Clowney said he was not taking a “shot” at McNair with the costume choice.
“[There] was no hidden meaning behind his Halloween costume,” Texans senior director of communications Amy Palcic told the Houston Chronicle. “He was not taking a ‘shot’ at anyone. It was just that – a costume at a Halloween party.”
The Houston Texans owner made the comments at a meeting of NFL owners on Oct. 18, responding to players kneeling during the national anthem before football games.
After the comments, about 10 Texans players stood with their hands over their hearts while others knelt on the ground during the national anthem before a 41-38 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
“I regret that I used that expression,” he said. “I never meant to offend anyone and I was not referring to our players. I used a figure of speech that was never intended to be taken literally. I would never characterize our players or our league that way and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.”
He released another statement on Saturday, after meeting with the players.
“As I said yesterday, I was not referring to our players when I made a very regretful comment during the owners meetings last week. I was referring to the relationship between the league office and team owners and how they have been making significant strategic decisions affecting our league without adequate input from ownership over the past few years.
I am truly sorry to the players for how this has impacted them and the perception that it has created of me which could not be further from the truth. Our focus going forward, personally and as an organization, will be towards making meaningful progress regarding the social issues that mean so much to our players and our community.”
Texans coach Bill O’Brien told reporters he was “100 percent” with his players when asked about the situation.
Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has a team-leading four sacks this season. He has 23 tackles, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, two passes defensed and a touchdown in seven starts this season. Clowney made his first Pro Bowl in 2016.
McNair has been the Texans’ chairman and CEO since 2002.
Tom Gay, a school photographer, was on Warren Street and heard people saying there was an accident. He went down to West Street and a woman came around the corner shouting, “He has a gun! He has a gun!”
Gay said he stuck his head around the corner and saw a slender man in a blue track suit running southbound on West Street holding a gun. He said there was a heavyset man pursuing him.
He said he heard five or six shots and the man in the tracksuit fell to the ground, gun still raised in the air. He said a man came over and kicked the gun out of his hand.
Eugene Duffy, 43, a chef at a waterfront restaurant, said he was crossing West Street when he heard something, turned back and saw the white pickup on the bike path.
After seeing the mangled bikes, he ran south, seeing the school bus that appeared to have been T-boned, and officers at the scene, guns drawn, ducked behind patrol cars.
“So many police came and they didn’t know what was happening,” Duffy said. “People were screaming. Females were screaming at the top of their lungs.”
Uber driver Chen Yi said he saw a truck plow into people on a popular bike path adjacent to the West Side Highway. He said he then heard seven to eight shots and then police pointing a gun at a man kneeling on the pavement.
“I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground,” Yi said.
Eight people were killed and more than a dozen injured after a man drove a truck nearly a mile down a bike path in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, striking pedestrians, cyclists and a school bus.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said the incident was being treated as an act of terror, “a particularly cowardly act of terror”. De Blasio said a police officer assigned to the area stopped the attacker by shooting him in the stomach.
After smashing into the school bus, injuring two adults and two children, the 29-year-old suspect exited the truck displaying “imitation firearms” and was shot by police, according to the New York police department (NYPD). The suspect was in custody, and a paintball gun and a pellet gun were recovered at the scene.
Police said the truck drove south after entering a pedestrian and bicycle path, where it struck multiple people. Six men were pronounced dead at the scene on the cycle lane and two other people were dead on arrival at the hospital.
“It is a very painful day in our city,” De Blasio said.
The suspect was said to be Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek national, according to the Associated Press (AP) – which cited two law enforcement officials speaking anonymously – and other reports. The suspect has not yet been officially named.
Saipov was said to have entered the US in 2010. He has a Florida license but may have been living in New Jersey, reports said.
A woman from Cincinnati, Ohio, contacted by the Guardian, who identified herself as Dilfuza Iskhakova, said that Saipov had stayed at her home there for several months about six years ago, after arriving in the US from Uzbekistan. “He seemed like a nice guy, but he didn’t talk much,” said Iskhakova. “He only went to work and came back. He used to work at a warehouse.”
