fans, video game characters or guests in casual attire can dance and strut on stage. Prizes will be awarded. 

Details: 8:30 p.m. to 12 a.m., North 232ABC,

Star Trek Universal Mixer

This year’s Star Trek Universal Mixer will feature  “What’s Old is New Again – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” panel guests including the United Federation of Phoenix, as well as local Star Trek clubs for a casual mixer. 

Details: 9-11:55 p.m., North 224 AB,

Doctor Who ‘Smash or Pass’ 

This 18 and older event answers questions like “I wonder if anybody else agrees that Daleks are hot?” or “How bad is a Slitheen in bed?” The group event will invite guests to answer which Doctor Who characters they would “Smash or Pass.” 

Details: 9-10 p.m., North 125AB,

‘Strip a Goddess’ 

This event blends Jeopardy, Whose Line is it Anyway and strip poker into a game show that tests guests on erotic mythological knowledge — by the end, you may be one of the audience members who helps strip a goddess. This event is for adults 18 years and older. 

Details: 9-10 p.m., North 223,

Reach the reporter at Follow her on Instagram @sofia.krusmark 

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Yoshinoya will stop screening foreigners out of recruiting events | The Asahi Shimbun: Breaking News, Japan News and Analysis


Yoshinoya Holdings Co. announced on May 9 that it will stop checking the nationalities of job applicants seeking to attend the company’s recruitment events in prescreening to remove them from the process.

The move comes in response to public backlash over its rejection of a university student from a company recruitment event for its subsidiary, the beef bowl restaurant chain Yoshinoya Co.

It rejected the student on the grounds that the person was a foreign national, despite failing to contact the individual to confirm the fact.

According to Yoshinoya Holdings, it had emailed multiple students to stop them from participating in the event. But the company said it has since emailed or phoned all of them and apologized.

It also informed them of future recruitment events the company will hold, and some of them said they want to attend these events, according to the company.

“We would like to prevent a recurrence of this incident,” a representative for Yoshinoya Holdings said.

When the incident first came to light, Yoshinoya Holdings cited previous cases where it had to cancel job offers for foreign nationals studying in Japan because they were unable to obtain work visas. It admitted it has been screening out applicants it assumed were foreign nationals from its recruitment events since 2021.

However, the company will warn foreign students at these events about the possibility they may be unable to obtain work visas after receiving a job offer, it said.

The latest flap comes in the wake of another scandal just weeks ago, when the company fired a managing director for making derogatory remarks about young women.

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Stop comparing the Holocaust to other events in history, Israeli leader Naftali Bennett urges

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his wife (left) stand together with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his wife during a ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Israeli leader has called on the world to stop comparing the Holocaust to other events in history.

Naftali Bennett, the prime minister, ushered in Holocaust memorial day in Jerusalem at Yad Vashem, the official memorial to victims, as his country came to a standstill in an annual ritual commemorating the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.

Mr Bennett said: “As the years go by, there is more and more discourse in the world that compares other difficult events to the Holocaust, but no.

“No event in history, cruel as it may have been, is comparable to the extermination of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators.”

Both Ukraine and Russia have compared their ongoing war to the genocide committed during the Second World War.

As sirens marking the beginning of a two-minute silence rang out across Israel, drivers got out of their cars and pedestrians halted in their tracks as they bowed their heads in respect.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his wife (left) stand together with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his wife during a ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day
Naftali Bennett and his wife (left) at the ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem

Israel is home to around 165,000 Holocaust survivors.

Mr Bennett also warned Israelis against allowing their deep differences to tear the country apart.

“My brothers and sisters, we cannot – we simply cannot – allow the same dangerous gene of factionalism [to] dismantle Israel from within,” Mr Bennett said.

Mr Bennett’s comments came after his family received a letter with a live bullet and a death threat on Tuesday.

