The Brock Osweiler Signing was a Complete Failure

Are we facing another season of questions about Brock Osweiler?

Are we facing another season of questions about Brock Osweiler?
Eric Sauseda

Between post-practice, post-game and the day after games, NFL head coaches conduct a couple of hundred press sessions each year. That frequency of contact breeds a familiarity in which media members become poker players who are able to deftly sniff out all of a head coach’s “tells” when he’s being coy or evasive.

When Texans head coach Bill O’Brien really likes something or someone, he tells you, clearly and directly. For example, the Monday after the Texans’ season-ending loss to the New England Patriots, O’Brien was asked about bringing back defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, the architect of the league’s top-rated defense (even — gasp! — without J.J. Watt), whose contract expired this week.

“Romeo has done a great job. I know that we would love to have him back. I know that,” O’Brien gushed. “But I haven’t even sat down with any of the coaches yet or anything like that. But I can tell you Romeo is a great football coach and just means a lot to me personally. We would love to have Romeo back here.”

So Bill O’Brien really likes, borderline loves, Romeo Crennel, and is a huge fan of his work. That’s obvious.

On the other hand, when O’Brien is asked about someone with whom he’s disenchanted or ready to move on from, his answers are indirect, overly general and not really at all about that person. For example, just moments after endorsing Crennel, O’Brien was asked about the job security of offensive coordinator George Godsey, the co-architect (along with O’Brien himself) of an offense that has run like a ’78 Chevy with a banana in the tailpipe the past three seasons.

“We’re looking at everything,” O’Brien deferred. “Look, George does a lot of good stuff for me — every coach does. I haven’t even met with Bob (McNair) yet. I haven’t met with Rick (Smith) yet. We look at everything. Every coach is evaluated. I’m evaluated. I haven’t even heard about my evaluation from the owner. Look, I expect to be here next year, but we will begin the evaluation process here in a minute.”

Somehow, a question about Godsey elicited a bowl of word soup that awkwardly meandered around to O’Brien saying he himself would be back next season. That’s a tell that O’Brien was hiding something. That something would be revealed just three hours later when O’Brien and Godsey agreed to “part ways” (a gentle way of saying Godsey was fired). Apparently, Godsey didn’t do enough “good stuff” for O’Brien.

Truth be told, Godsey was more a sacrificial lamb than a core issue in the 2016 Texans’ offensive ineptitude, just one of numerous victims plundered by the undertow of Brock Osweiler’s complete and utter failure as the team’s franchise quarterback. When Osweiler decided in March to sign a four-year, $72 million ($37 million guaranteed) contract with the Texans, his arrival was supposed to signal the end of the team’s revolving door at quarterback, a depressing parade of six different starters under center in 2014 and 2015.

Osweiler’s 5-2 record as a starter for the 2015 Denver Broncos, and presumably the film that came along with it, gave O’Brien and general manager Rick Smith the confidence to hand the keys to the fifth-year signal caller, hoping he would be the missing link between the two 9-7 records of O’Brien’s first two Houston seasons and a Super Bowl in 2016 or beyond.

Instead, Osweiler’s grasp of O’Brien’s playbook never progressed past the first few pages, and the look on the quarterback’s face after about half of his throws suggested a disturbing combination of frustration and confusion. With all of its checks, audibles and excruciating detail, O’Brien’s offense essentially turned Osweiler’s pocket into the perplexing equivalent of the cockpit of a 747, a problem for a quarterback who compiled that 5-2 record in Denver operating a simple tandem bike with Gary Kubiak.

As the season unfolded, the gravitational pull of Osweiler’s incompetence did not discriminate; practically everyone was sucked into its vortex. It dragged down DeAndre Hopkins, who went from more than 1,500 yards receiving in 2015 with four different quarterbacks to less than 1,000 yards with Osweiler. It dragged down the entire offense’s ability in the red zone, as the Texans scored the fewest touchdowns (25) for a playoff team in the modern era. It dragged down O’Brien and Smith, whose relationship reportedly became strained during the season and whose collective evaluation skills were completely undermined by the Osweiler debacle. O’Brien, for his part, even after wins, looked as if he were functioning on no sleep and no patience, because generally the wins came in spite of the team’s abysmal quarterback play.

The only consistency born of the Osweiler experience was another 9-7 record and, for the third straight year, a fan base in lockstep that the starting quarterback could not be brought back. Too many turnovers, too many poor throws, not enough wins. Yes, Brock Osweiler, the $72 million man, is basically a taller, richer, dopier version of 2015 Brian Hoyer.

