Metro Nashville Public Schools Selected for Grant to Curb School Violence

The Department of Justice (DOJ) selected Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) as a recipient of a grant from the STOP School Violence Program.

The funds, totaling $990,927, are aimed to advance school safety by instituting safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools across the country.

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Two Separate Georgia Murder Suspects Arrested in Tennessee This Week

Two suspects in separate murders in Georgia were arrested in Tennessee Monday, according to reports. 

“The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said 29-year-old Alyssa Danielle Wild of East Dublin, Georgia was pulled over in Franklin,” according to WTVC. “Wild is charged with murder in the death of 38-year-old Charles Stephen Holmberg of Cuthbert, Georgia. Holmberg was found shot dead Saturday in a vehicle parked at a motel in Dublin.”

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Visit Music City Announces COVID Regulations for New Years Eve Celebrations

Visit Music City announced its New Year’s Eve celebration, along with its COVID regulations. The event will be sponsored by Jack Daniels and broadcast live on CBS Television Network, and available to stream on-demand on Paramount+.

The New Year’s Eve event is called the Jack Daniel’s New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash! is one of the many events offered in Nashville for the holiday, and is free to anyone to attend. A special New Years’ Eve package is also available, with tickets priced at $50 along with a required one-night stay at a participating hotel.

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District Attorney Announces Seven Arrests for Fentanyl Distribution Ring in Tennessee

Bag that says "DANGER contains Fentanyl"

District Attorney Brent Cooper announced that a year and a half long task force investigation in conjunction with the DEA Nashville office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the Columbia Police Department resulted in the disruption of a fentanyl drug ring the the arrest of seven suspects.

The team focused on a counterfeit oxycodone pills drug trafficking organization, which they later discovered was selling fentanyl-laced pills. Over the duration of the investigation, members of the team made undercover purchases in order to “[identify] the sources of the pills recovered during the sales leading to the execution of six residential search warrants.”

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Commentary: The Everlasting COVID Crisis

In 1972, three black men, Melvin Cale, Louis Moore, and Henry D. Jackson, Jr., hijacked Southern Airways Flight 49, demanding $10 million and safe passage to Cuba. The hijacking lasted nearly 30 hours and involved multiple stops throughout the United States, Canada, and eventually, Cuba. In the process of negotiating with the FBI, the hijackers threatened to ram their aircraft, a Douglas DC-9, into the High Flux Isotope Reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee if their demands weren’t met.

Until that point, American airlines had resisted installing metal detectors in airports, worried that treating Americans like common criminals to board a plane would wreck their burgeoning industry. But that threat of nuclear attack, and the 130 other hijackings between 1968 and 1972, convinced the government to take a stand at last. In 1973, the FAA used its bureaucratic and administrative powers to make passenger screening mandatory. In 1974, Congress validated the requirement, ignoring passenger rights’ groups that protested the intrusive screening of luggage and persons in order to board aircraft. 

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Over Half of U.S. States Will Increase Their Minimum Wage in 2022

Over half of the states in the U.S. will institute a minimum wage increase in 2022, according to a report.

A total of 26 states will raise the minimum wage in 2022, with 22 of the states starting the pay hikes on Jan. 1, accordingto payroll experts at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S.

“These minimum wage increases indicate moves toward ensuring a living wage for people across the country,” Deirdre Kennedy, senior payroll analyst at Wolters Kluwer, said in the report. “In addition to previously approved incremental increases, the change in presidential administration earlier this year and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have also contributed to these changes.”

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Gas Prices Set to Surge Again, Industry Analysis Shows

The price of gasoline is set to increase to $4 per gallon or more within five months, according to an industry analysis released Tuesday.

The gas price surge is forecasted to take place by Memorial Day in late May, according to the report from GasBuddy, an app that tracks pump prices, and shared with CNN. But the analysis said the average cost of gasoline at pumps nationwide would then fall throughout the summer and fall of 2022, declining below current prices.

