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    House Speaker Paul Ryan is ordering an Ethics Committee investigation after the New York Times reports that U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan used taxpayer money to settle a complaint that stemmed from his hostility toward a former aide who rejected his romantic overtures.The story, published online Saturday, cites unnamed people who said the Republican Pennsylvania representative used thousands of dollars from his congressional office fund to settle the sexual harassment complaint the ex-aide filed last summer to the congressional Office of Compliance.Ryan's office says the allegations must be investigated by the House Ethics Committee and that Meehan should repay any taxpayer funds used to settle the case. He also is removing Meehan from the committee.Meehan denies he harassed or mistreated the former aide, who was not named.
  • His name means 'king of the tyrant lizards,' but sometimes Tyrannosaurus rex just wants to party.Make that many T. rexes. Hundreds of curious people descended on Portland's Monument Square on Saturday to observe a gathering of dinosaur lovers dressed as the science museum staple.There were dozens of T. rexes, and they danced, growled and milled around. One who struggled to navigate his costume walked around with his head protruding awkwardly from the dinosaur's gaping mouth.Valerie Sanborn and Alison Cyr set up the Cretaceous Period party through Facebook. A non-participant was summoned to snap a group photo because of T. rex's 'little arm probz.'There didn't appear to be any participants who arrived dressed as Marc Bolan, late singer of English rock band T. Rex.
  • Bank of America has confirmed that a high-profile senior executive has left the company, but it would not comment on reports of an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations.Omeed Malik is no longer a bank employee, spokesman Bill Halldin said Saturday in an email. Malik's departure was effective the week of Jan. 8, Halldin said, declining to comment further. The New York Times reported Friday that Malik, who was a managing director and helped to run the brokerage business that raises money for investment funds, left after a female analyst complained of inappropriate sexual conduct in the past few weeks.The human resources office for Bank of America Corp., which is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, began investigating and interviewed as many as a dozen people who worked with Malik, the newspaper said, citing unidentified people at the bank who were briefed on the investigation but were not authorized to speak publicly.Malik's departure comes as sexual harassment and assault allegations have rolled through media companies, Hollywood and Silicon Valley.The newspaper said Malik and his lawyer, Mark Lerner, did not respond to requests for comment. The Associated Press left messages Saturday for an attorney named Mark Lerner, who specializes in employment law in New York.Malik was a speaker at a conference founded in part by former White House communications chief Anthony Scaramucci. A biography for the conference said Malik was the global head of capital strategy for Bank of America, selecting hedge funds for the firm to partner with.Malik also was a corporate lawyer and had worked in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the biography said.___Information from: The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com
  • The Latest on the government shutdown (all times local):5:45 p.m.President Donald Trump is 'frustrated' by the government shutdown falling on the first anniversary of his inauguration.That's according to budget director Mick Mulvaney, who tells reporters that the White House believes Democrats provoked the fiscal crisis to distract from Trump's accomplishments in his first year in office.Mulvaney says, 'The Democrats got the shutdown that they wanted on his anniversary.'He adds of Democrats that Trump 'kicked their butts for a year' and charges they were looking for a way to embarrass the administration.Mulvaney says it is up to Democrats to decide when the government will reopen, and that the White House won't negotiate on immigration until Democrats agree to turn the lights back on.__5:40 p.m.Tensions are rising at the Capitol on the first day of the partial government shutdown. Debate in the House screeched to a halt Saturday after Democrats objected to a comment by Texas Republican congressman Pete Sessions, who referred to the 'Schumer shutdown.'Republicans are using the phrase to cast blame on Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, but House rules bar floor remarks impugning another lawmaker. After private discussion, Sessions agreed to withdraw the comment.Debate was soon halted again after Alabama GOP congressman Bradley Byrne displayed a poster-size photo of Schumer with a 2013 quote calling a shutdown 'the politics of idiocy.' Arkansas congressman Steve Womack, the presiding officer, allowed the poster, but Democrats objected and forced a roll call vote. Lawmakers voted, 224-173, to allow the display.___2:55 p.m.Republicans and Democrats appear to be no closer to ending a government shutdown, and the White House is indicating it's waiting for Democrats to drop their demand that a funding bill include protections for younger immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.Budget director Mick Mulvaney and legislative affairs director Marc Short are lobbing verbal attacks at Democrats for blocking a spending bill over the unrelated legislation.Short told reporters Saturday that 'it's like a 2-year-old temper tantrum.'Mulvaney says the administration is trying to mitigate the impact of the funding lapse, noting many national parks and government offices will be open during the duration. But he says the effects will still be significant.Democrats are blaming the shutdown on Republicans, who control the White House and Congress.___2:40 p.m.The White House says President Donald Trump will not attend a fundraiser at his Florida estate because of the ongoing government shutdown in Washington.Budget director Mick Mulvaney says Trump will not appear at the high-dollar fundraiser Saturday night at his Palm Beach estate.Mulvaney also told reporters during a press briefing Saturday that Trump's participation in the World Economic Forum is up in the air. He says the White House is taking Trump's visit, as well as the planned attendance of much of the Cabinet at the Davos, Switzerland, event, 'on a day by day basis.'Trump is scheduled to depart Washington for the Swiss Alps on Wednesday evening. A number of White House staffers and agency advance teams are already on the ground awaiting his arrival.