deeply

DEPUTY MAYOR OF FRANKFURT SEEKS TO BAN ‘DEEPLY ANTISEMITIC’ BDS

 

The deputy mayor of Frankfurt, Uwe Becker, submitted a bill on Wednesday that would ban municipal funds and space being used for activities that aim to boycott Israel.

Becker, a leading German political voice against antisemitism, said, “The BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] movement with its messages uses the same language the National Socialists once used to express: ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’”

The boycott movement targeting Israel is “deeply antisemitic and should have no place in Frankfurt,” he said.

The proposed law would outlaw all public funding and space for the support of “antisemitic BDS activities.” The bill in Frankfurt, which has a population of nearly 733,000, would also urge private companies to refrain from commerce with BDS groups.

The deputy mayor spearheaded his Christian Democratic Union’s adoption of its anti-BDS platform at the party’s congress in 2016.

Becker said on Wednesday, “Frankfurt maintains, with its partnership with Tel Aviv, a special closeness to Israel and has continued to expand over the previous years this special relationship.”

The municipality said in a statement that Becker announced Frankfurt’s clear position against BDS in light of anti-boycott measures taken by other national and regional legislatures, including Munich’s.

Becker said BDS, at its core, is a movement that “delegitimizes the State of Israel and uses the method of a boycott to defame [Israel].” He cited BDS actions to intimidate artists who want to appear in Israel.

He also noted the boycott activities of “department store police” who stigmatize Israeli products in order to pressure stores to turn against the Jewish state.

Anti-Israel activists have over the years marched into stores in Bremen, Bonn and other German cities to single out Israeli goods for opprobrium.

Becker said his city is engaged for a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Last week, Becker wrote on his Facebook page: “With the rising terrorism in Europe, more and more people start to understand the situation that Israel has been facing since David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the independence of Israel on May 14, 1948. This rising awareness should also open the eyes of the people in Europe to see that it is up to us to support Israel, as it is the only democratic country under the rule of law in the Middle East. Israel is the democratic bridge between Occident and Orient and is linked closely to our European values and virtues and way of life.”

He continued, “This year marks a decade of suffering for the people in Gaza. No, not from Israeli policy, as many people in Europe might think. No, people in Gaza suffer from a lack of freedom, from a lack of democracy, from the brutal rule of Hamas, which is betraying its own people and has been governing Gaza since Israel withdrew in 2005 and Hamas took over power in 2007 after fighting between Hamas and Fatah. The corrupt leadership of Hamas has received hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade, but the money has not gone to the people, but to the accounts of corrupt Hamas leaders and to the funding of terrorism and terrorist infrastructure in their fight against Israel.”

Becker further said that “there should not be any European tax-money funding terrorism. And as long as it is not possible to track where our tax money meant for the humanitarian aid in Gaza goes, we should freeze our financial support.”

Advertisements

Trump’s Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty Efforts

WASHINGTON — President Trump plans to unveil on Tuesday a $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 that would cut deeply into programs for the poor, from health care and food stamps to student loans and disability payments, laying out an austere vision for reordering the nation’s priorities.

The document, grandly titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” encapsulates much of the “America first” message that powered Mr. Trump’s campaign. It calls for an increase in military spending of 10 percent and spending more than $2.6 billion for border security — including $1.6 billion to begin work on a wall on the border with Mexico — as well as huge tax reductions and an improbable promise of 3 percent economic growth.

The wildly optimistic projections balance Mr. Trump’s budget, at least on paper, even though the proposal makes no changes to Social Security’s retirement program or Medicare, the two largest drivers of the nation’s debt.

To compensate, the package contains deep cuts in entitlement programs that would hit hardest many of the economically strained voters who propelled the president into office. Over the next decade, it calls for slashing more than $800 billion from Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, while slicing $192 billion from nutritional assistance and $272 billion over all from welfare programs. And domestic programs outside of military and homeland security whose budgets are determined annually by Congress would also take a hit, their funding falling by $57 billion, or 10.6 percent.

The plan would cut by more than $72 billion the disability benefits upon which millions of Americans rely. It would eliminate loan programs that subsidize college education for the poor and those who take jobs in government or nonprofit organizations.

