Electric Truck Maker Pays $125 Million to Settle Charges It Defrauded Investors

Electric truck manufacturer Nikola announced Tuesday it had settled fraud charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), agreeing to pay the regulator $125 million.

The settlement is in response to allegations by the SEC that Nikola’s founder and former chief executive Trevor Milton misled investors about Nikola’s products and technological progress in order to boost the company’s share price. The SEC alleged that Milton misrepresented the anticipated costs and sources of electricity for its truck venture.

Milton was indicted by the Department of Justice in July on fraud charges, to which he pleaded not guilty.

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Commentary: The Left Needs to Stop Lying About Coup Attempts

Jan. 6 capitol riot

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, three retired generals, Paul Eaton, Antonio Taguba, and Steven Anderson warn of a supposedly impending coup should Donald Trump be elected in 2024.

The column seemed strangely timed to coincide with a storm of recent Democratic talking points that a reelected Trump, or even a Republican sweep of the 2022 midterms, would spell a virtual end of democracy.

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Manchin Reportedly Told the White House He Supports a Billionaire Tax

Joe Biden and Joe Manchin

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin told the White House last week that he was willing to endorse some type of billionaire tax in President Joe Biden’s domestic spending package before coming out against it days later, The Washington Post reported.

Manchin said that a tax on billionaires’ wealth could be a means to pay for the package, according to the Post, citing three people familiar with his offer to the White House. The outlet reported that it was unclear whether Manchin provided an estimate of how much money the provision would raise.

Programs in Manchin’s $1.8 trillion counteroffer included universal pre-K for ten years, expansions to the Affordable Care Act and billions of dollars for climate change mitigation measures, according to the Post, but it did not include the child tax credit, which many Democrats have touted as one of the single biggest policy achievements of the year.

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Commentary: Lump of Coal Awards 2021, January 6 Edition

Merrick Garland, Adam Kinzinger and Chris Wray

Aside from the pandemic, no other issue has dominated the daily news cycle and collective fixation of the ruling class more than the alleged “insurrection” on January 6, 2021.

The events of that day were a gift to the Biden regime and the Democratic Party—which should instantly disabuse anyone of the notion that the Capitol protest was legitimately an organic uprising instead of an inside job orchestrated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the FBI to name just a few accomplices.

Since then, every lever of government power in Washington, D.C. has been wielded in a vengeful way against American citizens who dared to protest the rigged 2020 presidential election. The conduct of those in charge has exposed the moral depravity of the people who populate the power center of the world’s greatest country, showing a stark chasm between the inherent goodness and decency of the American people and the sadistic ghouls who call the shots from the Beltway.

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‘A Mad Scramble’: One Rare Mineral May Spell Doom for Electric Vehicle Market

Lithium — a mineral that is key for electric car batteries — continues to rise in price, jeopardizing the ongoing transition to renewable energy outlined by Western governments.

The cost of lithium has skyrocketed more than 250% over the last 12 months, hitting its highest level ever, according to an industry index from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. While the cost of manufacturing a lithium-ion battery for an electric vehicle (EV) has fallen sharply over the last decade, the decline has slowed in recent months due to rising lithium costs.

The average cost of an EV battery pack fell to $157 per kilowatt hour, a measure of energy capacity, in 2021, the Department of Energy said in October. That means a typical EV battery is between $6,000 and $7,000, a BloombergNEF analysis showed.

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Operation Lone Star Border Security Efforts Get Additional $38.4 Million In Funding

An additional $38.4 million of Texas taxpayer money has been allocated to fund border security efforts at the Texas-Mexico border. It’s money Texas shouldn’t have to spend, Gov. Greg Abbott said, but is because of President Joe Biden’s open border policies that have ushered into the state rampant trafficking of drugs, people and crime.

The money will provide additional funding for Operation Lone Star, which Abbott launched in March and go towards law enforcement, jail operations, and court administration costs. It brings the total PSO funding for Operation Lone Star to $74 million to date designed to assist border cities and counties.

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Zuckerberg-Funded Pro-Amnesty Groups Sue Border Patrol over ‘Whipping’ Hoax

A coalition of far-left pro-amnesty groups has filed a lawsuit against the United States Border Patrol, reviving the debunked hoax that horseback agents were seen “whipping” illegal aliens back in September, Breitbart reports.