Unlike Hoyer, though, Osweiler comes with the albatross of a monster salary cap hit. The $37 million in guaranteed money still has more than half of its shelf life sitting there in future years. Indeed, this season’s trip around the Monopoly board of horrible Texans quarterbacking does end in jail — do not pass GO, please pay out another $16 million. So conventional wisdom says that, even if you don’t want Osweiler to start, the team should keep him around as a backup because, well, because they have to pay him, and if they’re paying him, he may as well stick around and do something, right?


The Texans shouldn’t just move Osweiler down the depth chart; they need to move him off the roster and out of Houston altogether. Designating him a June 1 cut would allow the team to spread his remaining $25 million cap hit ($16 million in 2017 salary, $9 million in dead cap money) over 2017 and 2018, basically the same math as if they kept him one more season and cut him after 2017. But salary cap or no salary cap, Osweiler needs to be gone, largely because there is no chance of fixing him. He throws inaccurately with poor mechanics, and attempting to repair him is a waste of everybody’s time. In the NFL, windows close quickly, time is a precious commodity and inaccuracy is unfixable.

The Texans for once need to treat the quarterback position the way nearly every other NFL franchise does, and draft a young quarterback — DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Pat Mahomes of Texas Tech are my personal favorites — in the late first or second round this coming April. A Texans QB depth chart of a drafted rookie to go with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden is a much better swing at generating hope than any depth chart that contains the name “Osweiler.”

An Osweiler return brings with it not only the practical waste of his usurping practice reps from a better quarterback, but also the daily reminder of this franchise’s worst personnel move in team history. The depressing thought of O’Brien’s answering another season’s worth of questions about Osweiler is superseded only by the equally depressing thought of listening to Osweiler’s inane press conference answers in which he explains football as if he is speaking to an auditorium of third graders.

If you’re searching for clues, maybe O’Brien gave us another “tell” at that Monday press conference. Just minutes after his evasive non-answer about Godsey, O’Brien was equally cryptic in addressing whether Brock Osweiler would be his starting quarterback next season.

“Again, like I was saying, I know you guys are doing your job and I respect that, but before I talk about those types of things, I have to evaluate it myself,” O’Brien rambled. “I have to talk to our coaching staff and get their input. Our personnel people and get their input. I wouldn’t be a good head coach if I stood up here and told you, ‘Hey, this is what we are planning to do.’ The game was less than 48 hours ago. We are going to evaluate everything. We are going to do the best we can to field a good, competitive team, a better team, a more consistent team than we did this year.”

Indeed, Osweiler’s name isn’t even mentioned anywhere in that answer, a response to a direct question about him. One hopes it doesn’t need to be. Nobody wanted it to come to this, but reality is hard sometimes. The Brock Osweiler signing was a complete failure.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also follow him on Twitter at or email him at

Can burnt toast and roasted potatoes cause cancer?

(CNN)The Food Standards Agency in the UK launched a campaign Monday to warn about cancer risks linked to eating burnt toast, over-roasted potatoes and other starchy foods cooked at high temperatures.

The campaign is based on longstanding evidence from animal studies in 2002, but the link is yet to be proved in human studies. Some experts are highlighting that other lifestyle factors pose much greater cancer risks, such as smoking and obesity.
What exactly is the problem with these overcooked starchy foods? Earlier mouse studies identified that high levels of a compound called acrylamide led to an increased risk of cancer.
Acrylamide is what makes bread and potatoes turn golden in color when fried, baked, toasted or roasted. The compound is formed from simple sugars, such as glucose, reacting with an amino acid, known as asparagine, when these foods are cooked at temperatures above 120 degrees Celsius. Asparagine is found naturally in starchy foods.
If cooked for too long, these foods turn from golden to brown and eventually black. As they do, they produce higher levels of acrylamide, further increasing your cancer risk, as highlighted by the FSA campaign, called “Go for Gold.”
The campaign asks people to keep their food golden and not let it cook to those darker colors.
The aim is to increase awareness among the public. Although the research is not new, the agency believes that people remain unaware.
“Our research indicates that the majority of people are not aware that acrylamide exists, or that they might be able to reduce their personal intake,” Steve Wearne, director of policy at the Food Standards Agency, said in a statement. The government body analyzes and shows current research in food safety, nutrition and food-related disease of importance to public health.
Wearne added that his agency wants to “highlight the issue so that consumers know how to make the small changes that may reduce their acrylamide consumption whilst still eating plenty of starchy carbohydrates and vegetables as recommended in government healthy eating advice.”
The advice given in the campaign is to:
  • Aim for a yellow or golden brown color when frying, roasting or baking food.
  • Follow cooking instructions on food packages to avoid overcooking.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Avoid keeping potatoes in the fridge before cooking them, as this can further increase acrylamide levels.

