The Tennessee Star
University of Memphis Announces New Initiative to Push Social Justice Principles on Students
January 4, 2022
University of Memphis officials have offered a $3,000 stipend to professors to redesign existing courses to promote the tenets of social justice. This, as part of the university’s Eradicating Systemic Racism and Promoting Social Justice Initiative.

Senator Marsha Blackburn Introduces Resolution to Oppose Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Workers

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) on Thursday introduced a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) against President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. If fully enacted, the resolution would stop the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from implementing the mandate that impacts almost all healthcare employees and would prevent any similar rule in the future.


Tennessee U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett Suspects Bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Secretly Pulling Strings to Push Country Toward Socialism

U.S. Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) said late last month that he wonders whether certain aspects of inflation haven’t happened by design, as a means of pushing the United States closer to socialism. Burchett said this on the talk show, Over-Caffeinated.


New Law Empowers Tennessee Teachers to Remove Disorderly Students

A new law allowing teachers to discipline students in school is set to take effect as students return to class in the new year. The bill was originally introduced in December of 2020 and was passed in April of 2021; sponsors for the bill were Representative Scott Cepicky (R- 64) and Senator Joey Hensley (R-28). The bill was explained by the Tennessee General Assembly as it "establishes requirements and procedures for teachers to discipline students in the teachers' classrooms, including relocation of a student." The new law states that teachers will be authorized to manage their classrooms and discipline their students. Teachers are allowed to send students to principals' offices if needed, "and to hold students in the teacher's charge strictly accountable for any disorderly conduct in school."


Tennessee Lawmaker Proposes a Return to Voting Without Ballot-Marking Machines

Tennessee Representative Bruce Griffey (R-75) submitted a new bill to protect election safety. The bill would have elections in Tennessee revert to paper ballots and instate other safety measures. The bill was filed for introduction earlier this week.  According to the Tennessee General Assembly, the bill is explained as; As introduced, prohibits the use of voting machines; requires that elections be conducted using hand-marked paper ballots; authorizes pool watchers to record video at the polling place; requires the coordinator of elections to prescribe certain security measures for paper ballots.


Tennessee Lawmaker Concerned New School Funding Formula Could Lead to 'Administrative Bloat'

As Tennessee officials get closer to presenting a new state funding proposal for K-12 public education, at least one state senator is concerned about the costs of record-keeping in the new plan. “The way the bill is going to read, the state is going to give a capitated rate per student to the district and then, for rural schools or economically disadvantaged schools or schools with high amounts of English as a second language, they give bonuses basically,” said Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, a member of the Rural and Small District Subcommittee – one of 18 subcommittees under a steering committee involved in reviewing the state's school funding formula. “Extra money for these extra things that you do.


The Arizona Sun Times
Phoenix Six-Figure Job Growth Ranks Second Among Large U.S. Metros
January 4, 2022
Phoenix has the second highest percentage change in high-paying jobs out of a list of large U.S. metros, according to a Stessa report.  Phoenix saw a 217.1% increase in six-figure jobs from 2015 to 2020, marking the second-largest percentage increase among the nation's largest metropolitan areas. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James and 22 Attorneys General Fight Arizona's Law to Ban Abortions Based on Fetal Abnormalities Like Down Syndrome

This past year, the Arizona Legislature passed a law banning the abortion of babies for reasons of genetic abnormalities such as Down Syndrome, but a federal judge who was appointed by President Barack Obama halted it from going into effect due to a legal challenge. Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James and 22 other attorneys general jumped into the litigation, filing an amicus brief supporting the challenge to SB 1497, which is also known as the “Reason Ban.” James stated, “Arizona is just the latest in the long line of conservative-led states that are seeking to impose their will on millions of women with laws that aim to control our bodies, our choices, and our freedoms, but we will never stop fighting them. We’re asking the appeals court to uphold the lower court’s decision and strike down this unconstitutional law.”


Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Challenges Biden over Hypocrisy of Federal Vaccine Mandates

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who has been a constant critic of vaccine mandates, challenged President Joe Biden over his apparent hypocrisy in handling the coronavirus pandemic. In a recent address, Biden claimed it is not up to the federal government to solve the coronavirus pandemic. However, as Governor Ducey noted, Biden has remained determined to impose federal vaccine mandates for individuals across the country.


