Vice News posted an episode of Vice News Tonight
Wisconsin Republicans couldn’t accept that Scott Walker lost an election.
So they did this. And he just signed it into law.
Wisconsin Republicans couldn't accept that Scott Walker lost an election.So they did this. And he just signed it into law.
Posted by VICE News on Friday, December 14, 2018
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday said General Motors’ decision to shift much of its focus to electric vehicles will not succeed, and he asserted a new trade deal will make it harder for the company to move work to other countries.
GM last year said it planned to launch 20 new electric vehicles by 2023 as it faces rising regulatory requirements for zero-emission vehicles in China and elsewhere.
The largest U.S. automaker has come under enormous criticism in Washington after it announced on Nov. 26 plans to close four plants in the United States and cut up to 15,000 jobs in North America.
Trump questioned GM CEO Mary Barra’s business strategy in an interview with Fox News. “They’ve changed the whole model of General Motors. They’ve gone to all-electric. All-electric is not going to work … It’s wonderful to have it as a percentage of your cars, but going into this model that she’s doing I think is a mistake,” Trump said.
Barra was on Capitol Hill for two days of meetings last week to discuss the company’s decision with angry lawmakers from states where plants are closing. “To tell me a couple weeks before Christmas that’s she’s going to close in Ohio and Michigan — not acceptable to me,” Trump said.
Trump has repeatedly said GM should reverse a decision to close an assembly plant in northeast Ohio, an area potentially crucial in the 2020 presidential election. “Ohio is going to replace those jobs in like two minutes,” Trump said. “She’s either going to open fast, or somebody else is going to go in.”
GM shares fell 1.4 percent in trading Thursday.
Asked to respond, GM said it timed its job cut announcement so employees could accept open jobs at other plants.
“We continue to produce great vehicles today for our customers while taking steps toward our vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” GM said.
Trump suggested that a new free trade deal with Mexico and Canada makes it “very uncomfortable” for GM to build cars outside the United States.
“I don’t like that General Motors does that … General Motors is not going to be treated well,” he said without elaborating.
Trump signed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada on Nov. 30 to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, but that deal has not been approved by the U.S. Congress.
The deal boosts the North American content requirements for vehicles to be traded tariff free and requires a significant percentage of vehicles to be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour.
Some Democrats argue the trade deal may need changes to deter GM and other automakers from continuing significant production in Mexico. GM is not backing off its plans to build the new Chevrolet Blazer SUV in Mexico.
Reporting by David Shepardson and Lisa Lambert
Donald Trump made it clear earlier this week that he was willing to wage all out war on the U.S. government if that’s what it takes to get them to give him money to pay for his border wall, his biggest vanity project since whatever last garish building he slapped his name on. While he hasn’t managed to wrest funding from either Congress or Mexico, the administration has already started moving forward with private land seizures. They’ve also, it turns out, been quietly exempting themselves from environmental and public health laws in the hopes of speeding up construction.
According to The Guardian, the most diverse butterfly sanctuary in the country, the 100-acre National Butterfly Center in Missions, TX, is in the way of Trump’s wall. Normally, the federal government wouldn’t be allowed to cut through and demolish sections of the sanctuary, but the Supreme Court ruled last week that the administration had the right to waive 28 laws that would otherwise have prevented or slowed construction. Now, it’s likely to be bulldozed.
A small sample of the laws that the Court decided the Trump administration doesn’t have to follow include: the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. This seems extreme, but it’s now common Republican ideology that laws and regulations that protect the environment and public health are overly burdensome obstacles for businesses, and it should be up to the free market to determine who does and doesn’t have access to things like drinking water.
But there’s an even more insidious aspect to how and where portions of the wall will be built. From the Guardian:
“This is not just that they will drive ocelots to extinction,” said [Scott Nicol, co-chair of the Sierra Club Borderland team], referring to the critically endangered wild cat found in the Rio Grande Valley. “Families trying to come into this country will be pushed into the desert to die.”
“Border walls are death sentences for wildlife and humans alike,” said Amanda Munro of the Southwest Environmental Center, an organization that works to restore and protect native wildlife and habitats. “They block wild animals from accessing the food, water and mates they need to survive. They weaken genetic diversity, fragment habitat, and trap animals in deadly floods. At the same time, they drive desperate asylum seekers to risk their lives in the unforgiving desert.”
That’s the point, or course. Trump is a fan of using punishing deterrents, and has admitted himself that his family separation policy was designed to horrify immigrants into not trying to enter the U.S. And the Border Patrol has long had an unofficial stance that it’s preferable for people to die crossing the desert than to make it across and be arrested, as shown by video evidence of officers destroying water left throughout the border region to keep migrants from dying of dehydration.
If the administration is willing to so casually engage in atrocities at the border, it should come as no surprise that they’re fine with ignoring laws meant to keep both people and the environment safe and healthy.