How big is the cancer risk?

Evidence of cancer risk has not been proved in humans, but experts point out that this data may never become available, as teams cannot readily expose people to acrylamide to test the outcome.
“No one will willingly eat acrylamide … (but) because it’s carcinogenic in animals, it would be carcinogenic in humans,” said Donald Mottram, emeritus professor of food chemistry at the University of Reading in the UK.
Mottram’s team first identified how acrylamide was made in food when the links to cancer first emerged in 2002.
“(The FSA) have given this advice before, but not quite so clearly defined,” he said, highlighting the third point included: to eat a balanced diet. The US Food and Drug Administration has also provided advice for some years on how best to reduce acrylamide exposure in your diet.
Boiling the foods brings no risk, as acrylamide is not formed, said Mottram.
“I still eat crisps and fries … but what we want to do is prepare these foods so the risks areminimized,” Mottram said. “Color is a good guide. It’s the only guide you have in your home.”
Nigel Halford, professor of plant genetics at Rothamsted Research in the UK, agrees.
“They’re not saying don’t eat roast potatoes or don’t eat bread, but instead that people can do fairly simple things to reduce their exposure,” Halford said. “It does make quite a difference.”
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Halford is developing new forms of potatoes with reduced levels of sugars and asparagine to limit their ability to produce acrylamide. “We’re looking at ways to reduce the precursors,” he said.
But rather than relying on these changes, Halford recommends following the FSA advice. “Consumers get weary of this advice, and you’ve seen the kick-back today,” he said. “But they’re just saying to cook to a lighter color.”
Cancer Research UK commented that while recognizing the risk associated with over-browning these foods, people should remember that other lifestyle-related factors have a bigger impact on cancer risk.
“To be on the safe side, people can reduce their exposure by following a normal healthy, balanced diet — which includes eating fewer high-calorie foods like crisps, chips and biscuits, which are the major sources of acrylamide,” said Emma Shields, Cancer Research UK’s health information officer.
“It’s also important to remember that there are many well-established risk factors like smoking, obesity and alcohol, which all have a big impact on the number of cancer cases in the UK.”

Wider Racial Gap Found in Cervical Cancer Deaths

The death rate from cervical cancer in the United States is considerably higher than previously estimated and the disparity in death rates between black women and white women is significantly wider, according to a study published Monday in the journal Cancer.

The rate at which black American women are dying from the disease is comparable to that of women in many poor developing nations, researchers reported. What makes the findings especially disturbing, said experts not involved in the research, is that when screening guidelines and follow-up monitoring are pursued, cervical cancer is largely preventable.

“This shows that our disparities are even worse than we feared,” said Dr. Kathleen M. Schmeler, an associate professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. “We have screenings that are great, but many women in America are not getting them. And now I have even more concerns going forward, with the” — expected — “repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which covers screening, and the closing of family planning clinics, which do much of that screening.”

The racial disparity had been noted in earlier studies, but it had been thought to have narrowed because cervical cancer death rates for black women were declining. But this study said that the gap was far greater than believed.

In the new analysis, the mortality rate for black women was 10.1 per 100,000. For white women, it is 4.7 per 100,000.

Previous studies had put those figures at 5.7 and 3.2.

The new rates do not reflect a rise in the number of deaths, which recent estimates put at more than 4,000 a year in the United States. Instead, the figures come from a re-examination of existing numbers, in an adjusted context.

Typically, death rates for cervical cancer are calculated by assessing the number of women who die from a disease against the general population at risk for it. But these epidemiologists, who looked at health data from 2000 to 2012, also excluded women who had had hysterectomies from that larger population. A hysterectomy almost always removes the cervix, and thus the possibility that a woman will develop cervical cancer.

“We don’t include men in our calculation because they are not at risk for cervical cancer and by the same measure, we shouldn’t include women who don’t have a cervix,” said Anne F. Rositch, the lead author and an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If we want to look at how well our programs are doing, we have to look at the women we’re targeting.”

