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Tyler Police Need Your Help in Identifying Suspect

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:42 am

image003TYLER — Tyler Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect. On Thursday, officers responded to Dairy Queen and Family Dollar, located on Gentry Parkway, in reference to a female suspect passing counterfeit $50.00 dollar bills. If you can identify this suspect please contact the Tyler Police Department, at 903-531-1032, or Crimestoppers at 903-597-CUFF (903-597-2833). Crimestoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest and charges filed against the suspects in this case or any felony case.

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Body Found in Gregg County Identified

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:43 am

Gregg County Sheriffs Office patchLONGVIEW – Gregg County Deputies are investigating the death of a Longview Man. Donald Merrills, 40, was found dead just after 6:00 Monday evening. His body was outside a residence on Rebecca Circle near his home in Longview. The Sheriff’s Department says Merrills is known to have mental issues. He was found wearing multiple layers of clothing and a fleece lined coat. Foul play is not suspected, but his body was sent for an autopsy.

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Details Released on Hawkins Official Oppression Case

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 11:08 am

Rogers__William.1406577983HAWKINS (AP/Staff) – A newly elected East Texas mayor has been accused of threatening to ticket and fine a woman $500 daily in a messy yard dispute. Hawkins Mayor William Rogers was arrested Monday on a misdemeanor official oppression charge and freed on $1,000 bond. Fire Marshal Eileen Frazier says the mayor is not authorized to write tickets or issue fines. Rogers, who was elected in May, denied wrongdoing. He didn’t immediately returned messages Tuesday. An arrest affidavit says Rogers stopped at a house July 10 and told a resident she must clean up her yard or he would ticket and fine her. Code enforcement officials later said the grass did not violate city rules.

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Murder Indictment Returned in Smith County

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:44 am

Kelly GageTYLER – An East Texas man who had been charged with assaulting his wife has now been indicted for her murder. The indictment was returned Monday against Kelly Gage, 52, of Gun Barrel City. He remains in the Smith County Jail, where he has been held on an assault of a family member complaint. The incident occurred in November, 2011. His wife, Patti McHugh Gage, later died from her injuries, which her son Nicholas claimed were caused by his dad. Later, Patti Gage’s son, Nicholas McHugh, and his younger brother, Caden, both took out protective orders against Gage. At the time, Nicholas told KETK, “I’m really scared of any type of retaliation. He’s really nuts and he’s threatened my life and my grandmother’s life particularly in the past.”

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Pair Arrested for $200K Equipment Theft

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:49 am

thumb_Harrison-County-Sheriffs-DepartmentMARSHALL — Deputies have arrested two people accused of stealing more than $200,000 in equipment in Louisiana and East Texas. According to KETK, Harrison County Lt. Jay Webb says the sheriff announced the arrests Monday morning. James Robert Arnold, 47, and Michael Stephanie Arnold, 35, were booked into the Harrison County Jail on separate charges. Sheriff Tom McCool said his department recovered a $90,000 backhoe, $10,000 goose neck trailer, $5,000 flatbed trailer, $75,000 mini track hoe and three golf carts worth $24,000 from a Longview business off Highway 259. Property was taken from Harrison County, Van Zandt County, Longview, and Lincoln Parish. Authorities are also looking into two missing tractors from DeSoto Parish. Read more …

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Mother Arrested for DWI with 4 Children in Car

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:48 am

sarahbrunsmugLONGVIEW — An East Texas woman is behind bars after troopers say she was driving while intoxicated with children in the car. According to KETK, the Texas Department of Public Safety says Sarah Veronica Bruns, 36, was arrested around 10:00 Sunday night on U.S. Highway 259. She reportedly had four children in the car with her at the time of her arrest. Bruns was charged with DWI and four counts of child endangerment. She remains in the Gregg County Jail on $25,000 bond.

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Man Wanted in Vegas Arrested in Rusk County

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:45 am

HENDERSON – A man wanted on fraud charges in Las Vegas has been arrested in Rusk County. William Joseph Chrissikopoulos, 43, of Las Vegas was arrested Sunday at the Sexton City Trade Days. In April, a grand jury indicted Chrissikopoulos on 15 counts. He has been accused of mortgage lending fraud, “multiple transactions involving fraud and deceit in the course of enterprise or occupation and two counts of preventing or dissuading victim, person acting on behalf of victim, or witness from reporting crime, commencing prosecution or causing arrest. He will remain in the Rusk County jail until turned over to Nevada authorities.

