Walgreens Closing Five Bay Area Locations Due to Spike in Shoplifting

People looting a Walgreens

The pharmaceutical chain Walgreens will be closing five stores in San Francisco, California due to a spike in “organized” shoplifting impacting its locations, according to MarketWatch via MSN.

The decision was made by Walgreens’ parent company, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., which will relocate all employees to new locations and ship all outstanding prescriptions to other stores within one mile of the original stores. The stores will be shut down sometime between November 8th and November 17th.

“Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average,” the company revealed in the statement announcing the decision. “To help combat this issue, we increased our investments in security measures in stores across the city to 46 times our chain average, in an effort to provide a safe environment.”

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Two Corporate Executive Parents Found Guilty in First College Admissions Scandal Trial

Two corporate executive parents whose children attend prestigious universities were found guilty in federal court Friday for bribing university staff to rig the admissions process, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Gamal Abdelaziz, former chief operations officer of Wynn Resorts Development and John Wilson, a private-equity financier and former chief financial officer of Staples, who were tried together in federal court, each spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to falsify their childrens’ academic and athletic records to gain admission to the University of Southern California (USC), Stanford and Harvard as athletic recruits with the help of scandal ringleader and admissions consultant Rick Singer.

The two men were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery involving a school that receives federal funds, the WSJ reported. The jury also found Wilson guilty of aiding and abetting in fraud and bribery and filing a false tax return.

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Commentary: Five Reasons ‘Roe’ Is Ripe for Reversal

closeup of a baby

It seems like only yesterday the Left went to war to stop Judge Brett Kavanaugh from ascending to the Supreme Court. Crackpots and charlatans flocked to the call for accusations, no matter how fictional, that might sink his nomination. The Left extracted a compromise from squishy Republicans to give the FBI enough time to frame . . . er, “investigate” Kavanaugh before proceeding to a confirmation vote. The Left is still furious at FBI Director Christopher Wray for failing to gin up a predicate for stopping Kavanaugh’s eventual confirmation.

Even then, it was very clear that the public relations assault had nothing to do with Kavanaugh’s history with the opposite sex. As they tried to weaponize sketchy sexual abuse allegations against Kavanaugh, we learned later that Democrats suppressed allegations of sexual abuse committed by their own leaders and supporters (Andrew Cuomo, Harvey Weinstein, U.S. Represenative John Conyers, former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and Bill Clinton to name just a few examples). When these leaders were held accountable, it usually followed a long period of cover-ups and denials by their political allies. 

But Democrats didn’t really care about whether Kavanaugh committed sexual assault in the 1980s. It was, everyone knew, all about abortion. 

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School Sees COVID Cases Decline after Court Said It Can’t Require Masks

After a judge told a school district it couldn’t require masks for students without a quarantine order, the district reported fewer COVID-19 cases, but it has faced other consequences.

It comes as a member of the Illinois Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules said there is further evidence the Illinois State Board of Education can’t revoke a public or private school’s recognition status for failing to follow the governor’s mask mandate.

Attorney Thomas DeVore said since securing a temporary restraining order enjoining the Hillsboro school district from mandating masks on children on Sept. 17, cases have gone down.

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Pennsylvania Leaves Schools in the Lurch on Enforcement of Masking, Quarantine Policies, Educators Say

Teacher up front, giving lecture to students in a school classroom

A number of Pennsylvania educators said Thursday the Department of Health hands down COVID-19 mitigation orders and doesn’t back them up when it comes to enforcement, leaving schools in a difficult spot.

Michael Bromirski, superintendent of Hempfield School District in Lancaster County, told the Senate Education Committee that since pandemic mitigation rules lifted earlier this summer, school districts no longer handle quarantine orders for students exposed to the virus after the department told them it’s the state’s responsibility – and authority – to do so.

Except, parents rarely receive such instructions, generating confusion and frustration.

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Georgia Psychologist Indicted for Medicaid Fraud

Doctor with arms folded, holding stethescope

A Georgia man is facing a fraud charge after law enforcement officials said he stole more than $99,000 from the state’s Medicaid program.