“We could see a national average that flirts with, or in a worst-case scenario, potentially exceeds $4 a gallon,” Patrick De Haan, the director of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN.

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Homeless Encampments Begin Forming Near Schools in Los Angeles

Homeless encampments have begun cropping up near schools throughout the city of Los Angeles, even despite a citywide ban on any such encampments near public areas, as reported by the Epoch Times.

The Los Angeles City Council had previously passed a new resolution, Ordinance 41.18, which was signed into law by Mayor Eric Garcetti (D-Calif.), forbidding any such homeless camps from being set up within 500 feet of “sensitive-use” areas, including schools, daycares, libraries, and parks. The ordinance also banned such camps from forming near freeway overpasses and underpasses, ramps, tunnels, and bridges.

But in order for the ordinance to be enforced, each individual district’s councilmember must introduce a motion to do so, which then must be approved by the council. As such, homeless encampments have begun sprouting up near schools in the Venice Beach neighborhood, which falls under District 11; that district is represented by Councilman Mike Bonin (D-Calif.), who has a history of refusing to enforce anti-homeless measures for other districts, and has not yet introduced any such measures to protect his own district.

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University President Calls out Chinese Students He Says ‘Harassed’ Their Dissident Peer

After a Chinese student at Purdue University spoke out against the Chinese Communist Party, fellow Chinese students at the American school allegedly threatened to report him to China for espionage. 

Zhihao Kong told ProPublica that after he posted a letter condemning the Tiananmen Square Massacre, China’s Ministry of State Security began threatening him and his family. 

“His family back home, in this case China, was visited and threatened by agents of that nation’s secret police,” President Mitch Daniels said in an email published by the Purdue Exponent. 

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Iowa Health Department Progressing on Filling State Medical Director Role

Iowa Department of Public Health is conducting interviews for the state medical director and epidemiologist position vacated last October by Dr. Caitlin Pedati.

DPH Public Information Officer Sarah Ekstrand told The Center Square in an emailed statement Oct. 25 that the department was in the process of filling the position and would provide an update when the details were finalized.

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Commentary: The Biggest Junk Science of 2021

Doctor with protective gloves handling vaccine

Just as it did last year, the most dangerous pandemic in a century spawned all sorts of junk science in 2021, running the gamut from pure quackery to ideology-fueled misinformation. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to spot junk science, especially when it’s disguised in techno-babble or parroted by governments, doctors, or other traditionally trusted sources. This sneakiness, combined with the unprecedented stress of a novel, highly-infectious disease, makes almost anyone prone to falling for BS.

To help identify junk science in the future, it’s useful to showcase junk science from the present and past. Here are six of the worst examples from this year:

6. Star NFL Quarterback Aaron Rodgers Was ‘Immunized’ Against COVID-19 With Homeopathy. Through much of the NFL season, Green Bay Packers starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers led reporters and fans to believe that he had been vaccinated against COVID-19. But when Rodgers was diagnosed with the illness in early November, it was revealed that he had not in fact been vaccinated, but rather had been ‘immunized’ with a homeopathic remedy. Homeopathy is a ridiculous, utterly disproven pseudoscience based on the magical notions that “like cures like” and that water can ‘remember’ the essence of a substance. Furthermore, according to practitioners, diluting a substance down to infinitesimal, often nonexistent amounts actually makes the homeopathic remedy stronger. In keeping with this fairytale logic, Rodgers likely imbibed a homeopathic potion (essentially just water) that before dilution may have had some sort of virus in it, and claimed that it raised his antibody levels, rendering him ‘immunized’. It’s utter nonsense.

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Dr. Robert Malone Banned from Twitter Day Before Filming Joe Rogan Episode

A prominent doctor who has often challenged government and media narratives about the COVID-19 vaccines has been permanently banned from Twitter. 