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Louisiana Woman Allegedly Kicks E. Texas Deputy in Throat

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:45 am

Amanda KluthHENDERSON — A Louisiana woman was arrested last week after she allegedly kicked a Rusk County deputy in the throat. According to Chief Deputy Charles Helton, at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, a woman was taken into custody for DWI in the Walmart parking lot off Highway 79. While the suspect, Amanda Kluth, 27, of Youngsville, Louisiana, was being placed into the patrol car, she allegedly kicked a deputy in the throat. At this time, she was pepper sprayed, according to KETK. Authorities took Kluth to a local hospital where she was checked and released. Deputies then transferred her to the county jail. She was charged with DWI, resisting arrest, and assault on a peace officer. She has since been released on bond.

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Parents, Community Invited to Go “Inside Tyler ISD”

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:40 am

thumb_TISD_Logo_NewTYLER — Tyler ISD is inviting parents, business leaders, and community members to join the inaugural class of the District’s new Inside Tyler ISD leadership program. Beginning in the fall, Inside Tyler ISD participants will gain an in-depth, firsthand understanding of the goals and operations of the school district, according to a TISD news release. “We are very excited to launch Inside Tyler ISD in the fall,”ť Interim Superintendent Kim Tunnell said. “Many districts across the state have initiated and had great success with similar programs. Community feedback from these programs shows that participants take away a greater sense of the magnitude of what it takes for a school system to be successful.” Read more …

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Texas Deputy on Admin Leave after Fatal Shooting

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:49 am

Texas Rangers BadgeLINDEN — According to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy has been placed on administrative leave after he was involved in a fatal shooting Sunday morning. KETK reports that Deputy Johnny Bailey was involved in the incident around 11 a.m. Sunday off Cass County Road 4915 south of Bloomburg. Officials say Bailey was attempting to serve felony warrants stemming from Ward County on Charles Alver Jones, Jr., 33, for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a family member and impeding breath. Bailey was placed on administrative leave per departmental policy. An investigation is being conducted by the Texas Rangers, and no further information was immediately released.

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Great Texas Balloon Race Gets Underway; Safety Tips Issued

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:46 am

ContentHandler.ashxLONGVIEW — The Great Texas Balloon Race got underway Monday, with activities continuing in Longview and the surrounding area through Sunday. Meanwhile, local police want to make sure that everyone enjoys the activities safely, and they’ve issued a set of safety tips, which you can read below. A practice flight was held Monday morning, and competitive flights began today. The Great Texas Balloon Race Festival, with a variety of family-friendly activities, gets underway Friday. According to the event website, the Balloon Race is “a world class event attracting the very best competitive pilots from across the United States and the world.” The website also highlights Friday and Saturday night’s popular Balloon Glows, which “entertain crowds with an awesome display of color and excitement.” Read more …

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Cruz Ends Hold on Nominees Over FAA Flight Ban

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:53 am

Ted Cruz3WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is no longer blocking confirmation of a series of ambassadorial and other diplomatic nominees over the Federal Aviation Administration’s 36-hour ban on U.S. airline flights to Israel. Cruz said in a statement Monday that he received a briefing from FAA officials, who responded to his questions about the prohibition. The FAA banned flights after a rocket landed about a mile from the Tel Aviv airport. Cruz accused President Barack Obama of imposing an economic boycott of Israel while it is fighting the militant group Hamas in Gaza. The State Department had described Cruz’ comments as offensive and ridiculous. Cruz said he hoped the administration would not repeat its actions.

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2 Texas Men Get Prison in Food Stamp Fraud Case

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:53 am

DALLAS (AP) – The owner of a Dallas convenience store and the business manager must go to federal prison and repay nearly $2 million in a food stamp scam. Kamardeen Ogunleye of Arlington was sentenced to five years in prison. Robert Gordon of Balch Springs received a 27-month term. Ogunleye and Gordon in April pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud. Prosecutors in Dallas say Ogunleye also pleaded guilty to wire fraud in the case involving a KSO Dollar Mart. Investigators say the men paid cash for food stamps at a rate of about a dollar for every $2 worth of benefits. The men then redeemed the full amount of the benefits. Ogunleye and Gordon, who were sentenced last week, must report to prison in September.

