Category Archives: News Gate

Keidel: As The Air Comes Out Of The Patriots, The Jets Should Take Flight

By Jason Keidel
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So America’s quarterback fumbled — and no tuck rule can save him this time.

And if you find comfort in the opaque characterizations, like “probably” and “more likely than not” then you must be one of the more mummified in Patriots jerseys and propaganda.

The balls were deflated for Tom Brady, not for the center, not for Rob Gronkowski, and not for the running back.

Brady is busted. It makes all his toothy smiles and charming platitudes after the Colts game look a little silly in retrospect. He cheated, and it’s not enough to assert that “everyone cheats” and “if you’re not cheating you’re not trying.” Save those cliches for your little Twitter echo chamber.

And if you need a more certified authority on the matter, listen to Tim Hasselbeck, whose family has spent over three decades in the NFL. Hasselbeck was even a ball boy for the Patriots as a youngster, and he told ESPN, unequivocally, that there’s no way the Patriots deflated those balls without direct orders from Brady.

Now, what makes a scandal? Is it the transgression or the person who commits it? We know the latter is what gives the theater more heft. Like it or not, it matters more that Brady did this than if Ryan Fitzpatrick did the same.

You can decide how this deflates Brady’s robust legacy. To say this somehow precludes him from the Hall of Fame, or takes an eraser to his Super Bowl victories, is a bit much. His Patriots beat Seattle, with ample pressure on the game and inside the footballs.

So who are the biggest winners in this drama?

The Jets.

Armed with a fertile draft and serious free agent signings, Gang Green already has a leg up entering the season, especially if Brady is suspended for a game or two to start 2015. (Jets fans aren’t the only ones rooting for Brady to ride the pine in Week 1, when the Patriots play my beloved black & gold.)

Forget anything you’ll hear out of New England this week, especially from the Patriots’ patriarch, Robert Kraft, whose job is to deny every vowel of the venomous report by Ted Wells. They are going to refute any finding that casts any shadow on a shiny franchise.

So think about how this helps the Jets, who begin the season, at home, against the woeful Cleveland Browns. Assuming they win that contest, and my Steelers sneak by the Brady-less Pats, then you’re already up a game.

The Jets have an ornery road after the Browns, with games agains the Colts, Eagles, and Dolphins to finish the first quarter of the season. But the game in Indianapolis is the only one really on the road. They can beat the vastly-reorganized Eagles at home and perhaps the Dolphins in London.

The Patriots will play a fascinating game against Rex Ryan’s new-look Bills, in Buffalo, before a gimme against the Jaguars. Then, after their bye week, they play at the Cowboys, which is hardly a cakewalk.

So it would shock no one to see both teams 2-2. If the Jets can squeeze out 3-1, before their two games against New England, then all the better.

But the Pats have more than the perfunctory slate of games to face. As Super Bowl champions, they will get everyone’s most rabid effort. Brady is also a year older, and their defense is exponentially slower without Darrelle Revis, who is, of course, a Jet.

And there’s the bad karma that will follow the Pats like a fog, with opposing teams and fans reminding them of their penchant for twisting the rules.

No matter how this plays out, it’s obscenely hard to repeat as NFL champions in the free agent era. New England did it once, but don’t bank on the Pats doing it again.

And that can only be music to Gang Green’s ears.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel

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NSA mass phone surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden ruled illegal

  • Collection of millions of Americans’ phone records is ruled unlawful
  • Landmark decision by appeals court clears way for full challenge against NSA

The US court of appeals has ruled that the bulk collection of telephone metadata is unlawful, in a landmark decision that clears the way for a full legal challenge against the National Security Agency.

A panel of three federal judges for the second circuit overturned an earlier ruling that the controversial surveillance practice first revealed to the US public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 could not be subject to judicial review.

Related: NSA bulk data collection ruled illegal – read the court document

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Tom Brady’s Agent Releases Scathing Statement Ripping Wells Report

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tom Brady’s agent, Don Yee, has released the following statement in response to the NFL’s findings on “Deflategate.”

