Colin Kaepernick attending private workout for NFL teams

1 0 13 Nov 2019

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been invited to a private training session hosted by the NFL after a years-long stalemate between him and the league.

Kaepernick, who hasn’t played since the 2016 season, confirmed Tuesday that the NFL reached out to his representatives. The workout will be conducted by the league’s scouting personnel in Atlanta on Saturday and include both an on-field workout and an interview opportunity.

The Morning Rundown

Get a head start on the morning’s top stories.

“I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday,” Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick has not been signed by any team since he left the 49ers following the 2016 season, after the player made national headlines for kneeling alongside former teammate Eric Reid during the national anthem in protest of systemic racism. Reid has continued to play and is now with the Carolina Panthers.

The 32-year-old quarterback posted a video of himself working out in August, declaring that he was still ready to play professional football.

Lawyers for Kaepernick and the league said in February that the two parties came to a settlement agreement regarding his collusion grievance against the NFL. The details of the settlement were not released and subject to a confidentiality agreement.

He was drafted in 2011 from the University of Nevada and took over as the starting quarterback for the 49ers halfway through the 2012 season. He led his team to the 2013 Super Bowl and the 2014 NFC championship game.

He had a passer rating of 90.7 in the 2016 season he played for the 49ers, which was middle of the pack for starting QBs. He was statistically ahead of several highly paid quarterbacks still in the league today — such as Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and Joe Flacco.

Despite being out of pro football, Kaepernick has remained a key civil rights figure. Nike tailored a marketing campaign around him this past September, coining the phrase: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

David K. Li contributed.

That Arctic blast hitting the U.S.? Theres a wavy jet stream to blame.

0 0 13 Nov 2019

An unusually wavy jet stream — a ribbon of fast-moving air that flows over the Northern Hemisphere — is to blame for an Arctic onslaught that is blasting most of the United States with snow and record-low temperatures this week.

About two-thirds of the country is being affected by the deep chill, with the National Weather Service forecasting that an uncommonly large area could see record-low temperatures Wednesday, including most of the East Coast and from the Midwest south to the upper Texas coast.

This week’s wintry blast, like all weather events, is the result of a complex interplay between atmospheric conditions and the movement of air around the planet. The frigid conditions across much of the U.S. are being caused by a ripple in the jet stream that pushed an Arctic air mass into Canada that is now shifting across the central and eastern United States, according to Marc Chenard, a meteorologist and forecaster with the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

The jet stream, which flows west to east in the upper atmosphere over the Northern Hemisphere, is driven by temperature differences between the cooler polar region to the north and warmer air masses to the south.

As this river of air circles the planet, it can undulate and create larger-than-normal peaks and troughs that impact weather systems. When the jet stream dips south and creates a trough, this allows cold, polar air to funnel southward. Conversely, when the jet stream swells into a peak, warmer air rushes in to fill that void and drier conditions typically prevail.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

“What we have now is a wavy pattern where the peak of the wave is over the western U.S. and the downward portion of the wave is coming over the eastern U.S.,” Chenard said.

The ridge over the western part of the country is responsible for the dry conditions and above-average temperatures that have fueled devastating fires in California in recent weeks, said Jeff Masters, co-founder and director of meteorology for Weather Underground, a commercial weather service headquartered in San Francisco.

“The two are correlated — where you get one extreme, it gets balanced by the opposite extreme,” Masters said.

According to the weather service, record-cold conditions are expected across the Plains, stretching to the East Coast this week. Though some records may fall in the coming days, Chenard said what’s more unusual is how much of the country will be blanketed by the Arctic air mass.

“It’s not uncommon to get record lows for a specific date, but it’s not too common for it to span this large of a geographic area,” he said.

And though some seasonal variation is natural with the jet stream, there are some indications that climate change is affecting the waviness of these air currents, and their speed. A 2015 study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters found a link between rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and wavier jet stream patterns, which can intensify and stretch out periods of rain, extreme heat or drought.

“We had a near-record year for Arctic sea ice melt this year, and that has probably increased the odds of this sort of behavior in the jet stream,” Masters said.

He added that he is especially interested to see if any record-lows are set for the entire month of November.

“Daily lows aren’t that hard to set — there are around 100 cities that could do that this week,” he said, “But if we set an all-time low for November this early in the season, that would be something. That would speak to the unusualness of all this.”

Michigan teen needed new lungs because of vaping

1 0 13 Nov 2019

A 17-year-old boy is believed to be the first person to receive a double lung transplant because of the vaping-related illness that has sickened thousands nationwide.

