Tennessee State Representative Scott Cepicky Talks Retention and Statewide Listening Tour

Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed (R-TN-64) Scott Cepicky to the newsmaker line to discuss third-grade retention and what he’s hearing during his statewide listening tour from educators.

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Author Carrie Gress of ‘End of Women’ and Creator of ‘Theology of Home’ Talks About the Role of Conservative Women in Society Today

Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Carrie Gress to the newsmaker line who is the author of a new book entitled The End of Woman, to talk about the problems of conservative women in today’s society.

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Two Estonian Citizens Arrested for Alleged Involvement in $575 Million Cryptocurrency Fraud

The Department of Justice announced on Monday that two Estonian citizens were arrested on Sunday in Tallinn, Estonia on an 18-count indictment for alleged involvement in a $575 million cryptocurrency fraud and money laundering conspiracy. 

The two men, Sergei Potapenko and Ivan Turõgin, both 37 years old, allegedly defrauded hundreds of thousands of people out of money by convincing victims to enter into fraudulent equipment rental contracts with the defendants’ cryptocurrency mining service called HashFlare.

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Tennessee’s Next Health Commissioner Will Be Kentucky State Sen. Ralph Alvarado

Kentucky state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, will soon be heading to Tennessee.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Alvarado, a medical doctor and healthcare executive, will become the next commissioner of the state’s Department of Health. The move takes effect January 16.

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Report: 41 Percent of Small Businesses Can’t Pay Rent in November

More than 40% of U.S. small business owners say they couldn’t pay rent on time or in full for the month of November, the highest this year.

The small business network group Alignable released the survey, which found that the hardship varies by industry. A notable 57% of beauty salons said they couldn’t make rent as well as 45% of gyms, 44% of retail and 44% of restaurants.

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Labor Department Approves Investing Pensions in ‘Woke’ ESG-Only Funds

The U.S. Labor Department announced plans to allow pension fund managers to “consider climate change and other environmental, social and governance factors,” also known as ESG, when choosing investments. 

In an announcement about the final rule last week, the agency criticized the Trump administration, stating, “the department concluded that two rules issued in 2020 … unnecessarily restrained plan fiduciaries’ ability to weigh environmental, social and governance factors when choosing investments, even when those factors would benefit plan participants financially.”

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Apparel Company Plans $87 Million Facility in Georgia, but Officials Silent on Incentives

by T.A. DeFeo   A global apparel company plans to spend $87 million on a Bryan County manufacturing and distribution facility. Jersey City, New Jersey-based Komar Brands, a company established in 1908 and whose portfolio includes “owned, licensed, and private-label brands,” plans to create 294 new jobs as a part…

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Highest Natural Gas Price Since 2010 Drives a Spike in Pennsylvania Home Energy Costs

Natural gas prices are hitting levels not seen for more than a decade, and electric bills will go up across the commonwealth – though not equally.

Natural gas spot prices will hit $6.09 per million British thermal units for the winter, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which is “the highest real price since winter 2009-10.”

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Commentary: Congress Needs to Investigate Whitmer Kidnapping Hoax

A federal judge next month is scheduled to sentence two men convicted of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer from her lakeside cottage in the fall of 2020. Adam Fox, the alleged ringleader, and Barry Croft, Jr. face years in prison.

During the first trial in April, Fox and Croft received a hung jury while two co-defendants were acquitted on all charges based on extensive evidence of FBI entrapment. A jury found Fox and Croft guilty after a second trial in August thanks to the same judge putting his thumb—body?—on the scale in favor of the government.

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Franklin County, Ohio Court Soon to Decide Whether to Continue Voucher Case

In the next few weeks, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jaiza Page (D) is poised to decide whether a lawsuit against Ohio’s private-school choice program will go forward. 

Litigation against private school choice in the Buckeye State has been in the works since last year when dozens of school districts under the aegis of Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding posited that the state’s EdChoice program harms the state’s ability to properly fund its public schools. The districts suing the state, which now number more than 130, filed their action in January. 

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Governor Lee’s Voucher Program Clears Another Legal Hurdle

Tennessee’s Education Savings Account (ESA) plan, often portrayed as a voucher program, won another legal challenge filed by opponents of the controversial legislation that targets Memphis and Nashville schools. A three-judge panel appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court and made up of Chancellor Anne Martin, Judge Tammy Harrington, and Judge Valerie Smith, has ruled that the parties challenging the legislation have no legal standing. As a result, all challenges are dismissed.

