Former Alderman Sentenced to Four Years for His Role in Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

The Tennessee Department of Justice announced Friday that former Selmer, Tennessee Alderman Nickolas Atkins was sentenced for conspiring “to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.” Atkins’ conviction was the result of a joint task-force investigation involving Timmy Jermaine Cole, who investigators found was trafficking large amounts of methamphetamine, marijuana, and cocaine from individuals in Mexico to West Tennessee.

According to information presented in court, Atkins worked in a drug distribution ring under Cole.

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Tennessee Professor Is ‘Ungrading,’ Letting Students Teach Each Other

Tim Gill

Timothy Gill, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, tweeted yesterday that he intends to spend the semester “ungrading” and “unteaching” his students. 

“I want this to be THEIR classroom,” tweeted the sociology professor, who also expressed his intention to let the student select “the readings for the class” as well as teach “via group presentations.” 

Campus Reform reached out to Gill for comment.

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Tennessee Stands Schedules Freedom Matters Event, Featuring Alan Keyes, Near Chattanooga

Tennessee Stands members have announced that they will bring back their Freedom Matters Tour later this month in the Chattanooga area. Organizers have scheduled the event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET, January 18, at The Vineyard at Howe Farms, located at 7600 Runyan Road in Georgetown, Tennessee.

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Commentary: The Fixation on COVID Testing Is Leading to the Widespread Disruption of Another Academic Year

Last week, a friend phoned to tell me that her child would be unable to make a playdate with my 8-year-old scheduled for the following day. Her son had tested negative for COVID that evening, yet she planned to take him for another PCR test the next morning “out of an abundance of caution.” Days earlier, a neighborhood mom was so distraught that her daughter had shared the same bus with a classmate who was later discovered to have had COVID that she insisted on stocking up on at-home testing kits for use every day that week. Despite displaying no symptoms and being fully vaccinated, the child and her siblings were subjected to daily nasal swabs.

While television programs like HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm poke fun at liberals who stockpile COVID essentials, progressive professionals who retain the luxury and time to devote to their hypochondria are inevitably contributing to the nationwide shortfall of available tests while undermining the efforts of Americans whose testing needs revolve around a real exposure to the virus. Yet, as has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, American children continue to pay the heftiest price for the Left’s misguided and irresponsible conduct.

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Senior White House Climate Official Resigns

Three wind turbines

Cecilia Martinez, a member of the White House Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ), announced that she would resign Friday, nearly one year after accepting the role.

Martinez explained that she needed rest and wanted to spend more time with her family in an interview with the Associated Press. She was in charge of crafting the White House’s aggressive environmental justice policy which had been lauded by climate activists but criticized by Republicans and the fossil fuel industry.

“It was a hard decision,” Martinez told the AP.

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Republicans Hold the Population Edge over Democrats in States with One-Party Majorities in the Gov and State House

crowd of people in a city

At the start of 2022, 36.5% (120 million) of Americans lived in a state with a Democratic trifecta, while 41.8% (137 million) lived in a state with a Republican trifecta. The other 71 million Americans lived in a state with a divided government.

A state government trifecta is a term to describe single-party government, when one political party holds the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. At the start of 2022, there were 38 trifectas—15 Democratic and 23 Republican.

Virginia’s will change from a Democratic trifecta to a state with divided government when legislators and Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) are sworn into office on Jan. 12. In the 2021 elections, Republicans won control of the Virginia House of Delegates and the governor’s office, currently held by Democrat Ralph Northam. Democrats still control the Virginia State Senate.

When this happens, 33.9 percent of Americans (112 million) will live in a state with a Democratic trifecta, 41.8 percent (137 million) will live in a state with a Republican trifecta, and 24.3 percent (78 million) will live in a state with divided government.

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Intel Bends Knee to China, Scrubs All Mentions of Xinjiang Forced Labor from Letter

U.S. technology company Intel scrubbed all mentions of forced labor in Xinjiang, China, from its letter to suppliers after receiving stiff backlash from China.

Intel sent a letter written by vice president Jackie Sturm to suppliers in December 2021, urging them to avoid sourcing from the Xinjiang region, home to China’s Uyghur Muslim minority, citing the company’s forced labor policies.

“Multiple governments have imposed restrictions on products sourced from the Xinjiang region,” Sturm wrote. “Therefore, Intel is required to ensure our supply chain does not use any labor or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region.”

