University of Rhode Island tells frats, sororities to shelter in place

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The University of Rhode Island issued a two-week shelter-in-place order Friday for fraternity and sorority members, citing a high number of coronavirus cases in the school’s Greek system.

The school sent the notice in tandem with its Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association.

“We ask our Greek Life students to comply with this request with a focus on returning to full campus participation in 14 days,” the notice said. “We know your collective actions can have a positive impact on our ability to continue the fall semester with face-to-face classes.”

The order is in effect from 9 p.m. Friday to Saturday, Oct. 24, the school said. Members of fraternities and sororities should not leave their houses, on or off campus, whether Greek housing or not, except for medical visits and other essential services, such as grocery shopping and essential employment.

The notice says students will take all classes virtually for the duration of the order and should not visit campus if they don’t already live there.

The school said it based its decision on statistics showing a much higher rate of coronavirus positivity among students in Greek housing, 11.17%, than in total off-campus housing, 3.83%, and the on-campus population, 0.65%.

There was no evidence as of Friday that the virus had been spread in classrooms or labs, the school said. Chapters with no cases can apply for an exception.

Students and chapters that don’t follow guidelines could be suspended or dismissed, the notice said.

Upcoming sorority and fraternity bid days can be held virtually only, the school said.

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Adam Schiff Tells Bill Maher Abolishing Electoral College an ‘Overdue’ Constitutional Change

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and HBO host Bill Maher discussed how the U.S. Constitution “needs fundamental change” Friday night, with both agreeing the Electoral College should be eliminated from the framework.

Schiff said that he supports a rewrite of the U.S. Constitution and amendments that would abolish the Electoral College, but he cautioned that today’s Republican Party would likely hijack the process. The California Democratic congressman said he would prefer to use “discrete amendments” to the Constitution that would overturn controversial money-in-politics Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Maher said any changes to the Founding Fathers’ framework is difficult because many Americans believe the constitution was “literally delivered by Jesus.”

Both Schiff and Maher said they would be in favor of getting rid of the Electoral College system, which today would require two-thirds of the House, two-thirds of the Senate and three-fourth of all states to agree upon. Operating within a governmental system and national populace as divided as America in 2020, Schiff said, this is very unlikely to happen soon.

“I think we’re better off focusing on discrete amendments to the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and make sure that we can have elections untampered or uninfluenced by excessive expenditures and dark money. And I would favor doing away with the Electoral College system,” Schiff told the Real Time with Bill Maher host Friday.

A 2019 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found Republican candidates for president can expect to win 65 percent of future elections because the Electoral College system is set up to favor their party’s voting base. The study analyzed why “inversions”—when the popular vote winner still loses the U.S. presidential election—have happened twice since 2000. And both times, the losers were Democratic candidates,


US faces tight timeline for 2024 moon landing, NASA chief tells Senate

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NASA needs to have a new  lunar lander and giant rocket ready by next year in order to return astronauts to the moon by 2024, the space agency’s chief Jim Bridenstine told Congress Wednesday (Sept. 23). 

In a Senate appropriations committee hearing, Bridenstine said NASA aims to send an uncrewed mission, called Artemis 1, around the moon in November 2021 to prepare for the first orbital mission with astronauts two years later, Artemis 2. The Artemis 3 mission would follow, sending astronauts to the south pole of the moon in 2024. 

Bridenstine said he is worried about the effects on the Artemis program if any of the missions are delayed which could happen for technical or funding reasons. 

“If that Artemis [1] mission pushes too far from 2021, if it starts to encroach on Artemis 2 in 2023, it creates a crescendo where if one [mission] starts getting pushed, the others start getting pushed,” Bridenstine said in the livestreamed broadcast.

Currently, though, everything is on track for a 2024 deadline, Bridenstine added. A design for one or two landers will be finalized in February 2021 (it is currently being competed between three private groups) and Artemis 1 is expected to launch that November. A lengthy “green run” trail for the Space Launch System megarocket,which was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, is underway, keeping the booster on track for its debut launch in November 2021. 

Bridenstine said everyone needs to stick as closely to NASA’s timeline as possible to eliminate programmatic and cost risk from Artemis’ first landing stretching on past 2024. Previous bipartisan agreements, however, suggested a NASA moon landing could be approved as late as 2028 — a possibility that was raised again by the U.S. House of Representatives in January.

The Trump administration’s request is