Iskhakova said Saipov had been applying for a green card when she knew him. Ohio state records show he registered a business involving vehicles to her home in May 2011. Iskhakova said her family lost contact with Saipov in recent years. She said she thought he had moved from Ohio to Florida, and then to the New York region, and that he now had a wife and two young daughters.
She said she did not know if Saipov was religious.
“He’s from my country,” Iskhakova said. “His father knows my husband, and sent Sayfullo here because he didn’t know anyone.”
Security heightened in New York
Officials in New York said additional resources were being deployed around the city, where children would be on the streets late into the evening to celebrate Halloween. They also confirmed the city’s landmark Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, about six blocks from where the rampage began, would continue as usual. On Tuesday night, the spire of 1 World Trade Center was lit up in red, white and blue.
At a news conference, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said these resources were being deployed out of an “abundance of caution” and that there was no indication of additional threats.
Donald Trump tweeted about the incident: “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!”
He added later: “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!”
NYPD commissioner James O’Neill responded to a press question about whether the terror suspect shouted “Allahu Akbar” from the van by saying: “Yes, he did make a statement.” He would not confirm the words used, but added: “The MO [modus operandi] of the attack is consistent with what has been going on.” He also said he considered the incident over.
The suspect began driving around 3pm, leaving behind a trail of crumpled bicycles on the pedestrian and bike path, which runs along the Hudson river on the west side of Manhattan.
Tom Gay, a school photographer, told the Associated Press he stuck his head around the corner and saw a slender man in a blue track suit running southbound on West Street holding a gun. He said there was a heavyset man pursuing him. Gay said he heard five or six shots and the man in the tracksuit fell to the ground, gun still raised in the air. He said a man came over and kicked the gun out of his hand.
Ezequiel Gonzalez, 18, works at the prestigious Stuyvesant high school, which is next to the bicycle path and was locked down after the incident. He told the Guardian he crossed a footbridge that overlooks the bike path and saw “all this debris everywhere” near what looked like a body covered by a sheet.
John Williams, 22, said he was at a skate park near the bike path when he heard five to 10 gunshots. “At the time I was really just concerned that there was a man running around with a gun. I wasn’t too concerned for myself but just the safety for everyone in the city,” Williams said.
Flashing ambulances and police cars overwhelmed the scene after the suspect was stopped, a few blocks north of the World Trade Center memorial.
Police completely blocked off the bike path, but dozens of young people from the nearby high school and college crowded outside police lines.
As the sun went down and temperatures dropped, onlookers, who included trick-or-treaters dressed for Halloween, dispersed from the scene. And despite the attack that had been carried out a couple hours earlier, many nearby New Yorkers carried on with their day as usual.
Peter Franchetti, who worked near the scene, said it was “just another day in New York”.
Franchetti was in New York City for both attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001, and watched airplanes crash into the Twin Towers from his office. “We just keep on surviving,” he said.
Chava Shalom, a school teacher, was also in the city on September 11 but said this incident sparked feelings of post-traumatic stress.
“They say we have to live our lives and not let them change what we’re doing but, we’re all out standing here,” she said. “It’s kind of put a damper on Halloween.”
Catalonia’s deposed president, Carles Puigdemont, has promised to respect the results of December’s snap regional elections and said he would leave Belgium and return home immediately if a fair judicial process were guaranteed in Spain.
Puigdemont, who could face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds over his administration’s push for independence, travelled to Brussels hours before Spain’s attorney general announced the possible charges on Monday.
In a possible sign that Madrid has gained the upper hand in the dispute, he told a packed press conference in the Belgian capital that he would abide by the results of the snap regional elections on 21 December, called by the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.
Puigdemont said he accepted the challenge of the elections “with all our strength”, dispelling fears that secessionists might boycott the ballot in the hope of denying it legitimacy. Spain wants Catalonia “to abandon our political project, and they won’t achieve it”, he said.
The poll date was set last Friday when Rajoy stepped in to take control of the region and sack Puigdemont and his administration in an attempt to restore legal and constitutional order following the unilateral independence referendum and subsequent declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament.
The ousted leader said he had come to the Belgian capital to seek safety and freedom, and accused Spanish police of failing to protect his rights and those of other separatist leaders.