___12:40 p.m.A Florida fundraiser celebrating President Donald Trump's first year in office will go on with or without him.That's according to a Trump campaign official who was not authorized to publicly discuss planning and spoke on condition of anonymity.Trump had hoped to spend the anniversary of his inauguration in Florida attending a high-dollar fundraiser taking place Saturday night at his Palm Beach estate. Instead, the president is reckoning with a federal government shutdown brought on by disagreement with lawmakers over what should be included in a government funding bill.Trump scrapped plans to depart Washington on Friday. It remains unclear whether he still plans to attend.Tickets start at $100,000 per couple and $250,000 to attend a round-table. The proceeds benefit a joint committee between Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee.— By Associated Press writer Jill Colvin___12:35 p.m.House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is rejecting a fallback plan by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass a short-term spending plan through Feb. 8.Pelosi says 'there's no point' in approving a short-term bill unless both sides agree on how to move forward.She and other Democrats said Saturday that they want 'parity' on spending increases for defense and domestic programs such as opioid addiction and community health centers.Pelosi says that even without a dispute over immigration, Democrats would not agree to a GOP spending plan unless it pays for domestic programs Democrats consider crucial.Democrats have blamed the shutdown on Republicans, who control Congress and the White House. Republicans say Democrats are 'holding our government hostage' to win protections for young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.___12:25 p.m.Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan says the partial government shutdown is 'utter madness' and he is blaming it all on Senate Democrats.Ryan said Saturday that the Democrats are 'deliberately holding our government hostage' to win protections for younger immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.He blasted Democrats for a filibuster on a House-passed stopgap funding bill that would keep the government open through Feb. 16 and reauthorize a health care program for 9 million children from low-income families. He accused them of 'opposing a bill they don't even oppose.'Ryan says, 'We do some crazy things in Washington, but this is utter madness.'Democrats are blaming the shutdown on Republicans, who control Congress and the White House.___11:10 a.m.The White House says President Donald Trump phoned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss strategies to reopen the government.Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley says Trump called the Republican Senate leader on Saturday morning. Gidley says chief of staff John Kelly is speaking with lawmakers and congressional leadership, while legislative affairs director Marc Short and budget director Mick Mulvaney are on Capitol Hill.The shutdown is marring the anniversary of Trump's inauguration. For a businessman who made his career selling himself as a deal-maker, he is struggling to find consensus with Congress on a funding agreement.The White House says Trump will not negotiate with Democrats over their demands to provide legal protections for roughly 700,000 young immigrants known as 'Dreamers' until the government is reopened.___11 a.m.Junior White House aides are using their out-of-office messages to assign blame to Democrats for the government shutdown.The automatic replies from White House assistant press secretaries Ninio Fetalvo and Natalie Strom say, 'Unfortunately, I am out of the office today because congressional Democrats are holding government funding — including funding for our troops and other national security priorities— hostage to an unrelated immigration debate.'Hundreds of nonessential White House staffers are barred by law from working during the shutdown. The three deputy press secretaries are still working, however, as is press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.President Donald Trump had been set to leave Friday for a fundraiser Saturday at his Florida estate marking the anniversary of his inauguration but delayed the trip over the shutdown. It's unclear if he will attend.___10:25 a.m.House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is giving President Donald Trump an F for 'failure in leadership' on the anniversary of his inauguration.Pelosi also slammed congressional Republicans on Saturday as the government shutdown began.In a speech on the House floor, Pelosi said Republicans who control the White House and hold majorities in the House and Senate are 'so incompetent and negligent that they couldn't get it together to keep the government open.'Pelosi urged Republicans to 'get down to business for everyday people in America.'She says Trump has tweeted that the country 'needs a good shutdown.' She says: 'Your wish has come true for your one-year anniversary.'Republicans have blamed Democrats for the shutdown.___9:50 a.m.The White House says President Donald Trump will not negotiate immigration policy with Congress until the government reopens.Spokesman Hogan Gidley says it's 'disgusting' that Senate Democrats 'decided to just throw our military under the bus.'Some government functions shut down at midnight Friday after the Senate failed to pass a short-term extension of government funding. Some Democrats voted against the bill because it did not include measures to shield from deportation immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.Democrats demanded that immigration be included in the funding bill. The White House insists the issues be deal with separately.Trump in a tweet Saturday accused Democrats of being more concerned about immigrants in the country illegally than about the military.___7:35 a.m.President Donald Trump is blaming Democrats for the government shutdown — tweeting that they wanted to give him 'a nice present' to mark the one-year anniversary of his inauguration.He says Democrats 'could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead.'And as part of a series of tweets hours after the shutdown began, the president is trying to make the case for Americans to elect more Republicans in the November elections 'in order to power through this mess.'Trump is accusing Democrats of being more concerned with 'Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous' border with Mexico.He's also noting there are 51 Republicans in the Senate, and it takes 60 votes to move ahead on legislation to keep the government running — so some Democratic support is needed now.In Trump's view, 'that is why we need to win more Republicans' in the midterm elections.___2:36 a.m.The federal government has shut down.That means a halt to all but the most essential operations. And the shutdown is marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration.It's a striking display of Washington dysfunction.Last-minute negotiations crumbled when Senate Democrats blocked a four-week extension. And that's led to the fourth government shutdown in a quarter-century.Leading Republicans and Democrats are now trying to work out a compromise to avert a lengthy shutdown.Congress has scheduled an unusual Saturday session to begin considering a three-week version of the short-term spending measure.
