Jason Witten – What has been a physically trying preseason for the Dallas Cowboys got a little better when team doctors informed tight end Jason Witten that he will not need season-ending surgery to repair a lacerated spleen, ESPN reported Wednesday.The bleeding in Witten’s spleen has finally subsided, leading his doctors to believe that it will heal on its own.Witten, who suffered the injury during an Aug. 13 preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, is still aiming to return in time for the Cowboys’ Sept. 5 regular-season opener against New York Giants, but it remains unclear whether he will be ready to play again so soon.A more likely return could be in Week 2, when Dallas plays at Seattle.The news will be welcomed by a team that has been devastated by injuries so far this preseason, particularly throughout its receiving corps. In addition to Witten, Dallas will likely be minus quarterback Tony Romo’s two other top threats in wide receivers Dez Bryant (knee) and Miles Austin (hamstring) until the start of the regular season.Witten, however, is the glue that often keeps the offense together and his loss would have been a major blow to a Dallas team trying to shed its underachieving label of recent years. The nine-year veteran and seven-time Pro Bowl selection is Romo’s unquestioned go-to guy, hauling in 409 passes for 4,824 yards and 21 touchdowns since Romo took over as the starter in 2006.Witten, who is also a key part of the Dallas ground game with his blocking on the edge, has missed just one game in his career because of a fractured jaw he suffered as a rookie in 2003. He’s played through a broken rib, as well as knee and ankle injuries.Witten totaled 79 catches for 942 yards and five touchdowns a year ago, passing Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome as the tight end with the third-most receptions in NFL history.
SEC134.313 Over the past decade, the Pac-12 has made two Final Four appearances and failed to reach a national championship game. Every other major conference has been to at least twice as many Final Fours and made at least two title game appearances. The Big East has won more national titles in the previous eight years than the Pac-12 has in the past 45. In particular, the performance of the Pac-12 in the 2016 tournament, relative to seeding, was the second worst performance by any conference since at least 2000. And over the past three years, no conference has underperformed more than the Pac-12 when it matters most. Conference record in Quad 1 games, 2018-19 As it currently stands, the conference would be lucky to receive two bids to the tournament, with the Huskies projected to be a No. 9 seed and Arizona State possibly squeaking in as a 12 seed. It’s been a quarter-century since a major conference produced a one-bid campaign.According to Sports-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System, the Pac-12 collectively is just 7.31 points better than an average Division I team this season. That’s on track to be the conference’s worst single-season mark since the 2011-12 campaign and the third worst in the past three decades. The last time a major conference produced a worse SRS was 1997-98, when the Big 12 put up a 7.17 in its second season of existence. You have to go back at least 30 years to find a worse mark produced by the Big East, Big Ten or SEC.If recent history serves, next month’s tournament will reinforce what many already know: The Pac-12, which hasn’t won a national title since Arizona cut down the nets in 1997, has fallen off considerably in terms of prestige. Big Ten164.372 Pac-1262.177 Immediately after the Pac-12 football championship game in late November, an on-screen interview with commissioner Larry Scott at Levi’s Stadium was interrupted by a chorus of boos. Attendees, it seemed, weren’t too fond of the leadership of the “Conference of Champions.”1It wasn’t clear whether fans were more disconcerted by the conference’s revenue, viewership or on-field performance.For nearly six decades, the Pac-12 managed to emulate its ostentatious slogan across the collegiate sports landscape. The Pac-12 has finished an academic year with the most total national championships of any conference in 52 out of the past 58 years, including the past 13 years.The conference has no shortage of star power on the women’s side: Sabrina Ionescu is piling up unprecedented stat lines on the court with the Oregon Ducks; Ella Eastin is breaking records in the pool for the Stanford Cardinal; and Katelyn Ohashi of the UCLA Bruins recently stole the collective heart of the country on the mat. Last year, women collected nine of the conference’s 12 national titles. The Pac-12 women have already won two titles this year, in volleyball and cross-country, with the men claiming only water polo.But when it comes to the two high-profile men’s sports of football and basketball, the Pac-12 is falling short. Months removed from Scott’s boo-inducing interview, as the college basketball season winds into its final stretch, the conference’s vertiginous fall in the top two revenue-generating sports is unmistakable. The Pac-12 is also struggling in college football. Over the past two seasons, the conference is a combined 4-12 in bowl games, with three wins coming by a combined 4 points.If this feels like a sudden drop, it’s because it is. The Pac-12 has won a single national title in the past 20 years, but you only have to go back three years to find an ESPN