Betsy DeVos to cancel $150M in student loan debt after losing court battle
The U.S. Department of Education will cancel $150 million in student loans after a judge dismissed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ bid to block an Obama-era rule on the matter.
The debt forgiveness applies to about 15,000 student borrowers who were eligible for “closed school” loan discharges. Roughly half of the canceled debt belongs to students who attended Corinthian Colleges, a chain of for-profit schools that shuttered in April 2015, with the remaining debt tied to students who attended schools that closed from 2013 to 2018.
“On Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, we will begin emailing borrowers to inform them that the company that handles billing and other services related to their federal student loans will discharge some or all of the borrower’s loans within the next 30–90 days,” the department said in a press release.
DeVos had sought to block efforts to cancel debts for students who attended schools that closed or the Corinthian Colleges, which were accused of providing inflated job placement statistics to lure attendees. A group of 18 states and Washington, D.C., successfully challenged DeVos’ effort, and a judge ordered the loan discharges to proceed last September.
DeVos had argued that the Obama-era mandate made it too easy for students to escape their debt, at the expense of colleges and taxpayers, Politico reported.
Federal officials fined Corinthian Colleges $30 million over the misleading statistics in April 2015. The for-profit chain closed shortly thereafter.
Formulated by the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Club of St. Andrews, with input from professional bodies including the PGA Tour, the rules should among other things speed up the game.
“It’s the most significant rules change in the modern era, certainly the biggest this generation of professional players are going to see,” said PGA Tour rules official Steve Rintoul, who was on the committee that wrote the rules.
“This was a complete overhaul to make the rules easier to understand, eliminate silly penalties and be more player friendly.”
Some rules have been revamped for recreational golfers but will stay the same at the elite level. One important example is the procedure for a ball hit out-of-bounds or lost.
Under the current ‘stroke-and-distance’ rule, a one-stroke penalty is incurred and the player must return to the same spot to hit another ball, meaning a tee shot that results in a lost ball forces them to return to the tee for their third shot.
In reality, many recreational players instead drop a ball in the vicinity of where it was lost and play on.
In 2019, courses have the option of implementing a rule that will allow players to take a two-stroke penalty and hit from an equidistant point from where they estimate their ball to be lost or out-of-bounds.
In effect they can play their fourth shot from the fairway after an errant tee shot, instead of their third from the tee.
Another rule that should help recreational golfers is the option of accepting a two-stroke penalty for relief from a bunker.
At all levels of the game, players will now be able to repair spike marks on greens and while there has been suggestions that might slow down play, Rintoul disagreed.
“Players are already repairing ball marks,” Rintoul said. “It’s not going to take any longer to press down one or two spike marks on their line.
“If everyone’s allowed to repair the damage they’ve caused, greens will be much better throughout the whole day.”
There will also be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the green, while another change would allow players to putt with the flagstick in the hole and American Ryder Cup player Bryson DeChambeau said recently that he might try it, but Rintoul thought that experiment would be short-lived.
“I don’t think it’s going to impact professional golf,” Rintoul said. “The first time that Bryson’s ball hits the flagstick and doesn’t go in will be the last time he does it.”
Rintoul, however, thought one new rule dealing with damaged clubs could be problematic.
Players can currently replace a club damaged during the normal course of play, even if it has borne the brunt of their frustration.
The new rule will no longer allow players to replace the club during a round, which could cause issues as newer thin-faced drivers are developed, which tended to crack more often.
“We’ve had so many incidents of driver faces that have cracks, or are starting to cave in,” he said.
“From the tour side, six months from now this may be seen as the most controversial change.
“The first high profile tournament that the leader cracks a driver-head or cracks a shaft, and can’t replace it, it will certainly be a hot topic.”
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
Thousands of photographs depicting wildlife in various stages of “funny” were submitted to the fourth annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, and the judges have narrowed the list down to a group of finalists.
Wildlife photographers Tom Sullam and Paul Joynson-Hicks created the awards in concert with the Born Free Foundation to highlight the serious side of wildlife, that being the importance of conserving our wildlife.
Officials from The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards were kind enough to allow BNQT to share photos of the finalists for your enjoyment. Winners will be announced Nov. 15.
The titles used by the photographers introduce the photos and we caption them afterward. Enjoy!
All photos are copyrighted and used here with permission.
Your Body Needs Vitamin D This Winter. Here’s What to Eat to Get It.
As a nutritionist, I’ve doled out the advice that a supplement can sometimes be a good health insurance policy. But, when it comes to vitamin D, I’m not in the “practice what you preach” camp, though, believe me, I’ve tried (I couldn’t even choke down a prenatal vitamin when I was pregnant, though I could manage a kids’ chewable Flintstone).