  • President Donald Trump's budget chief Mick Mulvaney stormed Washington as a tea party lawmaker elected in 2010, and he hasn't mellowed much as director of the Office of Management of Budget at the White House.In both spots, he's been at the center of government shutdowns.As a congressman in 2013, Mulvaney was among a faction on the hard right that bullied GOP leaders into a shutdown confrontation by insisting on lacing a must-pass spending bill with provisions designed to cripple President Barack Obama's signature health care law.Then, the fast-talking South Carolina Republican downplayed the impact of a government shutdown, noting that critical government services would continue and Social Security benefits would be paid. He said about 75 percent of the government would remain open, and he noted that Congress arranged for the military to continue to get paid.'In many ways, then, this is a government 'slowdown' more than it is a 'shutdown,'' Mulvaney said back in 2013, though he added, 'I know that is not much consolation for folks who are personally affected.'Mulvaney voted against legislation to reopen the government and was unapologetic over his role as a ringleader in 2013, saying the GOP's political beating — and eventual retreat — was the product of bad messaging.Now, as the federal official in charge of managing government operations during the lapse in funding, Mulvaney is taking steps to ameliorate the shutdown, giving agencies more flexibility to remain open by using, for instance, previously appropriated money to keep their doors open. He accused the Obama White House of purposefully closing high-profile federal sites to reap political gain. The Trump administration will do what it can to keep national parks open and accessible, he said.'We are going to manage the shutdown differently. We are not going to weaponize it,' Mulvaney said Friday. 'We're not going to try and hurt people, especially people who happen to work for this federal government.'Mulvaney is quick-witted and possesses a disarming frankness, and he's not afraid of being impolitic, even as he has risen to a Washington power post.For instance, on Friday, just hours before the shutdown began, Mulvaney told conservative radio host Sean Hannity, 'I found out for the first time last night that the person who technically shuts the government down is me, which is kind of cool.'Mulvaney isn't apologizing for the shutdown tactics he employed years ago, saying he opposed that year's stopgap spending measure because it funded agencies that were implementing 'Obamacare.' But now he's faulting Democrats for seeking to use the very kind of leverage now that he failed to exploit back then.'When Republicans tried to add a discussion about Obamacare to the funding process in 2013, we were accused by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer of inserting a non-fiscal — a non-financial — issue into the spending process in order to shut the government down,' Mulvaney said. 'How is that not exactly what is happening today?
  • The Trump administration's pledge to minimize the impact of a government shutdown faces an early test as a number of iconic American landmarks announce they will be closed.The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, symbols of American promise, were shuttered Saturday due to what the National Park Service describes as 'a lapse in appropriations.' That's a bureaucratic term for a lack of money. The New York sites are two of the world's top tourist destinations.In Philadelphia, crowds of tourists can't get into see the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed.Congressional Republicans and Democrats appear no closer to settling their differences over immigration policy and striking an agreement to fund the government.
