Eagles fly into Super Bowl, rout Vikings 38-7

Hey Philly, maybe it’s time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles’ first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place last season to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

“I just think you’ve got to keep going at it,” Foles said. “And we all believe in each other. I’m blessed to have amazing teammates, amazing coaches. Everyone here that’s a part of the Philadelphia Eagles organization is first class.”

Foles’ best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

“I’m so happy for Nick and the offense,” said coach Doug Pederson, “and for Nick, everything he’s been through and battled, he stayed the course and we all believed in him.”

Foles was helped greatly by the Eagles’ domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson . Philadelphia ruined the Vikings’ hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium.

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

“I’m so proud of our players,” team owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “The resilience this group of men has is unequaled.”

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia’s defense looked confused on the play.

That didn’t happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson’s 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly’s D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage – another rarity for Minnesota – on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott’s 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting “We want Brady.”

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott’s field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league’s best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

STATS

Jeffery caught TD passes of 53 and 5 yards and had five receptions for 85 yards. Tight end Zach Ertz was free seemingly all night and finished with eight catches for 93 yards. Torrey Smith had a 41-yard TD catch against double coverage in the third period.

Keenum finished 28 of 48 for 271 yards, with two picks, a lost fumble and the TD throw to Rudolph. The Vikings’ previously staunch defense yielded 456 yards.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing “Fly Eagles Fly” during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. The Patriots are a 5- to 6-point favorite.

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DACA on mind of rallygoers in Las Vegas as shutdown negotiations continue

Attendees at the Power to the Polls rally in Las Vegas on Sunday came energized, ready to celebrate and build on the momentum of last year’s inaugural Women’s March.

But some rallygoers were also fueled by another emotion: Frustration with the congressional stalemate over immigration.

On Friday, the government shut down after congressional leaders from both parties failed to reach a funding deal and find a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which granted legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States with their parents.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged Sunday to take up legislation to address the expiring DACA program if enough Democrats vote to re-open the government. He scheduled a key vote for noon Monday. A meeting earlier Sunday between McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer did not lead to a spending deal involving when to hold votes on the DACA program and whether to support the three-week funding solution, two sources told CNN.

Nevada has a large immigrant population. Several thousand Nevada residents from El Salvador will likely become deportable in September 2019, the Las Vegas Sun reported earlier this month, following the Trump administration’s decision to end temporary protected status for citizens of El Salvador.

“They are toying with our lives and that’s not right,” Dulce Valencia, a 22-year-old whose family immigrated to Nevada from Mexico, told CNN.

Valencia, who sported an “I am an immigrant” t-shirt and “resist” pin,” wasn’t the only one at the rally who felt that way. Numerous others carried signs saying “immigrants rights are women’s rights” posters.

Women’s March organizers — who spent much of 2017 uniting as many people as they could for 2018 — aim to turn the movement’s momentum into political action. They hope to register 1 million voters in 2018.

But in addition to talking about the importance of voting, many speakers — including Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards — who addressed rally attendees also touched on DACA.

“Our government is failing to protect our undocumented brothers and sisters,” Carmen Perez, Women’s March co-chair, said during her speech. “Let’s be clear, some of us didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us … no human being is illegal. When we think about our influence, and how many millions of people marched yesterday and last year, we know we are capable of grabbing Congress by the midterms and making sure our values are prioritized.”

She ended her speech by starting a “Sí, se puede” — “yes, we can” — chant.

Astrid Silva, a Las Vegas resident who co-founded a Dreamer advocacy nonprofit called Dream Big Vegas, also spoke.

“In Nevada, our immigrant community matters, our lives matter, I will not allow my family to continue living in fear,” Silva told rallygoers. “My mother gave everything to be here in this country, for me to have a better future. My father gave his life working under the hot Las Vegas sun so I could be here. And now they live in fear every single day that ICE will come and take them. And that’s not a fake fear. That’s not a fear that we can just, overnight, wish away. But you can protect us. Every single one of you here. Those of you who are undocumented, estamos juntos, we’re all together.”

There were also a handful of groups at the rally working to both register voters and encourage people to vote for candidates who will fight for immigrants’ rights.

Valencia works for Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), which advocates for immigrant rights. Also at the rally was the Nevada chapter of Our Revolution, an American progressive political action organization formed after Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

“We’re not happy with what’s happening right now,” said Ambar Diaz, who works for Our Revolution. “That’s why we are here.”

Diaz’s parents are from El Salvador. They immigrated from the country when her mom was 16.

“As far as the Dreamers go, (I’d like to see) a clean DACA Bill,” she said. “This is their home, this is what they know. It’s unfair for them to be sent back to their parents’ land. Obviously their parents came here for a reason. If my mom had come here 20 years later, I could have easily been a Dreamer.”

