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Yankees, LeBron James to invest in AC Milan soccer team

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Yankees, LeBron James to invest in AC Milan soccer team

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball’s elite are getting involved with one of Europe’s most celebrated soccer clubs.

The New York Yankees are becoming a minority investor in Italian champion AC Milan, the second soccer team the baseball power will partially own after MLS’s New York City.

A Los Angeles-based fund that includes LeBron James also is becoming a minority investor in the seven-time European champion under RedBird Capital Partners, The Financial Times reported Tuesday. RedBird is nearing a deal to purchase a controlling interest in Milan for 1.2 billion euros ($1.2 billion).

Gerry Cardinale, who founded RedBird in 2014 and is a managing partner, announced a preliminary agreement in June to buy Milan from fellow American firm Elliott Management. The closing is to take place by the end of September.

Yankees Global Enterprises, the baseball team’s parent company led by the Steinbrenner family, will take a stake of about 10% in Milan, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the final deal has not been announced.

“We’re very confident that the Yankee brand is the most famous sports brand in the world, and we think we can help boost the revenue of AC Milan by being associated with it,” Yankees president Randy Levine said Tuesday.

Milan declined to comment.

The Yankees agreed in 2013 to purchase a 20% stake in the New York City Major League Soccer team that launched in 2015. City Football Group, Manchester City’s parent company, is the controlling owner.

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Yankees Global Enterprises also owns stakes in the YES Network and Legends Hospitality, formed in 2008 with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

“It came about based on our relationship with Gerry and RedBird that goes back over 25 years,” Levine said. “The Steinbrenners were one of the original investors in RedBird when Gerry started it. We worked very closely with Gerry when he was at Goldman Sachs in building the YES Network and Legends Hospitality. He was involved with Goldman’s work on the new Yankee Stadium when RedBird was formed and YES was purchased back from Disney, RedBird became a partner with us and YES.”

The Yankees, 27-time World Series champions, are signing a separate marketing agreement with Milan, a 19-time Italian champion, that will include broadcasting replays of games on the YES Network, as Manchester City does. There also will be cross-merchandising between the pinstripes and the Rossoneri.

“We have a little familiarity with soccer — we’ve learned a little since our relationship with City Football Group,” Levine said. “We think it’s a good investment. Like with Man City, we do not intend to get involved in running the soccer side. We leave it to the experts. We’ve got enough to do on the baseball side.”

New York City plays most of its home games at Yankee Stadium, and Levine is helping lead the search for a site for a soccer stadium for the MLS team.

Milan is coming off its first Italian title in 11 years.

Main Street Advisors, the fund supported by James, also counts the rapper Drake among its partners, as well as English Premier League club Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox.

James and Drake will be passive investors in Milan through the fund and have not taken direct stakes, according to The Financial Times, which first reported the investments.

RedBird also has a stake in Fenway Sports Group, parent company of Liverpool and the Red Sox. Champions League rules prohibit two clubs in the competition from being under the same ownership to protect the integrity of games on the field. UEFA likely will have to make a judgment on the extent of RedBird’s influence on decision-making at Liverpool.

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RedBird is set to become Milan’s fourth owner in five years.

Milan was owned by Silvio Berlusconi from 1986 until 2017. Italy’s prime minister from 2001-06 and 2008-11, Berlusconi sold control to a company controlled by Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co. The American hedge fund Elliott provided financing and took control of the team in 2018 when loan payments were not made.

Inter Milan, Roma, Fiorentina and Bologna are among other foreign-owned teams in Serie A.

“Italian soccer is still experiencing financial contraction,” Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta said of the Milan transaction. “We’ve gone from a period of patronage by the Morattis and the Berlusconis who brought (trophies) to Milan and Inter to a situation in which both clubs have foreign ownership. And thank goodness they came.

“Most of the foreign owners are American and they’ve brought in a new business model, and a different mentality in which economic and financial sustainability is very important.”

Having previously failed to qualify for Europe’s elite competition for seven consecutive years, including a one-year UEFA ban for breaking financial monitoring rules, Milan is playing in the Champions League for a second consecutive season. That competition can increase revenue by about 100 million euros ($100 million) in UEFA prize money and help restore the club’s global brand.

Milan shares one of soccer’s iconic venues, San Siro, with rival Inter Milan. With a capacity of about 80,000, the stadium opened in 1926, was extensively renovated ahead of the 1990 World Cup and is scheduled to host the opening ceremony of the 2026 Winter Olympics. There are few luxury suites and fan amenities in the venue, formally known as Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, and both Milan and Inter have discussed building a new stadium adjacent to the current arena.