  • If the shutdown lasts just days or even a couple of weeks, the robust stock market that President Donald Trump has boasted about probably will emerge unscathed. A longer impasse, economists say, could rattle consumer and investor confidence, pulling stocks lower and dragging down the economy. Economists and investment advisers interviewed by The Associated Press generally didn't foresee the shutdown that began Saturday lasting long enough to stifle the economy much. With pivotal elections in November, both parties would want to shield voters from any pain. Investors and consumers are feeling optimistic now based on the tax cut signed into law last month, and the economy is strong enough to power through a short shutdown. But Randy Warren, CEO of Warren Financial Service, a Philadelphia-area investment advisory firm, said shutdown that drags on for six weeks or longer — an unimaginable scenario — could kill a bull market and discourage people from spending money. 'These things start to pile up,' he said Saturday. 'When you start to doubt the future, then you start to doubt investing.' And that's among the reasons Warren and others don't see a lengthy stalemate. 'It seems unlikely at this point that it would be a four-week shutdown,' said Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at Standard & Poor's. 'It will hopefully be a blip.' The Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq composite closed at record highs Friday. The Russell 2000 index, composed of smaller, more domestically-focused companies, climbed more than 1 percent and also finished at a record high. 'Unless it meaningfully impacts the U.S. consumer and leads them to spend much less money, leading to some kind of major (economic) slowdown, it's not a big deal,' said Sameer Samana, global equity and technical strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. The economy could take a hit if national parks and monuments are closed or operations curtailed for a long period. Trips could be canceled, cutting vacation dollars that roll into communities near the parks. The Interior Department pledged to keep as many parks and public lands open as possible, but the pattern on Saturday was spotty. Some parks such as Yellowstone and Yosemite were open with limited services, but the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia were closed. After the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that it trimmed an annualized 0.3 percent from growth during the final three months of that year. The reduced growth was mostly because federal employees worked fewer hours. Leslie Preston, a senior economist at TD Bank, said the economy is currently 'strong enough to withstand' a similarly sized hit because growth is projected to be nearly 2.5 percent in the January-March quarter. ____ Krisher reported from Detroit. AP Economics Writer Josh Boak in Washington and Markets Writer Marley Jay in New York contributed to this report.
  • In his first interview since acknowledging an extramarital affair, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said Saturday that there was 'no blackmail' and 'no threat of violence' by him in what he described as a months-long 'consensual relationship' with his former hairdresser.Greitens told The Associated Press that he has no plans to resign from office as a result of the affair, despite calls to step aside from several Republican and Democratic state lawmakers.'I'm staying. I'm staying,' he said twice for emphasis, adding about his relationship with his wife, staff and supporters: 'We're strong.'Greitens, 43, has remained out of the public eye since shortly after delivering his State of the State address on Jan. 10. Later that night, St. Louis television station KMOV reported that Greitens had an extramarital affair in 2015 as he was preparing to run for governor.The report included an audio recording of a conversation between a woman and her then-husband — recorded secretly by the husband — in which the woman said Greitens had bound her hands and blindfolded her, taken a photo of her partially nude and warned her to remain silent during an encounter in his St. Louis home.Greitens did not directly say 'yes' or 'no' when asked Saturday if he had bound and blindfolded and taken a photo of the woman. But he firmly denied that he had attempted to coerce the woman, or that he or anyone associated with him had paid her to be silent.'This was a consensual relationship,' Greitens said. 'There was no blackmail, there was no violence, there was no threat of violence, there was no threat of blackmail, there was no threat of using a photograph for blackmail. All of those things are false.'Greitens added: 'The mistake that I made was that I was engaged in a consensual relationship with a woman who was not my wife. That is a mistake for which I am very sorry.'The AP has not identified the woman because she has not agreed to an interview.The governor said he has had no other romantic or sexual relationships with anyone else while he's been married.'I made a mistake with one woman,' he said.A former Navy SEAL officer, Rhodes Scholar, author and founder of a veterans' charity, Greitens took his first step into politics by opening an exploratory committee for governor in February 2015. The extramarital relationship started around that March and ended that fall, Greitens said without being more specific. He officially announced he was running for governor in September 2015. He told the AP he discussed and resolved the affair with his wife that same year.Greitens emerged the winner in a crowded and expensive GOP primary before defeating the state's attorney general, Democrat Chris Koster, in November 2016 to give Republicans control of the governor's mansion for the first time in eight years.After news of the affair broke this month, an attorney for the ex-husband said his client told him that Greitens had slapped the woman, and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said she was opening a criminal investigation into the various claims about Greitens' actions.Asked Saturday if he had ever slapped the woman, Greitens responded: 'Absolutely not.'He said he hasn't been contacted by the circuit attorney's office and that neither he nor his attorneys have been contacted by the FBI 'on this or any other matter.'As far as my conduct, there is nothing to investigate,' Greitens said.On Friday, CNN reported that the FBI had recently opened an inquiry into Greitens, citing two unnamed U.S. officials as sources. CNN reported that 22-year-old Eli Karabell — who said he had