Mr. Trump’s advisers portrayed the steep reductions as necessary to balance the nation’s budget while sparing taxpayers from shouldering the burden of programs that do not work well.

“This is, I think, the first time in a long time that an administration has written a budget through the eyes of the people who are actually paying the taxes,” said Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s budget director.

“We’re not going to measure our success by how much money we spend, but by how many people we actually help,” Mr. Mulvaney said as he outlined the proposal at the White House on Monday before its formal presentation on Tuesday to Congress.

Among its innovations: Mr. Trump proposes saving $40 billion over a decade by barring undocumented immigrants from collecting the child care tax credit or the earned-income tax credit, a subsidy for low- and middle-income families, particularly those with children. He has also requested $19 billion over 10 years for a new program, spearheaded by his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, to provide six weeks of paid leave to new parents. The budget also includes a broad prohibition against money for entities that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood, blocking them from receiving any federal health funding

Workers prepared copies of the 2018 budget after publishing last week in Washington.CreditCarolyn Kaster/Associated Press

The release of the document, an annual ritual in Washington that usually constitutes a marquee event for a new president working to promote his vision, unfolded under unusual circumstances. Mr. Trump is out of the country for his first foreign trip, and his administration is enduring a near-daily drumbeat of revelations about the investigation into his campaign’s possible links with Russia.

The president’s absence, which his aides dismissed as a mere coincidence of the calendar, seemed to highlight the haphazard way in which his White House has approached its dealings with Congress. It is just as much a sign of Mr. Trump’s lack of enthusiasm for the policy detail and message discipline that is required to marshal support to enact politically challenging changes.

“If the president is distancing himself from the budget, why on earth would Republicans rally around tough choices that would have to be made?” said Robert L. Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization that promotes deficit reduction. “If you want to make the political case for the budget — and the budget is ultimately a political document — you really need the president to do it. So, it does seem bizarre that the president is out of the country.”

The president’s annual budget — more a message document than a practical set of marching orders even in the best of times — routinely faces challenges on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers jealously guard their prerogative to control federal spending and shape government programs. But Mr. Trump’s wish list, in particular, faces long odds, with Democrats uniformly opposed and Republicans already showing themselves to be squeamish about some of the president’s plans.

“It probably is the most conservative budget that we’ve had under Republican or Democrat administrations in decades,” said Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

But in a signal that some proposed cuts to domestic programs are likely to face resistance even from conservatives, Mr. Meadows said he could not stomach the idea of doing away with food assistance for older Americans.

“Meals on Wheels, even for some of us who are considered to be fiscal hawks, may be a bridge too far,” Mr. Meadows said.

Republicans balked at Mr. Trump’s demand for money for the border wall in negotiations over a spending package enacted last month. Many were deeply conflicted over voting for a health care overhaul measure that included the Medicaid cuts contained in the budget to be presented on Tuesday. Now the president is proposing still deeper reductions to the federal health program for the poor, as well as drastically scaling back a broad array of social safety net programs that are certain to be unpopular with lawmakers.

“The politics of this make no sense to me whatsoever, in the sense that the population that brought them to the dance are the populists out there in the Midwest and South who rely on these programs that he’s talking about reducing,” said G. William Hoagland, a former senior Republican congressional budget aide. Referring to Representative Paul D. Ryan, he said: “I don’t see how Speaker Ryan gets anywhere close to 218 votes in the House of Representatives if this is the model. It’s an exercise in futility.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said Monday that the Medicaid cuts would “carry a staggering human cost” and violate Mr. Trump’s campaign promise to address the opioid epidemic.

“Based on what we know about this budget, the good news — the only good news — is that it was likely to be roundly rejected by members of both parties here in the Senate, just as the last budget was,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor.

The budget itself avoids some of the tough choices that would be required to enact Mr. Trump’s fiscal vision. The huge tax cut was presented but without any detail about its elements or cost. Mr. Mulvaney said the tax plan would not add to the deficit, implying that its cost would be made up with other changes, such as eliminating deductions.

To balance the budget, Mr. Trump’s budget relies on growth he argues will be generated from the as-yet-unformed tax cut.

The blueprint also steers clear of changing Social Security or Medicare, steps that Mr. Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman who has backed entitlement cuts, said he had tried to persuade Mr. Trump to consider.