Dr. Robert Malone played a key role in the invention of the mRNA vaccine, the type of vaccine that is being administered to many Americans in an effort to stave off COVID-19. Malone has often been critical of the use of the vaccines, as well those in media and government who support them. 

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Commentary: The Year in Unhinged Liberal Celebrities’ Freakouts

Despite the triumph of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, liberal celebrities didn’t get much happier in 2021.

It began with Donald Trump refusing to concede that he lost the presidential election. A year ago, one actor engaged in violent fantasies over this stubborn resistance to the facts. “Who arrests Trump if he refuses to concede? Who drags him out? Pepper spray? Cuffs?” That sounds like an action movie.

But then it turned threatening: “A knee on his neck, cutting off his oxygen? Does he wheeze ‘I can’t breathe'(?) Just whale away on him like a pinata? Rodney King style? The thug who has destroyed the country. What does he deserve?”

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French Officials Close Mosque After Sermons ‘Targeting Christians, Homosexuals and Jews’

French officials have closed a mosque following an imam’s sermons “targeting Christians, homosexuals and Jews.”

France Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said two weeks ago that he was starting the process of closing the Great Mosque of Beauvais, in the northern French region of Oise, and gave it two weeks to respond, according to the British Broadcasting Corp.

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Dole Announces Recall Due to Listeria Contamination

The Dole Company announced a recall last week on specific products due to possible listeria contamination. Many variations of Dole’s bagged salads that had been processed in Bessemer City, NC, and Yuma, AZ were found to have been contaminated with listeria.

In the statement from Dole, “all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads” that were processed at both locations were possibly contaminated. It added that both locations would temporarily suspend operations and undergo an extensive cleaning and sanitizing protocol. 

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Commentary: France’s Version of Wokeism

La Justice Pour George at Coucou, French language school, in Minneapolis, Minnesota

PARIS — Rachel Khan is a 45-year-old writer and actress, half Gambian, half Polish Jew born and educated in France, who was appointed by the mayor of Paris to be co-director of a cultural center called La Place, or The Place, dedicated to hip-hop music in France.  Then she became a target of the wrath of “le wokisme,” French version.

Khan, who was already well-known as a dissenter from the identity-politics orthodoxy on race and victimization, published a slim volume titled “Racée” — meaning racy, daring, but also a play on words — in which she lampooned the politically correct idea that to be authentically black meant that she had to incarnate a “woke” ideology.

“It’s supposedly anti-racism, but in fact it’s dogma,” she told me in Paris in November. “A black actress is supposed to be anti-colonialist. But just as I’m not obliged as a black actress to play a cleaning lady or a prostitute, I’m also not obliged as a black person to be ‘anti-colonial.’”

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Commentary: Americans Believe Damaging Sleep Myths

Woman sleeping

A new survey suggests that at least half of Americans fall for a number of sleep myths, some of them quite damaging for sleep health.

Assistant Teaching Professor Elizabeth Pantesco and Associate Professor Irene Kan, both in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Villanova University, spearheaded the research, which was recently published to the journal Sleep Health.

The duo surveyed 1,120 adults residing in the United States via CloudResearch’s Prime Panels. Participants were queried about their demographics, then asked whether they agreed or disagreed with twenty statements about sleep, for example, “Watching television in bed is a good way to relax before sleep” and “For sleeping, it is better to have a warmer bedroom than a cooler bedroom.” Unbeknownst to them, the statements were all widely recognized as myths by sleep experts.

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Commentary: We Need a Nonpartisan COVID Commission Now

Congress currently is considering eight proposals to establish a national COVID Commission. Such commissions routinely follow massively disruptive events in our nation’s life. Unfortunately, such congressionally chartered efforts seldom make much of an imprint on the future, which is their common mandate. This time perhaps that could change, if whichever bill wins out includes a roadmap for meaningful reform of our public health enterprise that, in so many ways, failed as COVID engulfed us.