Doctors at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, where the teen was treated, said they had never seen such scarring on someone’s lungs from vaping.

“This is an evil that I haven’t faced before,” Dr. Hassan Nemeh, a thoracic specialist at Henry Ford Health System, said during a news conference Tuesday.

The doctors refused to answer questions about what the boy had been vaping before becoming ill. Instead, they had one message: Stop vaping, whatever it is — just stop.

“We beg of you,” said Dr. Nicholas Yeldo, a critical care physician with the hospital system. “We don’t want to be taking care of you next.”

The boy’s family chose not to give his name as he recovers from surgery. The family released a statement Tuesday, saying their lives have been “forever changed.”

“He has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy 16-year-old athlete — attending high school, hanging out with friends, sailing and playing video games — to waking up intubated and with two new lungs, facing a long and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and mobility, which has been severely impacted,” the statement read. The boy turned 17 while in the hospital.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

The young man was admitted to Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit on Sept. 5 with what appeared to be pneumonia.

But when his condition deteriorated a week later, he had to be transferred to Children’s Hospital of Michigan. There, he was hooked up to an ECMO machine, which takes over the job of the heart and lungs, pumping and oxygenating the body’s blood supply.

It didn’t work. His lungs were so badly inflamed and scarred that he needed new healthy lungs to survive.

The boy “would have faced certain death if it weren’t for the lung transplant,” Nemeh said.

To get the transplant, the boy needed to be transported again — this time to Henry Ford Health System. The problem was that he would die within minutes if he were taken off the ECMO to make the drive. Ambulances are not equipped with ECMO.

Yeldo described an intense scene as he and his team ran from one doctor to another to try to figure out how to get the teen to them as quickly and as safely as possible. In the end, they needed to switch him to a portable ECMO, which could be taken in the ambulance. They could only spare about eight to 10 seconds to make the risky switch from the hospital machine to the portable one.

On Oct. 15, doctors there were able to transplant healthy lungs from an anonymous donor.

On the right, the boy’s lungs were scarred and inflamed before transplant. On the left, the black areas show where air is now flowing into the lungs, post transplant.Henry Ford Health System

“We are forever grateful to the organ donor and their compassionate family for making the selfless decision to donate the gift of life,” the boy’s family wrote in the statement.

The young man will be transferred to a rehabilitation center, and, despite doing well, faces a long and arduous recovery.

Patients who have double lung transplants have a median survival of seven years after surgery, but the boy’s doctors anticipate he may be able to beat those odds.

“We’re hopeful given his youth and progress that happens in the future that he will be alive and well for a long time,” said Dr. Lisa Allenspach, director of the lung transplant program at Henry Ford Health System.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,051 cases nationwide of EVALI, as the disease has become known, a number that’s sure to grow when the agency updates its weekly case count on Thursday. State health departments across the country are investigating hundreds more potential cases.

Investigators at the CDC reported a breakthrough last Friday, saying they had discovered vitamin E acetate in lung fluid samples of 29 patients from 10 different states.

Vitamin E acetate, an oil, is a synthetic form of vitamin E. It appears to be used as a cutting agent in THC e-liquid as a way to dilute the product. It’s been found in half of the 419 THC product samples tested at the Food and Drug Administration. Patients affected by the illness have reported vaping both THC and nicotine.

As solid as the evidence is for vitamin E acetate as a source of the outbreak, it’s likely just one of multiple causes.

The FDA has found other diluents, such as medium chain triglycerides and polyethylene glycol, in products. Medium chain triglycerides are sold in oil form as a dietary supplement, and polyethylene glycol is the active ingredient in over-the-counter laxatives.

Follow NBC HEALTH on Twitter & Facebook.

Nearly 1 in 5 hate crimes motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias, FBI finds

0 0 13 Nov 2019

Of the 7,120 hate crime incidents reported in 2018, more than 1,300 — or nearly 19 percent — stemmed from anti-LGBTQ bias, according to the FBI’s latest Hate Crime Statistics report.

According to the FBI data, of the nearly 1,200 incidents targeting people due to their sexual orientation, the majority targeted gay men (roughly 60 percent), while approximately 12 percent targeted lesbians, 1.5 percent targeted bisexuals, 1.4 percent targeted heterosexuals and the remaining incidents targeted a mixed group of LGBTQ people. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people were the targets in 168 reported incidents, approximately 2.4 percent of all reported hate crime incidents last year.

When compared to 2017, the number of reported incidents targeting the LGBTQ community increased from 1,217 to 1,347, jumping from roughly 17 percent to 19 percent of each year’s total number of reported hate crime incidents.