“He said, ‘I promised people on the campaign trail I would not touch their retirement and I would not touch Medicare,’ and we don’t do it,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “I honestly was surprised that we could balance the budget without changing those programs, but we managed to do that.”

But budget experts argued that was little more than fiction, and the plan could never deliver the results it claims to.

“The central inconsistency is promoting a massive tax cut and spending increases in some areas and leaving the major entitlement programs alone,” Mr. Bixby said. “You don’t have to be an economist to know that that doesn’t add up, and that’s why there’s a great deal of concern about the negative fiscal impact that this budget will have.”

While past presidents have often launched a road show with stops around the country to promote the components of their inaugural budgets, Mr. Trump is spending the rest of the week overseas, leaving his staff to explain his plan while Republicans prepare their own response.

“This budget is dead before arrival, so he might as well be out of town,” said David A. Stockman, a former budget director under President Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Stockman said both political parties had grown comfortable with running large annual budget deficits. “There’s not a snowball’s chance that most of this deep deficit reduction will even be considered in a serious way.”

Hillary Clinton Assails James Comey, Calling Email Decision ‘Deeply Troubling’

Hillary Clinton and her allies sprang onto a war footing on Saturday, opening a ferocious attack on the F.B.I.’s director, James B. Comey, a day after he disclosed that his agency was looking into a potential new batch of messages from her private email server.

Treating Mr. Comey as a threat to her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton took aim at the law enforcement officer who had recommended no criminal charges less than four months earlier for her handling of classified information as secretary of state.

“It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election,” Mrs. Clinton said at a rally in Daytona Beach, Fla. “In fact, it’s not just strange; it’s unprecedented and it is deeply troubling.”

For Democrats, it was also deeply worrying. Mrs. Clinton’s advisers expressed concern that the F.B.I.’s renewed attention to emails relating to the nominee would turn some voters against her, hurt party candidates in competitive House and Senate races, and complicate efforts to win over undecided Americans in the final days of the election.

So after stepping gingerly around the issue on Friday, calling on Mr. Comey to release more specific information but not overtly criticizing him, her campaign made it personal on Saturday, accusing the director of smearing Mrs. Clinton with innuendo late in the race and of violating Justice Department rules.

The decision to target Mr. Comey for his unusual decision to publicly disclose the inquiry came during an 8 a.m. internal conference call, after aides saw reports that Justice Department officials were furious, believing he had violated longstanding guidelines advising against such actions so close to an election.

Even before Mrs. Clinton spoke in Florida, her campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, and campaign manager, Robby Mook, criticized Mr. Comey for putting out incomplete information and breaking with Justice Department protocol.

“By providing selective information, he has allowed partisans to distort and exaggerate to inflict maximum political damage,” Mr. Podesta said during a conference call with reporters. “Comey has not been forthcoming with the facts,” he added, describing the director’s letter to Congress on Friday as “long on innuendo.”

Whatever shortcomings Mrs. Clinton may have as a candidate, Saturday’s coordinated effort showed that the political organization that she, her husband and her allies had built over decades remained potent and would not let what seemed like victory erode easily. By midday, Mr. Comey, a Republican appointed by President Obama and confirmed nearly unanimously by the Senate, found himself in its cross hairs.

Encouraged by Mrs. Clinton’s senior aides to reframe the story and make it about Mr. Comey’s actions, liberal groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus demanded that he release more information. Other surrogates were emailed talking points prodding them to deem it “extraordinary that 11 days before the election a letter like this — with so few details — would be sent to 8 Republican committee chairmen.” (Ranking Democrats on the committees also received copies.)

Mr. Comey has not publicly commented on the investigation, other than with the letter saying that more emails were being examined. He also wrote an email to F.B.I. employees explaining that he felt he had to inform Congress even though the agency did not yet know “the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails.”

With Mrs. Clinton leading Donald J. Trump in nearly every battleground state, Clinton advisers were emphatic that they would not be thrown off stride. They said they would not change any political strategy, television advertising or campaign travel plans.

For months, the F.B.I. had investigated whether Mrs. Clinton had broken any laws by using a private email server while she was secretary of state. This past summer, Mr. Comey said that Mrs. Clinton had been “extremely careless” by allowing sensitive information to be discussed outside secure government servers, but that the agency had concluded that Mrs. Clinton had not committed a crime. The investigation was closed.

