She Made History at QB. Then Came the Hard Part. (And Drew Brees on FaceTime)

B/R

The pass wasn’t perfect, but it was historic. In the middle of the first half of a high school football game, a quarterback heaved a 16-yard touchdown. It’s the kind of play that happens on Friday and Saturday nights all across the United States. But this play was different, because the passer was unlike any who had come before her.

Alexandria Buchanan had grown up going to the park in Honolulu with her father, Isaac, a former football player. At first, she would just chase him around, trying to steal the ball. But in middle school, she asked him to teach her how to throw. Alexandria was a quick study. “She had a cannon,” Isaac says.

Alexandria, though, wanted more than passing with pops at the park. And in the last three years, she’s backed up her ambitions with her play, becoming Hawaii’s first female starting varsity quarterback and one of the first in the history of high school football. Her TD passes have earned her viral fame and shoutouts from childhood heroes like Tennessee Titans QB and Honolulu native Marcus Mariota…and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.


Watch Alexandria’s full story—and stay tuned for surprises from Drew Brees and more:

Click here for real-life heroes and life-changing moments from B/REAL >>


In seventh grade, Buchanan started playing flag football at the local Boys & Girls Club. In Hawaii, there’s a relatively robust history of girls playing peewee and high school football. Buchanan had seen other girls playing wide receiver and running back, but she was determined to be the QB. And when she got her wish—and excelled at her position—she decided to progress like any talented player would. As a ninth grader, she tried out for the junior varsity football team at McKinley High School.

“My first game, I went in for a couple plays, and I got hit,” says Buchanan, 17, now a junior. “And I got up, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s not too bad. I can handle this.’”

By the end of the year, she was the team’s starter. And then, before the third game of her sophomore season, she got called up to varsity to make history. On August 19, 2017, she became the first girl to start a varsity high school football game in Hawaii. She ended the night not only with that historic touchdown pass, but also with 135 yards passing and McKinley’s closest chance at a win in years.

“I never saw it as a big deal,” Buchanan says. “I see so many quarterbacks on this island doing that over and over and over and over, and I just feel bad. They’re putting in the work. My boys are putting in the work on my team, and they are not getting all of this attention as well.”

The McKinley Tigers hadn’t won a football game in about four years when they turned to Buchanan as their starter. Three weeks later, they broke through with a 22-0 win. For Buchanan, a consummate team player, the win—not the viral moments or national media attention that came before it—remains her favorite memory from that season.

In her junior season, Buchanan struggled with the pressure—and with interceptions. Still, McKinley coach Pat Silva kept her in. “For me, [gender] really doesn’t matter,” Silva says. “I think if you have a passion to want to do something, then good for you. More so if you’re a female playing a male-dominant sport, right?”

The Tigers won three games under Buchanan this year, but her campaign ended early when she broke her collarbone on a sack in late September. “I felt bad because I felt like I let them down,” Buchanan says. “They were counting on me. I’m the starting quarterback. I should be there. I’m the one getting all these reps and working on these plays just so I can help them do their jobs. In that moment especially, I felt like I let them down. And it was hard for me. I let my boys down.”

Bleacher Report cameras were there for the injury and—as part of B/REAL, a new miniseries connecting real-life heroes with superstar athletes—for a surprise Buchanan got at school the next day. It was a FaceTime call from Brees. The future Hall of Famer told Buchanan that she’d bounce back better than ever. And Buchanan agrees. She began this journey in a park with her father, and she intends to end it under the bright lights her senior year.

“I’m definitely coming back next season,” she says. “I don’t how my parents feel about it yet, but I will definitely be back. Hopefully stronger than ever. To show everybody what a girl can do.”

     

Meet more heroes—and get a new surprise every Friday—with B/REAL >>

David Gardner is a staff writer for B/R Mag.

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Carmelo Anthony Recruited by Puerto Rico National Team After Rockets Part Ways

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 2: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Houston Rockets looks on against the Brooklyn Nets on November 2, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Although there seems to be a limited NBA market for Carmelo Anthony, the Puerto Rico national team would love to have him.

“I’m a big fan of Carmelo not only as a basketball player, but more importantly as one of our Puerto Rican heroes,” Puerto Rico federation president Yum Ramos said, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. “He and his foundation have done a lot for Puerto Rico. I think along with J.J. Barea, Carmelo could make a huge impact on the team and help lift the spirits of our country.”