Israelis stand next to their cars as a two-minute siren sounds in memory of victims of the Holocaust in Tel Aviv. Pic: AP
Roads came to a standstill in Tel Aviv. Pic: AP
People stand still in Jerusalem as a two-minute siren sounds
The siren rang while one man was crossing the road

Israeli authorities have tightened security around the premier and his family and are investigating.

Restaurants and entertainment venues across the country shut for Holocaust memorial day, while radios played sombre music and TV stations showed Holocaust documentaries.

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Heed the events in France – populism is gaining ground and only a revolution can stop it | Simon Jenkins

If today’s democracy teaches any lesson it is don’t underestimate populism. Insult it, deride it, excuse it, no-platform it, but it is a serious force in electoral politics. In France, Marine Le Pen has surged into contention for the presidency.

Earlier this month, Hungary’s authoritarian Viktor Orbán swept the board. In Russia, albeit in vexed circumstances, Vladimir Putin retains a patriotic hold on opinion. In the US, Donald Trump refuses to disappear. These individuals are in no way the same, but they speak the same message.

The message is that party is being supplanted by personality and identity. As relative prosperity rises, voters are taking recourse in prejudice and emotional security. They can distrust outsiders. They can hate globalists, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and liberals, however defined. They want to feel control over their own lives, as Britain’s Boris Johnson ludicrously but successfully offered them in the form of Brexit. They want to like those who purport to lead them.

This populism has torn the left-right spectrum apart. Emmanuel Macron won power five years ago as a radical outsider. He has smashed France’s party system – the two old parties scored under 10% at this election. He has proved a determined, even bold, reformer of France’s archaic political economy, modernising its welfare state and easing labour rigidities where his predecessors failed.

The supposedly rightwing Le Pen has identified herself with the poor, with reckless pledges of cheaper petrol, higher taxes on the rich and lower ones on the poor. She wants to exclude immigrants from welfare and defy the EU. She has depicted Macron as an insider, the embodiment of Parisian insensitivity towards provincial France, a classic elitist patrician.

A defect of presidential constitutions is to promote personality over policy. It puts a premium on the crudities of politics, on likability, naivety and short-termism. As Alexis de Tocqueville said, it promotes the mob over the club. When parties dissolve, so do the disciplines of parliamentary government. Manifestos become meaningless. Competence amounts to no more than getting through the next crisis. Collective responsibility is reduced to loyalty to a leader and an image, witness Johnson’s Britain.

Romantics can find in all this a glimmer of a new politics, one more responsive to popular opinion. It is sometimes summed up as the “global village of the internet”, the democracy of the unmoderated platform. In many ways Brexit was its most glaring manifestation, a cry of protest against Europe’s most centralist governing elite. No other EU state has since dared hold such a referendum and even Le Pen has backed off one. As with Trump in the US, give voters an opportunity to speak naked truth to power and they may use it.

It is six years since the World Values Survey recorded a plummeting faith in democracy. Less than half of under-50s “believed it was essential to live in a country governed democratically”. In Germany, the US and Japan, between 20% and 40% would opt for a “strong leader who does not have to bother with parliaments and elections”. Conventional politics must confront these truths or die. Group identity must be somehow respected or worldwide immigration will become a torment. Federalism must be installed or separatism will destabilise states everywhere. Parliaments and parties must reform their processes or become irrelevant.

The odds are still on France saving itself in two weeks’ time, but its lessons are clear for all to see.

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Miss Manners: Stop showing up at our open-door, publicized events!

Miss Manners: Stop showing up at our open-door, publicized events!

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have a weekly ladies’ group that meets for coffee. As a result of COVID-19, we haven’t met in quite some time. We announce our meetings on a social media group page because we would like the group to be open to new people who might be interested.

However, there is a lady who often overshares and divulges information about others that is private. As a result, she is not well-liked by any of the other group members.

Most of us have subtly communicated that we would prefer not to spend time with her (by being busy when she reaches out, or simply not following up with her about getting together). She doesn’t seem to be able to read the writing on the wall.

