NFL Players, Owners Hold Talks On Social Issues

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL players and owners held an unusual meeting Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session both sides termed positive and productive.

What was not discussed at any length was the divisive topic of the national anthem that has caught the attention of President Donald Trump.

“We spent today talking about issues that the players are trying to bring attention to,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “That was the entire focus.”

Asked if the players committed to standing during the anthem, Goodell responded: “We did not ask for that.”

Trump criticized the NFL again Wednesday on Twitter, writing that “The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!”

A group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at the league’s headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.

“We heard what they had to say and they heard us,” Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. “It’s open talks and that’s a good thing.”

The NFL’s policy on the national anthem did not come up. That policy states that the players “should” stand for the anthem, and some have suggested the league would seek to change that to “must” stand. Goodell said in a memo to the teams last week that the NFL prefers for players to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Very little of the meeting was about the actual anthem,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “We were really more talking about solutions and how we get the results that we want to get.”

Ross called the session “constructive,” and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed it “positive.”

Goodell spoke briefly before heading to further league meetings. He emphasized the commitment on the part of the players and the NFL “to work together on issues of social justice.”

“Our players are men of great character,” he added, “and they have a deep understanding and tremendous knowledge of the issues going on in all our communities. This is something our owners said we want to support you in.”

Butler, who played Monday night in Nashville before attending the meeting hours later, said both sides are headed in the right direction. He said the players delivered “our perspective. Obviously it’s a different perspective. I think that’s the most important thing when it comes to these issues is perspective and respecting everyone’s rights regardless of how they feel.”

The players’ union and the league issued a joint statement just before the annual fall owners meetings began. The owners meetings continue Wednesday, when the anthem could be discussed.

“Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities,” the statement said. “NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.

“As we said last week, everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military. In the best American tradition, we are coming together to find common ground and commit to the hard work required for positive change.”

On hand at the meeting were Goodell and the league’s football operations chief, former player Troy Vincent; and owners Michael Bidwill (Arizona), Arthur Blank (Atlanta), Terry Pegula (Buffalo), Robert McNair (Houston), Shad Khan (Jacksonville), Ross, Robert Kraft (New England), John Mara (New York Giants), Art Rooney (Pittsburgh), Jeffrey Lurie (Philadelphia) and Jed York (San Francisco).

Representing the players were NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, union president Eric Winston, former player Anquan Boldin, and current players Butler (Indianapolis), Russell Okung (Los Angeles Chargers), Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas and Michael Thomas (Miami), Mark Herzlich (New York Giants), Kelvin Beachum and Demario Davis (New York Jets), Jenkins and Chris Long (Philadelphia), Eric Reid (San Francisco) and Josh Norman (Washington).

Jenkins has been one of the leading spokesmen among the players, as well as highly active in the community. He said the discussion was about “everything to do with the state of the NFL now, obviously anthem protests, activism that players have been doing, and how we can move this forward to really amplify players’ voices and amplify these issues and make some long sustainable changes.”

“I’m not sure we’re close to a resolution, but conversations are ongoing,” he added. “It went from just phone calls to obviously this is the first time meeting. So I don’t think we could come up with a whole plan and solution in two hours, but we are happy that these things are happening. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to really put a good plan together.”

Earlier, outside of the hotel where the owners are meeting, two dozen supporters of Black Lives Matter New York held a rally backing the players for speaking out — particularly former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem last year in protest of racial injustice in America. Demonstrations during the anthem increased when Trump called the players unpatriotic if they knelt during the anthem, with both players and league executives saying the meaning of the protests has been misconstrued by the president and his supporters.

At a game earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium after several 49ers knelt during the anthem.

Jenkins said after the meeting that Kaepernick had been invited by the players but didn’t attend.

Also Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was confronted by two people in the lobby of the Manhattan hotel where the owners are meeting. The protesters shouted at him about the issue of white supremacy while Jones was surrounded by bodyguards. Jones stopped to listen but said nothing, and the protesters were peacefully led away.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Judge: Newest Travel Ban ‘Same Maladies’ As Previous Version

HONOLULU (AP) — Just hours before President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban was to take full effect, a federal judge in Hawaii blocked the revised order, saying the policy has the same problems as a previous version.

