Delayed Again: Bill to Exempt Houses of Worship from Emergency Closures

A bill prohibiting government-mandated emergency closures for worship services has been delayed once again, as the Tennessee General Assembly floor session on Monday. State Representative Chris Todd (R-Madison County) delivered the news on behalf of the sponsor, State Representative Rusty Grills (R-Newbern), requesting that the bill be placed on the next available calendar. No explanation was given for this delay.

As The Tennessee Star reported last week, Grills delayed the bill initially due to concerns from legislators opposed to prohibiting church closures. Two Democratic legislators, State Representatives London Lamar (D-Memphis) and Harold Love, Jr. (D-Nashville) expressed concerns that the bill constrained government authorities from stopping church gatherings during a pandemic or other emergencies.

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Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper Gets Challenge from Justice Democrats-Backed Odessa Kelly

A Justice Democrats-backed candidate has come forward to challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN-05). Members of the Knoxville-based Justice Democrats announced in an email Monday that Nashville resident Odessa Kelly will oppose Cooper. Her platform calls for the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.

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Commentary: Why America’s Elites Want to End the Middle Class

A sunset with a field of windmills

A recent column by Victor Davis Hanson titled “Radical New Rules for Post-America” lists “10 new ideas that are changing America, maybe permanently.” Hanson offers a thorough description of what’s wrong: Fiscal and monetary negligence, selective enforcement or nonenforcement of laws, anti-white racism, rights and privileges for immigrants over citizens, an infantilized culture, hypocrisy, urban chaos, censorship and cancel culture, politicized “science,” and “woke” as the new religion, with Big Tech as the clergy.

While there may not be a more succinct description of the new and radical rules Americans face these days, Hanson is covering familiar territory. But what is the cause of these changes?

It doesn’t require a conspiracy theorist to suggest these wholesale shifts in American culture are not happening by accident. Nor are they solely the result of nefarious intent, at least not among everyone occupying the highest rungs of power and influence in America. What motivates members of the American elite, billionaires and corporate boards alike, to approve of these radical changes?

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Ten Percent of Migrant Minors Held in San Diego Convention Center Test Positive for COVID-19

San Diego Convention Center

Of the more than 700 unaccompanied migrant minors who were transported to the San Diego Convention Center from Texas, roughly 10% have tested positive for COVID-19, according to multiple news reports citing health officials.

The Department of Health and Human Services reported on March 30 that 70 of these minors tested positive; none required hospitalization.

The San Diego Convention Center is currently holding 723 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 – all of whom were transferred from federal shelters in Texas.

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Newly Unveiled Greta Thunberg Statue Rankles Students, Local Community

Greta Thunberg

A recently unveiled statue of teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has miffed Winchester University (U.K.) students and local residents alike.

Titled “Make a Difference” and commissioned in 2019 (the same year Winchester declared a “climate and ecological emergency”), the statue cost the school almost 24,000 pounds (just over $33,000) and is thought to be the first commemorating Thunberg, the Daily Mail reports.

The university says the statue symbolizes Winchester’s commitment to “sustainability and social justice.”

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LG to Exit Phone Industry after Unprofitable Sales

LG Phone

Losses in the mobile phone business have driven the South Korean electronics company LG to quit the production of phones and instead focus more on profitable items including electric vehicle components, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Following approval from the company’s board, LG on Monday announced the changes and expects to fully exit the phone industry by July.

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Tennessee House Passes Bill to Cancel Excise Tax for Certain COVID-19 Relief Payments to Businesses

The Tennessee House passed a bill cancelling the excise tax on certain COVID-19 payments given to businesses. The legislation would cover all payments from March 1 to December 31 of last year. 

If passed, the bill would apply to payments from the Tennessee Business Relief Program, the Tennessee Supplemental Employer Recovery Grant Program, the Coronavirus Agricultural and Forestry Business Fund, the Hospital Staffing Assistance Program, the Emergency Medical Services Ambulance Assistance Program, the Tennessee Small and Rural Hospital Readiness Grants Program, or the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant.

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GOP Probes $35 Million in Tax Dollars to ‘Team Biden’ Firm in California

House Republicans say they still want to know why $35 million in taxpayer dollars went to a Democrat-aligned consulting firm to boost voting last year in California—and whether it was even legal.

The federal agency that oversees related issues seems uninterested in investigating why federal money sent to California was used in part to pay for election safety measures in a $35 million contract with a political consulting firm that touted itself as part of “Team Biden.”

At least $12 million of the total came from federal taxpayers, while the remainder was from California taxpayers.

Using federal funds for a get-out-the-vote operation or to help one political party over another would violate federal law, Republican lawmakers say.

