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Michelle Wu, Annissa Essaibi-George clash in feisty Boston mayor debate

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Michelle Wu, Annissa Essaibi-George clash in feisty Boston mayor debate

The mayoral debate wrapped up a few minutes before Tuesday night’s Red Sox playoff game, but Annissa Essaibi-George and Michelle Wu swung hard for the fences, going after each other over issues political and personal in an unusually rancorous clash.

The feistiest exchange in the hourlong NBC 10-run debate came as the candidates traded blows over a Herald story about Wu’s connections to a luxury developer after Essaibi-George — who has taken flak for her husband’s business dealings —  brought it up.

“I’d love you to also explain then why your husband — if we’re going to talk about my husband — is a resident agent for this person, and you have no knowledge of him, no relationship to him and in fact, that family didn’t help you and assist you in purchasing your home that you live in today,” Essaibi-George said.

Wu insisted she and her husband “scraped and scrapped to purchase a home, and today I’m grateful and blessed to be able to live in that home, but every penny of it came from the work that my husband and I have put in.”

She then counterattacked, comparing Essaibi-George’s jabs to Trump-style “scare tactics,” adding, “The people of Boston deserve better.”

But Essaibi-George responded, “You should be clearer, you should be more transparent, and I hope that the people of Boston hold you accountable in that response.”

The debate wrapped up at 8 p.m. Tuesday, exactly two weeks to the hour from when polls will close on Election Day. This was the second debate in the general election, and was punchier than the generally staid first affair last week.

Both candidates did keep up normal lines of attack, with Wu painting Esaibi-George as the “status quo” candidate, and the two sparring over rent control, which Wu supports and Essaibi-George opposes in one of the few significant policy differences between the two.

Essaibi-George multiple times accused Wu of taking her ideas, both over the Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and in advocating for clinicians to respond to some 911 calls with cops.

“You’re taking credit for something that I’ve done as a member of the city council,” Essaibi-George said.

Wu pushed back, saying, “I’m disappointed to see a pattern of false statements being made here,” and saying that her opponent’s ideas hadn’t gone far enough.

Wu and Essaibi-George, both at-large city councilors, advanced through September’s preliminary election as the top two vote-getters, with Wu drawing 33% and Essaibi-George 22%.

Polls have shown Wu with a sizable lead heading into the Nov. 2 general contest. The latest, which came out on Tuesday from Suffolk University and The Boston Globe, had Wu up 62% to 30%. That’s a similar margin as other polling has shown.

The winner will become mayor in four weeks on Nov. 16, and will be the first woman and person of color to be elected to the position.

In a rapid-fire round of questions, the candidates had to choose their favorite Bostonians. Wu said Melnea Cass, the famed “first lady of Roxbury. Essaibi-George said her dad, citing his immigration from Tunisia.

They also had to pick their favorite current Red Sox player. Neither fell into the ever-looming Boston politics trap of not knowing one or butchering a name; Essaibi-George picked erstwhile ace pitcher Chris Sale, and Wu chose playoffs hotshot center fielder Kiké Hernandez.

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197,244 COVID-19 vaccine doses wasted in Massachusetts

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197,244 COVID-19 vaccine doses wasted in Massachusetts

Don’t skip that vaccine appointment, updated data on wasted doses shows.

As of this week, 197,244 COVID-19 vax doses have been reported as wasted to the Massachusetts Immunization Information System, health officials report.

Of the 7.57 million total doses shipped to date so far during the pandemic, it represents a vaccine wastage percentage of 2.6%.

“In general, there are a number of reasons why vaccination sites may have to mark doses as wasted, from a cracked vial or an error diluting the vaccine to a freezer malfunction, to name a few,” health officials added.

Thursday’s vaccine report states 5.16 million people in Massachusetts have been fully vaccinated. A further breakdown shows a total of 13.3 million vaccines have been used, and 2.5 million booster shots given.