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New San Antonio Mayor Pulls Support for Streetcars

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:53 am

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The new mayor of San Antonio says $32 million in city money pledged for a streetcar system should be diverted to other projects. Mayor Ivy Taylor on Monday said any future streetcar or rail plans should be voted on by the public. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also announced he’s pulled his support for the VIA Metropolitan Transit proposal. VIA has funding to build part of a nearly 6-mile downtown system projected to open in 2017. VIA and the Texas Department of Transportation each pledged $92 million. An anti-streetcar coalition has gathered signatures for a charter amendment against the proposal. Fellow city council members last week chose Taylor to replace Mayor Julian Castro, who was sworn in Monday to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Obama Considers Large-Scale Move on Immigration

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:54 am

white houseWASHINGTON (AP) — White House officials are making plans to act before November’s midterm elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants in this country illegally. The move could scramble election-year politics and lead some conservative Republicans to push for impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama. Advocates and lawmakers who’ve been in touch with the administration say officials are weighing a range of options including changes in the deportation system and ways to grant relief from deportation to targeted populations in the country. That might include parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizen children, which could be around 3.8 million people, or parents of immigrants brought here illegally as kids who’ve already received executive relief from Obama. That could be an additional 500,000 to 1 million people.

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Texan Gets 35 Years in Infant Daughter’s Death

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:52 am

GALVESTON (AP) – A Southeast Texas man has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for the death of his 2-month-old daughter after he shook her and fell on her. Christopher Morgan Benson of League City pleaded guilty to murder in a plea deal Monday in Galveston. Lola Glover died in 2012. Benson was charged with injury to a child. The count was later upgraded to murder. The Galveston County Daily News reports the 28-year-old father told police that Lola was crying as he played video games. An affidavit says Benson shook the baby for about 10 minutes, panicked when she became unresponsive and “fell” on her with his full weight. The mother discovered the injured baby after returning from work. Lola was taken to a hospital and died a week later.

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Texas Doctor’s Family Under 21-Day Fever Watch

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:54 am

Kent BrantlyFORT WORTH (AP) — State health officials say the family of an American doctor infected with the Ebola virus is under a 21-day fever watch, but it’s believed they had no contact with anyone with the deadly disease. A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday the agency interviewed Amber Brantly and her two children, ages 3 and 5, in the past couple of days and determined they hadn’t been exposed to an infected person. Carrie Williams said “there is no need for isolation at this point” for them. Amber Brantly’s husband, Dr. Kent Brantly, is in a Liberian hospital receiving treatment. Williams stressed that people aren’t contagious until they show symptoms, and the doctor’s family left Liberia days before he got sick.

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Texas Regents Meet to Pick Chancellor Finalist

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 10:54 am

U-T SystemAUSTIN (AP) — University of Texas System regents are scheduled to meet Tuesday night to possibly name a finalist in their search for a new chancellor to oversee the 15-campus system. If the regents name a finalist, the candidate must wait 21 days before being officially confirmed for the job. The chancellor oversees the system’s nine academic and six health campuses. Current Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa announced in February he would step down to return full time to his job as a transplant surgeon. Cigarroa’s tenure was notable for the creation of the new Rio Grande Valley university and the creation of two new medical schools. But it was also marked by clashes with Austin campus President Bill Powers and efforts by some regents to fire Powers, who is stepping down next year.

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Darvish earns 10th victory in Rangers’ win over Yankees

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Yu Darvish struck out eight in seven innings for his 10th victory and J.P. Arencibia had a tiebreaking two-run single for the Texas Rangers in a 4-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday night.

Darvish (10-6) shouted out and pumped his fist after his final strikeout, when Brian McCann swung and missed to end the seventh with two runners on base.

Brett Gardner homered twice and Derek Jeter had three hits — to pass Carl Yastrzemski on the hits list — off the All-Star right-hander, who threw 80 of his 108 pitches for strikes five days after losing a rain-shortened game in New York.

David Phelps (5-5) lost for the first time in nine starts, allowing four runs and eight hits over six innings. The right-hander, like Darvish, was credited with a complete game last Wednesday in the 2-1 Yankees victory that didn’t resume after rain in the bottom of the fifth inning.