Consider how federal, state and local health departments were unprepared for a threat that an expert government panel warned, in 2019, was inevitable. Despite its enormous $11 billion budget, the 800-pound gorilla of public health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had no model for how a COVID-like virus would spread, nor how to target preventive measures. Worse, it had not developed a protocol for testing to determine if individuals were infected with a disease, and no plans existed to work with private laboratories to produce test kits for widespread distribution, which, during the onset of COVID, it resisted. These delays cost tens of thousands of lives.

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More Police Officers Died in 2021 Than in Any Other Year on Record: Report

More police officers in the U.S. died in 2021 than any other year officer fatalities have been recorded, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 28, 2021, 358 active duty officers died. That’s compared to 296 over the same time period last year, the Memorial Fund reports. Fire-arms related deaths were up 31%; traffic-related deaths were up 30%.

Last year’s numbers were significant because officer deaths in 2020 were the second-highest the Memorial Fund recorded since 1930, when 312 officers died.

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Andrew Cuomo to Face No Charges After Sexual Harassment Investigation

Former Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not face any charges over alleged inappropriate conduct investigated by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, according to an announcement Tuesday.

The decision came after a “thorough” investigation into allegations made by two women against Cuomo, according to the announcement. Both women accused the former governor of kissing them without their consent.

“Our investigation found credible evidence to conclude that the alleged conduct in both instances described above did occur,” the announcement said.

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Federal Judge Upholds Vaccine Mandate for Oklahoma National Guard

On Tuesday, a district court judge ruled against the state of Oklahoma in its effort to block the coronavirus vaccine mandate for members of the state’s National Guard, The Hill reports.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot explained his reasoning in a 29-page ruling, in which he rejected a motion filed by Governor Kevin Stitt (R-Okla.) and Attorney General John O’Connor (R-Okla.) to indefinitely block the mandate; Judge Friot claimed that the plaintiffs’ claim was “without merit.”

“The court is required to decide this case on the basis of federal law, not common sense,” said Friot in his ruling. “But, either way, the result would be the same. The claims asserted by the Governor and his co-plaintiffs are without merit.”

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Missouri Counties Appeal Circuit Court Ruling Nullifying COVID Public Health Orders

St. Louis and Jackson Counties are appealing to the Missouri Court of Appeals a circuit court judge’s declaration that all state and local COVID health orders are unconstitutional, null and void.

On Nov. 22, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green delivered an 18-page ruling stating all state and local health departments cannot issue orders, close businesses, quarantine students, and stated parts of Missouri’s Code of State Regulations pertaining to the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) violated the state constitution. St. Louis and Jackson Counties filed motions to appeal the ruling within the prescribed 30-day window. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt stated he would not appeal the ruling, despite the DHSS’ “apparent wish to appeal,” according to the appeal. However, Judge Green on Dec. 22 denied all pending motions.

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Florida Surgeon General Says Biden Is ‘Actively Preventing’ Monoclonal Shipments

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra saying the Biden Administration is “actively preventing” the shipments on Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatments to states, including Florida.

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Over 500 Freedom of Information Act Requests Filed Against Loudoun County School District

Man looking at folders

The Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) district, which has faced widespread backlash and scrutiny over its handling of a two-time rapist, is now dealing with over 500 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by county parents, Breitbart reports.

The sheer amount of new requests represents an increase of more than five times the previous yearly average; from 2012 to 2018, the average amount of FOIA requests for LCPS was about 90. Roughly 40 percent of the new requests have been filed on behalf of the group Fight for Schools, a nonprofit watchdog group that has been fighting for transparency from the school board.

As the process of fulfilling a FOIA request under Virginia state law, much like the federal equivalent, is a time-consuming process, LCPS “has begun billing VFOIA requesters because it cannot handle the current volume free of charge,” according to LCPS Public Information Officer Wayne Byard. In addition, the district has had to hire twice as many staffers to focus solely on processing such requests.