So you can imagine that I breathed a small sigh of relief when the recent study on vitamin D supplements hit. The review study (in this particular case, a review and meta-analysis of previous studies) looked at vitamin-D-supplement-taking habits in adults and how that impacted bone fractures, falls, and natural, age-related bone loss. (Remember, that combo of vitamin D and calcium is what’s supposed to keep your bones strong.) And the study findings were a bit unexpected: Adults who take vitamin D supplements don’t have fewer bone fractures or falls or better bone-mineral density. The researchers also looked at supplement doses and, turns out, how much vitamin D those adults took was irrelevant—their bones weren’t any stronger.
But with two degrees in nutrition under my belt, I know that D’s importance goes beyond bone health. We want to keep our vitamin D levels up because it can lower our risk for autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, IBD, and Crohn’s. There’s other research that shows that being low in vitamin D raises your risk for high blood pressure and heart attack and is associated with higher rates of depression, Schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s. And one of the most interesting findings I recently stumbled upon is that women who are vitamin D deficient up their risk of having to have a C-section by 400 percent!
So if you’re skeptical of supplements (or just bad at remembering to take them), how else can you up your vitamin D intake?
First of all, the amount of vitamin D we need is the source of some debate, but most experts agree on one thing: We’re not getting enough. So instead of splitting hairs on quantity, you should focus on quality. Always, getting vitamin D from the sun is the gold standard. Studies have found that the D you get from the sun lasts longer in your system than the D you get from food or supplements—plus your body can use 100 percent of it, whereas 40 percent of what you ingest is basically ferried right through your body. But that’s not always possible, especially in winter when the days are shorter and we’re getting less sun.
So my advice (and this I always practice!) is to eat your vitamin D. The best vitamin D food sources are oily fish and cod liver oil (a win-win because they’re also great sources of brain- and heart-healthy omega-3s). A tablespoon of cod liver oil delivers 1,360 IUs. A 3-ounce, fist-sized portion of swordfish or salmon will get you about 500 IUs. Another natural source of D is eggs: a large one has 41 IUs. And then there are mushrooms, which naturally contain vitamin D (maitakes are the richest with 943 IU in about a cup), and, if they’re exposed to UV light, make even more vitamin D. For example, expose creminis to sunlight or a sunlamp, and a cup of them delivers over 1000 IUs!
So-called fortified foods are how most of us probably get dietary D. A cup of milk or yogurt fortified with vitamin D adds 100 IUs, more or less. For foods like orange juice, cereal, soy and other plant-based milks, the amounts vary product to product so you’ll want to check the nutrition label.
So if you can’t book that warm weather getaway (hey, doc, can I get a Rx for that?), swing by the grocery store and stock up on vitamin D-rich foods. You’re basically giving your body a beach vacation without leaving the house.
Up your vitamin D:
When “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played before the first game of the 2018 N.F.L. season, between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles, the defending champions, in September, Michael Bennett knew that he was being watched. Football fans, and sportswriters, were waiting to see if the narrative of another year would be dominated not by division rivalries but by the debate over players who protested racial inequality during the national anthem. Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who had begun the protests, in 2016, was the star of a new Nike commercial that was set to air during the game. (The tagline: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”) But Kaepernick had been out of the league since the end of that season—he has sued the owners, alleging collusion—and, Nike campaign aside, rarely spoke publicly. Bennett, a defensive end for the Eagles, was one of the most recognizable players to keep the protests going in his absence. A three-time Pro Bowler, Bennett is naturally funny, and a little eccentric, with a gift for provocation. He used to do a little jig, inspired by pro wrestling, each time he sacked a quarterback; he once described it as “two angels dancing while chocolate is coming from the heavens on a nice Sunday morning.” His equally gregarious younger brother, Martellus, was a tight end, until he retired earlier this year, and they were an unmistakable pair: the outrageous, outspoken Bennett brothers.
Bennett has always been candid about politics. In 2015, after his teammate Richard Sherman critiqued the rhetoric of the Black Lives Matter movement, Bennett, unprompted, politely detailed his disagreements with Sherman at a press conference the next day. He wrote a statement expressing solidarity with the women’s strike on International Women’s Day; he is an avid reader of the academic and activist Angela Davis. But, in the year since he began protesting, in August, 2017, the political has become increasingly personal, and he has been reminded what it can mean to be a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time. That month, he was handcuffed in Las Vegas by police officers with weapons drawn, during what the officers believed was an active-shooter situation—an instance, Bennett maintains, of racial profiling. A few weeks later, a doctored photograph that had Bennett dancing in the Seahawks’ locker room with a burning American flag went viral. In March, he was indicted on a felony charge for allegedly pushing an elderly woman as he made his way onto the field after the 2017 Super Bowl, an accusation that he emphatically denies. In April, he published a memoir, called “Things That Make White People Uncomfortable,” which was blurbed by Bernie Sanders, among others. These days, Bennett sits at the nexus of several narratives surrounding the N.F.L. What a fan thinks of him probably depends on which of those narratives that fan is inclined to credit.
