Tom Brady is back and just as good as ever


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What, did you expect anything different?
Tom Brady, who almost certainly should have been watching his New England Patriots open their season on a massive television somewhere in Back Bay, made the most of the NFL’s Deflategate incompetence and his resulting gift from the American judicial system, and had one of the most dominant, accurate season openers of his illustrious career, moving the Pats offense with ease and leading New England to such an easy win that the back-to-back chatter had practically begun by the time the third quarter ended.
There were always two ways Thursday night was going to go. Either Brady was going to be rusty from the craziness of the past four months (and giving up those first-team reps to Jimmy Garoppolo) or he was going to come out with the biggest chip on his shoulder since Week 5 of last season when people dared have the audacity to question whether Tom Terrific was on a career downswing. He answered the question that week and did it again Thursday. It was a refreshing performance, one that should end the chatter about Deflategate (Bob Costas is right; stop the appeal, Roger Goodell) and gleefully start a new season of football that will hopefully be devoid of crime and controversy
Can’t we all just play some football?
Brady did. He sputtered a bit on the Pats’ first possession, missing a surefire touchdown pass to Danny Amendola and getting sacked the very next play to force a punt. After that it was three possessions that ended in three touchdown passes (not including a kill-the-clock kneel down at the end of the first half). In that stretch, Brady completed 16 passes in a row and looked 27 years old, not like a 37-year-old who spent part of his summer getting poorly drawn in a courthouse.
Eventually, he’d complete 19 in a row (three off the NFL record), including a 52-yarder to Rob Gronkowski, whom he also connected with for three touchdowns. That deep pass changed the momentum of the game as it came on the first offensive play after the Steelers had cut the lead to seven and New England appeared on the verge of blowing a lead of 18+ points at home for the first time since 1978. Brady put a stop to that nonsense quickly.
He finished the game 25/32 (78%) with four touchdowns and a 143.8 passer rating. The completion percentage and passer rating were numbers he’s eclipsed just a few times in his career.
New England was far from perfect, giving up almost 500 yards to Pittsburgh, having a pass rush in theory only and getting gifted two missed field goals and a blown touchdown. That came when former top-1o pick Darrius Heyward-Bey showed the field awareness of a pee-wee football benchwarmer in stepping out of bounds in the end zone while awaiting a wide-open pass from Ben Roethlisberger. Make no mistake, the Pats’ win easily could have been a loss. But all that matters after the opening week is whether the 1 is in the correct column.
Though everyone says every year that you shouldn’t read too much into Week 1, we all read too much into Week 1. (It makes sense. We’ve spent eight months reading into nothing. At least this is real football.) We’re not going to fall into that very-enticing trap. The Patriots might have looked so good because the Steelers aren’t very good. The Steelers defense might have allowed Brady to roll because it’s trying to find its sea legs without Dick LeBeau. No matter what the Patriots offense did, the Steelers offense was almost as good, rolling over the New England defense, which had a secondary that was as questionable as expected and a line that was horrible. And perhaps Brady just had an on-night fueled by Deflategate rage.
But those are questions that will be answered in Week 2 and beyond. For one night at least, a winter, spring and summer of controversy appeared to have no effect on Tom Brady. At 37, the future Hall of Famer is back and better than ever.

Patriots fans started hilarious 'Where is Roger' chant for absent commissioner


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This year, Roger Goodell was a no-show at the NFL season opener he usually frequents, saying he wanted the attention to be on football at Gillette Stadium when the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers took the field. (When asked why the attention wouldn’t be on football if he had been there, Goodell demurred like the politician he is.) The Deflategate-hunter also used the excuse that he’ll be in Chicago for the Packers-Bears game on Sunday, as if car, plane, train and balloon travel had yet to be invented and there was no way he could get from Boston to Chicago in 60 hours.
Anyway, while New England’s least favorite man was theoretically at home watching the quarterback he tried to suspend pick apart the Pittsburgh Steelers, he wasn’t forgotten among the fans in Foxborough, who started a hilarious “where is Roger?” chant midway through the fourth quarter.

