New Documentary Chronicles How Memphis’s Corporate Welfare Scheme with IKEA Backfired

A new documentary profiles examples of corporate welfare that shortchanged taxpayers and business owners, including in Memphis, where city officials bestowed a generous tax break upon IKEA. This documentary, Corporate Welfare: Where’s the Outrage?, debuted on public television and YouTube late last month. Free To Choose Media Executive Editor and Cato Senior Fellow Johan Norberg hosted the documentary.

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Commentary: Breaking Up America

I never thought I’d be writing about secession or anything close. Not in a million years. “America, the Beautiful” is my favorite national song, bringing tears to my eyes with its “sea to shining sea.” Giving up the magnificence that entails would be heartbreaking on so many levels.

But the times being what they are and the man occupying the presidency being who he is, not to mention those surrounding him being who they are, plus the issues that divide us from national defense to education to immigration to race to public safety to the pandemic to values in general being so intractable, I feel compelled to discuss secession or division as if they were a real possibility worth considering.

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Jury Selected in Tennessee State Senator’s Trial on Theft Charges

On Monday, a jury was selected in the trial of Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) who was charged with stealing more than $600,000 in federal funds.

According to AP News, a 12-person jury was chosen for the trial which could last three weeks. The trial is taking place at the Odell Horton Federal Building in Downtown Memphis.

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Report: Facebook Aware Instagram Makes Teen Girls Feel Bad, Leaked Research Shows

woman with blonde hair in bed on her laptop

Facebook is aware that Instagram, an image-sharing social media platform it owns, has harmful effects on the self-esteem of teen girls, according to leaked research seen by The Wall Street Journal.

Internal research, documents and research reportedly show that Facebook has studied the harmful effects Instagram can have on its users, especially teen girls, according to the WSJ.

“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” one slide from an internal research report read, with another saying that “teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.”

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Pennsylvania Governor Recalls Secretary Nomination Amid Legislative Election Probe

Gov. Tom Wolf recalled his nomination for acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid on Monday after alleging that Senate Republicans would not vet her fairly amid the chamber’s controversial election investigation.

“It is clear that instead of providing advice and consent on my nominee for Secretary of the Commonwealth, they instead plan on using her confirmation as an opportunity to descend further into conspiracy theories and work to please the former president [Donald Trump] by spreading lies about last year’s election, instead of working together to address real issues facing Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said in an emailed statement to reporters on Monday.

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Marijuana Use Soaring Among College Students While Alcohol Use Drops, Study Finds

two people passing a blunt

Marijuana use among college students has surged while alcohol use dropped, according to a recent National Institute of Health and National Institute of Drug Abuse study.

The “Monitoring the Future” study found that 44% of college students said they used marijuana in 2020, an increase from 38% in 2015. More, “daily” or “near daily” marijuana use among college students increased from 5% to 8% over the last five years.

The number of college students who said they consumed alcohol, on the other hand, dipped from over 62% in 2019 to 56% in 2020, according to the report. Binge drinking among college students, defined as having five or more drinks in one outing, decreased from 32% in 2019 to 24% in 2020.

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Jim Renacci Slams Ohio Gov. DeWine over Response to Biden Vaccine Mandate

In a Tuesday press release, former congressman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci blasted Gov. Mike DeWine (R) over what Renacci sees as a failure to stand up to the Biden Administration and fight COVID-19 vaccine mandates. 

“We have seen Mike DeWine promise one thing, yet do another, often at the expense of Ohioans – his tepid response to Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is no different,” Renacci said in the release. “We simply cannot and must not trust Mike DeWine to lead our fight against Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate.”

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Job Creators Network’s CEO Alfredo Ortiz on Biden Administration: They Want the Government to Be Completely in Control of You, from Diapers to Death

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed CEO and President of Job Creators Network, Alfredo Ortiz to the newsmakers line to talk about his ongoing bus tour promoting small business.

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Commentary: Biden’s Medical Apartheid

Joe Biden

Events this weekend showcased the intense bifurcation of America into two separate realities. As our country observed the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, former presidents gathered, sans Donald Trump, in New York for a solemn ceremony — wearing masks even though they are fully vaccinated and were outside. In Shanksville, Pa., George W. Bush leveraged the occasion to take a not-very-veiled shot at the MAGA movement, comparing its most fervent adherents to the 9/11 terrorists.