The revised order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor,” U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson wrote in his ruling, which prevented the Trump administration from enforcing the travel ban set to go into effect early Wednesday.

It was the third set of travel restrictions issued by the president to be thwarted, in whole or in part, by the courts.

Watson’s Tuesday ruling said the new ban, like its predecessor, fails to show that nationality alone makes a person a greater security risk to the U.S.

“The categorical restrictions on entire populations of men, women and children, based upon nationality, are a poor fit for the issues regarding the sharing of ‘public-safety and terrorism-related information’ that the president identifies,” Watson wrote.

He said the ban is inconsistent in the way some countries are included or left out. For example, Iraq failed to meet the security benchmark but was omitted from the ban. Somalia met the information-sharing benchmark but was included.

The ban, which was announced in September, applied to travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, along with some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

The Trump administration said the ban was based on an assessment of each country’s security situation and willingness to share information with the U.S.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the ruling “dangerously flawed” and said it “undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe.” The Justice Department said it will quickly appeal.

The judge’s ruling applies only to the six Muslim-majority countries on the list. It does not affect the restrictions against North Korea or Venezuela, because Hawaii did not ask for that.

The state of Hawaii challenged the ban on a set of mostly Muslim countries, arguing that the restrictions would separate families and undermine the recruiting of diverse college students.

“This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion,” Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement. “Today is another victory for the rule of law.”

Watson, appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama, said the new restrictions ignore a federal appeals court ruling against Trump’s previous ban.

The latest version “plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the 9th Circuit has found antithetical to … the founding principles of this nation,” Watson wrote.

Hawaii also argued the updated ban was a continuation of Trump’s campaign call for a ban on Muslims, despite the addition of two countries without a Muslim majority.

Watson noted that Hawaii had argued Trump did not back down from that call, listing in the ruling a series of June tweets “in which (Trump) complained about how the Justice Department had submitted a “watered down, politically correct version’ to the Supreme Court.”

Other courts that weighed the travel ban have cited Trump’s comments about banning Muslims, including the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia and a federal judge in Maryland. Watson also referred to a Trump campaign statement in his previous ruling.

“Judge Watson’s ruling makes clear that we are a nation of laws, no matter what this administration may try to do,” Hawaii’s U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said in a statement. “There is a place here for peaceful immigrants from every corner of the world: Spain, Syria, Sudan, or Singapore. There is no place here for discrimination or xenophobia.”

Watson found fault with what sorts of visitors are barred. For instance, all tourists and business travelers from Libya are excluded from the U.S., but student visitors were allowed.

The judge said he would set an expedited hearing to determine whether the temporary restraining order blocking the ban should be extended. It comes as other courts weigh challenges to the ban.

In Maryland, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are seeking to block the visa and entry restrictions. Washington state, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, New York and Maryland are challenging the order in front of the same federal judge in Seattle who struck down Trump’s initial ban in January.

That ban — aimed mostly at Muslim-majority countries — led to chaos and confusion at airports nationwide and triggered several lawsuits, including one from Hawaii.

When Trump revised the ban, Hawaii challenged that version, too, and Watson agreed it discriminated on the basis of nationality and religion. A subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed the administration to partially reinstate restrictions against Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and against all refugees.

Hawaii then successfully challenged the government’s definition of which relatives of people already living in the U.S. would be allowed into the country, and Watson ordered the list expanded.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Lego Unveils ‘Women Of NASA’ Set With Astronauts, Scientists

ENFIELD, Conn. (AP) — Lego has unveiled a set of figures celebrating the women of NASA.

The 231-piece set features Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, and Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space. Also included in the set are figures of astronomer and educator Nancy Grace Roman and computer scientist Margaret Hamilton.

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Texas Cities Wooing Amazon With Diversity, Arts, Sunshine

DALLAS (AP) — Economic incentives are expected to be major selling points for a number of Texas cities making pitches to Amazon for the Seattle-based company’s second headquarters and the estimated 50,000 jobs that would come with it.

Formal proposals are due to the company Thursday.

