Virginia GOP Senators Tell Northam to End Mask Mandate

The Virginia Senate Republican Caucus issued a statement via Twitter on Friday urging Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to end the state-wide mask mandate.

The statement follows updated guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that allows vaccinated individuals to no longer wear a mask indoors.

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Cooper Finally Lifts Nashville Mask Mandate

Nashville Mayor John Cooper (D) announced Friday that the city will no longer require residents or visitors to wear masks, and announced an end to capacity restrictions on businesses.  

“As of this morning, Nashville has lifted the mask mandate and all capacity restrictions. 301,700 Nashvillians have received a vaccine, which is life-saving and economy-saving. Together we weathered the storm of the last 14 months, and Nashville is ready for the rebound,” he said on Twitter, attaching a public service video announcement. 

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Nashville’s Community Oversight Board Wants Metro Police to Increase Diversity Hires Based on NAACP-Prompted Report

Metro Nashville’s Community Oversight Board (COB) wants the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) to prioritize diversity when hiring. This came out of an advisory report focused on reforming MNPD hiring procedures, requested by the Nashville NAACP. In the conclusion of its report, the COB insinuated it wasn’t enough for MNPD’s current standards to hire applicants who are critical thinkers, empathetic, problem solvers, good communicators, and have integrity. They recommended that MNPD prioritize diversity more.

“The data analysis in this report shows that there are racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in the hiring process that should be evaluated and addressed so that the goal of diversifying the police force can become a reality,” read the report’s conclusion. “The eleven recommendations offered in this report aim to encourage community, transparency, accountability, equity, justice, and evidence as core components of the police department.”

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Commentary: Biden Mocks Ancient Wisdom

Human nature stays the same across time and space. That is why there used to be predictable political, economic, and social behavior that all countries understood.

The supply of money governs inflation. Print it without either greater productivity or more goods and services, and the currency cheapens. Yet America apparently rejects that primordial truism.

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Commentary: ESG Investing Is Politics by Other Means

Before Joe Biden’s election, environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing was sweeping all before it. Wall Street was coming to the planet’s rescue and saving capitalism at the same time. It was a self-serving myth. As I show in my new report Capitalism, Socialism and ESG published today, doing well by doing good is no more than Wall Street sales patter. But since the election, financial regulators have been falling over themselves playing catchup.

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IWF’s Senior Policy Analyst Patrice Onwuka Outlines Biden’s Efforts to Unionize Independent Contractors and Gig Workers

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Senior Policy Analyst of the Independent Women’s Form, Patrice Onwuka to the newsmakers line to explain the details of the Biden administrations’ PRO Act and its effect on independent contractors and gig workers.

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Biden Administration to Continue Building Part of President Trump’s Border Wall

After initially vowing to not build any more new wall along the southern border, the Biden Administration has backtracked and announced that it will resume construction on some areas of the wall, the Daily Caller reports.

Construction will resume on a 13.4 mile portion of the wall located in the Rio Grande Valley, at the southernmost tip of Texas, and will once again be carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The USACE confirmed that it has already “resumed DHS-funded design and construction support on approx. 13.4 miles of levee in the Rio Grande Valley that were partially excavated or at various levels of construction when work on the wall was paused for review.”

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Commentary: Big Tech Censorship Is Here to Stay

Big Tech has betrayed the American people yet again – despite hopes that Facebook would finally reverse it’s ban on Donald Trump’s account, the social media giant has re-committed to a path of dangerous partisan censorship.

On Wednesday, an oversight board established by Facebook ruled that it would not be overturning the platform’s January decision to suspend Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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Amid Violence, UMich Student Government Pledges to be in ‘Lockstep’ with Palestinians in Their ‘Fight Against Oppression’

The University of Michigan Central Student Government released a scathing statement in support of Palestine and against Israel, prompted by the ongoing conflict in Jerusalem. The letter accuses Israel of “settler colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid.” 

“We aim to do whatever is in our power to ensure that we remain in lockstep with [the Palestinians] and their fight against oppression,” the student government said in an open letter.

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Tennessee Education Lottery Says Action 24/7 Operates in Line with State Law

Members of the Tennessee Education Lottery Association have formally asserted they are not investigating the online sports-betting website Action 24/7 and that the company’s internal controls meet state requirements. This, according to a letter that Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) Executive Vice President and General Counsel Alonda W. McCutcheon distributed this week.

