Commentary: The American Jobs Plan and the China Conundrum

President Joe Biden’s new spending plan amps up rhetoric on national competition with China, maintaining the confrontational approach established by the previous administration. But whereas the 45th president championed what he called American energy dominance as a key element of grand strategy, the 46th seems bent on eschewing America’s natural resource advantages and playing to China’s strengths.

The White House fact sheet on the American Jobs Plan refers to China five times directly, claiming that the plan will “position the United States to out-compete China,” that China’s ambitions are one of “the great challenges of our time,” that the U.S. is “falling behind countries like China” on infrastructure, that “countries like China are investing aggressively in R&D,” and that the U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is one-third of that in China — something President Biden “believes that must change.”

The president asserts that this plan will simultaneously reduce the risks posed by climate change and by China’s rise, but the evidence suggests his approach to energy will undermine the United States’ strategic positioning, not reinforce it.

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Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute and Author of Unschooled Kerry McDonald Talks About the Rise of Homeschooling and Debunks Myths

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed author and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute Kerry McDonald to the newsmakers line to talk about her book Unschooled, homeschooling and the ever-changing way people are looking at educating their children in the home.

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Craig Huey Reflects on a Recent Trip to California Where Fear and Oppression Are in the Air

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Craig Huey of the Huey Report and California Refugee in studio to talk about this recent trip to California and the fear and lack of freedom and liberty he witnessed compared to Tennessee.

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Tennessee House Passes Bill to Cancel Excise Tax for Certain COVID-19 Relief Payments to Businesses

The Tennessee House passed a bill cancelling the excise tax on certain COVID-19 payments given to businesses. The legislation would cover all payments from March 1 to December 31 of last year. 

If passed, the bill would apply to payments from the Tennessee Business Relief Program, the Tennessee Supplemental Employer Recovery Grant Program, the Coronavirus Agricultural and Forestry Business Fund, the Hospital Staffing Assistance Program, the Emergency Medical Services Ambulance Assistance Program, the Tennessee Small and Rural Hospital Readiness Grants Program, or the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant.

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Michigan Group Sues State Health Department over Mandatory Student-Athlete COVID-19 Testing

by Scott McClallen   An advocacy group for student-athletes sued Michigan’s health director, arguing new COVID-19 testing rules for teenage youth sports are “invalid.” The Honigman Law Firm sued state Health and Human Services Department (MDHHS) Director Elizabeth Hertel Thursday on behalf of Let Them Play Michigan and three student-athlete…

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National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd Puts the Border Crisis in Context and Suggests How to Fix It

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd to discuss the migrant surge at the southern border and what can be done to stop it.

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The Great Dilemma for America: Crom Carmichael on the Democratic Party of Grifters and Looming Inflation

Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio to breakdown the economic ramifications of COVID and the Democratic Party grifters.

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More Than 700 Kids Currently Detained in Border Patrol Custody, Report Shows

More than 700 migrant children are currently detained in Customs and Border Patrol facilities, according to an internal government report.

At least 200 children had been held in the facilities for over 48 hours and nine had been held more than 72 hours, according to an internal Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) report dated Feb. 21, Axios reported. The CBP is not allowed to hold children more than 72 hours, according to a previous agreement.

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FDA Panel Votes to Recommend Johnson & Johnson’s Coronavirus Vaccine for Emergency Authorization

The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel voted Friday evening to recommend Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency approval, clearing the way for its authorization, distribution and administration nationwide.

The vote followed hours of the panel live-streaming its process of scouring over data from the pharmaceutical company in order to reaffirm that the vaccine was safe for the millions of Americans who will receive it. The FDA also released the vaccine’s clinical trial data on Wednesday showing that the vaccine was effective in fighting the virus itself.

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Nashville’s COVID Vaccine Registration Site Crashes as Vaccine Becomes More Widely Available

Nashville’s COVID-19 vaccine registration website crashed early Friday, as the vaccine became more widely available in the state. 