Is there a mannerly next step? Is there something more than hinting, but less than overtly saying, “We would prefer that you didn’t come to our group”?

Last year, when some precipitous events occurred, I let her know, directly but respectfully, that I was not comfortable with some of her behavior. She is just quite committed to spending time with us despite this.

I am not sure what, besides simply tolerating her, there is to do. Can you see something I am missing?

GENTLE READER: Yes. That she is reading the writing on the wall.

Your social media wall. Where she is able to see when and where the meetings are being held.

Therein lies the somewhat obvious problem. Miss Manners understands that you want the group to be open to new members, but this sort of public invitation means that anyone can join. And clearly, you would like to be more selective.

** ** **

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and five of his male friends have a longstanding, semimonthly game night they take turns hosting. When my husband hosts, the players arrive after our young children are in bed and stay until midnight.

These games can get rowdy and bawdy, so I usually say hello when they arrive, then withdraw upstairs for the evening.

The most recent time my husband hosted, he suddenly became very ill with a high fever halfway into the evening. He told his friends to continue playing, and then went to bed, leaving them alone downstairs.

What was the right thing for me to do in that situation? I was already in my pajamas and tucked in for the night. Should I have left the guests alone to play while we all slept, and hoped they’d show themselves out? Or should I have dressed and sat up with them, feeling like a hall monitor?

In the end, I got up, waited until a natural stopping point and asked if they could continue the game another night. It was awkward. I trust these guys to have run of our house, but it just felt wrong to leave guests unattended. Was there a better way to handle this?

GENTLE READER: Yes, but not by you. Your guests should have left the moment your husband declared himself unwell.

Miss Manners wonders at their flagrant disregard for his and their own health — particularly in the current climate, when a high fever could be the symptom of something very serious. These men must really take their gambling seriously.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

** ** **



1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106; 816-581-7500

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U.S. Sportsbooks Stop Taking Action On Russian Sporting Events

U.S. Sportsbooks Stop Taking Action On Russian Sporting Events

Sportsbooks across the United States have come up with their own sanctions against Russia by no longer accepting bets on Russian sporting events. Both mobile and physical sportsbooks have suspended their Russian betting markets in response to the war in Ukraine.

At the Superbook at Westgate Las Vegas, director John Murray says it previously took action on Russian soccer, but the sportsbook decided to remove the market this week after the invasion. “It was an easy decision,” he says. “It’s minor part of the business and we don’t deserve to be praised for it.”

DraftKings, which offered bets on Kontinental Hockey League, the professional league headquartered in Moscow composed of teams across Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and China, closed its Russian sports market. “We will no longer offer betting on sports leagues and events in Russia and Belarus, such as the KHL,” DraftKings said in a statement.

Caesars confirmed that it has also closed its betting market on Russian soccer, hockey, table tennis and volleyball, and Fanduel “indefinitely suspended” all betting markets on sports leagues and events held or connected to Russia and Belarus. PointsBet is no longer accepting bets or posting lines for Russian and Belarus based professional sports leagues and events as well.

Sports leagues are also cutting ties with Russia. FIFA and the Union of European Football Association said on Monday that Russia’s national soccer team will not be allowed to compete and Formula 1 terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix.

Facing a backlash from the war, Russian billionaire and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich announced Wednesday he would be selling the soccer team after members of Parliament said he shouldn’t be allowed to own the Premier League club.

The U.S. government has responded to Putin’s war by sanctioning billionaires—16 Russian business magnates have been hit with economic restrictions so far. The U.S. is also moving to seize assets like mega yachts.

A growing list of companies have pulled out of Russia, including Apple, Nike, H&M, Dell, Spotify, Ford. Western companies are ditching Russia’s lucrative and growing market as it has become a nightmare combination of logistical and operational obstacles topped with reputational risk.

Back in Las Vegas, Murray says sportsbooks are not “brave” for closing their Russian sports markets. “Given the climate and everything that’s going on in the world right now,” he says, “we just felt like it was better to get rid of it.”