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VOL. 45 | NO. 51 | Friday, December 17, 2021

Animation boom draws on local talent

Local filmmakers, schools create burgeoning Midstate industry

Part of the summary of “The Wingfeather Saga,’’ a four-book fantasy/adventure series written by Nashville singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson, reads thus:

JOE ROGERS: MY TAKE

The gift of great writing: Read Colson Whitehead

If the ticking clock on the gift-buying season finds you still wondering what to get that discerning reader on your Christmas list, here’s an author suggestion:

RICHARD COURTNEY: REALTY CHECK

What’s yours is mine, at least for a couple of months

Nashville real estate sales increased 9% in November compared to November 2021, Greater Nashville Realtors sales data shows. That happened with fewer homes to sell, 4,732 properties in inventory compared to 6,200 the previous November.

Local Weather
Currently
Nashville, TN
82.0°F
Partly Cloudy
Wind: Southwest at 5.8 mph
Humidity: 51%

EVENTS

Music City Bowl. Tennessee Volunteers vs Purdue Boilermakers. Thursday, Dec. 30, Nissan Stadium, 2 p.m. Information

more events »

REAL ESTATE

Top Davidson County commercial sales for November 2021

Top commercial real estate sales, November 2021, for Davidson County, as compiled by Chandler Reports.

Solid demand, backlog of home orders favors builders in '22

LOS ANGELES (AP) — U.S. homebuilder stocks have outpaced the broader market this year, and analysts are bullish on the prospects for more gains in 2022, despite expectations of continued supply chain woes.

US home construction rebounds a strong 11.8% in November

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — New home construction in the U.S. rebounded 11.8% in November as strong demand continues to boost builder confidence even with the slower winter season approaching.

TENNESSEE TITANS

Reflective Lewan happy with 8-year Titans run

Through eight years, Taylor Lewan has had an up-and-down career for the Tennessee Titans.

In reversal of 2020, Titans must ride defense in final four games

The Tennessee Titans are going to have to win games with the defense for the foreseeable future.

Titans at Steelers: What to watch

Things are about to get tougher for the Titans, who snapped a two-game skid coming off their bye week with a shutout against Jacksonville last week. They now head to Heinz Field to play a desperate Pittsburgh Steelers team that is in danger of missing the postseason. Let’s look at the Titans’ mission for Sunday.

Cunningham likes familiarity as he prepares for Titans debut

NASHVILLE (AP) — Zach Cunningham landed in a somewhat familiar place last week when Tennessee claimed him off waivers from the Houston Texans.

UT SPORTS

Lady Vols, Vols finding success on defensive end of court

After a fall filled with offensive electricity on the football field, the Tennessee basketball programs are shining a light on the other side of the ball.

NEWSMAKERS

Garlington is new CFO at Centerstone

Centerstone, a not-for-profit health system specializing in mental health and substance use disorder services, has selected Andy Garlington as the new chief financial officer.

BRIEFS

Waverly hospital to join Ascension Saint Thomas

Ascension Saint Thomas and Three Rivers Hospital have signed a definitive agreement for the Waverly facility to become part of Ascension Saint Thomas. The transaction is expected to be completed in spring 2022.

BEHIND THE WHEEL

Buying a new car? Here are 5 must-have features

One of the perks of buying a new vehicle is that it offers features that promise a safer and more convenient driving experience. Some technologies have trickled down from luxury to mainstream segments, while others have been introduced quickly across the market.

PERSONAL FINANCE

A year-end money checklist for people 50 and older

Age brings unique opportunities and obligations, including some important year-end tasks that can help you make the most of your money.

MILLENNIAL MONEY

Keep an eye on effort to trim debt with visual aids

With an $82,000 pile of debt, buying a house seemed far in the distance for Ehren Sixon and his wife, Florida residents who embarked on a debt-free journey in 2016.

STATEWIDE

Tennessee to halt most lane closures for holiday travel

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee officials are halting nearly all construction-related lane closures on interstates and state highways for Christmas and New Year's holiday travelers.

COURTS

In milestone deal, Proud Boy pleads guilty in Capitol riot

A New York man pleaded guilty Wednesday to storming the U.S. Capitol with fellow members of the far-right Proud Boys, a milestone in the Justice Department's prosecution of extremists who joined the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Tennessee sued for not releasing COVID report by contractor

NASHVILLE (AP) — The state of Tennessee is facing a lawsuit over its decision to deny public access to a report recommending how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic that a contractor undertook at the request of Gov. Bill Lee's administration.