“The Metro Public Health Department said that a system malfunction is preventing people from registering for a COVID-19 vaccine on Friday morning,” according to The Tennessean. The glitch comes on the first day of sign-ups for residents 65+ in Davidson County and was likely due to a high volume of traffic starting at 7 a.m., city spokesperson Brian Todd said.”

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Orders Flags to be Lowered Until Friday at Sunset

  COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine ordered all United States and State of Ohio flags to be lowered Tuesday to half-staff on all buildings and public grounds throughout the state until sunset on Friday. The proclamation is in lockstep with the president of the United States who…

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Vaccinations Slow After Storms Delay Shipments of 6 Million COVID-19 Doses

The extreme cold weather across much of the country has delayed 6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, slowing a vaccination rate that has been steadily rising since the Biden administration took office last month.

The backlogged doses account for roughly three days’ of delayed shipments affecting all 50 states, due to road closures, snowed-in workers and power outages, said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser on the White House’s COVID-19 response, during a news conference Friday.

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Home Schooling in Minnesota Skyrocketed 50% Amid School Closures

Homeschoolers

A Friday report from the Minnesota Department of Education confirmed what many have suspected all along: parents are opting to take their children out of public schools.

Overall public-school enrollment decreased by 2% between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, MDE said in its report, which translates to a net loss of about 17,000 students. This decrease was driven largely by a 9% drop in public kindergarten enrollment, according to the MDE.

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Crom Carmichael Analyses the Independent Thinking of Republicans Versus the Lock Step of Democrats

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the impeachment, NY Governor Cuomo, and the ‘tied to the lash’ Democratic Party.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Lifts Curfew and Last Call Order

During his COVID briefing, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced the statewide curfew – which had been amended to begin at 11:00 p.m. from its original 10 o’clock start – expired Thursday and that he would not extend the order.

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Johnson & Johnson Files for Emergency Authorization for Its Coronavirus Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson filed for emergency use authorization from the FDA on Thursday for its coronavirus vaccine.

The drug maker’s application followed its announcement that its vaccine was 72% effective in combating the virus. Although that’s slightly lower than Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s requires one dose instead of two.

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Newt Gingrich Commentary: Small Business Will Continue to Suffer Unless We Reopen Society

Small businesses have been decimated by the pandemic shutdowns. Many have struggled to survive. Many have had to lay off employees. If they haven’t closed their doors yet, the next six to nine months will be a real challenge.

There is some help on the way. The Small Business Administration has released a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — a forgivable loan program designed to assist small businesses with money to stay afloat. Part two of the PPP opened on Jan. 15.

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Michigan’s GOP Senate Refuses to Confirm Whitmer Appointees

In an attempt to send a message to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Michigan’s Republican-led Senate is refusing to confirm her new appointees. 

“The state Senate rejected 13 of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s appointees Wednesday to ‘send a signal that [Republicans are] displeased with [the] governor’s actions and refusal to listen [or] work with [the] Legislature,'” first reported by Michigan Advance. 

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Nearly 20 Percent of American Renters Are Behind on Payments, Analysis Shows

About 18% of renters, or roughly 10 million people, in the U.S. are behind on their monthly payments as of early January, according to an Urban Institute analysis.

Researchers Jim Parrott, a fellow at the Urban Institute, and Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, calculated that 18% of U.S. renters were behind on payments and warned that if lawmakers didn’t act fast, there could be a major eviction crisis. The average delinquent renter is four months behind on payments and owes $5,600, the researchers estimated using Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.

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Chinese Media: COVID Originated in U.S. Military Lab

A Chinese state broadcaster revived a conspiracy theory that the coronavirus pandemic originated in a US military lab, and told its millions of viewers  there is “something fishy” happening at Fort Detrick in Maryland.

A female anchor on China’s Central Television Station ​Thursday asked viewers: ​​”Exactly what fishy businesses were going on?​,” the Daily Mail reported.

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Michigan Health Director Resigns as Restaurants Set to Reopen

The top health official in Michigan has abruptly resigned as the state plans to reopen restaurants in the coming weeks, after months of strict lockdown orders.