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Knoxville to Fund Up to $25,000 for COVID-19 Memorial Mural

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon pledged up to $25,000 for a mural dedicated to memorializing COVID-19 deaths. The mural will be a permanent memorial for over 600 Knox County residents who reportedly died from COVID-19. The commissioned artist, Kelsey Montague, is best known for “What Lifts You” – the popularized angel wings mural located in the Nashville Gulch.

The pandemic memorial mural will be located on one of the Clinch Avenue Viaduct underpasses at the World’s Fair Park; it will depict brightly-colored birds flying upward into a blue archway toward the base of the historical Sunsphere. Kincannon announced this development in a press release on Thursday. 

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Democratic Socialists to Hold Anti-Israel Rally in Knoxville

A group of self-proclaimed “democratic socialists” announced in a tweet on Thursday that they will hold an anti-Israel rally on Saturday at 2pm at Market Square in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

The announcement of the rally comes as Israel has repeatedly had to defend itself from attacks throughout the week. Hundreds of rockets have been fired at Israeli cities, almost each day, by pro-Palestine forces. The rockets have struck businesses, homes, and buildings throughout various cities.

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State Rep. Michael Sparks Talks Finishing Up Legislative Session and Passing the Sales Tax Exemption Bill

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Rep. (R) Mike Sparks of Smyrna in studio to discuss ending the legislative session and the passing of the Sales Tax Exemption Bill.

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Arizona Election Auditors Claim Maricopa County Officials Deleted Databases from Voting Machines Before Handing Them Over

Maricopa County election officials tampered with election records just days before the equipment was delivered to the Arizona Senate for the 2020 election audit, according to the Senate Liaison for the Maricopa County 2020 Forensic Election Audit.

Before the machines were turned over, a directory full of election databases was deleted by an administrator, resulting in spoliation of evidence, the Maricopa County Audit’s official Twitter account alleged in a tweet late Wednesday.

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Rep. Burchett Sends Letter to Pelosi to End House COVID Restrictions

Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) sent a letter on Thursday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to end the current COVID-19 regulations that are in place for the House of Representatives. 

The letter from Burchett comes in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcing that vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear a mask indoors. As cases continue to decline, COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted in each state across the country.

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Biden Admin Stops Flying Migrants to Other Cities for Easier Expulsion

The Biden administration discontinued flights carrying migrant children and family units from one part of the border to another in order to expel them to Mexico, CBS News reported Wednesday.

Advocacy groups criticized the administration for flying migrant families and unaccompanied minors who illegally entered the U.S. through the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas to El Paso, Texas, or San Diego, California, for expulsion to Mexico, according to CBS News.

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Gov. Bill Lee Launches New Partnership to Combat Human Trafficking

The State of Tennessee is partnering with multiple organizations to help combat human trafficking, Governor Bill Lee announced on Thursday.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s project, ItHasToStop.com, this form of modern-day slavery is one of the fastest growing crimes throughout the state and country as a whole. Further, cases of human trafficking have been reported in every county in Tennessee.

“I’m excited to invest in and partner with these remarkable organizations that are at the forefront of this important fight. Human trafficking has no place in our state, and I’m proud to support our law enforcement and non-profit partners,” Governor Lee said.

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Witness Says Fulton County GOP Officials Behaved Dishonorably at Recent Convention

Witnesses who attended April’s Fulton County GOP convention — already unhappy with how the convention played out — have complained of additional shenanigans that establishment members pulled to preserve their power and keep grassroots Trump supporters at bay. Fulton County GOP members held their convention April 17 at The Metropolitan Club in Alpharetta.

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Non-Traditional Candidates Make Cut for FSU Presidency

Florida State University (FSU) has trimmed their list of potential candidates to replace retiring President John Thrasher to nine. Among them, three notable non-traditional candidates emerged with buzz surrounding their names: Richard Corcoran, Sean Pittman, and David Coburn.

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University of Minnesota Reports 10 Robberies in Five Days, Students Continue to Call for Defunding Police

The University of Minnesota reported this week that 10 robberies occurred within five days around the Dinkytown and Stadium Village areas.

On May 10, the university publicized information on the robberies using its “Safe-U Advisory” service, which disseminates safety notifications to students and staff.

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Virginia’s COVID-19 Case Numbers, Hospitalizations Down to Spring 2020 Levels

Virginia’s COVID-19 case numbers hit a new milestone on Monday: just 336 reported cases, according to the Virginia Department of Health; the last time numbers dropped below 400 was in June and April of 2020. According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, COVID-19 hospitalizations are low as well, with the seven-day moving average at 775 on Thursday; that number hasn’t been below 800 since late March 2020.