The Georgia attorney general’s office said Gainesville psychologist Dr. Guy Jordan filed claims for therapy sessions that never happened. Jordan was indicted on Medicaid fraud and false statements charges by a Hall County Grand Jury.

“We will not stop protecting taxpayer dollars, and we thank the Hall County Grand Jury for their work on this case,” Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement. “We hope this indictment sends a clear message that tax dollars will not be abused.”

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Judge in Case of Anti-Trump Mudslinger is Married to Attorney for Ex-FBI Lawyer Lisa Page

FBI logo outside of building

Last week, the special counsel appointed to oversee the probe into the FBI’s investigation of former president Donald Trump indicted Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Republicans and Trump allies are optimistic about the latest development in John Durham’s investigation but are still concerned that Attorney General Merrick Garland might halt the investigation to protect allies and even the president himself.

FBI notes appear to suggest that as vice president, Joe Biden played a role in the Democratic Party project to smear Trump as a Russian asset by raising the obscure, disused, 18th century statute the Logan Act as a possible vehicle for prosecuting Michael Flynn for speaking with the Russian ambassador to Washington — even after FBI case agents had cleared Trump’s incoming national security adviser of wrongdoing.

And now Republicans are raising concerns that the judge appointed to the Sussmann case has too many conflicts of interest to preside over it fairly.

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Pennsylvania Senate Democrats File Suit, Allege GOP ‘Overreaching’ in Election Subpoena

Anthony Williams and Jay Costa

Pennsylvania Senate Democrats filed a legal challenge in Commonwealth Court against what they call an “overreaching” subpoena of election records containing personal information for nearly 7 million voters.

The lawsuit filed late Friday alleges Republican members of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee – including Chairman Cris Dush, R-Wellsboro and President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte – broke the law when they issued a subpoena against the Department of State seeking the name, address, date of birth, driver’s license number and partial social security number of each and every resident that voted by mail or in person during the last two elections.

In a joint statement, the Democratic members of the committee – including Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Pittsburgh; Minority Chairman Tony Williams, D-Philadelphia; Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia; and Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-Lower Makefield – said the consequences of the subpoena “are dire” and leave the personal information of residents in the hands of an “undisclosed third party vendor with no prescribed limits or protection.”

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Voting Reform Bill Reintroduced after Pennsylvania Governor’s Veto

Seth Grove and Tom Wolf

The prime sponsor of a vetoed voting reform bill said Friday he reintroduced the measure after Gov. Tom Wolf shifted his public opinion on some components of the legislation over the summer.

Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, said House Bill 1800 would bolster voting rights “through three broad concepts of increased access, increased security and modernization.” 

“We know access and security are not mutually exclusive,” he said.

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Thousands of Public Workers Seek Vaccine Exemptions in Washington

Doctor with mask on holding COVID-19 Vaccine

Some 4,800 state employees in Washington have already requested medical or religious exemptions from Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

According to information released this week by the state, those requests amount to nearly 8% of the 60,000 state workers who fall under Inslee’s 24 cabinet departments. As of Sept. 6, less than 50% of all employees in those agencies were verified as being fully vaccinated.

Inslee last month issued an executive order that all state employees, as well as K-12 and state university staff, must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face dismissal.

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Texas Governor Signs Law Preventing Social Media Companies from Banning People for Their Views

Gov. Greg Abbott signs law

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law Thursday preventing social media companies from banning users for their political views.

The law, known as HB 20, prohibits social media platforms from banning or suspending users, and removing or suppressing their content, based on political viewpoint. The bill was introduced by state Sen. Bryan Hughes partly in an effort to combat perceived censorship of conservatives by Facebook, Twitter, Google-owned YouTube, and other major tech companies.

“Social media websites have become our modern-day public square,” Abbott said in a statement. “They are a place for healthy public debate where information should be able to flow freely — but there is a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.”

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Human Rights Campaign Fires Alphonso David for Advising Cuomo on #METOO Allegations

Alphonso David

The nation’s largest LGBTQ rights advocacy group has fired its president for advising Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the #METOO allegations against the governor.