On opening night, Bennett knew that many people wanted to move on from the protests. He was tired, himself, of the endless accounting of who was taking a knee and who wasn’t, and eager to focus on the social-justice work that he and others were doing, rather than on the gestures that they were or weren’t making. But he also thought that silence had a corrosive effect, that it encouraged pride and toughness above empathy and vulnerability, contributing to the problem of “toxic masculinity,” as he put it to me before the season began, using a phrase that has come into vogue in some places but not, for the most part, in N.F.L. locker rooms. Bennett, who has lively, wide-set eyes and an unruly beard, can rapidly shift in conversation from careful deliberation to surprising bluntness, or to comedy. (He answered one of my phone calls with a falsetto squeal: “Don’t you call my husband!”) The expectation that players should be merely entertainers was stunting, he said. “Then we wonder why guys commit suicide, or guys do different things, because they just don’t know how to find a better way to outlet their emotions,” he went on. “They don’t know how to communicate.”
How could he communicate that? How could he do it while playing a game where the point was to dominate, violently, the other side? How could he do it with the platform he had, in the space of a song?
Bennett had been traded to the Eagles by the Seattle Seahawks in the off-season, and he was still trying, with occasional awkwardness, to figure out his role with Philadelphia. But he felt lucky in his new teammates. One of them, the safety Malcolm Jenkins, is a co-founder of the Players Coalition, which was created, in 2017, in order to harness burgeoning activism among N.F.L. players. When the anthem was performed during the previous season, Jenkins had raised his fist while a white teammate, the defensive end Chris Long, put his arm around Jenkins’s shoulder. Jenkins had stopped doing this late last year, after the N.F.L. committed eighty-nine million dollars toward racial-justice causes. But Jenkins had protested again before the first preseason game, alongside Long and the defensive back De’Vante Bausby, after the league attempted to implement a rule that would have required players who were on the field for the anthem to stand. Assuming that Jenkins would raise his fist, Bennett decided that he would stand behind Jenkins and Long, and raise his fist, too. The gesture would signal solidarity both with his new team and with the movement.
He hadn’t told them about it, though. When the anthem began to play, he looked over and saw that Jenkins was standing with his hands behind his back, and that Long had a hand on his heart. Jenkins had not resumed his protest. (It hadn’t been an easy decision. “We don’t have a handbook,” Jenkins told me.) Bennett was thrown. “I was, like, ‘Wait,’ ” he told me later. “ ‘Y’all not doing anything?’ ” No one from either team was protesting. Bennett, realizing this, lowered his head, tugged awkwardly on the straps on his gloves. He turned away from the field and began to pace.
The grass was still wet from a storm that had just blown through. As the anthem neared its final crescendo, Bennett stopped, sat down on the end of the Eagles’ bench, and tied his shoe. The season had begun.
Following one player during the controlled chaos of a single play can be difficult, but Bennett has a way of drawing the eye. Though he is six feet four and weighs two hundred and eighty pounds, he wears tiny shoulder pads that were designed for a kicker and stripped of some of their padding—they give his cartoonishly muscular arms a better range of motion, he says. (“He’s in a T-shirt and drawers out there, man,” his teammate Brandon Brooks told the Philadelphia Inquirer.) Bennett moves with astonishing speed and lightness for a man so large; during a recent game against the Dallas Cowboys, he correctly read a fake handoff, then came off the edge of the line so quickly that he was at the quarterback Dak Prescott’s shoulder before Prescott had even managed to turn down the field. “He’s an instinctive player with tons of savvy—he’s responsive to cues and tips,” his former coach with the Seahawks, Pete Carroll, told me. Prescott, after Bennett hit him, went cartwheeling through the air. “He creates all kind of havoc,” Fletcher Cox, a defensive tackle who plays with Bennett on the Eagles, said, adding, “He plays so fast. He’s violent.”
Off the field, Bennett can seem gentle, almost sleepy. He once paused a conversation with me to admire a hummingbird. But, on the field, his ferocity can appear unchecked. “In order to play football, you have to have two sides,” the defensive end Cliff Avril, one of Bennett’s best friends in the league, told me. “If you act the way you acted on a football field, you’d get arrested.” He added, “He’s a completely different person than when he’s hyped up for a game.”
In October, I visited the locker room at the Eagles’ facility after practice, two days before a Thursday-night game against the Giants. A handful of players sat by their stalls; idle reporters outnumbered them by about four to one. Bennett lingered in front of his locker, which was filled with a messy pile of cleats and stacked with books: “The Revolt of the Black Athlete,” by the sociologist Harry Edwards, who has advised Kaepernick; “Soul of a Citizen,” by the activist Paul Rogat Loeb. He gave Chris Long, whose locker was now next to his, his copy of Martin Buber’s “Good and Evil.”
After giving a scrum of reporters some quotes about his season so far—he was adjusting to his new role, coming off the bench, he said, and he respected the coach, Doug Pederson—he put on a black T-shirt, black shorts, shearling-lined house slippers, and a red hat that read “Immigrants Make America Great.” We ducked inside an office, and he settled into a couch. “Can we smoke weed in here?” he said, as soon as the team’s public-relations manager had left the room. I froze, then spluttered; he was just joking, he said.
