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Billy Porter, TLC, Ozuna set for Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

Billy Porter, TLC, Ozuna set for Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

By MESFIN FEKADU AP Music Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Emmy-winning “Pose” actor Billy Porter, Latin singer Ozuna and Grammy-winning performers Black Eyed Peas, TLC, Chicago and Kelly Rowland will be among the stars celebrating at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Macy’s said Friday that Ciara, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, Debbie Gibson, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin and former NASA astronauts Kay Hire and Janet Kavandi also will participate in the 93rd annual parade on Nov. 28.

The special will air at 9 a.m. EST on NBC’s “Today” show.

Others part of the lineup include the cast and Muppets of “Sesame Street,” That Girl Lay Lay, Natasha Bedingfield, Chris Young, NCT 127, Chris Janson and Josh Dela Cruz.

 

Minnesota Vikings Game Day

Cousins, Diggs fly past Eagles in Vikings’ 38-20 win

By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Pro Football Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two weeks ago, Stefon Diggs was a dissatisfied star with a decreasing role for a Minnesota team in a mini-crisis on the passing attack.

Patience was all Diggs needed, as it turned out, to re-establish himself as a prominent receiver for Kirk Cousins and the Vikings.

Cousins threw to Diggs for three of his four touchdowns, racking up a season-high 333 passing yards as the Vikings ravaged the Philadelphia Eagles secondary in a 38-20 victory Sunday.

“You never really know how it’s going to come out, because you never know what defense you’re going to get and what adjustments they’re going to make, but as far as like starting fast early, it’s always a big thing because you want to hit the ground running,” said Diggs, who had 167 yards on seven catches.

Diggs scored on first-half passes that covered 51 and 62 yards, becoming the first player since Randy Moss in 2000 to post two touchdown receptions of 50-plus yards in one game for the Vikings (4-2).

“You play the game that’s called,” Cousins said, “and today it was an aggressive one.”

Diggs’ most important catch came late in the third quarter, a double toe tap in the back of the end zone from 11 yards out that pushed the lead to 11 points after Carson Wentz and the Eagles (3-3) had pulled within 24-20 with 17 straight points.

The Vikings became the first team to hit the 100-yard rushing mark in the last nine games against the Eagles, who also surrendered 300-plus passing yards for the fourth time in six games. The danger presented by Dalvin Cook in the backfield and the success of Cousins at selling fakes created a wealth of play-action completions.

“They run the ball, play action, and throw the ball deep,” Douglas said. “That’s just what they always do.”

Cousins went 22 for 29 with one sack and one interception that was, oddly enough, Diggs’ fault when a sideline throw hit him in the hands, bounced off his helmet and into the air behind him for former Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo to pick off late in the second quarter.

The sign that this was not the Eagles’ day came right after that, when a fake field goal from the 21 failed with 20 seconds left. The snap to Jake Elliott left the kicker with only one receiver, well-covered tight end Dallas Goedert, and the desperation throw was tipped by Anthony Harris and intercepted by Everson Griffen.

 

 

“We had the look we wanted, tried to take advantage of it, get an opportunity to maybe shoot it in the end zone after that,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “They made a great play.”

STRUGGLING SECONDARY

The Eagles have been badly missing starting cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Avonte Maddox, and Cousins took full advantage. Adam Thielen made a slick double move to beat Sidney Jones for a textbook fade throw by Cousins for a 7-yard touchdown to cap the opening drive. Diggs blew by Rasul Douglas on a post route in the second quarter to put the Vikings up 17-3.

Diggs beat Douglas again on the first snap of their next possession for the second of his career-best three scores, after Douglas began the play like he was settling into zone coverage and Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins missed his assignment over the top. Even with a 32-yard touchdown pass by Wentz to running back Miles Sanders before the break, the Vikings pushed their first-half scoring advantage in three home games this year to 66-17.

Diggs famously made the “Minneapolis Miracle” catch to win a playoff game two years ago for the Vikings, then followed that big moment with his first 1,000-yard season in 2018, but after being targeted an average of 10 times per game last year, he had a quiet start to 2019.

Following an ugly performance two weeks ago in defeat at Chicago that had the passing game out of sorts, Diggs skipped some team activities, drew more than $200,000 in fines and acknowledged unspecified dissatisfaction with the direction of the offense while speaking cryptically about his desire to be with the Vikings.

Since then, the Vikings have won twice by a combined score of 66-30.

“We’ve got guys that can light this thing up,” Cook said, adding: “We give him opportunities to do what he do, he’s going to be Kirk.”

