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The NFL responds after a player urges female college graduates to become homemakers

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The NFL responds after a player urges female college graduates to become homemakers

Kansas City Chiefs player Harrison Butker, pictured at a press conference in February, is in hot water for his recent commencement speech at Benedictine College in Kansas.

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Kansas City Chiefs player Harrison Butker, pictured at a press conference in February, is in hot water for his recent commencement speech at Benedictine College in Kansas.

Chris Unger/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker stirred controversy off the field this weekend when he told a college graduating class that one of the “most important titles” a woman can hold is “homemaker.”

Butker denounced abortion rights, Pride Month, COVID-19 lockdowns and “the tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion” in his commencement address at Benedictine College, a Catholic liberal arts school in Atchison, Kan.

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The 28-year-old, a devout Catholic and father of two, also railed against “dangerous gender ideologies” and urged men to “fight against the cultural emasculation of men.” At one point, he addressed women specifically.

“I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you, how many of you are sitting here now about to cross the stage, and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you’re going to get in your career,” he said. “Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world. But I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

“I can tell you that my beautiful wife Isabelle would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother,” Butker said.

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The 20-minute speech has been viewed more than 455,000 times on YouTube since Saturday and generated considerable backlash — and memes — on social media, especially from people critical of his views on women. Many pointed out that Butker’s own mom is a clinical medical physicist.

Butker also drew ire from fans of Taylor Swift, who is dating fellow Chiefs player Travis Kelce, a relationship that has famously helped bring many new female fans to the NFL. Later in the speech, he quoted Swift — though not by name — while talking about what he sees as the problem of priests becoming “overly familiar” with their parishioners.

“This undue familiarity will prove to be problematic every time, because as my teammate’s girlfriend says, ‘Familiarity breeds contempt,’ ” he said, quoting a lyric from her song Bejeweled.

One Swift fan account joked about petitioning for the pop star to replace Butker as the Chiefs’ kicker. A real online petition, calling for the Chiefs to dismiss Butker for his “sexist, homophobic, anti-trans, anti-abortion and racist remarks,” has gained 95,000 signatures and counting since Monday.

Butker and the team have not commented publicly on his speech and the backlash to it, though late Wednesday the NFL issued a statement distancing itself from it.

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“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior VP and chief diversity and inclusion officer told NPR on Thursday. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization.”

What else did Butker say?

Butker has been vocal about his faith, telling the Eternal Word Television Network in 2019 that he grew up Catholic but practiced less in high school and college before rediscovering his belief later in life.

Last year, Butker appeared in an ad for the nonprofit Catholic Vote urging Kansans to support a referendum that would limit abortion rights in the state (it was ultimately unsuccessful). He’s also one of several athletes who has partnered with a Catholic prayer app. And days after the Chiefs won this year’s Super Bowl, Butker spent a week “in reflection” at a monastery in California.

He also gave the commencement address at his alma mater Georgia Tech last year, in which he urged students to “get married and start a family.”

This time around, Butker started his speech by suggesting he had been reluctant to give it: He said he originally turned down the president’s invitation because he felt that one commencement speech was enough, “especially for someone who isn’t a professional speaker.”

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He was persuaded, he said, in part by leadership’s argument about how many milestones graduating seniors had missed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a group, you witnessed firsthand how bad leaders who don’t stay in their lane can have a negative impact on society,” he said in his opening remarks. “It is through this lens that I want to take stock of how we got to where we are and where we want to go as citizens, and yes, as Catholics.”

He criticized President Biden for his handling of the pandemic and his stance on abortion, which he said falsely suggests people can simultaneously be “both Catholic and pro-choice.”

Butker blamed “the pervasiveness of disorder” for the availability of procedures like abortion, IVF, surrogacy and euthanasia, as well as “a growing support for degenerate cultural values and media.”

At one point, he referenced an Associated Press article from earlier this month about the revival of conservative Catholicism that prominently featured Benedictine College as an example.

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The school of roughly 2,000 gets top ratings from the Cardinal Newman Society, a nonprofit that promotes Catholic education in the U.S., for policies including offering daily mass and prohibiting campus speakers who “publicly oppose Catholic moral teaching.”

“I am certain the reporters at the AP could not have imagined that their attempt to rebuke and embarrass places and people like those here at Benedictine wouldn’t be met with anger, but instead with excitement and pride,” Butker said, before making an apparent reference to LGBTQ Pride Month in June.

“Not the deadly sin sort of pride that has an entire month dedicated to it,” he said, as laughter could be heard from the crowd.

How are people responding?

The official YouTube video of Butker’s speech shows the crowd standing and applauding at the end, though the AP reports that reactions among graduates were mixed. Several told the outlet they were surprised by his comments about women, priests and LGTBQ people.

Kassidy Neuner told the AP that the speech felt “degrading,” suggesting that only women can be homemakers.

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“To point this out specifically that that’s what we’re looking forward to in life seems like our four years of hard work wasn’t really important,” said Neuner, who is planning on attending law school.

Butker’s comments have gotten some support, including on social media from football fan accounts and Christian and conservative media personalities.

