Texans blast educator for ‘black QB’ comment about Watson
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
Thursday, September 20
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans fired back Wednesday at an East Texas school superintendent who wrote: “You can’t count on a black quarterback,” in the comment section of an online news article where he was criticizing quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Lynn Redden is superintendent of the Onalaska Independent School District in the Piney Woods, about 75 miles north of Houston. In his post in the comment section of a story written by the Houston Chronicle and posted on Facebook, Redden referred to the last play of Sunday’s game, in which Watson let the clock run down before completing a pass to DeAndre Hopkins in a 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Redden’s full post read: “When you need precision decision making you can’t count on a black quarterback.” It was quickly deleted, but not before another reader took a screenshot of it and sent it to the newspaper.
Coach Bill O’Brien was asked on Wednesday what he thought about the post.
“I really don’t want to waste a lot of time responding to outdated, inaccurate, ignorant, idiotic statements,” he said. “I’ll just let Deshaun (Watson’s) proven success on the field, his character off the field, speak for itself. He’s one of the greatest guys I’ve ever coached. He represents everything that’s right about football, about life.”
“His teammates respect him, his coaching staff respects him, and in this day and age, it’s just amazing that this B.S. exists,” O’Brien continued. “But it does. But we’re moving forward.”
Watson took a different tact, saying he didn’t waste any time worrying about what Redden posted.
“That’s on him,” he said. “May peace be with him. I worry about me, so I’m not worried about what he has to say.”
Watson, who is in his second year with the Texans after leading Clemson to a national championship in the 2016 season, did acknowledge that he’s dealt with racism throughout his life. But he added that he can’t let it bother him.
“It’s part of life,” he said. “I can’t control what other people what their beliefs are. I can control what I can control. I just focus on me, and that’s it.”
Watson was then asked if he believes Redden should be fired.
“That’s not my job,” Watson said. “I don’t make that decision.”
The Onalaska school board will convene a special meeting on Saturday to discuss Redden’s contract. The board also released a statement on Tuesday night condemning his post.
“Onalaska ISD regrets that an inappropriate comment has been attributed to the district’s superintendent,” the statement read.
“The OISD does not condone negative comments or actions against any race. The district values every individual and therefore the district will take the appropriate measures to address the situation expeditiously and completely.”
Redden told the Chronicle that he believed he was sending a private message when he posted the comment and told the newspaper that he based the comment on what he called the “limited success” of black quarterbacks in the NFL.
Texans superstar defensive end J.J. Watt said he didn’t want to give Redden or his comment any attention but did voice his support for his quarterback.
“I think it’s a very ignorant comment that doesn’t deserve any more play than it should get,” Watt said. “It’s very unfortunate. But I trust him, I trust him a whole lot. We all trust him a whole lot.”
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We Know Drama; Steelers enduring another bumpy patch
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Wednesday, September 19
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree just smiled earlier this month when asked what would happen if the “Hard Knocks” cameras decided to spend a month embedded with the team during training camp.
“We’re too real for TV,” Dupree said with a grin.
Dupree meant it as a joke. Two weeks later, nobody is laughing.
The Steelers (0-1-1) are winless heading into next Monday’s visit to Tampa Bay and the distractions they stressed the importance of avoiding in 2018 only seem to be multiplying.
The latest arrived in the aftermath of a loss to Kansas City when All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown opted to skip work on Monday, though he did find the time to hop on Twitter and respond to criticism by a former team employee who believes Brown should be thankful that he plays alongside quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
No one took Brown’s suggestion of “trade me let’s find out ” seriously. Coach Mike Tomlin’s bigger concern was Brown’s absence from a mandatory day of meetings, a misstep that led to an extended sit-down between the two on Tuesday.
“I’ll leave the nature of that conversation between us,” Tomlin said Wednesday. “There was discipline involved for his missed meeting for Monday. Some of the other things we talked about extensively, he’ll speak for himself in some of those things. Really our focus is preparing to win this game on Monday night.”
Tomlin did not outline Brown’s punishment. The only player in NFL history with five consecutive seasons of at least 100 receptions practiced alongside his teammates on Wednesday and there appears to be no plans to have him sit when the Steelers play the Buccaneers (2-0).
Asked if he expects Brown to face Tampa Bay, center Maurkice Pouncey responded “100 percent” and insisted there would be no blowback against Brown in the locker room for another in an increasing line of highly visible missteps.