The lawsuit claims that the Border Patrol has demonstrated “physical abuse, racial discrimination, denial of basic necessities and medical treatment, and a complete failure to process asylum claims.” The only proof offered by the suit is the handful of photographs taken from the incident in September, which was debunked by the photographer himself as instead being captured in the moment that horseback agents were spinning their reins around in an effort to keep illegals away from their horses, rather than actually whipping them.

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Amazon Disables Ability to Rate Books Sold in China at Chinese Government’s Request

Amazon stopped offering customer ratings and reviews of books sold in China at the request of the Chinese Communist Party, according to a Reuters investigation.

The Chinese government ordered Amazon to stop allowing customers to review books following less-than-perfect ratings of a collection of President Xi Jinping’s writings, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. Amazon partnered with a state-owned firm called China International Book Trading Corp (CIBTC) and created a portal, which it called China Books, that promotes Chinese Communist Party material and forbids negative reviews.

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Commentary: When Envy Trumps Economics

President Joe Biden has seized on a winning message: tax the rich. He tweets incessantly, “Big corporations and the super wealthy have to start paying their fair share of taxes. It’s long overdue,” and claims his Build Back Better agenda “will be paid for by the wealthy paying their fair share.”

Instead of highlighting the few benefits of his Build Back Better Act, (H.R. 5376) his public positioning is about harming a particular group. Why? This message sells with three key constituencies he’s counting on to pressure Congress to vote yes.

Younger millennials and Gen Z who believe the uber-rich should not exist.
The working rich who believe taxing themselves is a solution to poverty and a source of economic growth.
The governing elites who want to accumulate more government control by enlarging the dependent class.
Younger Millennials and Gen Z: Being Rich Is Inherently Bad
A recent PEW research poll revealed that half of adults under 30 believe billionaires are bad for the U.S. One self-proclaimed “anticapitalist” Millennial and trust fund beneficiary summed it up this way: “I want to build a world where someone like me, a young person who controls tens of millions of dollars, is impossible.” Accordingly, wealth comes from exploitation. Giving their money away (or giving it to Washington to redistribute into a social justice plan) is making “reparations.”

Using this logic, the late Steve Jobs should have been prohibited from earning ridiculous amounts of wealth. Because of his ingenuity, however, millions of jobs have been created, young people have been inspired, and some of the greatest technology has been made available. Like Jobs, those who earn their billions through innovation (and experience many failures in their pursuit and on their own dime) reinvest it in the economy in ways the government could not. Moreover, their earnings are a result of what others were willing to pay them.

Working Rich: We’re Moral People
A 2019 letter penned by more than a dozen of the wealthiest Americans — including George Soros, heiress Abigail Disney, and Molly Munger, daughter of Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger— stated, “it is our duty to step up and support a wealth tax that taxes us.” They believe America “has a moral, ethical and economic responsibility to tax our wealth more.” Mr. Biden’s allies on the Left share this opinion.

A “transfer of wealth” by taxing the rich is nothing short of legal theft. Government is not, and cannot be, altruistic. Government has nothing to give that it has not taken from another by force. With few exceptions, this type of help will erode self-reliance and the moral incentive of charitable action, leading to more government spending.

Ignored is that the free market has done more to break the cycle of poverty than any government program, as it empowers people and mends the nonfinancial, relational parts of society.

The wealthy could put their money to better use by directly donating to effective charitable causes, investing in local communities, or investing in expanding their businesses to serve more consumers and create more jobs. Moreover, there is nothing stopping billionaires from giving their wealth directly to the U.S. government. If they genuinely believe it is their “moral, ethical and economic responsibility,” there is no need to wait.

Governing Elites: We Like Being In Control
They say it’s about social or economic justice, but President Biden’s messaging is déjà vu from Obama-era calls to redistribute wealth, or Marxist accolades of redistribution as a form of economic justice. The increasing popularity of taxing the rich makes the job of government elites easier. President Biden even engages in shame-tweeting such as, “Those at the top have been getting a free ride at the expense of the middle class for far too long.” But the bureaucrats’ real reason to tax the rich is to snatch individuals’ birthrights of personal responsibility, a move toward a centralized system that deflates personal choices and violates personal rights.

Taken together, these ideas unfortunately resonate beyond younger millennials and Gen Z, the working rich, and the governing elites. Jumping onto the “tax the rich” bandwagon feels good because – why should the rich have that much money anyway?