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Georgia Opts Out of Extra Federal Unemployment Benefits

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday during an interview on Fox News that Georgia will reject the federal government’s $300 per week enhanced unemployment benefits. 

“What I’m seeing on the ground here is that every small business owner and the workers that are currently working, they need more people. It is hurting our productivity, not only in Georgia, but across the country,” Kemp told host Dana Perino. 

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DeSantis Signs Bill Restricting Gun Regulations by Local Governments

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed bill SB 1884 Friday which bans local governments from imposing local gun regulations that are stricter than the state firearm laws. The measure stems from a 1987 preemption law in Florida that originally established a ban on local gun regulations which was then strengthened in 2011 to establish harsher punishments for violating the law.

The 2011 law includes a punishment that involves local governments paying up to $100,000 in damages if they are prosecuted for establishing gun regulations, while local officials could pay up $5,000 in fines or even forced out of office.

The recent signing of SB 1884 broadens the 2011 law by extending the punishment to include “unwritten” policies by local governments that violate the 1987 preemption. It also broadens the law by requiring local governments to pay for court fees and damages for lawsuits filed against a local gun regulation before the local government changes their policy to align with the preemption.

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Emergency Broadband Benefit Applications Open, Provides $50 per Month to Help Recipients Pay Broadband Bills

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is accepting applications for an economic relief program providing $50 per month to help low-income families pay for broadband.

“The Emergency Broadband Benefit program will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands,” states an announcement shared Wednesday by Congressman Rob Wittman (R-Virginia-01). “Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.”

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DeSantis to Pardon Floridians Who Defied COVID Rules, Says He Will Grant Clemency

In a Wednesday appearance on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that he will pardon and grant clemency to those facing legal battles for breaking mask mandates and social distancing orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeSantis joined Laura Ingraham along with Michael and Jillian Carnevale, who own a gym in Broward County. Last summer, the pair became a target of the Broward County authorities, according to a GoFundMe  for their legal bills. They were both arrested and their business was shut down when they refused to comply with the county’s mask mandate. 

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Nikki Fried Announces ‘Something New’ for June 1

Earlier this week, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a video where she is planning on making a major announcement, and “something new” is coming on June 1.
In the video, clips of Fried tout her resume as the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida as well as rumors of her being an early frontrunner to challenge Governor Ron DeSantis in the gubernatorial race in 2022.

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Gov DeWine COVID Vaccination Enticements on Ohio Attorney General’s Radar

Governor Mike DeWine unveiled a program to entice Ohio adults and children alike to get the COVID vaccine on Wednesday – the State of Ohio will give away $5MM and five college scholarships.  Winners will be drawn weekly over five weeks from a pool of vaccinated Ohioans.

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Norment, Saslaw Discuss If Virginia Will Remain Business-Friendly in the Future

In a post-session virtual luncheon hosted by Wason Center Academic Director Quentin Kidd, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment (R-James City) expressed alarm at erosion of Virginia’s business-friendly status while Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said moderate pro-business senators were helping protect Virginia’s business environment — for now.

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GOP Candidate for Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District Robby Starbuck on Rand Paul Endorsement and Why He’s Running

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed GOP candidate for Nashville’s Fifth District, Robby Starbuck, to the newsmakers line to discuss his motivation for running, an endorsement by Senator Rand Paul, and his upcoming Critical Race Theory event in Franklin on May 19.

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Tennessee Officials Investigating Unemployment Claims for Those Who Refuse to Work

Tennessee government officials told The Tennessee Star they’ve received about 300 complaints of individuals passing up work for unemployment benefits. According to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD), these are the total complaints filed since last March – when Governor Bill Lee first declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19. Unemployment claims have fallen steadily since the beginning of the pandemic – claims reached their height a little over a year ago, totaling over 325,000.

Nearly 264,000 job postings are active currently on the state’s job site alone. As of May 8, TDLWD reported a total of 50,376 continued claims, and the unemployment rate sits at 5 percent. Of 95 counties in the state, only 8 have continued unemployment claims running in the thousands: Shelby, Davidson, Rutherford, Knox, Hamilton, Montgomery, Sumner, and Maury counties. Shelby County leads by far, with over 13,000 continued claims – coming in second is Davidson County with around half that amount: over 6,600 continued claims. 

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