volunteered to help with Greitens' transition in December 2016 — approached the news organization to say he had been interviewed by the FBI last November, though he did not offer specifics about what he told agents.Greitens told the AP he doesn't know Karabell.Greitens' spokeman Parker Briden said Karabell was a 'serial liar' who had called Briden multiple times 'acting crazy,' including claiming he would donate millions to the governor if he could meet with him.Amid the controversy over his affair, Greitens postponed a scheduled statewide promotional tour this past week for what he had billed in his State of the State address as 'the boldest state tax reform in America.' Instead, Greitens said he has called almost every state lawmaker and also posted a Facebook apology. Greitens said the 'love and support has been tremendous from people all over the state.'Before becoming governor, Greitens wrote a book entitled 'Resilience,' which was a collection of letters to a former Navy SEAL friend about overcoming adversity. Greitens now finds himself in a similar position, and he said he recently received a call from that friend encouraging him to hang in there.'I'm very confident that God has a way of bringing good from difficulty. God has a way of helping people in the midst of pain to emerge with wisdom,' Greitens said. 'God has a way of helping you to move through suffering and actually become stronger.'___Follow David A. Lieb at http://twitter.com/DavidALieb and Summer Ballentine at http://twitter.com/esballentine
  • The town manager of a rural Maine community says he's the leader of a racial segregationist group, and he believes the United States would be better off if people of different races were to 'voluntarily separate.'Jackman town manager Tom Kawczynski wants to preserve the white majority of northern New England and Atlantic Canada, he has told the Bangor Daily News. He moved to Maine a year ago and launched a group called 'New Albion' to promote what he calls 'the positive aspects of our European heritage.'American Civil Liberties Union of Maine legal director Zachary Heiden said Kawczynski's attitudes and materials are 'shockingly racist.' Kawczynski has defended his group as 'pro-white' without being opposed to other racial groups. But he has also called Islam 'the scourge of Western civilization' and incompatible with his view of American society.Kawczynski said he doesn't run town affairs in a way that discriminates against anyone. He later told the Bangor Daily News that he suspects he'll soon lose his job in the wake of a social media backlash spurred by his activities.Jackman Town Office officials did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press.
  • The snowy mountains and frozen lakes of Rocky Mountain National Park are still accessible to visitors, despite the federal government shutdown.But across the country in New York, the nation's most famous monuments to immigration — the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island — were closed Saturday.The National Park Service oversees both natural wonders and historic landmarks across the nation. The park service's parent agency, the Interior Department, had vowed to keep as many parks and public lands open as possible during the shutdown, which began at midnight Friday on the East Coast.But by mid-day Saturday, the pattern was spotty.The USS Constitution, the 220-year-old warship anchored at Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, was open, but Boston's Bunker Hill Monument was closed.

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  • It's no exaggeration to say Tom Coughlin built the Jaguars from the ground up.It's also no exaggeration to say Coughlin's last piece of unfinished business would be bringing a Super Bowl title to the town he helped put on the NFL map.Fifteen years after being unceremoniously booted by the franchise he shaped, Coughlin is back in the front office, where he has helped guide the team in one of the league's smallest markets to within two wins of the championship he came oh-so close to the first time around.The 71-year-old executive VP of football operations started this franchise in 1995, working from an office in a trailer outside the stadium then known as the Gator Bowl. He was the head coach and the one voice who made every decision — from who threw the passes to who ran the calculator for the salary cap to what color paint was on the walls.Denied not once, but twice, in the AFC title game where the Jaguars find themselves again this week, Coughlin chased the final pieces of the puzzle too hard. He wrecked the salary cap and left Jacksonville with the reputation of a man who had few equals on the sideline but lots of flaws in the front office.Now, with two Super Bowl rings from New York as a coach in his back pocket, Coughlin is working his magic this time from that same front office. He has shown no interest in coaching and has sought zero attention this season, and especially this week, as the Jaguars get ready to play at New England in the AFC championship game Sunday — 21 years after Coughlin took them to the same place for the same stakes in only their second year of existence.He may be deflecting the credit, but anyone who knows Coughlin knows what this means.'He was the architect who built this thing, and he had his hands in every aspect of it,' said Tony Boselli, the Hall of Fame finalist who was the team's first draft pick. 'Knowing him and as competitive as he, I think he would love (it). It would be a really special, and almost a finishing of what he started back in 1995.'Of course, there are no regrets about the 12 years Coughlin spent with the Giants in between these jobs in Jacksonville. The league changed, and Coughlin changed with it. He shed the reputation of the unbending taskmaster (though clocks are still set 5 minutes ahead), dealt less with off-the-field decisions and more with the X's and O's, and won two Super Bowls, both against the Patriots, both as an underdog.Coughlin's mastery of the Patriots and Bill Belichick, with whom he worked as an assistant coach under Bill Parcells back in the day, has been no small part of the conversation this week. But if Coughlin will be calling any shots on game day — or has been at any point this season — nobody is the wiser. Doug Marrone is the head coach, although Coughlin is always around.'I don't think I can lean on him anymore because I'm a big guy,' Marrone said, only half-joking.To focus on Coughlin this week is to focus on how he transformed this roster and made sure the