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NFL stuck in the red zone

Well, NFL owners and players had a “productive” meeting on social issues in Manhattan Tuesday – code for nothing but smoke and mirrors designed to placate two mutually exclusive viewpoints. There was, incredibly, no discussion of the National Anthem protests that have been designed to draw attention to the very social issues that were on the agenda. You can’t make this stuff up. ...

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‘The way it is’: Kaepernick and the NFL protests

On Tuesday, the NFL owners and representative players will meet to discuss the National Anthem protest that has been a driving issue this season – this as protest initiator and former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL, saying the 32 owners colluded to keep him out of the league because of his activism.

A bit of background: “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been played before NFL games since at least 2009 at the behest of the U.S. Department of Defense, ostensibly to bolster recruiting. The NFL rulebook says that teams must be suited up and on the field before the Anthem begins, standing facing the flag, with their helmets in their left hands and their right hands over their hearts. In the third preseason game of 2016, a reporter noted Kaepernick sitting through the Anthem to protest police brutality against people of color.

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‘Damn Yankees’ again

I was a child of the 1960s when rooting for the New York Yankees was not like rooting for the proverbial U.S. Steel but more like rooting for a company forever on the brink of going belly up. How bad were the Yanks of the late ’60s and early ‘70s? Put it this way: The team would have some of the extra players dress in street clothes and fill in the seats behind home plate at Yankee Stadium to make it look like someone was actually at the games. (Ah, the Horace Clarke Era. No offense to Horace, a lovely, hard-working and decidedly mediocre second baseman who became the face of those wilderness years, 1967-73.)

We can remember those days fondly, because as every Yankee fan knows the trajectory of the Bronx Bombers – like President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s view of the arc of civilization – has, despite some zigzagging, been ever upward. ...

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Saying goodbye to UNESCO, again

Well, in a week in which President Donald J. Trump decertified the Iran nuclear deal, eliminated subsidies for insurance companies that underwrite poorer Obamacare enrollees and warned Puerto Rico that the federal government can’t buck it up forever, the American withdrawal from UNESCO may seem like small potatoes. But as a longtime cultural writer I noted it with a heavy heart.

As with these other issues, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is more complex than it seems. The U.S. helped found it after World War II, but in recent decades has had an off-and-on again relationship with the organization, which is well-known for its significant World Heritage Sites list. ...

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