DEFENSIVE FINISH

Wentz finished 26 for 40 for 306 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. After the last score by Diggs, the Eagles wilted under the weight of the Vikings pass rush and the crowd noise at U.S. Bank Stadium, where they left as first-time Super Bowl champions following their last visit two seasons ago.

Eric Kendricks and Mackensie Alexander shared a third-down sack after an all-out blitz called by Vikings coach Mike Zimmer forced a punt. Anthony Barr recovered a fumble by Zach Ertz to end the next drive at midfield. Alexander picked off Wentz on the following possession.

“I’m sure there was a lot of doubt in the stadium, because they’re a very explosive team,” Zimmer said.

INJURY REPORT

Eagles: LT Jason Peters hurt his knee in the second quarter, returned briefly after an initial absence and then was pulled for good. Andre Dillard took over. … LB Nigel Bradham (ankle) was also injured in the second quarter and did not return.

Vikings: LT Riley Reiff (ankle) left in the first quarter, returned briefly, then was sidelined in the second half and replaced by Rashod Hill.

UP NEXT

Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns each suspended 2 games

NEW YORK (AP) — Philadelphia center Joel Embiid and Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns have each been suspended two games without pay for an on-court altercation and continued escalation.

Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations, announced the suspensions Thursday, a day after the undefeated 76ers’ 117-95 home victory over the Timberwolves.

The star players were ejected after tangling with 6:42 left in the third quarter and the 76ers ahead 75-55. Embiid shoved Towns, who answered with a punch that missed as both men fell to the floor. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons jumped in and forcefully held Towns down as other players and coaches ran onto the court.

“I didn’t throw any punches, so I shouldn’t get suspended,” Embiid said Wednesday night.

They were ejected after a video review.

“We deemed the altercation a fight. Therefore, by rule, they’re both ejected,” said Mark Ayotte, the officials’ crew chief. “I just saw them each lock arms. And that escalated to the fight.”

Gersson Rosas, the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations, issued a statement after the suspensions were handed down.

 

___

 “While we are disappointed with the league’s decision, we understand the magnitude of this unfortunate incident,” Rosas said. “The NBA is highly competitive and last night was a reflection of that. We support Karl and will move forward together as a group.”

Embiid will sit out Saturday night at Portland and Monday night at Phoenix. He’s averaging 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in three games this season.

Towns will miss games Saturday night at Washington and Monday night at home against Milwaukee. He’s averaging 27.3 points and 11.5 rebounds in four games.

4 + 13 =

No. 13 Minnesota stays unbeaten vs No. 5 Penn State, 31-26

By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s Jordan Howden picked off Sean Clifford’s pass in the end zone with 1:01 left, the third interception thrown by Penn State’s quarterback, and the 13th-ranked Gophers held on for a 31-26 victory on Saturday afternoon over the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions for their first win over a top-five team in 20 years.

Tanner Morgan passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns to direct a dismantling of Penn State’s staunch defense, as Minnesota (9-0, 6-0, No. 17 CFP) not only remained unbeaten but stayed on track for its first trip to the Big Ten championship game.

“I’m just so proud to be a Gopher,” said coach P.J. Fleck, who declared the game ball for the entire state in giving it to the school president.

The first sellout crowd for the Gophers at home in four years swarmed the field after the clock ran out, reveling in the biggest step forward yet under Fleck in his third season. The Gophers scrambled the College Football Playoff picture a bit, too, after Penn State (8-1, 5-1, No. 4 CFP) emerged with a top-four spot in the first edition of the rankings.

“We knew they were a good football team,” Nittany Lions coach James Franklin said. “It’s hard to be undefeated.”

Rashod Bateman got the Gophers going with a 66-yard score on their first possession and finished with seven catches for 203 yards, the second-most in program history. Tyler Johnson had seven receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown, too, as Minnesota made enough early gains to hold up during the late rally by Penn State. Morgan went 18 for 20, his second game of the season with a 90% or better completion rate.

“He was reading us very well. He kind of knew what we were in and what they could to do expose us there,” linebacker Jan Johnson said. “They hit their plays. He made their throws.”

Journey Brown’s second rushing touchdown of the game with 3:49 to go cut the lead to five points, and the Gophers promptly went three and out. K.J. Hamler muffed the punt when a teammate backed into him, and though the Nittany Lions recovered, they were pushed back to their 28-yard line.

Clifford, who went 23 for 43 for 340 yards and one score, connected with Jahan Dotson for 49 yards to get Penn State to the 11. Two plays later, however, came the drive killer for Penn State. Daniel George was called for offensive pass interference during an over-the-middle catch by Brown that reached the 2. Clifford, who was off target for most of the day, overthrew George on the next play before the game-sealing pick by Howden. Clifford, who came into the game leading the Big Ten in total offense, had only three interceptions over the first eight games.

