Quotables
March 20, 2014
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Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who is poised to become the first openly gay player in the NFL, thanked his alma mater for the "love and acceptance" it gave him in a letter published Thursday in the Columbia Missourian.

"From my first recruiting trip to the University of Missouri, I felt something extraordinary and special — something I didn't feel anyplace else," Sam wrote. "I didn't have a name for it then; I do now. It's called family."

"And to me that family is defined by unconditional love," he added.

Head over to the Columbia Missourian to read the whole thing here. Jon Terbush

Spinning it forward
3:58 p.m. ET
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President Obama on Monday announced the formation of a nonprofit organization intended to expand opportunities for young male minorities, saying the work would remain a mission "for the rest of my life."

"America's future depends on us caring about this," Obama said at an event in New York to unveil the organization.

The nonprofit, the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, is an offshoot of the My Brother's Keeper initiative Obama launched last year to help young men of color reach the American dream.

The rollout came as racial unrest continued to roil Baltimore following the death in police custody of an unarmed black man, Freddie Gray. Though Obama did not address the incident as directly as he did last week, he touched on the same themes of discontent and disconnect at the heart of protests surrounding Gray's death when arguing for the nonprofit's importance.

"The only difference between me and a lot of other young men," Obama said. "is that I grew up in an environment that was a little more forgiving." Jon Terbush

Say what?
3:07 p.m. ET
Bas Czerwinski/Associated Press

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto said Sunday that there is no place for homosexuality in his country.

"The Republic of Kenya is a republic that worships God," Ruto said. "We have no room for gays and those others."

A spokesperson for Ruto later doubled down on the remark, calling homosexuality "unnatural and un-African."

The remark came on the same day Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kenya to discuss regional security. President Obama will visit Kenya in July. Jon Terbush

Baltimore
2:34 p.m. ET

In a Fox News interview Monday, Mitt Romney criticized Hillary Clinton's recent speech on police reform, saying Clinton was trying to "get more support in the African-American community."

Last week, Clinton called for the use of body cameras in every police department to increase transparency. During her speech at Columbia University, Clinton said that millions fewer Americans would live in poverty if it weren't for the U.S.' mass incarceration practices.

Romney, meanwhile, is having none of it, calling Clinton's speech "political in nature" and "very inappropriate."

"I was concerned that her comments really smacked of politicization of the terrible tragedies that are going on there," Romney said on Fox & Friends Monday, referencing the events in Baltimore. "We don't have mass incarcerations in America. Individuals are brought before tribunals, and they have counsel, they're given certain rights. Are we not going to lock people up who commit crimes, is that what she's suggesting?"

Watch Romney's interview in the video below. —Meghan DeMaria

May the force be with you
1:53 p.m. ET

At least, according to this Star Wars-themed promotional missive in honor of Star Wars Day:

Scott Walker: Star Wars nerd, Yoda-supported, and one slighty elongated last name away from intergalactic glory. Kimberly Alters

This doesn't look good
1:47 p.m. ET
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On Friday, the Pentagon released its annual report on sexual assaults in the military. Now, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has released her own report criticizing the Pentagon's data.

"I don't think the military is being honest about the problem," Gillibrand told The Associated Press. Gillibrand's critique alleges that the Pentagon didn't provide her with accurate assault figures from several military bases, and she says the actual number of sex crimes is more than what the Defense Department reported.

Gillibrand analyzed 107 military assault cases and found that in most cases, the punishments were "too lenient," AP reports. Less than a quarter of the cases went to trial at all, and only 11 led to a conviction for a sex crime. The Pentagon's report stresses that offenders "will be held accountable," AP reports, but Gillibrand questions that claim. As an example, she cites the case of an airman accused of sexual assault by three different victims who was discharged from the military without going to trial.

One of Gillibrand's main issues with the Pentagon report is her concern for the spouses of service members and for civilian women who lived near military bases. Gillibrand said that these people are "especially vulnerable" to assault, AP notes, but they aren't included in the Defense Department's reports. A Defense Department spokesperson, meanwhile, told AP that the department "does not have authority to include civilians in its surveys." Meghan DeMaria

Bridgegate
12:50 p.m. ET
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has strenuously denied that he was aware of the events surrounding the Bridgegate scandal until after the fact, but a new poll from Monmouth University shows that a majority of New Jersey adults don't believe him.

The poll, which surveyed 500 people across the state, found that 56 percent of New Jersey adults believe Christie knew about the politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge as they happened in 2013. Only 33 percent agreed that Christie learned about the lane closures after the event. In addition to believing Christie knew about the lane closures, 50 percent of respondents believed Christie was "personally involved" in the decision, while just 34 percent said Christie was not involved.

Unsurprisingly, the poll was sharply divided by political affiliation. Seventy-one percent of Democrats believed Christie knew about the lane closures as they occurred, versus just 35 percent of Republicans. The poll's release comes as two former Christie aides, Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges connected to the lane closures.

No matter their views on Bridgegate, members of both parties agreed on one thing, though: 54 percent of respondents believed Christie is not doing a good job. Meghan DeMaria

Really?
12:39 p.m. ET
iStock

Five-year-old Connor Ruiz, a special needs student in Philadelphia, New York, has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day at school — and he ended up shackled and handcuffed in a police car as a result.

After the boy began "screaming, kicking, punching and biting" in class, school officials called his parents and the state police. When the police arrived before the parents, they cuffed, shackled, and took Connor away for a psychiatric evaluation. According to his mother, the doctor Connor met said he was just throwing a bad tantrum.

Connor's parents found marks on his wrists from the cuffs, and they plan to sue the school. "An officer told me they had to handcuff his wrists and ankles for their safety," said Connor's mom, Chelsea Ruiz. "I told him that was ridiculous. How could someone fear for their safety when it comes to a small, 5-year-old child?" Bonnie Kristian

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