Meanwhile, at stadiums across America, massive crowds of rowdy, unmasked college football fans tailgated, packed into stadiums, and also recalled the grim events of 2001, but in far more boisterous displays of patriotism.

This same-day divergence highlights the sharply divided nation of 2021. That chasm will now only widen as Joe Biden targets many of those same people, the ones unwilling to live under the thumb of onerous government virus mitigation restrictions. These ineffective mandates may nominally emanate from science, but they moreover stem from a preference for coercion and control by Democrat politicians, all with the assistance of powerful business interests, including Big Tech and Big Pharma.

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New York Times Quietly Updates Report After Calling Hunter Biden Laptop Story ‘Unsubstantiated’

The New York Times quietly removed its assertion that the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop prior to the 2020 election was “unsubstantiated” from a story published Monday about a Federal Election Commission complaint related to the matter.

The Times reported Monday that the FEC ruled in August that Twitter did not violate any laws by temporarily blocking users from sharing the Post’s Oct. 14 story on a “smoking gun” email from Hunter Biden’s laptop showing that an executive of a Ukrainian gas company had thanked him for an introduction to then-Vice President Joe Biden. The Times called the story “unsubstantiated” when its article on the FEC’s decision was first published early Monday afternoon.

“The Federal Election Commission has dismissed Republican accusations that Twitter violated election laws in October by blocking people from posting links to an unsubstantiated New York Post article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son Hunter Biden, in a decision that is likely to set a precedent for future cases involving social media sites and federal campaigns,” Times reporter Shane Goldmacher stated in its original version of his report Monday.

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Congressman Mark Green Describes Monday Testimony of Secretary of State Blinken via Zoom Call with Congress

Mark Green

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee Congressman Mark Green to the newsmakers line to weigh in on Monday’s testimony of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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Tennessee Representative Mark Green Sends Letter with over 100 Republicans to Speaker Nancy Pelosi Regarding IRS Data Collection Proposal

In an official press release Tuesday, Tennessee Representative Mark Green (R-TN-07) announced that he and 100 Republican colleagues sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, expressing their frustration over a recent IRS data collection proposal to increase tax information reporting requirements on financial institutions.

The proposed measure would require financial institutions to report transactions to the Internal Revenue Service on any bank account with a balance of more than $600. The Treasury Department says the proposal for extra data is being sought to target high earners who underreport their tax liabilities.

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Commentary: The Other Back to School Story

Back to school stories this year will focus, naturally, on the Covid-19 pandemic’s toll on students and families and on remedying these difficulties.

But another story is being shortchanged: it’s about how parents sought new options for their children like homeschooling, small learning pods, and micro-schools, with civic entrepreneurs and their partners creating new organizations or expanding existing ones to meet this demand.

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Mayor Andy Ogles on Biden and the Democrats: ‘When They Say Unity, They Mean Compliance’

President Joe Biden participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Monday, July 26, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles to weigh in on Joe Biden’s concept of unity in America and the divisive language of the Democrats.

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Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee, Grant Henry Weighs in on Blinken Testimony and Continued Ignorance 20 Year War with Afghanistan

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Americans for Prosperity of Tennessee, Grant Henry in studio to weigh in on the testimony of Secretary of State Blinken Monday.

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Democrats Plan to Hike Taxes to Pay for Their $3.5 Trillion Budget

House Democrats will consider nearly $3 trillion in tax hikes over the next decade in an attempt to pay for their $3.5 trillion budget that includes most of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda and would overhaul the nation’s social safety net.

The hikes are predominantly focused on wealthy Americans and large corporations. Among the increases is a top income tax bracket of 39.6%, up from 37%, which Democrats say would raise $170 billion in revenue over the next decade.

A summary of the proposals leaked Sunday, and was first reported by The Washington Post.

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Democrats Introduce Another Voting Bill, But Odds of Becoming Law Are Slim

Tim Kaine and Amy Klobuchar

Senate Democrats are set to release their new, trimmed down voting bill, but despite unanimous support from their caucus it faces a steep climb to become law.

The bill, titled the Freedom to Vote Act, is Democrats’ response to a series of voting restrictions passed in Republican-controlled states across the country. But despite its framework, constructed around a compromise plan proposed by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, it must still clear a filibuster to pass the Senate, meaning at least 10 Republicans would have to sign on in support.