Antoine Winfield Jr. had the first two picks in the first half, matching the FBS lead and setting the all-time Minnesota record with seven on the season. Both were inside the 10-yard line.

The Gophers had 321 yards and a 24-13 lead at halftime, already the most points allowed in a game by the Nittany Lions this season, but a fumble near midfield by Shannon Brooks at the end of a run on the first play after a punt sapped some momentum.

Penn State went the other way for a touchdown pass from Clifford to backup tight end Nick Bowers, but Bateman broke open again for a 36-yard gain on the next drive to set up a scoring plunge by Seth Green. The Gophers have touchdowns on all 19 of their goal-to-go possessions this season. Chris Williamson batted down Clifford’s fourth-down throw into the end zone on the ensuing drive by Penn State, giving the Gophers another opportunity to drain the clock.

From start to finish, they matched the moment in the biggest game of their careers.

“As an athlete and just in life,” Morgan said, “you should want pressure because that means your life is significant.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Penn State: Seeking their first berth in the College Football Playoff, the Nittany Lions watched a defense that had allowed the second-fewest points in the FBS entering the game take a step back against a group of Gophers receivers that was the best they’d faced all year.

Minnesota: Ending a 13-game losing streak to ranked opponents and beating a top-five team for the first time since a win at No. 2 Penn State in 1999, the Gophers produced a potentially program-changing victory that has been missing for so many decades. They have a two-game lead in the West Division with three to go.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Penn State could fall behind Minnesota, which will certainly climb into the top 10 when the next rankings come out on Sunday. The loss will also hurt the Nittany Lions in the CFP pecking order, with the Gophers getting a boost but still with a long way to go to be in the mix.

UP NEXT

Penn State: Hosts Indiana next Saturday. The Nittany Lions have a 21-1 record against the Hoosiers, with the only loss on the road 2013.

Minnesota: Plays at Iowa next Saturday. The Gophers have lost four straight games against the Hawkeyes.

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All eyes on Texas governor as calls grow to halt execution

By PAUL J. WEBER Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — In his five years as Texas’ governor, Republican Greg Abbott has overseen the execution of nearly 50 prisoners while only once sparing a condemned man’s life, after a victims’ family asked him to do so.

But Abbott — who has proudly referred to the death penalty as “Texas justice” — has never confronted such intense pressure to halt a lethal injection like he is facing in the case of Rodney Reed, who is set to die this month for a 1996 killing despite new evidence that even a growing number of Republican legislators say raises serious questions about his guilt.

On Saturday, supporters of Reed held their biggest protest yet outside the governor’s mansion, escalating a public campaign that now counts Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Oprah Winfrey among the celebrities who have urged Abbott to call off the Nov. 20 execution. So, too, has the European Union’s ambassador to the U.S.

“Only thing I would tell him is, honestly, just look at the evidence,” said Rodrick Reed, Rodney’s brother.

It’s unclear if the public pressure is making any impression on Abbott, who was a law and order state attorney general before he was elected governor. Abbott hasn’t spoken publicly about Reed’s case. Even Republican lawmakers who are close to the governor and have lobbied his office in recent days and weeks for a reprieve say they’re in the dark about his thinking.

“They said the governor has heard about it and is taking a very deliberative and thoughtful analysis,” Republican state Rep. Matt Krause said. “But they didn’t give me an indication one way or the other on which way he’d be.”

Reed, now 51, was convicted of raping and strangling 19-year-old Stacy Stites while she made her way to work at a supermarket in Bastrop, a rural community about 30 miles southeast of Austin.

Reed has long maintained that Stites was killed by her fiance, former police officer Jimmy Fennell. Reed says Fennell was angry because Stites, who was white, was having an affair with Reed, who is black. In recent weeks, Reed’s attorneys have presented affidavits that support his claims, including one by a former prison inmate who claims Fennell bragged about killing Stites and referred to Reed by a racial slur.

Reed’s lawyers say other recent affidavits also corroborate the relationship between Stites and Reed. Fennell’s attorney has said his client didn’t kill Stites, and prosecutors maintain that they believe Reed is guilty.

Texas remains the death penalty capital of the U.S. even as executions nationwide hover at historic lows. Last year, about half of the 25 executions nationwide took place in Texas, which has put to death eight people so far this year.