This action, at least temporarily, removes all legal hurdles facing the 2019 Education Savings Account law. The law provides money for families to offset private school tuition, should they choose to pursue that option due to inadequate traditional school options.

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Popular Stop on Century-Old Hiking Trail Undergoes Name Change to ‘Finally Right that Wrong’

A popular stop for day hikers and backpackers in Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park is undergoing a name change, according to a press release by the National Park Service (NPS).

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Ohio Bill Aims to Permit Use of Ivermectin and Alternative COVID-19 Drugs

A bill in support of the use of alternative COVID-19 treatments received its first hearing in Lame-duck session at the Ohio Statehouse.

House Bill (HB) 631 sponsored by State Representative Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander), named the COVID-19 Health Care Professional-Patient Relationship Protection Act, aims to protect the use of doctor-patient relationships in Ohio by codifying the authority for healthcare professionals to administer alternative drug therapies for patients diagnosed with COVID-19 or one of its variants.

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Commentary: Predictably, the Republicans Form Their Circular Firing Squad

With the disappointing midterms, Republicans have lost a major battle in the fight to restore American greatness. We are now rapidly approaching the final standoff between the flailing Republican Party and the reenergized Democratic Party. The Democrats survived what should have been a political bloodbath in 2022, and the Right seems to be in the most vulnerable position since the 1960s, when Republicans were essentially a permanent minority in Washington.

It could happen again. Whether the GOP returns to minority status in two years will depend on the party determines who will be its nominee in the next presidential election. While many on the Right assume it will be Donald J. Trump, there are other candidates in the offing.

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Judge Sides with DeSantis, Says Governor Won’t Have to Testify in Lawsuit Brought by Former Prosecutor

A federal judge this week ruled that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will not have to testify in a lawsuit brought against him by a prosecutor he dismissed over the summer.

DeSantis made headlines in August when he fired State Attorney Andrew Warren after the latter indicated he would not enforce laws prohibiting sex-change operations for minors. “State Attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda,” DeSantis said at the time.

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Education Unions Say Ohio Legislature Should Focus on Funding, Not on Curriculum Regulation

Two Ohio teacher’s unions who are keeping tabs on the Ohio legislature’s handling of education say they hope the General Assembly focuses on funding and attracting new teachers, rather than bills that regulate curriculum and “divisive” issues.

Controversy has erupted in public education decisions over the past year on how to teach about race and how schools should approach students who identify as gay or transgender. In the mid-term election, The liberal teacher’s unions, the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) and the Ohio Education Association (OEA), contributed tens of thousands of dollars to help the campaigns of their Democratic candidates to secure support for their left-leaning agenda.

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Minneapolis Police Department Remains Critically Low on Patrol Officers

minneapolis police department

The Minneapolis Police Department only has 235 officers available to respond to 911 calls throughout the city, according to internal numbers obtained by Alpha News.

“The Minneapolis Police Department continues to face critical staffing shortages and remains far below its authorized strength,” Sherral Schmidt, president of the Minneapolis police union, told Alpha News.

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State Senator Proposes Pennsylvania Prison-to-Business Partnership Program

State Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Bethlehem) is asking colleagues to support legislation to create a prison-to-jobs pipeline for nonviolent inmates in Pennsylvania. 

Boscola bemoaned Pennsylvania’s status as among the worst states in the U.S. in terms of ex-prisoners reoffending; it has a 41-percent recidivism rate. In a memorandum announcing her measure, she posited that rate will go down if the commonwealth proactively advances many prisoners toward employment as they prepare for life outside of jail. 

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Virginia Companies, Research Universities Get $1.5 Million in Tech Grants

Rotunda at University of Virginia

Virginia companies and research universities will receive more than $1.5 million to fund 24 technology-related projects in the commonwealth.

The technology funding will be awarded through the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation’s Commonwealth Commercialization Fund. The program was launched in 2020 to promote technologies that could yield more economic development and job creation in the state, according to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office.

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Hyundai’s Electric Vehicle Systems Supplier Announces $926 Million Facility in Bryan County

Automotive parts manufacturer Hyundai Mobis plans a $926 million Electric Vehicle (EV) Power Electric system plant in Bryan County; the plant will supply systems to Hyundai factories in Bryan County and in Alabama, and to the Kia Georgia plant in West Point.