“Christian men should be preaching this regularly,” tweeted former NFL player T.J. Moe. “Instead, it’s so taboo that when someone tells the obvious truth that anyone who holds a biblical worldview believes, it’s national news.”

Still, other public figures — including musicians Maren Morris and Flava Flav — were quick to disagree.

Even the official Kansas City account weighed in, tweeting on Wednesday that Butker resides not there but in a neighboring suburb, Lee’s Summit. The tweet has since been deleted and the account apologized for the tweet.

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Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted that he believed Butker holds a “minority viewpoint” in the state but defended his right to express it.

“Grown folks have opinions, even if they play sports,” he wrote. “I disagree with many, but I recognize our right to different views.”

Justice Horn, the former chair of Kansas City’s LGBTQ Commission, was more critical, writing on X (formerly Twitter) that “Harrison Butker doesn’t represent Kansas City nor has he ever.” He called the city one that “welcomes, affirms and embraces our LGBQ+ community members.”

The Los Angeles Chargers also trolled Butker in its Sims-style schedule release video on Wednesday, which ends with a shot of his animated, number 7 jersey-wearing character cooking and arranging flowers in a kitchen.

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Donald Trump’s trial ends with duelling portrayals of star witness Michael Cohen

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Donald Trump’s trial ends with duelling portrayals of star witness Michael Cohen

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Donald Trump should not be convicted on the word of “the greatest liar of all time”, the former president’s defence told a New York jury during closing statements at the former president’s “hush money” trial, while prosecutors defended the account given by their star witness.

The days-long testimony of Michael Cohen, a former Trump acolyte turned sworn enemy, is crucial to establishing that the then-presidential candidate orchestrated a scheme to buy the silence of porn actor Stormy Daniels, who alleged an extramarital affair in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

Cohen, then a lawyer for Trump, paid Daniels with $130,000 of his own money. Trump is charged with falsely recording reimbursements to Cohen as legal expenses, in order to circumvent election laws.

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Both sides homed in on Cohen during their closing statements, which lasted for nine hours on Tuesday.

Todd Blanche, an attorney for Trump, told jurors that Cohen — who once also acted as Trump’s general purpose “fixer” — had previously lied to federal judges, to US Congress, to his family and to banks, and was therefore the “human embodiment of reasonable doubt”. Cohen pleaded guilty to a suite of federal charges in 2018 and is a convicted perjurer.

Cohen “is biased and motivated to tell you a story that is not true”, Blanche added. Cohen had revealed he has made more than $1mn from books and podcasts in which he recounts his animus towards Trump.

In response, prosecutors spent hours walking the jury through cheques, invoices, text messages, call logs and even extracts from Trump’s books that they said supported Cohen’s narrative. “Those documents tell you everything you need to know,” assistant district attorney Joshua Steinglass said. “You don’t need Michael Cohen to connect those dots.”

Steinglass emphasised that the prosecution did not “choose Michael Cohen as a witness” or “pick him up at the witness store”.

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“The defendant chose Michael Cohen,” he said. “He was his fixer.” Trump was “frugal, immersed in the details and insists on signing his own cheques” for whom the “cardinal sin” is overpaying for a service, Steinglass claimed, casting doubt on the idea that Trump was ignorant of how the alleged reimbursement scheme was set up.

Trump is a “micromanager” who “set in motion a chain of events that led to the creation of the false business records”, Steinglass claimed. Cohen’s payment — designed to prevent a damaging story from leaking — amounted to a “campaign contribution that massively exceeded the $2,700 limit” but also violated city, state and federal tax laws, he claimed.

“The law is the law and applies to everyone equally,” he told jurors as he wrapped up his hours-long presentation.

The duelling remarks came as the trial entered its final stretch, after the testimony of 22 witnesses over five weeks, including Daniels.

A verdict could come as soon as Wednesday, when the seven men and five women who make up the jury are likely to be handed the case for deliberations.

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If found guilty, Trump is unlikely to be jailed but would probably face financial penalties and, if he were to win November’s election, would become the first US president to be a convicted criminal. He is also likely to appeal against any conviction. The trial — which comes in one of four criminal cases he is facing — has done little to dent his standing in the presidential polls.

While closing arguments were taking place on Tuesday, the campaign team for President Joe Biden for the first time sent surrogates to speak outside the Manhattan courthouse, including Hollywood actor Robert De Niro and two former police officers who were at the Capitol during the January 6 2021 riots and are now campaigning for the incumbent president.

Robert De Niro made a surprise appearance at a Biden campaign event outside the New York courthouse on Tuesday © Brendan McDermid/Reuters

“Donald Trump wants to destroy not only this city but the country, and eventually he could destroy the world,” said De Niro, a native New Yorker. “He doesn’t belong in my city,” the actor added. “I don’t know where he belongs, but he certainly doesn’t belong here.”

Trump, who was joined in court by his sons Eric and Don Jr, and by his daughter Tiffany, once again decried the case as “election interference” in his morning remarks. “They should have brought this case seven years ago, not in the middle of a presidential election,” he said.

