Nearly a Dozen People Indicted for Allegedly Trying to Distribute Marijuana and Fentanyl in Tennessee

The Department of Justice announced Thursday that a total of 11 individuals were indicted for their roles in a “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and fentanyl” as a part of an investigation by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force that tracked the movement of the illicit substances from Washington and California into Tennessee.

“Our continued partnership with the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee, has resulted in the removal of 27 firearms, and the seizure of deadly fentanyl that has been linked to overdoses here in Dyersburg. We remain committed to the removal of this deadly drug, and illegally owned firearms from our community,” said Dyersburg Police Chief Steven L. Isbell.

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Knoxville Fire Department Says Fire that Destroyed Planned Parenthood Was Set Intentionally

Burned down building with Planned Parenthood sign in front

The cause of a New Years Eve fire that burned down a Knoxville Planned Parenthood was arson, according to the Knoxville Fire Department (KFD) and federal investigators. 

Knoxville Fire Department investigators, along with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), have conducted a thorough scene investigation of the December 31st 710 N. Cherry Street – Planned Parenthood fire and determined the fire to have been purposely set by an individual or individuals who, at this time, remain unidentified,” KFD announced Thursday on its Facebook page. 

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Commentary: We Must Never Cede Language to the Left

In 2001, I served in the Michigan State Senate. One morning our then-governor, John Engler, met with our Republican caucus to promote his idea of consolidating several state entities within a single department by executive order. Characteristic of his transformational tenure, Engler was endeavoring to further streamline the Michigan bureaucracy to provide more efficient and effective services, promote accountability within state government, and save taxpayers’ money. 

When the governor finished his convincing pitch for the Department of History, Arts, and Culture, I raised my hand: “Governor, you know the new department’s acronym will be hack (HAC)?”

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Commentary: CNN Is Winding Down Its COVID-19 Dashboard Again

Since March 20, 2020, CNN has displayed a live Covid-19 dashboard in the upper-right of its daily news programming tracking the latest pandemic numbers, including infection and death counts, as seen in the image below.

The timeline below records the total seconds of airtime each day since the start of last year in which this dashboard was visible, tracking its ebbs and flows. With the start of 2021, CNN largely phased out its dashboard, bringing it briefly back during the spread of the Delta variant and again with Omicron, but since December 23, 2021 has begun winding down its dashboard once again.

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Iowa Awards Two-Thirds of Strengthening Communities Grants to YMCA or YWCA Projects

Kids at a table, wearing masks, with teacher who is wearing a mask

Projects in the rural communities of Clinton, Hampton, Keokuk, Lake City, Maquoketa, Red Oak and Stanton will all together receive $250,000 in Strengthening Communities grants, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced Thursday.

The Iowa legislature appropriated funding for the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund for the Strengthening Communities grants. The grants support communities of fewer than 28,000 residents (based on the 2010 Census) that are renovating facilities or undertaking construction projects that promote “youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.” Organizations must present a minimum of 50% of the grant amount they request. The funding must be secured, dedicated to eligible expenses, raised through public and private funding (not including state funding), and be spent between 2022 and 2024.

The funding will support the following projects:

$65,000 for the YWCA in Clinton’s reconfiguration of childcare spaces and youth classrooms to expand capacity and improve efficiency to help increase child care accessibility and provide a safe environment.

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Poll: Majority Supports Blocking Biden’s Private Sector Vaccine Mandate as U.S. Supreme Court Weighs Challenges

The majority of Americans support Congressional efforts to block President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates for large businesses ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court hearing on that very issue, according to a new poll.

Convention of States Action, along with the Trafalgar Group, released the poll, which found that 51.1% of surveyed voters support a bill in Congress to stop Biden’s vaccine mandates for large businesses. The poll reports that 40.6% of voters do not support the bill while 8.3% of voters are unsure.

The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan measure in December to block Biden’s mandate, which requires employers with at least 100 workers to ensure they are vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply face hefty fines. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would enforce the mandate.

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Commentary: Shrinking the State Versus Draining the Swamp

The Republican Party is divided. An older generation supports limited government. A younger generation wants to use a large government to pursue unapologetically conservative ends.