“Today, I am resigning from the Whitmer Administration. It’s been an honor to serve alongside wonderful colleagues. I look forward to the next chapter,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said Friday on Twitter. 

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Youth Hockey District in Minnesota Will Impose Penalty of $1,000 Fine for Noncompliance with Mask Mandate

Some youth hockey associations could be fined if players and coaches don’t wear masks during practices or games.

Minnesota Hockey is the governing body of youth hockey in the state of Minnesota and teams are divided between twelve districts, including District 10. Each district includes several local hockey associations.

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New Jobless Claims Decrease to 900,000, Economists Expected 925,000

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims decreased to 900,000 last week as the economy continued to suffer the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) figure released Thursday represented a decrease in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Jan. 16, in which there were 965,000 new jobless claims reported. Roughly 16 million Americans continue to collect unemployment benefits, according to the BLS report Thursday.

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Governor DeWine Extends Ohio Curfew Indefinitely: The Way Out of This Is the Vaccine

Governor Mike DeWine announced Thursday that the temporary curfew he imposed in Ohio the day before would be extended past Saturday, and he gave little indication when or if the curfew would be lifted at all.

Word of the extension came at the end of DeWine’s press briefing as a response to the first question asked by media.

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Biden to Extend Student Loan Payment Freeze Until September 2021

President-elect Joe Biden will order the Department of Education to extend the student loan payment moratorium through September in one of his first presidential moves.

Joe Biden is set to sign the executive order on Wednesday following his inauguration, extending the current pause on student loan payments, which has been in effect since March, according to CBS News. The order is a fulfillment of Biden’s campaign promise to prioritize the U.S. student loan debt crisis.

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Commentary: Five Ways Hospitals Can Help Fix Vaccine Rollout Debacle

Hospitals have come under sharp criticism for their part in the chaotic COVID-19 vaccine rollout. That’s because in the rush to get the vaccine out quickly, many hospitals were shipped more vaccine than anticipated and fewer staff took it than anticipated. As a result, hospitals accrued a vaccine surplus and offered it to their low-risk grad students and young administrative staff working from home and are now scrambling to figure out what to do with the rest. The answer should be simple: give it to older members of your community, but a recent letter from the American Hospital Association cited a number of important barriers to effective vaccine distribution including a lack of coordination and guidance from federal, state, and local governments. 

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90 Bars and Restaurants Ask Michigan Gov. Whitmer to Reopen Indoor Dining ‘as Soon as Possible’

Representatives from approximately 90 bars, restaurants, and other Michigan establishments signed a letter asking Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to safely reopen dine-in service “as soon as possible” to prevent additional permanent closures.

The Facebook post announcing the letter has been shared more than 1,000 times.

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Minnesotans Under the Age of 40 More Likely to be Murdered Than Die from COVID

Minnesotans under the age of 40 are two times more likely to be murdered than die from COVID-19, Center of the American Experiment economist John Phelan said in a recent article.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 42 Minnesotans under the age of 40 have died from COVID-19. According to the Center of the American Experiment, at least 88 Minnesotans under the age of 40 have died in a homicide since March 21 — the date of Minnesota’s first reported COVID-19 case.

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U.S. Scientist Who Led Charge Against COVID Lab Leak Theory Admits He Was Trying to Protect Chinese Scientists

The U.S. scientist behind an effort to stymie debate surrounding the possibility that COVID-19 could have accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology admitted through a spokesman that he did so to protect Chinese scientists from online criticism.

Dr. Peter Daszak, the president of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, orchestrated a statement published in The Lancet medical journal in February, prior to any serious research on the origins of COVID-19, condemning “conspiracy theories” that suggest the virus doesn’t have a natural origin.

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Minnesota Vaccine Pilot Program Targets Those Ages 65+, K-12 Teachers, Child Care Workers

Minnesota is launching a COVID-19 vaccine pilot program this week, but the number of vaccines available is extremely limited.

Nine appointment-only sites across the state will start offering vaccines on Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz said in a news release.

