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The growing number of Patriots opt-outs is fueling conspiracy theories

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The growing number of Patriots opt-outs is fueling conspiracy theories

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Bill Belichick always has a plan.

After inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower, right tackle Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale and lineman Najee Toran all opted out of the 2020 NFL season amid coronavirus concerns, things began to look bleak for the Patriots season. But a league executive who spoke to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday remains confident that Belichick will find a way to make the situation work in his team’s favor.

“Bill is masterminding all of this somehow,” the source told Schefter via text message.

A growing list of NFL players have bowed out of the season — coincidentally as MLB deals with the Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak — though the trend has hit the Patriots organization disproportionately hard. According to CNN, the opt-outs from New England comprise about one-third of all the players opting out across the league.

“I don’t know [what the reason is]! That’s why he is who he is!” the source added.

With no further details provided, one possible interpretation (that many on social media concluded) is that Belichick sees his team’s declining star power as an organic way to find a successor for six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, who left via free agency in March, without having to tank intentionally.

The logical target — not just for the Patriots — would be Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. But with the Heisman frontrunner expected to be highly sought-after and a favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the team would have to end the season with an abysmal record in a soft AFC East to even have a chance at drafting him.

Losing intentionally would typically be an anathema for the stern head coach, and the “Tank for Trevor” theory was quickly rebuffed by current and former players alike.

“No way in hell Belichick tanks this year,” former Patriots cornerback Darius Butler wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Anyone who’s saying that has never been around the guy!”

Chung chimed in and quote-tweeted Butler, “Whoever said that is dumb.”

Belichick-ian or not, the reality is that the calculus has shifted significantly this offseason. The jilted coach and de facto general manager has to rebuild the dynasty he and Brady built in their 20-year run together, with a quarterback room comprised of Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer.

The team was unable to pursue a high-ticket quarterback during free agency due to salary-cap limitations, and eventually signed Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP and former No. 1 overall pick, to a veteran minimum deal in June.

If healthy, the 31-year-old dual threat could bring a lot to the Patriots offense, but Lawrence offers a more attractive long-term solution.

Lawrence, 20, led the Tigers to a National Championship in 2019 as a freshman and has earned a bounty of awards to date, including USA Today’s 2017 High School Player of the Year, 2018 ACC Rookie of the Year, 2018 Cotton Bowl MVP, 2018 CFP National Championship MVP, 2019 First Team All-ACC and 2019 Fiesta Bowl MVP.



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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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