The Associated Press recently spoke with business leaders around Texas to find out why they believe their respective cities would provide the best fit for Amazon.

Here’s a look at their responses:

AUSTIN:

Mike Berman, a spokesman for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, says the region is especially appealing to Amazon because it’s the kind of place where everybody can fit in.

“Austin is cool and innovative and extremely accepting and diverse,” he said.

Amazon already has a large presence in the area, including about 3,000 workers at a distribution center in nearby San Marcos, Berman said. Amazon also recently purchased Austin-based Whole Foods.

But beyond a vibrant economy and a growing population of qualified workers — it’s a great place to live, Berman said.

“It’s an exceptional quality of life. Live music, festivals, sports, parks, lakes, biking. We’re a big foodie friendly community,” he said. “It’s a very active and easy-going lifestyle, 300 days of sunshine, very pleasant.”

DALLAS:

Kourtny Garrett, the CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc., cited the area’s business climate as a draw for Amazon, plus the low cost of living and the region’s light rail system.

“Downtown Dallas is a completely new destination over the last decade. We’ve had over 110 percent residential growth, we have a very strong base of young, educated talent and an environment that is culturally rich and fun,” Garrett said.

The downtown Dallas area has about 200 restaurants, plus the largest urban arts district in the country, Garrett said. The Dallas Museum of Art is on the west, the Klyde Warren Park area to the north, One Arts Plaza is the eastern anchor and then on the south side the Arts District extends to the Ross Avenue and San Jacinto corridors.

“I think the recreational aspects of Dallas are often overlooked,” Garrett said.

She cited the Trinity River Audubon Center, numerous trails and four signature parks — with four more planned over the next five years.

HOUSTON:

Bob Harvey, president & CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, praised community and individual efforts following Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall Aug. 25 in Texas and dumped record rainfall that swamped parts of Houston.

“I think the world saw Houston at its best in the local recovery efforts,” Harvey said. “People did see a community that’s unique in its ability to respond to an emergency.”

Those are the kind of people Amazon might want to hire, “people you might want on hand,” Harvey said.

Coastal communities are having to react to a pattern of increased rainfall and more severe tropical disturbances, with Houston making commitments to improve its infrastructure and storm surge protection, he said.

Harvey also noted Houston’s quality of life built on “being a fun city” with affordable housing and a reputation for diversity. Professional sports, great restaurants and an appealing nightlife add to the attraction, he said.

The area boasts a STEM-educated and technical workforce, along with a concentration of 58 medical institutions — billed as the largest medical center in the world — and two medical schools, Harvey said.

“At the end of the day, Texas is a business-friendly state, a great place to locate a growing business,” he said.

SAN ANTONIO:

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on Oct. 11 announced the area was no longer bidding for the Amazon project, saying the public process was creating a bidding war among states and cities.

The letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also says media reports suggest that San Antonio might not have been on the company’s “short list.”

“It’s not that we wouldn’t love to have Amazon select San Antonio. Any city would. We know that Amazon and San Antonio are culturally compatible and that we both have eyes strategically set on the future — smart growth, municipal resiliency, and connectivity are areas we plan for and invest in today. If Amazon follows the approach that it took in Seattle by building a massive urban campus to support 50,000 employees, the company’s impact could accelerate our plans in a transformative way,” the letter said.

“We’ve long been impressed by Amazon and its bold view of the future. Given this, it’s hard to imagine that a forward-thinking company like Amazon hasn’t already selected its preferred location. And if that’s the case, then this public process is, intentionally or not, creating a bidding war among states and cities,” according to the letter.

“Sure, we have a competitive toolkit of incentives, but blindly giving away the farm isn’t our style,” the letter on behalf of San Antonio and Bexar County said.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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J. Lo & A-Rod Raise $26 Million For Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

NEW YORK (AP) – Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez have raised $26 million for Puerto Rico disaster relief, with another $9 million raised by a benefit show.

The two hosted “One Voice: Somos Live!” on Saturday with Marc Anthony.

Lopez says that amid “swirling negativity dividing our country,” the outpouring of support for Puerto Rico following the devastating hurricane was gratifying.