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Cowboys hope Beasley can help out Bryant

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 10:29 pm

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

Follow reporter Todd Archer’s live updates from training camp in Oxnard, California.
Preseason Live
The Cowboys plan to give Beasley every opportunity to prove he can make plays as an outside receiver. It’s not just about expanding the role of a receiver who emerged as a significant contributor in his second NFL season, catching 39 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns. If Beasley can do more than just play in the slot, it opens up possibilities for the Cowboys coaches to create mismatches with their most dangerous weapon.

For the first few seasons of his NFL career, the Cowboys featured Dez Bryant solely as the X receiver, keeping his role as simple as possible. They moved him around some last season, and he’s mentally prepared for much more of that entering his fifth year, often working out of the slot in three-receiver sets with Beasley outside.

“I think there’s really no limit on what we can do with him, and I believe that,” receivers coach Derek Dooley said. “We started moving him around last year, and that’s the only way to continue to get him the production that he needs to get because defensive coordinators are too good. If they know where he’s going to be, it’s going to be a long Sunday.

“So the sky’s the limit. It’s a matter of repping. To your point, moving him into the slot, we’ve got to figure out what Cole’s role is, so that’s what we’re working through right now.” Read more …

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McClain shows stuff at Cowboys camp

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 10:28 pm

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. — Linebacker Rolando McClain got thrown right into the fire in his return from retirement.

There was no acclimation period for McClain, the 25-year-old former eighth overall pick who sat out last season and missed the first two practices of the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp to attend his trial on two misdemeanor charges in Alabama. He put on the pads Saturday afternoon and got to thumping.

In fact, McClain hit a little too hard on his first rep of team drills, tackling running back Lance Dunbar to the ground, something that isn’t supposed to happen in practice.

The 6-foot-4, 259-pound McClain worked as the second-team middle linebacker but will have every opportunity to win the starting job with Sean Lee out for the season. McClain displayed the talent on that snap that made the Cowboys decide he’s worth the risk despite his red flags. He shed a block by tight end James Hanna and stuffed Dunbar for a short loss.

“I was glad to see him,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. “I was impressed that they put him right in. I really thought they might ease him in, might need to since he hadn’t had OTAs, hadn’t had the kind of drills. The deal with him, and because of the issue retiring, what you want to see is what you were seeing when he wasn’t in the drill. He was back over there, his body language was great.”

Nobody has ever questioned McClain’s ability. He’s big, athletic and has great “functional intelligence,” as linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said. It’s his commitment, or lack thereof, and off-field behavior that has derailed his career to this point. Read more …

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Carter leads Astros homer-happy win over Athletics

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Chris Carter, Jason Castro, Marc Krauss and Matt Dominguez each hit a home run as the Houston Astros snapped a five-game skid with a 7-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

Carter hit a monstrous three-run shot to center field in the third to give the Astros a lead, and Castro and Krauss went back-to-back in the sixth, with Castro’s homer a two-run shot.

Krauss’ homer found the upper deck in right field and chased A’s starter Jesse Chavez (8-7). Two batters later, Dominguez sent a drive onto the railroad tracks in left field off reliever Dan Otero.

The last time Houston hit three home runs in an inning was June 5, 2013, against Baltimore.

Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer (3-7) won for the first time since May 30, giving up three runs on eight hits with two strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

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Michele Roberts named NBPA chief

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 11:18 am

By Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS — Washington, D.C., attorney Michele Roberts has been voted in as the new executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, making her the first woman to head up a major North American sports union.

At the close of a chaotic Monday filled with meetings, conference calls, presentations and an array of emotions, NBPA executive committee members and team player representatives cast 32 votes in favor of Roberts as the successor to the ousted Billy Hunter, six more than she needed for election.

Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul said he was impressed by Roberts’ grace under fire, fresh ideas and quiet resolve during an extensive interview process.

“Today, we started out by telling the players how monumental today was,” said Paul, the president of the players’ association. “We’ve never had this amount of players here for a meeting, to give their input and feedback. After all the hours and time [put in by] our executive committee, along with an amazing search committee that helped throughout this process, it’s an unbelievable feeling to have the wonderful Michele Roberts now as a part of our team.”