Although the study did not explore reasons for the racial disparity, some doctors said it could reflect unequal access to screening, ability to pursue early-warning test results, and insurance coverage. A recent study in the journal Gynecologic Oncology that looked at 15,194 patients with advanced cervical cancer found that more than half did not receive treatment considered to be standard of care, and that those patients were more likely to be black and poor.

According to the analysis published Monday, the hysterectomy-corrected mortality rates put black American women on par with women living in some underdeveloped countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.


Dr. M. Margaret Kemeny, director of the Queens Cancer Center of Queens Hospital, treats many younger women of color who have a diagnosis of cervical cancer. CreditJoshua Bright for The New York Times

Certainly removing women who had hysterectomies from the data pool had a significant effect. About 20 percent of women in the United States have a hysterectomy, often for problems unrelated to cancer, like excessive bleeding and fibroids, with prevalence higher among black women than white.

In years to come, mortality and incidence rates should decline as more women receive HPV vaccines, which prevents many cervical cancers.

In recent years, with recognition of the slow progression of the disease, the success of the vaccine and more sophisticated screening tests, guidelines for cervical cancer assessments have shifted. Depending on circumstances, some women need to be screened only every five years.

The guidelines suggest that screening end at age 65 for women who have had two or three consecutive negative results in the previous decade.

The current study says that the greatest mortality rates hit black women 85 and older.

But experts said the new findings did not necessarily point to the need to revisit the upper end of the guidelines. Cervical cancer progresses so slowly, with so many early-warning stages, experts said, that it is highly unlikely that a 65-year-old woman who had met guidelines’ requirements would subsequently develop the disease.

But given the rigor of the guidelines and screenings, Dr. Rositch said, why do American women not only still get cervical cancer but die from it? And with such pronounced racial and age divides?

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, the chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said that the new study pointed to inequity of access and good treatment.

“When we look at the difference between black and white, and rich and poor, we find the same disparity,” he said. “The quality of assessment and follow-up treatment can be different. The question becomes: how do we get adequate preventive care to all people?”

Although this study looked at the divide between black and white women, Dr. Schmeler said that it implicitly raised alarms for other poor women of color. Along border towns in Texas, with an overwhelmingly poor, Hispanic population, she said that rates of incidence and death from cervical cancer were considerably higher than national figures.

Studies such as this latest one consider death rates from a broad epidemiological perspective; statistically, its grimmest news is about older black women. But on the ground, Dr. M. Margaret Kemeny, the director of the Queens Cancer Center of Queens Hospital, a public institution in New York, said she had treated many younger women of color with a diagnosis of cervical cancer. Although the disease is preventable and, if detected early, treatable, Dr. Kemeny’s patients have often never had Pap smears.

She recently had to perform total pelvic exenterations on two women, each with recurring cervical cancer, one Chinese, the other Hispanic. She removed the cervix, vagina, rectum and bladder, inserting two ostomy bags, which are worn outside the body to collect urine and stool. “One was 39,” Dr. Kemeny said, “and the other was 25.”

Scientists Discover Prehistoric Giant Otter Species In China

Artist’s rendering of two individuals of Siamogale melilutra, one of them feeding on a freshwater clam.

Mauricio Antón/Journla of Systematic Palaeontology

Six million years ago, giant otters weighing more than 100 pounds lived among birds and water lilies in the wooded wetlands of China’s Yunnan province.

That’s according to new research from a team of scientists who discovered a well-preserved cranium of the newly-discovered species in an open lignite mine in 2010. They recently published their findings in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.

The researchers concluded that this wolf-sized prehistoric creature is “two to three times larger than any modern otter species,” Denise Su, the head of paleobotany and paleoecology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, tells The Two-Way.

The fossilized cranium was nearly complete, but flattened to about an inch and a half thick. “The bones are pretty fragile, so we couldn’t really reconstruct it physically,” Su said. “So what we did is we took CT scans of the cranium, and then we digitally reconstructed it.”

The cranium was particularly interesting because it revealed that the animal’s teeth had “some badger features,” Su explains. The species name Siamogale melilutra, is a nod to that – in Latin, meles means badger and lutra means otter.

A comparison of the cranium size of the newly discovered ancient otter with other otter species.

Xiaoming Wang

And the completeness of the cranium provided the researchers with important information about how otters evolved, Su said. It shed light on a dental mystery in particular.

The giant otters possessed large bunodont, or round-cusped, teeth. Scientists have wondered whether different species of otters inherited these teeth from a common ancestor, or evolved them separately because they were eating similar things – a process known as convergent evolution.

