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Heisman finalists: Bryce Young, Aidan Hutchinson, Kenny Pickett, C.J. Stroud

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Heisman finalists: Bryce Young, Aidan Hutchinson, Kenny Pickett, C.J. Stroud

NEW YORK — Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud were announced Monday as finalists for the Heisman Trophy.

The Heisman will be presented Saturday in New York, returning to its usual routine and date — second Saturday in December — after it was forced to delay and go virtual last year due to the pandemic.

There are some changes this year. The site of the presentation is moving from a theater in Midtown Manhattan, near Times Square, to a smaller venue on the West Side near Lincoln Center.

The process by which Heisman finalists are determined has also been modified. The Heisman Trust announced that starting with this season, there will be four finalists — no more, no fewer — invited to the award presentation ceremony.

In the past the Heisman has invited at least three and as many as six players to the presentation. The number was determined by distribution of vote, with the cut-off decided by the gap between vote-getters.

After a 2021 season in which a Heisman front-runner took a while to emerge and the race seemed wide-open into November, Young closed strong to become the favorite.

The sophomore led a 97-yard, game-tying touchdown drive against rival Auburn two weeks ago, helping the Crimson Tide rally to win the Iron Bowl in overtime.

Then Young broke the Southeastern Conference championship game record with 421 yards passing in a victory against Georgia’s vaunted defense on Saturday. For the season, Young has thrown for 4,322 yards, 43 touchdowns and just four interceptions while guiding the top-ranked Crimson Tide to the College Football Playoff.

As good has Young has been in his first season as Alabama’s starting quarterback, following Heisman finalists Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa, an argument could be made he is not even the clear best player on his own team.

Will Anderson Jr. appeared to be the Tide’s top Heisman contender until Young went off against Georgia. The sophomore outside linebacker leads the nation in tackles for loss with 31.5 and sacks with 15.5, but he didn’t get an invitation to New York.

Nether did Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III, who is second in the nation in rushing at 136 yards per game with 19 touchdowns. The Wake Forest transfer jumped to the top of the Heisman watch lists after scoring five touchdowns in the 11th-ranked Spartans’ victory against Michigan on Oct. 30.

Young could become Alabama’s fourth Heisman winner, second consecutive, but first quarterback.

Tide receiver DeVonta Smith won the Heisman last year. Smith broke a streak of four straight quarterbacks to win the Heisman. Since 2000, 17 quarterbacks have won the trophy. Among the non-quarterback winners are Alabama running backs Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015).

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Howie Carr: Maura Healey’s misses as Massachusetts attorney general

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Howie Carr: Maura Healey’s misses as Massachusetts attorney general

Maura Healey enters the governor’s fight as the automatic front-runner, but the larger question lingers: What exactly are the highlights of her seven-plus years as state attorney general?

As her No. 1 accomplishment, I’d list Healey’s measured response to the orgy of looting and violence by armed left-wing mobs that engulfed Boston on May 31 and June 1, 2020. Among other things, a career thug fired 12 shots at Boston Police officers on Tremont Street, some of which penetrated apartments across from the Common.

“Yes, Boston is burning,” the state’s chief law-enforcement officer said the next day as businesses and property owners tried to clean up millions of dollars of damage in the Third World-style mob violence, “But that’s how forests grow.”

At No. 2, I’m going to cite a lesser-known moment that speaks to her stewardship of the AG’s office.

Do you remember Sonja Farak, the drug-addicted hack chemist at the Department of Public Health. For more than a decade, Farak falsified thousands of criminal drug tests because she was ingesting all the contraband?

She was finally busted in 2013, smoking crack in her car outside the Springfield courthouse when Maura was a mere assistant attorney general.

But the cover-up by the AG’s office that began under Martha Coakley (Marsha, as Patches Kennedy called her) continued when she became attorney general.

Everything I’m about to tell you comes directly from a 2017 ruling by Superior Court Judge Richard Carey. When a report was filed showing how multiple assistant AG’s had tried to cover up Farak’s crimes, which resulted in the railroading of hundreds of accused drug dealers (most of them not white), Maura’s office tried to suppress the report.

Judge Carey reported that Healey’s office filed a “Motion to Impound Grand Jury Materials and Report” on the scandal her office had tried to sweep under the rug.

Then Healey filed a second motion — to “impound its request for its Motion for Order of Non-Dissemination of Information.”

In other words, not only did Healey try to bury the shocking evidence, she also tried to make sure her attempt to suppress the evidence of the criminal conduct by her assistant AG’s involving non-white defendants never saw the light of day.

Judge Carey found that Healey’s office had sunk to “a depth of deceptiveness that constitute a fraud upon the court.”

By the way, Farak was represented in court by a female lawyer from Northampton. One of Maura’s minions referred to the Northampton woman in emails as “the gym teacher.”