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Three Weeks After Christmas, Ohio COVID Hospitalizations Trend Down

January 15 marked three weeks since Christmas – two from New Year’s celebrations. Statewide hospitalizations have trended downward since Christmas and deaths more so, according to the Ohio COVID dashboard.

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Biden Taps Former FDA Head to Oversee Federal Vaccination Effort

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Dr. David Kessler, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration and a member of his coronavirus advisory board, to lead the nation’s vaccination effort, the transition team announced Friday.

Kessler, who will become the chief science officer of the COVID-19 response according to a press release from Biden’s transition website, led the FDA under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He will be responsible for ensuring that Biden’s vaccination plan — which calls for 100 million vaccinations in 100 days — is successful.

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Tennessee State Rep. Bud Hulsey Discusses His Goals for the Upcoming Legislation Session on COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates and Prison Reform

Friday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Representative Bud Hulsey to the newsmakers line to discuss his agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

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U.K. Lockdown Could Last Nearly Three Months

Prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the end of lockdown may be delayed beyond mid-February and would last until the end of March, telling MPs the government will be “extremely cautious” about lifting restrictions and reopening schools.

On Monday, Prime Minister Johnson plunged England into a third national coronavirus lockdown. The lockdown includes a strict stay at home orders and the closure of all schools.  Mr Johnson resisted calls from Tory MPs to guarantee the rules will start to be eased after the first review on February 15, the prime minister made it clear that a successful roll-out of the vaccine programme  to the most vulnerable will be key to determining when the lockdown measures can be lifted. Adding on a lag for achieving immunity after vaccination and relieving “the pressure on the NHS”, he then tacked on a further two or three weeks, saying “we should remain cautious of the timetable ahead”, Breitbart reported.

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Michigan Facing Slow, but Improving COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

After months of waiting, the COVID-19 vaccine is out, but a labyrinth lies ahead to get vaccines from the federal government into the arms of Michiganders.

Many of the vaccines were created and approved in less than a year, but it’s unclear how long it will take to immunize all 10 million Michigan residents.

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Rollout Leaves More Than 70 Percent of COVID-19 Vaccines Unused

More than 70 percent of COVID-19 vaccines have gone unused, still sitting in freezers US health officials said on Monday.

In Daytona Beach, hundreds of senior citizens camped out in their vehicles in chilly overnight temperatures in the low 40s to secure a place in a vaccination line Tuesday morning, a day after seniors jammed the roads to the vaccination site,  NBC Miami reported.

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Michiganders Ages 65 and Older, Frontline Workers, and Educators Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Starting Monday

Michigan officials announced Wednesday the state will start to vaccinate a broader group of people starting Monday.

That includes Michiganders age 65 and older, frontline workers including police officers, first responders, jail and prison staff, and PreK-12 teachers and childcare providers.

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Ohio Governor DeWine Rescinds Quarantine Guidance for Classrooms and Schools, Not Sports and Extracurriculars

During a COVID briefing on Wednesday Ohio Governor Mike DeWine rescinded the State of Ohio guidance suggesting students quarantine after being in close contact with other COVID-positive students in school and the classroom.

“Today we are changing our guidance,” said DeWine, who continued “I know that there’s been a great deal of pain – students not being able to do things because they are in quarantine. I fully understand that and I’m sorry that happened, but we had to follow the CDC guidance.”

The Governor said the decision was based on an evaluation of Ohio students, a CDC report involving students in Mississippi, and priority the Governor has given to teachers and staff to receive the COVID vaccine.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Announces Health Dept Curfew Order Which Contains Several Exceptions

Today Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Stephanie McCloud signed the Director’s Second Amended Order that All Persons Stay at Home During Specified Hours Unless Engaged in Work or Essential Activity.

Sources inside the state government told The Star in November that the original curfew order came as a reaction to significant backlash from Ohioans as information leaked that Governor DeWine was going to push for another shutdown.
One source said, “people in the room when the decision was made agreed that a curfew wouldn’t do anything significant,” but would be an acceptable compromise the DeWine team would accept.