Speculation that Puigdemont would apply for asylum rose when he appointed Paul Bekaert, a Belgian lawyer specialising in asylum and extradition, on Monday, but Puigdemont ruled out the move when questioned about it by reporters the next day.
Asked how long he would stay, Puigdemont responded: “It depends. I need guarantees.”
Later on Tuesday, a judge at Spain’s top criminal court, the Audiencia Nacional, summoned Puigdemont and 13 members of his former cabinet to testify on Thursday and Friday as part of the investigation into allegations of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.
Shortly before Puigdemont’s press conference, Spain’s constitutional court announced that it was suspending last Friday’s unilateral declaration of independence, while the supreme court said it had begun proceedings against Catalan parliamentary officials over their role in the referendum. Separately, Spain’s civil guard police force searched the headquarters of Catalonia’s regional police.
Puigdemont’s appearance in Brussels, flanked by five of his ousted regional ministers, marked a further twist in the month-long crisis triggered by the 1 October referendum.
It also coincided with a regional poll that showed that support for an independent Catalan republic had risen to an almost three-year high in October, with 48.7% of Catalans believing the region should be independent, up from 41.1% in June.
A spokesman for the Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, said Puigdemont had not been invited by the Belgian government. “Mr Puigdemont has the same rights and duties as all European citizens, no more, no less,” the spokesman said.
Earlier in the day, Belgium’s deputy prime minister, Kris Peeters, noted tartly: “If you are going to declare independence, you usually stay with your people.”
Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, mocked the Catalan separatist leader, when he said internet memes comparing Puigdemont to cartoon detective Tintin were inadequate. “Tintin always finds solutions to the adventures he encounters, while Puigdemont left Catalonia in chaos and devastation.”
Puigdemont’s dramatic arrival in Brussels prompted a slew of internet memes, comparing him to Belgian cultural icons, including Tintin and the Manneken Pis, “the peeing boy” statue in Brussels.
The Catalan drama threatens to be a headache for Belgium’s government, a four-party coalition of Flemish nationalists, liberals and Christian Democrats that came into office in October 2014 after five months of negotiations.
Belgian politicians are worried about damaging relations with Madrid. Some opposition politicians have accused Michel of failing to discipline the immigration minister, Theo Francken, a leading member of the Flemish separatist N-VA party, who appeared to lay down the welcome mat for Puigdemont when he told local media at the weekend: “If the Catalans demand asylum, Belgian law permits it.”
Puigdemont seemed sensitive to the tensions, telling journalists he had had no contact with the N-VA. “This is not a matter of the Belgian politics,” he said. “I am here in Brussels as the capital of Europe.”
The EU has said the Catalan referendum was illegal and that it will only deal with Spain’s central government in Madrid.
Puigdemont blamed Madrid for the impasse, saying the crisis had been sparked by the Spanish police’s heavy-handed attempts to stop the referendum. “The chaos started on 1 October with violence on the Spanish side,” he said.
A Spanish government spokeswoman in Barcelona told reporters that Catalan autonomy had not been suspended, but was “just under new management”.
At a press conference in Barcelona, taking place while Puigdemont was speaking, she said: “We are not here to occupy the administration, but to oversee a return to normality as soon as possible. We intend to have minimal involvement. The transition has been very smooth.”
One of the two Hawaii women who say they were lost at sea for five months, said Tuesday that had not activated their emergency beacon because, in her experience, it should be used only when facing imminent physical danger and death in the next 24 hours.
“Our hull was solid, we were floating, we had food, we had water, and we had limited maneuverable capacity,” Jennifer Appel said in Japan, where the US Navy took them after their rescue last week. “All those things did not say we are going to die. All that said, it’s going to take us a whole lot longer to get where we’re going.”
Appel and Tasha Fuiava previously said that they had radios, satellite phones, GPS and other emergency gear, but they didn’t mention an emergency position indicating radio beacon. A Coast Guard review and subsequent interviews with Appel and Fuiava revealed that they had the device aboard their sailboat but never turned it on.
The two women also described running into a fearsome storm that meteorologists say didn’t exist, adding to a growing list of inconsistencies that cast doubt on their harrowing tale of survival.