“He’s definitely going to make things uncomfortable,” Jenkins had told me. “You either become vulnerable or become defensive, one or the other.” Bennett insists that unsettling people is a path to social change. He “has a capacity for discomfort,” Brené Brown, an author and a professor of social work at the University of Houston, told me. Last year, Carroll brought Brown, whose tedtalk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” has been viewed more than thirty million times, to speak with the Seahawks. Since then, she and Bennett have had a “slow-dripping text conversation” about her ideas, she said.
Bennett was born in Louisiana, in 1985, the oldest child of Michael Bennett, Sr., and Caronda Bennett, who was just twenty when her fifth child was born. The couple divorced when Bennett was young. Michael, Sr., who was in the Navy, took Michael, Martellus, and their older sister to Houston; Caronda took two younger sons and fell away from Michael’s life. He felt abandoned. “As a child, you want to figure out why, how, and where do I fit in,” he told me.
Still, childhood gave him “some of the best days,” he said: wrestling with Martellus, swimming, spending summers picking okra and peppers on a farm in Louisiana that belonged to their grandfather, a Baptist preacher. Michael, Sr., got married again, to a junior-high-school teacher named Pennie. When Bennett got into trouble, she made him read entries in the encyclopedia, and he came to enjoy it. “I read them when I used the bathroom, too,” he said. When he was nine or ten, he stumbled upon the entry for Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. He was fascinated. It introduced him, he told me, “to the revolutionary mind process.” When Bennett was twelve, a black man, James Byrd, was dragged to death behind a truck in Jasper, a hundred miles from Houston. For a while, Bennett would spook at the sound of a pickup rumbling past.
Bennett was interested in many different things as a child. “But when you’re big and Black, the grown-ups push you to play sports,” he writes in his memoir. “They take an interest that is hard to ignore or resist.” Martellus was one of the best athletes in Texas, and Michael earned All-District football honors in Houston. They both went on to play for Texas A. & M. Bennett liked the camaraderie and the competition, but he loathed the business of college football; on campus, he was “half god, half property,” he writes in the memoir. It was warping, in ways that could not easily be acknowledged. “I’ve taken note that, as many barriers as we break as athletes, we have never broken the barriers of emotion,” he told me. Athletes, he went on, “never used the word, the D-word. Not ‘damn’ or ‘dog.’ ” “Depression,” he meant.
Bennett became a father while he was in college. When his daughter Peyton was born, he held her tiny body in his giant hands and cried—tears of relief and joy, but also of fear. He was twenty, and Peyton’s mother, Pele, was nineteen. (They began dating in high school; when Pele tried to break up with him, in tenth grade, he stood outside her English class, pleading with her through the door’s small window. She was struck, even then, by how open he was.) Bennett would later mark Peyton’s birth as the moment that he started to come to terms with his own vulnerability. He also began to find the attitude of his coaches and counselors even more patronizing than before. He bridled at being told to tuck in his shirt. When he broke the rules by leaving immediately after a game to attend his daughter’s second-birthday party, he was suspended for a game. Martellus entered the N.F.L. draft early, and was selected by the Cowboys, but when Bennett made himself eligible, a year later, his name wasn’t called.
He received offers from several teams to come to camp as a free agent, and chose the Seahawks. He was cut a few weeks into the season—an introduction to the business of pro football, where jobs are tenuous and contracts aren’t guaranteed. He caught on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; after three seasons with the team, he became a free agent, and signed a one-year contract with Seattle. This time, he quickly emerged as one of the Seahawks’ key players, leading them in sacks, quarterback hits, and tackles for a loss. In his first season with the team, they won the Super Bowl.
Perhaps no team reflects the volatile recent history of the N.F.L. as much as the Seahawks of the past few years—“the dynasty that never was,” as a member of the team put it to Sports Illustrated this summer. (They returned to the Super Bowl in Bennett’s second season, but lost to the New England Patriots—on a late goal-line possession, Carroll controversially called for a pass, which was intercepted—and haven’t been back since.) The locker room was filled with talented players on cheap contracts who were drafted low or, like Bennett, not drafted at all—guys who felt that they had something to prove. The defense was the best in the league, and, arguably, the best the league had seen in years; they called themselves the Legion of Boom. Overseeing it all was Carroll, an unusual figure among N.F.L. coaches, garrulous and accessible; earlier this year, he posted a statement on social media calling for “a New Empathy.” “For me, the introduction to Coach Carroll was the introduction to seeing a coach as a human being,” Bennett said. When I mentioned this to Carroll, he told me, “I think what Mike sensed was that I cared about him.” He added, “Mike’s always been willing to go against the grain. Obviously. He’s not been shy. He was easy to work with, though. I did not have trouble working with Mike. He’s bright. He cares.”
