Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Dead at 95

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who shaped Catholic doctrine for decades before surprising the church by resigning as pontiff, died Saturday at age 95, the Vatican announced.

“With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican,” Vatican press secretary Matteo Bruni told media.

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List of Tennessee Laws to Go into Effect in the New Year

A list of new laws will take effect in Tennessee on January 1, 2023. The list of laws will go into effect in the new year, from relation to medical records, security-guard training, abortion-inducing drugs, and medication aide certification qualifications.

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Poll: Small Businesses See Signs of Hope After Brutal 2022

Despite a historically tight labor market, small business owners reported that hiring difficulties had eased in December, markedly improving compared to November, according to a poll conducted by Vistage Worldwide for the Wall Street Journal published Friday.

Of the roughly 650 small business owners polled, almost 25% reported that hiring was easier in December than at the start of the year, while just 20% said it was harder, according to the WSJ. In November, those numbers were 18% and 25% respectively, and some small business owners reported success thanks to pay raises and hiring freezes or layoffs at larger firms.

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U.S. House Committee Releases Trump’s Tax Returns

The House Ways and Means Committee that is controlled by Democrats released six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday.

The New York Post reported the returns cover the years 2015 to 2020. The Trumps reported positive income of $24.3 million in 2018 and $4.4 million in 2019 and had negative income in four of the six years in which tax returns were released.

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Colleges Offered Classes on Topics Like Porn, Queer Dance, and Whiteness in 2022

Colleges offered students the opportunity to enroll in unique courses during the 2022 semesters, the Daily Caller News Foundation found.

These courses tackled a variety of topics including “whiteness” and queerness, while others focused on subjects such as pornography and pop culture. Some of the courses sparked national backlash, forcing the schools to either defend or reconsider what they teach students in the classroom.

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Bill Would Give Tennessee Teachers $500 Annually for Classroom Supplies

Joey Hensley and Scott Cepicky

A Tennessee bill would allow every public school teacher in the state to have $500 to spend on classroom supplies.

The bill would be an adjustment on the $200 initially stipulated for each teacher’s use in the new Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement funding formula, set to begin in the 2023-24 school year.

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Augusta University Health Systems to Potentially Join Wellstar Health System

Augusta University Health System (AUHS) announced Tuesday the signing of a letter of intent to join Wellstar Health System. The potential deal would join the Medical College of Georgia (MCG), the state’s only public medical school, with one of the largest safety net hospital operators in Georgia.

“This is good news for the Augusta region and for health care across our state. It means more doctors and medical service providers, more options for health care, and greater innovation in this field are coming to Georgia communities,” Governor Brian Kemp tweeted after the AUHS announcement.

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Governor Doug Ducey Fills Seven Court Positions During Final Week in Office

During his final week in office, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filled several court position vacancies across Arizona, including the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Yuma County Superior Court.

“I am very pleased to announce the appointment of six new judges to the Arizona Court of Appeals,” said Ducey. “These new judges will provide the much needed resources for the Court of Appeals to handle its growing caseload as more and more people choose Arizona as a place to live, work, and start a business.”

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U.S. Census: Michigan Lost 3,391 Residents over One-Year Period

Michigan lost 3,391 residents between July 2021 and July 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 population estimates.

More people moved into the state than out, but deaths outpaced births by 12,482. Michigan experienced 117,639 deaths and only 105,157 births, which, along with the state’s dropping birth rate, could threaten Michigan’s status as the 10th most populated state if the trend continues.

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2022 Saw More California Businesses Relocate to Florida

Despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s invitation to Floridians to move to California ahead of the November election, California businesses continue to leave, and increasingly to Florida.

While their top relocation destination is overwhelmingly Texas, several major companies have relocated to Florida since Newsom’s been in office.

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Akron Schoolteachers Prepare to Strike over Violent Student Behavior

After many allegations of campus violence, Akron Public School teachers declared they would strike mere days after kids are expected to return from winter break. According to a Thursday news release, safety was one of their primary concerns.

The union scheduled the strike to begin on January 9th, 2023, while students return to classrooms on January 6th, 2023. Following incidents of aggressive behavior by kids, Akron Educational Association (AEA) union members asserted that school safety was one of their main concerns. The AEA represents around 2,800 licensed teachers and staff members, with about 20,000 students in the district.