DOJ says inmates on home confinement can stay out of prison

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Tuesday reversed its own legal opinion and said it would allow federal inmates released on home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic to stay out of prison.

REAL ESTATE

Existing home sales, median price edged up in November

Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes rose for the third straight month in November, reflecting strong demand, low mortgage rates and intense competition for a relatively few number of properties on the market.

AUTO INDUSTRY

NLRB to review order blocking Nissan plant small union vote

NASHVILLE (AP) — A federal labor board is reviewing a decision by one of its regional officials to deny a union from trying to organize fewer than 100 of the thousands of employees at Nissan's auto assembly plant in Tennessee.

US probes potential of drivers playing video games in Teslas

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — The U.S. has opened a formal investigation into a report that Tesla vehicles allow people to play video games on a center touch screen while they are driving.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

Pfizer pill becomes 1st US-authorized home COVID treatment

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health regulators on Wednesday authorized the first pill against COVID-19, a Pfizer drug that Americans will be able to take at home to head off the worst effects of the virus.

WHO chief: Blanket booster drives risk prolonging pandemic

BERLIN (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization warned Wednesday that blanket booster programs in rich countries risk prolonging the world's battle with COVID-19 and said that "no country can boost its way out of the pandemic."

Biden pivots to home tests to confront omicron surge

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fighting the omicron variant surging through the country, President Joe Biden announced the government will provide 500 million free rapid home-testing kits, increase support for hospitals under strain and redouble vaccination and boosting efforts.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Stocks rise on Wall Street ahead of Christmas holiday

Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Wednesday, adding to the week's gains ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Yuengling accuses Bud Light of trampling on trademark

A trademark tiff between America's oldest beer maker and America's best-selling beer brand appears to be over before it really began.

US consumer confidence rises despite omicron, higher prices

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence rose this month as Americans shrugged off concerns about rising prices and COVID'-19's highly contagious omicron variant.

US economy grew at 2.3% rate in Q3, up from earlier estimate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a 2.3% rate in the third quarter, slightly better than previously thought, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. But prospects for a solid rebound going forward are being clouded by the rapid spread of the latest variant of the coronavirus.

'We have stock': Smaller stores aim for last-minute shoppers

NEW YORK (AP) — After a wearying nearly two years of the pandemic, independent retailers are cautiously hoping their holiday seasons will be bright, despite the challenges this year ranging from supply chain snags to shortages of hot holiday items.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

Jan. 6 committee seeks interview with GOP Rep. Jim Jordan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection requested an interview and information from Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio on Wednesday, the second time this week the committee publicly sought to interview a sitting member of Congress.

McConnell openly courts Manchin to leave Democrats, join GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mitch McConnell is done with subtleties. The Senate Republican leader is putting his party's courtship of Joe Manchin on full public display after the West Virginia Democrat's fractious split with the White House over the president's big social and environmental spending package.

Pause on student loan payments is extended through May 1

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Wednesday extended a student loan moratorium that has allowed tens of millions of Americans to put off debt payments during the pandemic.

Biden and Dems scramble to salvage social, climate package

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden, along with progressive and moderate Democrats, appears determined to return to the negotiating table with Sen. Joe Manchin, the holdout Democrat who effectively tanked the party's signature $2 trillion domestic policy initiative.

Russian FM: Security talks with US, NATO to start next month

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian and U.S. negotiators will sit down for talks early next year to discuss Moscow's demand for Western guarantees precluding NATO's expansion to Ukraine, Russia's top diplomat said Wednesday.

Secret Service: Nearly $100B stolen in pandemic relief funds

Nearly $100 billion at minimum has been stolen from COVID-19 relief programs set up to help businesses and people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, the U.S. Secret Service said Tuesday.


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21
VANDERBILT SPORTS

Vanderbilt extends baseball coach Corbin's contract

NASHVILLE (AP) — Vanderbilt has signed Tim Corbin to a contract extension going into his 20th season running the Commodores' baseball program.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Lee: Education funding review not related to school vouchers

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Bill Lee denied Tuesday that his plan to revamp how Tennessee funds its multibillion dollar K-12 education system will make it easier to implement school voucher programs while responding to concerns submitted by the public following the process.