But by comparing this specimen to modern and other fossil otters, Su says they found “these bunodont teeth actually arose at least four different times within the greater otter lineage.” That finding suggests they emerged because of convergent evolution, rather than inheritance from a common ancestor.

The scientists initially found other bones from the species in 2009, including an upper arm bone. Su remembers looking at that bone and thinking, “This looks like an otter but it’s huge. … Is this really an otter?”

There are big questions about why the animal was so large and how it moved on land and in water.

“A lot of times in modern carnivores, the large size is partly due to subduing prey, so their prey is bigger and the carnivores also get bigger,” Su explains. But the scientists think that this animal likely ate small creatures such as mollusks – so, “why the big size?”

PS4 Fans Are Baffled As To Why Sony Is Promoting Crappy-Looking Games

Earlier this month, the official PlayStation YouTube account uploaded a trailer for a game called “Life of Black Tiger.” The mature adventure game, which appears to be a port of a free mobile title, looks like crap—but it has sparked a discussion over the quality of games that players expect to see on consoles.

Now, the trailer for Life of Black Tiger, embedded above,  was originally uploaded on January 12th. After some backlash, the footage was briefly unavailable for mysterious reasons, though it has since resurfaced online. As of this writing, it has 711,251 views and 27,826 dislikes—all because it looks like PS1 shovelware that appears to have stolen music from an anime. “Please tell me Sony is trolling us,” one YouTube commenter wrote. “I feel so disrespected by this somehow,” another dramatically wrote.

Of course, just because something looks bad doesn’t mean it actually is. And so, YouTubers such as Jim Sterling have been giving this $9.99 game a shot, so you don’t have to. You can watch a playthrough below:

Turns out, it’s just as terrible as it looks. The thing nobody can figure out if it’s actually all a joke—we reached out to Sony to inquire about the game, but have not heard back.

“This might be the worst game I’ve ever played on a console,” Sterling said. Between the ugly graphics, shallow mechanics, and awful controls, Sterling compared it to some of the bottom of the barrel games you might expect to see on Steam Greenlight, not a console. “There are no adequate words to describe how fucking unbelievable this game is,” Sterling said.

Thing is, Life of Black Tiger is not alone. Increasingly, Sony has been promoting more games that players deem low-quality. Last year there was Solbrain: Knight of Darkness, which had a bunch of seemingly ripped-off art and music. More recently, the official PlayStation YouTube channel uploaded a trailer for Skylight Freerange 2: Gachduine, a $14.99 game that makes Life of Black Tiger look pretty good by comparison:

Here’s the official description:

Skylight Freerange 2: Gachduine is an open world RPG that takes place in Nova Scotia in 2048. Choices can impact the storyline, available quests, final battles, which of the 23 party members make an appearance and are available, and endings.

After completing the initial quest, players are given free reign to do main quests, side quests (where the player’s choices determine 1 of 3 ultimate side quests), explore world map and dungeons unassociated with quests, and engage in social situations with their allies, where they can become friends and enter relationships.

An expansion has been added for both the Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita versions, that adds Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula and an additional questline to accompany it.

Hilariously, the game is rated M for Mature—it has nudity and sexual themes, which I’m morbidly curious about.

PS4 fans have no idea what to make of all of this:

I don’t actually have a problem with games like this appearing on the PlayStation Store—I firmly believe that everyone should make games, and that not every game needs to be triple-A quality. If Joe Schmo wants to sell his small little game that he made over the weekend, hey, be my guest—so long as nobody is misled into buying a game they don’t want, it’s all good to me.

That said, games like Life of Black Tiger are drawing controversy because they appear to be endorsed by Sony itself, just by virtue of being on the official PlayStation YouTube. It’s easy for fans to look at the aforementioned trailers and wonder why Sony appears to be marketing games that just aren’t up to snuff. It’s possible that Sony is less involved with the YouTube channel than people assume, but then the question becomes, should they be stepping in to do some damage control?

This is all stuff PC gamers are very familiar with thanks to Steam, but on the latest generation of consoles, the question of “quality” is still up for debate.

5 biggest takeaways from Samsung’s Note 7 battery fire announcement


Five months after releasing the doomed Galaxy Note 7 to much fanfare, Samsung revealed what caused its flagship device to go boom not once, but twice. This was Samsung fulfilling its promise to explain exactly what went wrong with the phone. The level of transparency was unusual for a company accustomed to keeping its processes close to the vest, but it was also an important step in making good on another commitment to rebuild buyers’ trust.