segment debating whether it was the best conference in college football. Since the playoff was introduced, the Pac-12 has made two appearances — going 1-2 — and failed to appear in three of the five seasons.In total, the conference was 3.53 points better than the average FBS team in 2018-19, the lowest mark by a Power Five conference6The ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. in six years. Since 2010, the conference has produced three of the seven worst seasons, two of which came in the past two seasons. Big East95.379 Big 12104.365 ConferenceGamesWin % Oregon State has arguably been the worst Power Five football team for two consecutive years, and programs like Oregon, Stanford and USC, which traditionally have been competitive on a national level, have fallen off considerably. Washington’s good-but-not-good-enough seasonal cadence seems to have run its course, too. This offseason, perhaps the conference’s biggest story was that Kliff Kingsbury almost became an assistant coach at USC. ACC135.326 Quad 1 games are home games against teams 1-30 in NET ranking, neutral games against teams 1-50 and away games against teams 1-75.Source: BartTorvik.com While the Pac-12’s performance in football has been steadily declining since the College Football Playoff was introduced, the conference’s decline in men’s basketball seems more abrupt. Two years ago, the Pac-12 featured three 30-win teams for the first time. Three teams reached the Sweet 16, and Oregon punched the conference’s first ticket to the Final Four in nearly a decade. The abundance of talent was confirmed when the conference produced three lottery picks in the NBA draft — including Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, the top two overall selections.The Pac-12 saw the top overall pick in the NBA draft again last season, in Arizona’s Deandre Ayton. But the conference face-planted at the NCAA tournament. Each of the three teams to reach the tourney failed to get out of the first round, including Ayton’s Arizona.2Arizona State and UCLA both lost in the First Four as 11 seeds. Not since the Big 12 was formed in 1996-97 had one of the six major conferences3The ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. failed to send a team to the second round of the tournament. No Pac-12 team finished inside the top 25 of KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin metric, either. Of course, this came after three UCLA Bruins were arrested for shoplifting on international soil in the days preceding a game meant to showcase the conference, and the FBI’s investigation of corruption in college basketball led to the arrests of assistant coaches from USC and Arizona4Along with assistants at Oklahoma State and Auburn. before the season even tipped.But that didn’t curtail the enthusiasm of the commissioner heading into this season. “Really excited about what our teams look like,” Scott said at the Pac-12 media day. “Feel like we’ve got a very, very strong conference.”On paper, he wasn’t wrong. The conference accounted for seven of the top 40 recruiting classes, with UCLA and Oregon pulling in two of the top five. Three teams were ranked in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll. But as the calendar year came to a close, the Pac-12 was mired in the worst December by a major conference in 20 years. By January, UCLA had fired head coach Steve Alford, and Oregon had lost Bol Bol, the conference’s most marketable player and the crown jewel of the 2018 recruiting class, for the year to a foot injury. Dana Altman’s Ducks, which checked in at No. 14 in the preseason poll and were considered an early favorite to reach the Final Four, are now longshots to even reach the tournament.Cal is one of the worst teams in any conference and in the midst of its worst season in program history. Washington is the highest-ranking team in the conference by KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin metric and checks in at No. 35. No other Pac-12 team ranks in the top 50.The conference has hardly proved itself against top-notch opponents. In any Quad 1 games,5A Quad 1 win is defined as any home win over a team ranked 1-30 in the NCAA’s new NET rankings, a win over a team ranked 1-50 on a neutral site or an away win over a team ranked 1-75. the Pac-12 is 11-51. The ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC each have at least three times as many wins over that caliber of opponent. Arizona State is the lone Pac-12 school with a Division I hockey team,7The Sun Devils are classified as an independent. and there’s a reasonable chance it will end up ranked higher at season’s end than any team the conference fielded in football or men’s basketball.Living up to the standard established by John Wooden, who won 10 national championships over 12 years at UCLA, would be impossible. But falling to the bottom of the major-conference barrel in the two sports most scrutinized is a disastrous turn for a conference literally branded around dominance.To some, the Conference of Champions® has transformed into the Circle of Suck. This may be the bleakest moment in the illustrious history of the Pac-12, as the conference continues its stroll away from relevancy.CORRECTION (Feb. 22, 2019, 12:30 p.m.): An earlier version of this article said the Pac-12 had no football teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at the end of the 2018 season. Two teams were ranked: No. 10 Washington State and No. 13 Washington.