But on Friday, Mr. Comey notified Congress that the agency had discovered emails, possibly relevant to the investigation, that belonged to Mrs. Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin. The emails were discovered on the computer of Ms. Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony D. Weiner, during a separate investigation into allegations that he had exchanged sexually explicit messages with a teenager.

According to several Clinton advisers, Mrs. Clinton told them overnight and on Saturday that she wanted the campaign to operate normally, not rashly, while pressuring Mr. Comey to dispel any possibility that her candidacy was under legal threat.

But the Clinton team also had to deal with a newly emboldened Mr. Trump, who urged voters at a rally on Saturday in Golden, Colo., to oppose Mrs. Clinton because of her “criminal action” that was “willful, deliberate, intentional and purposeful.”

Handed a new opening against Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump used the moment to baselessly claim there had been an internal F.B.I. “revolt” and made a sexually suggestive joke about Mr. Weiner.

“As Podesta said, she’s got bad instincts,” Mr. Trump said, distorting a comment in one of the thousands of Mr. Podesta’s hacked emails recently released by WikiLeaks. “Well, she’s got bad instincts when her emails are on Anthony Weiner’s wherever.”

The paramount fear among Clinton advisers and Democratic officials was that an election that had become a referendum on Mr. Trump’s fitness for office, and that had increasingly seemed to be Mrs. Clinton’s to lose, would now become just as much about her conduct.

In phone calls, email chains and text messages on Saturday, Clinton aides and allies were by turns confident that the F.B.I. would find nothing to hurt Mrs. Clinton and concerned that the inquiry would nudge demoralized Republicans to show up to vote for down-ballot candidates — and perhaps even cast ballots, however reluctantly, for the battered Mr. Trump.

“This is like an 18-wheeler smacking into us, and it just becomes a huge distraction at the worst possible time,” said Donna Brazile, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and a close Clinton ally. “We don’t want it to knock us off our game. But on the second-to-last weekend of the race, we find ourselves having to tell voters, ‘Keep your focus; keep your eyes on the prize.’”

As much as Clinton advisers stressed that they were not panicking, some of them radiated anger at Mr. Comey, Mr. Weiner and even Mrs. Clinton — a reflection of 18 months of frustration that her personal decisions about her email practices and privacy were still generating unhelpful political drama. Two Clinton aides, for example, pointedly noted in interviews that it was difficult to press a counterattack without fully knowing what was in Ms. Abedin’s emails.

Some prominent Democratic women, meanwhile, were angry that a murky announcement from the F.B.I. might impede the election of the first female president of the United States.

“It worries me because it gives the Republicans something to blow up and fan folks’ anger with,” said former Representative Patricia Schroeder of Colorado, who considered a run for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988. “I was on the Judiciary Committee when I was in Congress, and I have never seen the F.B.I. handle any case the way they have handled hers.”

Photo

Donald J. Trump at a rally on Saturday in Golden, Colo. He accused Hillary Clinton of “criminal action” and urged voters to oppose her. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

While some voters are undecided, about 20 million Americans have already cast ballots in early voting, and millions more long ago concluded which candidate they would support.

In a polarized country where many are unwaveringly contemptuous of either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, the latest development in the email story prompted a mix of shrugs and renewed determination from the left and told-you-so claims of Clinton perfidy from the right.

“My mind was made up,” said Luis Luaces, 57, a Florida Republican who expressed little surprise about the Weiner email twist as he cast his ballot for Mr. Trump on Saturday in Miami. “I know what the Clintons are about.”

Democrats also said the development had done little to alter their perceptions. In Charlotte, N.C., Ian Leemans, 35, a Democrat, said he had been at work checking news sites when he saw a flashing banner with Friday’s news. He had already planned to vote early for Mrs. Clinton, but after the news, he felt even more urgency to cast his ballot.

“I thought, O.K., this is going to be an advantage for Trump people to say, ‘Oh, it is a rigged election,’” Mr. Leemans said. “So I thought, ‘Oh, I need to make sure I get up at 8 o’clock on a Saturday and vote.’”

Several Republican pollsters and strategists said that given Mr. Trump’s weakness, the F.B.I. inquiry was more likely to help the party’s candidates for the House and Senate than to transform the political fortunes of Mr. Trump.