MIDSTATE

Weather service: Tennessee flood set rainfall record

NASHVILLE (AP) — The National Weather Service on Monday confirmed that nearly 21 inches of rain fell in 24 hours over the summer, leading to deadly flooding in Middle Tennessee and marking a state record.

COURTS

Appeals court upholds mask requirement for Knox schools

KNOXVILLE (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld the mask requirement for Knox County Schools.

Lee appoints Mark Hayes to 29th Judicial District

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday appointed Mark Hayes as circuit court judge for the 29th Judicial District.

California sues Walmart over disposal of hazardous waste

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Retail giant Walmart illegally dumps more than 1 million batteries, aerosol cans of insect killer and other products, toxic cleaning supplies, electronic waste, latex paints and other hazardous waste into California landfills each year, state prosecutors alleged Monday in a lawsuit that the company labeled "unjustified."

AUTO INDUSTRY

EV start-up Nikola settles with US for $125 million

Electric and hydrogen-powered truck startup Nikola has agreed to a $125 million settlement over charges that it defrauded investors after misleading them about its products, technical advances, and financial prospects.

TRENDS

US population growth at lowest rate in pandemic's 1st year

U.S. population growth dipped to its lowest rate since the nation's founding during the first year of the pandemic as the coronavirus curtailed immigration, delayed pregnancies and killed hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents, according to figures released Tuesday.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

Intel tells unvaccinated employees they face unpaid leave

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Intel has told workers that unvaccinated people who don't get an exemption for religious or medical reasons will be on unpaid leave beginning in April.

Omicron sweeps across nation, now 73% of new US COVID cases

NEW YORK (AP) — Omicron has raced ahead of other variants and is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for 73% of new infections last week, federal health officials said Monday.

Biden pledges 500M free virus tests to counter omicron

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fighting the omicron variant surging through the country, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the government would provide 500 million free rapid tests, increase support for hospitals under strain and redouble vaccination and boosting efforts.

NFL could become trend-setter for COVID-19 testing policies

The NFL's decision to reduce COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic, vaccinated players could signal a trend for pro sports leagues and provide an example for society to follow heading into 2022.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Omicron casts a new shadow over economy's pandemic recovery

Just as Americans and Europeans were eagerly awaiting their most normal holiday season in a couple of years, the omicron variant has unleashed a fresh round of fear and uncertainty — for travelers, shoppers, party-goers and their economies as a whole.

Stocks end higher on Wall Street, breaking a 3-day slump

Stocks closed solidly higher on Wall Street Tuesday, more than regaining the ground they had lost a day earlier.

Strike at Kellogg comes to a close; workers to return Monday

NEW YORK (AP) — A strike at Kellogg that has gone on since early October has ended after workers voted to ratify a new labor contract at the company's four U.S. cereal plants.

UK offers 1 billion pounds to businesses hurt by omicron

LONDON (AP) — Britain announced 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) in grants and loans to help the hospitality industry survive the onslaught of the omicron variant of COVID-19, bowing to days of pressure from pubs, restaurants and other businesses that have seen their income plunge following public health warnings.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

Rep. Scott Perry denies Jan. 6 panel's request for interview

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania on Tuesday rebuffed a request for him to sit down for an interview and turn over documents to the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, joining other allies of former President Donald Trump in trying to stonewall the committee.

Democrats try to 'build back' after Manchin tanks $2T bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are struggling to pick up the pieces after Sen. Joe Manchin effectively crushed President Joe Biden's big domestic policy bill. But they face serious questions whether the $2 trillion initiative can be refashioned to win his crucial vote or the party will be saddled with a devastating defeat.

Jan. 6 panel seeks interview, records from Rep. Scott Perry

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection requested an interview and documents from Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania on Monday, marking the first time the committee publicly sought to sit down with a sitting member of Congress.


MONDAY, DECEMBER 20
TENNESSEE TITANS

Titans' turnovers trim margin for error with 3 games left

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Titans had the AFC's No. 1 seed in their hands once again along with a chance to move a win away from clinching their second straight AFC South title.

Tennessee two-step: Sloppy Titans fall once again

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The sight of the ball bounding out of his grasp is becoming far too familiar to Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

STATEWIDE

Howard chosen as director of Tennessee Guard Joint Staff

NASHVILLE (AP) — Brig. Gen. Cassandra Howard will be the new director of the Joint Staff for the Tennessee National Guard, Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes said.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Biden boosts fuel-economy standards to fight climate change

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major step to fight climate change, the Biden administration is raising vehicle mileage standards to significantly reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases, reversing a Trump-era rollback that loosened fuel efficiency standards.

