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Drew Brees Apologizes for Calling Kneeling Before the Flag “Disrespectful”

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Source: Sky Sports

  • In an interview with Yahoo Finance, New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees said he would never agree with anyone “disrespecting” the United States flag.
  • Brees’ comment was in response to a question of how he thinks the NFL should respond to players kneeling in the upcoming season.
  • Brees’ interview went viral, and he was met with a torrent of backlash from major athletes including LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, and even his own teammates.
  • Brees originally doubled down on his comments Wednesday before ultimately issuing an apology on Thursday morning, where he said that he should do more listening and less talking.

Brees Condemns Kneeling as “Disrespectful”

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees apologized Thursday morning for saying that he disagrees with kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest.

Brees’ apology came a day after he made his initial comments to editor Daniel Roberts with Yahoo Finance. In an interview, Robert asked Brees how he thinks the NFL will and should respond to players kneeling in the upcoming season.

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said. “Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States. 

“I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War 2, one in the army and one in the marine corps. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. So everytime I stand with my hand over my heart, looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that’s what I think about.”

Brees continued by saying that the flag symbolizes sacrifices made not only by those in the military but also by those who’ve fought for civil rights.

“Is everything right with our country right now?” he said. “No, we still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect for the flag with your hand over your heart is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better, and we are all part of the solution.”

As of Thursday morning, the clip of that portion of the interview has received over 11 millions views. 

Brees Faces Massive Backlash

Brees was hit with a torrent of backlash as his comments spread across social media. Many notable athletes accused Brees of being tone-deaf. Others asked how he could make such comments given the highly emotional nature of the current protests around the death of George Floyd. 

“WOW MAN!!,” NBA star LeBron James said. “Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of 🇺🇸 and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free.” 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers also joined in on the criticism, posting an Instagram photo of himself locking arms with his teammates.

“It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag,” Rodgers said. “Not then, Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action.” 

Wednesday night, protesters in New Orleans were heard chanting, “Fuck Drew Brees.” 

One of the most emotional responses came from Brees’ teammate Malcolm Jenkins, who held back tears while explaining what has become common criticism black Americans face when deciding to kneel.

“Our communities are under siege and we need help,” Jenkins said on Instagram “And what you’re telling us is don’t ask for help that way. Ask for a different way. ‘I can’t listen to it when you ask that way.’ We’re done asking for you.”

“People who share your sentiments, who express those, and push them throughout the world—the airwaves—are the problem. And it’s unfortunate because I considered you a friend. I looked up to you. You’re somebody who I had a great deal of respect for. But sometimes you should shut the fuck up.” 

Jenkins later deleted that video, then posted another where he continued to call out Brees. In that second video, he said Brees is blinded by privilege and that even though they’re teammates, he can’t let Brees’ comments slide.

“When we step off this field, and I take my helmet off, I’m a black man walking around America, and I’m telling you that I’m dealing with these things, I’m telling my communities are dealing with these things, and your response to me is, ‘Don’t talk about that here. This is not the place.’ Drew, where is the place, Drew?”

Brees Doubles Down Before Apologizing

As many continued to call for Brees to realize that his words had hurt so many people, he decided to double down in a statement to ESPN Wednesday.

“I believe we should all stand for the national anthem and respect our country and all those who sacrificed so much for our freedoms,” he said. “That includes all those who marched for women’s suffrage in the 1920s and all those who marched in the civil rights movements and continue to march for racial equality. All of us… EVERYONE… represent that flag.”

“And I would ask anyone who has a problem with what I said to look at the way I live my life. Do I come across as someone who is not doing my absolute best to make this world a better place, to bring justice and equality to others, and hope & opportunity to those who don’t have it?”

Brees criticizing kneeling is nothing new. In fact, he’s been critical of the movement since then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand for the national anthem in 2016.

Though Brees has time and again condemned kneeling, he has also shown some level of support for the George Floyd protests, participating in movements like #BlackoutTuesday on Instagram. Still, that post was later  flooded by people critical of Brees’ Wednesday comments.

That pressure continued to build overnight until Thursday morning when Brees issued a lengthy apology on Instagram.

“In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country,” he said. “They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy.”

“I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening…and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”

NFL’s Alleged Hypocrisy

Adjacent to Brees’ initial remarks, many have accused the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell of hypocrisy for its response to Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem.

“The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country,” Goodall said in a statement on Saturday. “The protesters’ reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel.”

“We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as a part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”

The statement was then condemned by a number of black activists, including Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills who said, “Save the bullshit.” 

“Shame on you,” Director Ava Duvernay said. “This is beyond hollow + disingenuous. This is a lie. Your actions show who you are. You’ve done nothing but the exact opposite of what you describe here.”

“Colin Kaepernick asked the NFL to care about the lives of black people and they banned him from their platform,” The Athletic reporter Michael-Shawn Dugar tweeted.

See what others are saying: (ESPN) (CNN) (NBC Sports)

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New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns

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  • The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
  • The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
  • The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.

CDC Issues Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.

While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus. 

The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.

Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.

Mitigating Spread of Variant

“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”

The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.

“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.

“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)

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Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)

  • Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
  • By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
  • Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

Rick Snyder Charges

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.

The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.

Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.

His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.

8 Others Charged

Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.

Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
  • Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
  • Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.

Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.

At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)

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Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack

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  • At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
  • Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive

At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 

Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus. 

On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one. 

Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested. 

More Cases Follow

Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions. 

Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote. 

“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added. 

“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown. 

“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.

Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks. 

Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (NBC Chicago)

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