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Philadelphia Again Surpasses 500 Murders, Though Down Slightly from 2021

Philadelphia has again failed to stop murders in the city, as it repeats a homicide toll that surpasses 500 deaths. While murders are down compared to a year ago, the level of violence dwarfs recent years, when as few as 277 murders happened in 2016.

As of December 28, 514 people have been victims of homicide in Philadelphia. That number is down 7% from 2021, when a record 562 people died, but higher than the 499 deaths in 2020 and 356 in 2019.

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State Sen. Reeves, Del. Krizek Introduce Bill to Create Problem Gambling Committee

Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) and Delegate Paul Krizek (D-Mount Vernon) have prefiled legislation for the upcoming General Assembly session to create a problem gambling committee composed of gambling industry representatives and problem gambling prevention advocates.

“As Virginia moves forward with the expansion of gaming, it’s important that we understand the ills that come with it,” Reeves said in a Tuesday press release. “We must focus our attention on Virginians who struggle with gambling addiction. Delegate Krizek and myself are excited to announce our bipartisan effort to ensure that our Commonwealth’s gaming regulations properly reflect the much-needed funds for problem identification, gambling addiction education, and treatment.”

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Report: University in Minnesota Removes Art Instructor for Sharing Depictions of Muhammad

A Hamline University art instructor was removed from her position after sharing two Renaissance depictions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in class, according to reports.

The professor has not been named in any reports on the incident but was identified as a female in the Pioneer Press.

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Close Political Races Like Abe Hamadeh’s Where the Outcome Partially or Completely Flip-Flopped

The election challenge in the race for Arizona Attorney General is not over yet, and may go on longer than expected due to new ballots showing up favoring Republican Abe Hamadeh. After the recount, which was ordered automatically due to the close race, Democrat Kris Mayes’ lead dropped from 511 to 280 votes. Throughout U.S. history in extremely close races, ballots are closely scrutinized and often some are thrown out, or others that weren’t counted were added in, often flipping the race. 

Hamadeh tweeted on Thursday, “Katie Hobbs and SOS Office abused our courts and made a mockery of the justice system. They knew the results of the recount was going to show a LARGE discrepancy due to tabulation errors and fought against our election contest knowing this. They deceived the courts.”

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Ohio Self-Serve Betting Machines to Be First in Nation

Beginning on January 1st, 2023, sports betting will be legal in Ohio. Betting will be legal to take place through smartphone applications, at casinos, racinos, sports stadiums, and other retail sportsbook facilities. However, Ohio will also be the first state in the nation to offer over 1,000 self-service betting machines in bars, restaurants, grocery, and convenience stores around the state.

Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 29, which legalized sports betting in Ohio, authorizing the move and giving oversight to the Casino Control Commission.

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As Ohio Legalizes Sports Betting, Cuyahoga County Courts Offering Gambling Addiction Counseling

As Ohio prepares for the legalization of sports betting in January, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas is launching its first-of-its-kind gambling addiction counseling for individuals who are convicted of a crime related to gambling. This is one of the first such court programs in the state and the largest in the country.

According to Judge Brendan Sheehan, the court moved quickly to get its Problem Gambling Addiction Program operative prior to the state’s new sports betting laws going into effect on January 1st.

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Hudson Councilwoman Kowalski Files Civil Suit over Council Censure

Hudson City Councilwoman Nicole Kowalski filed a civil suit against the city council’s recent decision to censure her over her expenditure of money that required legislative approval without the council’s knowledge or consent.

According to Hudson City Council President Chris Foster, Kowalski launched an investigation of a citizen’s complaint about an alleged campaign finance violation without the knowledge or consent of the council. Foster said that Kowalski also spent money that required legislative approval without informing the rest of the council.

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Commentary: Rachel Levine Targets Transgender Heresy for Big Tech Suppression

Dr. Rachel Levine, a man who identifies as a woman, urged doctors at state medical boards to pressure Big Tech to stifle “medical misinformation” right after he declared that there is no “scientific or medical dispute” about the benefits of using experimental drugs and surgeries to force male bodies to resemble female bodies or vice versa.