In retrospect, Appel said that there were two times she would have used the beacon — near Hawaii in late June to early July and off Wake Island on 1 October.
“That’s a lesson learned for me, because that was the best chance we had in the ocean to get help,” she said.
The emergency beacon communicates with satellites and sends locations to authorities within minutes. It’s activated when it’s submerged in water or turned on manually.
“If the thing was operational and it was turned on, a signal should have been received very, very quickly that this vessel was in distress,” Phillip R Johnson, a retired Coast Guard officer who was responsible for search and rescue operations, said Monday from Washington state.
Appel and Fuiava also said they had six forms of communication that all failed.
“There’s something wrong there,” Johnson said. “I’ve never heard of all that stuff going out at the same time.”
Key elements of the women’s account are contradicted by authorities and are not consistent with weather reports or basic geography of the Pacific Ocean. The discrepancies raised questions about whether the pair could have avoided disaster.
The pair reported that their sailing equipment and engine failed and said they were close to giving up when they were rescued thousands of miles off course.
The women met in late 2016, and within a week decided to take the trip together. Fuiava had never sailed. They planned to take 18 days to get to Tahiti, then travel the South Pacific and return to Hawaii in October.
They left on 3 May, when they said they encountered a fierce storm off Oahu that tossed their vessel with 60 mph (97 kph) winds and 30ft (9-meter) seas for three days.
But the National Weather Service in Honolulu said no organized storm systems were in or near Hawaii that day or in the days afterward. Archived Nasa satellite images confirm no tropical storms were around the state.
Appel expressed surprise Tuesday that there was no record of the storm. She said they received a Coast Guard storm warning 3 May.
The pair said they thought about turning back but that the islands of Maui and Lanai didn’t have harbors deep enough to accommodate their sailboat.
At 50ft (15 meters) long, the vessel is relatively small, and both islands have harbors that accommodate boats of that size. The Big Island also has several places to dock.
Appel said she had modified her sailboat, called the Sea Nymph, by adding six tons of fiberglass to the hull to make it thicker and heavier and to extend the keel to a depth of 8.5 feet to give the boat greater stability. The extra-long keel meant the boat couldn’t get in to nearby harbors, she said.
“Given the constraints of our vessel, we chose the appropriate action,” she said. They pressed on.
Days later, after parts of their mast and rigging failed but with their motor still working, they sailed up to a small island but decided against trying to land, believing it was mostly uninhabited with no protected waters.
“They only have habitation on the northwest corner and their reef was too shallow for us to cross in order to get into the lagoon,” Appel said.
But Christmas Island, part of the island nation of Kiribati, is home to more than 2,000 people and has a port that routinely welcomes huge commercial ships.
Appel previously said they thought they could make it to next major island in Kiribati, where they could fix the mast.
They said they set sail for the Cook Islands, about 1,000 miles (1,609 km) away and a few hundred miles beyond their original target of Tahiti.
“We really did think we could make it to the next spot,” Appel has said.
Then, they say another storm killed their engine at the end of May.
At one point in June, the Coast Guard said it made radio contact with a vessel identifying itself as the Sea Nymph near Tahiti, and its captain said they were not in distress and expected to make land the next morning. It’s not clear it if was the women, who told the Coast Guard they were 1,500 miles away, near Christmas Island.
More than five months after they departed, the women were picked up in good health about 900 miles (1,448km) southeast of Japan.
Donald Trump has tried to distance himself from a former foreign policy aide who pleaded guilty to perjury over his contacts with Russians during last year’s US election campaign.
The president fired off a series of tweets on Tuesday in which he publicly addressed for the first time the indictment of ex-adviser George Papadopoulos, which was revealed on Monday shortly after Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was charged with a catalogue of serious federal crimes.
“Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar,” Trump posted on Twitter shortly after 8am local time, adding: “Check the DEMS!”
Court documents released on Monday said that Papadopoulos had admitted meeting Russians to get “dirt” on election rival Hillary Clinton and lied about it to federal agents working for special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into possible coordination between the Trump election campaign and Russia.