“To the extent this affects relative enthusiasm among Republicans and Democrats, it helps down-ballot Republicans,” said Whit Ayres, a pollster advising one such candidate seeking re-election, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Referring to Mrs. Clinton’s lead over Mr. Trump in recent polls, Mr. Ayres added, “The margin at the top of the ticket is large enough so that it probably takes an indictment, rather than an investigation, to move those numbers sufficiently.”

With control of the Senate on a knife’s edge and Democrats wielding Mr. Trump’s unpopularity like a weapon to make gains in the House, Republicans were exultant to at least get off the defensive.

While few Republicans were willing to argue that Mr. Comey’s letter could revive Mr. Trump, they said that the new revelations dovetailed with a message they were already pushing: that Democratic candidates would only enable Mrs. Clinton’s instinct for secrecy and not hold her accountable.

“It boosts the check-and-balance argument because it is a reminder of all of the things voters hate about Clinton,” said Rob Simms, the executive director of the House Republican campaign arm.

In N.F.L., Deeply Flawed Concussion Research and Ties to Big Tobacco

The National Football League was on the clock.

With several of its marquee players retiring early after a cascade of frightening concussions, the league formed a committee in 1994 that would ultimately issue a succession of research papers playing down the danger of head injuries. Amid criticism of the committee’s work, physicians brought in later to continue the research said the papers had relied on faulty analysis.

Now, an investigation by The New York Times has found that the N.F.L.’s concussion research was far more flawed than previously known.

For the last 13 years, the N.F.L. has stood by the research, which, the papers stated, was based on a full accounting of all concussions diagnosed by team physicians from 1996 through 2001. But confidential data obtained by The Times shows that more than 100 diagnosed concussions were omitted from the studies — including some severe injuries to stars like quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman. The committee then calculated the rates of concussions using the incomplete data, making them appear less frequent than they actually were.

After The Times asked the league about the missing diagnosed cases — more than 10 percent of the total — officials acknowledged that “the clubs were not required to submit their data and not every club did.” That should have been made clearer, the league said in a statement, adding that the missing cases were not part of an attempt “to alter or suppress the rate of concussions.”

One member of the concussion committee, Dr. Joseph Waeckerle, said he was unaware of the omissions. But he added: “If somebody made a human error or somebody assumed the data was absolutely correct and didn’t question it, well, we screwed up. If we found it wasn’t accurate and still used it, that’s not a screw-up; that’s a lie.”

These discoveries raise new questions about the validity of the committee’s findings, published in 13 peer-reviewed articles and held up by the league as scientific evidence that brain injuries did not cause long-term harm to its players. It is also unclear why the omissions went unchallenged by league officials, by the epidemiologist whose job it was to ensure accurate data collection and by the editor of the medical journal that published the studies.

In 2013, the N.F.L. agreed to a $765 million settlement of a lawsuit in which retired players accused league officials of covering up the risks of concussions. Some players have appealed the settlement, asking for an examination of the committee’s concussion research.
Some retired players have likened the N.F.L.’s handling of its health crisis to that of the tobacco industry, which was notorious for using questionable science to play down the dangers of cigarettes.

Concussions can hardly be equated with smoking, which kills 1,300 people a day in the United States, and The Times has found no direct evidence that the league took its strategy from Big Tobacco. But records show a long relationship between two businesses with little in common beyond the health risks associated with their products.

In a letter to The Times, a lawyer for the league said, “The N.F.L. is not the tobacco industry; it had no connection to the tobacco industry,” which he called “perhaps the most odious industry in American history.”

Still, the records show that the two businesses shared lobbyists, lawyers and consultants. Personal correspondence underscored their friendships, including dinner invitations and a request for lobbying advice.

In 1997, to provide legal oversight for the committee, the league assigned Dorothy C. Mitchell, a young lawyer who had earlier defended the Tobacco Institute, the industry trade group. She had earned the institute’s “highest praise” for her work.

A co-owner of the Giants, Preston R. Tisch, also partly owned a leading cigarette company, Lorillard, and was a board member of both the Tobacco Institute and the Council for Tobacco Research, two entities that played a central role in misusing science to hide the risks of cigarettes.