Paul said Roberts was flush with fresh ideas.

“One particular member from our search committee … asked her a very tough question in the interviews and [vice president] Roger [Mason Jr.] almost fell out of his seat after she finished giving her answer,” Paul said. “Even though she’s a female, she’s very relatable to a lot of our players. I think that’s what really hit home for not only myself but some of these other guys as well.”

Roberts said she would assemble a management team to run the union, perhaps even changing the union bylaws, before diving into negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. The players can opt out of the current CBA after the 2016-17 season.

“They’ve got their union back, and I’m going to make sure that they are empowered to take their union exactly where they want their union to go,” Roberts said. “It’s going to be a team that’s going to empower them to be able to do their business as they decide.

“I am a bad woman, but I’m not that bad,” Roberts said. “We are going to have a team, a very strong team, what I call a team of gladiators, that’s going to help these men and women, again, go in the direction they choose to go. It’s a new day. It’s not a one-person, Superman, ‘I’ve got this.’ It’s going to be a team.”

That was exactly what the executive committee seemed to like about Roberts’ vision.

NBPA @TheNBPA

We’re thrilled the players selected Michele Roberts as #NBPA Executive Director! Congrats to our players & exec comm for a historic choice.
1:23 AM – 29 Jul 2014

“It really is a new day for our union,” Mason said. “It started off with the players saying, ‘We’ve had enough, we’re taking our union back’ a year and a half ago with Billy Hunter. We decided we wanted to be inclusive with all our players and find not only a successor but a new-age players’ association executive director. We’re fortunate throughout a long and rigorous process, we found one.”

Roberts said she wanted to create “a system that will empower these players to run their union” and that they’d already begun talking about whether to opt out of the current CBA in 2017.

“We started yesterday preparing for CBA negotiations,” she said. “It’s not a question you direct to me. My clients are going to tell me where we’re going, and I’m going to make sure we get there.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement shortly after Roberts was elected, saying that he would “look forward to working with her and the NBPA Executive Committee to ensure the continued health and growth of our game.”

Roberts, once called the finest pure trial lawyer in the nation’s capital by Washingtonian magazine, was one of two original finalists for the post in February before a number of players and agents — insisting that the search for Hunter’s successor needed to be broader — convinced the union to relaunch the process.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson soon took charge of a newly formed search committee that, according to a USA Today report Monday, considered more than 300 applicants and interviewed some 70 candidates before pinpointing Roberts, Information Technology Industry Council CEO Dean Garfield and longtime Dallas Mavericks executive Terdema Ussery as its three finalists.

But at various points Monday, while the three finalists were preparing their 45-minute pitches to the assembled players, it appeared a vote might not take place, after several top agents urged their clients to push to delay the voting process again so other candidates could be considered.

“There was some chatter,” Mason said. “We want players to challenge everything to ensure a proper dialogue. We don’t want anyone to just go along with the process. So there were questions. I think there were answers that our players were comfortable with.”

Former NBA All-Star Jerry Stackhouse, one of the most vocal critics of the selection process for months, was present Monday as well and strongly lobbied for the vote to be delayed a second time, despite the fact that the union had gone nearly 18 months without a replacement for the ousted Hunter. Upon leaving the meeting, Stackhouse told assembled reporters that the vote was being “rammed down our throats.”

Earlier in the day, one agent told ESPN.com that the situation was “a joke,” while another said, “none of these candidates are the right candidate.”

“The league revenue is probably $6-7 billion a year in this industry for the next six years,” Stackhouse said. “That’s almost $40 billion. You just hire somebody to control the next five or six years for the players, $40 billion worth of money, in a four-hour presentation?”

Among the concerns voiced during the meeting, sources say, was the fact that two of the three finalists (Roberts and Garfield) had no institutional knowledge of the NBA’s inner workings and limited negotiating experience, while the third (Ussery) had a longstanding relationship with former NBA commissioner David Stern after serving as the commissioner of the old Continental Basketball Association before spending nearly two decades as the Mavericks’ president and CEO.

By night’s end, though, Roberts had won the backing of many players in attendance and some of the leading agents — Dan Fegan, Jeff Schwartz and Arn Tellem — to collect the necessary votes to prevail in a first-ballot win.