When is comes to booster shots, Hampshire out west leads the way percentage-wise with 58% of the population boosted up. Cape Cod is close behind, after lagging early in the vax race, at 55% boosted. Suffolk County stands at 45%, state health officials report.

In total, 86% of the Bay State population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

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Elon Musk Reacts to Tesla Competitor’s Sunday NYT Ad Smearing Full Self-Driving

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Elon Musk Reacts to Tesla Competitor’s Sunday NYT Ad Smearing Full Self-Driving
The Dawn Project’s full-page advertisement in Sunday’s New York Times. @andyjayhawk/Twitter

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving system is (again) stirring up a storm of controversy on the internet. The EV maker on Monday released the newest (version 10.9) updates of its FSD Beta to a select group of Tesla owners. The day before, a software safety advocacy organization called “The Dawn Project” placed a full-page advertisement in Sunday’s New York Times, calling Tesla FSD “the worst software ever sold by a Fortune 500 company” and urging the public to not be “crash test dummies for thousands of Tesla cars” with FSD.

The ad was paid for by The Dawn Project’s founder Dan O’Dowd, who is also the CEO of Green Hills Software, a company that provides operating systems to automakers, as well as the aerospace industry.

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After reviewing “many hours” of YouTube videos of drivers testing FSD, O’Dowd arrived at the conclusions that the system commits a “critical driving error,” as defined by the California DMV Driving Performance Evaluation, every eight minutes and that, if the system was used in every passenger vehicle in the U.S., “millions would die every day.”

To prove his point, O’Dowd is offering a $10,000 reward “to the first person who can name another commercial product from a Fortune 500 company that has a critical malfunction every 8 minutes.”

Under O’Dowd’s share of his NYT ad on Twitter, a Tesla investor named Dave Lee suggested in a comment that Green Hills had taken money from Tesla competitors, to which Elon Musk responded, “Green Hills software is a pile of trash.”

According to Green Hills website, the company most recently worked with BMW on its iX electric sports utility vehicle.

O’Dowd argued that nobody knows a product’s flaws better than its competitors. “They tear them apart, they figure out what they do right, they figure out what they do wrong,” he told Fox Business Monday. “They know better, and they’ll tell you. The salesman is never going to tell you those things.”

Tesla has been testing Full Self-Driving Beta for over a year with a small group of Tesla owners who have high “safety scores.” A less advanced driver assistance system called Autopilot is available on all Tesla vehicles.

O’Dowd said the original version of Autopilot was built using Green Hills Software but he later backed away from the project because he didn’t believe it was going to work. Tesla hasn’t confirmed this information.

The latest FSD Beta allows a Tesla vehicle to drive itself to a destination entered in its navigation system. But the driver is required to stay alert and be ready to take control at any time.

FSD is the most expensive driver assistance system in the EV market right now. And it’s getting even pricier with each new iteration. Last week, Tesla announced that the price was scheduled to jump from $10,000 to $12,000 on January 17 with the 10.9 release and that additional increases can be expected as the technology improves.

Musk has recently claimed that there hasn’t been any accident or injury caused by FSD since its launch. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in the process of investigating whether FSD was involved in a Model Y crash that occurred in Brea, California, on November 3.

Elon Musk Reacts to Tesla Competitor’s Sunday NYT Ad Smearing Full Self-Driving

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Guregian: The lowdown on the NFL’s divisional round matchups

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Guregian: The lowdown on the NFL’s divisional round matchups

The AFC and NFC’s semifinalists are set to hit the big stage this weekend in divisional round action.

While the Patriots might be done for the season, searching for answers to improve for next year, there’s still a few more weeks of playoff football left, and interesting matchups all around.

Among the remaining eight teams, there’s plenty of star power at quarterback. At age 44, Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady led the league in passing yards (5,316), and touchdowns (43). The former Patriots great also tops everyone in championship rings with seven.

Is he headed for No. 8?

Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes are also ring-owners. So is San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo, who has two rings from his time in New England, but didn’t play in any of the playoff games.

Beyond the jewelry, Pro Football Focus has seven of the remaining quarterbacks ranked in their Top 15 based on performance this season, led by Cincy’s Joe Burrow, who sits in the top spot. After Burrow, Brady (2), Rodgers (4), and Buffalo’s Josh Allen (5) round out the Top 5.

How do the games shape up? Let’s take a look.

Bengals at Titans

When: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)

Where: Nissan Stadium

Biggest concern for Bengals: Joe Burrow was sacked a league-leading 51 times during the year. Can the offensive line keep Burrow upright against the Titans, who were among the league leaders in sacks (43)?

Biggest concern for Titans: The expectation is for star running back Derrick Henry to play. He’s been sidelined since Week 9 with a Jones fracture in his right foot. It remains to be seen how much of an impact he’ll have coming off that type of injury.

Bengals stat of note: The first team ever with a 4,000-yard passer (Burrow), a 1,000-yard rusher (Joe Mixon) and two 1,000-yard receivers (Ja’Marr Chase & Tee Higgins).

Titans stat of note: Henry is the only player in the NFL with 10-plus rushing touchdowns in each of the past four seasons.

Lowdown: The Titans, as the AFC’s top seed, are seeing their first action in the 2021 playoffs. They should have all of their key players on offense (A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, Henry) together for the first time since November. They’ll need all hands on deck to compete with the firepower of the Bengals offense.

Burrow’s connection with Chase (13 TDs) is frightening for any defense. If the Titans manage to contain that threat, there’s still Higgins, Tyler Boyd and tight end C.J. Uzomah, who had six catches last week in the Wild Card round. Mixon, who rushed for over 1,000 yards, offers some balance to the attack.

While the Titans defense has improved, it has on occasion proved vulnerable in the secondary.

Overall, however, the Bengals defense has surrendered more points per game (27.1) and yards per game (350.8) than the Titans.

The Bengals also lost starting defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a season-ending foot injury in Saturday’s win. Pro Bowl defensive end Trey Hendrickson was in concussion protocol, but was back at practice.

This game certainly has the potential for an upset. Just not totally sold on the Bengals defense, or offensive line. The Bengals have the edge at quarterback, with Burrow over Ryan Tannehill, but the Titans get the checkmark on defense and at head coach. Mike Vrabel should come up with a game plan to slow Burrow & Co. for the Titans to advance.

Prediction: Titans 28, Bengals 24

49ers at Packers

When: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (FOX, FOX Deportes)

Where: Lambeau Field

Biggest concern for 49ers: Whether Jimmy Garoppolo can deliver with thumb and shoulder injuries.

Biggest concern for Packers: Stopping the run. The Packers were 30th overall during the regular season, allowing 4.7 yards per carry. The last three games, the number climbed to 5.6 yards per rush.

49ers stat of note: Defensive end Nick Bosa (21) tied with Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt for the most tackles for loss in 2021.

Packers stat of note: They’re the only team with an undefeated record (8-0) at home during the 2021 regular season.

Skinny: In the strange but true department, Aaron Rodgers is 0-3 against the 49ers in the playoffs. Will that have any bearing in this game?

Doubt it.

The Packers are the NFC’s top seed, and record-wise (13-4), the best team in football. Rodgers has put together an MVP-type season. He’s been in total command of the Packers offense, with 37 TD passes and just four INTs.

The Niners have a decent pass rush to try and rattle Rodgers. Bosa, however, suffered a head injury in Sunday’s win over Dallas. He has advanced through the NFL’s concussion protocol, practicing in a limited fashion Wednesday and has a decent chance to play. Linebacker Fred Warner suffered an ankle injury, but he took to social media to tell fans he was a go.

As for Jimmy G., all he seems to do is win, whether he plays well or not. His thumb injury is going to be tougher to overcome, especially in the cold. Niners receiver Deebo Samuel is a stud, but so is Davante Adams for the Packers, who had 12 catches for 132 yards during the two teams’ regular season meeting, won by the Packers.