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Fewer COVID Patients in Hospitals, ICUs and on Vents in Almost Every Region in Ohio

  Governor DeWine or Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff spend a portion of press briefings discussing the issue of hospital capacity, often warning Ohioans that if cases continue to climb, hospitals around the state will be overrun and care for other non-COVID patients may be crowded out. Consequently, The…

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Governor Lee Bans Gatherings of More Than 10 People

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) announced in a five-minute address Sunday evening that the state will ban indoor public gatherings of more than 10 people in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m signing an order that will limit indoor public gatherings to 10 people,” Lee said in a televised message to Tennesseans.

“We now have around 10,000 Tennesseans getting sick every day,” he said, adding that Tennessee was “ground zero” for the COVID-19 pandemic, and that cases have surged in the state since Thanksgiving.

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Tennessee Stands Rallies Against Knox County Health Board Mandate

A group promoting individual liberty rallied Saturday afternoon to strip the Knox County Board of Health of its mandate powers. 

“No elected politician, or in this case an appointed board, should have the right to decide whether your business is valuable,” Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles told The Tennessee Star. 

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One-on-One with Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro

Last week The Ohio Star reported on the Ohio Education Association (OEA) Position Statement, which called for schools to suspend in-person learning immediately until January 11. The document outlined four steps the union urges government leaders and schools to follow – reset, restart, reprioritize and resource.
OEA President Scott DiMauro accepted the invitation to talk with The Star in a one-on-one interview.
The Star asked questions submitted from Ohioans around the Buckeye State.

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Governor Mike DeWine Warns Ohioans to Watch Hospital Capacity as Health Director Mulls Outpatient Treatments for COVID-19

During the Thursday COVID briefing, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said that he “took an oath to do everything to protect the lives and wellbeing of fellow Ohioans” and that the next three weeks will be the most critical in battling COVID.

DeWine then stressed the importance of Ohioans understanding and keeping an eye on hospital capacity in their respective communities.

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Commentary: Three Studies That Show Lockdowns Are Ineffective at Slowing COVID-19

Across America and Europe, many government officials are resuming lockdowns and tightening restrictions in the face of rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

The collateral damage of lockdowns, which has been well documented, includes widespread poverty, depression, bankruptcy, and unemployment. Meanwhile, the benefits of lockdowns remain murky.

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Public Affairs Strategist Clint Brewer Outlines the Pros and Cons of a COVID Vaccine Rollout

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed public affairs strategist Clint Brewer to the show to discuss the pros and cons of a COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

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Only 23 Percent of Republican Voters Would Vote for Gov. DeWine in a Primary

A statewide survey conducted by the Strongsville, Ohio GOP asked respondents “If a qualified Republican ran against Governor DeWine in the Republican primary, for whom would you vote?”

Only 23.8% said they would vote for DeWine, while an unnamed “qualified Republican” would get 39.2% of the vote.  Thirty-six percent were not sure and 1% would support an “other” candidate.

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Michigan Restaurant Owner Loses Franchise with Big Boy for Breaking Pandemic Restrictions

The owner of a restaurant in Sandusky, Michigan, says it is being “forced to terminate” its contract with the Big Boy franchise over its decision to stay open despite pandemic restrictions. 

A recent order from the state of Michigan has closed indoor restaurant dining in the state from November 18 to December 8. It also closed in-person learning for college and high schools, movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades. The order additionally cancels group fitness classes and organized sports. 

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Walz Indicates Bipartisan COVID Relief Could Come Next Week

Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday that a bipartisan pandemic relief package may materialize as soon as next week to provide assistance to businesses hurt by the shutdown meant to slow the spread of the virus

Walz said during a tour of a Brooklyn Park warehouse facility where he was helping to package emergency food boxes that he and lawmakers are “pretty close” to an agreement on a relief package, the Star Tribune reported. The Democratic governor and Minnesota House Republicans unveiled separate relief initiatives on Tuesday to provide economic assistance to small businesses, workers and families struggling amid the pandemic.

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