Rohingya refugees sit in front of newly built shelters at Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhiya on 9 September, 2017. Photo: AFPNearly 300,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into Bangladesh in the 15 days since new violence erupted, the United Nations said Saturday.The figure has jumped about 20,000 in a day.“Some 290,000 Rohingya arrived in Bangladesh since 25 August,” said Joseph Tripura, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency.Officials said the UN has found more Rohingya in villages and areas which were previously not included by relief agencies.Most of the Rohingya are arriving by foot or boat across Bangladesh’s 278 kilometre (172 mile) border with Myanmar, a fourth of which is made up by the Naf river.The UN said there was a sharp increase in arrivals on Wednesday, when more than 300 boats arrived in Bangladesh.On Thursday, the UN had put the number at 164,000.The Rohingya have long been subjected to discrimination in Buddhist majority Myanmar, which denies them citizenship.Myanmar’s government regards them as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, even if they have lived in the country for generations.Refugee camps near Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar already had about 300,000 Rohingya before the upsurge in violence and are now overwhelmed.The tens of thousands of new arrivals have nowhere to shelter from monsoon rains.The latest figure takes the number of Rohingya refugees who have arrived in Bangladesh since violence erupted last October to 377,000.Those flocking into Bangladesh have given harrowing accounts of killings, rape and arson by Myanmar’s army. The Myanmar authorities deny any wrongdoing.Most have walked for days and the United Nations says many are sick, exhausted and in desperate need of shelter, food and water.
Mark Makela/Getty Images Share Electors from the 50 states convene in their state capitols today and cast their votes for president. Republican Donald Trump is assured of a victory, unless there is a massive — and totally unexpected — defection by the electors who are pledged to support him.Here are five things you should know about the Electoral College:1. How do you get to be an elector?The Constitution leaves it up to each state to select its electors, but “there are two main ways,” said George Edwards, a distinguished professor of political science at Texas A&M University:One is at state party conventions, when party members select a slate of electors, often party officials, almost always party insiders. That’s how Jonathan Barnett was chosen. He’s a Trump elector in Arkansas and was elected during his state party convention in August. Barnett believes that, as a former state representative and national GOP committeeman, he was chosen because of his “dedication and loyalty to the party, and history with the party as a known factor.”That last point is important, because, he said, his phone has been ringing off the hook with people opposed to Trump, calling to plead with him to vote for someone else.“Absolutely not” going to happen, he said.The alternative to being selected at a state party convention is being chosen by the party’s central committee or otherwise qualifying. Karen Packer, a Democratic elector in Oregon, was chosen automatically by virtue of her position as state party first vice chair.She said she is “very honored” to be an elector, even if in a losing cause. She said she has a certificate “suitable for framing” and signed by the Oregon secretary of state. Oregon’s seven electors will cast their ballots in the state Senate chamber in Salem.2. Are electors legally bound to vote for their party’s nominee?Some states have passed laws to prevent so-called “faithless electors” from straying from their party’s nominee. In other states, parties require electors to sign pledges of their loyalty. But Edwards isn’t sure the state laws, which have not been challenged, would hold up in court. He believes they’re unconstitutional, because, he said, “the Constitution gives electors the right to exercise discretion.”In fact, he said, the founders expected electors to act independently, as there were no political parties at the time. He notes that electors were chosen by state legislatures until the 1830s.3. Can anyone become an elector?Yes, except for federal officeholders, such as members of Congress or the executive branch. The states are required to submit “Certificate(s) of Ascertainment” listing their electors by Dec. 19 to the Office of the Federal Register, which administers the process.4. So the electors meet in their state capitols Monday and cast their ballots for president. Then what?The states then submit a Certificate of Vote to the Federal Register, listing each person who received a vote for president and for vice president. There are to be six such certificates in each state, signed by each of that state’s electors.Two of the certificates are then to be sent to Washington, with a copy to the vice president in his role as president of the Senate, and to the National archivist. (They have to be received in Washington by the president of the Senate and archivist by Dec. 28. See other key dates and processes here, from the National Archives and Records Administration.)On Jan. 6, the votes will be formally tallied before a Joint Session of Congress, and assuming someone gets a majority, or 270, electors, we’ll officially know our next president.5. This seems to be a pretty convoluted way of choosing a leader, isn’t it?Edwards certainly believes so. “It’s a bizarre way of doing things,” he said.There are efforts to change it, especially after this past election, which saw the winner of the popular vote lose the election for the second time in the past five elections. The National Popular Vote proposal would guarantee the winner of the popular vote is the winner of the presidency. It needs support from enough states to add up to 270 electoral votes. It has so far been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes.But it is unlikely to be adopted by a majority of states anytime soon.Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Listen Share X 00:00 /01:12 To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: – / 2The Texas House and Senate voted Saturday to approve a $217 billion budget to fund the state government through August 2019.The Senate voted 30-1 to pass the compromise package worked out by conferees from both chambers. The sole no vote was Houston Democrat Sylvia Garcia. The House approved the budget earlier that evening by a margin of 135-14.The deal includes expanded funding for Child Protective Services and community colleges. But the House’s effort to increase state funding for public schools fell through.“What’s going to happen is that local property taxpayers are going to continue bear the burden of increasingly funding our schools,” said Tarrant County Representative Chris Turner, leader of the House Democratic caucus.The package also contains $300 million to replace or repair state mental health facilities.“Many of us know the state of disrepair our state hospitals are in,” said Fort Bend County Republican John Zerwas, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “This is a giant step towards actually achieving some significant improvement in those facilities.”The budget is the one bill the Legislature is required to pass before the session can end. It now goes to Governor Greg Abbott for his signature.