Anthony is of Puerto Rican descent and could play for the U.S. territory internationally if USA Basketball grants him a waiver.

The 34-year-old’s stock appears to be at an all-time low after he lost his job with the Houston Rockets. Per Wojnarowski, he will part ways with the team but won’t be placed on waivers.

He was averaging just 13.4 points per game in 10 appearances this season, which is the lowest average of his 16-year NBA career.

Despite his struggles, Anthony would be a huge addition to the Puerto Rican team.

“With his connection to Puerto Rico, his NBA stardom and his experiences, our fans would love it,” said Barea, a Dallas Mavericks guard.

Anthony has also proved himself many times at the international level for Team USA, setting an all-time team record with 336 career points scored at the Olympics. He helped the Americans win a gold medal in 2016, 2012 and 2008, and he added a bronze medal as a 20-year-old in 2004.

Another international run with Puerto Rico would only add to the 10-time All-Star’s legacy.

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Veteran Democrats wary of climate push by Ocasio-Cortez and her allies

Peter DeFazio

“The idea that in five years or 10 years we’re not going to consume any more fossil fuels is technologically impossible,” Rep. Peter DeFazio told POLITICO. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Veteran Democratic lawmakers are closing ranks against new members pushing the party to the left on climate change.

Incoming chairmen say they want to address climate change, but they are bristling at the tactics of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other newly elected Democrats who say the party needs to come up with a “Green New Deal” that would decarbonize the economy within a decade.

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“The idea that in five years or 10 years we’re not going to consume any more fossil fuels is technologically impossible,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), whose in line to lead the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told POLITICO. “We can have grand goals but let’s be realistic about how we get there.”

Ocasio-Cortez is working with other liberal members and youth climate activists to expand the scope of a select committee on climate change that Nancy Pelosi wants to relaunch if elected speaker. But several older members say they think even creating a new panel would be a distraction and could delay action by the existing committees with jurisdiction over the issue.

Incoming Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) slammed the creation of a new committee during a closed-door meeting of Democrats Thursday, drawing pushback from Ocasio-Cortez and Rep.-elect Joe Neguse (D-Colo.).

Liberal environmental advocates torched Pallone for his opposition to the revival of the climate select committee.

“Frank Pallone is concerned about holding onto his power and title, not about the future of our generation or human civilization,” said the Sunrise Movement, which organized the protest at Pelosi’s office earlier this week. “If he were serious about stopping climate change, he would give back his money from fossil fuel PACs and support the Select Committee for a Green New Deal, the only policy in history that rises to the scale of this crisis.”

Pallone said he shares the goals of groups anxious for aggressive action but called for regular order to develop a bipartisan response.

“We can have a very aggressive agenda that we can get a caucus consensus on and that we can even get some Republicans on,” he said. “This select committee kind of takes us away from the goal. We want, as I said, to move very aggressively.”

Some lawmakers are looking for ways to harness the progressive energy within the existing congressional structures so everyone gets on the same page.

“I have the same energy, I have the same urgency, but I think we need to have a conversation about how we do it,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) told POLITICO. “It would help to sit down with those of us that have been here and have been working on these issues and want to team up and go big on climate because I think we have to be strategic and I think we have to function as a team.”

But it’s a big team, noted Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas). He said the centrist Blue Dog caucus expects to add six to eight members. He worried a climate change committee and goals like 100 percent renewable energy could turn off voters in swing districts at a time when Democrats would be unable to do more than pass “messaging” bills.

“A lot of the Republican seats that we won — a lot of them are moderate, conservative Democrats, and we have to keep that in mind. Those are the people I’m concerned about,” Cuellar said. “We can’t go too extreme.”

Others expressed wariness at the thought of going around the traditional nexus of power within the House.

“To create a specific committee may not achieve the goal — the goal being solid legislation to address the climate problem,” Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) said. “I’d be pretty careful going around the normal committee structure. That sets up a set of problems that I don’t think any of us want to be getting into.”

The threat of turf wars might be reason enough to abandon plans for a new climate committee, said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.). He said lawmakers have been handcuffed for years while in the minority and have ideas they want to execute.

“Those committees are geared up and ready to introduce legislation,” he said.