The benefit show included performances by Demi Lovato, Ricky Martin, Mary J. Blige and Gwen Stefani.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Baltimore Workers Remove “Fatberg” Of Grease From Sewer Pipe

BALTIMORE (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A “fatberg” that may have taken beyond half a century to grow below Baltimore has been removed.

CBS news station WJZ reports the city’s Public Works department used a camera, pressure washer and truck-mounted industrial vacuum to clear the mass of curdled grease, wet wipes and other waste.

Pat Boyle with the Baltimore City Department of Public Works says it’s all those things besides sewage that caused the problem. “Anything you might cook, grease, butter, mayonnaise, anything your grandmother said don’t put down the drain.”

Workers resorted to the strategy Monday after they’d begun scraping pieces off last month.

The notorious glob was found clogging up to 85 percent of a 24-inch pipe near Penn Station. It’s blamed for causing more than 1 million gallons of sewage to overflow into the Jones Fall stream. It’s the culmination of objects caked along a pipe’s walls that shouldn’t go down drains.

Boyle says, “We can’t treat our toilets like our trash cans.”

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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With ALCS Tied 2-2, Astros Turn To Keuchel For Game 5

NEW YORK (AP) – The Houston Astros heated up their bullpen in a hurry, but it didn’t make any difference. Not on this night, not in a ballpark that kept pulsating with every pitch.

No matter who manager A.J. Hinch signaled for, the New York Yankees would not be stopped. Somehow, the Astros squandered a late four-run lead and fell 6-4 Tuesday, and now find themselves tied at two games apiece in the AL Championship Series.

At least Hinch’s next move is an easy call: Bring on the beard.

Dallas Keuchel will take the mound Wednesday in Game 5, with Houston hoping he can extend his remarkable run against the Yankees.

“Obviously this next game, Dallas Keuchel, he’s pretty good at getting deep in the game,” Hinch said. “We’ll hand the ball to this bullpen with the lead tomorrow feeling good about it, if that’s the case.”

Keuchel is prepared for a nice pregame reception, too. Bronx cheers, mostly.

“You get boos against the Evil Empire at the home turf, it makes you feel good just because you’re doing your job correctly,” Keuchel said, hours before Houston blew a tremendous chance to move within one win of the World Series.

Keuchel has been almost automatic against the Yankees, especially in October.

The lefty ace pitched seven shutout innings and struck out 10 to win Game 1. The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner capped off that season by throwing six scoreless innings to win the Wild-Card game at Yankee Stadium .

Overall, he has a 1.09 ERA in 57 2/3 innings against the Yanks. Oh, and he hasn’t given up a home run in that span.

“We expect Dallas to be Dallas tomorrow,” said Joe Musgrove, one of three ineffective Houston relievers in the loss.

Musgrove, Chris Devenski and Ken Giles all struggled after Aaron Judge’s leadoff homer in the seventh made it 4-1 and finished starter Lance McCullers Jr. Nine of the first 13 batters who faced the Houston bullpen reached base as the decibel level kept climbing.

“I think you’re always confident when Dallas is on the hill,” McCullers said. “I don’t really think it matters on what team we’re facing or his past success or non-success against a team.”

“If he’s right, and he’s been looking awesome pretty much all season, we feel very confident with him on the hill,” he added. “We have Game 5 here tomorrow, hopefully win that one, go back home with a 3-2 lead and finish it up at home.”

Keuchel will oppose Masahiro Tanaka in a rematch of the opener, won by Houston 2-1 at Minute Maid Park.

“I mean, that’s always in the back of your head. You know he’s pitching tomorrow. When he pitched Game 1, I knew he was pitching Game 5,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

“We haven’t done a whole lot off of him in the starts we’ve seen off him,” he said. “Hopefully, seeing him twice in one series, our guys are able to adjust a little quicker.”

With his bushy beard, Keuchel is easily recognizable around town, be it Houston or New York. No different during this trip to the Big Apple.

“People always are going to have choice words for you. So I fully expect that,” he said.

“There’s two joys that I really take pride in, and that’s when I’m warming up in the visitors’ bullpen and getting heckled by fans because they’ve had some beverages,” he said. “Usually there’s a funnel cake or like a hot dog, which smells really good.”

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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