The N.F.L.’s concussion committee began publishing its findings in 2003 in the medical journal Neurosurgery. Although the database used in the studies contained numerical codes for teams and players, The Times decoded it by cross-referencing team schedules and public injury reports.

The N.F.L.’s concussion studies have faced questions since they were published, but even the league’s harshest critics have never suggested, and no evidence has ever arisen, that the underlying data set could be so faulty.

“One of the rules of science is that you need to have impeccable data collection procedures,” said Bill Barr, a neuropsychologist who once worked for the Jets and who has in the past criticized the committee’s work.

By excluding so many concussions, Mr. Barr said, “You’re not doing science here; you are putting forth some idea that you already have.”

The Work Begins

In an introduction to the first of the concussion committee’s papers, the league’s commissioner at the time, Paul Tagliabue, acknowledged the need for “independent scientific research” to better understand the risks of concussions.

 
“As we looked more deeply into the specific area of concussions, we realized that there were many more questions than answers,” Mr. Tagliabue wrote.

The committee’s chairman, Dr. Elliot Pellman, the team physician for the Jets, emphasized that his group aimed to produce research that was “independent” and “meticulous.”

In fact, most of the dozen committee members were associated with N.F.L. teams, as a physician, neurosurgeon or athletic trainer, which meant they made decisions about player care and then studied whether those decisions were proper. Still, the researchers stated unambiguously — in each of their first seven peer-reviewed papers — that their financial or business relationships had not compromised their work.

The committee said it analyzed all concussions diagnosed by team medical staffs from 1996 through 2001 — 887 in all. Concussions were recorded by position, type of play, time missed, even the brand of helmet.

The committee’s statements emphasized the completeness of the data.

“It was understood that any player with a recognized symptom of head injury, no matter how minor, should be included in the study,” one paper said.

And in confidential peer-review documents, the committee wrote that “all N.F.L. teams participated” and that “all players were therefore part of this study.”

Those statements are contradicted by the database.

The Times found that most teams failed to report all of their players’ concussions. Over all, at least 10 percent of head injuries diagnosed by team doctors were missing from the study, including two sustained by Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet, who retired several years later after more concussions. Dr. Pellman, the Jets’ physician, led the research and was the lead author on every paper.

Prominent Holes in N.F.L. Study
In the mid-1990s, the National Football League formed a concussion committee that ultimately determined that head trauma posed no significant danger. But the data it collected from teams was inconsistent and contained glaring omissions — some involving the game’s star players.

The 49ers have no concussions listed from 1997 through 2000. However, numerous media reports and the N.F.L.’s own injury reports indicate quarterback Steve Young had at least two. The one at left occurred against Arizona in 1999. Young did not play again.
Young listed on midweek N.F.L. injury reports

The Cowboys do not have a single concussion in the database, which covers six seasons. But according to media reports and the N.F.L.’s injury reports, quarterback Troy Aikman sustained four during that time, including one against the Eagles in 1997, left.
Aikman listed on midweek N.F.L. injury reports

According to the research papers, team physicians were to fill out forms specially designed for the studies to submit information about concussions — a system that went well beyond the league’s standard injury-reporting protocols. In one paper, the committee wrote, “The Commissioner of the N.F.L. mandated all team physicians to complete and return forms whenever they examined a player with a head injury.”

But after The Times described how it had identified missing concussions, the N.F.L. said this week that the studies, in fact, “never purported” to include all concussions.

Teams were “not mandated” to participate, the league said, only “strongly encouraged.” And some teams, a spokesman said, “did not take the additional steps of supplying the initial and/or follow-up forms.” He did not explain why some teams had not included all concussions identified by medical personnel.

The league explained, as did the papers, that some concussions went undiagnosed in the first place because players are known to occasionally hide their symptoms of concussion from team doctors; that symptoms of concussion can be so brief that no one notices; and that doctors might have used different criteria to make concussion diagnoses.

But the vast majority of omitted concussions identified by The Times were included in the N.F.L.’s public injury reports, meaning that medical staffs had made the diagnoses and reported them to the league. Some of the omitted concussions were reported by the teams to the news media after a game but do not appear on the injury reports, presumably because the player’s status for the next game was not in doubt.
The database does not include any concussions involving the Dallas Cowboys for all six seasons, including four to Mr. Aikman that were listed on the N.F.L.’s official midweek injury reports or were widely reported in the news media. He and many other players were therefore not included when the committee analyzed the frequency and lasting effects of multiple concussions.

