Twitter Admits ‘Error’ in Suspending Just the News Founder John Solomon’s Account over COVID Facts

Twitter late Thursday acknowledged that Just the News founder and Editor-in-Chief John Solomon’s account was “suspended in error” this week over a post about a COVID-19 vaccine.

The respond follows an appeal earlier in the day by Solomon after his account was suspended Tuesday for his tweet linking to the article “Pfizer to continue distributing version of COVID-19 vaccine not fully approved by FDA.”

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Senator Hagerty Celebrates Constituent Assistance During First Year in Position

Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) on Thursday celebrated constituent service victories completed by his staff throughout the first year of his term.

In a statement sent exclusively to The Tennessee Star, the state’s junior senator pledged to continue to make the concerns of Tennesseans his top priority.

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Congressman Mark Green Calls Out Biden’s ‘Counterproductive’ Vaccine Mandates

U.S Representative Mark Green (R-TN-07) on Tuesday called out President Joe Biden for his “counterproductive” vaccine mandates.

Green, like many other Republican officials, argued Biden’s mandates are hypocritical, as the commander-in-chief admitted “there is no federal solution” to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Commentary: The Top 10 Websites for Science in 2021

Man on sight with microscope

Science communicators once again had their hands full in 2021. Between two and three million research articles were published this year, announcing discoveries from the microscopic to the cosmic and from the (relatively) mundane to the controversial. The gigantic elephant in the room – COVID-19 – also continued to hang around, killing millions while dishonest actors manufactured misinformation galore.

Separating science from pseudoscience, hype from reality, and truth from fiction, all while reporting honestly and coherently, can be a struggle. But each year, writers at a range of websites prove they are up to the task. At RealClearScience, we honor them in our annual listing of the top websites for science.

Honorable Mentions:

ScienceNews has provided dependable science journalism since 1921.

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As Gas Costs Soared in 2021, Prices Remained Among Lowest in Oklahoma, Texas

While gas prices have soared nationwide this year, average prices at the pump have remained among the lowest in Oklahoma and Texas, in part because they are significant oil and gas hubs for the nation.

The lowest current average regular gas prices per gallon are $2.822 in Oklahoma and $2.825 in Texas. Oklahomans have had the lowest prices nationwide throughout the surge of gas prices this fall, AAA reports. In the spring, Oklahoma’s average gas prices were the sixth-lowest in the nation.

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Commentary: Great Americans Gone in 2021

Angelo Codevilla and Rush Limbaugh

The February 17 departure of Rush Limbaugh got the most attention, and deservedly so. To instruct and entertain simultaneously is a tough task, and Limbaugh performed in fine style. There may never be another. 

That description also applies to Angelo Codevilla, who died at 78 on September 21. His “remarkable intellect and insights,” were on full display over a long and productive career. For his many readers, and those who didn’t know him at all, the brilliant scholar might have saved the best for last. 

Born on May 25, 1943, in Voghera, Italy, Angelo Codevilla came to the United States in 1955 and became a U.S. citizen in 1962. The eager immigrant earned degrees at Rutgers, Notre Dame, and Claremont Graduate School and taught at Georgetown, Stanford, and Boston University. Along the way, Codevilla served in the U.S. Navy, as a foreign service officer, and a staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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Senators Demand Answers on Afghan Evacuee Vetting, Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants

Republican U.S. senators are keeping the pressure on the Biden administration over its immigration policies, demanding answers from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the number of Afghan evacuees in the U.S. and their vetting process, as well as information about foreign nationals in the country who have overstayed their visas.

They raise concerns about Mayorkas not providing information to Congress, suggesting his reason for not doing so is political and related to the Democrats’ plan to give amnesty to roughly 6.5 million illegal immigrants as the ongoing border crisis continues.

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Commentary: The Pandemic Has Increased the Need for Student Tutoring

Two people writing on a dry-erase board

The first time I caught a plagiarized essay was at the beginning of my career as an English professor over 20 years ago. Two of my students had turned in papers with more than a few suspiciously similar phrases, and a quick Google search revealed that they had lifted whole paragraphs directly from an academic website about American poetry that was, as far as I could tell, honestly trying to help students understand the subject.

The culture of student cheating on the Internet has come a long way since then, and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought it into even sharper focus. One thing that has changed dramatically in the past two decades is that students aren’t turning to crude HTML sites put together by well-intentioned poetry scholars to cheat on their assignments, but to sophisticated “homework help” sites like Chegg.com that grew by almost 70 percent during the pandemic, reaching a current market cap of $8.5 billion.

Chegg is trying to encourage university faculty to partner with it, claiming (accurately) that “90% of college students say they need more help with their studies.” But the solution to helping students with their homework isn’t to move them onto online platforms that could easily be exploited for student cheating. Rather, students need to work with peer tutors on their own campuses.

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Many U.S. Shoppers Racked Up Debt This Holiday Season

Many U.S. consumers racked up debt this holiday season, and most of them won’t be able to pay it off immediately, according to a report published Wednesday.