Arizona Gov. Ducey Fails to Join Governors Fighting Back Against Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine for Their National Guard

The Biden administration announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all branches of the military on August 25, which applies to members of the Arizona Army National Guard (AZARNG). Although six governors are attempting to stop the mandate for their National Guards, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is not one of them.  AZARNG has not begun discharging any soldiers yet, but intends to follow the lead of other branches of the military, which have. The Department of Defense declared that Army National Guard and Reserve members have until June 30 to receive their shots.


Wet Summer Leads to Record West Nile Infections in Arizona

Arizonans enjoyed a cooler and wetter summer in 2021 but so did mosquitos, which caused West Nile virus infections at rates multiple times higher than previous years. As of Dec. 23, the Arizona Department of Health Services recorded 1,567 known or probable cases of the virus. The agency attributes 99 deaths to the virus.  By contrast, 2020’s dry summer saw 11 total cases and two deaths, one of the lowest years of transmission since the virus was first discovered in 2003. The only year Arizona recorded more cases was in 2004, when the state had 391 cases.


Republican Senate Candidate Is Selling Non-Fungible Tokens to Finance Arizona Campaign

Republican Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters is selling a line of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to finance his campaign, Axios reported. NFTs are unique packets of data stored on the blockchain, a decentralized public ledger distributed across multiple servers, that often correspond to media such as a piece of digital art. Masters’ NFT includes a digital copy of the cover art of “Zero to One,” a book he co-authored with tech billionaire Peter Thiel, along with a signed hardcover print of the book, according to Masters’ website. “This is the first NFT we’re issuing to help share the book’s cool history, and to help raise money for my U.S. Senate campaign, so we can help use Zero to One thinking to save America from the brink of destruction,” Masters, who serves as chief operating officer of Thiel Capital, wrote in announcing the NFT.


The Georgia Star News
Nancy Abudu
Biden Appoints Far-Left Judge for 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
January 4, 2022
President Joe Biden has nominated a far-left judge for a seat on the bench of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.  From Georgia, Nancy Gbana Abudu is a deputy legal director at the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit known for listing conservative organizations as "hate groups," which once inspired a violent attack against the Family Research Council. 

Atlanta Public Schools Say COVID-19 Will Force Them to Operate Virtually Starting Monday

Atlanta Public School (APS) officials announced Saturday that will operate virtually next week for all students and all staff. This, after APS officials said they had reviewed district and community COVID-19 data. They did not elaborate.


Georgia Receives Oral Antiviral COVID-19 Treatments, But Still No Comirnaty

Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) officials this week announced they are allocating Merck and Pfizer oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19 to select retail pharmacies throughout the state. “Initial supply of Molnupiravir and PaxlovidTM from the federal government is very limited. DPH anticipates additional allocations in the coming weeks as production increases,” according to a DPH press release.


Proposal to Double Athens-Clarke County Commissioners’ Salaries Could Backfire on Georgia Community, Commissioner Says

A proposal to more than double Athens-Clarke County commissioners’ salaries from $15,000 per year to $31,000 could discourage good candidates — especially those who are not wealthy — from seeking that office. This, according to County Commissioner Allison Wright.


Gov. Brian Kemp Attracts Criticism After He Tells Georgians He Did What He Promised to Do

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, up for reelection next year, released a campaign ad on Wednesday and told voters he has done everything he said he would do during his first term. Two Republicans running against Kemp said Wednesday that the incumbent governor has fallen short.


Two Separate Georgia Murder Suspects Arrested in Tennessee This Week

Two suspects in separate murders in Georgia were arrested in Tennessee Monday, according to reports.  "The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said 29-year-old Alyssa Danielle Wild of East Dublin, Georgia was pulled over in Franklin," according to WTVC. "Wild is charged with murder in the death of 38-year-old Charles Stephen Holmberg of Cuthbert, Georgia. Holmberg was found shot dead Saturday in a vehicle parked at a motel in Dublin."


The Virginia Star
State Senator Hackworth Introduces Bill to Repeal Requirement that Virginia Schools Pass Transgender Policies
January 4, 2022
Senator Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell) is seeking to repeal a requirement that Virginia school districts pass policies consistent with the Virginia Department of Education's (VDOE) Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students. Alongside policy debates about COVID-19, equity, and accelerated learning, the transgender policies were a major source of contention in 2021 as local school boards were forced to comply with state law -- even when local officials didn't agree with the policy. "Senator Hackworth believes that education decisions are always best made when handled locally among those closest to the children and families served in those schools," Hackworth Legislative Aide Tom Lester said in a statement to The Virginia Star.