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U.S. Home Prices Surged Almost 20 Percent in October

U.S. home prices surged in October as the housing market remains strong after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a key economic indicator.

Home prices climbed 18.4% in October compared to one year earlier, a deceleration from a 19.1% year-over-year increase in September, according to the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Index. Experts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal projected the index would grow 18.6% in November.

All 20 cities included in the index posted double-digit annualized gains. Phoenix saw a 32.3% increase, Tampa Bay, Florida, grew 28.1% and Miami increased 25.7%, according to the report.

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Virginia Supreme Court Approves Final Congressional and Legislative Districts

The Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday approved the final version of congressional and legislative maps that will enact political boundaries for the next decade.

The process allowed for the judicial branch to determine the districts after the Virginia Redistricting Commission failed to produce any maps.

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Ohio Supreme Court Hears Challenges to State’s New Congressional Map

Ohio Republicans argued voters have more competitive congressional districts than before, despite claims in lawsuits the General Assembly gerrymandered new maps to benefit Republican candidates.

Attorney Phillip Strach, who represents Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, told the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday the state’s new congressional district map contains seven competitive districts, at least as many as any other plan offered.

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Michigan Approves New U.S. House Map, Leading to an Incumbent Versus Incumbent Primary

Michigan’s independent redistricting commission voted to adopt the state’s new congressional map Tuesday afternoon, with five of the 13 new districts being potentially competitive as both parties fight for control of the House.

The new map creates competitive seats along Lake Michigan, around the state capital and in metro Detroit. President Joe Biden would have won seven of the districts in 2020, while former President Donald Trump would have won six, according to David Wasserman, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report.

Despite Biden’s narrow edge on the new map, incumbent Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin, Dan Kildee and Andy Levin could be forced to run in very competitive seats as their party faces political headwinds ahead of the 2022 midterms. Republican Rep. Peter Meijer may also face a contentious race in 2022, as his current Grand Rapids-based 3rd district was put into a new district that Biden would have won by nine points in 2020, Wasserman said.

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Wisconsin Public Health Quarantine Letter Threatens Legal Action for Failing to Isolate After COVID Test

A letter, dated December 21, from the St. Croix County Public Health Department threatens legal action against residents who do not quarantine properly after testing positive for COVID. The letter goes on to detail all the recommended “voluntary” actions the person should take following a positive COVID test.

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Ohio Gubernatorial Candidate Jim Renacci Opposes Calls for Additional Mask Mandates

Ohio gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci on Wednesday opposed additional mask mandates, after healthcare leaders called the measure for children.

The statement from Renacci follows a letter from the Ohio Hospital Association to education officials and school board members across the state, asking for mask requirements for students.

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Kendall Qualls Steps Down from TakeCharge, Hinting at Run for Minnesota Governor

Republican Kendall Qualls announced Tuesday that he is stepping down as president of TakeCharge, a nonprofit he founded earlier this year, prompting speculation that he will be running for governor of Minnesota.

Qualls first gained notoriety in 2020 during his unsuccessful bid against Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District. A few months later, he launched TakeCharge, which has focused on inspiring a “new movement in the black community to return it to its cultural roots of faith, family and education.”

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New York Attorney General Letitia James and 22 Attorneys General Fight Arizona’s Law to Ban Abortions Based on Fetal Abnormalities Like Down Syndrome

This past year, the Arizona Legislature passed a law banning the abortion of babies for reasons of genetic abnormalities such as Down Syndrome, but a federal judge who was appointed by President Barack Obama halted it from going into effect due to a legal challenge. Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James and 22 other attorneys general jumped into the litigation, filing an amicus brief supporting the challenge to SB 1497, which is also known as the “Reason Ban.”

James stated, “Arizona is just the latest in the long line of conservative-led states that are seeking to impose their will on millions of women with laws that aim to control our bodies, our choices, and our freedoms, but we will never stop fighting them. We’re asking the appeals court to uphold the lower court’s decision and strike down this unconstitutional law.”