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Vaccine Mandate Critics Urge Highest Court to Defend Individual Freedom

Supreme Court reflecting on the pool at the National Mall

President Joe Biden’s series of controversial federal vaccine mandates faced their first day before the U.S. Supreme Court Friday, and critics are urging the justices to side with personal freedoms over what they call executive branch overreach.

National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, the first of two cases heard by the court Friday, considers a vaccine mandate on private employers with 100 or more employees. The second case, Biden v. Missouri, challenges Biden’s mandate on health care workers.

“Today was one of the most important moments in our nation’s history,” Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, which has joined the legal challenges to Biden’s mandate push, said. “The Biden administration, and many on the far left, believe that the federal government has the right and the authority to dictate personal and private medical decisions to the American people, and coerce their employers into collecting protected health care data on their employees. This overreach is a fundamental violation of the American spirit of freedom and personal responsibility and represents the left’s assault not just on common sense, but our constitutional rights.”

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Federal Judge Tosses Lawsuit Challenging Biden’s Authority to Block Keystone Pipeline

Keystone XL Pipeline

A federal district court judge granted the Biden administration’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by more than 20 Republican attorneys general challenging the Keystone XL Pipeline’s permit revocation.

Judge Jeffrey Brown, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, ruled that he couldn’t determine the constitutionality of President Joe Biden’s action because TC Energy, the pipeline’s developer, had abandoned the project. On June 9, TC Energy announced its intention to permanently halt construction of the pipeline, saying it would focus on other projects.

Biden canceled the pipeline’s federal permit immediately after taking office on Jan. 20 in an executive order. The order said the U.S. “must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy” and that the Keystone project would undermine the nation’s role as a climate leader on the world stage.

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The New York Times to Acquire Sports Media Company ‘The Athletic’ for $550 Million

Woman in a red ball cap on her phone

The New York Times Company announced Thursday its agreement to purchase The Athletic, a sports media company, for $550 million.

The acquisition will help The New York Times reach its goal of having 10 million subscriptions by 2025, according to a company press release.

The Athletic charges a monthly subscription and provides coverage of over 200 sports clubs and teams both in the U.S. and around the world.

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Air Force Admits to Lowering Physical Fitness Standards to Allow Woman to Join Elite Unit

The U.S. Air Force allegedly went out of its way to lower the standards of physical fitness tests and other exams in order to ensure that a female candidate could ultimately qualify for the elite Special Tactics team, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The allegations stem from an anonymous memo that was received by the Beacon, claiming that a female candidate who repeatedly failed and quit multiple times when she initially couldn’t pass the training program was allowed to try again until the qualifications were lowered in her favor.

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Activist Pressure to Nix DOJ Program to Catch Chinese Spies Grows Despite Conviction of Harvard Professor

Charles Lieber

Aloose coalition of lawmakers, nonprofits, and academics has continued to pressure the Biden administration to end the so-called China Initiative, despite the Justice Department program to thwart Chinese spies winning a key conviction last month of a high-profile Harvard professor.

The Trump administration launched the China Initiative in 2018 to preserve America’s technological edge. The program, which the Biden administration has so far continued, is designed to identify and prosecute those engaged in hacking, stealing trade secrets, and conducting economic espionage for the Chinese government on U.S. soil.

Charles Lieber, a renowned nanotechnology professor who chaired Harvard’s Chemistry Department, became one of the China Initiative’s most prominent targets. Federal prosecutors accused him of lying to government authorities about multiple links to Beijing.

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Commentary: Despite the Elitist Hysteria, Donald Trump Remains a Strong Republican Candidate for 2024

Among Trump-friendly conservatives, there seem to be essentially two strands of sentiment about who should be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. One strand says, “Donald Trump, assuming he runs and his health is good.” 

The other strand exhibits various shades of dubiousness. Some profess admiration for what Trump accomplished in his first term, but lament his “divisiveness,” which they anatomize in various ways as a product of narcissism, impulsiveness, or simple bad character. 

A few in this group blame the divisiveness not on Trump, but the people, inside his administration and out, who spent the entirety of Trump’s first term trying to undermine his presidency. A sizable segment of this dubious group would, truth be told, like to see the back of Donald Trump forever.

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Antifa-Linked Organizers Hosted a ‘Candlelight Vigil’ for January 6 Anniversary

Woman holding a candle in the dark

Democrats commemorated the January 6 riots with the help of far-left, antifa-linked agitators who planned to disrupt former President Trump’s inauguration in 2021 had he won the election, counterterrorism expert Kyle Shideler reported on Twitter.