HEALTH CARE

Biogen cuts the price tag on its Alzheimer's drug in half

Biogen is slashing the price of its Alzheimer's treatment in half months after it debuted to widespread criticism for an initial cost that could reach $56,000 annually.

MEDIA

YouTube TV restores access to Disney after dispute resolved

NEW YORK (AP) — YouTube TV began restoring access to Disney content after a dispute between the companies led to an interruption of service over the weekend.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

Fauci says omicron variant is `just raging around the world'

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The COVID-19 omicron variant is "just raging around the world," the White House's top medical adviser said Sunday as President Joe Biden prepares to issue "a stark warning of what the winter will look like" for unvaccinated Americans.

EU approves 5th COVID-19 vaccine for bloc, one by Novavax

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The European Union's drugs regulator gave the green light Monday to a fifth COVID-19 vaccine for use in the 27-nation bloc, granting conditional marketing authorization to the two-dose vaccine made by U.S. biotech company Novavax.

Israel to ban travel to US, Canada over omicron variant

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli ministers on Monday agreed to ban travel to the United States, Canada and eight other countries amid the rapid, global spread of the omicron variant.

Moderna: Initial booster data shows good results on omicron

Moderna said Monday that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine should offer protection against the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

With Christmas at stake, nations watch omicron strain UK

LONDON (AP) — Britain's main nurses' union warned Monday that exhaustion and surging coronavirus cases among medical staff are pushing them to breaking point, adding to pressure on the government for new restrictions to bring down record-high infection numbers driven by the omicron variant.

OSHA vaccine mandate penalties to start Jan. 10

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration said Saturday that it would not issue citations tied to its coronavirus vaccination mandate before Jan. 10, so that companies have time to adjust to and implement the requirements.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Wall Street joins global slump for stocks; S&P 500 down 1.1%

Wall Street joined a worldwide slump for financial markets on Monday amid worries about how badly the omicron variant, inflation and other forces will hit the economy.

Inflation squeezes holiday budgets for low-income shoppers

NEW YORK (AP) — Emarilis Velazquez is paying higher prices on everything from food to clothing.

Pandemic again forces delay in plans for next Davos meeting

GENEVA (AP) — The World Economic Forum is again delaying its much-ballyhooed annual meeting of world leaders, business executives and other elites in Davos, Switzerland, amid new uncertainties about the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Average US gas price falls 6 cents to $3.41 per gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline dropped by 6 cents over the past two weeks to $3.41 per gallon.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

Pentagon issues rules aimed at stopping rise of extremism

WASHINGTON (AP) — Warning that extremism in the ranks is increasing, Pentagon officials are issuing detailed new rules prohibiting service members from actively engaging in extremist activities. The new guidelines come nearly a year after some current and former service members participated in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, triggering a broad department review.

Manchin upends Biden's agenda, won't back $2 trillion bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin all but delivered a death blow to President Joe Biden's $2 trillion domestic initiative, throwing his party's agenda into jeopardy, infuriating the White House and leaving angry colleagues desperate to salvage what's left of a top priority.

Abrams seeks national voting rights action before 2022 race

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — Stacey Abrams, who built her national reputation by advocating for voting rights, is calling on Congress to take action on federal voting rules as the Democrat launches a second bid to become Georgia's governor.

Crow, Warren, Booker test positive for breakthrough COVID-19

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two U.S. senators and a third lawmaker say they have tested positive for COVID-19 after having been vaccinated, as the nation deals with another surge in cases and the emergence of the omicron variant.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17
PREDATORS

Forsberg, Preds beat Avs 5-2 as both teams battle COVID

NASHVILLE (AP) — Filip Forsberg had two goals and an assist and the Nashville Predators beat the streaking Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Thursday night in a game between rosters wrecked by COVID-19 outbreaks.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Tennessee House panel adopts new redistricting plan

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee House panel on Friday advanced a new map of the state representative districts despite objections from some lawmakers concerned that the proposal places several Democratic incumbents into the same districts.

Tennessee to invest $15M in 18 lakes, add fisherman's brand

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee plan to invest $15 million in improvements at 18 lakes that will be branded after bass fishing superstar Bill Dance.

EDUCATION

Tennessee State University's Glover named to federal panel

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover has been appointed vice chair of the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities by President Joe Biden. TSU announced the appointment in a news release this week.