“Part of the American dream is immigrants from other places,” she said. “It’s a shame our administration now is denying that and wanting to fight against it.”

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: ‘For so long, women were silent’

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg extolled the #MeToo movement and revealed one of her own experiences with sexual harassment in deeply personal observations Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival.

“I think it’s about time,” the 84-year-old Ginsburg said of the new emphasis. “For so long, women were silent.”

“Every woman of my vintage knows what sexual harassment is, although we didn’t have a name for it,” she told the session’s moderator, Nina Totenberg, before detailing an incident when she was a student at Cornell in the 1950s and preparing for a chemistry test.

“My instructor said … ‘I’ll give you a practice exam,'” Ginsburg said. The next day she discovered that the practice exam was, in fact, the real test. “And I knew exactly what he wanted in return,” she said. “And that’s just one of many examples.”

Ginsburg said there was nothing a young woman could do about harassment at the time. The general attitude of the day, she said, was “get past it” and “boys will be boys.”

Yet Ginsburg, who became a nationally prominent women’s rights lawyer before her Supreme Court appointment 25 years ago, did not brush off that episode. “I went to [the instructor’s] office and said, ‘How dare you? How dare you?’ And that was the end of it.”

Well, almost the end of it. When Totenberg, a longtime friend of the justice and NPR legal affairs correspondent, remarked that Ginsburg likely did well on the chemistry test, Ginsburg answered dryly, “I deliberately made two mistakes.”

Sunday’s wide-ranging conservation in an informal café setting in Park City, Utah, preceded the Sundance premiere of a new documentary film about Ginsburg’s life, “RBG,” co-produced by CNN. Overall, the justice, who will turn 85 in March, appeared relaxed and in good humor. She was introduced by the founder of the film festival, actor Robert Redford, who saluted “her fight for justice and equality.”

Holding the microphone in both hands as she spoke, Ginsburg struck familiar themes about her pioneering work against sex discrimination, but also addressed the energized #MeToo movement. Asked if she feared a backlash, she said, “Let’s see where it goes. So far it’s been great. … When I see women appearing everyplace in numbers, I’m less worried than I might have been 20 years ago.”

Ginsburg plainly is reveling in her current life as a cultural icon, who is known to her younger admirers as ”the Notorious RBG.” She has seen the 2016 Saturday Night Live “Gins-burn” parody, featuring Kate McKinnon as the black-robed justice. “I liked the actress who portrayed me,” she declared, adding playfully, “And I would like to say, ‘Gins-burrrrn.'”

When Totenberg asked Ginsburg what her eight fellow justices think of her rock-star status, she quipped, “My colleagues are judicially silent about the Notorious RBG.”

Ginsburg is the most senior liberal on the ideologically polarized court. It was her 2013 dissenting opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, which curtailed a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, that inspired the RBG meme. A New York University law student adapted it from rapper Notorious B.I.G., and the meme has since extended beyond the online world to songs, T-shirts, mugs, and all sorts of Ginsburg memorabilia.

The new film captures that phenomenon as it chronicles Ginsburg’s life from childhood in Brooklyn, New York, to courtship with her husband, Martin, at Cornell, and from her groundbreaking women’s rights advocacy to her contemporary life on the bench.

Before donning the black robe, Ginsburg argued six cases before the Supreme Court on behalf of women, winning five of them and gaining enhanced protections against sex discrimination.

The film contains footage from home movies with Martin, who died in 2010, and scenes of Ginsburg in private moments in her home. It also captures her vaunted exercise routine of weights and core-strengthening planks. She told Sunday’s audience that she took up weight training in 1999 after surviving the first of two serious bouts with cancer.

When Totenberg queried about her health, Ginsburg said, “It’s very good.”

Ginsburg has said she does not intend to leave the bench anytime soon. She recently signaled that she wants to remain at least through 2020 by hiring law clerks for at least two more terms.

On Sunday, Ginsburg said, “As long as I can do the job full steam, I will be here.”

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The lesser-known effects of a government shutdown

What do NASA tours, Air Force Academy athletics and military base commissaries have in common? All have come to a halt during the current government shutdown.

With the government shut down, thousands of nonessential government personnel will be furloughed. Agencies are taking the weekend to let their employees know their status and other organizations are evaluating their finances and determining how they plan to handle the shutdown.

A government shutdown affects a lot more than just the everyday grind of Congress and Washington, DC. There are many consequences that affect people all over the globe and might not be commonly considered. Here’s a list of some notable impacts of a government shutdown:

NASA comes to a halt

NASA estimates that nearly 17,500 employees will be furloughed during a government shutdown, according to a shutdown plan published by the agency in November 2017. That is nearly 85 percent of the agency’s workforce. Those furloughed who are working on experiments will not be allowed to touch them until after the shutdown, and by that point, they might have to start all over again.