Several other teams have no concussions listed for years at a time. Yet the committee’s calculations did include hundreds of those teams’ games played during that period, which produced a lower overall concussion rate.

A Cowboys spokesman, Rich Dalrymple, said the team had participated, but he declined to say how many cases were reported and which players were involved. He said he did not know why the Cowboys’ data did not appear in the studies. A San Francisco 49ers spokesman did not return messages seeking comment about Mr. Young.

Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the peer reviewers who at the time criticized the committee’s analyses, said, “It should be an unmistakable red flag that a team does not report any concussions over multiple years.”

Some injuries were more severe than what was reflected in the official tally. According to committee records, St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner sustained a concussion on Dec. 24, 2000, that healed after two days. But Mr. Warner’s symptoms continued, and four weeks later he was ruled out of the Pro Bowl with what a league official described as lingering symptoms of that head injury.

The N.F.L. declined to make Dr. Pellman available for an interview. The study’s epidemiologist, John Powell, who no longer works on behalf of the league, did not respond to interview requests. Michael L. J. Apuzzo, editor of Neurosurgery when the papers were published, did not respond to interview requests.

The N.F.L.’s Tragic C.T.E. Roll Call
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease, has been found in dozens of former N.F.L. players. Here are some of the most notable cases, along with New York Times coverage.

The committee and the N.F.L. have long claimed that the papers were vetted through a rigorous, confidential peer-review process before publication, which legitimized their methods and conclusions. But more than a dozen pages of anonymous back-and-forth between reviewers and the committee show some reviewers almost desperate to stop the papers’ publication while the authors brushed aside criticism.

One reviewer wrote, “Many of the management of concussion suggestions are inappropriate and not founded on facts.” Another said the committee’s assertion that the league was handling concussions too cautiously was not proved and was therefore “potentially dangerous.”

An author of the N.F.L. studies responded, “If the truth is dangerous, then I suppose our results are dangerous.”

Overlapping Interests

In 1992, amid rising concerns about concussions, Mr. Tisch — the Giants and Lorillard part owner — asked the cigarette company’s general counsel, Arthur J. Stevens, to contact the N.F.L. commissioner at the time, Mr. Tagliabue, about certain legal issues.

Mr. Stevens was not just any tobacco lawyer; he was a member of the industry’s secretive Committee of Counsel, which helped direct tobacco research projects. In a letter obtained by The Times, Mr. Stevens referred Mr. Tagliabue to two court cases alleging that the tobacco and asbestos industries had covered up the health risks of their products.

In one case, the family of a dead smoker sought internal documents that the tobacco industry had withheld on the grounds of lawyer-client privilege — which does not apply if invoked to cover up a crime. The judge in the case reacted angrily after reading those internal records.

“The documents speak for themselves in a voice filled with disdain for the consuming public and its health,” the judge, H. Lee Sarokin of Federal District Court in New Jersey, wrote earlier in 1992. Tobacco lawyers succeeded in having Judge Sarokin removed from the case.

Why an influential tobacco lawyer would recommend legal cases to the N.F.L. is not known, because neither Mr. Stevens nor Mr. Tagliabue would agree to be interviewed. Mr. Tisch died in 2005.

Joe Lockhart, a league spokesman, said that the cases involved potential bias of judges and that there was no evidence that the letter “was taken seriously.”

Even so, records show that, in the legal arena, the league and the tobacco industry sometimes intersected.

Before joining the N.F.L., Ms. Mitchell, a young Harvard Law School graduate, had been one of five lawyers at Covington & Burling who had provided either lobbying help or legal representation to both the N.F.L. and the tobacco industry, sometimes in the same year. Mr. Tagliabue had been a partner at the firm before becoming the N.F.L.’s commissioner.

In 1992, Ms. Mitchell defended the Tobacco Institute against a smoker’s lawsuit. She also worked on behalf of the institute in a landmark secondhand smoke case, as well as for other nontobacco clients. Ms. Mitchell said she was not responsible for legal strategy in the tobacco cases.