Additional reporting by Lauren Fedor

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Mormon Crickets Are Causing Crashes in Nevada

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Mormon Crickets Are Causing Crashes in Nevada


In Nevada, Mormon crickets are back—and in some areas, they’re making things extremely messy. The Eureka County Sheriff’s Office has warned drivers to beware of “Mormon cricket sludge” on the roads, NBC News reports. In a Facebook post, the sheriff’s office said the slippery remains of insects run over by vehicles caused several crashes on Interstate 80 over the weekend. The combination of smashed Mormon crickets and rain makes roadways “EXTREMELY slick and unpredictable for stopping distance,” the sheriff’s office said.


During the insects’ migration last year, road crews in Elko, Nevada had to use plows to clear the roads of squashed Mormon crickets, which gave off a stench described as “like fish or dog feces.” Last week, an elementary school in Sparks, Nevada, had to cancel outdoor activities after it was inundated with the insects. Teacher Sybella Pope-Sears told News 4 it looked like the lawn was moving. KLAS notes that despite the name, Mormon crickets are a species of katydid that “resembles fat grasshoppers that can’t fly and can be up to two inches long.” (More Mormon crickets stories.)

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Israeli tanks enter central Rafah

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Israeli tanks enter central Rafah

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Israel stepped up its military offensive in Rafah on Tuesday, sending tanks into the heart of Gaza’s southernmost city despite growing international condemnation of the operation.

In the wake of a lethal Israeli air strike over the weekend that killed dozens of civilians, Israel pressed farther towards Rafah’s centre with military vehicles taking positions near the Awda roundabout, according to eyewitnesses.

At least five Israeli military combat brigades were operating by Tuesday in Rafah and the adjoining frontier with Egypt, called the Philadelphi corridor, pushing westwards into more densely populated areas of the city.

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The scale of the military deployment suggests Israel is mounting its most significant operation inside Gaza for several months.

Israel considers Rafah Hamas’s last stronghold in Gaza and launched its assault earlier this month despite widespread international concern for the 1.4mn Palestinians that had sought refuge in the city.

Humanitarian organisations have warned about the risks to civilians of an operation in Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are sheltering, but the US state department on Tuesday said it did not believe Israel’s offensive amounted to a full-scale military assault that would cross any red lines set by President Joe Biden.

Matthew Miller, a state department spokesperson, said the US judged Israel’s operations to be on a more limited scale than its previous operations in Khan Younis and Gaza City. “This so far is a different type of military operation,” he added.

“We will continue to emphasise to Israel their obligation to comply fully with international humanitarian law, minimise the impact of their operations on civilians, and maximise the flow of humanitarian assistance to those in need,” Miller said.

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According to the UN, about 1mn people have fled Rafah ahead of advancing Israeli troops, to what Israel describes as humanitarian “safe zones”, but which international aid groups have criticised as lacking basic infrastructure and supplies.

“Many citizens are trapped in the middle of the city,” said one Palestinian in the area.

Local officials in the Rafah governorate said later in the day that 21 people were killed, and dozens injured, by Israeli fire in an encampment of tents for the displaced in the city’s western outskirts.

The Financial Times could not immediately establish more details relating to the incident. Israel’s military denied any such attack: “Contrary to the reports from the last few hours, the [Israel Defense Forces] did not strike in the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi.”

A woman reacts as Palestinians inspect tents on Tuesday after an Israeli army operation on an area in Rafah previously designated by the army as safe for displaced Palestinians © Haitham Imad/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The report came just two days after an Israeli air strike killed at least 45 people in another camp for displaced people in the north-western Tal as-Sultan neighbourhood.

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Miller said the US had expressed its “deep concern” to Israel over the incident and added that Washington was waiting for the results of the full Israeli investigation into the incident.

He noted that the IDF’s preliminary conclusions were that the strike hit 1.7km away from the area where civilians were seeking refuge.

Israeli leaders have made clear that nothing will stop the Rafah offensive, which is a bid to dismantle the last four standing Hamas battalions in the territory as well as to rescue Israeli hostages that the IDF says are being held in the area.

The IDF has also seized at least 50 per cent of the 14km-long Philadelphi corridor, according to one Israeli official. IDF infantry and combat engineers have been working to locate and destroy tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, which Hamas has allegedly used for years to smuggle weapons and commercial goods.

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the military was working “in a precise way, more accurate, more safe and sometimes slower” than past operations in the strip over the past seven months of war.

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Hagari added that the military investigation was ongoing into the exact cause of the massive fires that raged through the makeshift shelters in Rafah over the weekend after an Israeli strike killed two senior Hamas operatives in a nearby compound.

According to Hagari, a preliminary Israeli military investigation has found that the strike, which deployed two relatively small 17kg munitions, hit only the targeted compound. But he said “another something” caused a second compound nearby to ignite.

“Our munition alone could not have ignited a fire of this size,” Hagari added, while emphasising that the camp was almost 200 metres away from the attack site. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday called it a “tragic mistake”.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s aid chief, said “no place is safe in Gaza”, as he described the attack at the weekend as an “abomination”.

“We have also warned that a military operation in Rafah would lead to a slaughter,” he said. “Whether the attack [at the weekend] was a war crime or a ‘tragic mistake’, for the people of Gaza, there is no debate.”

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