Around 36% of consumers went into debt, spending on presents, plane tickets and decorations, owing an average of $1,249, up from 31% in 2020, according to a report by LendingTree. Despite the percentage of holiday borrowers increasing in 2021, the average amount of spending dropped by 10% from 2020.

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Researchers Find Silver Lining in Rise of Omicron Variant

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 worldwide “may have positive implications in terms of decreasing the Covid-19 burden of severe disease,” according to a new study funded by the Gates Foundation and South African, U.S. and U.K. government agencies.

Led by researchers in South Africa, where the variant was first identified, it’s the latest study to suggest the pandemic is approaching endemic status, calling into question the benefits of strict mitigation policies beyond high-risk groups.

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Commentary: American Citizenship Is Caught Between Creed and Clan

Our politics is currently overwhelmed with identity. Rights, votes, participation, all understanding of one’s place in the country is said to be based on one’s “identity.” The one identity that people shy away from is that of the American citizen. Who precisely is this person?

The American Constitution speaks in the voice of “We the People,” but never defines who that people might be, even if they already existed in 1787, even before the establishment of a “more perfect Union.” Who are these Americans? Who, as an individual, is an American? On the one hand, this is a simple question to answer. There is a legal definition of citizenship based on birth or naturalization, and some people simply are Americans and others are not. It is a matter of paperwork.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer, Top Lawmakers Sign NDA Regarding $1 Billion Economic Initiative

Often at the center of controversy, Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is facing transparency questions, along with leading state Republican lawmakers, after they signed nondisclosure agreements preventing them from informing taxpayers about a pricey new economic development initiative.

Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, and House Speaker Jason Wentworth all signed the NDA with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation regarding a $1 billion business incentive program that became law last week, The Detroit News reported.

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Commentary: Pramila Jayapal, the Loser of the Year

For three months, as the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal was firm in her threat: “We will agree to the bipartisan [infrastructure] bill if, and only if, we also pass the reconciliation bill first.” She was the driving force and the public face behind progressives’ mission to use the infrastructure bill as a cudgel to force Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and other centrist Democrats into passing Build Back Better. She repeatedly appeared on “The Rachel Maddow Show” to give attention to her strongarm tactics.

Time and time again in August, September, and October, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was forced to back down from votes on infrastructure because of Jayapal. When a reporter told Jayapal that some people believed she was “bluffing,” Jayapal, who has nearly 100 members in her caucus, said, “Try us.”

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DeWine’s Office Declines to Comment on COVID Plan as Cases Surge

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s office told The Ohio Star Thursday that it will not address concerns about whether the current protocols in place to end the COVID-19 are actually working. 

The Star asked DeWine’s office if, amid the surge of Omicron variant COVID-19 cases, the governor’s office had any plan to implement new measures other than mandating mandates and encouraging vaccines that might help control the pandemic. 

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Three Wisconsin Urgent Care Locations Close Due to Staffing Shortages

Three Wisconsin urgent care clinics within the Advocate Aurora Health network were closed down temporarily due to staffing shortages. A spokesperson for the clinics told The Minnesota Sun that the closures are due to “managing the COVID surge combined with staffing shortages.”

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Arizona Gov. Ducey and Gubernatorial Candidate Kari Lake Differ on Putting Cameras in Classrooms

Leading Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake voiced support for putting cameras in schools in order to allow parents to monitor what educators are teaching their children, and Gov. Doug Ducey responded by criticizing the idea. 

Ducey said during a press conference that it could lead to “predators” monitoring children, the Arizona Capitol Times reported. “We’ve got young kids in these classrooms,” he said. “We want to protect them from predators, of course.” 

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Virginia in New Wave of COVID-19 with Record-Setting Case Numbers, but Hospitalizations Down from Peak of January 2021 Wave

Sick person talking to CDC employee

Virginia is experiencing another wave of COVID-19 cases. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 13,500 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, up from 12,112 reported on Wednesday, breaking the previous daily record from January 17, 2021 of 9,914 new cases. However, hospitalizations are down from the highs of January 2021. On Thursday, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) reported 2,101 confirmed and test-pending COVID patients, less than a January 13 high of 3,201 hospitalizations.

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Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association Decry ‘Troubling Trend’ as ‘Prosecutorial Policies are Failing to Hold Criminals Accountable’

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association wrote a letter to the Hennepin and Ramsey County attorneys addressing their failure to prosecute some felony crimes. They wrote that they are “especially concerned” that “prosecutorial policies are failing to hold criminals accountable for their actions.”

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Richmond City Health Department Contradicts Northam Claim That COVID Tests are ‘Widely Available’

The Richmond City Health Department on Thursday seemingly contradicted a claim made by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam that coronavirus tests are widely available throughout the state.

In a statement addressing the statewide rise in positive COVID-19 cases, Northam contended that individuals would be able to easily obtain a PCR test. 