Less than a decade ago, the Republican Party seemed wholly committed to limited government, and 2016 was thought to be a “libertarian moment.” Then Donald Trump changed everything.

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Poll: Majorities of Republicans and Democrats Say the U.S. Is ‘in a State of Decay’

More than three-quarters of likely voters believe the United States is “in a state of decay,” according to a new poll by the Trafalgar Group for Convention of States Action, a grassroots organization aimed at convening a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.

The poll, conducted in December, asked a single question: “Do you believe American society and culture is in a state of decay or a state of decay?” Just over 76 percent of respondents answered “state of decay,” while 9.8 percent answered “state of progress.” Another 13.4 percent said they were unsure. 

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Hospitals Are Getting Away with Ignoring Price Transparency Rules, Experts Say

Many hospitals are not complying with laws requiring them to make their healthcare prices publicly available, according to multiple reports, and the Biden administration has so far refrained from issuing penalties.

The Hospital Price Transparency rule, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2021, is designed to promote competition in healthcare markets by requiring hospitals to post their prices, so that consumers can compare and shop between hospitals. The law mandates hospitals to post their pricing data “as a comprehensive machine-readable file with all items and services” as well as “in a display of shoppable services in a consumer-friendly format.”

However, according to recent reports, many hospitals have yet to comply with the rules a year after they have been in effect. An investigation by The Wall Street Journal last week found that many of the nation’s largest hospital chains were not complying with the new rules.

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U.S. Softens Position on Threatened Iranian Sanctions

The United States reportedly wants to apply “snapback sanctions” to deter Iran from continuing to enrich weapons-grade-uranium, a strategy that was part of the original JCPOA established in 2015.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told Israelis this week that the Biden administration is looking at the sanctions as a way to stop Iran from enriching uranium to 90% purity, a softer stance than has previously been taken by the administration.

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U.S. Economy Adds Just 199,000 Jobs in December, Far Below Expectations

Man in a hard hat pointing his finger

The U.S. economy recorded an increase of 199,000 jobs in December and the unemployment dipped to 3.9%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced Friday.

Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 199,000 in December, according to the BLS, and the number of unemployed Americans dipped to 6.3 million. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal projected the economy to add 422,000 jobs in December and for unemployment to fall to 4.1%.

December’s jobs report leaves the U.S. economy with roughly 6.5 million more jobs than at the end of 2020 but still 3.5 million short of pre-pandemic levels.

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Missouri Secretary of State Ashcroft Urges Governor to Hold Elections for Six Vacant Missouri House Seats

After four resignations, a death and an expulsion, the seats of six members of Missouri’s House of Representatives – all Republicans – are vacant.

About 236,000 Missourians live in the six districts, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, or 4% of the state’s population.

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Hennepin County Chiefs of Police Association and a Group of Minnesota Mayors Call for Accountability, More Prosecution of Criminals

The Hennepin County Chiefs of Police Association as well as a group of mayors within the county wrote letters to the Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman asking for accountability and more prosecution of criminals.

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Northam Says Virginians Should Thank Government After 24 Hour Traffic Jam

Days after blaming Virginia motorists for a more than 24 hour pileup on I-95 in the northern part of the state, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) now wants Virginians thank the state government for the pleasure. 

“I hate to vent on you right now, Matt, but I am getting sick and tired of people talking about what went wrong. I think we ought to be very thankful that nobody got hurt, nobody lost their lives, Interstate-95 is up and running, and people are back at home and back at work,” Northam told WRVA reporter Matt Demlein.  

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Pennsylvania State Lawmaker Introduces Legislation to Protect Parental Rights

Pennsylvania Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) on Thursday introduced new legislation with the goal of protecting the rights of parents throughout the state.

Senate Bill 996, known as the Parental Rights Protection Act, specifically describes and outlines certain parental rights as a “fundamental right” for residents of the state.