The social network saw some 2.27 billion monthly active users in September of 2018, compared to 2.07 billion a year ago. Daily active users averaged 1.49 billion in September, up 9% over last year’s results.However, U.S. and Canada daily averages have been flat at 185 million since Q1 of 2018, and daily active users in Europe declined to 278 million, down from 279 million in Q2 and 282 million in Q1.Zuckerberg seemingly tried to shift the conversation to some of Facebook’s other services in a quote supplied with the earnings release:“Our community and business continue to grow quickly, and now more than 2 billion people use at least one of our services every day,” he was quoted saying. “We’re building the best services for private messaging and stories, and there are huge opportunities ahead in video and commerce as well.”That kind of positive outlook may have helped to calm investors’ nerves, and prevent a sell-off panic like the one that followed Facebook’s Q2 results. Following its quarterly report in July investors sent Facebook’s stock off a cliff after the company posted a miss on revenue and user growth.Investors were particularly scared by Facebook’s forecasts, with executives telling Wall Street that Facebook’s operating margin would sink from the mid-forties to the mid-30% range. In Q3, Facebook’s operating margin was 42%, 2% lower than a year before.Those revelations weren’t entirely new to anyone who had been following Facebook for some time. Executives had long warned that the good times wouldn’t last forever, and that the move to new media formats like long-form video and Stories would come with higher costs and lower margins. However, Wall Street had been brushing off any warnings in light of Facebook’s past stellar results.Zuckerberg used Tuesday’s call to more carefully lay out the changing landscape of social networking. He specifically called out video as both an opportunity and a challenge for the company, openly admitting that it was still playing catch-up to some of its competitors. “We are well behind YouTube,” he said. Zuckerberg said that Facebook in the past had to limit the amount of video it was serving to people on the newsfeed to make sure that it wouldn’t adversely impact social interaction. He painted Facebook Watch as well as Instagram’s IGTV as effort to launch video services that don’t replace social interactions, but also said that video wasn’t necessarily the revenue driver that some had assumed it would be.“Video monetizes significantly less well per minute than users interacting in feed,” he said, while adding: “Video is a critical part of the future. It will end up being a large part of our business as well.”Zuckerberg also highlighted Stories, which Facebook has added to everything from Instagram to Messenger as well as its core app, as a key initiative to remain relevant to consumers. “People now share more than 1 billion Stories every day.” Zuckerberg said. “I think that this is the future.”However, he admitted that Stories haven’t been a success for Stories everywhere. “Our effort to start shifting Facebook from Newsfeed first to Stories first hasn’t been as smooth as I had hoped.” He also once again cautioned that Stories may not monetize as well as the Newsfeed for some time to come.Still, Zuckerberg reiterated that the company is betting on Stories as the next big thing: “In the not-too-distant future, people will be sharing more into Stories than into Feeds.” Popular on Variety Facebook is still adding users every quarter, just not in the U.S. or Europe: The social networking giant revealed as part of its Q3 earnings results Tuesday that its number of daily active users has been flat in the U.S. for all of 2018, while it continues to lose users in Europe.“We may be close to saturated in developed countries,” admitted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the company’s earnings call.Investors briefly sent Facebook’s stock down 3% in after-hours trading following the release of these results. However, the company’s share price quickly recovered on news of better-than expected earnings.Facebook generated some $13.73 billion in revenue during the third quarter, compared to $10.33 billion during the same quarter a year ago. Net income for the quarter came in at $5.14 billion, compared to $4.71 billion in Q3 of 2017. Diluted earnings per share came in at $1.76, compared to $1.59 the year before. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.46 per share on revenue of $13.77 billion. ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15