Bottom line, it’s going to be tough to knock Rodgers out, especially at Lambeau.

Prediction: Packers 31, 49ers 21

Rams at Buccaneers

When: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (NBC, Peacock Universo)

Where: Raymond James Stadium

Biggest concern for Rams: Which team will show up? The one that blew a 17-point lead to the Niners in Week 18, or the one that just blew out the Cardinals in the Wild Card round?

Biggest concern for Bucs: Injuries to key players on offense finally catching up. WR Chris Godwin suffered a season-ending knee injury, while RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and RB Ronald Jones (ankle) weren’t healthy enough to play in the Wild Card round. Center Ryan Jensen and All-Pro RT Tristan Wirfs are also battling injuries.

Key Rams stat: Cooper Kupp became the 4th player since 1970 to lead the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947), and receiving touchdowns (16) in the same season.

Key Bucs stat: Tom Brady is the All-Time NFL postseason leader in games played (46), wins (35), passing TDs (85), Super Bowl titles (7) and Super Bowl MVPs (5).

Skinny: The Rams took down the Bucs Week 3, 34-24. Brady, of course, will be looking to avenge that loss and advance to the NFC Championship game. This time around, however, he’ll have to do it with a lot of missing parts.

Brady, of course, looked great against the Eagles in the Wild Card game playing with a cast of backups, but took a beating in the process with Jensen hobbled, and Wirfs eventually leaving the game with an ankle injury. The Rams, Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller in particular, will be looking to tee off on the GOAT and make his life miserable.

Matthew Stafford, meanwhile, threw a few too many picks down the stretch, but cleaned up his act against Arizona throwing two TDs, with a 154.5 rating. In the meeting earlier in the year against the Bucs, he passed for 343 yards with 4 TDs and no picks. And after many years of frustration in Detroit, Stafford won his first playoff game last week against the Cardinals.

The head says go with the Rams over the depleted Bucs.

But in the end, it’s never a good idea to bet against Brady. If there’s a way to win, he’ll find it. He’ll certainly be handicapped with a makeshift offensive line, and several of his key weapons likely not playing. It doesn’t make sense for a 44-year-old to overcome such obstacles. But then again, Brady’s made a living proving all the doubters wrong.

Prediction: Bucs 30, Rams 27

Bills at Chiefs

When: Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)

Where: Arrowhead Stadium

Biggest concern for Bills: Can Josh Allen duplicate his other-worldly performances against the Patriots, or will he come back to earth?

Biggest concern for Chiefs: The defense. Steve Spagnuolo’s unit has been up and down much of the year. Of late, they’ve put up a few stinkers.

Key Bills stat: Only team in the NFL to rank in the Top 5 in total offense (381.9 yards per game) and total defense (272.8 yards allowed per game).

Key Chiefs stat: Patrick Mahomes is second behind Dan Marino (168) with the most TD passes his first five seasons (151).

Skinny: Naturally, the NFL is saving the best for last. This is a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. The Chiefs were the superior team last year, and the Bills spent the entire offseason vowing to improve and take down Mahomes & Co. this time around. They did so earlier in the year in a rout, 38-20, at Arrowhead.

The playoffs, however, are a different animal.

Can the Bills do it again? If Allen plays as well as he did against Bill Belichick’s team the last two games, never punting, while scoring every time he touched the ball, the Bills are going to be tough to beat.

Both the Chiefs and Bills have had impressive wins, but also a few head-scratching losses along the ride. At this stage, though, it’s hard to believe the game won’t live up to the hype. Both Mahomes and Allen took it up a notch last week. This one’s a heavyweight fight all the way. It’s hard to believe Mahomes vs. Allen won’t be a great duel. Predicting a slight upset in this one.

Prediction: Bills 35, Chiefs 31

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