“Hyundai Mobis’ investment project in Bryan County reflects an acceleration in the development of the EV supply chain in Georgia’s auto industry,” Hyundai Mobis Electric Powertrain Business Unit Vice President H. S. Oh said in a press release. “We’re going to be a major production player in the EV market, and that’s going to trigger more growth within the sector. Mobis is looking forward to providing high-quality work opportunities to the growing local workforce.”

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Yale and Harvard Law Schools Quit Popular Annual Rankings Report

Yale Law School, rated No. 1 by an influential ratings guide put out by the magazine U.S. News & World Report, announced it would quit the rankings Wednesday, according to a news release by Yale Law School dean Heather Gerken.

“The U.S. News rankings are profoundly flawed — they disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession,” Dean Gerken wrote.

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Wisconsin Dips to 41st in the Nation for Hospital Safety

Wisconsin’s hospital safety standings with The Leapfrog Group dropped from 40th to 41st in the country over this past year.

The portion of Wisconsin hospitals that received an “A” grade decreased from 16.9 percent in spring 2022 to 11.9 percent in fall 2022.

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More than a Half-Million Dollars Set for ‘Equity Consulting,’ as well as Vaping and Motion Detectors Removed from Michigan Schools’ COVID Spending

Nineteen vape detectors, $550,000 in equity coaching, motion sensors, and metal detectors are some items deleted from Michigan schools’ initial COVID spending plans.

The Center Square discovered the removed spending by filing more than 100 records requests to school districts statewide in an attempt to learn how schools plan to spend more than $6 billion in recovery pandemic funds. 

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Commentary: Mob Rule and the Death of Trust

It’s been clear to millions of Americans for decades that the media was biased, that the Democratic Party and their government employee union allies controlled and corrupted big city elections, and that the “climate crises” and the threat of “white supremacy” were being oversold. These and other annoyances were perennial. But for many skeptics, the level of mistrust remained tolerable. The system itself was resilient. Nothing is perfect. The tide can turn. The good guys could still win. The 2015 arrival of Donald Trump on the national political scene changed the rules. The system not only revealed itself to be even more fraudulent than most people had previously believed, but it became malevolent.

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Farmers Can Expect High Interest Rates and Higher Costs Next Year

Farmers borrow short term money up front every year to pay for inputs and operating expenses. At harvest time when they sell their crops, they pay back their operating notes.

For the first time in 20 years, fast-rising interest rates have doubled the cost of short term operating notes, an impact a lot of farmers have never seen before.

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U.S. Senate to Vote on ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ as Several Groups Question its Constitutionality

Several groups argue the Respect for Marriage Act (ROMA) currently before the U.S. Senate is unconstitutional, and if enacted, will eventually be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bill, HR 8404, was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-NY, on July 18 and passed by a vote of 267-157 the next day. The U.S. Senate took it up on November 14.

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Chinese Drone Threat Raises Foreign Espionage Concerns Among U.S. Officials

Enough Chinese-made recreational drones have been spotted in restricted airspace in the Washington, D.C. area to raise foreign espionage concerns among U.S. government agencies and lawmakers alike.

The drones, which are manufactured by DJI and sold at major retailers, can be altered by users to override the geofencing limitations that prevent the devices from flying over sensitive locations. 

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Commentary: Large Racial Reading and Math Performance Gaps Persist as Children Age

The dominant response to the recently-released NAEP Report Card on 4th and 8th grade proficiency scores has been to focus on the adverse effects of school closures: declining competencies, particularly for the lowest performing students. What is buried in the report is the continued alarmingly low black student scores on both reading and math sections and their inability to close the racial gap as they move from the 4th to 8th grade.

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Medical Schools Are Offering ‘Incentives’ for Departments That Hit Diversity Targets: Report

More than a third of medical schools are offering incentives to departments to hit their diversity targets, according to a November report from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Of the 101 medical schools surveyed, 35.6% offered performance incentives to reach their diversity, inclusion and equity goals, according to the report. The survey revealed widespread adoption of diversity-oriented initiatives in medical schools nationwide, including mandatory diversity classes, assessment of staff members’ “contributions” to diversity goals and campus-wide climate assessments.

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