Envy permeates this ideology. Yet economics trumps envy.

The actual tax burden will not fall on folks writing checks to the US Treasury. The rich will, for the most part, still be rich. It’s the middle- and working class who will pay dearly when high-income individuals respond to the tax hike by simply investing less, resulting in fewer job opportunities and lower wages.

Left to fend for their economic lives will be small-business owners. President Biden may consider them wealthy, but taxing these individuals more will decimate communities, as jobs are lost or not created, and wages and hours are cut.

There’s no question that taxing the rich is popular. Problem is, it’s also reckless.

Instead of highlighting the few benefits of his Build Back Better Act, (H.R. 5376) his public positioning is about harming a particular group. Why? This message sells with three key constituencies he’s counting on to pressure Congress to vote yes.

Younger millennials and Gen Z who believe the uber-rich should not exist.
The working rich who believe taxing themselves is a solution to poverty and a source of economic growth.
The governing elites who want to accumulate more government control by enlarging the dependent class.

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Law Enforcement Officials in Ohio Seized $42 Million in Narcotics in 2021

Law enforcement officials, working as the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC), have seized approximately $42 million in illegal narcotics in 2021.

The comprehensive total blows past the $29 million total captured in 2020, an alarming trend for law enforcement officers and the state’s leaders. 

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Florida Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to ‘Marsy’s Law’ Over Tallahassee Shootings

Florida Supreme Court Building

The Florida Supreme Court is set to take up a legal battle regarding “Marsy’s Law,” which is a 2018 constitutional amendment passed by voters that shields the identities of victims of crimes. An official date has not yet been set.

The City of Tallahassee and several news organizations are appealing a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal backing the law and protecting the identities of Tallahassee police officers when they utilized use-of-force in more than one shooting incident. The law enforcement officers maintain they were the victims and felt compelled to use deadly force.

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Trump-Backed Georgia Candidate Pushes to Eliminate Drop Boxes, Machine Voting in Elections

Georgia State Sen. Burt Jones (R), who has been endorsed by former President Trump, is running for lieutenant governor of his state on a platform of election integrity as he’s pushing for the elimination of drop boxes and a return to voting on paper ballots.

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Arizona State Senator Jamescita Peshlakai Resigns, Will Join Biden Administration

Arizona State Senator Jamescita Mae Peshlakai will resign from her position in that legislature and accept a role in the Biden administration, according to a letter she submitted to Senate President Karen Fann and Minority Leader Rebecca Rios.

While complete details of her new job have not been released, she is expected to join the Department of the Interior, working for Secretary Deb Haaland who was the first Native American woman to assume the title.

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At Least Nine Republican Senators Demand Answers from DHS on Afghan Refugee Vetting

Ron Johnson, Josh Hawley and Rick Scott

At least nine Republican U.S. senators are continuing to pressure the Department of Homeland Security for answers over its vetting process of Afghan evacuees entering the U.S.

Three Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee members sent a letter last week to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting information about Afghan evacuees. This week, six additional senators sent a letter to DHS asking for an overdue report they were supposed to have received Nov. 30.

Their letters followed news reports that the State Department didn’t have reliable data on everyone who evacuated Afghanistan and what types of visas they qualified for, and after a convicted rapist on an evacuation flight reached Washington-Dulles Airport. The letters also were sent after assaults and arrests were reported at military bases in New Mexico and Wisconsin where evacuees were being housed, and after several of the senators expressed concerns at a senate committee hearing in September.

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Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn Elected as New Chief Justice of Virginia Supreme Court

Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn was elected to be the new chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court beginning on Jan. 1 after the current chief justice, Donald W. Lemons, announced he would step down.

The justices elected Goodwyn upon the news of Lemons stepping down. The court issued a news release, but did not say why Lemons was leaving. He has served as the chief justice since Jan. 1, 2015 and his term was not set to end until 2024. He is the oldest justice on the court at age 72.

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Both Parties Pick Navy Vets, Community Activists to Run in House District 89 Special Election

Democratic nominee Jackie Glass will run against Republican Giovanni Dolmo to fill the 89th House District after Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) suddenly announced he would vacate the seat. The special election is scheduled for January 11.