Not again! Steelers coaches could only hear Patriots' radio broadcasts in their headsets


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During the first quarter of the New England-Pittsburgh NFL season opener, NBC’s Al Michaels reported that Steelers coaches were having trouble with their headsets and were evidently hearing the Pats’ radio broadcast instead of each other. “Hmmmmmm,” thought all of America with a raised eyebrow.
After going back to the story following the initial reports, Michaels impishly asked Cris Collinsworth, “You don’t think, do you?” Collinsworth replied:
“Opponents would not call that trouble. They would call that (pause) — whatever. Every team I know of has some story of what happens to them in this stadium and of course Deflategate was all part of that. That’s not going to help — the fact that they were getting those radios in their headsets.

It it unsettling for a visiting team to come in here and have something like that happen. You want to start the game and say we’re on an equal playing field. I guarantee Mike Tomlin is hot right now.”
Michele Tafoya later reported that the radio call was bleeding into Pittsburgh’s coach-to-coach headsets and once that happened, the Patriots were forced to turn off their headsets because of NFL rules. By the time the first quarter ended, the incident was resolved, according to the NFL. After the game though, Mike Tomlin said the problems persisted for “the majority of the first half.”
“It’s been an ongoing saga in New England,” Michaels said with a sigh.
And on it goes.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots spike Steelers in opener


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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriotsmade the most of their opportunity Thursday night to remind the nation they’re the NFL’s most successful franchise of the past 15 years. They weren’t bad once the game began either.
One banner was unfurled on the field for each of the club’s four titles, owner Robert Kraft showed off the latest Lombardi Trophy and Tom Brady emerged from Deflategate with four touchdown passes in the Patriots’ 28-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener.
The Steelers cut the deficit in half with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown with 2 seconds to go. But time ran out on the ensuing onside kick.
Chants of “BRA-DY! BRA-DY!” erupted multiple times for the Patriots’ star quarterback, who at one point completed a franchise-record 19 consecutive passes and finished 25-of-32 for 288 yards, a week after a federal judge vacated his four-game suspension.
A chant of “WHERE IS ROGER?” also broke out as the Patriots put away the game in the fourth quarter – a mocking tribute to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who declined to attend the game, saying he’d be at Sunday’s Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears game instead.
Among those who did attend: NFL Players Association director DeMaurice Smith and Brady’s lead attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, who took a sort of victory lap around the field before the game.
It was a triumphant night in stark contrast to the controversy that has circled the Patriots – who also were fined $1 million and docked two draft picks by the NFL for an alleged scheme to deflate footballs – since their triumph over the Seattle Seahawks inSuper Bowl XLIX.
Massachusetts band Dropkick Murphys performed and fireworks left a haze of smoke over the field before Kraft emerged from a tunnel and joined former Patriots Willie McGinestTy Law and Troy Brown, who held the other Lombardis on a small stage as the crowd roared.
Many fans wore ponchos to combat a downpour that hit Thursday afternoon and continued as Brady took the field for warm-ups, pumping his fist and playing to the crowd. But Mother Nature wasn’t putting a damper on this party, and it didn’t slow the Patriots offense much either.
Three of Brady’s touchdown passes went to all-pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, the last a 1-yard score with 9:20 to go set up by a 52-yard completion to Gronkowski after the Steelers had trimmed New England’s 18-point lead to seven.
The Steelers offense moved the football well despite the absence of suspended running back Le’Veon Bell and center Maurkice Pouncey. But newly acquired kickerJosh Scobee missed two field goals, Darrius Heyward-Bey botched a sure touchdown by stepping out of bounds and a Pittsburgh defense debuting under new coordinator Keith Butler seemed lost at times.
Patriots safety Duron Harmon’s interception on a deep ball Roethlisberger intended for Heyward-Bey spoiled the Steelers’ last best chance with 7 minutes to go. One small step towards the Patriots’ fifth title and another party this time next year complete.​

Marine killed, 18 injured in rollover at Camp Pendleton


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A California-based Marine was killed and 18 others injured Thursday afternoon in a vehicle rollover accident at Camp Pendleton, according to the Marine Corps.
The Marine killed in the accident was assigned to 1st Marine Division, based out of Pendleton in Southern California. The Marine's identity is behind held for 24 hours after next of kin have been notified.
It's not immediately clear whether the 18 injured in the mishap belong to the same unit or what the Marines were doing at the time. Marine officials declined to provide any additional details on the accident, including the type of vehicle that was involved.
“The command’s priorities are to take care of the Marines, sailors and families of the unit,” 1st Lt. Colleen McFadden, public affairs officer with 1st Marine Division, said in a release. “We want to ensure the Marines and their family members are being provided for during this difficult time.”

