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Cowboys visit Commanders with chance to still win NFC East

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Cowboys visit Commanders with chance to still win NFC East

DALLAS (12-4) at WASHINGTON (7-8-1)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST, Fox

FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Cowboys by 7½

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Cowboys 10-6; Commanders 7-8-1

SERIES RECORD: Cowboys lead 75-47-2.

LAST MEETING: Cowboys beat Commanders 25-10 on Oct. 2, 2022, at Dallas.

LAST WEEK: Cowboys beat Titans 27-13; Commanders lost to Browns 24-10.

COWBOYS OFFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (7), PASS (14), SCORING (2)

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COWBOYS DEFENSE: OVERALL (14), RUSH (T-21), PASS (10), SCORING (7)

COMMANDERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (20), RUSH (14), PASS (20), SCORING (25)

COMMANDERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (5), RUSH (14), PASS (5), SCORING (14)

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Cowboys plus-11; Commanders minus-6

COWBOYS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Dak Prescott has a six-game interception streak for the first time in his career. However, the Cowboys are 5-1 in those games, and the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year does have more TD passes (14) than picks (10) in this stretch. Still, the interceptions need to stop for the playoff-bound Cowboys. Despite missing five games with a broken thumb, Prescott enters the week tied with Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins and the benched Derek Carr in Las Vegas for the NFL lead with 14 picks.

COMMANDERS PLAYER TO WATCH: Rookie QB Sam Howell is making his pro debut after Washington was eliminated from playoff contention. Playing behind a makeshift offensive line and without the top two Commanders quarterbacks against a strong pass rush is not setting up Howell for success, but the organization needs to see what he can do under pressure.

KEY MATCHUP: Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy against the out-of-town scoreboard. Because Dallas needs the Philadelphia Eagles to lose to the New York Giants — in addition to beating Washington — to win the division, decisions could be made based on how the other NFC East game is going. McCarthy will try to keep an eye on the Giants-Eagles to rest top players if it becomes prudent but also said he will coach to win.

KEY INJURIES: RB Tony Pollard could return after missing a game with a thigh injury. Barring a huge game from two-time rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard will be the first back not named Elliott to lead the Cowboys in rushing since Elliott was drafted fourth overall in 2016. … C Tyler Biadasz is likely out after spraining his right ankle against the Titans, but could be ready for the playoffs. The same is true for LB Leighton Vander Esch, who injured his neck three weeks ago against Jacksonville. … The Commanders are expected to be without RBs Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson, Pro Bowl DT Jonathan Allen, CB Benjamin St-Juste and S Kam Curl, among others.

SERIES NOTES: The Cowboys have won three in a row against Washington, their third streak at least that long since the start of 2016. That’s the year Prescott and Elliott had their standout rookie seasons together and Dallas earned the No. 1 seed. … Dallas is 10-3 against Washington since Prescott and Elliott were drafted. … This is the 13th consecutive season Washington has finished the regular season against a divisional opponent. The Commanders need to win to avoid the franchise’s sixth consecutive losing season. …. This could be Dan Snyder’s final game as owner, with he and wife Tanya looking to sell the team he bought in 1999.

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STATS AND STUFF: Beyond needing to win and for Philadelphia to lose to clinch the division, the Cowboys also need San Francisco to lose at home to 4-12 Arizona to get the bye as the NFC’s top seed. … Dallas is 10-1 against the NFC East the past two seasons. … One TD pass will move Prescott past Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman for second on the club’s career list with 166. Tony Romo had 247. … One more rushing touchdown by Pollard would make him and Elliott the first pair of NFL backs with at least 10 apiece in a season since Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in 2008. Elliott has scored at least one rushing TD in a career-best nine consecutive games. … Elliott needs 42 scrimmage yards to keep alive the seventh-year pro’s streak of having at least 1,000 each season. … Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb needs 10 catches to break Michael Irvin’s single-season club record of 111 from 1995, which came in a 16-game season. … TE Dalton Schultz had two TD catches against the Titans. … LB Micah Parsons leads the NFL with six multi-sack games but hasn’t had one since Week 12. … S Donovan Wilson leads NFL defensive backs with five sacks. He’s tied with Bill Bates (1984) for the single-season franchise record for sacks by a DB. … Dallas leads the NFL with 32 takeaways after finishing last season with a league-best 34. The Cowboys can become the first team to lead the NFL in takeaways in consecutive seasons since the “Steel Curtain” Pittsburgh Steelers did it three years in a row from 1972-74. … Dallas leads the NFL with 20 forced fumbles, the most for the franchise since the stat became official in 1994. … The Commanders benched QB Carson Wentz after he threw three interceptions in the Browns game. Taylor Heinicke is expected to back up Howell. … RBs Jonathan Williams and Jaret Patterson could split carries with Gibson and Robinson injured. … WR Terry McLaurin leads Washington with 74 catches and 1,117 yards receiving. He needs 2 yards to set a career high. … Jahan Dotson is tied for most TD catches by a rookie with seven. … TE Logan Thomas led the Commanders with six catches and 56 yards receiving against Cleveland. … Pending free agent DT Daron Payne could be playing his final game with Washington. He leads the team with a career-best 11 1/2 sacks and 18 tackles for loss.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli leaders on Sunday credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct Iranian attack involving hundreds of drones and missiles, calling the coordinated response a starting point for a “strategic alliance” of regional opposition to Tehran.