“As we help the City Football Group here in New York,” Levine said, “in commercial ways and trying to get through a stadium and a whole bunch of other things, we think in our brand there could be synergies between us and Milan that will raise the value of Milan significantly.”

Former longtime team captain Paolo Maldini will stay on as Milan’s technical area director despite the ownership change, a person involved in the negotiations said, adding that Stefano Pioli is safe in his job as Milan’s coach. That person also spoke the AP on condition of anonymity because the final deal has not been announced yet.

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The only Italians investing in the deal are media rights executive Riccardo Silva and his brother, Saverio Silva, the person said.

Riccardo Silva owns the Miami soccer club, which plays in the second-tier USL Championship. He founded the Miami team together with Maldini, who withdrew his ownership stake in Miami when he took on his current role at Milan.

The deal could involve players from Milan’s youth academy spending time at Miami.

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Dampf reported from Rome. AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli leaders on Sunday credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct Iranian attack involving hundreds of drones and missiles, calling the coordinated response a starting point for a “strategic alliance” of regional opposition to Tehran.

But Israel’s War Cabinet met without making a decision on next steps, an official said, as a nervous world waited for any sign of further escalation of the former shadow war.

The military coalition, led by the United States, Britain and France and appearing to include a number of Middle Eastern countries, gave Israel support at a time when it finds itself isolated over its war against Hamas in Gaza. The coalition also could serve as a model for regional relations when that war ends.

“This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East,” said the Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

One unknown is which of Israel’s neighbors participated in the shooting down of the vast majority of about 350 drones and missiles Iran launched. Israeli military officials and a key War Cabinet member noted additional “partners” without naming them. When pressed, White House national security spokesman John Kirby would not name them either.

But one appeared to be Jordan, which described its action as self-defense.

“There was an assessment that there was a real danger of Iranian marches and missiles falling on Jordan, and the armed forces dealt with this danger. And if this danger came from Israel, Jordan would take the same action,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said in an interview on Al-Mamlaka state television. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday.

The U.S. has long tried to forge a regionwide alliance against Iran as a way of integrating Israel and boosting ties with the Arab world. The effort has included the 2020 Abraham Accords, which established diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries, and having Israel in the U.S. military’s Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East and works closely with the armies of moderate Arab states.

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The U.S. had been working to establish full relations between Israel and regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack sparked Israel’s war in Gaza. The war, which has claimed over 33,700 Palestinian lives, has frozen those efforts due to widespread outrage across the Arab world. But it appears that some behind-the-scenes cooperation has continued, and the White House has held out hopes of forging Israel-Saudi ties as part of a postwar plan.

Just ahead of Iran’s attack, the commander of CENTCOM, Gen. Erik Kurilla, visited Israel to map out a strategy.

Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, on Sunday thanked CENTCOM for the joint defensive effort. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are under the CENTCOM umbrella. While neither acknowledged involvement in intercepting Iran’s launches, the Israeli military released a map showing missiles traveling through the airspace of both nations.

“Arab countries came to the aid of Israel in stopping the attack because they understand that regional organizing is required against Iran, otherwise they will be next in line,” Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said he had spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and that the cooperation “highlighted the opportunity to establish an international coalition and strategic alliance to counter the threat posed by Iran.”

The White House signaled that it hopes to build on the partnerships and urged Israel to think twice before striking Iran. U.S. officials said Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington would not participate in any offensive action against Iran.

Israel’s War Cabinet met late Sunday to discuss a possible response, but an Israeli official familiar with the talks said no decisions had been made. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing confidential deliberations.

Asked about plans for retaliation, Hagari declined to comment directly. “We are at high readiness in all fronts,” he said.

“We will build a regional coalition and collect the price from Iran, in the way and at the time that suits us,” said a key War Cabinet member, Benny Gantz.

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Iran launched the attack in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel that hit an Iranian consular building in Syria this month and killed two Iranian generals.

By Sunday morning, Iran said the attack was over, and Israel reopened its airspace. Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, claimed Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned that “any new adventures against the interests of the Iranian nation would be met with a heavier and regretful response from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The foes have been engaged in a shadow war for years, but Sunday’s assault was the first time Iran launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran said it targeted Israeli facilities involved in the Damascus strike, and that it told the White House early Sunday that the operation would be “minimalistic.”

But U.S. officials said Iran’s intent was to “destroy and cause casualties” and that if successful, the strikes would have caused an “uncontrollable” escalation. At one point, at least 100 ballistic missiles were in the air with just minutes of flight time to Israel, the officials said.

Israel said more than 99% of what Iran fired was intercepted, with just a few missiles getting through. An Israeli airbase sustained minor damage.

Israel has over the years established — often with the help of the U.S. — a multilayered air-defense network that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats, including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range rockets.