Bennett signed a multiyear contract to stay with the team. He loved Seattle, with its diverse population and its progressive vibe. He and Pele started a foundation focused on food justice, with programs in Seattle and Hawaii. They had two more daughters, Blake and Ollie, and began devoting more of their time to causes centered on women and girls. Bennett helped set up a nutrition camp on a Native American reservation and a coding camp in Senegal, and organized women’s-empowerment summits for young girls of color. Pele told me that Bennett drew on the support he received from the community in Seattle. “I think his empathy grew,” she said.
Bennett also became a leader among his singular crew of teammates. “He’s like a governor in the locker room, holding court, telling stories, telling us we need to read more, telling us the Man is oppressing us, but always with a smile on his face,” Richard Sherman told me. When Kaepernick’s protest began, Carroll brought the Seahawks together to discuss it. There was talk of kneeling as a team. But the first regular-season game that year took place on September 11th, and there were a number of military tributes planned; some players were concerned that anything unusual during the anthem would seem insensitive to veterans, though Kaepernick had said repeatedly that his protest had nothing to do with the military. Howard Bryant, a journalist and the author of “The Heritage,” a book about black athletes, patriotism, and dissent, told me that such responses reflected a wider shift in the sports world. “9/11 changed everything,” he said. Sporting events became vehicles for selling patriotism to the public, literally: the U.S. military paid major sports leagues to promote the armed services through elaborate ceremonies, featuring fighter jets, giant flags, and bald eagles. This followed a decade during which pro athletes had been relatively muted about political matters. The players Bennett emulated growing up, in the nineties, seemed to accept a basic trade-off: avoid politics and other controversial subjects, and reap stupendous financial rewards.
It wasn’t always that way. Bennett has become friends with the former track star John Carlos, through an organization called Athletes for Impact, which aims to connect athletes with grassroots groups. Fifty years ago, Carlos and his fellow-runner Tommie Smith stood on the podium at the Mexico City Olympics and raised black-gloved fists to protest the oppression of black Americans. “When I was a little kid, my heroes were Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Jack Johnson,” Carlos told me. He believes that, eventually, players like Kaepernick and Bennett will be thought of in the same terms.
The Seahawks talked about Kaepernick’s protest for hours, debating what to do, white players and black players trying to bridge the differences in their experiences. Some became emotional. In the end, they decided to stand and lock arms as a show of unity. For Bennett, it was a hopeful moment. But, after it happened, the team was criticized by both sides—for not doing enough, in the eyes of some, and, by others, for doing anything at all. The protests continued to be a national story throughout the season, but they were limited to a small handful of players, none of whom were Seahawks. For the first time in three years, the team did not reach the Super Bowl.
During the season, Bennett had been invited by a public-school teacher and racial-justice activist named Jesse Hagopian to speak at a community forum on education, and they had stayed in touch. In the summer, Hagopian called Bennett to say that he had just met the family of Charleena Lyles, at a vigil. Lyles had called 911 to report a burglary, and when the police arrived they shot her seven times. (The officers said that she attacked them with a knife.) It soon emerged that three of Lyles’s four children were also in the apartment, and she was pregnant at the time. Bennett and Pele came to Hagopian’s classroom to meet the family, bringing bags of groceries and other items for the kids. They helped set up college funds, and co-hosted a rally and benefit at a local park. In August, white supremacists descended on Charlottesville and one of them killed a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, with his car. Afterward, President Trump said that there had been “some very fine people, on both sides.” Bennett thought of James Byrd. He decided to join Kaepernick in protest, and sat during the anthem at the next preseason game.
There was a backlash, not only from football fans but also from some family members and friends. But Bennett had a bigger test coming. Just before the regular season began, he and Cliff Avril decided that they would have a night out together. They flew to Las Vegas to watch Floyd Mayweather fight Conor McGregor; after the fight, they went to a night club at a casino. A stanchion at the club crashed to the ground, and people hit the deck, thinking shots had been fired. Bennett ducked behind a slot machine, and when people started to flee he ran, too. The police chased him, and ordered him to the ground. An officer held a gun to his head and warned him, Bennett says, that if he moved he would “blow your fucking head off.” Bennett was taken to a squad car, where he asked, again and again, why he was being detained. After several minutes, the police determined that there was no shooter, and told Bennett that he could leave. Back in his hotel room, he called his father, shaken. “He was so scared for his life,” Michael, Sr., told me. “Mike had never been through nothing like that before.”
When Avril made it to Bennett’s room, he found him disheveled, he said. Distraught, Bennett wanted to tell the whole world what had happened. They called their former teammate Marshawn Lynch and a Seahawks employee, Maurice Kelly, who’s a good friend; they stayed up for hours, talking. Bennett decided to wait. He didn’t want to be in the news talking about himself while Hurricane Harvey was ravaging his home town, and he needed time to prepare his daughters for what they might hear at school. When he and Pele sat Peyton down at the kitchen table and told her about racial profiling, “she said something like, ‘Is that still happening?’ ” Pele told me. Peyton began to cry; it was piercing for her parents. “She was eleven,” Pele said. “She’s just learning history.”