Loudoun County Schools Ignore CDC, Will Continue 10 Day Quarantine

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) will not follow new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for quarantine length after exposure to COVID-19.  The new recommendation is a five-day isolation period, instead of the original 10-day isolation period. 


State Senator Reeves Supporting Lawsuit over Decision to Melt Charlottesville Lee Statue

Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) is supporting a lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville over the decision to give the Lee statue to a museum that plans to melt it. The lawsuit argues that the city didn't have a competitive or transparent process to consider offers to take the statue, and additionally argues that melting the statue violates the spirit of state law governing monument removals. According to the lawsuit, the statue has already been delivered to a foundry and broken up, although not yet melted down. "The City can legally remove, relocate, contextualize or cover the Lee monument, but the General Assembly denied the City authority to alter or destroy it," the Trevillian Station Battlefield Foundation and the Ratcliffe Foundation state in the lawsuit.


Virginia College of Emergency Physicians Clarifies Statement About 'Overwhelmed' ERs

Contrary to some reports, the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians (VACEP) confirmed Saturday that the state's hospital emergency departments are not overflowing with COVID-19 positive patients, but rather people seeking COVID-19 tests and people who have other maladies.  "The issue is the high volume of people coming to the [Emergency Departments], many of whom have minor conditions or are showing up for Covid testing (which is limited)," Jeff Kelley of VACEP told The Virginia Star.


Virginia State Sen. Morrissey Introducing Legislation to Strengthen Good Samaritan Law

Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) is drafting legislation to strengthen a Virginia law that protects people from arrest or prosecution for substance-related crimes when experiencing or reporting overdoses. The law was originally passed in 2015 to make sure that people needing emergency medical attention could get needed care. Morrissey said that Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor's office is circumventing the law.


Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Makes Adjustments as Employees Catch COVID

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue is making major adjustments to its services as it deals with an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. "Due to an increase in the number of COVID cases among staff, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD) has implemented temporary staffing adjustments to ensure we maintain the highest level of service possible to our community while balancing personnel challenges," the department said in a press release. "Currently, 66 employees have tested positive for COVID. An additional 12 FCFRD staff are in quarantine."


The Florida Capital Star
Five people standing ini front of a chain link fence
Florida Juvenile Arrests Reach 46-Year Low
January 4, 2022
Last week, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced Florida’s juvenile arrest rate reached a 46-year low. Specifically, the arrest rate is down 51 percent in the last five years. The DJJ praised the findings and the work of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and First Lady Casey DeSantis for their efforts and expanding access to opportunities to Florida’s youth.

Florida's Revenue Collections Continue to Exceed Expectations

The latest General Revenue (GR) report  - released last Thursday - from the Florida Department of Revenue shows that revenue collections continue to exceed expectations. The November numbers continues a series of monthly reports of higher-than-projected revenues. The report comes ahead of the 2022 Florida legislative session which begins in January and is good news for lawmakers, in part, because general revenue plays a critical role in determining the state budget. In addition, the November jobs report revealed Florida’s job growth was six times faster than the nation


Palm Beach Smash and Grab Robbery Nets $1 Million in Merchandise

On Christmas Eve, almost $1 million in handbags were stolen in a smash and grab robbery of luxury bag store Only Authentics in Palm Beach, Florida - a little more than two weeks after thieves initially stole close to $500,000 worth of bags, totaling almost $1.5 million. The two robberies come even after Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the state's plan on December 2nd to help prevent such crimes through the creation of a statewide task force and database known as the Florida Organized Retail Crime Exchange, or FORCE.


State Benefits to be Reduced Due to Low Florida Unemployment Rate

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced earlier this week that an algorithm to determine the number of weeks of benefits will revert back to its pre-pandemic rate. According to state law, when the state unemployment rate is below five percent, the number of weeks for an eligible Floridians to receive benefits is 12 weeks.


Florida Power and Light Rate Increase Appealed by 'Floridians Against Increasing Rates'

An appeal to a settlement approved by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) - that would allow Florida Power and Light (FPL) to increase its utility rates in January 2022 and 2023 - was filed Monday to the Florida Supreme Court by a non-profit advocacy group known as Floridians Against Increasing Rates, or FAIR. The rate increases are part of a four-year plan that would raise the base rates by $692 million in 2022, $560 million in 2023, and a Solar Base Rate Adjustment (SoBRA) allocated to pay for, install, and operate solar energy fields in 2024 and 2025.