The two Human Rights Campaign (HRC) boards terminated Alphonso David “for cause” Monday evening, The New York Times reported. David called his termination unjust in a Monday evening statement and accused the HRC board of lying to him about its investigation.

“As a black, gay man who has spent his whole life fighting for civil and human rights, they cannot shut me up,” he said. “Expect a legal challenge.”

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Commentary: Jacob Chansley Pleads Guilty to Obstruction, Remains in Jail

Jacob Chansley, arguably the most iconic figure of the January 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol, today pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of an official proceeding.

Chansley, 33, turned himself in to law enforcement and was arrested on January 9. A grand jury indicted Chansley two days later on six nonviolent counts including obstruction, civil disorder, and “parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.” The remaining counts will be dropped.

Judge Royce Lamberth accepted Chansely’s plea agreement with Joe Biden’s Justice Department, which continues to arrest and charge Americans for even minor involvement in the Capitol protest. Nearly 200 defendants face the obstruction charge, a felony added to mostly misdemeanor cases. (I explained the charge here in March.)

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Transgender Person Who Allegedly Exposed Himself at L.A. Spa Charged with Indecent Exposure

Close up of Wi Spa sign on building

The transgender individual who exposed himself in front of women and children at a California luxury spa earlier this year, has been charged with indecent exposure, the New York Post reported Thursday. Darren Agee Merager, 52, is a registered sex offender with two prior convictions of indecent exposure, according to the Post’s law-enforcement sources. Merager is also facing “six felony counts of indecent exposure over a separate locker room incident in December 2018,” according to the Post.

As American Greatness previously reported, several women complained last June, when the biological male allegedly exposed his penis at the Wi Spa in Los Angeles.

Viral video footage of the incident showed a woman angrily confronting a staff member of the spa about a naked man who had apparently exposed himself in an area reserved for females.

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Parents Sue Georgia’s Largest School District over Mask Requirement

Parents in Georgia’s largest school district are suing the superintendent and school system over its mask mandate, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Four parents are seeking an injunction against the mask mandate at Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), which serves around 180,000 students, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported. The requirement was implemented at the end of July when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended indoor masking for schools amid the rise of the delta variant.

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Virginia Universities Start Kicking Out Unvaccinated Students

Some Virginia universities have started kicking out students who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and other institutions may start following suit.

Virginia Tech disenrolled 134 students this week who did not receive the vaccine. Before that, the University of Virginia disenrolled 288 students, and William & Mary withdrew 42 students for the same reason. All three universities require students be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they receive a medical or religious exemption.

“Of the approximately 37,000 students enrolled at Virginia Tech, 134 students were not in compliance with the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, meaning that they did not submit vaccination documentation or receive a medical or religious exemption,” a statement on Virginia Tech’s website read. “These students have been disenrolled. The university does not know whether any of these students were not planning to return for reasons unrelated to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.”

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Fifth Circuit Upholds Texas Abortion Ban

Woman holding an infant in her arms

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2017 Texas law outlawing a second trimester abortion procedure called D&E (dilation and evacuation), or dismemberment.

In 2017, the Texas legislature passed the Texas Dismemberment Abortion Ban with bipartisan support, making D&Es a felony and banning them from being performed except in the case of an emergency. After the law passed and before it went into effect, Whole Women’s Health, several Planned Parenthood groups, several doctors, and others, sued in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

The district court ruled in their favor, blocking the law from going into effect. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office appealed, and a three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling last October.

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Officer Who Shot Ashli Babbitt Will Not Face Any Disciplinary Action, Conduct Was ‘Lawful’ U.S. Capitol Police Announce

The U.S. Capitol Police said Monday that it would not take any action against the officer who shot and killed rioter Ashli Babbitt on Jan 6.

“USCP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) determined the officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy, which says an officer may use deadly force only when the officer reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury,” the department said in a statement. The officer’s identity was not disclosed due to safety concerns.

“This officer and the officer’s family have been the subject of numerous credible and specific threats for actions that were taken as part of the job of all our officers: defending the Congress, Members, staff and the democratic process,” the department said.