Lowenthal and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who co-chair the 60-member Safe Climate Caucus, wrote a letter to Pelosi Thursday arguing that existing committees would be sufficient but agreeing to cooperate if she decides to proceed with a new panel.

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Trump EPA Official Who Fought Coal Cleanup Arrested On Criminal Ethics Charges

An Environmental Protection Agency official appointed by the Trump administration was arrested on Thursday for multiple criminal ethics violations.

Onis Trey Glenn, 47, was charged with crimes reportedly linked to a scheme that took place when he worked as a lobbyist for the Drummond Company. At the time, Glenn helped the coal mining firm dodge a bill for an EPA-mandated cleanup of neighborhoods in Birmingham and Tarrant, Alabama, that were contaminated by emissions from smokestacks owned by a subsidiary, AL.com reported.

Last year, Glenn became the Region 4 administrator of the EPA in charge of eight states in the Southeast, including Alabama. 

According to The Associated Press, Glenn was booked into a Jefferson County jail in Birmingham before he was released on a $30,000 bond. Charges include receiving money and soliciting something of value from a “principal, lobbyist or subordinate,” per AL.com.

Few details were released about the amount of money received or what was solicited. However, state ethics laws prohibit officials from using their office for financial gain and from soliciting money or other things of value.

Even after Glenn began working as an EPA administrator, he continued to communicate with Alabama environmental officials about the cleanup site, according to records obtained by the Project on Government Oversight and Mother Jones magazine.

Drummond also enlisted help from then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose office worked closely with the company and its powerful Birmingham law firm, Balch and Bingham, to battle the EPA’s cleanup efforts. 

Glenn denied the charges in a statement provided through a lawyer. 

“The charges against me are totally unfounded,” Glenn stated. “I am innocent and expect to be fully vindicated.”

The EPA refused to comment.

Scott Phillips, the one-time chairman of the Alabama Environmental Management Commission, was also charged with ethics violations. Phillips worked with Glenn to fight against EPA clean-up efforts. Phillips has also denied any wrongdoing.

A Drummond executive was convicted earlier this year of bribing a state legislator to oppose the EPA clean-up efforts. Glenn and Phillips were called as witnesses in that trial, AL.com reported. 

Glenn was under a cloud of suspicion long before he was appointed to head the EPA in the area. In 2007, the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause that Glenn may have violated the state ethics law to get his job and to obtain personal trips, including a family vacation to Disney World, AP reported. Although the Montgomery County district attorney declined to prosecute, Glenn resigned his post in 2009.

“Trey Glenn should have never made it through any serious vetting process,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He told the AP that his committee would conduct “vigorous oversight” of the EPA once the Democrats took control of the House in January.

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Tougher palm oil rules agreed amid polarising debate over crop

The organisation promoting the sustainable cultivation and use of palm oil has agreed to tighten rules on the production of the crop, requiring companies to commit to not cause deforestation or plant on wetland in order to secure certification, amid contentious debate over the product’s use and impact on the environment.

The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) reviews the rules governing certification every five years.

The revision took place as campaigners, particularly in Europe, stepped up calls for a ban on the use of palm oil because of its effect on the world’s rainforests.

RSPO Secretary-General Darrel Webber described the new standards as “transformative.”

Previous requirements were criticised for failing to protect all forests or provide adequate social safeguards.

The group has also been denounced for failing to act against those that had broken the rules.

To meet the RSPO’s new certification standards, growers will have to ensure future land clearance does not cause the deforestation of critical forests, under a methodology known as the High Carbon Stock Approach.

‘Great step forward’

Jennifer Lucey, an environmental scientist at the University of Oxford, helped develop the approach alongside Greenpeace and the plantation industry.

Lucey described the decision as a “great step forward” that would protect more forest over larger areas.

Indonesia and Malaysia produce more than 85 percent of the global supply of palm oil, which is used in products from chocolate to ice cream, shampoo and lipstick.

But the crop has also driven deforestation and contributed towards pollution and climate change as land, including carbon-rich peatlands, has been converted to plantations.

The tropical rainforests of the two countries are biodiversity hotspots and home to endangered species, including the orangutan.

In a statement, WWF noted that nearly all RSPO members, including growers, retailers and banks, had given the revisions their support.