That system, along with collaboration with the U.S. and others, helped thwart what could have been a far more devastating assault at a time when Israel is already deeply engaged in Gaza as well as low-level fighting on its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.

While thwarting the Iranian onslaught could help restore Israel’s image after the Hamas attack in October, what the Middle East’s best-equipped army does next will be closely watched in the region and in Western capitals — especially as Israel seeks to develop the coalition it praised Sunday.

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In Washington, Biden pledged to convene allies to develop a unified response. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. would hold talks with allies. After an urgent meeting, the Group of Seven countries unanimously condemned Iran’s attack and said they stood ready to take “further measures.”

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel’s war in Gaza. In the Oct. 7 attack, militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, also backed by Iran, killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others. Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed over 33,000 people, according to local health officials.

Hamas welcomed Iran’s attack, saying it was “a natural right and a deserved response” to the strike in Syria. It urged the Iran-backed groups in the region to continue to support Hamas in the war.

Hezbollah also welcomed the attack. Almost immediately after the war in Gaza erupted, Hezbollah began attacking Israel’s northern border. The two sides have been involved in daily exchanges of fire, while Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have launched rockets and missiles toward Israel.

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Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Michelle L. Price in Washington; Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Samy Magdy in Cairo; Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan; and Giada Zampano in Rome contributed to this report.

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

New York lawmakers are proposing rules to humanely drive down the population of rats and other rodents, eyeing contraception and a ban on glue traps as alternatives to poison or a slow, brutal death.

Politicians have long come up with creative ways to battle the rodents, but some lawmakers are now proposing city and statewide measures to do more.

In New York City, the idea to distribute rat contraceptives got fresh attention in city government Thursday following the death of an escaped zoo owl, known as Flaco, who was found dead with rat poison in his system.

City Council Member Shaun Abreu proposed a city ordinance Thursday that would establish a pilot program for controlling the millions of rats lurking in subway stations and empty lots by using birth control instead of lethal chemicals. Abreu, chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, said the contraceptives also are more ethical and humane than other methods.

The contraceptive, called ContraPest, is contained in salty, fatty pellets that are scattered in rat-infested areas as bait. It works by targeting ovarian function in female rats and disrupting sperm cell production in males, The New York Times reported.

New York exterminators currently kill rats using snap and glue traps, poisons that make them bleed internally, and carbon monoxide gas that can suffocate them in burrows. Some hobbyists have even trained their dogs to hunt them.

Rashad Edwards, a film and television actor who runs pest management company Scurry Inc. in New York City with his wife, said the best method he has found when dealing with rodents is carbon monoxide.

He tries to use the most humane method possible, and carbon monoxide euthanizes the rats slowly, putting them to sleep and killing them. Edwards avoids using rat poison whenever possible because it is dangerous and torturous to the rodents, he said.

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Some lawmakers in Albany are considering a statewide ban on glue boards under a bill moving through the Legislature. The traps, usually made from a slab of cardboard or plastic coated in a sticky material, can also ensnare small animals that land on its surface.

Edwards opposes a ban on sticky traps, because he uses them on other pests, such as ants, to reduce overall pesticide use. When ants get into a house, he uses sticky traps to figure out where they’re most often passing by. It helps him narrow zones of pesticide use “so that you don’t go spray the entire place.”

“This is not a problem we can kill our way out of,” said Jakob Shaw, a special project manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “It’s time to embrace these more common sense and humane methods.”

Two cities in California have passed bans on glue traps in recent years. On the federal level, a bill currently in committee would ban the traps nationwide.

“It ends a really inhumane practice of managing rat populations,” said Jabari Brisport, the New York state senator who represents part of Brooklyn and sponsored the bill proposing the new guidelines. “There are more effective and more humane ways to deal with rats.”

Every generation of New Yorkers has struggled to control rat populations. Mayor Eric Adams hired a “rat czar” last year tasked with battling the detested rodents. Last month, New York City reduced the amount of food served up to rats by mandating all businesses to put trash out in boxes.

While the war on rats has no end in sight, the exterminator Edwards said we can learn a lot from their resilience. The rodents, he said, can never be eradicated, only managed.

“They’re very smart, and they’re very wise,” he said. “It’s very inspiring but just — not in my house.”

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A small earthquake shook the Southern California desert Saturday near Coachella, where the famous music festival is being held this weekend. No damage or injuries were reported.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 3.8, hit at 9:08 a.m. about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Borrego Springs in Riverside County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter was about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Coachella. It struck at a depth of about 7 miles (11 kilometers), the USGS said.

A dispatcher with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said there were no calls reporting any problems from the quake.

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