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U.S. Files New Complaint Against Facebook over Monopoly Concerns

The U.S. government amended its antitrust complaint against Facebook on Thursday, bolstering allegations that the tech company illegally maintained a monopoly.

The amended complaint follows the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) dismissed December 2020 complaint which failed to adequately prove the tech giant’s monopoly in the “Personal Social Networking Services” market.

The FTC alleges that Facebook illegally acquired competitors WhatsApp and Instagram in order to stifle competition, maintaining monopoly power by preventing competitors from operating on Facebook software.

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Watchdogs Sound Alarm as Ilhan Omar Continues to Evade Financial Disclosure of Reportedly Lucrative Book Deal

Ilhan Omar

Multiple watchdog groups said Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar may have violated federal law for failing to mention any income received from her critically-acclaimed 2020 memoir in her latest financial disclosure report filed on Friday.

Omar reportedly signed a deal worth up to $250,000 for her memoir, “This Is What America Looks Like,” in January 2019, around the same time she was sworn into Congress. Omar’s communications director said the House Ethics committee approved the book deal, but the Democratic lawmaker’s financial disclosures covering the calendar years 2018 and 2019 contain no mention of the book or any advance income received upon signing a deal.

The book was published in May 2020 to rave reviews by the press and Omar’s Democratic colleagues. The Atlantic dubbed it one of the best political books of the year, and numerous high profile Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, praised on the book.

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Texas Supreme Court Rules That Democrats in Legislature Can Be Arrested to Compel Attendance

Texas Justice Jimmy Blacklock

The Texas Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Texas Constitution authorizes the state’s House of Representatives to arrest members who flee in order to break the quorum required to vote.

The opinion states that “just as” Texas’ Constitution enables “‘quorum-breaking’ by a minority faction of the legislature, it likewise authorizes ‘quorum-forcing’ by the remaining members,” including by “arrest.”

“The legal question before this Court concerns only whether the Texas Constitution gives the House of Representatives the authority to physically compel the attendance of absent members. We conclude that it does, and we therefore direct the district court to withdraw the TRO,” wrote Justice Jimmy Blacklock on behalf of the state’s Supreme Court.

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Federal Court Sides with Biden’s Eviction Moratorium, for Now

Eviction Notice

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday against a challenge to President Joe Biden’s latest eviction moratorium.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich denied a request from the Alabama and Georgia association of Realtors to overturn an eviction moratorium from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 60-day order bans landlords from evicting tenants, even if they do not pay rent, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

“About half of all housing providers are mom-and-pop operators, and without rental income, they cannot pay their own bills or maintain their properties,” National Association of Realtors President Charlie Oppler said. “NAR has always advocated the best solution for all parties was rental assistance paid directly to housing providers to cover the rent and utilities of any vulnerable tenants during the pandemic. No housing provider wants to evict a tenant and considers it only as a last resort.”

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Illegal immigration, Drug Seizures Spike in July

New federal reporting shows illegal immigration has continued to grow worse as the Biden administration increasingly takes heat for the crisis at the southern border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection released new immigration data that shows border agents encountered 212,672 undocumented migrants attempting to enter the country illegally in July, the highest number in more than two decades.

“The situation at the border is one of the toughest challenges we face,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “It is complicated, changing, and involves vulnerable people at a time of a global pandemic.”

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Senate Democrats Publicly Release $3.5 Trillion Filibuster-Proof Budget Reconciliation Resolution

Senate Democrats have publicly released their $3.5 trillion, filibuster-proof budget reconciliation resolution.

The draft of the legislation released on Monday includes new spending programs that the White House has labeled “human infrastructure,” such as universal pre-K, childcare support and tuition free community college.

The spending total is estimated over a 10-year period. Using budget reconciliation allows the Democrats to pass the measure without votes from Republicans in the 50-50 Senate. Democrats used the same process in March to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package called the American Rescue Plan Act.