Support for the death penalty has been declining in recent years, but in Texas, Abbott hasn’t relaxed his position. A practicing Roman Catholic, Abbott breaks with the church on the Vatican’s view that capital punishment can never be sanctioned, and efforts to scale back the types of crimes that carry the death penalty in Texas have stalled under his watch.

Only once has Abbott spared the life of a convicted killer shortly before the scheduled execution: Last year, he accepted a rare recommendation of clemency from Texas’ parole board and commuted the sentence of Thomas “Bart” Whitaker, who fatally shot his mother and brother. Abbott did so after Whitaker’s father, who was also shot, asked for mercy.

It’s not the first time Abbott’s decision-making has been in the spotlight over a high-profile death penalty case. While serving as Texas attorney general in 2011, Abbott ruled that a state forensic panel could not consider old evidence in the case against Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed for a fire that killed his children but whose guilt remained in question after his death because the arson science used to convict him had since been debunked.

In a letter to Abbott this week, more than a dozen Republicans said that getting it wrong with Reed could “erode public trust — not only in capital punishment, but in Texas justice itself.”

“We have a lot of executions, right? We’re Texas,” said Republican state Rep. James White, who has served in the Legislature for nearly a decade. “This probably is the first one I’ve directly reached out to the attorney general’s office and the governor’s office on. Not on the prospect that I believe that Mr. Reed is innocent. But I do believe there is a lot of information and evidence that does deserve to be vetted.”

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Film probes history of Native Americans in the US military

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Before Chuck Boers joined the U.S. Army, the Lipan Apache member was given his family’s eagle feathers. The feathers had been carried by his great-great-great-grandfather on his rifle when he was an Apache scout.

They also were carried by relatives who fought in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In 2004, Boers had the feathers with him during the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq. “I felt like I had my family with me to protect me,” he said.

“The Warrior Tradition,” a new film set to air on PBS, examines the complex history of Native Americans in the U.S. military since World War I and how their service transformed the lives for Native Americans from various tribes. Through interviews with veterans and using archival footage, the documentary probes the complicated relationship Native Americans had with military service and how they used it to press for civil rights.

The documentary exhibits the mixed feelings some Native Americans felt toward the U.S. military and how tribal members embraced those who served as “warriors.”

“From just about the beginning of the United States itself, the government has fought various wars against Native nations. And that’s the irony,” Patty Loew, director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern University, said in the film.

But Native Americans, from tribes in Oklahoma to nations in Washington, joined the U.S. military to honor their “end of the treaty” that the U.S. government previously broke, Loew said.

At the onset of World War I, the first generation of Native Americans after the so-called Indian Wars began joining the U.S. Army even though they weren’t considered citizens or allowed to vote. Returning veterans, and also those from World War II, earned accolades for their service. For example, Comanche and Navajo Code Talkers in World War II were credited with passing secrets amid hostile fighting.

The returning veterans began demanding the right to vote and fought against discrimination. For example, Miguel Trujillo Sr., a Marine sergeant in World War II and a member of Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico, returned and waged a legal battle to overturn that state’s law that barred American Indians living on reservations from participating in elections.

Director Larry Hott said the veterans in the film believed military service was part of their family history and wasn’t just about a way to escape poverty. It’s part of a legacy that goes back generations, he said.

“Many have waited a long time to talk about this,” Hott said. “One veteran told me he hadn’t even told his wife about his experiences.”

Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Lanny Asepermy, who is Comanche and Kiowa, said after the Comanches surrendered to the U.S. in 1875, the tribe’s warrior tradition was hurt. Then some Comanche joined World War I.

“We became warriors again,” Asepermy said. He grew up seeing photos of relatives in the military at his grandparents’ home. “I’ve always wanted to be a soldier. I didn’t want to be anything else.”

He’d fight a year in Vietnam. Before he left, his grandmother prayed over him in the Kiowa language and placed medicine on him. “A couple of times in Vietnam, I could have gotten killed. Was it luck?” Asepermy said. “I think it was because of the prayers my grandmother gave me.”

The one-hour documentary co-produced by WNED-TV Buffalo Toronto and Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc., is scheduled to air on most PBS stations on Monday.

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Rapper T.I. faces major backlash for 'hymen' comments

Rapper T.I. faces major backlash for ‘hymen’ comments

By The Associated Press undefined

NEW YORK (AP) — Planned Parenthood and others on social media blasted T.I. after the rapper said he goes to the gynecologist with his daughter every year to make sure her hymen is “still intact.”

In an episode of the “Ladies Like Us” podcast that debuted this week, T.I. said that he takes “yearly trips to the gynecologist” with his now 18-year-old daughter. Social media blew up afterward, with people strongly lashing out at T.I.

 

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