“The Wells report, with all due respect, is a significant and terrible disappointment. It’s omission of key facts and lines of inquiry suggest the investigators reached a conclusion first, and then determined so-called facts later. One item alone taints this entire report. What does it say about the league office’s protocols and ethics when it allows one team to tip it off to an issue prior to a championship game, and no league officials or game officials notified the Patriots of the same issue prior to the game? This suggests it may be more probable than not that the league cooperated with the Colts in perpetrating a sting operation. The Wells report buries this issue in a footnote on page 46 without any further elaboration. The league is a significant client of the investigators’ law firm; it appears to be a rich source of billings and media exposure based on content in the law firm’s website. This was not an independent investigation and the contents of the report bear that out – all one has to do is read closely and critically, as opposed to simply reading headlines. The investigators’ assumptions and inferences are easily debunked or subject to multiple interpretations. Much of the report’s vulnerabilities are buried in the footnotes, which is a common legal writing tactic. It is a sad day for the league as it has abdicated the resolution of football-specific issues to people who don’t understand the context or culture of the sport. I was physically present for my client’s interview. I have verbatim notes of the interview. Tom made himself available for nearly an entire day and patiently answered every question. It was clear to me the investigators had limited understanding of professional football. For reasons unknown, the Wells report omitted nearly all of Tom’s testimony, most of which was critical because it would have provided this report with the context that it lacks. Mr. Wells promised back in January to share the results of this investigation publicly, so why not follow through and make public all of the information gathered and let the public draw its own conclusions? This report contains significant and tragic flaws, and it is common knowledge in the legal industry that reports like this generally are written for the benefit of the purchaser.”

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WATCH: Rob Gronkowski Goes Full Gronk On ‘Deflategate’ Findings

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Never change, Rob Gronkowski.

The Patriots’ star tight end had two, um, interesting responses on Wednesday to the NFL’s findings that New England staffers probably deflated footballs on purpose prior to the AFC Championship game — and quarterback Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities.”

First, there was the flex that said it all:

SEE THE FULL VIDEO AT CBS BOSTON

And then he put the cherry on top with this suggestion via Bleacher Report:

And there you have it.

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With Bernie Sanders in the Race, Hillary Clinton Can’t Dodge Trade

Hillary Rodham Clinton participates in a roundtable discussion at Rancho High School in North Las Vegas, Nev., May 5, 2015. (Isaac Brekken/The New York Times)Hillary Rodham Clinton participates in a roundtable discussion at Rancho High School in North Las Vegas, Nevada, May 5, 2015. (Photo: Isaac Brekken / The New York Times)

New data out today indicates that the US trade deficit has swelled to the highest level in more than six years. This flood of imports robs American workers of jobs and saps the economic recovery. Yet President Obama is escalating pressure on Congress to approve “Fast Track” trade authority, which would limit Congressional debate on major trade agreements and speed their approval.

In a field of White House hopefuls who are busy raising money from deep-pocketed special interests and expertly dodging the press, US Senator Bernie Sanders stands alone in his single-minded focus on the economy. His blunt talk on jobs, rising inequality, and the erosion of the middle class will force many White House hopefuls to address topics they would rather avoid, including the most important economic vote of our times on Fast Track trade.

Pushing Hillary to Take a Stand

On April 17, shortly after the Fast Track trade bill was introduced in Congress, Sanders challenged candidates for the White House to take a stand on the bill and on the two pending trade agreements, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe. He was slated to go on The Ed Show on MSNBC later that day, whose host, Ed Schultz, has been crusading against the pending agreements as job killers in a weak economy.

But before the two trade skeptics could start their discussion, Clinton aides put out a statement: “Any new trade measure has to pass two tests: First, it should put us in a position to protect American workers, raise wages and create more good jobs at home. Second, it must also strengthen our national security.”

The statement not only sounded strong, it set a remarkable new standard for trade agreements: raising, not lowering US wages. Unfortunately, it didn’t answer the challenge. Is Clinton for this Fast Track bill? And is she for or against Fast Track and the TPP which would put US workers in direct competition with workers in Vietnam whose average wage is .75 cents an hour?

When asked about Clinton’s comments, Sanders was quick to reply on CNN: “I read Senator Clinton’s statement, she has to be clear … You have to determine which side are you on. Are you on the side of working people – the people who have suffered as a result of these disastrous trade agreements and seen their jobs go to China and Mexico – or are you on the side of corporate America? … It’s not a difficult choice.”

With opposition building in Congress and rhetoric flaring, President Obama flatly called Elizabeth Warren “wrong” on trade and slammed MSNBC for its coverage, it won’t be long before Clinton will be forced to take a stand. “The fact is, the president needs her help in order to get Democrats, those in the House and Senate, to get this passed,” House Speaker John Boehner said on “Meet the Press” this weekend.

Hillary Clinton’s Mixed Message on Trade

NPR has detailed Clinton’s long history of contradictory statements on trade, but some of these contradictions had to do with her position at the time.