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Ex-Cuomo Aide Boylan to Sue New York Governor for Allegedly Retaliating Against Her after Coming Forward

Andrew Cuomo and Lindsey Boylan

Ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan plans to sue the Democratic governor for allegedly retaliating against her for publicly accusing him of sexual harassment.

Boylan said last year in a series of tweets that she had been sexual harassed by the governor for years, allegations that led to other woman coming forward with similar stories and a state probe into the matter.

“Our plan is to sue the governor and his and his coconspirators,” Boylan’s attorney, Jill Basinger, said Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” show.

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Lawyer for Ashli Babbitt’s Family Says Fatal Shot at Client Was ‘Ambush,’ with No Command to Halt

Ashli Babbitt Memorial

An attorney for the family of Ashli Babbett, a protester killed in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, says the police officer who fatally shot Babbitt failed to warn her before firing and in fact ambushed her.

The attorney, Terry Roberts, made the allegation in an interview with RealClearInvestigations, and in opposition to the attorney of the alleged officer who shot Babbitt, saying his client issued a clear and loud command.

“It’s not debatable,” Roberts said. “There was no warning. … I would call what he did an ambush.”

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Arizona Attorney General Brnovich Files Amicus Brief to Uphold Georgia ‘Election Integrity Act’

Attorney General Mark Brnovich

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced that he joined a coalition of 16 states in filing an amicus brief urging the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to uphold the state’s recently-enacted “Election Integrity Act of 2021.”

The attorneys general expressed their support for Georgia’s motion to throw out the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit against the new voting law, which Georgia said was based on “political posturing rather than a serious legal challenge.”

The “Election Integrity Act of 2021,” or Senate Bill 202, passed the legislature along party lines. Gov. Brian Kemp, R-Ga, signed the 98-page omnibus bill on March 25.

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Biden to Push for Amnesty in Reconciliation Package

Joe Biden and his administration sitting in the Oval Office at the White House

In a meeting at the White House with Democratic lawmakers, Joe Biden reaffirmed his support for the radical notion of including mass amnesty for illegal aliens in the proposed reconciliation bill, according to CNN.

Biden met with 11 lawmakers – five senators and six members of the House – on Thursday to discuss a possible amnesty deal following the latest blow to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA was an executive order signed by then-President Barack Obama in 2012 to provide blanket amnesty to illegal aliens who came into the country as minors.

Judge Andrew Hanen, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, ruled earlier this month that as the law had been implemented via executive order only after its legislative counterpart, the DREAM Act, failed to pass through Congress, the law was unconstitutional. The order blocks any future illegals from applying for the amnesty, but does not affect current or past applicants.

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Texas Border City Sues Biden Administration over Illegal Immigration

The Texas border city of Laredo has sued the Biden administration, hoping to halt its policy of transferring several hundred people a day into the city who have illegally entered the U.S. through two Texas Border Patrol sectors: Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio.

Assistant City Attorney Alyssa Castillon sued the Department of Homeland Security and its secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, Customs and Border Protection and its senior official, Troy Miller, and Border Patrol chief Rodney S. Scott. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Border Patrol intends to double the number of people it brings from the Rio Grande Valley sector, which has seen the largest surge of illegal border crossings in the past few months. Laredo officials estimate that every day, between three and six buses of detained refugees, immigrants and migrants (RIMs) are already being transported to Laredo from the Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio sectors, totaling between 250 and 350 people a day.

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Report: 1.9 Million Households Owe $15 Billion in Back Rent as Eviction Moratorium Expires

Aerial view of a suburb

Up to 1.95 million households across America will owe a collective $15 billion in back rent when the eviction moratorium expires Saturday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia estimates.

That number will reach 2 million by December, according to the report released Friday. In Pennsylvania, about 60,000 renter households will owe $412 million come August. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made one final 30-day extension of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program through July 31. President Joe Biden’s administration said its “hands are tied” by the courts on the matter and any further relief must come from Congress itself. 

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Critics Denounce New CDC Guidance Urging Mask Usage, Vaccine or Not

Guy wearing a mask

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course Tuesday, reversing its previous COVID-19 guidance by urging Americans to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. Critics quickly denounced the reversal, saying it undermines vaccine confidence.