Levine, the assistant secretary of health at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, presented an extremely dubious worldview as the established position of science, and acted as though no rational person would dare dissent.

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Attorney General Mark Brnovich Sues Buckeye School District for Alleged Payment Scandal

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Buckeye Elementary School District (BESD) and Superintendent Kristi Wilson for alleged “additional compensation.”

“Transparency and accountability are not electives in our public school districts,” said Brnovich in a press release. “Hardworking taxpayers expect these public funds to be expended in accordance with the law and the best interest of students.”

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Commentary: When It Comes to the Titans, It Doesn’t Take a Rocket Scientist – Or Does It?

After falling 27-13 to the Dallas Cowboys at home on Thursday night football, and extending their unprecedented end of season losing streak to six games, you’d think the Titans would be crying in their 7-9 beer.

So why the happy face?

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Oxford Dictionary Adds 18 New LGBTQ Words in 2022

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) added 18 new LGBTQ+ entries in 2022, including words like gender-affirming, multisexual, top and bottom.

The OED added nearly 2,000 words in the past year, according to announcements from March, June and September, with 18 of those words updated or added to specifically define ever-evolving LGBTQ+ terms. In March, OED added anti-gay and anti-homosexual, with the former receiving a specific definition while anti-homosexual was listed only as a subcategory.

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Conservatives Scored Massive Victories in the Battle over Education in 2022

In 2022, conservatives flipped dozens of school boards across the county, enacting conservative priorities and amending school policies to increase transparency in the classroom.

Moms for Liberty, an organization of conservative parents and school board candidates working towards parental rights in education, and the 1776 Project PAC, a political group that helps school board members against Critical Race Theory (CRT) get elected, endorsed candidates that won many of their races to flip school boards in 2022. School boards throughout the country also banned CRT, adopted new gender identity policies to involve parents and ousted administration in favor of mask mandates.

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Buttigieg Warned Before Holidays by Own Party of Looming Airlines Crisis

Like a slow-motion train wreck that wasn’t thwarted, the Christmas holiday travel disaster was forewarned to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg a month ago by members of his own party who pleaded he take more aggressive action to force airlines to address wary consumer concerns about growing flight cancelations, delays and ticket refunds.

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Suspect Arrested in Connection with Fatal Stabbing of Four University of Idaho Students

A 28-year-old man has been arrested in Pennsylvania in connection with the stabbing deaths last month of four University of Idaho students, according to several news reports Friday.

Paperwork filed by Pennsylvania State Police show Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was being held for extradition in a criminal homicide investigation based on an active arrest warrant for first-degree murder issued by the Moscow, Idaho, Police Department and Latah County Prosecutor’s Office, according to the Associated Press.

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Street Gang Member Sentenced to 11.5 Years in Jail for Drug Possession, Firearm Charges

Antwon Brown, a convicted felon and known Unknown Vice Lords street gang member, was recently sentenced to 138 months in federal prison for drug and firearm charges.

Members of the Vice Lords street gang distribute cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and some heroin in Illinois, Tennessee, and other states, according to the Department of Justice. Vice Lords gangs in the Volunteer State are located predominantly in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville.

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Biden Admin to Expand Trump-Era Border Policy to Expel More Illegal Immigrants: Report

Border surge

The Biden administration is considering expanding the Trump-era illegal immigrant expulsion policy known as Title 42, Reuters reported Wednesday.

The plan includes adding Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians to the list of nationalities expelled under the policy, according to Reuters. The change in policy will also add a humanitarian pathway for migrants of those countries to enter the U.S. if they have sponsors and are vetted at ports of entry.

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CDC Pressures Teachers to Increase ‘LGBTQ Inclusivity’ in Classroom Instruction

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been forcing teachers across the country to follow certain guidelines demonstrating their commitment to “LGBTQ inclusivity” in their classroom instructions.

As reported by Breitbart, the CDC-issued “assessment tool” asks teachers numerous questions about school employees and their loyalty to the concept of “queer theory,” and forcing sexual education teachers to use gender-neutral language, forbidding them from using terms such as “boy” and “girl.”

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Biden’s ATF Continues Its Crackdown on ‘Ghost Guns’

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) specified Tuesday that Gun Control Act (GCA) regulations cover types of incomplete pistol frames used in “ghost guns.”