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Maricopa County Officials’ Response to Results of Arizona Senate’s Independent 2020 Ballot Audit Leaves More Questions Than Answers

Maricopa County officials have issued a 93-page response to the findings of the independent Maricopa County ballot audit of the 2020 presidential election, which was ordered by the Arizona Senate. Presented during a meeting of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 5, the officials claimed there were fewer than 100 questionable ballots out of the 2.1 million cast. 

Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward watched a portion of the meeting and expressed skepticism to The Arizona Sun Times, “The part that I’ve seen so far was a group of related good ole boys attempting to convince people that they ran a perfect election,” she said. “They want Americans to believe them over what we saw with our own eyes. Arizonans were totally justified in demanding an audit of the 2020 election — and we should actually audit everything so we can restore voter confidence that our elections have integrity.”

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Buckhead City Committee Leader Says His Inside Sources Contradict Information Put Out by Atlanta Mayor and Police Department

Staff for Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and the Atlanta Police Department (APD) accused Buckhead City Committee leader Bill White of misinforming the public about alleged corruption and mismanagement practices within their agencies. White told The Georgia Star News on Friday that several APD sources feed him information and that those sources are reliable. White said he knows those sources’ identifies, but he will keep them anonymous.

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Two Wisconsin Reps Join an Arizona Rep in Demanding Answers from Biden Regarding COVID Funds Used to House Immigrants

Debbie Lesko, Tom Tiffany ad Mike Gallagher

Wisconsin Representative Thomas Tiffany (R-WI-07) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08) joined Representative Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) in demanding answers from the Biden administration regarding the use of COVID funds to house illegal immigrants.

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Florida Health Department Updates COVID Testing Guidelines

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) has updated their COVID testing guidelines prioritizing certain demographics for testing. FDOH made the announcement with a news release.

In the announcement, the FDOH said the older demographics as well as certain Floridians in younger age brackets with immunocompromised circumstances.

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Michigan Lawmakers Denounce Return to Virtual Learning

Numerous Michigan lawmakers voiced their support for in-person learning, following school districts across the state moving to virtual learning.

The Republican legislators pointed to the harmful social impacts and decreased academic scores for children in the state.

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Nikki Fried’s Campaign to Accept Crypto, Money Laundering Questions Raised

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) announced on Twitter that her political committee for governor is now accepting cryptocurrency as a contribution to the campaign. Fried made the announcement by video posted to social media.

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DeWine ‘Not Happy’ Only Half of National Guard Vaccinated as He Deploys Them to Ohio Hospitals

Amid their deployment to assist healthcare professionals during a surge of COVID-19 cases in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) says he’s not happy with the vaccination numbers among the state’s National Guard.

“This is a high-risk operation, you need to be protected,” DeWine said in a Thursday visit with National Guard members. “The best way for you to be protected is to get the vaccination. So, look, we’re not happy with where we are. We’re going to continue to push that with our troops.”

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Youngkin Picks Conservative Policy Leader Kay Coles James for Secretary of the Commonwealth

Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin announced that former Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James is his pick for Secretary of the Commonwealth. James has experience in the administrations of both Bushes as well as Reagan. She also served as Former Governor George Allen’s Secretary of Health.

“Secretary James will be a true asset to the administration. Our shared vision combined with her tremendous experience will pave the way for a new day in Virginia. Kay has an extensive public service background; she has always been a leader and innovator in Virginia government. Kay has worked tirelessly as my transition Co-Chair, advising on personnel, policy, and strategic planning,” Youngkin said in a Friday evening press release.

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Primary Challenger Renacci Questions Ohio Gov. DeWine Claiming to be ‘Proud’ of Coronavirus Response

Jim Renacci, a GOP primary challenger to Governor DeWine, questioned the governor for claiming he was “proud” of his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

DeWine’s response followed a question posed in an interview with WJW, asking if his administration would have preferred to alter any decision he made during his response to the pandemic.

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Turning Point USA’s University of Memphis Chapter to Fight School’s New Woke Curriculum

Members of the University of Memphis’ Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter spoke out Friday against their school’s intentions to use classrooms as pulpits that promote the tenets of social justice. Three University of Memphis TPUSA students declared their intentions as they appeared on a TPUSA Live video.

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