The CDC said all students and teachers should wear masks, even if they are vaccinated, and that all Americans, including those with the vaccine, should wear masks in public places where the virus has a significant presence. The agency cited the delta variant of COVID, which is more transmissible.

The CDC had previously announced in May that vaccinated individuals did not have to wear masks. The White House fended off questions from reporters at the White House press briefing on the reasoning behind that reversal.

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Georgia to Issue Licenses to Companies for Medical Marijuana Production

Zane Bader

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will pick six companies to start producing the plant for medical uses in the state.

Nearly 70 companies applied for licenses to grow marijuana and convert it to oil to treat various illnesses. Once the commission approves them, the companies could be looking at paying up to $200,000 in licensing fees to the state. They will have one year to get product to thousands of Georgians who have been waiting for more than five years.

Patients with a Low THC Oil Registry card legally can purchase up to 20 fluid ounces of the THC oil from licensed dispensaries or pharmacies under legislation signed into law by former Gov. Nathan Deal in 2015. However, without guidelines and a medical marijuana marketplace, the 14,000 registered patients in Georgia have no way of legally obtaining the oil.

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Federal Reserve Chair: Inflation to be ‘Elevated for Months’

Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell tried to calm lawmakers’ fears about rising inflation but also said it would probably remain elevated for months to come.

Testifying before Congress this week, Powell said the Federal Reserve was willing to step in to address the situation, but that inflation should level out next year.

“As always, in assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, we will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if we saw signs that the path of inflation or longer-term inflation expectations were moving materially and persistently beyond levels consistent with our goal,” Powell said in his prepared testimony.

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States Join Coalition to Stop California from Setting U.S. Automotive Standards

Ford dealership shop

A coalition of 16 states is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to not reinstate a waiver allowing California to implement its own carbon emissions standards that essentially regulate the automotive industry for the rest of the U.S.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined a coalition led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, which also includes attorneys general from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.

Under the Clean Air Act, the Trump administration created national standards for vehicle carbon emissions for model years 2021 through 2026. The policy revoked a waiver previously granted to California in order to treat all states as equal sovereigns subject to one federal rule, the attorneys general explain in their 12-page letter.

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Commentary: An Inside Look at Lockdown Orders from 2020

Person putting hands on glass, inside of home

Life in the United States and in many parts of the world was transformed in mid-March 2020. That was when the great experiment began. It was a test. How much power does government have to rule nearly the whole of life? To what extent can all the power of the state be mobilized to take away rights that people had previously supposed were protected by law? How many restrictions on freedom would people put up with without a revolt?

It was also a test of executive and bureaucratic power: can these dramatic decisions be made by just a handful of people, independent of all our slogans about representative democracy?

We are far from coming to terms with any of these questions. They are hardly being discussed. The one takeaway from the storm that swept through our country and the world in those days is that anything is possible. Unless something dramatic is done, like some firm limits on what governments can do, they will try again, under the pretext of public health or something else. 

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Supreme Court Hands Union Loss in California Trespass Case

The Supreme Court has ruled that a California regulation allowing union organizers to trespass on private property to recruit agricultural workers violated private property rights.

In Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid released Wednesday, California agriculture businesses Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company challenged a state law allowing labor unions a “right to take access” to an agricultural employer’s private property three hours per day, 120 days per year to recruit new union members. The court held that this constitutes a “per se” taking. They reversed and remanded prior rulings on California’s access regulation with a 6-3 vote, the dissenting votes belonging to the court’s three left-leaning justices. 

In 2015, union organizers entered Cedar Point Nursery at 5 a.m., disrupting work during harvest season with bullhorns to convince the farm employees to join the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. Mike Fahner, the owner of the strawberry farm, did not grant the union workers permission to enter his property, nor was he given notice of their arrival. He was not legally allowed to ask the union organizers to leave his property. 

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U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Student in Free Speech Case

Tennessee Star

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of free speech rights for students outside of the classroom in a decision Wednesday.