The Morning Rundown

Get a head start on the morning’s top stories.

In particular, reports of anti-trans violence is growing: Between 2017 and 2018, the number of these reported incidents increased 34 percent.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community is estimated by Gallup to comprise 4.5 percent of the U.S. population, yet according to the FBI’s newly released report, they comprise 18.5 percent of hate crime victims.

While the 7,120 overall reported hate crime incidents recorded in 2018 are slightly fewer than in 2017, both years represent historically high levels of reported hate crimes, with only 2008 recording more in the past decade: 7,783. In 2014, hate crimes hit a decade-low rate of 5,479 incidents.

Another noteworthy trend is that reported hate crimes increasingly targeted people (like assault) instead of property (like vandalism), even as the nation enjoys continued decreases in both violent and property crimes.

In 2018, nearly 66 percent of hate crime offenses were directed toward people, while 31 percent were directed toward property. In 2017, 60 percent of hate crimes were directed toward people, while 37 percent were directed toward property.

According to FBI data released in September, this goes against overall nationwide crime trends. In 2018, the national violent crime rate fell 4 percent compared to 2017, while the property crime rate declined 7 percent.

According to this latest report, Jewish and black communities continue to shoulder a disproportionate percentage of federally reported hate crimes: Jewish people comprise an estimated 2 percent of the U.S. population but make up 10 percent of hate crime victims, and the black community is an estimated 13.4 percent of the U.S. population but makes up 26 percent of hate crime victims.

The FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics report tells just part of the story. Of the 16,039 law enforcement agencies across the country that voluntarily participated in the Hate Crime Statistics Program, only 2,026 reported any hate crime incidents at all, according to the FBI. The state of Alabama, for example, did not report a single hate crime in all of 2018.

Follow NBC Out on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

A combative Trump and his White House brace for first public impeachment hearings

1 0 12 Nov 2019

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has long criticized Democrats for conducting the impeachment inquiry behind closed doors. This week, he and his advisers are bracing for impact as those doors are thrown open and the cameras roll on the first public presidential impeachment hearings in over 20 years.

As the hearings on Wednesday have approached, Trump’s mood has veered between relishing the fight and seething with anger as he focuses heavily on his television defenders, according to one person close to the White House.

The White House has been coordinating with House Republicans on a strategy for the hearings in hopes of distancing the president from the witnesses, arguing that none of those testifying had direct knowledge of the president’s thinking, and of blocking any witnesses who would have had direct conversations with the president, such as acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, from testifying.

Meanwhile, even as the president takes on a string of counterprogramming events that may keep him from reacting to the public hearings in real time, his re-election campaign plans to have a swarm of staffers monitoring the proceedings to help coordinate pushback.

The scheduled testimony that begins Wednesday with that of two career diplomats — William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs — is expected to paint a picture of a shadow diplomacy being run by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

It is also expected to draw a fairly direct line between the withholding of security aid to Ukraine and the president’s desire to have it investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, or at least to publicly announce the launch of such a probe.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

While transcripts of previous closed-door testimony featuring those witnesses, as well as testimony from Friday’s scheduled witness — former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — has already been released, the impact of live, televised hearings remains unclear.

On Wednesday, as the first witnesses are scheduled to begin testifying, Trump will hold a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House followed by a news conference — largely keeping him away from Twitter and the live play-by-play for a significant stretch of the day.

The meeting itself could also stir up its own controversy. Bipartisan members of Congress had called for Trump to disinvite Erdogan to the White House after a Turkish assault on Syrian Kurds, and are considering stricter sanctions on Turkey.

On Thursday evening, before the second day of testimony, Trump will hold a rally in Louisiana before the state’s runoff election for governor on Saturday, providing an uninterrupted opportunity to counterpunch.

Stepping in to assist the White House defense this week will be Trump’s re-election campaign, which plans to have nearly 20 staffers monitoring every word, and every potential viral moment, of the hearings from a screen-filled corner of its Virginia headquarters. The campaign has already prepared many of the talking points they hope will bolster the president’s repeated message that the controversial July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was “perfect.”

The campaign is also staffing up its press team ahead of the hearings, adding a new deputy communications director, Ali Pardo, who has years of Hill experience.

Campaign aides also say they expect a fundraising boom for the president’s re-election effort — much as they experienced surrounding major milestones in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and in the days after the impeachment inquiry was first announced.

Republican talking points for Wednesday’s hearing, which circulated Monday night among members of the House committees conducting the Ukraine investigation, showed lawmakers planning to narrow the focus to Trump’s summer call with Zelenskiy, which they will argue included no solid evidence of conditionality or pressure.