COURTS

Toughest sentence yet for any Capitol rioter: 5-plus years

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Capitol rioter who attacked police officers working to hold back the angry pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6 was sentenced Friday to more than five years behind bars, the most so far for anyone sentenced in the insurrection.

Judge rejects Purdue Pharma's sweeping opioid settlement

A federal judge rejected OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy settlement of thousands of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic Thursday because of a provision that would protect members of the Sackler family from facing litigation of their own.

Delaware judge rejects Fox News motion to dismiss lawsuit

WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge Thursday rejected a motion by Fox News to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against the cable news giant by Dominion Voting Systems over claims about the 2020 presidential election.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Rivian praises Georgia's education system, resources, talent

ATLANTA (AP) — Rivian Automotive was attracted to Georgia's education system, resources and talent when choosing a site for its $5 billion battery and assembly plant, a company official said Thursday as the project was officially announced.

ENVIRONMENT

New legal battle over predator killing in Nevada wilderness

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists are suing three federal agencies over the adequacy of an environmental review the government has said satisfies requirements to resume killing coyotes, mountain lions and other wildlife in federally protected wilderness areas in Nevada.

HEALTH CARE

US regulators lift in-person restrictions on abortion pill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday permanently removed a major obstacle for women seeking abortion pills, eliminating a long-standing requirement that they pick up the medication in person.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

Column: Sports let their guard down, COVID makes a comeback

When you saw the packed stadiums and arenas, when you knew that nearly all athletes had been vaccinated, when there was little mention of positive tests or quarantines, it was so easy to believe the worst was over.

Boeing drops COVID-19 requirement for US employees

SEATTLE (AP) — Aerospace giant Boeing said Friday it's suspending a company vaccination requirement for all U.S.-based employees.

Pfizer study tests extra COVID vaccine dose for kids under 5

Pfizer said Friday it was changing plans and testing three doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in babies and preschoolers instead of the usual two.

COVID-19 fears dash hopes for the holiday season — again

Lines again stretch around blocks at some COVID-19 testing sites. Refrigerated mobile morgues are on order, and parts of Europe are re-tightening borders amid a winter spike in coronavirus infections.

Across services, troops face discipline for refusing vaccine

WASHINGTON (AP) — All of the U.S. military services have now begun disciplinary actions and discharges for troops who have refused to get the mandated coronavirus vaccine, officials said, with as many as 20,000 unvaccinated forces at risk of being removed from service.

Justice Department asks high court to allow vaccine mandate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration late Thursday asked the Supreme Court to block lower court orders that are keeping President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for health care workers from going into effect in about half of the states.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

US stocks end lower, marking 3rd losing week in the last 4

Banks led another pullback for stocks on Wall Street Friday, as the market racked up its third losing week in the last four.

Labor board certifies first union at a US Starbucks store

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The National Labor Relations Board confirmed a vote Friday to form a union at a Starbucks store in Buffalo, meaning the coffee retailer, for the first time, will have to bargain with organized labor at a company-owned U.S. store.

California pot companies warn of impending industry collapse

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Leading California cannabis companies warned Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday that the state's legal industry was on the verge of collapse and needed immediate tax cuts and a rapid expansion of retail outlets to steady the shaky marketplace.

Regulators: threats to US financial system remain elevated

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation's top financial regulators told Congress Friday that threats to U.S. financial stability remain elevated even though the country has recovered from what appears to be the worst economic shocks from the pandemic.

Supply shortages and emboldened workers: A changed economy

Employees at a fast-food restaurant in Sacramento, California, exasperated over working in stifling heat for low wages, demanded more pay and a new air conditioner — and got both.

Inflation a worry for most economies, but not Japan

Surging prices are haunting consumers and confounding economic planners in the U.S. and other countries, but not in Japan, where sparking inflation has proven an elusive goal.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

What Manchin wanted, rejected and got in Biden's $2T bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — During a private meeting in July, Sen. Joe Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sat down to negotiate what exactly it would take for Democrats to unlock Manchin's vote to start the process of considering President Joe Biden's massive social and environmental bill.

Stone says he invoked 5th amendment at Jan. 6 deposition

WASHINGTON (AP) — Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone says he has asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in an interview with the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Biden acknowledges $2T bill stalled, but vows it will pass

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has all but acknowledged negotiations over his sweeping domestic policy package will likely push into the new year, as he does not yet have the votes in the Senate to lift the roughly $2 trillion bill to passage.