President Bill Clinton fought a bruising battle to pass NAFTA in 1993 against a wall of opposition in a Democratic Congress. Predictably, first lady Hillary lent her support and in 1996, she trumpeted NAFTA as “proving its worth.” It would have been remarkable for her to split with her husband over trade, just as it would be remarkable for her to split with President Obama over promotion of the TPP while serving in the cabinet as his Secretary of State.

The best test of her views on trade are her votes as US Senator. Between 2001-2009, she voted for every trade deal but one; voting in favor of free trade agreements with Singapore, Chile, Australia, Morocco and Oman. She also voiced support for the 2007 Peru FTA. But in 2005, she voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.

As recorded in the Congressional Record, she cited multiple problems with CAFTA, including provisions favoring US pharmaceutical companies that make it more difficult for developing countries to make and distribute life-saving essential medicines. These same provisions have only been made worse in the TPP, as Doctors Without Borders explains: “If the TPP is passed as it stands, it will go down in history as the most harmful trade agreement for access to medicines ever.”

In her 2014 book Hard Choices, Clinton also expressed doubts about the controversial “investor-state” provisions in trade agreements that allow corporations to directly sue governments for cash damages over health, consumer, environmental and labor protections that they believe harm their profitability and brand. Clinton wrote, “we should avoid some of the provisions sought by business interests, including our own, like giving them or their investors the power to sue foreign governments to weaken their environmental and public health rules, as Philip Morris is already trying to do in Australia.”

On this issue, Clinton now appears to stand with Sanders and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown who have consistently condemned these secretive corporate courts that operate outside the US justice system. How US firms like Phillip Morris/Altria use these provisions to browbeat the third world into accepting their deadly products was brilliantly highlighted by satirist John Oliver recently. (See the video here.)

But does she feel strongly enough about the agreement to stand with the public, the majority of whom oppose an expansion of free trade, and the majority of Congressional Democrats who are fighting Fast Track tooth and nail?

Five Million Jobs Lost to Bill Clinton’s Free-Trade Agenda

Investor-State dispute resolution is one of the more wonky reasons to reject Fast Track and the massive trade agreements that will follow. But average Americans understand the most important reason for rejecting the deal, and that is jobs.

Under the leadership of President Bill Clinton, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, deputy Larry Summers and White House advisor Rahm Emanuel, the US negotiated and passed three transformative trade agreements: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (which formed the WTO) in 1994, and China PNTR in 1999, which established normal trading relations with China.

The US lost one million manufacturing jobs thanks to NAFTA. As trade deficits have ballooned under each agreement, in total the US has suffered a net loss of nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs and the closure of 57,000 factories, according to a 2015 Public Citizen report.

The devastation in communities across the country is deep and abiding. In Milwaukee, for instance, black male employment stood at 73.4 percent back in 1970. By 2010, it was 44.7, a drop of 29 percent. Milwaukee used to make giant machines, printing presses, beer and ballbearings. Today, workers try to support their families by flipping burgers.

Even the smaller trade agreements hurt. The data is in on the 2012 US Korea agreement. US goods exports to Korea have dropped 6 percent, or $2.7 billion, in the agreement’s first three years, while goods imports from Korea have surged 19 percent, or $11.3 billion. That translates into a lot of lost jobs for American workers.

Sanders speaks to many when he says: “These corporately backed trade agreements have significantly contributed to the race to the bottom, the collapse of the American middle class and increased wealth and income inequality. The TPP is more of the same, but worse.”

With Bernie Sanders and latest GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee (who has spoken in opposition to Fast Track) now in the race for the White House and directly addressing this year’s critical vote on the future of the American economy, it is only a matter of time before Hillary and the other candidates are knocked off their comfortable fences.

Meet the Woman Behind #BlackLivesMatter – the Hashtag That Became a Civil Rights Movement

When George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder charges after killing Trayvon Martin, Alicia Garza of Oakland, California, turned to Facebook to express her anger and sadness. As a longtime social activist, Garza, who is now 34 years old, had been working for years to end systemic racism.

Alicia Garza with the Bay Area chapter of #BlackLivesMatter. (Photo: Kristin Little / Yes! Magazine)Alicia Garza with the Bay Area chapter of #BlackLivesMatter. (Photo: Kristin Little / YES! Magazine)

Alicia Garza and two friends first tweeted #BlackLivesMatter to spark a conversation after the death of Trayvon Martin. Three years later, their hashtag has become a movement.

Following the police killing of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, TIME Magazine hit newsstands with a cover dominated by large, block letters: “Black Lives Matter.” #BlackLivesMatter has infiltrated America’s modern vocabulary. It’s the rallying cry for a movement that began getting a lot of national attention after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

But #BlackLivesMatter began before Ferguson.  