The court sided with former Mahanoy Area High School student and cheerleader Brandi Levy in the case, formally known as Mahanoy Area School District v B.L., with a 8-1 decision in her favor. Mahanoy Area High School is located in Pennsylvania.

Levy, upset that she had not made her school’s varsity cheer team, posted on the social media site Snapchat a simple message with explicit language expressing her frustration.

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Largest Health Care Union to Fight Mandatory Vaccine Requirements for Workers

Doctor giving vaccination to patient

The president of the largest union of health care workers in the U.S. says it will fight companies requiring its members to have mandatory COVID-19 shots as a condition of employment.

The announcement came one day after Houston Methodist announced that 153 employees had been fired or resigned for refusing to get the shots as a condition of employment. Those suing argue requiring employees to receive a vaccine approved only through Emergency Use Authorization violates federal law. After a recent court dismissal, their attorney vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, is weighing the organization’s legal options.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA on Payment for College Athletes

Paying college athletes has been a hotly debated topic for years, but now the U.S. Supreme Court has released a ruling on the issue.

A group of current and former student athletes brought the lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, arguing that the organization violated antitrust laws when it prevented student athletes from accepting certain education-related benefits.

The case, filed in 2018, challenged the NCAA and the biggest conferences including the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and ACC. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the students Monday, saying the NCAA could not deny those benefits, which could include things like “scholarships for graduate or vocational school, payments for academic tutoring, or paid posteligibility internships.”

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Judge Rules Christian Baker Jack Phillips Must Make ‘Gender Transition’ Cake

Jack Phillips

A Colorado baker and self-described cake artist who won a 2018 victory at the Supreme Court faced a related setback this week when a state court ruled in another case that the law requires him to make a cake to celebrate a gender transition. 

Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones ruled against Jack Phillips, the Christian owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, in the case of Scardina v. Masterpiece Cakeshop. 

“The anti-discrimination laws are intended to ensure that members of our society who have historically been treated unfairly, who have been deprived of even the every-day right to access businesses to buy products, are no longer treated as ‘others,’” Jones wrote Tuesday in a 28-page opinion.

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Metro Atlanta Leaders to Use Federal Money to Address Crime

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Leaders in the metro Atlanta area said they plan to use American Rescue Plan funding to address public safety issues.

Officials in Fulton and DeKalb counties and the city of Atlanta have announced plans to use a portion of the federal aid to increase public safety or address criminal justice backlogs.

According to several reports, Atlanta and adjacent cities have seen a spike in crime over the past year. State lawmakers have launched a study to look at ways to curb the issue. Gov. Brian Kemp directed $5 million last month from his emergency fund to address the crisis.

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Feds: Illegal Immigration Continued to Worsen in May

Temporary soft sided facilities are utilized to process noncitizen individuals, noncitizen families and noncitizen unaccompanied children as part of the ongoing response to the current border security and humanitarian effort along the Southwest Border in Donna, Texas, May 4, 2021.

The surge in illegal immigration at the southern border continues to worsen, May numbers show, as the Biden administration takes more criticism for its handling of the issue.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection released new data on the crisis at the southern border, showing the federal law enforcement agency encountered 180,034 people attempting to illegally enter the country last month.

May’s numbers were a 1% increase from the previous month, but illegal immigration since Biden took office has soared.

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High Court Hears Arguments on Tennessee’s School-Choice Program

ORNL Traveling Science Fair at the TN 4th Annual Tennessee STEM Innovation Summit and STEMx Event, Nashville, TN

Tennessee’s highest court heard arguments on a disputed school choice program.

Tennessee’s Education Savings Accounts (ESA) pilot program, approved by the state Legislature in 2019, would provide state-funded scholarships of about $7,100 to low-income students in Nashville and Memphis – home to the state’s two lowest-performing school districts. Students would be able to use the funds to attend nonpublic schools of their choice.

A district court ruled the program unconstitutional when the two counties sued the state to stop the program. The state Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, and the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

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Gov. Lee’s Signature Makes Tennessee a Second Amendment Sanctuary

Guy shooting hand gun at gun range

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill Wednesday that makes the state a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Senate Bill 1335 prevents any “law, treaty, executive order, rule, or regulation of the United States government” that violates the Tennessee Constitution or the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution from being enforced in the state.