franchise, in owner Shad Khan's words , no longer 'lacked football IQ.'' The smarter look helped push a team that fired its coach and went 3-13 in 2016 to within a game of the Super Bowl for the first time since January 2000.Coughlin was instrumental in signing the best free-agent class in franchise history. All-Pro defensive lineman Calais Campbell ranked second in the NFL with a team-record 14 ½ sacks, making him the most impactful free agent in 2017. Cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church helped make Jacksonville's secondary the best in the league.Top pick Leonard Fournette and second-rounder Cam Robinson, both college stars from NFL factories, reinforced the team's new identity as a tough, physical group that expects to win every game.All those moves allowed the Jaguars to win around quarterback Blake Bortles, who has been dreadful at times and efficient at best, and a beneficiary of a defense that looks like a monster. The unit ranked second in points, yards, sacks and takeaways.'One of Tom's greatest skills is making people believe they can do more than they think is possible, work harder than they thought they could and achieve more than they ever imagined,' said Brian Sexton, the longtime radio voice of the team and one of the handful of people who have been with the team since its inception. 'I never met anybody who worked with him that didn't want to do their best and have him see them doing their best. It's a unique skill of his.'In many ways, this season's roster successes have mirrored those Coughlin produced during his first few years, when it seemed like he couldn't miss.Though it wasn't a sexy pick, he declared Boselli would serve as the franchise's cornerstone at left tackle. He went all-in with a little-known Packers backup quarterback named Mark Brunell and found receivers Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith in the bargain bin.The upset over the Broncos and John Elway in the 1996 playoffs is part of NFL lore, but coming up short that year — then again in 1999 after a 14-2 season — sowed the seeds of Coughlin's undoing.Hardy Nickerson, Bryce Paup and troubled receiver R.J. Soward were among the players for whom he overpaid or overreached. The Jaguars became a well-coached but cap-strapped and talent-deficient franchise that kept games close, but went 19-29 from 2000-02. (Exhibit A: They had a plus-12 turnover differential in Coughlin's last season yet finished 6-10.)There was only one person to blame for that roster: Coughlin. The owner who fired him, Wayne Weaver, enjoyed only one more playoff win before selling the team in 2011. He later said getting rid of Coughlin was one of his biggest regrets.After a few months to reflect following his firing, Coughlin conceded it still stung. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said, 'What if I had left after five years, just walked away? But I felt that was my team. I really did.'Fifteen years later, it is once again.___For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • The week started with a little trash talk from the underdog . The rest of it was dominated by speculation about a certain 40-year-old quarterback's injured throwing hand .Plenty of intrigue for when the Jaguars and Patriots meet in Sunday's AFC championship game?New England (14-3), the defending Super Bowl champion, is favored heading into its seventh straight conference title game. But the polished veneer it normally displays at this time of year is showing flecks of imperfection after Tom Brady injured his right hand during practice.The injury kept Brady limited in workouts to begin the week and caused him to sit out practice entirely on Thursday.Brady has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career that includes four Super Bowl MPV honors. He said a bit contentiously only 'We'll see' on Friday when asked if he would play Sunday.He wore red gloves and responded to other questions about the hand's status by saying 'I'm not talking about that.'The Patriots' top-ranked offense will need another signature performance from Brady against the Jaguars' second-ranked defense .Jacksonville (12-6), trying to earn a trip to its first Super Bowl, has scored eight defensive touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. That's the most defensive touchdowns in a season by one team since the 2012 Bears.Brady has faced a top-2 scoring defense in the playoffs three times, going 3-0 with a passer rating of 100-plus in each game.Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said their respect for Brady is high. Then he dismissed the notion that anyone in Jacksonville felt like the Jags were simply playing with 'house money' after surprising Pittsburgh in the divisional round.'We have earned the right to be here,' he said. 'We have put a lot of time and effort in, so this is an opportunity we feel like we deserve and we have prepared for. I can honestly say I expected to be here.'Jacksonville also will be up against history: The Patriots have won the past seven meetings with the Jaguars and two straight in the postseason. Since Jacksonville entered the NFL in 1995, it is 1-10 against the Patriots, including playoff games.'We are going to go out and there do everything possible to stay alive and earn the right to be in the Super Bowl,' Campbell said. 'They say you have to beat the best to be the best, so I can't wait to get out there and try.'Quarterback Blake Bortles, who has been the subject of criticism at times during his career , said Sunday isn't about trying to prove anyone wrong.'I don't think so. Personally, I do not care,' he said.Here are some things to watch for:FOURNETTE'S HEALTH: Jaguars rookie RB Leonard Fournette said he is feeling 'good' after he was rear-ended in what authorities say was a minor three-car crash early in the week.Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns against the Steelers despite reinjuring his right ankle in the first half. It was his most productive game in three months.'I feel good in spite of the ankle and stuff,' Fournette said. 'Just taking care of my body, but overall I feel good.'BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL? All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey caused a stir when he told thousands of fans awaiting the team's return after their win over the Steelers that the Jaguars 'are going to the Super Bowl and we are going to win that (expletive).'Asked about Ramsey's comment, Patriots special teams captain Matt Slater said Ramsey has reason to show confidence.'He should be confident, because he is very, very good,' Slater said. 