The legislation, introduced by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, drops some of the more contentious provisions included in the For the People Act, Democrats’ previous legislation that fell to a GOP filibuster in June. While the new bill would no longer restructure the Federal Election Commission and requires a nationwide voter ID standard, it includes automatic registration provisions and would make Election Day a national holiday.

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Emails Reveal Joe Biden’s State Department Stonewalled Georgia U.S. Rep. Jody Hice on Afghanistan

U.S. Representative Jody Hice (R-GA-10) said members of the U.S. State Department fell short when the congressman and members of his staff urgently asked the agency to help remove Afghan allies who assisted the U.S. military. Hice said this in an emailed press release where he linked to a recent Breitbart article.

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Arizona Mayors Hide When It Comes to U.S. Conference of Mayors Supporting Critical Race Theory

The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) adopted a resolution at their 89th annual meeting last month encouraging the implementation of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools. However, when asked how they felt about it by The Arizona Sun Times, most of Arizona’s mayors who were asked ducked the question. Not one Arizona mayor — mayors of cities with more than 30,000 people are eligible to be members — voted against it. Mesa Mayor John Giles is a trustee with UCSM.

Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli told The Arizona Sun Times he had no comment because he is not a member of UCSM. A staffer from Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega’s office said they would attempt to see if he had a response but were very busy.

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Arizona Becomes First State to Sue Biden Administration over Its New COVID-19 Mandate

Arizona became the first state to sue the Biden administration over its federal vaccine mandate, according to Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s press release.

“The federal government cannot force people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Biden Administration is once again flouting our laws and precedents to push their radical agenda,” Brnovich said. “There can be no serious or scientific discussion about containing the spread of COVID-19 that doesn’t begin at our southern border.”

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Florida Sen. Lauren Book Removed from Committee Chair Post

Florida Senate President Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-FL-10) has removed Democratic Minority Leader Sen. Lauren Book (D-FL-32) from her post as chair of Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

Simpson said the move was because of her dual leadership role.

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Georgia Protestors Gather in Groups to Demand Mask Mandate

favor of mask and vaccine mandates

In defiance of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for group gatherings, Georgia faculty and students have coordinated weeklong protests of the University System of Georgia. 

The students are gathering to demand that the University System implement a mask mandate on all of the state’s publicly-run university campuses.

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COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy Latest Issue in Gubernatorial Race

How to encourage more Virginians to get the COVID-19 vaccine is the latest battleground in the gubernatorial race. On Monday, Terry McAuliffe announced his “Virginia is for vaccine lovers” plan with a push for school divisions to require the vaccine and ensure health care providers follow federal guidance. His plan also includes business incentives, enhanced marketing, and a voluntary COVID-safety compliance certification.

“COVID is here. It’s not going away anytime soon, so we have to do everything that we possibly can to keep our children in school, build the strongest economy, and we’ve got to really get serious, and we’ve got to fight this deadly infection of COVID,” he said on a Tuesday press call.

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Maricopa County Audit Supporter Threatens Arizona GOP Lawmaker

A Republican member of the Arizona Legislature says her family’s safety is her first priority after getting a threatening email over her scrutiny of Maricopa County’s 2020 election. 

State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, posted a screenshot of an email from an account named Matt Boster that started out by calling her a racial slur.

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Proposed Buckhead City Would Run a Budget Surplus After Leaving Atlanta, New Feasibility Study Says

Buckhead residents wants to formally secede from crime-plagued Atlanta, and if those same frustrated residents were to leave then their new city would run a budget surplus, according to a study from Valdosta State University. Officials with Valdosta State University’s Center for South Georgia Regional Impact published the study this week.

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Senator Josh Hawley Endorses JD Vance in Ohio GOP Senate Contest

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) on Tuesday endorsed JD Vance in the heavily contested battle for the Ohio GOP Senate nomination.

Hawley’s endorsement, his first of the 2022 campaign cycle, will likely boost Vance in a crowded primary contest with close to a dozen contenders.

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Americans Support Governors’ Revolt Against Federal Vaccine Mandate, Poll Shows

New polling shows that the majority of Americans do not approve of President Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandate.

Biden announced the mandate last week, which includes requirements that any business with more than 100 employees ensure they are vaccinated or be tested weekly. Biden’s announcement included a range of other federal rules that are estimated to affect 100 million Americans.

