Political

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A chaotic campaign helped save Rhode Island’s House speaker in 2016. Now it threatens to end his political career

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“I used to joke with people, ‘Are you sure you want to be seen with me? Because the speaker could be watching.’” Frias recalled in an interview last week.

Turns out, even that was true.

Last week’s criminal trial of former Mattiello campaign consultant Jeffrey T. Britt was meant to determine whether Britt laundered $1,000 to help pay for a postcard mailer designed to boost Mattiello during that 2016 campaign. But it also offered a rare glimpse into the win-at-all-costs culture of politics, as witness after witness detailed the strategies employed to help defeat Frias.

Those tactics included surveillance conducted on Frias by a semi-retired private investigator who was seeking a state job, a mail-ballot operation run by a veteran operative who had previous tours of political duty with some of the state’s most corrupt politicians, and the mailer that Britt orchestrated to try to convince a handful of Republicans to back the Democrat in the race.

In the end, Mattiello won the race by 85 votes, a razor-thin margin where almost any maneuver could have tipped the scales in the speaker’s favor.

Now, with early voting scheduled to begin Wednesday, Mattiello’s back is against the wall again as he faces a serious challenge from Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, the Republican wife of Cranston’s popular mayor, who is eager to capitalize on the seedy details that came out during last week’s trial.

But Mattiello, who was never charged, testified that he knew nothing about the controversial mailer until it hit mailboxes in his district, and a key campaign aide described the mailer as “Jeff Britt’s project.”

The judge has said he won’t issue a ruling for five to seven weeks. So that means voters will render their decision first, in the Nov. 3 general election.

“I think it clearly crossed a

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College football’s COVID-19 approach reflects scientific, political gaps

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CLOSE

R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.

USA TODAY

To avoid local public health restrictions during the pandemic, San Jose State University last week made a drastic move.

It decided to bus its football team 325 miles north to Humboldt County, where the Spartans started practicing on another college campus indefinitely while completing classwork online.

The relocation is designed to let the team have larger practices in a less restrictive county. Such preparation was “imperative” as the team’s season opener approached on Oct. 24, athletics director Marie Tuite said in a statement.

The team’s home county saw it differently.

“We are very disappointed to see any team going outside the county to circumvent a process that was put in place to ensure the safety of its players and staff,” Santa Clara County said in a statement to USA TODAY.

Such is the state of disruption these days in college football. It’s all over the map, including by bus.   

Several leagues are trying to come back this month and next after initially deciding it was safer to wait until 2021, including those with members that still hadn’t been cleared for regular practices under local health orders as of Wednesday, such as Stanford and Colorado.

Lower-profile leagues are sticking with their decision not to play this year, such as the Ivy League. Other major leagues with large followings in the South and Texas are playing more like normal, with some limited stadium attendance of around 15,000 or more. On Monday, LSU even said it would no longer require a medical wellness check to enter the stadium. 

“We’re living in a big experiment right now,” said Yvonne Maldonado, an infectious disease expert at Stanford who consulted with the Pac-12

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Former Obama education secretary forms political group

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A former U.S. education secretary and potential candidate for governor of Maryland in 2022 announced a new political group in the state on Monday that includes other alumni of former President Barack Obama’s administration.



FILE  - In this Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, file photo, then-Education Secretary John King Jr. speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington. John King, Jr., who served as U.S. education secretary in former President Barack Obama’s administration, announced Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, he is forming a political nonprofit organization called Strong Future Maryland to focus on battling systemic racism. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)


© Provided by Associated Press
FILE – In this Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, file photo, then-Education Secretary John King Jr. speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington. John King, Jr., who served as U.S. education secretary in former President Barack Obama’s administration, announced Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, he is forming a political nonprofit organization called Strong Future Maryland to focus on battling systemic racism. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

John King, Jr., who served as Obama’s education secretary in the last year of his presidency, said Strong Future Maryland will focus on helping Maryland recover from the coronavirus pandemic and battling systemic racism.

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King also said the group will focus on advancing action to fight climate change.

“This effort is really one to try to put some additional wind in the sail of progressive policy change in the legislature,” King, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, said in an interview Monday.

King said he has raised more than $1 million to fund the organization.

Strong Future Maryland will include other former officials in the Obama administration, including Denis McDonough, who was the former president’s chief of staff, and Cecilia Munoz, Obama’s former domestic policy adviser.

Democrats control the Maryland General Assembly. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is term-limited, so the governor’s office will be open in 2022.

While King said the new organization’s aims were on advancing long-term goals beyond a single election, he said it’s fair to say he’s not ruling out a gubernatorial bid.

“It’s really about long-term structural change that will create a more just,

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A Life on Our Planet Nails the Planetary Problems But Misses the Political Ones

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David Attenborough is 93. Over the course of his lifetime, the beloved natural historian and broadcaster has seen the planet go through unimaginable changes. Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have soared, as has the human population, while biodiversity has declined precipitously. He details these shifts in a new documentary released on Netflix on Sunday, which he calls his “witness statement” for the natural world.



David Attenborough wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: David Attenborough in the new film David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.


© Screenshot: Netflix (Getty Images)
David Attenborough in the new film David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.

The new film, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, beautifully and persuasively argues in favor of a fundamental reshaping of humanity’s relationship with nature. But in doing so, it misses something more subtle: the fact that not all of humanity are equally responsible for exploiting Earth.

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That’s not to say it’s not well worth a watch. The new movie is both deeply moving and visually stunning. In it, we’re treated to footage of Attenborough’s decades of adventures chronicling incredible ecosystems around the globe, from the Amazon rainforest to the Arctic.

As is typical for an Attenborough film, the footage is paired with equally lush narration, in which the historian explains the ways he saw the world shift from his up-close-and-personal vantage point. Species that were once common became scarce and hard to find. More coral, under stress from unprecedentedly high ocean temperatures, begun to expel its colorful algae and turn a deathly white. More trees were cleared for agriculture. And thanks to power plants and vehicles spewing out far more dangerous planet-warming pollutants and the devastation of the world’s carbon sinks, the planet has warmed by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) in his lifetime. 

“We are facing nothing less than the collapse of the living world,” he says in the movie.

If we