According to union bylaws, Roberts needed at least 26 of 39 votes from the 30 team reps and nine executive committee members to be declared the executive director.

Roberts’ reputation as a top civil litigator ultimately won out. She collected all but four of the 36 available votes, with three undisclosed teams not represented in Vegas. Union officials announced late Monday that a total of 117 players from around the league attended the meeting.

“Anytime you get 90 percent of the vote or more and full participation from the entire body, it signals that guys understand that this is a very big deal,” union treasurer James Jones said. “This is a big decision and we did not want our guys to take it lightly, to do as we’ve done in the past, which is rubber stamp a process.”

But questions about that effort, led by Johnson, were raised throughout the league all weekend when word began to spread that the Sacramento mayor was abruptly cutting ties with the union.

“It’s a joke when you’re telling everybody that Kevin Johnson is leading the process and then all of a sudden he drops out of the process in the final hour, it reeks,” Stackhouse said. “And when you’re trying push it on the guys in a four-hour period to make such a major decision is unbelievable.”

Longtime NBPA attorney Ron Klempner, known for his collective bargaining agreement expertise, had served as the union’s acting executive director since Hunter’s ouster in 2013.

Clippers player rep Jared Dudley said he was satisfied with the process and the choice the players made.

“The board put a lot of time into this,” said Dudley, who said he voted for Roberts. “You could tell they were trying to do this the proper way. They brought in three candidates. Would I have liked to see more? Sure. But they put in a lot of time and we only had the one day and she stood out early in the process.

“I wasn’t there when they did the extensive thing. They’re there. That’s what we elected them to do. I’m going to go with them. I say it strongly because I have to trust in them.”

Dudley said it was imperative the union elect a new executive director Monday because of how soon it must start strategizing for the collective bargaining agreement.

“We had to get it done,” he said. “If they didn’t do it now, it could be another year. There’s two years until we can opt out [of the CBA]. LeBron [James], signing his two-year deal, set the tone. We know that the league is making money. They can’t hide behind that now.”

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NCAA settles head-injury lawsuit

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 11:15 am

Associated Press

CHICAGO — The NCAA agreed Tuesday to settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football, hockey, soccer and other contact sports.

College sports’ governing body also agreed to implement a single return-to-play policy spelling out how all teams must treat players who received head blows, according to a Tuesday filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Critics have accused the NCAA of giving too much discretion to hundreds of individual schools about when athletes can go back into games, putting them at risk.

Unlike a proposed settlement in a similar lawsuit against the NFL, this deal stops short of setting aside money to pay players who suffered brain trauma. Instead, athletes can sue individually for damages, and the NCAA-funded tests to gauge the extent of neurological injuries could establish grounds for doing that.

The filing serves as notice to the federal judge overseeing the class-action case that the parties struck a deal after nearly a year of negotiations. In addition to football, ice hockey and soccer, the settlement also applies to all men and women who participated in basketball, wrestling, field hockey and lacrosse.

Joseph Siprut, the lead plaintiffs’ attorney who spearheaded talks with the NCAA, said the sometimes-tough negotiations ended with a deal that will make college athletics safer.

“I wouldn’t say these changes solve the safety problems, but they do reduce the risks,” the Chicago attorney said Tuesday. “It’s changed college sports forever.”

He also said that stricter oversight and return-to-play rules should help ensure the viability of football by allaying the fears of parents who are currently inclined to not let their kids play.

“Changes were necessary to preserve the talent well of kids that feeds the game of football,” he said. “Absent these kinds of changes, the sport will die.”

Phone and email messages seeking comment from the NCAA, based in Indianapolis, were not immediately returned Tuesday morning.

There is no cutoff date for when athletes must have played a designated sport at one of the more than 1,000 NCAA member schools to qualify for the medical exams. That means all athletes currently playing and those who participated decades ago could undergo the tests and potentially follow up with damage claims.

To keep the NCAA from having to hold unwieldy talks with multiple plaintiffs, 10 lawsuits filed from Georgia and South Carolina to Minnesota and Missouri were consolidated into the one case in Chicago, where the first lawsuit was filed in 2011. Combined, the suits identified several dozen athletes by name as having suffered brain trauma.