Public access and tours to all NASA facilities also come to a halt.

IRS can’t help with taxes

The Trump administration recently signed a new tax law that only just started affecting Americans this month. With tax season upon us, the IRS has a significant amount of essential personnel it needs to keep on duty, but more than 50 percent of the agency’s employees are being furloughed during the shutdown. If it were any other time of the year, that percentage would be even higher. The IRS begins accepting 2017 tax returns on January 29, but questions may go unanswered, and help from agency employees will be hard to come by as Americans try to figure out this new tax system on their own during the shutdown.

Lag in health information

The website for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) currently says, “Because of a lapse in government funding, the information on this website may not be up to date, transactions submitted via the website may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.” Americans rely on the NIH for the latest information on health and medical research, but because of the shutdown, there could be a lag in information for however long the shutdown lasts.

Air Force athletes grounded, but cadets, midshipmen to play on

The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, announced that they have canceled all sporting events due to the federal government shutdown. The announcement was posted on the Air Force Academy’s official Twitter page. The Academy had a number of sporting events scheduled on Saturday, including swimming, basketball, and gymnastics, that were ultimately canceled. More games are scheduled for the coming days, and unless the government opens back up, these too will ultimately be canceled, affecting the college athletes, staff and fans.

Both Army and Navy athletics will continue despite the government shutdown. The United States Military Academy at West Point, home to Army athletics, said in a statement Saturday, “the athletic department is largely made up of non-appropriated funded and contracted personnel, who are generally unaffected by the government shutdown. Navy spokesman Scott Strasemeier told CNN that the Navy athletics program is not funded by the government since the Naval Academy Athletic Association is a non-profit organization.

Potential flu problems

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had to furlough 68 percent of its staff during the 2013 government shutdown, and their plan going into the current shutdown was to furlough 61 percent in the midst of an influenza breakout across the United States.

However, the CDC plans to continue its immediate response to urgent disease outbreaks, including seasonal influenza, the agency said last week. It said the Department of Health and Human Services “would use the full extent of the authority under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) to protect life and property under a lapse in appropriations.”

The CDC said it would continue collecting data reported by states and hospitals and report “critical information” needed for authorities to track and treat the flu.

In the 2013 shutdown, public health surveillance work was left undone, and the flu surveillance program that helps people get flu shots and tracks cases shut down, making it hard to keep the country safe from the flu, according to a study in The Journal of Science Policy and Governance.

Military families take a big hit

The military is a huge government-run organization, and as a result, millions of service members and their families will have their daily lives disrupted by the government shutdown.

All active-duty members of the military are to continue their duties, but they will not be paid until after the shutdown is resolved, according to a memo from the Pentagon released prior to the shutdown.

Most commissaries on military bases in the United States will be shut down. Overseas commissaries will remain open as well as those in five remote stateside locations, but the remainder will follow an orderly shutdown to reduce the amount of perishables on hand and properly safeguard equipment and facilities.

The American Forces Network went black immediately after the government shut down on Saturday at midnight. However, the Department of Defense announced Sunday that it will show sports programming on AFN, including NFL playoff games, during the government shutdown after receiving complaints for stripping deployed troops of that service.

“Despite the government shutdown, DoD determined the operational necessity of television and radio broadcasts constitutes them as essential activities,” Dana White, the department’s chief spokesperson, said in a statement. “We will continue to find solutions to support our troops at home and abroad. Congress must come to a resolution, support our troops and pass a budget soon.”

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Dan Rather launching weekly show with progressive Young Turks Network

Former “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather wasn’t too familiar with The Young Turks Network when he took a meeting with the online progressive news network’s founder and chief executive officer, Cenk Uygur.

“I was only vaguely aware, I’m sorry to say,” Rather confessed to CNN in a phone interview Sunday.

But, as Rather said, “something clicked” between him and Uygur. So when Uygur offered Rather a show with the network, he “jumped” at the opportunity.

On Monday, Rather will premiere “The News With Dan Rather,” a 30-minute show that The Young Turks Network is billing as an “untraditional evening newscast,” made available weekly at 5:30 p.m. ET. The program will focus on original reporting, stories that Rather believes are not receiving the amount of attention they deserve, and analysis of the hot topics of the day.

“The format is designed to allow me to focus on substance,” Rather said, stressing that his show “will be raw” with “no bells and whistles.”

“The set is literally my office,” he emphasized.

His jump to the provocative progressive outlet, which distributes its programming on politics and pop culture through digital platforms like Facebook and YouTube, is a bit out of step with the rest of his storied career, Rather acknowledged.

For decades, Rather hosted the “CBS Evening News,” a newscast filmed in a traditional elaborate studio, produced with the help of a large team, and backed by the finances of a well-established network. And there, Rather aimed to provide viewers the news of the day without bias or favor. Now he’s joining an outlet with a clear ideological bent.