World's oldest wooden statue twice as old as pyramids


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(NEWSER) – When scientists first tried in 1997 to date the famous Shigir Idol wooden sculpture —originally found in a Siberian peat bog in 1890—radiocarbon dating suggested the art was so old the findings were widely disputed. Now, armed with better tech, scientists turned to one of the world's most advanced accelerated mass spectrometry labs in Germany to put the issue to rest, and are announcing that Shigir Idol is indeed ancient—in fact, at 11,000 years of age it's actually 1,500 years older than first thought, reports the Siberian Times. Not only is it the oldest known wooden sculpture, but it's more than twice as old as the Great Pyramid of Giza, three times as old as the ancient city of Babylon, and five times as old as the ruins of Al Khazneh in the ancient city of Petra, reports the Huffington Post.
Microbes that eat away at organic matter don't like bogs, reports Atlas Obscura, which makes them particularly good at preservation. Thus the 9-foot Shigir Idol (which stood 17 feet tall before parts were pilfered during 20th century political turmoil) was preserved "as if in a time capsule" 11 millennia after it was cut from a 157-year-old larch tree. The resulting wooden figure is covered with "encrypted" shapes whose message remains "an utter mystery to modern man," one Russian academic has said. "We study the Idol with a feeling of awe. This is a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force, a unique sculpture; there is nothing else in the world like this." He added that the creators "lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world."

Japan is hammered by a slow-moving typhoon


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Floodwaters flow from the burst Kinugawa river (top) into a residential area in Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture

A person inside a house waves to a helicopter as the house is surrounded by floodwaters from a river in Joso, Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. Heavy rain is pummeling Japan for a second straight day, overflowing rivers and causing landslides and localized flooding in the eastern part of the country.

A family watches TV news at an evacuation center after taking shelter in Joso, Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.

An elderly man is carried by a firefighter after being rescued by a helicopter in Joso, Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo

Residents wait for help while sitting on the roof of their house northeast of Tokyo. Heavy rain is pummeling Japan for a second consecutive day, overflowing rivers and causing landslides and localized flooding in the eastern part of the country.

People wait for help as the vehicles are submerged northeast of Tokyo.

A woman holds her grandchild as evacuees take refuge in a City Hall in Joso, Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo on Sept. 

A young boy pushes a bicycle north of Tokyo.


Michigan House fails to expel lawmakers who had affair


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LANSING, Mich. — A dramatic day of expulsion hearings, passionate debate, and claims of deals reneged appeared to be on the way to an anti-climatic end late Thursday night as Republicansweren't able to muster the two-thirds House majority vote needed to expel state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
Courser and Gamrat, two tea party Republicans caught up in a sex and cover-up scandal, have Democrats to thank for saving their jobs — at least for the moment. Twenty-six Democrats refused to vote on a resolution to expel Courser, leaving the expulsion vote six votes shy of the 73 votes needed to remove the lawmaker from office. They hadn't taken up the resolution to expel Courser as of 9 p.m. ET.
After a 67-14 vote, with 26 Democrats refusing to vote and two Democrats absent, Republicans called for a reconsideration of the vote and the board was still open as of 9 p.m.
"It's sort of Shakespearian, if you look at it: My fate rests in the hands of the Democrats," Courser said late Thursday.
Many Democrats said, while they found the actions of Courser and Gamrat "disgusting and despicable," they wouldn't vote on the measure because of the process that was used to get to an expulsion. They wanted more information on what Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant knew and when he found out about the affair and bizarre cover-up engineered by Courser and Gamrat. They wanted to hear from two staffers — Ben Graham and Keith Allard — about the process they went through to reveal the cover-up to Republican leadership.
"The issue is much larger than the very narrow scope given to the committee. I really want to know when the staff went to leadership, what they said and when they said it," said state Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores. "The gravity of this issue truly deserves to be looked at in a much broader scope and in brighter light. People deserve that due diligence before we make this decision."
But Republicans said the 833-page report and testimony from both Courser and Gamrat, who both admitted misconduct in office and misuse of taxpayer resources but asked for censure rather than expulsion, clearly laid out plenty of reason to expel the two members.
"The oath that we all take is the sole protection against an unjust expulsion," said state Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, chairman of the special committee that voted 4-0 earlier Thursday to expel both members. "They have both admitted their guilt. They both agreed to the damage they've done. And neither can offer a reasonable argument that they're being honest now, or the disdain they have shown to this body and its members is the outlier and not the norm."

Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, was once tight with Courser and Gamrat, but supported the expulsion as a way to end the controversy that has consumed Lansing and Michigan.
"I would say that all the evidence I've seen ... the public, both Republicans and Democrats, can safely say is not in doubt; and, honestly, the public will hold accountable anyone who acts at odds to the actual substantive question before us," he said. "I appeal to the compassion, humanity and decency of my friends on both sides of the aisle: End the damage to the families, to the constituents, to the House ofRepresentatives. We know what's right and what's wrong."
Republicans held the board open for more than four hours, waiting for the Democrats who chose not to vote to change their mind. They invoked "Rule 32," which requires members to stay in their seats indefinitely. They repeatedly ran down the list of Democratic members who weren't voting to ask if they changed their mind. When the first vote failed 67-14, with 26 Democrats not voting and two Democrats absent, they tried again; reconsidering the vote and keeping the board open with the hopes that they could come up with the necessary 73 votes.

USA TODAY GOP Power Rankings, Week 2: Fiorina on fire


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If Donald Trump is looking in his rearview mirror, he will see Carly Fiorina gaining on him.
The former Hewlett Packard CEO has had several good weeks, and our political experts now have her in third place in the GOP 2016 power rankings. In the second week of our rankings, our panel has Fiorina moving up from sixth place to third, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio drops from third to the sixth-place spot she vacated.
What has changed since last week?
“More awareness of stronger candidates like Carly Fiorina,” said talk-show host and former presidential candidate Herman Cain. “She’s moved up and rightly so.”
Deb Lucia, a Kansas Tea Party activist, agreed. “Biggest winner this week is Fiorina,” she said. “The CNN debate controversy put her in the spotlight and many people took a look at her for the first time and liked what they saw.”
While the rest of our field largely held their positions this week, the next couple of weeks are likely to have a significant impact on the standings. For example, Emory University professor Andra Gillespie said, “Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if Mike Huckabee can generate any additional support in the polls as a result of the earned media he is getting for supporting Kim Davis in Kentucky.” Davis is the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail rather than issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Huckabee stood beside her as she walked out of jail Tuesday.
And the second GOP debate is Sept. 16, which could seal the fate of some of the lower-tier candidates. “Is there a rank lower than 17?” asks former Democratic congressman Dan Maffei. He notes that Jeb Bush is benefiting from the fact that none of the other candidates with political experience has managed to generate a lot of enthusiasm.
Of course, Trump remains No. 1 in our poll by a wide margin, with 22 first-place votes. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson continues to do well with five first-place votes, Jeb Bush got two, and one voter chose Rubio as the strongest candidate this week.
Also, cooler heads warn against getting excited just yet. “After months of campaigning and media coverage, this race is just beginning,” said Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. “There is a long time between now and February, when people start making real choices.”