An aerial view of a plantation in Indonesia’s Riau from 2013 when land for plantations was cleared by burning, smothering the region in a smoke haze. [File/Beawiharta/Reuters]

“(RSPO) now has stronger safeguards on issues including deforestation, expansion on peat and exploitation of labour,” WWF Palm Oil Lead Elizabeth Clarke said in a statement.

“The RSPO and all its members must now deliver on their commitments to bring sustainable palm oil to consumer markets.”

The roundtable was established in 2004 as a response to rising concern about the industry’s environmental impact; its members include plantation companies, palm oil buyers and environmental groups.

RSPO certification standards are supposed to set best practices for the production and sourcing of palm oil. Indonesia and Malaysia have also introduced their own sustainability certification.

Sustainability vs ban

But the environmental debate has become increasingly rancorous, with some campaigners calling for palm oil to be banned completely.

The British supermarket chain, Iceland, attracted widespread attention this month after a commercial featuring an animated orangutan, Rang-tan, in which the retailer announced it was committed to going palm oil free was allegedly banned by UK advertising regulators.

WWF stressed that sustainability requires more than certification and that the industry, governments and the financial industry also needed to take steps to include smaller growers in sustainability, as well as to improve and enforce land use planning and legal compliance.

Palm oil produces more oil per unit of land area than any other vegetable oil grown today.

Globally, it provides 35 percent of the world’s edible oil needs on just 10 percent of the land, according to WWF.

Its yield is about six times more than canola, the next most productive crop, 10 times more than soybean and 11 times more than sunflower, the University of Oxford’s Lucey said.

“Replacing it with something else is not a more environmentally-friendly option,” Lucey said.

“Whether we like it or not, palm oil is here to stay. As consumers, we should be registering our concerns by buying sustainable palm oil, not avoiding palm oil altogether.”

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GOP pushes Trump for new attorney general amid Mueller uproar

John Cornyn

“If we had some confidence that there is somebody nominated that would be confirmed in a reasonable period of time, to me it seems like it would relieve a lot of the controversy,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Congress

Senate Republicans hope replacing Matthew Whitaker will calm the firestorm over Trump’s attacks on the special counsel.

Senate Republicans are urging President Donald Trump to quickly nominate a permanent attorney general, hoping a new top law enforcement officer will blunt bipartisan concern over the future of special counsel Robert Mueller and boost the GOP ahead of tough government funding talks.

Even after Trump’s latest attack on Mueller in a flurry of tweets Thursday, most Republicans argue the president will not fire Mueller or derail his investigation because the political consequences would be too great.

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But they said that naming an attorney general nominee as soon as possible — specifically one who would vow to preserve the Russia probe — would go a long way in halting legislative momentum to protect Mueller and Democratic messaging that acting attorney general Matt Whitaker will undermine the investigation.

“If we had some confidence that there is somebody nominated that would be confirmed in a reasonable period of time, to me it seems like it would relieve a lot of the controversy,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, who predicted that Whitaker, who was openly critical of the Mueller probe before Trump tapped him for the job, is “not going to be there long.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said Trump’s pick would have to assure lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that Mueller would be able to continue unimpeded.

“It would be helpful to start moving … so we can have that person in place as soon as possible,” Lankford said. “Whoever is going to be there would have to make clear statements about what they intend to do on the special counsel. The sooner the better. Let’s get it resolved.”

The White House is working to find a broadly acceptable pick for the job. The president’s legal team has reached out to former attorney general Bill Barr to gauge his interest in the position, according to sources familiar with the conversations. Barr, a veteran of the George H.W. Bush administration, didn’t say no, but he did tell the president’s lawyers he’d prefer they look at other options.

The Trump team has begun that process, and those options include Barr’s Kirkland and Ellis partner Mark Filip, who served as deputy attorney general during the George W. Bush administration. The Senate unanimously confirmed him to that post.

The challenge with more traditional choices like Barr and Filip, with whom the president does not have a personal relationship, will be persuading Trump that he can trust them, the president’s allies say. They are aware they will have to call on people like the Federalist Society‘s Leonard Leo to vouch for their personal loyalty and sterling credentials.

Trump insisted this week that people are clamoring for the post, despite the difficult balancing act it will take between aiding Trump and overseeing the Mueller investigation.

“I have been called by so many people wanting that job. We have some great people. In the meantime, I think Matt’s going to do a fantastic job,” Trump told the Daily Caller on Wednesday.