But Israel’s War Cabinet met without making a decision on next steps, an official said, as a nervous world waited for any sign of further escalation of the former shadow war.

The military coalition, led by the United States, Britain and France and appearing to include a number of Middle Eastern countries, gave Israel support at a time when it finds itself isolated over its war against Hamas in Gaza. The coalition also could serve as a model for regional relations when that war ends.

“This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East,” said the Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

One unknown is which of Israel’s neighbors participated in the shooting down of the vast majority of about 350 drones and missiles Iran launched. Israeli military officials and a key War Cabinet member noted additional “partners” without naming them. When pressed, White House national security spokesman John Kirby would not name them either.

But one appeared to be Jordan, which described its action as self-defense.

“There was an assessment that there was a real danger of Iranian marches and missiles falling on Jordan, and the armed forces dealt with this danger. And if this danger came from Israel, Jordan would take the same action,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said in an interview on Al-Mamlaka state television. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday.

The U.S. has long tried to forge a regionwide alliance against Iran as a way of integrating Israel and boosting ties with the Arab world. The effort has included the 2020 Abraham Accords, which established diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries, and having Israel in the U.S. military’s Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East and works closely with the armies of moderate Arab states.

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The U.S. had been working to establish full relations between Israel and regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack sparked Israel’s war in Gaza. The war, which has claimed over 33,700 Palestinian lives, has frozen those efforts due to widespread outrage across the Arab world. But it appears that some behind-the-scenes cooperation has continued, and the White House has held out hopes of forging Israel-Saudi ties as part of a postwar plan.

Just ahead of Iran’s attack, the commander of CENTCOM, Gen. Erik Kurilla, visited Israel to map out a strategy.

Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, on Sunday thanked CENTCOM for the joint defensive effort. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are under the CENTCOM umbrella. While neither acknowledged involvement in intercepting Iran’s launches, the Israeli military released a map showing missiles traveling through the airspace of both nations.

“Arab countries came to the aid of Israel in stopping the attack because they understand that regional organizing is required against Iran, otherwise they will be next in line,” Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said he had spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and that the cooperation “highlighted the opportunity to establish an international coalition and strategic alliance to counter the threat posed by Iran.”

The White House signaled that it hopes to build on the partnerships and urged Israel to think twice before striking Iran. U.S. officials said Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington would not participate in any offensive action against Iran.

Israel’s War Cabinet met late Sunday to discuss a possible response, but an Israeli official familiar with the talks said no decisions had been made. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing confidential deliberations.

Asked about plans for retaliation, Hagari declined to comment directly. “We are at high readiness in all fronts,” he said.

“We will build a regional coalition and collect the price from Iran, in the way and at the time that suits us,” said a key War Cabinet member, Benny Gantz.

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Iran launched the attack in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel that hit an Iranian consular building in Syria this month and killed two Iranian generals.

By Sunday morning, Iran said the attack was over, and Israel reopened its airspace. Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, claimed Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned that “any new adventures against the interests of the Iranian nation would be met with a heavier and regretful response from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The foes have been engaged in a shadow war for years, but Sunday’s assault was the first time Iran launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran said it targeted Israeli facilities involved in the Damascus strike, and that it told the White House early Sunday that the operation would be “minimalistic.”

But U.S. officials said Iran’s intent was to “destroy and cause casualties” and that if successful, the strikes would have caused an “uncontrollable” escalation. At one point, at least 100 ballistic missiles were in the air with just minutes of flight time to Israel, the officials said.

Israel said more than 99% of what Iran fired was intercepted, with just a few missiles getting through. An Israeli airbase sustained minor damage.

Israel has over the years established — often with the help of the U.S. — a multilayered air-defense network that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats, including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range rockets.