The bureau argued in its open letter to federal firearms licensees that partially complete Polymer80, Lone Wolf and similar striker-fired semi-automatic pistol frames “may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted” to a functional frame and thus fall under GCA jurisdiction based on the Justice Department’s (DOJ) “Frame or Receiver” rule. The rule, which became effective in August, says regulations for completed firearms also apply to gun parts kits that can be readily converted into them.

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Arizona Recount Results Narrows Gap in Attorney General’s Race from 511 to 280, Abe Hamadeh not Conceding Yet

Results of the Arizona General Election recount were revealed in court Thursday morning, showing that results in the race for Attorney General between Democrat Kris Mayes and Republican Abe Hamadeh shrunk, but not enough to overturn the race. The final results are 1,254,809 for Mayes and 1,254,529 for Hamadeh, narrowing the gap from 511 votes to 280.

Following the reveal, Hamadeh tweeted that his legal team is in the process of assessing options.

“The results of the recount show that my opponent’s lead has been cut by nearly half from 511 to 280 votes. A shockingly high discrepancy. Again, a recount just puts the ballots in the machine again. My legal team will be assessing our options to make sure every vote is counted,” Hamadeh tweeted.

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State Senator Becky Massey Files Bill That Would Offer Reimbursement for Gun Safety Courses

Tennessee State Senator Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) filed a bill this week that would reimburse people for taking a first-time handgun safety course. The bill would reimburse people up to $30 for taking a handgun safety course in Tennessee. The reimbursements would be funded from fees collected by the state’s handgun carry permit application and processing costs.

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Florida Considers Lowering Abortion Ban from 15 Weeks to 12 Weeks

Changes could be coming to Florida’s abortion laws after the incoming senate president, Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, said she would like to see Florida’s abortion ban go from 15 weeks’ gestation to 12 weeks’ gestation.

The state of Florida banned abortion in 1900, but that ban was overturned in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Roe v. Wade case. That ruling itself was overturned by the Supreme Court in June. Anticipating that decision, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to ban abortions from 15 weeks’ gestation, with the law making no exceptions for cases pertaining to rape and incest.

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Connecticut Lawmakers to Get Huge Pay Boost in New Year

Connecticut lawmakers will see fatter paychecks in the new year with a law that bumps their base pay by upwards of $12,000, once it goes into effect.

Legislation approved earlier this year, signed by Gov. Ned Lamont, increases rank-and-file lawmakers’ pay from $28,000 to $40,000, with future raises pegged to the cost of living in every two-year legislative cycle. Compensation for the House speaker and Senate president will increase from $38,689 to $50,000 next year under the law.

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Nonprofit Names $1.5 Billion Georgia Rivian EV Plant Incentive as Worst Deal of 2022

A nonprofit has named Georgia’s decision to give $1.5 billion in incentives for a Rivian Automotive electric vehicle assembly plant 2022’s “Worst Economic Development Deal of the Year.”

The Michigan-based Center for Economic Accountability bestows the honor to a government subsidy of a private company that best illustrates the “massive wastefulness and ineffectiveness of government economic development subsidy programs.”

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Ohio GOP Vice Chairman Announces Candidacy to Lead Party

Summit County Republican Party Chairman and statewide party Vice-Chair Bryan Williams officially announced his candidacy for chairman of the Ohio Republican Party on Wednesday in a letter to state central committee (SCC) members.

The Ohio Republican Party’s central committee is meeting on January 6th to consider selecting a replacement for current Chairman Bob Paduchik who announced after the November 8th general election that he would not be seeking another term.

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CDC: Overdose Deaths up 14 Percent Nationally, Pennsylvania Ranks Third Overall

America has seen a spike in overdose deaths since the pandemic, when drug overdose deaths rose more than 14% from 2020 to 2021. 

The biggest increase, perhaps surprisingly, came from adults aged 65 and over, but rates for adults 35-44 remain highest. As synthetic opioids like fentanyl continue to displace heroin, overdose deaths have increased.

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Wisconsin Governor Evers Seeks Recreational Marijuana Legalization

Tony Evers

Governor Tony Evers (D-WI) is preparing for a potential battle with the Republican-run Wisconsin Legislature over the legalization of recreational marijuana. 