No matter whom Trump picks, the attorney general nominee is unlikely to be confirmed until next year. But the nominee could quickly pledge to protect Mueller if confirmed, and keep most Senate Republicans in line and away from pushing the special counsel protection bill on the Senate floor.

“Whether it happens now or next year in the Senate, we’re pretty well positioned to move forward. We’ll have the votes we think, assuming it’s somebody who’s well qualified and I expect them to be,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who will take over as majority whip next year.

“Sooner rather than later,” added Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally. “If the investigation is still ongoing, yeah, they need to protect him.”

However, any pledge to protect Mueller from a nominee or a confirmed attorney general would set Trump off and be viewed as a betrayal akin to Jeff Sessions’ recusal.

What is more likely, Trump allies say, is silence. That’s what Whitaker has given, avoiding a statement that would enrage the president and an attack on Mueller that would alienate Republicans already suspicious of him. The next attorney general is likely to operate the same way, leaving both the president and senators unsatisfied.

Absent a pledge from Sessions’ successor to lay off Mueller, any nominee would be enormously difficult to confirm and would quickly turn off the prospect of Democratic support.

“If I had someone coming in that I thought would pull the plug on Mueller, it would be a problem,” said Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a moderate Democrat who opposed Sessions.

Both he and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that legislation to shield the special counsel from a Trump firing must be passed regardless, given the uncertainty in the Justice Department’s leadership.

Whitaker “may resign tomorrow and we may get a new attorney general,” Durbin said. “Better for us to have the Mueller protection in place regardless of who the attorney general is.”

For the next month a half, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) must deal with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and his vow to vote against judicial nominees absent an opportunity to vote on the special counsel bill. But Flake is alone in his stand at the moment among Republicans, and he could remain there if Trump moves on an attorney general.

Both Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said they won’t join Flake, but believe he should get a vote on the special counsel bill. Corker, however, said it “could” help if Trump acts quickly on an attorney general nominee and suggested that Flake may end up getting a nonbinding “sense of the Senate” vote.

Collins and Flake, however, said they want a binding vote to protect Mueller, despite concerns of other GOP senators. The Senate GOP discussed the bill’s potential constitutional issues at a private lunch on Thursday, Corker said.

Earlier Thursday, Trump lashed out at Mueller on Twitter, calling the investigation a “total mess” and accusing the special counsel of protecting Democrats.

The legislation should come up in light of Trump’s “firing of Jeff Sessions, his installation of Matt Whitaker, and also his tweet this morning, all of which are disturbing to me,” Collins said. “I really wish the president had followed the advice of many of us in the very beginning and never commented on this investigation.”

Meanwhile, top Democrats and Flake are floating demands that any bill passed to prevent a government shutdown next month include language shielding Mueller, something Republicans have resisted.

“The final goal is to put it as part of the spending bill and get it signed into law but the first goal has to be having a vote on the floor. If there’s support for it then there will be more pressure,” Flake said in an interview.

The proposal still has scant support among Republicans, however, which means that a new attorney general is the Senate’s best bet to get some assurances on Mueller. And while the overwhelming majority of senators interviewed for this story want it done quickly, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) seemed fine with a more languid pace.

“I want to see the president take his time and find somebody that he’s comfortable with and will serve the American people well,” said the Louisianan. “However long that takes is however long it takes.”

Elana Schor contributed to this report.

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COMMUTE FROM HELL: Snowstorm Cripples NYC Area With 10-Hour Traffic Nightmare

An early snowstorm caught much of the New York metropolitan area off-guard, leading to major delays on the roads and extreme backups in public transportation Thursday evening.

While the storm hit a large swath of the Midwest and East Coast, few places appeared to have been as unprepared as the area in and around New York City. Some commuters reported being trapped on highways for 10 hours or more. Mass transit was crippled and ride-hail prices surged into the hundreds of dollars for short distances in New York and New Jersey. 

Traffic was at such a standstill in many places that drivers got out of their cars and walked around, as in this clip from the George Washington Bridge: 

“Listen, we’re getting clobbered,” New Jersey Gov. Philip D. Murphy (D) said, per Weather.com. “No forecast ― none ― predicted this. This is slower, it’s deeper, it’s colder.” 

Frustrated commuters vented on social media: 

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