When George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder charges after killing Trayvon Martin, Alicia Garza of Oakland, California, turned to Facebook to express her anger and sadness. As a longtime social activist, Garza, who is now 34 years old, had been working for years to end systemic racism. She had led activist movements in the San Francisco Bay Area, from efforts to expose and end police violence to actions to secure free public transportation for youth. Currently, Garza is the special project director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, where she works to protect the rights of black women employed in positions like housekeeping, childcare, and in-home aid.

Garza says that the moment she logged onto social media after the announcement of the Zimmerman verdict was eye-opening. She was bombarded with defeatist comments like “What did you expect?” or “I knew they would never convict him.” Overwhelmingly, these comments all pointed out the same thing: It’s treated as acceptable for unarmed black boys and men to be killed without consequence. 

Garza knew that the criminal justice system was not going to address this problem. To fill that void, she and her friends Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi founded #BlackLivesMatter to spark nationwide discussion of the way black lives are consistently undervalued in America and what people can do to change that. “We really felt like there needed to be a space that people could relate to that didn’t blame black people for conditions we didn’t create,” explains Garza.

“When we began, #BlackLivesMatter was a series of social media platforms that connected people online to take action together offline,” says Garza. At the time, the three women were involved in Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD). Access to that national network helped their message spread quickly, and soon activist organizations across the country were using #BlackLivesMatter to shine light on underreported incidents of black people being attacked or killed by police.

Now, more than three years after the death of Trayvon Martin, the phrase has become a rallying cry for a new wave of resistance in places like Ferguson; Staten Island, New York; and Baltimore, Maryland, after the police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray. And it’s more than a hashtag – it’s a civil rights movement.

#BlackLivesMatter has inspired important in-person gatherings and conversations around race, prejudice, and police brutality across the country. Garza saw some of those conversations firsthand when she traveled to Ferguson as a participant in the Black Lives Matter Ride. 

The ride, largely coordinated by Cullors-Brignac and fellow activist Darnell Moore, was an effort that got more than 500 black folks from across the country to Ferguson through organized transportation and lodging. Once they arrived, participants offered their skills and expertise to the cause, including medical aid, legal assistance, and advice and support for the new group of organizers developing in the wake of Michael Brown’s death.

 “It was incredible,” says Garza. “Black people of all stripes coming together to love on one another, committed to our collective transformation.”

One reason the reach of #BlackLivesMatter has spread so far is that it’s more inclusive than traditional civil rights movements. “Our diversity in leadership is an important component,” says Garza. “We have diverged from a model that is about following one charismatic leader, usually a man who is straight.”

Leaders of the movement include, for example, many black, queer women. In part because of that diversity, #BlackLivesMatter is changing the landscape of the modern black civil rights movement in America. It has brought people together who have traditionally been hard to get on the same page. 

There are elders, mothers and their children, queer people, and straight people, all united around this movement and determined to bring black lives to the center the of the conversation and demand that black voices be heard. “Love is what sustains us through all the hardships that come with this work. Even love for people who disagree,” says Garza. “Love is what will ultimately get us to a place where we can change the world we live in.”

(Photo: Kristin Little / Yes! Magazine)(Photo: Kristin Little / YES! Magazine)Everybody is gathering around one basic concept: #BlackLivesMatter. All of them. And whether it’s in our small, daily interactions or by our biggest governmental institutions, every life should be valued.  

Although her work requires her to travel often, Garza says her local #BlackLivesMatter chapter in Oakland still feels like home. Twice a month, the group meets to organize around topics like political education, faith and spirituality, long-term movement strategy, and direct action plans.

“It’s such an incredibly beautiful space to see emerging leaders and seasoned leaders supporting and nurturing one another,” says Garza. “And to see blackness celebrated and valued.”

The story of this movement’s inception is proof that their mission is possible. Three years ago a group of friends got together to share their grief and frustration. Now, they’ve sparked a national conversation about racism and unlawful police force and inspired people across the country to stand up and fight against injustice. 

“It’s really special to me that if I’m wearing my #BlackLivesMatter shirt, brothers on the corner ask me how they can be involved,” says Garza. “I’ve been praying for a moment like this one my entire life.”

Tornadoes rip through several central US states – in pictures

Authorities on Thursday were left to survey the damage left behind after tornadoes swept across the southern plains, overturning cars and destroying dozens of homes in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. At least nine were reported in Kansas alone, and more storms are possible later in the week

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