Two weeks after the incident, Bennett posted a statement about it on Twitter. “All I could think of was ‘I’m going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat,’ ” he wrote. The post prompted support from some corners, but the backlash was louder. Critics immediately tied Bennett’s account to his protesting. “While the NFL may condone Bennett’s disrespect for our American Flag, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the League will not ignore Bennett’s false accusations against our police officers,” the Las Vegas police union wrote, in a letter to the N.F.L. commissioner, Roger Goodell. When video of the arrest was released, people saw what they wanted to see: those who sympathized with Bennett saw an unarmed black man on the ground with a gun at his head. Defenders of the police noted that Bennett had been running during what was thought to be an active-shooter situation. They also pointed out, irrelevantly, that two of the officers were Hispanic and a third was black, and that the encounter had ended with a handshake. (The Clark County sheriff, Joe Lombardo, said that “the incident was not about race.”)
“It’s just a sad moment for me,” Bennett told me, when I asked him about it. Then he grew quiet. His brother and his friends told me that Bennett was unnerved when his teammates and other players didn’t stand up for him more forcefully. “Some people were saying, ‘That’s a battle you don’t want to fight,’ ” Avril said. “He felt like he was by himself, for something he felt we all were fighting for.”
Two weeks after Bennett posted his account on Twitter, Trump took up the matter of protesting football players, at a rally in Alabama. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,’ ” he said, to raucous applause. The Seahawks gathered, as they had the previous season, and talked about how they might respond. The conversation was even more heated than it had been the year before. Black players told white players that they couldn’t understand what it was like to be black in America. White players told black players that the protests were unpatriotic. “Guys were being authentic,” Richard Sherman told me. In the end, the team decided that, when the anthem was played, they would stay in the locker room, together. They also released a statement supporting the movement toward social justice. But, for Bennett, the day left raw feelings.
“It was disappointing,” he told me. Players were worried about their jobs, or their brands, he said. He understood the impulse, but he also felt that some of his teammates didn’t recognize the responsibility they had. As for the unity they were able to muster, he said, “I felt like it was a victory and a loss at the same time. I felt like we were going against Trump, but we weren’t going against injustice. We weren’t protesting against brutality. We weren’t protesting against things that had happened to women. It felt like we were all focused on this one man.”
“There’s a lot of guys in the locker room who are against protests,” Martellus told me. He added, “Behind closed doors, they’ll say they support you, but then they get in front of a camera and the whole thing twists. And you’re, like, ‘Damn!’ But you don’t get really mad. You get it.”
Conflict began to fester even among players who were committed to activism. When the N.F.L. promised its eighty-nine-million-dollar donation, after discussions with the Players Coalition, some viewed it as an attempted quid pro quo, or as dubious opportunism. The fact that Kaepernick was still out of work also rankled. The 49ers safety Eric Reid, the first player to join Kaepernick’s protest, was one of a handful of players who quit the Coalition.
The Seahawks finished the season 9–7, and missed the playoffs. The freewheeling atmosphere of the locker room, which had seemed a partial explanation for their success, was now cited as key to its demise. Bennett had an excellent individual season, and made another Pro Bowl, but the year ended on a sour note: during the final seconds of a close loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bennett—who, according to Carroll, was just going for the ball—rolled into the center’s legs, as the Jaguars tried to run the clock down, and a brawl ensued. (The league, evidently accepting Carroll’s explanation, did not discipline Bennett, though several other players, and Carroll, were fined for their actions during the melee.) After the season, the Seahawks began offloading contracts. Bennett was in Japan, in March, when he learned that he had been traded to Philadelphia.
Bennett is not insensitive to the effects—physical, emotional, psychological, social—of being a professional athlete, particularly one who plays a violent game, and plays it violently. He doesn’t shy away from the N.F.L.’s high-profile cases of violence against women, which have recently been in the news yet again; he has come to see himself as a feminist. “It’s important to say we want black freedom, but we can’t say we want these different things if we don’t respect women,” he told me. He and his brother have both spoken about how difficult it can be for athletes, who are obsessed with beating their opponents, to have empathy for others. He sees older players who have struggled not only with the effects of injuries but also with a crisis of identity once their playing days are over, and an inability to move on from the “mental state of being an athlete,” as he put it.