A group called Movement Catalyst, led by longtime direct action community organizer Liz Butler, is organizing the Democrats’ “Candle Light Vigil for Democracy” Thursday afternoon, according to WUSA.com.

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Professor Claims Constitution Is the ‘Enemy’ of Democracy

The day prior to the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, Politico magazine ran a guest column by a political science professor who argued the U.S. Constitution has become a threat to democracy.

Corey Robin, a professor at Brooklyn College and the City of New York Graduate Center, wrote a piece titled “Republicans Are Moving Rapidly to Cement Minority Rule. Blame the Constitution.”

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Commentary: ‘Authoritarianism’ May Be Necessary to Fight Climate Change, Cambridge Study Argues

A recent study published in American Political Science Review, a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by Cambridge University, begins with a teasing question: “Is authoritarian power ever legitimate?”

For many, the answer is clearly no, concedes the study’s author—Ross Mittiga, an assistant professor of political theory at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. But Mittiga, in the abstract to the study, suggests otherwise:

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Campaign Whistleblower Chambers Files First Request for Blystone’s Documents, Financial Records

The attorney for Sarah Chambers, the former co-campaign manager for Joseph K. Blystone’s gubernatorial campaign, filed her first request for records in support of her campaign finance complaint against her former campaign under consideration by the Ohio Elections Commission.

Scott A. Pullins, the Mount Vernon lawyer representing Chambers, named Blystone, his wife and treasurer M. Jane Blystone, and Friends of Joe Blystone, the campaign committee as respondents.

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Nonprofit Blasts Philadelphia, Pennsylvania School District for Efforts on Gender and Neglect of Academics

As the School District of Philadelphia labors to make its digital student-information system accord with expanding progressive concepts of gender, a right-leaning nonprofit is urging officials to refocus on academics.

In 2016, the district adopted a policy allowing students to pursue their “gender identity” and therein defined the term as “a person’s deeply held sense or psychological knowledge of their own gender, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth.” The new rule allows students of one biological sex identifying as another to access restrooms, locker rooms, gym classes and athletic programs consistent with the former rather than the latter. In 2020, several school employees reportedly asked Sarah Galbally, the district’s lobbyist, to push for recognizing a broader variety of gender identities in the student tracking system, something that couldn’t be done without tweaking state-education policy.

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Georgia House Republican Caucus Elects Chamber of Commerce Ally Bonnie Rich House Majority Caucus Chair

Members of the Georgia House Republican Caucus have elected State Representative Bonnie Rich (R-Suwanee) as their new House Majority Caucus Chair for the remainder of the 2021-2022 legislative term. Georgia House Republican Caucus members announced the news this week.

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Minnesota Worker Joins Lawsuit Challenging Biden Vaccine Mandate

A Minnesota resident is suing the Biden administration in a class action lawsuit regarding the president’s executive order mandating employees of federal contractors and subcontractors receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

New Civil Liberties Alliance announced Tuesday that it had sued President Joe Biden, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, the Office of Management and Budget, and other government agencies and officials in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, seeking to block the mandate.

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Gov. Whitmer Announces New Study Informing Future Drone Legislation

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the first-of-its-kind drone technology study in three proposed areas between Michigan and Ontario, southeast Michigan, and any other suitable location.

Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Michigan Aeronautics Commission, the state and Ontario will explore whether small drones can be flown beyond a pilot’s line of sight and harnessed for just-in-time delivery like medical transport. The study will further decision-making for the future of advanced air mobility in North America.

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Mayor Frey Pleads with Minneapolis Schools to Stay Open so Kids Can’t Carjack

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is calling on local schools to remain open so that juveniles have far fewer opportunities to engage in carjackings and other crimes.

Frey made his plea at a Wednesday press conference with Deputy Chief Amelia Huffman on the city’s high violent crime rate.

“We’ve gotta keep the schools open. This is very clear to me,” he said. “Yes, we need to make sure we’re abiding by the necessary safety precautions. Yes, we need to make sure anyone from parents to teachers to students are protected in full from the dangers associated with a global pandemic, and we need to make sure the students are in the schools and that they’re able to learn.”

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Georgia Counties Will Push for Expansion of Sales Tax

Georgia counties are asking lawmakers to expand the state sales tax during the 2022 legislative session to reduce their dependency on property taxes.

The ACCG, an advocacy group for Georgia’s counties, is calling on the General Assembly to tax Georgians for digital products such as videos and music, often purchased through a streaming service.