“At this age and stage in my life, my attitude is, ‘What the hell,'” Rather said. “I am not the smartest guy around and don’t know everything, but I have been blessed as a reporter and have seen a few things. And now I have moved to a different place. I want to contribute if I can.”

The 86-year-old veteran newsman told CNN that President Trump’s attacks on the press and political norms helped motivate him to launch the new show.

“I feel strongly that when you have a president who is continually, relentlessly damning the press, individuals by name, individual institutions and calling the press the enemy of the people — listen, this has to be resisted,” he said.

Rather added, “This is a time when everybody needs to be counted. I don’t want to be preachy about it, but we have a real responsibility, those of us in journalism and those of us who have experience in journalism, to do what we can. … These efforts to convince the public that people in the news are dealing in fake news is quite frankly bullshit.”

That said, Uygur told CNN that The Young Turks Network doesn’t need Rather to be “progressive on the network.”

“We just need people to have an authentic point of view,” he said. “And Dan’s point of view is not only smart and informed and incredibly experienced, but also authentic.”

The addition of Rather’s show is the latest in a series of moves that The Young Turks Network has made to expand its programming. Last month, the outlet announced a new show covering progressive politics. The Young Turks Network is also helping to produce a 16-part documentary series focused on environmental issues.

Rather said that by joining the online outlet he hopes to offer millennials who get news “off the computer or their hand gadget,” some “context and perspective to the news.” He also hopes to reach individuals who chiefly consume the news through right-wing outfits, though he has “no illusions” about how successful he might be.

“If we do this project right, I do think we can have some effect,” he said. “I don’t kid myself that we are going to have much effect on someone who is a follower of Breitbart or Fox News. But even if we can have a little effect — I think some of the authenticity can get through to some of these people.”

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Patriots beat Jaguars 24-20 in AFC championship game

Give ’em a hand: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship Sunday.

Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after hurting it during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.

And, with the game – and possibly the season – on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.

“I’ve had a lot worse,” Brady said. “I didn’t know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win.”

Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns for the Patriots (15-3), who’ll play the winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.

It’s the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times – including last year’s 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Jaguars (12-7) led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold against the defending champions.

Jacksonville – looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history – had one more shot, but Bortles’ throw on fourth-and-15 to Dede Westbrook was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore.

The Patriots then ran out the clock, with Dion Lewis’ 18-yard scamper with 90 seconds remaining sealing the victory. And they did it mostly without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who left the game late in the first half and didn’t return.

Brady’s hand was the most-scrutinized body part in Boston since the quarterback’s right ankle before the 2008 Super Bowl, and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s right ankle tendon – the bloody sock – in the 2004 playoffs.

Brady was listed as questionable after he hurt his right hand during practice earlier in the week. He was limited Wednesday, sat out Thursday and was limited again Friday because of the injury.

That caused some panic among the Patriots faithful.

Turns out, it was nothing to fret about.

Brady came out for warmups without a glove on his hand, and he came out throwing. He completed his first six passes – including a 20-yarder to Amendola on fourth-and-1 from the Jaguars 30 – for 57 yards to march the Patriots down the field. The drive stalled when Brady was sacked by Dante Fowler Jr., and New England settled for Stephen Gostkowski’s 31-yard field goal.

A wide-open Marcedes Lewis gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead 45 seconds into the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown catch from Blake Bortles, who was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on an impressive and efficient seven-play, 76-yard drive.

Leonard Fournette gave Jacksonville a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter with a 4-yard TD run, hushing the crowd at Gillette Stadium.

The Jaguars made some big mistakes that hurt them just before halftime. Bortles completed a 12-yard pass to Lewis on third-and-7 from the Patriots 44, but Jacksonville was called for delay of game – after New England called a timeout.

That wiped out a first down, and Bortles was sacked by Adam Butler on the next play to force a punt.

With just over two minutes left before halftime, New England’s offense took over and the fans chanted “Bra-dy! Bra-dy!”

And their quarterback delivered – with some help from the Jaguars on two long penalties.

On first-and-10 from the Patriots 40, Brady threw a long pass for Gronkowski, who was injured when he got popped by Barry Church just as the ball was arriving. Church was called for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at Jacksonville’s 45.

A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference on the next play on an incomplete throw for Brandin Cooks. The 32-yard penalty put the ball at the Jaguars 13. After a 12-yard catch by Cooks, James White ran it in from the 1 to make it 14-10 with 55 seconds left.

Josh Lambo gave Jacksonville a 17-10 lead 4:37 into the third quarter with a 54-yard field goal. He added a 43-yarder 8 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a 10-point game.

But Brady & Co. were just getting started.

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