“Giovanni is a young, fresh-faced activist who is also an immigrant and a Navy veteran. With his well-rounded background and different perspective, he will connect with voters of all groups across the district,” 89th Legislative District Chairman for the Norfolk GOP Ian Cummings said in a Tuesday evening press release.

“Gratitude to all voters in the 89th that cast a ballot tonight. Asking you to turnout on the drop of a dime is no small ask. I am honored and ready to earn the Jan 11th win. Let’s get to work,” Glass tweeted on Tuesday evening.

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Commentary: The Great American Con

Gabriel: “Do you know the difference between a hustler and a good con man?”

Fitz: “No.”

Gabriel: “A hustler has to get out of town as quick as he can, but a good con man—he doesn’t have to leave

—Steven McKay, Diggstown

 The Kansas City Shuffle: Winston-Salem, NC, 1985

I was a 16-year-old kid out with my girlfriend on a Friday night. We were at the county fair, where we wandered a lane crowded by brightly lit booths advertising competitions of chance and skill. Carnies invited us to toss baseballs into milk jugs, shoot basketballs through hoops, and pop balloons with darts. They made the games seem easy, but I’d never had much luck at them. I couldn’t throw a ball fast enough at the pitching booth, or swing a mallet hard enough to ring the bell at the strongman game. Still, I really wanted to win a prize for my girlfriend.

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Commentary: U.S. Population Growth Just Hit an All-Time Low

Crowd of people walking in New York City near the subway

Population growth in the United States declined to an all-time low during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following a decade-long fertility slump, 2020 saw more people dying than being born in half of all US states. Early estimates suggest that the US population grew only 0.35 percent, the lowest rate ever recorded, and growth is expected to remain near flat this year, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal.

WSJ writers Janet Adamy and Anthony DeBarros report, “With the birthrate already drifting down, the nudge from the pandemic could result in what amounts to a scar on population growth, researchers say, which could be deeper than those left by historic periods of economic turmoil, such as the Great Depression and the stagnation and inflation of the 1970s, because it is underpinned by a shift toward lower fertility.”

The Malthusian View of Population

This demographic news comes at a time when limiting family size is widely encouraged in the media. In July, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry won an award for their “enlightened decision” to limit themselves to two children. And in response to a recent Census Bureau report of low population growth over the last decade, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote in a New York Times column that, “In fact, in a world of limited resources and major environmental problems there’s something to be said for a reduction in population pressure.”

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Judge Sets Date for Challenge to Florida Election Integrity Law

Person voting in poll booth

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker announced he would be hearing arguments next month over Florida’s most recent election integrity law, known in the Florida Legislature as SB 90. Walker rejected the state’s motion for a summary judgment and insisted on hearing the case.

The bill was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). The new law adds requirements for ballot drop boxes and mail-in voting. For example, the drop boxes will have to be manned by a staff member at the supervisor of elections office, and voters will have to request mail-in ballots each election cycle every two years.

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Milwaukee Council Approves Timeline for Mayoral Special Election

Former Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett officially resigned from his position on Wednesday, allowing Common Council President Cavalier Johnson to become acting mayor of the city.

Barrett’s resignation, which was initiated by accepting a position in the Biden administration, allowed the Common Council to formally adopt a timeline for a special election to replace Barrett.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer Appears to Have Changed Her Mind on Vaccine Mandates

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

After calling state vaccine mandates a “problem” on Dec. 7, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has apparently changed her mind and now supports them. 

“I know if that mandate happens, we’re going to lose state employees,” Whitmer said on Dec. 7, the Greenville Daily News reported. “That’s why I haven’t proposed a mandate at the state level. Some states have. We have not, we’re waiting to see what happens in court.”

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Several Straw Polls Inconclusive Regarding Minnesota Republican Gubernatorial Candidate

Several recently conducted straw polls regarding a Republican gubernatorial candidate for the 2022 election have been inconclusive. One poll, conducted by delegates for the party, had State Senator Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) in the lead. Another poll conducted by the Minnesota Family Council after a gubernatorial debate, favored business owner and doctor, Dr. Neil Shah.

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Congressman Mark Green Requests Clarification for No Surprises Act Guidelines

U.S. Representative Mark Green (R-TN-07) on Thursday sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, requesting additional guidelines and clarification on restrictions imposed by the No Surprises Act.

The legislation, which passed in December 2020, attempts to end “surprise billing” from healthcare providers to protect patients from unexpected charges.

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