Still, Bennett pushes back against the idea that football is by nature in conflict with his commitment to peace. “It’s just a game,” he told me. He also said that “a lot of players have a lot of anger,” and that they aren’t good at being vulnerable—something made worse, he believes, by the habit of talking about players as a bundle of statistics and salary figures and fantasy-football point totals. “The business of the N.F.L., or any other business—it doesn’t have a soul,” he said. Bennett himself has a temper; he can be snappish with other players and with the press. He once yelled at a reporter who questioned him after a loss, claiming that the reporter didn’t know what it was like to face adversity; he later apologized, privately, when he learned that the reporter had survived cancer. But he is, he says, growing. A few years ago, he reconnected with his birth mother, Caronda. When he recounted the story to Dave Zirin, a columnist for The Nation and the co-author of Bennett’s memoir, he began to sob, Zirin said. “I never stopped thinking about my kids, and I never stopped loving them,” Caronda said recently. “And I wish circumstances had been different. I was young.” Bennett told me, “You gotta know how to love your mother so that you can love your daughters and your wife properly.” He added, “We all have past traumas.”
Two weeks after Bennett was traded, he learned that he had been indicted, in Houston, for injuring an elderly paraplegic woman while trying to get onto the field after the 2017 Super Bowl, to celebrate with Martellus, who played for the victorious Patriots. In Texas, recklessly causing bodily injury is a misdemeanor, but it is a felony when the victim is sixty-five or older. The woman, who is African-American, alleges that Bennett pushed past her as he forced his way through a door onto the field, injuring her shoulder. In announcing the indictment, at a press conference, the Houston police chief—perhaps picking up where the Las Vegas police union left off—spoke about Bennett as if he’d already been convicted, calling him “morally corrupt,” “morally bankrupt,” and “pathetic.”
Bennett and the members of his family who were with him fiercely dispute the allegation. “If I saw my son touch an old lady, I would be the one going to court,” Michael, Sr., told me. Bennett’s next court date in the case, which has not yet gone to trial, has been delayed several times; it is currently scheduled for January.
In the meantime, Bennett, after beginning the season in a limited role, became a starter again, and went on a tear, recording six and a half sacks in just six weeks. The team has lost multiple players to injury, and has spent the season on the fringes of the playoff race, but Bennett, at the age of thirty-three, still relishes the game, and his place in it. He has, by all accounts, become more vocal in the locker room as the season has progressed. He has also become close to both Jenkins and Long, who have introduced him to people involved in social-justice work in Philadelphia. Bennett “brings up ideas that have been a little outside of our scope,” Jenkins told me. “He’ll bring up women’s rights, he’s big on sustainable food, inner-city gardens, ‘food deserts,’ things like that.”
When I asked Bennett, during the summer, about the split between the Players Coalition, which he never joined, and those, like Eric Reid, who had left it, he said, “Everybody wants the same thing.” It was a diplomatic answer but not an entirely accurate one. Shortly after I visited the locker room, in October, the Eagles played the Carolina Panthers, who had just signed Reid. Before the coin toss, Reid confronted Jenkins, and had to be restrained. Afterward, he called Jenkins a “sellout” and a “neo-colonialist,” adding, “I think it was James Baldwin that said, ‘To be black in America and to be relatively conscious is to be in a constant state of anger.’ I’m in a constant state of anger.”
“All of us believe that our ideologies are the truth,” Bennett told me later, reflecting on the confrontation. In his view, Reid sees his ideology as “purer than Malcolm’s. It was better, putting a burden on his back for the people,” he said. “I think it was a misconception, because Malcolm is doing the same thing in a different way.” He added, “People are going to say if I like Kaepernick I can’t like Malcolm, and if I like Malcolm I can’t like Kaepernick, and that’s not right.”
It was, in any case, a rare flareup in a league that has been much quieter of late. The fatigue that Bennett sensed before opening night has gone general: kneeling is no longer the litmus test that it was. Trump hasn’t talked about the N.F.L. in months. For a few games, Bennett remained inside the locker room during the anthem; at a game in October, he sat on the bench again, but he has since gone back to staying in the locker room. The protests may never have been as big a deal to fans as they’ve been made out to be: USA Today broke down the league’s ratings decline by market, and concluded that the protests were not to blame. Even last year, thirty-seven of the fifty most watched TV broadcasts were N.F.L. games. Ratings are up in 2018; fans are excited about a crop of young quarterbacks.
It’s possible to look at the league and wonder if the protests really disrupted the status quo at all. But Bennett will tell you that kneeling or not kneeling was, by itself, never the point, and that something has genuinely shifted. Just before Thanksgiving, the Eagles announced the creation of a Social Justice Fund, with money donated by the team and by individual players; Bennett is one of six Eagles serving on its leadership council. They have dispersed about two hundred thousand dollars so far, to four Philadelphia nonprofits. The money will help, Bennett said, but players have to raise awareness of the underlying issues—and they have to show up, he said. They have to get personally involved.
“The N.F.L. is a small part of the world,” he told me before the season started. “You know we like to think that it’s the major part of the world,” he added, laughing. He says that he can’t wait for his daughters to grow up, because they can skip the business of football and cut straight to saving the universe. “It’s not the athlete who’s going to change police brutality,” he told me. “It’s not the athlete who’s going to change all this stuff.” But pro athletes are “invited to the table,” he said. They can try to speak to, and for, those who aren’t in the room. ♦