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Teaching Assistant Docks Point on Conservative Student’s Black Panther Essay: ‘White People Cannot Experience Racism’

Alyssa Jones

A student at Virginia Tech University was told by a teaching assistant that “White people cannot experience racism” when asked why she received a low grade on her final paper.

Students in the Nations and Nationalities class at Virginia Tech were asked to complete a paper describing a hate group from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list, and analyze how that group justifies its worldview, according to Alyssa Jones, a student in the class.

Jones is also the president of the Virginia Tech University Turning Point USA chapter and a campus ambassador for The Leadership Institute, the parent organization of Campus Reform.

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Crom Carmichael Breaks Down the Mind of Joe Biden, FDR, and the Great Depression

Presidents Joes Biden and FER

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael in studio to discuss Joe Biden’s thinking by comparing and contrasting that with FDR and the Great Depression.

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‘Reeks Of Hypocrisy’: Rubio Calls Out MLB over Deal with Chinese Media Conglomerate

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio accused Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred of hypocrisy on Monday over the league’s relationship with a Chinese media conglomerate that has backed Beijing’s opposition to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

“Since Major League Baseball now appears eager to use its ‘platform’ to demonstrate ‘unwavering support’ for fundamental human rights, will you cease your relationship with the Chinese Government?” Rubio wrote in a letter on Monday to Manfred.

The Republican accused Manfred of “woke corporate virtue signaling” for pulling this year’s All-Star game out of Atlanta in protest over a Georgia voting bill passed last month.

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Human Traffickers Using Facebook to Lure Customers, Promising Safe Passage to U.S.

Group of protestors holding human trafficking signs

A report released Monday details how human traffickers are using Facebook – and the Biden administration’s new open border’s policies – to generate business and smuggle illegal aliens into the United States.

Public Facebook pages called “Migrants from Various Countries in Mexico” and “Migrants in the Mexico-U.S.A. Border Awaiting Hearing,” among others, were openly being used by smugglers on the Big Tech platform to scheme with would-be illegal aliens about how to break America’s immigration laws. 

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Over 100 Portland Police Officers Have Quit Over the Last Year

Group of police officers

After almost a year of nonstop violent riots by Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and other far-left domestic terrorist organizations in the city of Portland, over 100 of the city’s police officers have quit the force out of protest of the city’s failure to adequately handle the violence, according to Fox News.

The report first came from the newspaper The Oregonian, which said that since July of 2020, approximately 115 officers have left the department to take lower-paying jobs just to get out of the dangerous environment. The paper described it as “one of the biggest waves of departures in recent memory.”

Out of 31 exit interviews from officers who left during this time period, the general consensus was that the officers quit because they felt that they were receiving “zero support” from the community and local leadership. One officer said that “the city council are raging idiots, in addition to being stupid,” and that “the mayor and council ignore actual facts on crime and policing in favor of radical leftist and anarchist fantasy.”

As a result of the spike in riots, which began last summer after the accidental overdose death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Portland also saw its homicide rate surge to its highest point in 26 years, with 55 deaths over the course of 2020. Numerous efforts by Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-Ore.) to try to curb gun violence in the city, through special police forces and various multi-million dollar studies, have all failed thus far. Wheeler and other local leaders were widely criticized for refusing to crack down on the riots, with their inaction attributed to the fact that they shared many of the same political stances as the far-left rioters.

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Disparate Treatment in Two Fund-Raising Fraud Cases Renews Debate Over Dual Justice System

Just a few short weeks apart, the U.S. Justice Department settled two major fund-raising cases involving foreign money injected into American elections.

In February, a longtime Democratic bundler named Imaad Zuberi, who also donated to Donald Trump’s inauguration, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and millions in fines in a criminal information that alleged he routed foreign money into U.S elections, sometimes through straw donors.

Last week, Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, 75, a large donor to the Clinton Foundation, got a fine, no prison and deferred prosecution for allegedly routing his foreign money to straw donors to help Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and some GOP congressional candidates. An associate also made a secret loan to Obama-era Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who failed to disclose the assistance.

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Commentary: Too Much of a Unity

“The city comes in to being for the sake of life, but it continues for the sake of the good life. ” — Aristotle, Politics

“[The Declaration of Independence] was the word, “fitly spoken” which has proved an “apple of gold” to us. The Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn, and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple — not the apple for the picture.”—Abraham Lincoln, “Fragment on the Constitution and Union”

The crisis of our time requires clear thinking about political means and ends, and the ways they are connected. The two epigraphs above address this central question of practical wisdom—the first from the general perspective of theory, the second as relates to the particular nation of the United States. Both quotations may be familiar to educated conservatives, and particularly to those students of political philosophy broadly associated with the Claremont school of thought. Yet there is a danger that such familiarity may breed, if not contempt, then the forgetfulness that settles on “sonorous phrases” which lapse into clichés. I would like to reconsider these arguments made by Aristotle and Lincoln—along with some related observations by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson—not as hackneyed commonplaces but as genuine insights that remain relevant and even urgent. Circumstances in the coming years may require new or unusual means to secure the ends of liberty and justice. Our thinking must be appropriately radical.