Evers is gearing up to present his biennial budget requests to lawmakers in February and has said there is “no question” he will ask the legislature to permit adults to use cannabinoid substances for fun as he did in his most recent budget proposal earlier this year. 

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Virginia High School Withheld Academic Awards for Equity Reasons, Parents Claim

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia, reportedly delayed notifying its students of their receipt of certain academic achievement awards until after the deadlines for early selection at some colleges and universities, which many parents have alleged was done as part of the school district’s alleged efforts to create “equal outcomes for every student, without exception.”

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Minnesota Pastor Accused of Sexual Relationship with Underage Intern

A former pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Sleepy Eye, Minn., is facing charges of criminal sexual conduct after he allegedly had sex with an underage intern on multiple occasions.

Witnesses first reported Pastor Nathan Van Alfred Luong to Sleepy Eye police in May of this year, according to a criminal complaint. Around that same time, Faith Lutheran Church in Dodge Center announced Luong as their new pastor, the Christian Post first reported.

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Commentary: Congress Should Investigate ‘Gain-of-Function’ Research

I fear that the investigations Republicans have promised in the House next year will be little more than another round of toxic partisan gamesmanship. But there is one investigation Congress should undertake, and that is into so-called “gain-of-function” research.

Before the pandemic, I suspect that most of you, like me, had never heard of gain-of-function research. What we learned during the pandemic is that scientists around the world routinely tinker with the genome of viruses to see how the induced changes will affect replication of the virus (contagiousness) and the effects it has on its host (lethality). Such research has apparently been going on for decades and is routinely funded by governments, including ours.

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Ohio Governor Dispatches ODOT to Aid New York in Deadly Weather Disaster

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Thursday that he dispatched support from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to aid in emergency snow removal efforts in the state of New York following an “epic, once-in-a-lifetime” weather disaster responsible for killing over two dozen people.

A convoy of 28 ODOT workers, 12 tandem dump trucks, two utility mechanic trucks, and four crew cab pick-up trucks departed from Ashtabula Wednesday morning for a six-day deployment. The ODOT crew consists of highway technicians, mechanics, and managers from District 4 (Akron), District 11 (New Philadelphia), and District 12 (Cleveland).

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Over 70 Candidates Competing for Arizona Republican Party Offices

Arizona Republican Party (AZGOP) Chair Kelli Ward is not running for a third term, and six candidates have announced they are running to replace her. At least 63 more candidates are running for other positions in the AZGOP, which will be decided in an election at the annual statutory meeting on January 28, 2023. The candidates for chair are Sheila Muehling, Jeff DeWit, Steve Daniels, Dan Farley, Vera Gebran, and Lori Ann Martinez.

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Report: Ohio Ranks in America’s Bottom 20 States for Economic Freedom

A new report from several free-market think tanks ranks Ohio 35th out of the 50 states in terms of economic freedom. 

The Columbus-based Buckeye Institute issued the Economic Freedom of North America 2022 report in collaboration with the Canadian Fraser Institute, the Puerto Rican Instituto de Libertad Económica and the Mexican Caminos de la Libertad. The study factors in government spending levels, taxation and labor-market flexibility when ranking all states and provinces across the continent. 

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Hobbs’ Pick for Top Doctor Hints at Shift from Ducey’s Management of COVID Pandemic

Gov.-Elect Katie Hobbs’ selection of Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen to lead the Arizona Department of Health Services marks another likely point in policy changes in contrast to outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey’s administration. 

Cullen promoted strict coronavirus measures in the county, which includes Tucson, when it came to precautions like masking, and she has become a high-profile voice in the Arizona medical community.

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Tall Tales: Before George Santos, Politicians from Biden to Clinton Fibbed About Their Past

Well before Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) admitted to fabricating key details of his biography, lying about one’s past was a rich political exercise. President Joe Biden got caught boasting about bogus academic credentials, Hillary Clinton made up a sniper attack in Bosnia, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren had to apologize for claiming Native American heritage.

Santos made headlines this week for admitting to the New York Post and WABC radio that he lied on the campaign trail about his education and work experience – specifically about where he attended college and his alleged employment history with high-profile Wall Street firms.

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