Former Knoxville Utilities Board Employees Paid More Than $10K for Time They Did Not Work

Two former employees of the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) collected more than $10,500 in pay for hours they did not work between 2016 and 2019, an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s office found.

Utilities board officials reported questionable compensation of two employees – an engineering associate and a student worker – prompting an investigation by the state comptroller.

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Landmarks in 24 States Will Light Up for National School Choice Week

Parents looking to alternatives to educate their children, unhappy with state lockdowns and public school system approaches to learning can find resources available through National School Choice Week 2021 events being held all this week.

The events and resources are designed to empower parents with information about the best educational environments and options for their children.

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Pelosi Says She’s ‘Not Worried’ Impeachment Will Alienate Trump Supporters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she’s “not worried” that impeachment will alienate former President Donald Trump’s supporters.

“No, I’m not worried about that. The fact is the president committed an act of incitement of insurrection. I don’t think it’s very unifying to say oh let’s just forget it and move on. That’s not how you unify,” Pelosi said.

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China Fails to Purchase Amount of U.S. Goods Promised in Phase One Trade Deal, Report Finds

China came $73.1 billion short of the total amount of U.S. goods it promised to purchase in the phase one trade deal between the two nations, according to a Peterson Institute for International Economics report.

While it agreed to purchase $173.1 billion in U.S. goods by the end of 2020, China purchased just $100 billion worth of goods, according to import data analyzed by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE). In January 2020, former President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed the phase one trade deal, which was aimed at resolving long-running China-U.S. trade disputes, and in February the deal went into effect.

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McCarthy Says He Wants Cheney to Remain in House GOP Leadership Following Impeachment Vote

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that he wants Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney to remain in GOP leadership following her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

Though he backed Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, he added there were still “questions that needed to be answered” regarding the “style in which things were delivered,” and that the topic would be discussed when the GOP conference meets next week.

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Several Pro-Lockdown Politicians Suddenly Support Reopening

Several governors and other elected officials across the country who previously implemented strict lockdown measures have flip-flopped once again, and some now support reopening their various states, as reported by the Daily Caller.

One of the most glaring examples is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), whose lockdown measures caused a crash in the state’s economy, and forced many residents – especially in New York City – to flee the state altogether. After months of justifying such measures, Cuomo tweeted on January 11th that “we simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass,” saying that “the cost is too high” and “we will have nothing left to open.”

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Music Spotlight: Daniel Borge

Daniel Borge is an up-and-coming country music star. When I heard his single, “There I Was” I could tell this song offered the classical country story with a more modern sound. What I didn’t realize was that Borge is from Norway and English is not his first language.

In many ways, Borge’s journey to country music is one of the most unique stories I have heard. However, his path follows one of the most common themes. He learned to sing in church. His dad is a preacher and even though they live in Norway, they played/sang American gospel music.

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Produce Shortages Possible as Workers Strike for Higher Wages over Pandemic Risks

Produce distributed by Hunts Point Produce Market, the largest U.S. wholesale produce market, faces possible shortages as the company’s workers protest in favor of a wage increase, The New York Times reported.

Unionized workers at Hunts Point Produce Market, which plays a central role in New York City’s food supply chain supplying produce to supermarkets and restaurants, entered their sixth straight day of the strike Friday, The New York Times reported. The workers, members of the Teamsters, had asked for an additional $1 per hour wage increase, but the market countered with a $0.32 per hour wage increase.

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Commentary: The Keystone Cancellation and Biden’s Climate Cronyism

Among many executive actions signed on Inauguration Day to sweep Trump policies out the door along with the man himself, President Biden rescinded approval for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Keystone XL, according to Biden’s top climate policy adviser Gina McCarthy, “was not consistent with addressing the climate crisis to the depth and scope that we are planning to address it.”

Keystone XL has now played the role of political football for a full decade, and Americans can be forgiven for having forgotten the project’s details.

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Virginia GOP Moves Forward with Nominating Convention Amidst Chaos and Intense Division

After another stalemate between pro-primary and pro-convention factions of the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) State Central Committee (SCC), Chairman Rich Anderson said he will move forward with plans for a convention.

“The majority of the SCC voted today for a third time to conduct an assembled in-person Republican State Convention. Our hope is to get SCC buy-in in a later meeting on proposals to transform it to an unassembled state convention, like we did last summer,” Anderson told The Virginia Star.

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Delegate Mullin Introduces HB 2263 to End Virginia’s Death Penalty

Delegate Mike Mullin (D-Newport News) has introduced HB 2263, which would abolish the death penalty in Virginia. The bill has attracted support from leading Democratic policy makers; co-patrons of the bill are House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), attorney general candidate Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), gubernatorial candidate Delegate Lee Carter (D-Manassas), and 40-year House member Delegate Ken Plum (D-Fairfax). In his 2021 State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Ralph Northam also advocated ending the death penalty.

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Michigan Health Director Resigns as Restaurants Set to Reopen

The top health official in Michigan has abruptly resigned as the state plans to reopen restaurants in the coming weeks, after months of strict lockdown orders.

“Today, I am resigning from the Whitmer Administration. It’s been an honor to serve alongside wonderful colleagues. I look forward to the next chapter,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said Friday on Twitter. 

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Georgia Department of Economic Development Seeks State Funding to Restore Tourism Industry

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is asking for an additional $1 million to stimulate the state’s hard-hit tourism industry.

GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson told lawmakers Friday the state has lost billions of tourism dollars and has seen massive industry job loss because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Minnesota State Rep Demands Apology After ‘Authoritarian’ Investigation into Rally Attendance Goes Nowhere

A review requested by House Speaker Melissa Hortman found “no actions or speech rose to the level of criminal activity” during a Jan. 6 protest at the Minnesota Capitol.

The rally, billed as a “Storm the Capitol” protest, took place the same afternoon as the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Virginia Newspaper Apologizes for Whiteness Before Reporting on Discrimination

A Virginia newspaper apologized for the racial makeup of its reporters who are publishing a series on post-Jim Crow housing discrimination in Norfolk. 

“For full disclosure, the people behind this reporting are white and benefit from numerous privileges that the disadvantaged populations highlighted in this project do not, ‘So we have blind spots,'” The Virginian-Pilot said in a Thursday tweet. “Meet the ‘Dividing Lines’ team here:” 

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Ohio REALTORS® Bans ‘Hate Speech’ by All Members

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) banned all “hate speech” by its members – not just in members’ professional capacity, but in every aspect of their lives. The policy changes were approved by the NAR Board of Directors during a meeting on November 13.

The policy on hate speech encompasses an array of broad issues: “harassing speech, epithets, or slurs based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” Collectively, these speech-related issues fall under what the NAR terms “public trust,” which also includes misappropriation of client or customer funds, or property and fraud that causes significant economic harm.

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Expert: Ohio’s December Jobless Report Shows Concerning Signs

Unemployment line

Ohio’s latest jobless numbers show signs of concern despite a falling unemployment rate, according to an independent think tank.

Rea S. Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center and vice president of policy at The Buckeye Institute, said the December jobs report showed weakness and signs of unease.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci to Deliver Keynote Speech at Virtual Health Summit Hosted by Meharry Medical College

Dr. Anthony Fauci will participate as a keynote speaker in a free virtual summit on health equity for minorities Wednesday at Meharry Medical College.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will participate in the Nashville college’s Health Summit series, Meharry Medical announced. The session will be form 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday.

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