During the hourlong press event held in Seoul, South Korea and streamed online, Samsung dove deep into detailed battery technology and slides full of findings from three independent agencies (see below) that Samsung partnered with to investigate everything from battery chemistry and manufacturing procedures to the way Samsung transports phones from factories to warehouses.

It was a lot to take in, but here’s all you really need to know.

1. Double-dose of fatal battery flaws

Two batteries flamed out for two different reasons. The initial Galaxy Note 7 battery suffered from a design flaw that eventually led to positive and negative electrodes of the battery touching, short circuiting and causing the whole thing to combust.

The Note 7 blowup was caused by two separate battery flaws.

Josh Miller/CNET

After initiating a recall of the phone’s initial production run, Samsung turned to a second supplier for new replacement batteries. But quality control couldn’t keep pace with the huge ramp-up in orders, and a second manufacturing flaw cropped up: a welding error that left a large enough nutter of material to bore a hole in the separator keeping those volatile chemicals apart.

Sometimes, investigators found, the separator wasn’t even there. Thus the disastrous second recall, at which time Samsung pulled the product from markets worldwide for good.

While Samsung won’t name its battery suppliers, people familiar with the issue said that Samsung SDI made the first round of batteries (this is separate from Samsung Mobile, which made the phone) and Amperex Technology manufactured the replacement batteries.

Read more about it here: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 FAQ: What happened with the batteries

2. Samsung takes responsibility, but throws battery suppliers under the bus

Although Samsung assured viewers during the press conference that it takes full responsibility for selling dangerously defective phones, one message was clear: Battery manufacturers are really the ones to blame.

The UL, Exponent, and TUV Rheinland agencies that Samsung commissioned to ferret out the fires’ cause agreed that the battery — not Samsung’s phone design — caused the sale-stopping combustion.

True as that may be, Samsung didn’t address why its own processes and quality-control program failed to catch the problem. Ultimately, it’s Samsung’s name on the roughly 3 million Note 7 phones that shipped worldwide.

3. Samsung phones get a new eight-point battery checklist

Battery testing procedures are notoriously under lock and key. (I’ve been in two companies’ factories and haven’t been allowed to report on either one.) But now Samsung is sharing its eight-point checklist, which it will apply to every phone going forward, including the new Galaxy S8 and future Galaxy Note 8.

Samsung has instituted an eight-point battery check to prevent the problems it had with the Galaxy Note 7.

Infographic by Alfred Ng/CNET

The checklist that Samsung will conduct includes new protocols and enhancements to original tests. Instead of speccing out just the size and voltage requirements, Samsung is exerting more control over aspects like the types of materials used. Moreover, Samsung wants other devicemakers and agencies to use it, too.

4. The Galaxy S8 launch will come later than usual

The Galaxy S8 phone won’t launch at the end of February; it’s been pushed back while Samsung HQ dealt with the Note 7 recall disaster and investigation. Samsung may never have publicly promised to unveil the S8 at the Mobile World Congress show, but it didn’t have to. That’s where it introduced every Galaxy ‘S’ phone except one — the Galaxy S4, which launched a few weeks after in New York. We expect the same approach here.

And by the way, Samsung mentioned that the S8 would leave more room for the battery, even though internal space didn’t cause the Note 7’s woes.

5. The Note 8 is still on

The Note legacy will live on in the Note 8.

Josh Miller/CNET

We already knew that Samsung was committed to the Note series, but the company’s mobile chief, D.J. Koh, confirmed it’s sticking with the Note 8 in an interview with CNET.

“I will bring back a better, safer and very innovative Note 8,” Koh said. Samsung typically launches the Note in late August or early September.

The Note family, with its large screen and digital stylus, is extremely important to Samsung. It has a dedicated following in a category that Samsung pioneered. And before Note 7 units began igniting, the model was on course to be a grand slam. That’s momentum that Samsung will want to recapture, stat.

One more question: What about replaceable batteries?

We’ve speculated it and you have, too: couldn’t Samsung have avoided some of its pain by giving the Note 7 a replaceable battery? Then the company could have addressed the issue without having to rip 3 million phones out of hands and warehouses.

We’ve asked, but Samsung hasn’t answered. But we don’t see that happening anyway. These days, a nonremovable (embedded) battery has become the industry standard. It’s now noteworthy to see a phone with a battery that pops out, rather than the other way around.