“People don’t know the things he has going on in his life, he’s totally fine,” Pouncey said. “He talked to the people he needed to talk to and confirmed why he wasn’t here and we move on as a team and that’s totally fine.”
Pouncey’s remarks came two weeks after he and the rest of the offensive line vented about running back Le’Veon Bell’s decision to stay away from the team rather than sign his one-year franchise tender and two months after Pouncey opened training camp by saying “I know it’s all fun and games for everybody at the beginning but man it’s time to win.”
And yet here the Steelers are, tied with Cleveland for last place in the AFC North while Bell jet skis in Florida and Brown flouts team rules . Roethlisberger did his best to downplay any sense of the off-the-field issues swallowing the team whole.
“I mean any team, any sport is going to have some kind of distractions throughout the year,” Roethlisberger said. “I think that’s what makes you professional. How can you respond and recover from it.”
The best chance Pittsburgh has at crawling out of its self-created funk must come with Brown in the fold. Cameras caught him shouting at offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner in the second half, hardly the first time Brown has let his anger bubble to the surface when things aren’t going well.
“I think that he’s the best in the world and when you’re the best in the world you want to participate, you want to win football games,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re all a little frustrated because we’re not winning right now.”
It’s not as if Brown has been frozen out of the offense. He’s been targeted a league-high 33 times and his 18 receptions are tied for the team lead with JuJu Smith-Schuster. Brown, however, is averaging just 8.9 yards per catch, a byproduct of defenses determined to take away his breakaway ability.
“AB is a very passionate football player,” Roethlisberger said. “We know that. The fans know that. That’s what makes him special is his passion for this game and the passion to be great. We’re not going to want to take that away from him.”
If anything, at least Roethlisberger and company have become accustomed to talking about the latest off-the-field dustup. They won 13 games in a 2017 that often felt chaotic and why they shrugged when asked if there’s a cumulative toll of spending so much time answering questions that have little to do with their play.
“It can if you let it control you,” cornerback Artie Burns said. “I think we do a good job of trying to keep the camaraderie together as a team and just focus on week to week. You never know what may come up on the headlines or whatever, so you’ve got to prepare for it.”
The Steelers are certainly getting plenty of practice.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL
A behavioral intervention for cancer patients that works
Ohio State University
Sept. 20, 2018
Treatment program successful at 15 sites across the nation
COLUMBUS, Ohio – This is a story about something rare in health psychology: a treatment that has gone from scientific discovery, through development and testing, to dissemination and successful implementation nationwide.
In a new study, researchers found that a program designed at The Ohio State University to reduce harmful stress in cancer patients can be taught to therapists from around the country and implemented at their sites, and effectively improves mood in their patients.
“It’s challenging to take a treatment and scale it up to where it will work with a diverse group of therapists and patients under a wide variety of circumstances,” said Barbara L. Andersen, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State.
“This study documents a remarkable success story.”
The study appears online in the journal American Psychologist and will be published in a future print edition.
The program, now called Cancer to Health, was developed by Andersen and colleagues in the early 2000s. It teaches patients how to think about stress, communicate with doctors and others about their treatment, seek social support, become physically active and take other actions to reduce their stress, improve their mood and enhance quality of life. It consists of 18 weekly sessions and eight monthly maintenance sessions, as well as homework assignments for patients.
Dealing with stress is important because research by Andersen’s group and others has found that high levels of stress can lead to not just depression, lower quality of life and negative health behaviors, but also lower immunity and faster disease progression.
“We need to help cancer patients deal with their stress, because it has effects on their physical as well as their mental health,” Andersen said.
In several studies published between 2004 and 2010, Andersen and her colleagues tested the Cancer to Health program and found it effective with breast cancer patients at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State. Results showed that patients who went through the program felt better and also had significantly improved immune responses and a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence.
This new study aimed to see if some of the results could be duplicated around the country. It involved therapists who work with cancer patients at 15 sites, from California to Iowa to Maine. Most were associated with local hospitals or cancer support communities. All of the therapists came to Ohio State to learn how to implement the Cancer to Health program.
They then took the program to their sites, where it was tested with 158 patients with a variety of different types of cancer.
Participating therapists were allowed to modify the program for local needs and shorten it if necessary.
Results showed that 60 to 70 percent of patients received the core components of the main program.
Two-thirds of the sites offered some of the monthly maintenance sessions, but averaged only one-third of what was in the original program.