'The good Lord made that guy, and he said, 'Let there be corner.' And there he is. I'd be confident if I were him as well.'CONTAINING GRONK: Coach Doug Marrone has seen plenty of Rob Gronkowski dating back to his stint as Buffalo's head coach. His approach to trying to slow down a tight end he calls a 'nightmare' of a matchup hasn't changed much.'Hope they do not throw him the football. Hope he drops it,' Marrone said. 'There is no secret formula. I'd like to watch a game where someone has been able to do it. He is going to make his plays and you hope those plays don't end up killing you.'In his past six postseason games, Gronk has 512 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. He is looking for his seventh playoff game in a row with a TD catch.SIZING THEM UP: Brandin Cooks is used to being underestimated because of his size. So the 5-foot-10 Patriots receiver isn't worried about matching up against the taller players in Jacksonville's secondary.Both Jaguars starting cornerbacks, Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, are listed at 6-foot-1 and 6-0 respectively.'I mean, you go and play,' Cooks said. 'We're not talking measurements at this point in the season, you know?'Cooks said Bouye he's gotten better since he faced him during joint practices this summer.'At the end of the day, they're physical. And that's how they play,' Cooks said. 'And they use that to their strength. So we gotta be ready to be able to match that physicality.'___AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville, Florida, contributed to his report.___For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • We are one day out from “Championship Sunday,” where the teams who will play in the Super Bowl will be determined. The Minnesota Vikings will take on the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC Championship, while the New England Patriots play the Jacksonville Jaguars for the AFC title. If the Vikings win, they will be the first team to ever play in the Super Bowl at their home stadium. If Philadelphia wins, it will be the first time in the team’s history. If New England wins the AFC Conference championship, no one will be surprised. It will be the Pats 10th trip to the big game. If the Jaguars win, a lot of people will be surprised – New England is currently favored by 7.5 points. Here’s a look at what time the games kickoff on Sunday, what channel, where they are livestreamed and the latest odds. The AFC Championship Game Jacksonville (12-6) at New England (14-3) What time: 3:05 p.m. ET What channel: CBS will broadcast the game Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass. Livestream: CBSSports.com According to CBS, “you can stream via desktop, the CBS Sports App on iOS and Android tablets as well as on Roku, Apple TV, tvOS, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One, Chromecast and Windows 10 devices.” Weather at game time via NFLWeather: 42 degrees, skies overcast;  with winds west at 2 mph  Line: New England -7.5 The NFC Championship Game Minnesota (14-3) at Philadelphia (14-3) What time: 6:40 p.m. ET What channel: Fox is broadcasting the game Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Penn. Livestream: Fox Sports Go Weather at game time via NFLWeather: 44 degrees, skies overcast, with winds SSW at 3 mph Line: Minnesota -3  Super Bowl LII When: Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 Who: The winners of the two championship games Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn. Halftime entertainer: Justin Timberlake will headline the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show What time: 6:30 p.m. ET  What channel: NBC will broadcast the game 
  • Hours after funding lapsed for the federal government at midnight, lawmakers in both parties returned for an unusual Saturday session of the House and Senate, as both parties quickly launched themselves into finger pointing over who is to blame for the first government shutdown since 2013, with few signs that a deal was near on the major spending and immigration issues that brought about the standoff. “Get it together,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi bluntly said to Republicans in a morning speech on the House floor, as she led a chorus from her party in blaming the President for the budgetary impasse. “The Trump travesty continues, as it has for the last twelve months,” said Pelosi’s top lieutenant, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). But Republicans were having none of that. “We’re about nine hours into the Schumer shutdown,” said Rep. Greg LaMalfa (R-CA) as the House convened, “which is basically Senate Democrats holding the United States, 320 million people, hostage.” Greetings from the Capitol this Saturday morning, where we have evidence of the shutdown: Capitol tours are suspended. pic.twitter.com/rfPAlLLlIQ — Cristina Marcos (@cimarcos) January 20, 2018 “There is no excuse for this,” said Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA). “Democrats shut down the govt to protect illegals this week,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). Behind the scenes, lawmakers in both parties were still hoping to cut a deal that would have the government fully open by Monday – but there was little evidence of a possible breakthrough on the broader budget and immigration issues which led to this stalemate. Negotiations have centered on reaching a two year agreement on spending levels for the budget – as President Trump wants a sizable increase in the military’s budget – and on DACA, where Democrats were still hoping to get an agreement that would protect some 700,000 illegal immigrant “Dreamers” from being deported. As the clock ticked toward midnight on Friday night, there were a flurry of talks on the Senate floor between Senators of both parties – not really about the specifics of the budget or DACA – but mainly about the length of any temporary funding plan for the government, and plans to vote on that hot button immigration topic. “Since there were discussions here in earnest, in a bipartisan way, we ought to give those discussions a chance to bear fruit,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). “We should stay and work,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “Senator McConnell chose to shut the government down,” referring to the GOP leader in the Senate. But the underlying issues remain fraught with political problems, especially on immigration, where many Republicans see no direct link between funding the government and a deal on DACA and illegal immigrant “Dreamers.” “This Schumer Shutdown is absolutely ridiculous,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). “It is totally irresponsible for the Democrats to use government funding as a bargaining chip.” At the White House, there was no sign that the President was going to cave on Democratic demands on immigration, as officials accused Democrats of doing all they could to slow political momentum from a big GOP tax cut plan that was signed into law in December. One year into the Trump presidency, Democrats can't shut down the booming Trump economy so they shut down the government instead. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. Do your job Democrats: fund our military and reopen our government #SchumerShutdown — Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) January 20, 2018 Democrats said they thought they were close to a deal with the President on Friday over DACA and other immigration issues, but that Mr. Trump backed off, again emphasizing the uncertainty that surrounds talks with the White House on major legislative issues. Even if the Senate were to approve a bill which combined provisions on DACA and the Dreamers, along with other items on border security, most Republicans say that would have little chance in the House, where GOP lawmakers favor a much tougher approach. One obvious difference between this shutdown and the one in 2013, is seen right here in Washington, D.C., where outdoor memorials and the Smithsonian museums were still open. Those were shut down by the Obama Administration last time, in what Republicans said was an effort to punish the GOP for a shutdown battle. FYI for anyone visiting DC this weekend: The @smithsonian museums WILL be open Saturday and Sunday. I was told they are not sure if they'll have to close Monday, though. They were waiting for guidance. — Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) January 20, 2018
  • Update: While the House passed legislation on Thursday to fund government  services, the Senate on Friday failed to vote on a continuing resolution that would keep the government up and running. With no bill to fund the government, non-essential services have been shutdown.  Below is the original story that explains what will happen now that the government has been shut down. The fight over a border wall, the fate of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, and the wrangling over the funding of an insurance program for children could force a U.S. government shutdown after midnight on Friday if Congress does not pass legislation that would keep the government running. While negotiations on a temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, are ongoing, House Republican leaders said late Wednesday that  they lacked the votes to prevent a shutdown, but that they are pressing members to back Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin), on the  temporary spending bill. “I think it passes,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, (R-North Carolina), told reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s overwhelming, but I think it passes.” >>Read more trending news What would happen if no bill is passed and the government “shuts down?” Here’s what to expect: First, a government shutdown doesn’t mean the government completely shuts down. Employees and services deemed “essential” would remain in place. About half of the federal employee workforce, however, could be furloughed – sent home without pay. Government agencies would shut down because of the lack of a bill that funds services those agencies provide. What Congress will be considering Thursday night and Friday is a continuing resolution, a way to temporarily fund the government. What is a continuing resolution? A continuing resolution, or “CR,” is legislation that funds government operations at the current spending level. In normal years, a bill that funds government operations is signed by Oct. 1, which is the end of the fiscal year. That didn’t happen this year. CRs can fund the government for days, weeks or months. The CR that could be considered Thursday would fund the government through Feb. 16. Here is a list of services and how they would be affected if a CR is not passed by Friday night:Air travel Air travel would not be affected as federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and Transportation Security Administration screeners would remain in place.Federal court For about two weeks, federal courts would continue operating normally. After that time, the judiciary would have to furlough employees not considered essential.Food safety The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls. Most routine safety inspections would be halted.Health Patients in the National Institutes of Health would continue to be treated. New patients would not be accepted until a funding bill is in place.International travel  You could still get a passport and visa applications would still be processed by the State Department. Fees collected when someone applies for a visa or a passport fund those services.Loans  The Federal Housing Administration, the agency that guarantees about 30 percent of all American home mortgages, wouldn't be able to underwrite or approve any new loans during a shutdown, causing a delay for those using one of those loans to purchase a home. The mail You would still get mail, as the U.S. Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars for everyday operations.Military Active-duty military personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed.National parks All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums. Visitors in overnight campgrounds in national parks would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park.School lunches, SNAP and WIC School breakfasts and lunches funded by the federal government would not be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, could be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which used to be called the Food Stamp Program, would continue to be funded and SNAP benefits would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.Science The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather.Social Security Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would be paid, but new applications for those payments could be delayed. Veterans services Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs would continue. Sources: The Associated Press; Politico; the Congressional Research Service   

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