That system, along with collaboration with the U.S. and others, helped thwart what could have been a far more devastating assault at a time when Israel is already deeply engaged in Gaza as well as low-level fighting on its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.

While thwarting the Iranian onslaught could help restore Israel’s image after the Hamas attack in October, what the Middle East’s best-equipped army does next will be closely watched in the region and in Western capitals — especially as Israel seeks to develop the coalition it praised Sunday.

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In Washington, Biden pledged to convene allies to develop a unified response. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. would hold talks with allies. After an urgent meeting, the Group of Seven countries unanimously condemned Iran’s attack and said they stood ready to take “further measures.”

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel’s war in Gaza. In the Oct. 7 attack, militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, also backed by Iran, killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others. Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed over 33,000 people, according to local health officials.

Hamas welcomed Iran’s attack, saying it was “a natural right and a deserved response” to the strike in Syria. It urged the Iran-backed groups in the region to continue to support Hamas in the war.

Hezbollah also welcomed the attack. Almost immediately after the war in Gaza erupted, Hezbollah began attacking Israel’s northern border. The two sides have been involved in daily exchanges of fire, while Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have launched rockets and missiles toward Israel.

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Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Michelle L. Price in Washington; Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Samy Magdy in Cairo; Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan; and Giada Zampano in Rome contributed to this report.

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

New York lawmakers are proposing rules to humanely drive down the population of rats and other rodents, eyeing contraception and a ban on glue traps as alternatives to poison or a slow, brutal death.

Politicians have long come up with creative ways to battle the rodents, but some lawmakers are now proposing city and statewide measures to do more.

In New York City, the idea to distribute rat contraceptives got fresh attention in city government Thursday following the death of an escaped zoo owl, known as Flaco, who was found dead with rat poison in his system.

City Council Member Shaun Abreu proposed a city ordinance Thursday that would establish a pilot program for controlling the millions of rats lurking in subway stations and empty lots by using birth control instead of lethal chemicals. Abreu, chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, said the contraceptives also are more ethical and humane than other methods.

The contraceptive, called ContraPest, is contained in salty, fatty pellets that are scattered in rat-infested areas as bait. It works by targeting ovarian function in female rats and disrupting sperm cell production in males, The New York Times reported.

New York exterminators currently kill rats using snap and glue traps, poisons that make them bleed internally, and carbon monoxide gas that can suffocate them in burrows. Some hobbyists have even trained their dogs to hunt them.

Rashad Edwards, a film and television actor who runs pest management company Scurry Inc. in New York City with his wife, said the best method he has found when dealing with rodents is carbon monoxide.

He tries to use the most humane method possible, and carbon monoxide euthanizes the rats slowly, putting them to sleep and killing them. Edwards avoids using rat poison whenever possible because it is dangerous and torturous to the rodents, he said.

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Some lawmakers in Albany are considering a statewide ban on glue boards under a bill moving through the Legislature. The traps, usually made from a slab of cardboard or plastic coated in a sticky material, can also ensnare small animals that land on its surface.

Edwards opposes a ban on sticky traps, because he uses them on other pests, such as ants, to reduce overall pesticide use. When ants get into a house, he uses sticky traps to figure out where they’re most often passing by. It helps him narrow zones of pesticide use “so that you don’t go spray the entire place.”

“This is not a problem we can kill our way out of,” said Jakob Shaw, a special project manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “It’s time to embrace these more common sense and humane methods.”

Two cities in California have passed bans on glue traps in recent years. On the federal level, a bill currently in committee would ban the traps nationwide.

“It ends a really inhumane practice of managing rat populations,” said Jabari Brisport, the New York state senator who represents part of Brooklyn and sponsored the bill proposing the new guidelines. “There are more effective and more humane ways to deal with rats.”

Every generation of New Yorkers has struggled to control rat populations. Mayor Eric Adams hired a “rat czar” last year tasked with battling the detested rodents. Last month, New York City reduced the amount of food served up to rats by mandating all businesses to put trash out in boxes.

While the war on rats has no end in sight, the exterminator Edwards said we can learn a lot from their resilience. The rodents, he said, can never be eradicated, only managed.

“They’re very smart, and they’re very wise,” he said. “It’s very inspiring but just — not in my house.”

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A small earthquake shook the Southern California desert Saturday near Coachella, where the famous music festival is being held this weekend. No damage or injuries were reported.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 3.8, hit at 9:08 a.m. about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Borrego Springs in Riverside County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter was about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Coachella. It struck at a depth of about 7 miles (11 kilometers), the USGS said.

A dispatcher with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said there were no calls reporting any problems from the quake.

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