Most importantly, Cancer to Health worked with patients. Results showed that patients showed significant improvement on a measure of mood after completing the program.
In addition, patients became more physically active after Cancer to Health, with the average participant going from “moderately active” before the treatment to “active” afterward.
“That’s significant because 71 percent of the patients were still receiving cancer treatment when they began our study, and maintaining, resuming or beginning physical activity during this period is difficult,” Andersen said.
Moreover, most patients thought the program was helpful and reported that their therapists were very supportive. When asked to rate the program on a scale of 0 to 4, the average overall score was 3.48.
Andersen said other research suggests there is a gap of about 20 years between development of a new health treatment and wider implementation in the medical community.
“If we want to speed that up, we have to train providers. There have not been many studies like this one that involve actually training providers and then testing to see if they could not only implement what they had learned, but could also get their patients to improve,” she said.
Co-authors on the study with ties to Ohio State were Claire Conley, now a postdoctoral researcher at the Moffit Cancer Center in Florida, and former postdoctoral researcher Marlena Ryba, now an assistant professor at Coastal Carolina University.
The National Cancer Institute supported the research.
Lawmaker: US Senate, staff targeted by state-backed hackers
By FRANK BAJAK and RAPHAEL SATTER
AP Cybersecurity Writers
Thursday, September 20
Foreign government hackers continue to target the personal email accounts of U.S. senators and their aides — and the Senate’s security office has refused to defend them, a lawmaker says.
Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said in a Wednesday letter to Senate leaders that his office discovered that “at least one major technology company” has warned an unspecified number of senators and aides that their personal email accounts were “targeted by foreign government hackers.” Similar methods were employed by Russian military agents who leaked the contents of private email inboxes to influence the 2016 elections.
Wyden did not specify the timing of the notifications, but a Senate staffer said they occurred “in the last few weeks or months.” The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
But the senator said the Office of the Sergeant at Arms , which oversees Senate security, informed legislators and staffers that it has no authority to help secure personal, rather than official, accounts.
“This must change,” Wyden wrote in the letter. “The November election grows ever closer, Russia continues its attacks on our democracy, and the Senate simply does not have the luxury of further delays.” A spokeswoman for the security office said it would have no comment.
Wyden has proposed legislation that would allow the security office to offer digital protection for personal accounts and devices, the same way it does with official ones. His letter did not provide additional details of the attempts to pry into the lawmakers’ digital lives, including whether lawmakers of both parties are still being targeted.
Google and Microsoft, which offer popular private email accounts, declined to comment.
The Wyden letter cites previous Associated Press reporting on the Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear and how it targeted the personal accounts of congressional aides between 2015 and 2016. The group’s prolific cyberspying targeted the Gmail accounts of current and former Senate staffers, including Robert Zarate, now national security adviser to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Jason Thielman, chief of staff to Montana Sen. Steve Daines, the AP found.
The same group also spent the second half of 2017 laying digital traps intended to look like portals where Senate officials enter their work email credentials, the Tokyo-based cybersecurity firm TrendMicro has reported.
Microsoft seized some of those traps, and in September 2017 apparently thwarted an attempt to steal login credentials of a policy aide to Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill , the Daily Beast discovered in July. Last month, Microsoft made news again when it seized several internet domains linked to Fancy Bear , including two apparently aimed at conservative think tanks in Washington.
Such incidents “only scratch the surface” of advanced cyberthreats faced by U.S. officials in the administration and Congress, according to Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity expert at Johns Hopkins University. Rid made the statement in a letter to Wyden last week .
“The personal accounts of senators and their staff are high-value, low-hanging targets,” Rid wrote. “No rules, no regulations, no funding streams, no mandatory training, no systematic security support is available to secure these resources.”
Attempts to breach such accounts were a major feature of the yearlong AP investigation into Fancy Bear that identified hundreds of senior officials and politicians — including former secretaries of state, top generals and intelligence chiefs — whose Gmail accounts were targeted.
The Kremlin is by no means the only source of worry, said Matt Tait, a University of Texas cybersecurity fellow and former British intelligence official.
“There are lots of countries that are interested in what legislators are thinking, what they’re doing, how to influence them, and it’s not just for purposes of dumping their information online,” Tait said.
In an April 12 letter released by Wyden’s office, Adm. Michael Rogers — then director of the National Security Agency — acknowledged that personal accounts of senior government officials “remain prime targets for exploitation” and said that officials at the NSA and Department for Homeland Security were discussing ways to better protect them. The NSA and DHS declined to offer further details.