They will also argue that the security funds were eventually released without Ukraine publicly stating it would investigate the Bidens — though that funding only got the green light after the whistleblower’s complaint was known within the administration, and pressure was put on the White House by members of Congress.

House Republicans have looked to create an additional diversion by way of a list of witnesses that would include both the whistleblower and Hunter Biden, as well as several other individuals not directly involved in U.S. policy toward Ukraine, but related to tangential controversies or favored Trump theories to which Republicans would like to shift the focus.

The president’s television defenders will continue to press the idea that the process has been unfair and argue that Democrats are focusing on impeachment at the expense of other legislative priorities, said an administration official.

“I think it is kind of hard to say this is what you are pursuing instead of lowering my drug prices, instead of getting legislation done to help our infrastructure, instead of passing trade deals,” Marc Short, chief of staff to the vice president, said on Fox Business News Tuesday morning.

Rapper Lil Reese in critical condition after suffering gunshot wound outside Chicago

1 0 12 Nov 2019

Rapper Lil Reese was hospitalized in critical condition after he was shot in the neck at an intersection in a Chicago suburb.

Country Club Hills police responded at 2:30 p.m. Monday to reports of a gunshot victim in the nearby city of Markham, about 25 miles south of Chicago, according to a statement from police. When officers arrived, they found a car that had “fresh blood” on the driver’s seat and blood on the ground next to the car.

Witnesses told police that a man had brought a gunshot victim to the hospital, and officers found the man in the emergency room of the nearby Advocate South Suburban Hospital. He was transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center, nearer to Chicago, according to Country Club Hills police.

The victim was shot once in the neck area, police said.

Officials at the medical center told The Associated Press that the wounded man is Tavares Taylor, who is known as Lil Reese. They said he was in critical condition upon arrival.

Lil Reese, 26, became known after collaborating with artists like Chief Keef and Fredo Santana.

Police said the shooting is under investigation, and have not said whether they have identified a suspect.

Associated Press contributed.

Human remains found in Alabama during search for missing 5-year-old Florida girl

1 0 12 Nov 2019

Authorities searching in Alabama for a 5-year-old girl missing from Jacksonville, Florida, have found human remains, police said Tuesday.

The Demopolis Police Department in Alabama said that the team searching for Taylor Rose Williams discovered human remains in a wooded area between Linden and Demopolis. Identification of the remains is pending, according to authorities.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

An Amber Alert was issued Wednesday for Taylor, after her mother, Brianna Williams, told police the little girl was not in her room when she checked on her that morning. She also said she had found the back door to her Jacksonville home unlocked.

Missing 5-year-old Taylor Williams.via WTLV

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told reporters at a news conference the next day that Brianna Williams was the last person to see Taylor and investigators had pointed out some “inconsistencies in her statement … when she chose to stop cooperating with us.”

He said Monday that the 5-year-old’s mother was considered a person of interest in the case, and that the investigation had led authorities to search for Taylor Rose in the areas surrounding Demopolis, about 60 miles south of Tuscaloosa. Local agencies and others, including the FBI, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Alabama Attorney Generals Office, were involved in the investigation.

The sheriff had asked the public to report if anyone had seen Taylor and her mother traveling between Florida and Alabama over the last two weeks, possibly in the mother’s black 2017 Honda Accord. He also asked anyone who had seen Taylor and her mother together in the last six months to contact authorities.

The mother, a petty officer first class at the Tactical Operations Center at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, has stayed on the base since police last spoke to her, officials said Monday.

He said it is unclear when anyone other than Brianna Williams last saw Taylor alive, but did not say what led investigators to believe that Taylor may be in another state.

Supreme Court appears inclined to let Trump end DACA program

2 0 12 Nov 2019

WASHINGTON — A bare majority of the U.S. Supreme Court appeared likely Tuesday to let the Trump administration follow through on its plan to shut down DACA, the federal program that has allowed nearly 800,000 young people, known as dreamers, to avoid deportation and remain in the U.S.

With hundreds of DACA supporters rallying outside — so many that police shut down the street in front of the Supreme Court — the justices heard nearly an hour and a half of oral arguments. Based on their questions, it appeared that the court’s five conservatives were inclined to rule that the Department of Homeland Security acted properly when it ordered the program ended in 2017 and that the federal courts cannot second-guess that decision.

While Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh appeared likely to say DACA was properly shut down, Chief Justice John Roberts did not seem to be as strongly convinced. Roberts may be the deciding vote, just as it was last term when the court blocked the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census form. He concluded in that case that the government did not give an adequate explanation for its proposed action.

