IRS Extends 2021 Tax-filing Deadline for Tornado Victims in Tennessee, Illinois, & Kentucky

In a Tuesday press release, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that victims of the deadly tornadoes that swept across parts of Tennessee and Illinois will have an extended deadline for filing their taxes this year. The announcement came days after the IRS first announced a tax-filing deadline for victims in Kentucky affected by the tornadoes.

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Commentary: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ Helped Make the Modern Santa – and Led to a Literary Whodunit

close-up of Santa Claus suit

The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” better known by its opening line “‘Twas the Night before Christmas,” has a special place among Christmas traditions, right alongside hot chocolate, caroling and bright lights. It has also inspired the modern image of Santa Claus as a jolly old man sporting red and a round belly.

But this poem has been steeped in controversy, and debate still looms over who the true author is. Traditionally, Clement C. Moore – a 19th-century scholar at the General Theological Seminary in New York, where I work as a reference librarian – has been credited with writing the poem in 1822 for his children. Every December, library staff shares our multiple copies of the poem in an exhibit to celebrate the holiday season.

No matter who wrote it, the poem is a fascinating object that has shaped Christmases past, present – and maybe yet to come.

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Commentary: The Magnificent History of the Maligned and Misunderstood Fruitcake

Traditional fruitcake

Nothing says Christmas quite like a fruitcake – or, at the very least, a fruitcake joke.

A quip attributed to former “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson has it that “There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

It’s certainly earned its reputation for longevity.

Two friends from Iowa have been exchanging the same fruitcake since the late 1950s. Even older is the fruitcake left behind in Antarctica by the explorer Robert Falcon Scott in 1910. But the honor for the oldest known existing fruitcake goes to one that was baked in 1878 when Rutherford B. Hayes was president of the United States.

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Another Key Inflation Index Hits 40-Year High

Inflation continues to soar throughout the U.S., with the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index increasing to the highest level in almost 42 years while consumer spending cools, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported Thursday.

The PCE, one of the Federal Reserves’ key inflation indicators when it aims for a 2% annual inflation rate, surged 5.7% in November on a year-over-year basis, a 0.6% jump from October, the BEA reported. November’s figure is the highest since 1982.

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Biden Admin Releases Almost 1,500 Classified Documents About JFK’s Murder

The Biden administration released 1,491 classified documents Wednesday regarding the assassination and subsequent investigation of former President John F. Kennedy.

The documents include filings from federal agencies and law enforcement authorities, including the CIA and FBI, as part of the federal government’s review of Kennedy’ assassination.

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Trump Ally Bernie Kerik Plans to Publicly Release January 6 Documents

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik will publicize the documents he is presenting to the Jan. 6 committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to a letter from Keriks’s attorney, obtained by Just the News.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., subpoenaed Kerik to speak about his work with former President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani following the 2020 election with a focus on Jan. 5 and 6.

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Commentary: Carbon Offsets – Not Taxes or Emissions Caps – Are the Best Path to Carbon Neutrality

Carbon taxes, emissions caps, subsidies – these all seek to reduce atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases, yet regularly meet criticism and opposition. Is there a more efficient solution to achieving climate balance? Not only is the answer yes, but the potential benefits could far outperform what other strategies hope to achieve.

Most solutions seek to reduce emissions –abruptly or over time– or attain carbon neutrality by utilizing renewable power sources, but increasingly we hear that carbon neutrality is not enough. We must find new technology and techniques to reduce greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, which will require meaningful investments in research and development. One solution is voluntary carbon offsets.

Carbon offsets are certificates for purchase intended to counteract operational emissions or capture legacy emissions from the past. This is done by paying for a given quantity of CO2 to be neutralized through investment in offsetting projects or technology. Whether the certificates are directed towards conservation efforts, renewable energy, or carbon capture or removal, purchasing carbon offsets provides one party investor satisfaction and the other party an infusion of funding intended to finance a carbon-reduction strategy. When purchasing high quality offsets, these serve as a down payment and incubator toward the best climate solutions available in the laboratory or in the field.

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Jobless Claims Remain Near Record Lows

The number of Americans who filed new unemployment claims totaled 205,000 in the week ending Dec. 18, a new post-pandemic low.

The Labor Department figure shows an unchanged amount of claims from the previous week ending Dec. 11. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimated that claims would remain around last week’s reported level of 206,000, just above the lowest number in 52 years.