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Arizona Supreme Court Explains Voids of State Vaccination, Mask Ban Laws

exterior of Arizona's Supreme Court building

Arizona’s high court has elaborated on their decision to void additions to the most-recent state budget, saying lawmakers ran afoul of provisions in the state constitution meant to simplify legislation.

Justices released their unanimous opinion Thursday in Arizona School Boards Association et al. v. State of Arizona. The ruling, initially announced in September, affirmed a lower court ruling that said the Legislature went against two parts of the Arizona Constitution.

The opinion nullifies the state’s ban on mask mandates in schools, laws shoring up local election security and other laws justices concluded had little to do with the state budget.

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Virginia’s Incoming Governor and Attorney General Say They Will Fight Biden Vaccine Mandates

A week before the inauguration, Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares are signaling that challenging President Biden’s vaccine mandates will be an early priority.

“After the January 15th inauguration, the Commonwealth of Virginia will quickly move to protect Virginians’ freedoms and challenge President Biden’s unlawful CMS, OSHA, and Head Start vaccine mandates,” a Youngkin press release states.

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Governor Wolf Working with FEMA to Address Healthcare Staffing Shortages Amid COVID Surge

Gov. Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf will work with the federal government in order to address labor shortages in the healthcare sector amid another surge in coronavirus cases.

Wolf, who is partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will create “strike teams” to be sent to hospitals and long-term care facilities.

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Arizona Gubernatorial Candidate Karrin Taylor Robson Hauls in More Than $3 Million During Fundraising Quarter

Karrin Taylor Robson

Arizona gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson hauled in more than $3 million during the previous fundraising quarter, according to a press release from her campaign.

The overwhelming majority of the funds, 87 percent, came from residents of the state, as the campaign amassed more than 15,000 individual donors.

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One Year After Disputed 2020 Election, Many Practices That Riled Conservatives Still in Effect

Mail in ballot with U.S. flag

Just a year after the disputed 2020 election, states are in various stages of reforming election laws. Many of the same practices that angered conservatives are still in effect.

The Heritage Foundation published an Election Integrity Scorecard of all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their election laws. The scorecard examines voter ID implementation, the accuracy of voter registration lists, absentee ballot management, vote harvesting/trafficking restrictions, access of election observers, verification of citizenship, identification for voter assistance, vote counting practices, election litigation procedures, restriction of same-day registration, restriction of automatic registration, restriction of private funding of election officials or government agencies.

During a Just the News Special Report with Heritage Action for America and Real America’s Voice, HAFA Executive Director Jessica Anderson praised Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Texas for their efforts on election integrity reform this past year. Those states currently rank at no. 19 (tied with Mississippi and Pennsylvania), 4 (tied with Arkansas), 1, 11 (tied with Kentucky), and 6, respectively.

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$10 Million Grants Awarded for Semiconductor Manufacturing in Central Florida

semiconductor

With chip and semiconductor shortages expected to last through the year, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida is continuing its investment in local technology initiatives to strengthen the economy and job growth and eventually offset future production delays.

Osceola County and Valencia College received nearly $10 million in funding through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to support semiconductor and other advanced technology manufacturing in the county.

The award includes $6 million to assist with developing infrastructure connecting the county’s emerging NeoCity technology district with its workforce, and $3.7 million to Valencia College to develop a new program that will train students in utilizing robotics technology for semiconductor manufacturing. The two awards are designed to help create manufacturing jobs and develop a talent pipeline to support industry growth.

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Court Upholds Ban on Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee

A ban on requiring federal contractors in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee to be vaccinated against COVID-19 remains in place after a federal appeals court upheld an injunction imposed in November.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld an earlier ban with a 2-1 ruling earlier this week, but the ruling impacts only those three states.

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As Georgia Ballot Harvesting Probe Starts, Some Election Evidence Has Vanished Already

Since 1960, federal civil rights law has required state and local election officials to “retain and preserve” records relating to elections involving federal officeholders for 22 months after ballots are cast.

That would seem to be a good thing as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger embarks on an investigation into whether third-party liberal activists in 2020 illegally gathered and delivered absentee ballots for voters — a practice known as harvesting that is outlawed in the Peach State.

But some of Georgia’s largest counties tell Just the News that they no longer possess evidence that could be helpful to probing the harvesting allegations: video camera surveillance footage that monitored the drop boxes installed around Georgia to help voters cast ballots during the pandemic.