This design helps make phones slimmer and smaller. It leaves more internal room for larger batteries, too. So the same phone will theoretically last longer between charges with an embedded battery than it would with a removable one.

Trump Revives Ban on Foreign Aid to Groups That Give Abortion Counseling

UNITED NATIONS — President Trump reinstated a policy on Monday that originated in the Reagan era, prohibiting the granting of American foreign aid to health providers abroad who discuss abortion as a family-planning option.

United States law already prohibits the use of American taxpayer dollars for abortion services anywhere, including in countries where the procedure is legal. But Mr. Trump’s order takes the prohibition further: It freezes funding to nongovernmental organizations in poor countries if they offer abortion counseling or if they advocate the right to seek abortion in their countries.

The freeze applies even if the organizations use other sources of funding for these services.

Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence stated their opposition to abortion during the presidential campaign. Mr. Trump had signaled his intent to make the order one of his first acts as president, which pleased anti-abortion activists at home.

“We applaud President Trump for putting an end to taxpayer funding of groups that promote the killing of unborn children in developing nations,” Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee in Washington, the nation’s largest anti-abortion organization, said in a statement.

 Critics said the order reflected the new administration’s disregard of women’s reproductive health rights, whose advocates were an important force in the protest marches in Washington and other cities after Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

It revives what is known as the Mexico City policy, so named because President Ronald Reagan announced it in 1984 during a United Nations population conference in Mexico City. Critics call it the global gag rule. Since Reagan, Democratic administrations have suspended the policy and Republicans have reimposed it.

Some women’s health advocates interpreted Mr. Trump’s order as a huge expansion of the policy. Adrienne Lee, a spokeswoman for PAI, a reproductive rights group in Washington, said the order would cut funding to “every program that falls under global health assistance.”

Asked at his first official briefing on Monday what message the administration sending by reinstating the policy as one of its first orders of business, Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, told reporters that Mr. Trump had “made it very clear that he’s a pro-life president.”

“He wants to stand up for all Americans, including the unborn, and I think the reinstatement of this policy is not just something that echoes that value but respects taxpayer funding as well,” Mr. Spicer said.

Health experts say the policy has not led to a decline in abortions in the affected countries. Some research suggests that it has had the opposite effect: increasing abortion rates by forcing health clinics to close or to restrict contraceptive supplies because of lack of funding. Others say the restriction only heightens the risk of illegal and often unsafe abortions.

The impact of Mr. Trump’s order is likely to be felt beyond abortion services, which cannot be carried out with federal funding under a 1973 law known as the Helms Amendment, after former Senator Jesse Helms.

Critics said the order would hinder the ability of women in poor countries to obtain reproductive health services, including family planning, by severing American funding to health clinics that offer a variety of services, including abortion counseling.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation said its partners in Nepal, Kenya and Ethiopia had lost American funding the last time the policy was in effect, during the Bush administration. Because nongovernmental groups in those countries refused to accept the conditions of the policy, they were compelled to close clinics and offer fewer contraceptives, said Kelly Castagnaro, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman.

A study of 20 sub-Saharan African countries by Stanford University researchers found that in countries that relied heavily on funding from the United States for reproductive health services, abortion rates rose when the Reagan-era policy was in place.

“When the policy comes on, fewer women get contraceptives in countries that depend on U.S. funding for family planning,” Eran Bendavid, the lead author of the study, said on Monday.

Ms. Castagnaro said the revival of the Mexico City policy could cost Planned Parenthood about $100 million in American funding over the next four years.

In recent decades, abortion rates have declined sharply in the richest countries, including the United States, where the rate has fallen to its lowest level since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. Rates have remained steady in the developing world since the early 1990s.

The World Health Organization says 225 million women in developing nations would like to delay childbearing but are not using contraception for a variety of reasons, including a lack of access.

“President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule ignores decades of research, instead favoring ideological politics over women and families,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, said on Monday. “We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths and abortions.”

Vicki Saporta, president and chief executive of the National Abortion Federation, a Washington-based advocacy group for abortion rights, said in a statement, “President Trump’s decision to reinstate the global gag rule will endanger already vulnerable women by further curtailing their access to accurate information and safe reproductive health care services.”

Mr. Trump’s order repealed one made by President Obama when he took office in 2009, which had repealed the Bush version of the policy from 2001. In effect, Mr. Trump reinstated the Bush policy.

Democrats in Congress have tried, unsuccessfully, to pass legislation to scrap the policy. Ms. Shaheen said she would introduce similar legislation. But with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, it is unlikely to pass.

Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to the United Nations, Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina, made clear in her confirmation hearing last week that she opposed abortion, but said she supported funding for contraceptive services in foreign aid programs.

Super Bowl to feature two teams with Jewish owners for first time in 5 years

(JTA) — Both Super Bowl teams have Jewish owners, as they last did in 2012.

Robert Kraft will see his New England Patriots, the American Football Conference champions, in the big game for the seventh time since 2000. He bought the club, which will be making its record ninth Super Bowl appearance, in 1994.

Arthur Blank will watch his National Football Conference-winning Atlanta Falcons playing in their second Super Bowl — but the first since the Home Depot founder bought the team 15 years ago.

In the most recent faceoff between Jewish owners, in 2012, the unbeaten Patriots were upset by the New York Giants, who are co-owned by the Tisch family.

The Patriots and Falcons advanced to the 51st Super Bowl, which will be played Feb. 6 at NRG Stadium in Houston, with routs in the conference championship games Sunday.

Blank, 74, the chairman of the Arthur Blank Family Foundation, has pledged to take all of the Falcons employees, about 270, to the Super Bowl. He is a signatory of The Giving Pledge, committing himself to give away at least 50 percent of his wealth to charitable causes. Blank reportedly has a net worth of about $3 billion.

The Kraft family over recent decades has donated more than $100 million to an array of causes, including health care, education, the Jewish community, Christian organizations and local needs.

Kraft, 75, is a prominent supporter of American football in Israel, including the Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem and the Kraft Family Israel Football League.

Jewish playwright Jon Robin Baitz allegedly assaulted by man who shouted anti-Semitic invective (GOOD!!!!)

(JTA) — Jewish playwright Jon Robin Baitz said he was assaulted in Washington, D.C., by a man who went “Sieg Heil” and shouted anti-Semitic invective.

Baitz told Vanity Fair that he and his husband were attacked Friday night outside the Kimpton Carlyle Hotel, where they had dinner with several friends to attend the women’s march the following day. He said they were approached by a group the playwright described as “exhilarated and pointedly celebratory, loud happy Trump people.”

“We were walking out to say goodbye,” Baitz told Vanity Fair. “There were a few ladies who had a central casting, Ann Coulterian uniform and hair. There was a tiny popinjay of a man with a windsor knot and a pink tie. And this 350-pound enormous red-headed linebacker guy, who clearly saw a group of East Coast Jewish liberal homosexual sodomite communists congregating in their black clothes saying goodbye. He went ‘Sieg Heil’ and saluted us.”

The man then shouted the anti-Semitic invective and threatened to kill Baitz before throwing him to the ground. Baitz said it was clear that the members of the group were Jewish and why they were in Washington.

Baitz said he filed assault charges against the man. The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the incident as a “suspected hate crime,” according to Vanity Fair.

He is the author of the satirical play “Vicuña,” about a real estate tycoon and reality TV star who becomes a Republican presidential candidate.


“I take this upcoming meeting as a very important step in building our trust, the trust between an Israeli Prime Minister and the American President.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that his phone call with US President Donald Trump on Sunday night was “warm” and that it “reflected our deep ties.”

Speaking at the Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu said he congratulated Trump on his inauguration and acknowledged his “unconditional support for Israel.”

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Netanyahu says he remains concerned for settlements ahead of Trump call

“President Trump believes that peace will be achieved through direct negotiations without any pre-conditions, does that sound familiar?” Netanyahu jested.

“He said that he has unwavering support for Israel’s security, does that sound familiar?” he repeated.

“And he also spoke with me about the danger posed by Iran, does that sound familiar?” Netanyahu said again.

The Premier also said they spoke about a wide range of issues during their phone call and told members of his party that “he invited me to meet him as soon as possible.”

“I take this upcoming meeting as a very important step in building our trust, the trust between an Israeli Prime Minister and the American President.”

Netanyahu continued by saying that “we are at the start of a period of great opportunity for us,” and perhaps warning the right-wing members of his coalition, he said, “This is not the time to shoot from the hip, this is not the time for surprises, this is the time for diplomacy between friends that will strengthen our ties.”

“Therefore for the good of our country and the settlement enterprise I suggest everyone put aside all other considerations and let me lead the policy.”

“God willing,” Netanyahu said, “With cooler heads and patience we will lead our nation into a new era that will strengthen our security, our economy, our settlements and our diplomacy.”