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Brown University Students Overwhelmingly Vote in Favor of Reparations for Black Students

Brown University

On Monday, Students at the Ivy League school Brown University voted in favor of two resolutions approving reparations for black students, as reported by the Washington Free Beacon.

Both resolutions seek to identify any black students who are direct descendants of slaves, or “who were entangled with and/or afflicted by the University and Brown family and their associates,” in reference to the university’s founder Nicholas Brown Jr.

One resolution would give priority admission to any such black students, while the other would give direct monetary payments to said students. In the vote amongst all students on campus, the admissions resolution received 89 percent of the vote, while the financial payment resolution received 85 percent. The vote was held after the student government at Brown passed a resolution, introduced by the student government president Jason Carroll, “calling upon Brown to attempt to identify and reparate the descendants of slaves entangled with the university.”

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‘Misrule of Law’ Blog Creator Mark Pulliam Gives a Historical Perspective, Defines Nullification

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Misrule of Law blog creator Mark Pulliam to the newsmakers line to discuss his recent essay addressing nullification and the overreach of the federal government.

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Vanderbilt Investigates Student Government Election After White, Jewish Candidate Maligned

Student Jordan Gould

Vanderbilt University’s Equal Opportunity and Access office is investigating formal complaints related to its recent student government election, in which a white, Jewish candidate says he faced cyberbullying and defamation.

Student Jordan Gould published a column in Medium last week headlined “When the Social Justice Mob Came for Me” that described how he was called a “white supremacist and a racist confederate” by peers as he ran for student government president.

“We have received several formal complaints related to the student government election and our Equal Opportunity and Access office is investigating these,” Vanderbilt’s spokesperson Damon Maida told The College Fix via email on Friday.

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Appalachian Power Company Appealing Virginia Supreme Court for Electricity Rate Increase

After the State Corporation Commission (SCC) denied Appalachian Power Company (APC) a rate increase, the company is appealing to the Virginia Supreme Court, according to a notice of appeal filed with the SCC Monday. The company requested a rate change last year, but the SCC has reiterated its denial of the request on March 26.

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Bill Aims to Ban Minnesota Vaccine Passports

Senator Michelle Benson

As Minnesota returns to a semblance of normalcy with an increasing number of injected COVID-19 vaccines, one Republican aims to ban “vaccine passports.”

 SF 1589 aims to ban forced COVID-19 vaccinations, forced digital contact tracing, and required proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering a government business.

“Your personal health information should not be made public. I stand against the special interests that want your private health information,” Senate Health Committee Chair Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, posted on Facebook.

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Horseback Riding Business Sues Fairfax County in Dispute over Burdensome Regulations

Person horseback riding in a forest.

An equestrian center is suing Fairfax County over a dispute about whether the center should be deemed agricultural in nature and therefore exempt from certain regulations.

Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, is providing the center with legal representation. Petersen is the chair of the senate’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Virginia law prohibits local governments from interfering with farming activities on land zoned as agricultural. Yet, the county is trying to subject the Harmony Hills Equestrian Center to urban code requirements and ordinary commercial property requirements because it does not consider the center to be a farm.

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Virginia Betting Hits $265 Million in First Full Month, One of Fastest Growing in Nation

In Virginia’s first full month of legal gambling, the commonwealth’s sportsbooks took in about $265.8 million in wagers, which is the second largest sum for any state in its first full month.

Legalized gambling began in mid-January, taking in $58.9 million that month. In the 28 days of February, the state more than quadrupled that number. The per-day amount of money spent on wagers nearly doubled from $5.4 million in January to $9.5 million in February. The per-day jump is the largest any state has seen in one month.

“The enthusiasm from bettors will eventually settle down, and sportsbooks will pull back a bit from this heavy promotional period,” Jessica Welman, an analyst for PlayVirignia, said in a statement. PlayVirginia is an organization that provides analysis on the gaming industry in the commonwealth.

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Ohio Consolidates COVID Restrictions

Gov. Mike DeWine COVID press briefing

During the Monday COVID briefing Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced that Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Stephanie McCloud would release a consolidated order to simplify state-imposed COVID restrictions.