4. JEB BUSH (4)

5. TED CRUZ (5)





10. RAND PAUL (10)




14. RICK PERRY (14)



17. JIM GILMORE (17)

Participants in USA TODAY’s GOP Power Rankings:
Kristen Soltis Anderson, Republican pollster and author of The Selfie Vote
Henry Barbour, Republican strategist, Mississippi
Paul Brathwaiteprincipal, Podesta Group
Dianne Bystrom, director, Center for Women and Politics, Iowa State University
Herman Cain, talk show host and former GOP presidential candidate
Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist and CNN Commentator, The Dewey Square Group
Frank Donatelli, former RNC deputy chairman and Reagan advisor
Sara Fagen, partner, DDC Advocacy
Peter Fenn, Democratic political strategist, Fenn Communications
Denise Feriozzi, deputy executive director, EMILY’s List
Karen Floyd, CEO, The Palladian Group and former South Carolina GOP chair
Aaron Ghitelman, communications manager, HeadCount
Andra Gillespie, polling analyst and political science professor, Emory University
Nathan L. Gonzales, editor, The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report
Lilly J. Goren, political science and global studies professor, Carroll University
Doug Gross, Iowa attorney and previous Republican gubernatorial nominee
O. Kay Henderson, news director, Radio Iowa
Ken Khachigian, senior partner, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
Carl Leubsdorf, Washington columnist, The Dallas Morning News
Deb Lucia, Topeka 912 – the Capital City Tea Party
Matt Mackowiak, Republican consultant and president, Potomac Strategy Group, LLC
Dan Maffei, former Democratic congressman, New York
Phil Musser, chairman, IMGE digital media agency
Margie Omero, Democratic pollster, Purple Insights
Jon Ralston, host, “Ralston Live” on PBS affiliates in Nevada
Craig Robinson, founder and editor,
Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D., Sr. VP of digital strategy, turner4D
Dante Scala, political science professor, University of New Hampshire
Adam Sharp, head of news, government and elections, Twitter
Alex Smith, national chairman, College Republicans
Todd Spangler, Washington correspondent, Detroit Free Press
Kathy Sullivan, DNC committeewoman and former Democratic Party chair, New Hampshire

Special thanks to the Palladian Group for building our survey platform.

Seeds of Alzheimer's could pass from person to person


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(NEWSER) – Alzheimer's isn't exactly contagious, but a protein that goes on to form the disease was perhaps passed to patients during surgery, meaning there could be an acquired form of the disease, a new study finds. UK researchers, who describe their finding in Nature, studied the brains of eight people 36 to 51 who died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, caused by proteins known as prions, or "proteinaceous infectious particles," per Popular Science. They found all had contracted the disease via accidental exposure to prions when they were given a contaminated growth hormone to treat growth problems, reports Reuters. But researchers also discovered something else: "What we found, very much to our surprise, was that of the eight patients, four had quite significant, some severe, deposition of amyloid protein, the Alzheimer's protein," neurologist John Collinge says, per Time. Only one patient showed no sign of the protein.
That doesn't mean Alzheimer's can be passed through normal contact. Instead, it shows that Alzheimer's may, like CJD, be caused by exposure to a protein—in this case, amyloid—that could potentially be passed via surgery. Some researchers argue the amyloid protein's precursor, a-beta amyloid, does "stick avidly to metal surfaces." The human growth hormone given to patients, "in addition to being contaminated with CJD, probably also was contaminated with a-beta seeds," Collinge says; it had been donated by elderly patients after their deaths. Since 1985, human hormone injections have been replaced with synthetic ones due to the risk of contamination. Collinge says research will be needed to ensure other procedures, like blood transfusions, don't raise a person's chance of developing Alzheimer's, but, as another researcher says, "I don't think we need to worry excessively."
This article originally appeared on Newser:

Report: Biden gets emotional on 'Late Show'


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Vice President Joe Biden, known for his candid moments, talked with Stephen Colbert Thursday about his grief over his son’s death and how that has affected his decision to enter the 2016 presidential race, according to Bloomberg Politics.
Biden has been mourning his son, Beau, since his death of brain cancer in May. While Thursday’s interview started off lighthearted, the chatter soon turned to Beau, when Colbert gave the vice president his condolences.
They discussed Beau and Biden’s Roman Catholic faith. At one point, the vice president notes:
I would feel like I’d let Beau down if I didn’t just get up.
His grief has affected any possibility that he may run for president. He’s still breaking down over Beau’s death; he described one moment when he was greeting soldiers at a rope line.
It was going great, and a guy in the back yells, ‘Beau Biden, Bronze Star, I served with him in Iraq,’ and all of a sudden I lost it — I shouldn’t be saying this — and you can’t do that.
Biden went on to tell Colbert that a person could only run if they were at 110%. “I’d be lying if I said I knew I was there,” he said. “I’m being completely honest…Sometimes it overwhelms you.”
It echoes what the vice president said a week ago: That he would only run if he and his family had the “emotional energy” to do so.
Still, some members of the audience weren’t deterred, calling out that he should get into the race.
“Be careful what you wish for,” he replied with a laugh.
Colbert’s interview with Biden airs Thursday night on CBS.