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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Studies COVID in Deer Population

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is now studying COVID within the deer population. Tami Ryan, the chief of the DNR’s wildlife health section told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “Wisconsin officials recently received guidance, funding and supplies from USDA to look for the virus in deer in the Badger State.”

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Wisconsin Lawmakers Look to Add Natural Immunity to State’s Coronavirus Rules

Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol are moving to allow people who’ve already had COVID-19 to get credit for overcoming the virus.

The Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics is discussing AB 675, which would require businesses in the state to accept proof of natural immunity instead of vaccination proof or regular coronavirus testing.

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Female Swimmers Discuss Biological Disadvantages Compared to Lia Thomas, UPenn’s Male Swimmer on Women’s Team

person swimming

Cynthia Millen, a USA Swimming referee, recently resigned her post in protest of University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) swimmer Lia Thomas, born as Will Thomas, a transgender athlete who has stirred up controversy after dominating the sport on the women’s team.

Up until November 2019, Thomas competed as a male in the NCAA, which “mandate[s] at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment to be eligible to compete as a woman,” according to the New York Post.

Now competing as a female, Thomas has been able to break school records with ease, causing student athletes, and professional athletes to speak out.

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Commentary: U.S. Rep Warren Davidson’s Not-So-Secret Plan to Combat Inflation

It doesn’t take an economist to figure out that historically low interest rates, two rounds of stimulus payments, extended unemployment insurance, and unrestrained government spending will result in higher consumer demand, outstripping the supply of goods, especially since employment levels—and productivity—have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

And yet, it has taken several months for the Federal Reserve and the Biden Administration to even admit what Americans have known for months: Inflation is real and far from transitory. Democrats started by gaslighting Americans, claiming that inflation is a “high class problem.” Then they tried to attribute the inflation to supply chain bottlenecks—never mind that Administration policy has contributed to those very same shocks. Now that the administration admits the obvious, though it’s kicked the political football back to the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, Joe Biden falsely claims Build Back Better is positioned as the solution to inflation. In reality, pouring more money into this economy right now is the equivalent of pouring gasoline on the fire.

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Ron DeSantis, Rick Scott Blast National Jobs Report

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Florida Senator Rick Scott (R) each took turns blasting the national jobs report amid rising prices and runaway inflation. According to the report, only 199,000 jobs were created in December.

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Pennsylvania Taps Federal Funding for Homeowner Mortgage Assistance

Pennsylvania has launched a new $350 million program designed to help homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced the statewide launch of the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund (PAHAF) on Thursday after approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury. The fund utilizes $350 million from the American Rescue Plan Act distributed to Pennsylvania through the treasury’s Homeowner Assistance Fund to help homeowners avoid mortgage delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures, as well as for help paying utilities.

“As we continue to advance our COVID-19 recovery efforts, we must address the rising number of homeowners facing possible loss of their homes and foreclosure – this program will do just that,” Wolf said. “The Homeowner Assistance Fund will prioritize individuals and families with the greatest need, as well as those who are socially disadvantaged. I am grateful that the U.S. Treasury has approved Pennsylvania’s plan, and we can start the new year by distributing this critical funding to homeowners.”

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Michigan Jobless Agency Lost $11 Billion in Fraud, Report Says

Michigan estimates losing $8.5 billion to unemployment fraud since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the CEO of a fraud prevention company says that number is closer to $11 billion.

Haywood Talcove, the CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ Government Group, which provides fraud prevention tools to 26 state unemployment programs and the 50 top US banks, told The Center Square in a Zoom interview that profiles on the encrypted messaging app Telegram are fraudulently selling Michigan unemployment benefits.

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U.S. Senator Ron Johnson Running for Third Term in Wisconsin

Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson announced Sunday that he would run for a third term in 2022, setting up a race that could potentially determine control of the chamber.

Though Johnson said during his 2016 campaign that his next term would be his last, he remained noncommittal throughout 2021 as other Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, urged him to run.

Johnson wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal saying that the decision to run was not “made lightly,” discussing how the fact America is in “peril” influenced his choice. “Much as I’d like to ease into a quiet retirement, I don’t feel I should,” he wrote.

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University of Memphis Cancels Social Justice Initiative Following Backlash

The University of Memphis will cancel an initiative that encouraged faculty members to alter their current courses to incorporate “diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice” curriculum, according to a new report from the Washington Free Beacon and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.

The program, entitled “Eradicating Systemic Racism and Promoting Social Justice Initiative,” received widespread backlash from lawmakers that represent the state.

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