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Florida Power and Light Rate Increase Appealed by ‘Floridians Against Increasing Rates’

An appeal to a settlement approved by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) – that would allow Florida Power and Light (FPL) to increase its utility rates in January 2022 and 2023 – was filed Monday to the Florida Supreme Court by a non-profit advocacy group known as Floridians Against Increasing Rates, or FAIR.

The rate increases are part of a four-year plan that would raise the base rates by $692 million in 2022, $560 million in 2023, and a Solar Base Rate Adjustment (SoBRA) allocated to pay for, install, and operate solar energy fields in 2024 and 2025.

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Proposal to Double Athens-Clarke County Commissioners’ Salaries Could Backfire on Community, Commissioner Says

A proposal to more than double Athens-Clarke County commissioners’ salaries from $15,000 per year to $31,000 could discourage good candidates — especially those who are not wealthy — from seeking that office. This, according to County Commissioner Allison Wright.

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Commentary: Adam Mill’s Predictions for 2022 Midterms

I have a pretty good track record on predictions. In March of 2020, I wrote, “Don’t write off Joe [Biden] . . . it’s clear he will run a close contest against President Trump.” Approximately two weeks into the pandemic, I wrote “If we wait until [there is] no death before we demand a return of our liberty, we will have lost everything to this pandemic.” Also in March of 2020, I wrote that, “The supply interruption of even a couple of months will cause shortages or price increases in items that have a significant effect on the formula for calculating inflation.” In June of 2019, a month before Trump’s Ukraine phone call, I suggested that the Justice Department would use criminal prosecutions to protect Joe Biden from fallout for his son’s shady dealings in Ukraine. I wrote, “If that candidate has the best chance to defeat Trump, should the DOJ deploy its awesome criminal prosecution powers to prevent that information from reaching the eyes and ears of the American electorate?” I was close on that one, the cover came from Congress.

So as we head into 2022, hubris compels me to offer a few—not exactly predictions, but scenarios—that could easily come to pass based upon historical precedent. 

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University of Pittsburgh Orders ‘Shelter-in-Place’ over COVID

The University of Pittsburgh will require all of its students to “shelter-in-place” upon their return for the school’s spring semester as the United States continues to break records for COVID-19 cases. 

“A University-wide shelter-in-place period will begin on Saturday, Jan. 8 on all campuses for students in University housing,” the school said in a memo to students. “During the shelter-in-place period, students should only leave their rooms or apartments to attend classes, labs or clinicals in person (if in-person classes were approved by the dean of your school); pick up food; exercise safely; study in the library; work when necessary; and shop for essentials and medical needs.”

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New Report Shows Michigan Unemployment Agency Paid Out Billions to Fraudulent Claims

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance agency paid out more than $8 billion in fraudulent claims from March 2020 to September 2021, according to a new report from Deloitte.

According to the consulting agency, an estimated 10.16 percent of the funds were paid out to individuals “involving likely imposter fraud.” Furthermore, an additional 20.21 percent to people “involving likely intentional misrepresentation fraud.”

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Florida Legislative Proposal Could Lead to Cameras in Public School Classrooms

Florida State Rep. Bob Rommel (R-FL-106) is sponsoring legislation that would require public school teachers to wear microphones and be video recorded in classrooms. The live stream of the classroom would also become available for public viewing.

The text of the bill also provides stipulations for if there is an interruption in the video feed.

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Pennsylvania House Republicans to Hold Field Hearings on What They Deem Gerrymandered Districts

Pennsylvania House GOP leaders announced this week that their caucus will hold field hearings on the proposed new legislative-district plan which stands to make House districts more winnable for Democrats. 

The first House GOP Policy Committee hearing on the commission’s plan will take place on Tues., Jan. 4 at 4 p.m. at McCandless Town Hall at 9955 Grubbs Road in Wexford. The second will occur on Tues., Jan. 11 at 4 p.m. at the Upper Allen Township Building at 100 Gettysburg Pike in Mechanicsburg.

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Lee Monument and Other Richmond Confederate Statues to be Given to Virginia Museum

The Lee Monument and the other Confederate statues from Richmond’s Monument Avenue will be given to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, which will partner with The Valentine and other Richmond organizations to determine the future of the objects. The Thursday announcement is the latest move from Governor Ralph Northam, who has been working to conclude removal of the controversial Lee Monument and remove state control of the monument and the land.

“Symbols matter and for too long, Virginia’s most prominent symbols celebrated our country’s tragic division and the side that fought to keep alive the institution of slavery by any means possible,” Northam said in a Thursday press release shared by NBC12 reporter Henry Graff.

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Remains Silent on Forced COVID-19 National Guard Vaccinations, But Certain Legislators Are Speaking Out

Staff for Tennessee Governor Bill Lee won’t comment on the matter, but State Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) said Thursday that members of the Tennessee National Guard should decide on their own whether to vaccinate against COVID-19. Tennessee National Guard officials said in November that their troops must take the COVID-19 shot or face discharge. This, per a mandate from the U.S. Department of Defense and President Joe Biden.

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