At the N.F.L., said Brian McCarthy, a league spokesman, Ms. Mitchell’s work for the concussion committee was administrative. “She did not have any responsibility or any role in directing the research,” he said.

Dr. Waeckerle, the concussion committee member, offered a different view.

He said Ms. Mitchell asked committee members: “How can this affect us? How can this be studied? How should we view it? Is this a legitimate concern, or is this part of somebody’s zeal, and do we need to be concerned?”
Dr. Waeckerle praised her for bringing a nonmedical voice that made members consider the risks, benefits and “what are the intended and nonintended consequences of whatever we were discussing.” He said, for example, that she wanted to ensure that the committee’s work applied only to the N.F.L., not to college or youth football.

Ms. Mitchell said in an interview that she left the N.F.L. after six years for personal reasons, unrelated to her work, and that she did not recall much about the committee’s work.

“I don’t think I saw any reports,” she said. “It was in the early stages.”

Ms. Mitchell added that, as the league’s assistant secretary, she had broad responsibilities beyond health and safety issues.

Her contributions to the concussion committee won her thanks in five research papers — three by the N.F.L. and two by a Canadian company that did contract work for the N.F.L. The committee wrote that she worked “tirelessly to initiate” its research and that “her efforts paved the way for successful completion of the research.”

On at least two occasions in the 1970s and 1980s, the N.F.L. hired a company whose client list included the Tobacco Institute to study player injuries. The league also hired a company — for a matter unrelated to player safety — that had performed a study for the tobacco industry that played down the danger of secondhand smoke.

The N.F.L.’s ties to tobacco are reflected in other ways. When Congress was considering legislation that dealt with when a team owner could relocate a franchise, Joe Browne, a league official sought lobbying advice from a representative of the Tobacco Institute.

“I would like to take the opportunity to sit down and discuss this bill with you further,” Mr. Browne said in a 1982 letter to the institute’s president, Sam Chilcote.

Neil Austrian, a former N.F.L. president, had previously run an advertising agency that under his leadership reversed its ban on taking tobacco clients. He called Philip Morris “an honorable company that sets high standards.” It was during his tenure at the N.F.L. that the concussion committee was created.

Years later, when the committee’s work drew criticism during the peer review process, its members pushed back.
“We are aware the findings from the N.F.L. confront some popular opinions,” they wrote, “but believe this study stands on its merits based on the physician evaluation of injury and quality assurance of the data.”

US deeply involved in Saudi war on Yemen: Analyst

The US government is “deeply involved” in Saudi Arabia’s war of aggression against Yemen, says an American author and analyst.

“It is beyond belief, the American government is deeply involved in the conflict; it provides intelligence, it provides weapons, it provides munitions, and it provides supplies,” Michael Springmann told Press TV on Sunday.

“They basically deny everything and if they are caught in a contradiction they do some weasel-wording and jump back and forth from the exact meaning of one word to the inexact meaning of another word,” he added.

“Basically violence has somehow got ingrained to the American government’s psyche,” he maintained.

The author of the “Visas for al-Qaeda: CIA Handouts that Rocked the World” made the comments when asked about Washington’s refusal to admit responsibility for backing Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen.

Saudi forces take part in military exercises at the Saudi-led coalition military base in Yemen’s southern city of Aden, September 28, 2015. (AFP Photo)

In a statement Friday, White House spokesman Ned Price said that though “shocked and saddened” by the civilian casualties, “the United States has no role in targeting decisions made by the coalition in Yemen.”

In a bid to return fugitive former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, into power, the Saudis launched a deadly war against their southern neighbor in March – without a United Nations mandate.

The death toll from the months-long aggression has now surpassed 4,600. The office of the UN human rights chief said last week that the Saudi-led coalition is responsible for the majority of the deaths.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also said that he is “deeply concerned” by the huge number of civilian casualties from the military campaign against Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement that deposed Hadi in February.

Saudi Arabia’s relentless bombardment has worsened the humanitarian situation in the poverty-stricken Arab nation.

Smoke billows from buildings targeted in Saudi airstrikes in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, September 29, 2015.  (AFP photo)

In their retaliatory attacks, Yemeni forces have been able to seize a number of Saudi military bases in border areas.

Tens of foreign soldiers, part of the Saudi-led coalition, have also been killed in the conflict.