Florida Legislative Proposal Could Lead to Cameras in Public School Classrooms

Florida State Rep. Bob Rommel (R-FL-106) is sponsoring legislation that would require public school teachers to wear microphones and be video recorded in classrooms. The live stream of the classroom would also become available for public viewing. The text of the bill also provides stipulations for if there is an interruption in the video feed.


The Ohio Star
COVID Vaccine Parking sign
Ohio State University Medical Center Opens Drive-Thru COVID Testing Site
January 4, 2022
Ohio State University along with CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society, teamed up to open a new drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility capable of administering 1000 tests per day to students at the school. “We know that testing is an important tool in our battle against COVID-19,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas, interim co-leader and chief clinical officer at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center said in a press release. “We remain committed to supporting the central Ohio community and to meeting the increased demand for COVID-19 testing. At this point, our focus is testing individuals with COVID-19 symptoms and those with significant exposures to people known to have COVID-19. Knowing your COVID status can help prevent you from spreading this virus to family members, friends and others you come in close contact with.”

Off-Duty Officer Killed in Cleveland Carjacking Ends Another Violent Year

Cleveland's last homicide in a record-setting 2021 occurred when an off-duty police officer was shot and killed during a carjacking on New Year's Eve.  "Preliminary investigation indicates that a suspect approached the victim in the parking lot of the apartment building with a gun, a struggle ensued and the victim was shot twice by the suspect," Cleveland police said in a statement. "The suspect then fled in the victim’s vehicle. The victim was conveyed to Fairview Hospital by Cleveland EMS where he was pronounced deceased."


Exclusive: FBI Probing Ohio GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Blystone Campaign Finances Says Whistleblower’s Attorney


Ohio Congressman Mike Turner Named Top Republican on House Intelligence Committee

Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH-10) was appointed Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, making him the top GOP official on the committee. Turner, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, has served on the committee since 2015 and is a subcommittee Chairman on the House Armed Services Committee, making him one of the few members of the House of Representatives to hold both positions.


DeWine's Office Declines to Comment on COVID Plan as Cases Surge

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's office told The Ohio Star Thursday that it will not address concerns about whether the current protocols in place to end the COVID-19 are actually working.  The Star asked DeWine's office if, amid the surge of Omicron variant COVID-19 cases, the governor's office had any plan to implement new measures other than mandating mandates and encouraging vaccines that might help control the pandemic. 


Ohio Supreme Court Hears Challenges to State’s New Congressional Map

Ohio Republicans argued voters have more competitive congressional districts than before, despite claims in lawsuits the General Assembly gerrymandered new maps to benefit Republican candidates. Attorney Phillip Strach, who represents Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, told the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday the state’s new congressional district map contains seven competitive districts, at least as many as any other plan offered.


The Minnesota Sun
Doctor Says Minnesota Medical Board Seeks Records of Patients Given Ivermectin
January 4, 2022
Dr. Scott Jensen, a veteran Minnesota family physician locked in a protracted dispute with state regulators over COVID-19, is raising alarm that the state medical board is now seeking the records of his patients who were prescribed Ivermectin. Jensen, who has faced five licensing investigations in 17 months, told Just the News the latest request is "crossing a line" and invades the medical privacy of patients. “If the Board of Medical Practice gets documentation for me … I think there's a lot of folks out there that are concerned that their health privacy would not have been protected, and that indeed they can be identified,” he said in an interview.

Hy-Vee Shoppers Who Want to Defund the Police Angry When Store Debuts Its Own Armed Security

Hy-Vee shoppers who want to defund the police are upset that the popular Midwestern grocery chain has introduced armed security guards amidst rising crime. Hy-Vee operates 285 stores in the Midwest, several of which are located in Minneapolis — where the City Council has allocated funds away from the police and into the Health Department to fund “civilian violence interrupters,” per MPR. However, Hy-Vee customers who support such efforts to defund the police are unhappy with how the grocery store has chosen to protect itself amidst a growing trend of mass thefts from big box retailers.


Minnesota Attorney General Candidate Jim Schultz: 'Minnesota Crippled by Crime, Elected Officials Failed Us'

In an exclusive interview with The Minnesota Sun, candidate for Attorney General Jim Schultz said that over the past three years, Minnesota’s elected officials have “failed us.” Scultz, a graduate from Harvard Law, went on to say that he believes Minnesota has become “crippled by crime.”


Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association Decry 'Troubling Trend' as 'Prosecutorial Policies are Failing to Hold Criminals Accountable'

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association wrote a letter to the Hennepin and Ramsey County attorneys addressing their failure to prosecute some felony crimes. They wrote that they are “especially concerned” that “prosecutorial policies are failing to hold criminals accountable for their actions.”