When the Board of Bar Overseers finally got around to investigating the actions of the attorney general’s office, their report said that Maura’s assistant who called the Northampton lawyer “the gym teacher” had “demonstrated a disturbing attitude toward defense counsel.”

So why have the media given the Farak scandal such a good leaving-alone? Netflix has done more coverage of Sonja Farak than the amen chorus that is the Boston media.

Imagine how differently a Republican politician would have been treated if he’d tried to suppress a report on prosecutors looking the other way as defendants of color were framed with fake evidence. What would happen to a GOP pol who had an underling who referred to “gym teachers.”

It would be treated like Jan. 6, speaking of which, what would have happened if any Republican, let alone an elected prosecutor, had brushed off the much less violent trespassing that day at the Capitol because “that’s how forests grow”?

When you’re in a state like Massachusetts, though, you don’t have to worry about media scrutiny of any kind.

Seldom is heard a discouraging word, at least if you’re a Democrat. Whatever she did, Maura could keep her current job for life, at least as long as she kept filing an endless stream of frivolous anti-Trump lawsuits, while continuing to underperform her real duties in the fashion of the Texas sheriff in Jim Thompson’s novel “Pop. 1380.”

“I had it made, and it looked like I could go on having it made … as long as I minded my own business and didn’t arrest no one unless I just couldn’t get out of it and they didn’t amount to nothin’.”

That’s exactly how MA attorneys general have always operated, which may explain why they practically never win higher office. Since 1953, one AG has died in office, seven have been defeated in primaries, and one (Marsha Coakley) was twice defeated in runs for higher office.

Ed Brooke is the single exception to the rule. While serving as AG, he was elected to the US Senate — 56 years ago.

Maura’s got $3,670,000 cash on hand, but she’ll need more. That’s why she’s putting the touch on such good-government types as Arthur Winn. Remember that greed head developer?

He admitted in federal court to funneling tens of thousands in illegal campaign contributions to such Democrat titans as Eddie Markey, Steve Lynch and Mike Capuano. He also took care of ex-state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, last seen on an FBI surveillance video stuffing $100 bills into her bra.

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32,909 new coronavirus cases reported in Massachusetts schools in past week

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Boston Public Schools students walk out, saying their schools are unsafe

Coronavirus cases remain at a high level in Bay State schools, but did take a plunge from last week’s whopping count as a total of 32,909 staff and students tested positive in the past week.

The report published on Thursday by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reports 28,151 students and 4,758 staff tested positive for the coronavirus from Jan. 13 to Wednesday. More than 3% of students and staff across the state tested positive.

The total of 32,909 staff and students testing positive is a 32% drop from 48,414 positive K-12 tests in the previous week.

Many school districts have been dealing with major staff shortages following the holiday break, as thousands of educators call out sick with COVID-19.

Coronavirus pool testing is being used in more than 2,200 public and private schools, about double last year’s count, according to DESE. The test positivity rate in school in this report was 13.60%, down from 20.10% in the last report.

Districts with the most cases in the past week includes: 1,273 cases in Boston; 1,204 in Worcester; 875 in Springfield; 575 in Lowell; 527 in New Bedford; 446 in Natick; 435 in Lynn; 399 in Framingham; 363 in Newton; 350 in Chicopee; 333 in Plymouth; 327 in Lawrence; 312 in Quincy; 310 in Shrewsbury; and 300 in Hingham.

Boston Public Schools reported 984 student cases and 289 staff cases in the past week.

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Enbridge says it has stopped groundwater leak caused by punctured aquifer during Line 3 construction

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Enbridge says it has stopped groundwater leak caused by punctured aquifer during Line 3 construction

Enbridge Energy said it has stopped the flow of spilled artesian groundwater that began a year ago when workers installing the Line 3 oil pipeline in northwestern Minnesota punctured an aquifer.

The spill near Enbridge’s terminal in Clearbrook was one of the worst environmental accidents during construction of the 340-mile pipeline in Minnesota. Workers dug too deeply into the ground and the rupture resulted in a 24 million gallon groundwater leak.

The company told the state Department of Natural Resources that it stopped the uncontrolled leak on Tuesday. The DNR said it will monitor the repair and the investigation remains ongoing. The agency is looking at further restoration, mitigation and penalties.

The White Earth Band of Ojibwe and other pipeline opponents have been doing their own investigation, including drone footage, to check for further water impacts. They are calling for more accountability and details about the incident.

State regulators ordered Enbridge to pay $3.3 million and fix the damage. The company missed a deadline in October and paid an additional $40,000.

Line 3 starts in Alberta, Canada, and clips a corner of North Dakota before crossing Minnesota en route to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The project was pronounced complete in September.

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