Power of one: Manchin is singularly halting Biden's agenda

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin settled in at President Joe Biden's family home in Delaware on a Sunday morning in the fall as the Democrats worked furiously to gain his support on their far-reaching domestic package.

Manchin's child tax credit stance draws criticism back home

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin's reluctance to endorse the Biden administration's expanded child tax credit program is rippling through his home state of West Virginia.

Senate parliamentarian deals Democrats blow on immigration

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats must drop an effort to let millions of immigrants remain temporarily in the U.S. from their expansive social and environment bill, the Senate parliamentarian decided Thursday, dealing the latest blow to a longtime priority of the party, migrant advocates and progressives.

Russia sets tough demands for US-NATO in draft security pact

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Friday published draft security pacts demanding NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries and to roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe — bold demands that the U.S. and its allies already have rejected.

China vows to respond after US enacts Xinjiang sanctions

BEIJING (AP) — China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its institutions and enterprises, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday after the U.S. Senate passed a law barring imports from the Xinjiang region unless businesses can prove they were made without forced labor.


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16
STATE GOVERNMENT

Tennessee to increase pay for correctional officers

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Bill Lee on Wednesday announced that the state would increase the salary for correctional officers amid an ongoing national staffing shortage for prison agencies.

Prison officials agree to fewer restrictions on advocate

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee prison officials on Wednesday agreed to ease restrictions on a prison reform advocate in pre-trial custody at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.

REGION

Biden pledges 'whatever it takes' to assist tornado victims

DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday pledged to do "whatever it takes, as long as it takes" to help Kentucky and other states after a series of deadly tornadoes that he said left a trail of unimaginable devastation. "You will recover and rebuild," he said.

Towns in mourning while digging out from deadly tornadoes

DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (AP) — Tight-knit communities still digging out from the deadly tornadoes that killed dozens of people across eight states in the South and Midwest are turning to another heavy-hearted task: honoring and burying their dead.

COURTS

Court upholds Trump administration's ban of gun bump stocks

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court in New Orleans is the latest to uphold a federal ban on "bump stocks" — devices attached to semiautomatic firearms so that a shooter can fire multiple rounds with a single trigger pull.

Supreme Court returns Texas abortion case to appeals court

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has formally returned a lawsuit over Texas' six-week abortion ban to a federal appeals court that has twice allowed the law to stay in effect, rather than to a district judge who sought to block it.

US pulls out of settlement talks in family separation suits

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government withdrew Thursday from settlement negotiations to end lawsuits filed on behalf of parents and children who were forcibly separated under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance border policy, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

Tennessee names deputy director as new court system leader

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court has picked Deputy Director Michelle Long to become the next director of the state's Administrative Office of the Courts.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Biden's highway safety pick vows to reduce US traffic deaths

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's pick to run the nation's highway safety agency pledged Thursday to attack a crisis of fatal car crashes by implementing safety rules to deter impaired driving while scrutinizing fast-emerging automated technologies, such as in Tesla vehicles, that could put people at risk.

TRANSPORTATION

Airlines face shortage of pilots, other workers, execs say

WASHINGTON (AP) — Airlines are having trouble hiring pilots, flight attendants and other personnel, and that's part of what is causing canceled flights and scrapping of service to some airports, executives told legislators on Wednesday.

ENVIRONMENT

EPA details push to tighten rules for lead in drinking water

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration took steps Thursday aimed at reducing lead in drinking water, releasing $2.9 billion in infrastructure bill funds for lead pipe removal and announcing plans by the Environmental Protection Agency to impose stricter rules to limit exposure to the health hazard.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

CDC panel recommends Pfizer, Moderna vaccines over J&J shot

Most Americans should be given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead of the Johnson & Johnson shot that can cause rare but serious blood clots, U.S. health advisers recommended Thursday.

Army: 98% of active duty got COVID-19 vaccine by deadline

WASHINGTON (AP) — Army officials said Thursday that 98% of their active duty force had gotten at least one dose of the mandatory coronavirus vaccine as of this week's deadline for the shots but that more than 3,800 soldiers flatly refused and could start being removed from the military next month.

US faces a double coronavirus surge as omicron advances

The new omicron coronavirus mutant speeding around the world may bring another wave of chaos, threatening to further stretch hospital workers already struggling with a surge of delta cases and upend holiday plans for the second year in a row.