Kendall Qualls Steps Down from TakeCharge, Hinting at Run for Minnesota Governor

Republican Kendall Qualls announced Tuesday that he is stepping down as president of TakeCharge, a nonprofit he founded earlier this year, prompting speculation that he will be running for governor of Minnesota. Qualls first gained notoriety in 2020 during his unsuccessful bid against Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District. A few months later, he launched TakeCharge, which has focused on inspiring a “new movement in the black community to return it to its cultural roots of faith, family and education.”


A Record Number of Minnesotans Moved to Other States This Year

New Census Bureau population data show that Minnesota’s population grew by just 225 people in 2021. One particularly alarming aspect of this was a loss of 13,453 residents to other states. This was our state’s biggest net loss of domestic migrants to other states in at least 30 years. As Figure 1 shows, until 2001 Minnesota received more residents from other states each year than it lost to them. Since then, in all except for two years, 2017 and 2018, our state has seen more residents leave than have chosen to come here from elsewhere in the United States. The loss of residents in 2021 might be especially large, but it is not a new development.


The Michigan Star
Oxford High School
Oxford, Michigan School District Requires Students to Wear Clear Backpacks Following Deadly Shooting
January 4, 2022
The superintendent of Oxford Community Schools in Michigan says all middle- and high-school students will "for the time being" be required to use clear backpacks upon their return to the classroom, following a recent, fatal school shooting. The announcement came last week, just about one month after 15-year-old gunman Ethan Crumbley opened fire on his classmates, killing four students and injuring seven others. Crumbley faces 24 charges including first-degree murder and terrorism resulting in death, he was charged as an adult. Crumbley's parents, James and Jennifer, were also charged in connection to the shooting.

New Report Shows Michigan Unemployment Agency Paid Out Billions to Fraudulent Claims

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance agency paid out more than $8 billion in fraudulent claims from March 2020 to September 2021, according to a new report from Deloitte. According to the consulting agency, an estimated 10.16 percent of the funds were paid out to individuals "involving likely imposter fraud." Furthermore, an additional 20.21 percent to people "involving likely intentional misrepresentation fraud."


Michigan Approves New U.S. House Map, Leading to an Incumbent Versus Incumbent Primary

Michigan’s independent redistricting commission voted to adopt the state’s new congressional map Tuesday afternoon, with five of the 13 new districts being potentially competitive as both parties fight for control of the House. The new map creates competitive seats along Lake Michigan, around the state capital and in metro Detroit. President Joe Biden would have won seven of the districts in 2020, while former President Donald Trump would have won six, according to David Wasserman, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report. Despite Biden’s narrow edge on the new map, incumbent Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin, Dan Kildee and Andy Levin could be forced to run in very competitive seats as their party faces political headwinds ahead of the 2022 midterms. Republican Rep. Peter Meijer may also face a contentious race in 2022, as his current Grand Rapids-based 3rd district was put into a new district that Biden would have won by nine points in 2020, Wasserman said.


Governor Whitmer Signs Bill to Address Michigan Substitute Teacher Shortage

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Monday signed legislation that aims to limit the state's substitute teacher shortage. House Bill 4294, sponsored by State Representative Brad Paquette (R-Niles), will allow certain school staff members, like secretaries, to fill open substitute teacher positions through the end of the current school year.


Whitmer Kidnapping Plot Suspects Seek Dismissal of Charges, Say FBI Invented Conspiracy

Defense attorneys for five men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) are seeking a dismissal of the indictment, citing "egregious overreaching" by federal officials, who they say invented a conspiracy and entrapped the men. If convicted in the alleged extremist kidnapping conspiracy, the five men – ​​Adam Fox, 38, Barry Croft, 46, Kaleb Franks, 27, Daniel Harris, 24, and Brandon Caserta, 33 – face up to life in prison. "When the government was faced with evidence showing that the defendants had no interest in a kidnapping plot, it refused to accept failure and continued to push its plan," the mens' attorneys wrote.


Michigan Gov. Whitmer Appears to Have Changed Her Mind on Vaccine Mandates

After calling state vaccine mandates a “problem” on Dec. 7, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has apparently changed her mind and now supports them.  "I know if that mandate happens, we're going to lose state employees," Whitmer said on Dec. 7, the Greenville Daily News reported. "That's why I haven't proposed a mandate at the state level. Some states have. We have not, we're waiting to see what happens in court."