The “order does consolidate several orders and transfers important items we want to focus on into one order,” said McCloud. The crux of the order will be “the mask, staying in smaller groups, distancing from others, sanitizing.”

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Virginia State Senator Morrissey, Lt Gov. Fairfax Renew Call for Mandatory Minimum Sentences Repeal

State Sen Joe Morrissey and Lt Gov. Justin Fairfax

While the General Assembly passed some landmark progressive legislation in the 2021 session, including a death penalty repeal, one expected criminal justice reform died at the last minute. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) renewed calls for ending mandatory minimum sentences, except for murder of law enforcement officers, at a Monday press conference.

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Defense Counsel Casts Doubt on Placement of Chauvin’s Knee

Derek Chauvin

One of the most highly-anticipated moments of ex-cop Derek Chauvin’s trial came Monday when Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo took the stand for the state.

Chauvin’s former boss testified at length on the Minneapolis Police Department’s training protocols, use of force and de-escalation policies, and his work history in the department.

“The goal is to resolve the situation as safely as possible. So you want to always have de-escalation layered into those actions of using force,” Arradondo said.

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Raphael Warnock Easter Sunday Tweet Unsettles Christians, who Call it Blasphemous

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) posted — and then deleted — the following tweet on Easter Sunday: “The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.”

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DeWine Signs Partial Repeal of Ohio’s Controversial Nuclear Power Bailout

Nuclear power plant

A little more than eight months after the billion-dollar government bailout of the state’s nuclear energy industry led the arrest of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, Gov. Mike DeWine officially put it to rest.

DeWine signed House Bill 128 into law late Wednesday. It repeals the nuclear provisions of the infamous House Bill 6.

Gone is the bailout for the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants in northern Ohio. Also eliminated was the ability for FirstEnergy to have its revenue levels relatively the same even during years when energy consumption decreases. HB 128 directed refunds of money already collected under the guarantee.

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Georgia’s Cobb County Says it Will Lose $100 Million From MLB Moving All Star Game

Braves baseball stadium

The Cobb County Travel and Tourism Bureau said that it estimates it will miss out on $100 million in revenue, after Major League Baseball (MLB) was brow-beaten by political activists into moving its 2021 All-Star game from Atlanta. 

“This event would have directly impacted our county and the state, as visitors spend their dollars on local accommodations, transportation, entertainment and recreation, food and retail throughout the county,” the bureau said. “This would have been a big boost to Cobb businesses and help with recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Ohio ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Takes Effect Tuesday

State Senator Tim Schaffer

Senate Bill 175, which removes the duty to retreat in the event of a physical attack against a person or residence, will go into effect Tuesday. 

“For purposes of determining the potential liability of a person in a tort action related to the person’s use of force alleged to be in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of the person’s residence, the person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence,” the text of the bill says. 

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Commentary: U.S. China Relations Go from Bad to Worse

The most significant diplomatic event in the month of March was a rapid, seemingly irreversible deterioration of relations between the United States and China. Its signs were on display at the first high-level meeting between the two sides since President Joseph Biden took office on Jan. 20. Held in Anchorage, Alaska on March 18, it ended very badly indeed.

The encounter was unprecedented in the annals of great power diplomacy. Speaking first—with  cameras present for what was supposed to be purely opening formalities—Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the U.S. would “discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, [and] economic coercion of our allies.” Blinken also criticized China for its lack of transparency on the origin of the COVID-19 virus and went on to say that “each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability” which the U.S. intends to uphold.

A lengthy and angry response came from Yang Jiechi, the leading architect of China’s foreign policy, who since 2013 has served as director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office of the Chinese Communist Party, joining the CCP Politburo in 2017. He upbraided the United States in a lengthy rebuke, in the course of which he charged the U.S. with hypocrisy on human rights, criticized America’s foreign interventions, and accused his counterparts of possessing a “cold war mentality.”

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Tennessee House Passes Bill to Establish Formal Review Process for Constitutionality of Presidential Orders

President Biden and the Tennessee Capital

The Tennessee House passed a bill Monday establishing a formal review process to check the constitutionality of presidential executive orders. However, the bill wasn’t passed in its entirety. An amendment adopted to the original bill, introduced by State Representative Rick Eldridge (R-Morristown), removed the provision prohibiting any state agency, political subdivision, or elected or appointed official or employee from implementing any executive order that Tennessee’s Attorney General determined unconstitutional in relation to pandemics; public health emergencies; natural resource, land use, or financial sector regulations; or Second Amendment rights.

According to the legislation, the General Assembly Joint Government Operations Committee would review presidential executive orders at their discretion. Following their review, the Attorney General would then have the final say regarding the constitutionality of any presidential executive orders as reviewed by the General Assembly.

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