That violation would have to be determined by either the Tennessee or U.S. Supreme Court. The stipulation was added during debate of the bill in the Tennessee House, and the Senate concurred.

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Texas State Border Officials Fear Large Spikes in Overdose Deaths with Drug Traffic Increases

Texas Department of Public Safety SUV

Texas officials said Thursday they’re worried about dramatic spikes in drug overdose deaths in some areas of the state as illegal border crossings and drug trafficking have picked up since President Joe Biden took office.

Gov. Greg Abbott joined Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw and Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn on Thursday in Fort Worthto provide an update on the border crisis.

“We’re heading for a 50 percent increase in overdose deaths in Tarrant County alone,” Waybourn warned, noting that the amount of drugs flooding into Tarrant County has skyrocketed even with DPS intervention.

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Law Professor May Be Fired After Personal Blog Post Criticized Chinese Government

Tom Smith

The University of San Diego is formally reviewing a law professor who made a blog post critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

“If you believe that the coronavirus did not escape from the lab in Wuhan, you have to at least consider that you are an idiot who is swallowing whole a lot of Chinese cock swaddle,” wrote Professor Tom Smith on his blog The Right Coast. He later clarified that the reference was to the Chinese government, not the people in the country.

When he first published the March 10 post, the USD Law School placed him under investigation, citing complaints of bias. Now, the law school has sent his case to administration for a formal review.

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Jury Finds Derek Chauvin Guilty on All Counts in the Death of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin

Less than a year after the death of George Floyd in police custody, a jury found former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Anger from the tragic death in police custody  on May 25, 2020, was fueled by a bystander filming part of the arrest, showing Floyd pinned under Chauvin’s knee for 9 minutes and 45 seconds, while he pleaded “I can’t breathe.” Floyd was declared dead later that day.

The video caused protests worldwide and pushed discussion of police accountability and proper levels of force for minor crimes, as Floyd was arrested for allegedly attempting to spend a fake $20 bill.

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Report: Three-Fourths of All 2019 Property Insurance Suits in U.S. Were Filed in Florida

In 2019, Florida homeowners accounted for 8.16 percent of the nation’s property insurance claims, but more than 76 percent of property insurance lawsuits lodged against insurers.

Pointing to this “disparity,” Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier in a five-page April 2 letter to House Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, outlined four proposals to reduce property insurance litigation.

Insurers cite rampant litigation, ballooning reinsurance costs, “loss creep” from 2017-18 hurricanes and coastal flooding as a “perform storm” of coalescing factors leading to double-digit property insurance rate hikes that Florida businesses and 6.2 million homeowners are seeing or will see when renewing policies.

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U.S. Supreme Court Overturns California’s Restrictions on In-Home Religious Activities

Group of people singing at a worship service

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Friday that California’s COVID-19 restrictions on in-home religious gatherings, limiting worship to families from a maximum of three households, could not continue.

In the 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court reversed a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s limits on people exercising their First Amendment rights to freely practice religion at home.

In its written order, the court noted that it was the fifth time it has “rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise.”

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State Redistricting Deadlines in 2021, 2022, and 2023

U.S. Census 2020

The U.S. Census Bureau announced in February that it would deliver the detailed datasets needed for redistricting to the states by Sep. 30, 2021, after the original April 1, 2021, deadline. Some states’ own redistricting deadlines predate the Census Bureau’s projected data delivery date, prompting states to consider postponements or alternative data sources.

State redistricting deadlines generally take one of three forms:

Constitutional deadlines are set out explicitly in state constitutions. Altering these deadlines typically requires either a constitutional amendment or a court order.
Statutory deadlines are set by state legislatures. They are subject to change at the legislature’s discretion.
Redistricting deadlines can also be inferred from candidate filing deadlines. For example, if a state sets its filing deadline for congressional candidates for Feb. 1, 2022, it can be inferred that the congressional maps must be fixed by that point.

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