Guarding personal accounts is a complex, many-layered challenge.
Rid believes tech companies have a sudden responsibility to nudge high-profile political targets into better digital hygiene. He said he did not believe much as been done, although Facebook announced a pilot program Monday to help political campaigns protect their accounts, including monitoring for potential hacking threats for those that sign up.
Boosting protection in the Senate could begin with the distribution of small chip-based security devices such as the YubiKey, which are already used in many secure corporate and government environments, Tait said. Such keys supplement passwords to authenticate legitimate users, potentially frustrating distant hackers.
Cybersecurity experts also recommend them for high-value cyber-espionage targets including human rights workers and journalists.
“In an ideal world, the Sergeant at Arms could just have a pile of YubiKeys,” said Tait. “When legislators or staff come in they can (get) a quick cybersecurity briefing and pick up a couple of these for their personal accounts and their official accounts.”
Bajak reported from Boston. Satter reported from London.
Llewellyn King: The Rush to Smart Cities Is On
By Llewellyn King
Ireland was a country that thought it could not compete before the 1990s. Its rail system was primitive, its ports were outdated and small, and its roads were problematic — mostly you had to share them with sheep or tractors hauling peat wagons.
It looked as though Ireland was doomed to be one of the least competitive countries in Europe and would continue to have “structural” unemployment of 20 percent and higher.
Then a miracle: Ireland combined its greatest assets — literacy and superior education system — with the computer revolution, and it became a boom country. Ireland, rather than depending on exporting bacon, butter and linens, started exporting services by internet.
It became a computing center for Europe, and American and Asian companies flooded in. Galway, a university town, was ground zero for top computer companies.
Ireland went from nowhere to wearing the crown of “Celtic Tiger.” Businesses around computing, and those serving the foreign executives, boomed. Ireland shook off the dead weight of centuries.
There are lessons in the Irish experience for cities as they struggle to become “smart cities” and to compete as the smartest cities in livability and business friendliness. Can some ailing Midwest or Upstate New York city burst the bonds of their Rust Belt past and find a new future as smart cities, attracting investment and technology-based business?
Largely unseen, cities from Rochester, N.Y., to San Antonio are seeking the title, even though the full dimensions of what makes a city smart are still being thrashed out.
A global study, undertaken by the Singapore-based Eden Strategy Institute, puts London at No. 1 and Singapore at No. 2 in the world. New York leads in the United States, closely followed by Boston; Rochester, N.Y., is on the list. Out of 50 world cities, just 12 U.S. cities make the list.
But many smaller U.S. cities are in the race to be the super-smart, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to San Antonio. Smart cities are a place where the old world of bricks and mortar meets the new world of artificial intelligence.
The players, besides the cities themselves, are the telephone giants (especially AT&T and Verizon), the electric utilities, a wide variety of software vendors and consultants. They are vying with each other for business at the city and county level.
The telephone companies are hoping to use their emerging 5G technology as the way in which machines and systems will talk to each other. IBM is interested in all aspects of the city of the future, including the use of blockchain as the primary recordkeeper. Amazon wants to begin smart deliveries, maybe by drone.
Even law firms — and Dentons, the world’s largest, is out front — will be needed to write the contracts and guide their clients. Clinton Vince, who heads the U.S. energy practice at Dentons, says the firm has taken the unusual step of establishing a “think tank” within the firm to work on smart cities.
Smart cities implementation needs local political approval and encouragement; the action is in the city councils and mayors’ offices, and county boards, not in Washington.
As with so many things, it is technology that may change our lives as much or more than policy. Already, the effect of computing in the way we live in cities can be seen everywhere — from those pesky scooters that are on the streets of many cities, and which rely on computer networks and GPS, to Uber and Lyft ridesharing and Airbnb.
Down the road, smart technologies will have to decide how electric cars are to be charged and where; how autonomous vehicles will operate in cities and where they will park themselves between assignments.
The building blocks are electricity and telephony. They will also be the managers of the old infrastructure, surveilling pipelines, water systems, roads and even traffic lights. The idea is to slave the old infrastructure to the new infrastructure for efficiency and instant response to problems.
Some cities will lead, but none will be unaffected. Smart is coming fast and will be here to stay. Will those who do not catch the wave become “stupid cities”?
ABOUT THE WRITER
Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. His email is email@example.com. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.