EU leaders to discuss rise of infections, spread of omicron

BRUSSELS (AP) — A summit of European Union leaders on Thursday is trying to coordinate action to tackle the surge of coronavirus infections across the continent and the emergence of the new omicron variant while keeping borders open.

British surge seen as warning on omicron but responses vary

LONDON (AP) — Spiraling infections in Britain driven in part by the new omicron variant of the coronavirus sent shockwaves Thursday into the rest of Europe, fueling a familiar dread that tighter restrictions will scuttle holiday plans again this year.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Big Tech companies sink, pushing Nasdaq composite down 2.5%

Technology companies led stocks lower on Wall Street Thursday as investors weighed the implications of higher interest rates as the Federal Reserve prepares to begin raising rates next year to fight inflation.

Congress approves import ban targeting forced labor in China

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators gave final congressional approval Thursday to a bill barring imports from China's Xinjiang region unless businesses can prove they were produced without forced labor, overcoming initial hesitation from the White House and what supporters said was opposition from corporations.

Industrial production increases 0.5% in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. industrial production increased 0.5% in November as output at the nation's factories reached the highest level since January 2019.

US jobless claims rise but still historically low at 206,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week despite signs that the U.S. labor market is rebounding from last year's coronavirus recession.

Why the Fed feels now is time to tighten credit more quickly

WASHINGTON (AP) — For months, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell responded to surging inflation by counseling patience and stressing that the Fed wanted to see unemployment return to near-pre-pandemic levels before it would raise interest rates.

Postal hike doesn't stop catalogers from stuffing mailboxes

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A big postal rate increase over the summer hasn't stopped catalog retailers from stuffing mailboxes this holiday season.

European Central Bank to taper pandemic stimulus, but gently

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank has decided against an abrupt pullback of its pandemic support for the economy as the new omicron variant of COVID-19 stirs uncertainty about the continent's recovery.

Bank of England raises interest rates to combat inflation

LONDON (AP) — The Bank of England raised interest rates in the United Kingdom on Thursday to combat surging consumer prices, becoming the first central bank among the world's leading economies to do so since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Japan trade recovers as supply chain troubles ease

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's exports jumped 20% and imports rose at an even faster pace in November as disruptions to manufacturing supply chains eased.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

$2T bill stalled, Senate Dems seem ready to move on for now

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats' vast social and environment package was stuck in the Senate Thursday as leaders' hopes for an accord with holdout Sen. Joe Manchin and approval of their flagship domestic measure in the year's waning days seemed all but dead.

Defense bill bans private funds for deploying National Guard

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The defense bill Congress has sent to President Joe Biden prohibits using private funds for interstate National Guard deployments like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem did this year.

House report finds lax federal oversight of Trump's DC hotel

NEW YORK (AP) — The federal agency overseeing the lease of the luxury hotel that Donald Trump's family company runs in the nation's capital failed to carry out its basic responsibilities because it never tracked the millions of dollars from foreign governments patronizing the hotel or examined the origins of a $75 million loan that helped keep its doors open, according to a congressional report Thursday.

Biden signs bill hiking US borrowing limit by $2.5 trillion

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a bill raising the nation's borrowing limit by $2.5 trillion, avoiding a potentially catastrophic default and resolving the turbulent issue until after the 2022 midterm elections.

US imposes sanctions against China over abuse of Uyghurs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Thursday it is imposing new sanctions on several Chinese biotech and surveillance companies and government entities for actions in Xinjiang province, the latest step against Beijing over human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims in the country's western region.

House panel demands information on federal execution drug

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Oversight Committee is demanding the Justice Department provide answers about whether Biden administration officials have any plans to procure the drug used in federal executions despite an ongoing moratorium on capital punishment.

Poll: Young Americans motivated to make change

WASHINGTON (AP) — There are plenty of reasons for Sebastian Garcia to feel downbeat about the future.

White House pushes GOP to end blockade of ambassador picks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden unveiled two more ambassador nominees Wednesday, but the White House and Democrats warned that maneuvering by some Senate Republicans to block all but a small fraction of diplomatic and other national security appointees is doing serious harm to U.S. efforts around the globe.

Biden picks Caroline Kennedy, Michelle Kwan for ambassadors

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Wednesday he's nominating Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy who served as ambassador to Japan during the Obama administration, to serve as ambassador to Australia and Michelle Kwan, the renowned U.S. Olympic figure skater, to serve as his chief envoy to Belize.

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