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Lawmaker Gears Up to Grill Pennsylvania Department of State on Voter-Registry Errors Uncovered by Democrat Auditor General

As Pennsylvania Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Majority Chair Cris Dush (R-Wellsboro) investigates recent elections, Democratic lawmakers against tightening election security must contend with a withering 2019 audit of Pennsylvania’s voter registry.

At his investigation’s initial hearing last Thursday, Dush announced his intention to hold the Department of State (DOS) accountable for the mismanagement identified in the audit by calling the department to testify at the committee’s next hearing to be scheduled soon. 

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Former President Trump Endorses Anna Paulina Luna in Congressional Campaign

Anna Paulina Luna

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday endorsed GOP candidate Anna Paulina Luna in her campaign to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Citing her stance on border security and other key priorities, Trump awarded Luna his “complete and total endorsement.”

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Arizona Police Recruiting in Washington After Gov. Inslee’s Vaccine Mandate Takes Effect

After Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state employees, including the Washington State Patrol, Arizona’s Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) is taking advantage of what could be an opportunity to hire new staff. 

AZDPS is spending ten days in the pacific northwestern state recruiting new employees to Arizona, which has outlawed mask mandates and does not have a vaccine mandate for state employees. 

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Open Fairfax County School Board Files Motion to Reconsider Elaine Tholen Recall

Elaine Tholen for Fairfax County School Board, Dranesville

The Open FCPS Coalition is calling for the court to reconsider the recall case against Fairfax County School Board member Elaine Tholen. In a Monday press release, the coalition alleged that the prosecutor who said there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue the case had conflicts of interest.

“Following James Hingeley’s decision to not represent the over 5,000 voters that signed a recall petition against Elaine Tholen, it was revealed that Hingeley actually campaigned with Ms. Tholen in 2019,” the release states.

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Wisconsin Representative Tiffany Demands ‘Full Membership’ to United Nations for Taiwan

Wisconsin Representative Thomas Tiffany (R-07-WI) wrote a letter to the Biden Administration demanding full membership to the United Nations for Taiwan. In a tweet about the letter, Tiffany said, “America doesn’t need a permission slip from Communist China to support our allies.”

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Gov. DeSantis to End Florida’s Yearly Standardized Testing

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced yesterday his intentions to end Florida’s yearly standardized testing requirements for public schools, known as the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). The replacement for the FSA would be known as the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST) and will be a progress monitoring system.

DeSantis made the announcement along with Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran with the hopes of reducing testing in the classrooms by up tot 75 percent, with the hopes of teachers being able to get back to traditional instruction and not concerning themselves with standardized test prep.

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Campaign Finance Complaint Alleges 10 Illegal Donors for Michigan Gov. Whitmer, Including Lawyer Mark Bernstein, Illinois Gov. Pritzker

Designating 10 major donors to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the “$100,000 Club,” the Michigan Freedom Fund on Tuesday filed a formal campaign finance complaint.

The Center Square is the first news outlet to report the MFF complaint, which asserts 10 donors violated state law by donating more than $100,000 to Whitmer.

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Raucous Ohio GOP Confab Prompts More Public Opposition to Party ‘Oligarchy’

An allegation of “railroading”of reform members of Ohio Republican Party’s State Central Committee at the organization’s Fall meeting late last week has caused two more members to become more public in their growing concerns about how the Ohio GOP operates.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Administration Encourages School Districts to Implement Mask Mandates

Governor Mike DeWine announced on Tuesday that his administration will make a “direct appeal” to local school districts, encouraging them to implement mask mandates.

According to DeWine, the move is an attempt to control the increase of positive coronavirus cases throughout the state.

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Chiefs for Change, a Group Which Lists Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn as a Member, Issues Statement Supporting Joe Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

Chiefs for Change, an educational advocacy group, has come out in support of President Joe Biden’s new executive order on vaccine mandates. Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education, Penny Schwinn, is a part of the group.

In a statement on Thursday, the group applauded the President’s executive order, saying, “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective – and they are what will finally end this pandemic. We commend the Biden Administration for requiring staff at all Head Start programs, Department of Defense schools, and Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools to get vaccinated, and we echo the president’s request that states require vaccines for their K-12 employees.”

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