Papadopoulos’s plea was unsealed on the same day Manafort and a business associate, Rick Gates, were charged with money laundering, tax evasion, fraud and failing to register as agents of foreign interests. Manafort and Gates denied the charges.
Papadopoulos is the first person to face criminal charges that cite interactions between Trump campaign associates and people claiming to be Russian intermediaries during the 2016 campaign. He is described in court documents as a “proactive cooperator”.
Despite Trump’s claim that “few people knew” Papadopoulos, he himself referred to Papadopoulos as an “excellent guy” in an interview with the Washington Post in March 2016 about his new foreign policy team.
Later that month Trump posted a picture on Instagram captioned “meeting with my national security team” in which Papadopoulos can be seen four seats to his right.
The president’s team insisted that Papadopoulos, 30, played a limited role in the campaign and had no access to Trump.
The Washington Post identified Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, as the “high-ranking campaign official” mentioned in the court documents who Papadopoulos had told about his Russian contacts.
Lewandowski said he could not recall any such emails.
“This would have potentially come from a low-level volunteer, so I don’t remember the exact email,” he said.
“From what I recall, George was a low-level volunteer who might have attended a meeting of the foreign advisory team, the one meeting who took place,” Lewandowski told the NBC News’ Today show. “But he was not a person who was involved with the day-to-day operations of the campaign, or a person who I recall interacting with on a regular basis at all.”
But in late 2016 and early 2017, Papadopoulos was touted by the Trump camp as one of its leading voice on the Middle East and Syria in particular.
“If you worked on Syria policy in DC during the time of the inauguration, you probably heard of this guy,” tweeted Johan Arterbury, a Syria expert who was then working at Georgetown University. “His background was Cyprus and energy, his work experience minimal. Syria wonks (me included) were left confounded on how he got such connections.”
According to another Syria expert at a Washington thinktank, who asked not to be named, Papadopoulos was shortlisted to become a senior White House adviser on the Middle East and was due to be interviewed for the job in November – but then his star seemed to fade in the Trump camp.
Arterbury, now a Middle East security analyst, said: “By February he’d dropped from the radar, Syria policy moved elsewhere, and he vanished from the scene.”
Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning: “The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts [sic] lawyer said, there was ‘no collusion’ and events mentioned took place long before he … came to the campaign.”
Monday’s events marked a significant acceleration of Mueller’s investigation, which continues to cast a shadow over the White House as Trump’s approval rating has dropped to just 33%, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes wrote on the influential Lawfare blog: “Trump, in short, had on his campaign at least one person, and allegedly two people, who actively worked with adversarial foreign governments in a fashion they sought to criminally conceal from investigators.
“The release of these documents should, though it probably won’t, put to rest the suggestion that there are no serious questions of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.”
Meanwhile, Russian officials brushed off the allegations in broad terms but did not offer specific details. Senator Alexei Pushkov wrote on Twitter: “Neither Trump, nor his campaign or Russian officials are mentioned. A ‘professor with ties to the Kremlin’? Ridiculous.”
Papadopoulos’s plea deal states that he was told in April 2016 by an unnamed “professor” – identified by the Washington Post as Joseph Mifsud – that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”.
This echoes a June 2016 meeting in which Donald Trump Jr met four Russians at Trump Tower in New York after being promised “dirt” on Clinton. Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner were also present.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, called the allegations of a Russian link “hysteria.”
However, Lavrov refused to answer a specific question on whether the Russian foreign ministry was aware of Papadopoulos’s approach.
An attorney for Trump’s former Iowa campaign chairman, Sam Clovis, confirmed that references to the “campaign supervisor” are to him. Trump has nominated Clovis to serve as chief scientist of the US department of agriculture.
Asked if the administration is reconsidering Clovis’ nomination, Sanders said: “I’m not aware that any change would be necessary at this time.”
She continued: “Papadopoulos is an example of actually somebody doing the wrong thing while the president’s campaign did the right thing.”
“All of his emails were voluntarily provided to the special counsel by the campaign and that is what led to the process and the place that we’re in right now was the campaign fully cooperating and we’re helping with that.
“What Papadopoulos did was lie and that’s on him not on the campaign and we can’t speak for that.”