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Supreme Court Set to Convene Special Session on Vaccine Mandates

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court announced that it will hold a special session in roughly two weeks to hear oral arguments regarding the Biden Administration’s ongoing efforts to force vaccinations on private employees, federal contractors, and healthcare workers, according to Politico.

The special session will begin on January 7th, 2022, just several days ahead of the regularly-scheduled session set to begin on January 10th.

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Border Patrol Catch Potential Saudi Terrorist Entering Arizona Illegally from Mexico

A Saudi Arabian man described by a U.S. Border Patrol chief as a “potential terrorist” was apprehended attempting to enter the U.S. illegally near Yuma, Arizona. He was apprehended wearing a New York county ambulance jacket.

Yuma Sector Chief Border Patrol Agent Chris Clem announced the apprehension on Twitter with an accompanying blurred photo of the man.

“Yuma Sector agents apprehended a potential terrorist who illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico Thursday night,” Clem wrote. “The 21-year-old migrant from Saudi Arabia is linked to several Yemeni subjects of interest.”

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EPA Focused on Gender, Ethnic Diversity to Fill ‘Purged’ Advisory Posts

After the Environmental Protection Agency dumped advisers from regulated industries, the federal agency appears to have prioritized gender and ethnic diversity to replace them, EPA documents show. 

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard arguments Wednesday in the case of Young vs. EPA. The lead plaintiff in the case, Stanley Young, was ousted in March from the EPA’s Science Advisory Board weeks after President Joe Biden took office. 

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Commentary: The Brain May Use a Ton of Energy Because It’s ‘Leaking’

Your brain may be leaking … energy, according to a new study that may explain why your noggin consumes 20% of the energy needed to keep your body running.

The study researchers found that tiny sacs called vesicles that hold messages being transmitted between brain cells may be constantly oozing energy, and that leakage is likely a trade-off for the brain being ready to fire at all times, according to a new study published Dec. 3 in the journal Science Advances. 

“The brain is considered a very expensive organ to run,” said senior author Timothy Ryan, a professor of biochemistry at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.

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Commentary: Scientists Discover the First Millipede with More Than 1,000 Legs

Ever since humans gave millipedes their name, the leggy arthropods have had a ‘false advertising’ problem. The prefix “milli-” refers to a “thousand,” while “pede” means feet, yet no millipede had ever been found with more than a thousand legs.

Until now, that is.

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Florida Joins Multi-State Lawsuit Challenging Vaccine Mandate for Head Start

Challenging a rule from the Biden Administration that would require COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees at a preschool program known as Head Start, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody joined 23 other states to express an objection to the mandates.

Head Start is a free preschool program for students three to four-year-old in low-income families, that is funded by the federal Head Start program. The vaccine mandate would require all employees of schools that operate under Head Start to be vaccinated, as well as require mask mandates for children ages two and up.

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Michigan Governor Whitmer Signs $1 Billion Bipartisan SOAR Economic Development Package

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed into law a $1 billion bipartisan economic development package.

The Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) package aims to support small businesses and attract businesses to the state, and includes:

Establishment of an economic development fund.
Funding programs “to make our economy more adaptable to the rapid pace of technological change, supporting small businesses, and creating or retaining good-paying jobs.
Creation of a financing mechanism for both programs.
Appropriates $407 million to fund small businesses affected by COVID-19.

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Nikki Fried Includes Left-Wing LGBT Resources on Florida Agriculture Website

After the Florida Capital Star broke the story regarding the Florida Department of Education’s (FDOE) removal of LGBT bullying resources from left-wing groups, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) repurposed resources and posted them to the Florida Department of Agriculture (FDACS) site.

Many of the resources consist of anti-bullying resources, though not all are expressly described as “LGBT” anti-bullying resources. However, the main heading of the site designates the links as being categorized as “LGBTQ+” as well as providing a brief timeline of Fried’s efforts to advocate for the LGBT community as agriculture commissioner.

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Ohio Lawmaker Wants Parents to Know What’s Being Taught In Schools

Ohio schools would be required to tell parents nearly everything about their child’s education, rather than only when asked, if proposed legislation becomes law.

Rep. Brett Hillyer, R-Uhrichsville, said talks of what children are being taught in schools around the country have turned into heated debate, and he believes parents want to be engaged in what their children should and should not be taught in Ohio classrooms.

“The Education Transparency Act ensures exactly that, transparency,” Hillyer said. “The purpose of the bill is to better equip parents to be engaged in their child’s education experience by giving them the transparency they have been clamoring for.”