Lower court rulings have kept DACA going, allowing young people in the program to reapply every two years to remain under its protection. Children of undocumented immigrants can remain here if they were under 16 when their parents brought them to the U.S. and if they arrived by 2007.

Arguing for DACA’s defenders, Washington, D.C., lawyer Ted Olson said federal law requires the government to give a detailed explanation before taking an action that affects hundreds of thousands of people and the businesses that employ them.

It would be one thing, he said, “if they provided a rational explanation and took responsibility for their decision.” But instead, the Trump Justice Department simply said the program was illegal and therefore must be shut down.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

“We don’t know what the administration would do if it had to own its decision and take responsibility for throwing these young people out of work,” Olson said.

The court’s four liberal justices seemed to agree. When the government tried to end it, “They said it was illegal and said nothing about the policy,” said Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said much more explanation was needed to justify the decision. “This is about a choice to destroy lives,” she said.

But the court’s conservatives suggested that the Trump administration’s decision to stop enforcing DACA is beyond the power of courts to review, as would be the case if a local prosecutor decided to stop enforcing laws against possessing small amounts of marijuana.

When Olson suggested ending DACA is different, because so many people are affected, Gorsuch said, “I can think of a large number of people who would be affected by a prosecutor’s exercise of discretion.”

Among those nervously watching is Claudia Quiñonez of Maryland, brought to the U.S. at age 11 by her mother, who overstayed a tourist visa. “DACA truly changed my life. I have a social security number. I have the ability to work, to contribute, and pay taxes.” Figures show that over 90 percent of DACA participants have a job. Nearly half are in school. Many don’t speak the language or know the culture of their home countries.

The case has attracted the interest of more than 100 businesses and trade groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which have urged the Supreme Court to allow DADA to continue. Microsoft is one of the DACA defenders whose lawsuits led to court orders that kept the program going.

The company says more than 60 DACA recipients are among its employees. “These young people contribute to our company and serve our customers. They help create our products, secure our services, and manage our finances.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook filed a separate friend of court brief in aid of DACA participants. “They, and immigrants like them, are vital to Apple’s success. They spark creativity and help drive innovation. They are among our most driven and selfless colleagues.”

A ruling in such a contentious case isn’t likely until the spring of 2020, assuring that DACA will figure in the presidential campaign.

Sean Spicer eliminated from Dancing With the Stars

4 0 12 Nov 2019

Sean Spicer is out — again.

The former White House press secretary was voted off from “Dancing With the Stars,” after about a month and a half of performing on the show.

“To everyone who has voted & supported me over the past 9 weeks on @DancingABC thank u from the bottom of my heart. I made it to the quarterfinals bc of your votes. I had a blast,” the former Trump aide tweeted after he was sent home Monday night. He also thanked his family, his professional dance partners Lindsay Arnold and Jenna Johnson.

Spicer’s last dances on the show were an Argentine tango to Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills” and a foxtrot to “Story of My Life” by One Direction. Spicer and Johnson earned a 26 out of 40 score.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

His average scores in past weeks have been relatively low, frustrating judges who have limited say in who stays and who goes due to an audience voting system.

Before Monday, Spicer’s team was never in the bottom two. But when he didn’t receive enough votes to keep him out, the judges seized and sent him packing.

Donald Trump Jr. and others on the right had encouraged viewers to vote for Spicer. “Guys get this going again for Spicy. The meltdown the Hollywood types keep having when he wins with your votes is soooo worth the time. Get on it!!!” Trump tweeted last week.

President Donald Trump had also been rooting for Spicer. He tried to urge his supporters to vote for Spicer Monday in a now-deleted tweet that was replaced with one that said: “A great try by @seanspicer. We are all proud of you!”

“Thank you @POTUS @realDonaldTrump I can’t begin to express how much your continued support has meant, especially during my time on @DancingABC,” Spicer replied.

His six-month stint in the Trump administration was tumultuous, and his relationship with the press was fraught. He resigned in July 2017.

His casting on the 28th season of “DWTS” was met with a good deal of backlash, including from one of the show’s longtime hosts, Tom Bergeron.

And his first appearance, which included a ruffled neon green shirt and bongos, became the inspiration for dozens of mocking memes and gifs, though Spicer seemed to be in on the joke.

Country singer Lauren Alaina, singer Ally Brooke, “Bachelorette” contestant Hannah Brown, comedian Kel Mitchell, and actor James Van Der Beek will move on to the semifinals next week.

Variety contributed.


3 0 12 Nov 2019



 All in one social media promotion tool.


This allows you to automate your social media campaigns from building to posting.