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Ohio Senate Candidate JD Vance Blasts Fauci for Suggesting a Vaccine Mandate for Domestic Air Travel

U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance on Tuesday blasted Dr. Anthony Fauci for suggesting the U.S. should consider a coronavirus vaccine requirement for domestic air travel.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explained, in an interview with MSNBC, that he believes the mandate “is reasonable to consider.”

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Challenges Biden over Hypocrisy of Federal Vaccine Mandates

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who has been a constant critic of vaccine mandates, challenged President Joe Biden over his apparent hypocrisy in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

In a recent address, Biden claimed it is not up to the federal government to solve the coronavirus pandemic. However, as Governor Ducey noted, Biden has remained determined to impose federal vaccine mandates for individuals across the country.

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Pennsylvania Congressional Candidate Jim Bognet Denounces Illegal-Immigrant Flights, Says Rep. Matt Cartwright ‘Asleep at the Switch’

Congressional candidate Jim Bognet this week denounced transport of illegal aliens into Pennsylvania and rebuked his prospective opponent Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) for inattention to the issue.

The Republican attorney and small-business owner who challenged Cartwright in 2020 aims to do so again next year and is taking the Democrat to task for his pro-open-borders record and his general alignment with President Joe Biden on migration and border security. A Hazleton native, Bognet said illegal immigration has palpably burdened parts of the Keystone State’s northeast. He called for a return to the tighter security policies pursued by former President Donald Trump and for the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

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A Record Number of Minnesotans Moved to Other States This Year

New Census Bureau population data show that Minnesota’s population grew by just 225 people in 2021. One particularly alarming aspect of this was a loss of 13,453 residents to other states. This was our state’s biggest net loss of domestic migrants to other states in at least 30 years.

As Figure 1 shows, until 2001 Minnesota received more residents from other states each year than it lost to them. Since then, in all except for two years, 2017 and 2018, our state has seen more residents leave than have chosen to come here from elsewhere in the United States. The loss of residents in 2021 might be especially large, but it is not a new development.

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DeSantis Spokesperson Dismisses Criticism of Omicron Response

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings (D) criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) this week saying the governor has been absent from helping local communities against the fight from the omicron variant of COVID.

“Our residents, all Florida residents, should be outraged and they should ask the question, ‘Where is our state? Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?’ When is the last time you saw the governor do a press briefing on COVID-19?” said Jerry Demings.

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Confirmed: CNN Producer Who Sent Lewd Texts About Fiancée’s Underage Daughter No Longer with Network

A CNN producer who was busted by Project Veritas for sending lewd text messages to a woman about his now ex-fiancée’s underage daughter is no longer with the media outlet.  

“Rick Saleeby does not work for CNN. He resigned from his position two weeks ago,” CNN’s Head of Strategic Communications Matt Dornic confirmed Wednesdays to The Virginia Star. 

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Gov. Brian Kemp Attracts Criticism After He Tells Georgians He Did What He Promised to Do

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, up for reelection next year, released a campaign ad on Wednesday and told voters he has done everything he said he would do during his first term. Two Republicans running against Kemp said Wednesday that the incumbent governor has fallen short.

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Arlington School Board Weighs Ending Homework Grades, Unlimited Redoes

In a proposed shift towards what it calls more “equitable” grading practices, the Arlington School Board wants to make several massive changes to the way student achievement is measured.

The changes would include removing due dates and eliminating grading of homework, unlimited redoes and retakes on assignments, and eliminating extra credit, which the School Board alleges “leads to biased grades and penalizes students with fewer resources.”

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The Left Attacks Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper

The Intercept, a left-of-center publication has published a new article that tries to connect U.S. Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN-05) to slavery and segregation. The article, which The Intercept published late last week, links Cooper to what it calls “a segregationist political dynasty on his father’s side” and slaveholders on his mother’s side.

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