The lead plaintiff is Adrian Arrington, a former safety at Eastern Illinois. He said he endured five concussions while playing, some so severe he has said he couldn’t recognize his parents afterward. Subsequent headaches, memory loss, seizures and depression made it difficult to work or even care for his children, filings said.

Another named plaintiff is former Central Arkansas wide receiver Derek K. Owens. After several concussions, he said he found he could no longer retain what he had just studied. His symptoms became so severe that he dropped out of school in 2011, telling his mother: “I feel like a 22-year-old with Alzheimer’s.”

Among other settlement terms, all athletes will take baseline neurological tests to start each year to help doctors determine the severity of any concussion during the season, concussion education will be mandated for coaches and athletes, and a new, independent medical science committee will oversee the medical testing.

The NCAA admits no wrongdoing in the settlement and has denied understating the dangers of concussions. As proof it has tried to mitigate the risks, it has cited recent changes in equipment, medical practices and playing rules, including ones prohibiting football players from targeting an opponent’s head or neck.

The NCAA also announced in May a three-year, $30 million concussion study co-funded by the U.S. Defense Department. Plans call for initial data collection on about 7,200 athletes from 12 colleges, increasing to 37,000 athletes at 30 sites, with the aim of better understanding concussions and developing better prevention methods.

The settlement is still subject to approval by U.S. District Judge John Lee in a process that could take months. He must grant preliminary approval and then, after affected athletes weigh in, give a final OK.

Plaintiffs’ filings say the number of athletes who may require testing to learn if they suffered long-term damage runs into the tens of thousands. They cite NCAA figures that, from 2004 to 2009 alone, 29,225 NCAA athletes suffered concussions — including about 16,000 in football, 5,751 in women’s soccer and 3,374 in men’s soccer.

Internal emails unsealed in the lawsuit illustrate how pressure mounted on the NCAA over the issue.

In a Feb. 23, 2010, email, the NCAA’s director of government relations, Abe Frank, wondered about debates elsewhere, including in Congress, about recommended new safeguards for young children playing contact sports.

“Do you think this renewed emphasis on youth sports will increase the pressure on the NCAA to do more at the college level?” he asks in the email sent to the NCAA’s then-director of health and safety.

David Klossner responded bluntly a few hours later. “Well since we don’t currently require anything all steps are higher than ours,” he wrote.

Later that year, the NCAA established a new head-injury policy that requires each school to have a concussion management plan on hand and states that athletes should be kept from play for at least a day after a concussion; it also requires players to sign a statement “accepting responsibility for reporting their injuries.”

But plaintiffs argued schools put too much of the onus on athletes with little understanding of concussions to self-report injuries. And they blamed a tendency of some teams to hurry concussed players back into games according to patchy, uneven plans and the NCAA’s lax enforcement of the concussion policy.

In a 2012 deposition, Klossner conceded the NCAA provides virtually no oversight of concussion management plans and that schools aren’t required to submit them to the NCAA. Asked if any schools had been disciplined for having subpar plans, Klossner said, “Not to my knowledge.”

Prior to the settlement, plaintiffs were scathing about how the NCAA handled the head-injury issue for decades.

Instead of adopting stricter protections for athletes, the lawsuit said the NCAA chose “to sacrifice them on an altar of money and profits,” an approach that occurred even though the NCAA had known for at least a decade “of the correlation between concussions and depression, dementia and early onset Alzheimer’s disease.”

The plaintiffs cited a 2010 internal NCAA survey that found almost half of college trainers put athletes with signs of a concussion back into the same game.

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press

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Jersey estimated to sell for $100K

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 11:13 am

By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

An auction house believes an autographed, game-used Johnny Manziel jersey it is selling will set the record for the highest price ever paid for a college football jersey.

SCP Auctions announced on Monday that it has obtained the Texas A&M jersey that Johnny Manziel wore for all six of his home games at Kyle Field during his 2012 Heisman season.

“This is his only game-used jersey from his college career that has come to market,” said Dan Imler, vice president of the company. Imler said that given the interest around Manziel, the auction house estimates a winning bid of about $100,000.

“It has been a long time since we’ve seen a player as polarizing as Johnny Football,” Imler said. “He has got an electrifying personality and everyone is either rooting for or against him.”

Imler said not only does he expect well-heeled Aggies fans to bid, but also collectors who want to buy the best and the most interesting items that make it into the hands of the public.

