Matt Connolly

DC Senior Editorial Fellow

Before joining Mother Jones, Matt was a local reporter for the dearly departed Washington Examiner. He has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Chicago Public Radio, and the Times of Trenton.

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PHOTOS: A "Catastrophic...Crippling...Paralyzing" Ice Storm

| Wed Feb. 12, 2014 10:15 AM PST
A pedestrian battles the snow and cold wind as he crosses Wicker Street in Sanford, N.C.

An ice storm the National Weather Service has called "catastrophic...crippling...paralyzing... choose your adjective" is sweeping across states from Texas to North Carolina, knocking out power in more than 100,000 homes and businesses as it makes its way toward the Northeast. Here are some photos showing the early effects of the storm.

Car in snowstorm
A vehicle drives through the rapidly falling snow on the US 421 Bypass in Sanford, N.C. Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/ZUMA
Woman in snow
LORETTA CANTRELL, 75, says '' I feel like a child again playing in the snow,'' during a walk on Popular Stump Road in Helen, Ga. Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/ZUMA

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NFL Commissioner Says Washington Football Team's Name "Honors Native Americans," Native Americans Disagree

| Fri Jan. 31, 2014 1:46 PM PST

During his pre-Super Bowl press conference Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked if he would ever call a Native American by the name of the Washington football team. Goodell hedged, instead saying the name has been "presented in a way that honors Native Americans." (Goodell sent a letter to members of Congress last year defending the name.)

On Wednesday, ThinkProgress reporter Travis Waldron published an exhaustive account of the fight to rebrand the slur, revealing that the Washington team consulted with Republican advisers—including GOP messaging consultant Frank Luntz (of "death tax" fame), former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer (of Iraq War fame), and former Virginia governor and US senator George Allen (of "macaca" fame)—on how to handle criticism of the team's name.

If Goodell, team owner Dan Snyder, and friends like Luntz, Fleischer, and Allen don't understand the issue, they might want to take a look at an ad the National Congress of American Indians released Monday. Watch here:

College Football Players Are Trying to Unionize, and the NCAA Is Not Happy About It

| Tue Jan. 28, 2014 2:45 PM PST
Kain Colter

Football players at Northwestern University, led by quarterback Kain Colter, took formal steps Tuesday to gain labor union representation. Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA linebacker who's now the president of the National College Players Association, an athlete advocacy group, filed a formal petition with the National Labor Relations Board's Chicago office on behalf of the players.

If certified, the union would be known as the College Athletes Players Association. CAPA's initial goals don't call for salaries for players, instead focusing on medical protection for concussions and other issues, guaranteed multiyear scholarships even if players get injured, and a trust fund players could use to finish schooling after their NCAA eligibility expires. Athletic departments of schools in the five major conferences currently generate $5.15 billion in revenue.

To no one's surprise, the NCAA opposes to the move—on the grounds that extending medical protection and guaranteeing multiyear scholarships would detract from education:

This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education. Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize. 

Many student athletes are provided scholarships and many other benefits for their participation. There is no employment relationship between the NCAA, its affiliated institutions or student-athletes.

Student-athletes are not employees within any definition of the National Labor Relations Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act. We are confident the National Labor Relations Board will find in our favor, as there is no right to organize student-athletes.

Or, as SB Nation writer Rodger Sherman summarizes it:

This case will likely land in federal court, where it would join O'Bannon v. NCAA, a case in which a group of former players are suing to receive revenue from game rebroadcasts, DVD highlights, apparel, and other merchandise. (That lawsuit has already led to the death of Electronic Arts' popular NCAA Football series of video games; EA settled with the players.) If the O'Bannon litigation is any indication, it may be years before we know the fate of unions in college athletics. Until then, get ready to hear a lot of griping from some highly paid college officials.

No Gays in Sochi, But Many Confused Straight People

| Mon Jan. 27, 2014 5:24 PM PST

With the Winter Olympics less than two weeks away, Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov told the BBC that there are no gay residents in his city. Meanwhile, despite President Vladimir Putin's anti-gay crackdown, Sochi's two gay clubs are thriving. Watch Pakhomov's comments here:

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