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DeKalb County GOP Chair Blasts Brad Raffensperger for Claiming Credit for Georgia’s High Ranking Election Security Scorecard

The Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation this month ranked Georgia first on its election integrity scorecard, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger took credit. DeKalb County Republican Party Chair Marci McCarthy said this week, however, that Raffensperger was out of line to make such a statement. McCarthy wrote on the DeKalb County GOP’s website that Raffensperger “unilaterally weakened Voter ID protections and controls” and “did not strengthen them.”

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Waukesha Removing Memorial to Parade Murder Victims

The City of Waukesha has announced that they will be removing the memorial that had been erected for the victims of the Waukesha Christmas Parade killing. The city said that they will be removing the items on Wednesday, accompanied by a ceremony. According to Wisc News, the city will be considering requests to install a permanent memorial sometime in the new year.

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Ohio Governor DeWine Signs Esther’s Law and ‘Born Alive’ Abortion Bill

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Wednesday signed multiple bills that the Ohio State Legislature passed earlier this year, including “Esther’s Law” and a “born alive” abortion bill.

The two laws could bring dramatic changes throughout the state, as supporters of each piece of legislation argue the bills are meant to protect members of vulnerable populations.

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Florida Congressional Candidate Not Backing Down After HOA Fines Him for ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Christmas Display

A Florida congressional candidate ran afoul of his Sarasota home owner’s association (HOA) when he strung up some Christmas lights spelling “Let’s Go Brandon.”

“Let’s go Brandon is not about being derogatory to our current president,” Martin Hyde told The Florida Capital Star. “It’s about fake news. What NBC did was an outrage. If were not gonna believe our eyes and our ears – for me that’s a statement of where we’re really at.”

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Former Minnesota Congressional Candidate Kendall Qualls Announces Documentary to Be Released in 2022

Kendall Qualls and his organization Take Charge have announced that they will be releasing a documentary in 2022, called “I Am A Victor!” Qualls ran for Congress in 2020, against Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN-03). Qualls told The Minnesota Sun that he “never wanted to be involved and never had been involved” in the political scene before.

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Virginia Parents Sue Albemarle County School Board over Alleged Discriminatory Policies

Group of young students at table, reading and wearing masks

A group of parents with children who attend schools within the Albemarle County District are suing the school board for “enacting discriminatory policies and indoctrinating students in radical ideology.”

According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, attorneys who are representing the nine parents, the school board’s policies allow members of the staff to treat students differently based on race.

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Virginia Department of Transportation Has Cheeky Messages for Holiday Drivers

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is encouraging holiday drivers to take it slow, and its using creative messaging to get its point across. 

“Visiting In-Laws? Slow Down. Get There Late.” an electronic sign on a Virginia highway says. 

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Pennsylvania Unemployment Issues Delay Payments to Some Residents

Inside DMV, people standing in line

Dozens of individuals have reported issues with Pennsylvania’s unemployment system, as repeated mishaps have caused delays in payments.

The technical issues created by the website and the agency’s failure to provide payments have caused individuals to have limited or no income during the holiday season.

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Wisconsin District Admits at Least One Student ‘Accessed Inappropriate Content’ on School-Issued iPad

A Wisconsin school district walked back its original claim, admitting that one student did access “inappropriate content,” according to a statement from the district provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Following a report in November of a misconfiguration of Securly on our KG-1st grade iPads when used at home, the District has concluded its investigation that revealed only one device out of 1,200 iPads accessed inappropriate content,” according to an email from Elmbrook Public Relations that was sent to families and staff Wednesday. “We appreciate the parent who brought this to our attention and our technology team’s fast response to resolve the problem before it became a bigger concern.”

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Incoming Minneapolis Council Member Says He’ll Pursue Voting Rights for Non-Citizens

Jason Chavez will assume his seat as a member of the Minneapolis City Council in less than two weeks. He said he’ll use his power to pursue voting rights for non-citizens.

Even though the Minnesota Constitution is clear that all voters in state and local elections must have “been a citizen of the United States for three months,” Chavez told Axios that he’s already in the process of exploring a way to allow non-citizens to vote. Minneapolis alone is home to about 30,000 non-citizens, Axios reports.

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Zach Wamp Praises Liz Cheney, Trashes Donald Trump

Former Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp, a Republican, is one of several former lawmakers who signed a letter this week applauding Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their work investigating the events of January 6. Representative Cheney, a Republican who serves Wyoming’s at-large Congressional district, serves as vice-chair of the January 6 Select Committee. Kinzinger (R-IL-16) also serves on the committee.

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