Imler would not say who consigned the item, but said that the auction house has fully vetted the uniform’s source and his ownership of the jersey. SCP Auctions also says it has photomatched the jersey with very specific tailoring repairs and wear that can be seen on both photos and on the jersey itself.

Manziel autographed the back of the jersey in metallic silver pen with his stats from his Heisman-winning season.

The auction will take place online from Aug. 6 through Aug. 23, but the jersey will be on display at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland this week.

This jersey was originally posted on eBay in May with the seller hoping to get $300,000. Last year, a lot that included a pair of cleats that Manziel wore for his iconic win over Alabama during his Heisman season and a jersey he wore on the sidelines for the 2011 season sold at auction for $7,760.

Imler said he believes the record for the highest price paid for a game-used college football jersey was a Notre Dame Paul Hornung jersey, which sold for around $27,000.

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Strong offseason fueling Brandon Weeden

Posted/updated on: July 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas – Brandon Weeden’s bid to be the Dallas Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback in 2014 got a lot easier when the club decided to release Kyle Orton.

Barring something unforeseen, Weeden, who signed a two-year deal in the offseason, will be Tony Romo’s backup. But Weeden does not look at the move as “weight off my shoulders.”

“Given the situation Kyle has been in in previous years in Dallas, he’s been the backup quarterback, so I think if he was there it would be one more obstacle I would have to kind of hurdle,” Weeden said. “But at the same time I can’t really get wrapped up in putting all of my attention on that. I need to do what I did in the [organized team activities] and continue to play well and get better. I think hopefully things will work out that way regardless.”

The Cowboys felt confident enough to jettison Orton, who skipped the entire offseason program and minicamp, in part because of what Weeden did in the spring. With Romo recovering from back surgery and being kept out of competitive drills and Orton missing, Weeden took all of the first-team snaps.

“I think the reps I got in the OTAs were kind of irreplaceable,” Weeden said. “If I was in a situation where God forbid something happened to Tony and I’m asked to play, those are the guys I’m going to battle with, so those reps I got were invaluable. I know I won’t get many of those in [training] camp, but fortunately I had 12 practices where I was able to get out with those guys. Now it’s, ‘Let’s get to work.’ I’m ready to get to California and get things rolling.”

Orton had the same benefit last year of taking all of the offseason snaps in 2013 as Romo recovered from surgery to remove a cyst from his back. When Romo hurt his back in Week 16 against the Washington Redskins, he was able to step into the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles and play well. He completed 30 of 46 passes for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but a late turnover sealed the Cowboys’ loss.

“[Gavin] Escobar and [Jason] Witten are two totally different players. Dez [Bryant] and Terrance [Williams] are two totally different players,” Weeden said. “You kind of learn what certain guys’ strengths are and little nuances of what they do. That’s the thing more than anything. You kind of get a feel for what Dez likes on fades and all that stuff a certain way where Terrance might like it another way. You’ve got to learn what each guy likes. When you’re with so many new guys it takes time. You always want more time, but it’s nice to have the reps I did get there to get a head start.”

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Treating Allergies: A Safe Alternative To Shots

Many of us got allergy shots as kids or take allergy shots as adults. Aside from the discomfort of getting a shot, there is also the inconvenience of having to visit a doctor’s office or clinic. There is now an alternative to taking allergy immunotherapy by injection. The U.T. Health Science Center at Tyler’s Dr. Jonathan Buttram discusses a safe alternative to allergy shots in this post to HealthConnection.TV. Go to: http://www.uthealth.org/healthconnection/


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Today in History for 28th July 2014

- Historical Events 1635 - Spanish marshal Piccolomini conquerors Schenkenschans 1931 - White Sox score 11 in 8th to beat Yankees 14-12 1979 - Dave Kingman becomes 6th to have a 2nd 3 HR game 1980 - Peru adopts constitution, Fernando Belaúnde Terry becomes president 1990 - Alberto Fujimoro installed as president of Peru 1993 - Mariner Ken Griffey Jr is 3rd to hit HRs in 8 straight games More Histori... Read more on HistoryOrb.com

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"A nice light appetizer. Delicate rice wrappers are filled with noodles, shrimp, carrots, lettuce and basil. Cooked chicken or beef may be substituted for shrimp."

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