Patriots’ Bill Belichick rejects Trump’s Presidential Medal of Freedom

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick just made perhaps the toughest call of his professional career. Belichick has decided to pass on accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump.

Belichick made his decision known by releasing a statement Monday evening. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter:

“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients. Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award. Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy. I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team. One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions. Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”

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Murphy lifts exit-exam graduation requirement, keeps mum on other plans

JOHN MOONEY, EDUCATION WRITER | JANUARY 12, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

 

The day before he gives the State of the State address, Gov. Phil Murphy used his regular press briefing Monday to give a short version of the state of New Jersey’s schools. And for all the pronouncements of progress, the comments left nearly as many questions and uncertainties.

In something of a surprise, Murphy announced several school-related executive orders, led by the suspension for the second straight year of the state’s exit-exam requirements for graduation.

He also suspended the use of certain student performance measures in mandated teacher evaluations and loosened some of the state’s rules for incoming teachers.

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New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman tests positive for Covid after insurrection

01/11/2021

Politico

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, pictured in a Dec. 1, 2015 file photo, said she received a positive Covid-19 test result.

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New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman announced Monday that she had tested positive for Covid-19 after she and other members of Congress were kept in a secret location during last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Watson Coleman said she tested positive after receiving a rapid antigen test.

“While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents,” said Watson Coleman, who has represented New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District since 2015, in a statement.

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Christie says Trump committed an impeachable offense in ‘inciting to insurrection’

Posted Jan 10, 2021

Former Gov. Chris Christie, a long-time supporter of Donald Trump, said Sunday that the president committed an impeachable offense when he urged his followers to march on the U.S. Capitol and fight to overturn the 2020 election that Joe Biden won.

“If inciting to insurrection isn’t, then I don’t really know what is,” Christie said when asked whether Trump’s actions were impeachable on ABC’s “This Week,” where he is a regular contributor.

Christie endorsed Trump for president after his own campaign fizzled in 2016, advised him in the White House and supported his re-election but in November acknowledged that Joe Biden had won the presidency. He called Trump’s legal team a “national embarrassment” for continuing to pursue baseless claims of voter fraud.

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Now comes Socialism. Oh, the humanity | Editorial

Posted Jan 10, 2021

Trump devotees may think the failed coup was their nadir, but they should prepare themselves for the next grand mal freak-out: The Socialist Takeover.

The Democrats are poised to seize control of the Senate, and everyone knows what that means: We’ll be a veritable Venezuela, a quasi-Cuba. Let the pearl-clutching begin: Expect a $2,000 stimulus check in the mailbox for all those desperate slackers, because suddenly their kids don’t want Cheerios for supper three times a week. Expect billions in funding for states to distribute coronavirus vaccine — what’s the rush on that, anyway?

Then there will probably will be a flood of bleeding-heart bailouts to deal with evictions and child care and small businesses.

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Reporting delays continue to cloud impact of NJ’s vaccine program, officials say

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | JANUARY 11, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

Health care workers prepare to give COVID-19 vaccinations at the Morris County vaccination site in Rockaway, Friday, Jan. 8.

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As New Jersey begins the fifth week of its massive COVID-19 vaccine program, state officials have blamed shipping conundrums, workforce limitations and reporting delays for what has seemed to be the slow pace of the initial rollout.

The federal government is responsible for shipping the coronavirus vaccines to providers in each state, including more than 572,000 doses sent to New Jersey as of last Thursday, according to tracking by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of Friday, more than 175,500 vaccines had been administered (7,400 of them second doses), according to the state, which hopes to immunize 4.7 million people, or 70% of those eligible.

To expedite the process, state officials took initial steps to recruit additional vaccinators, putting out a call for volunteer help early last week. It has overseen the creation of more than 200 immunization sites, including the first two of six “megasites,” which launched Friday.

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Deal on New Jersey marijuana legalization collapses over penalties for underage offenders

01/08/2021

Politico

An employee at a medical marijuana dispensary in N.J. trims leaves off marijuana plants.

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More than two months after New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to legalize a regulated cannabis market, and nearly a month after the state Legislature sent bills to do just that to Gov. Phil Murphy, Democratic lawmakers and administration officials are once again at an impasse over marijuana policy.

On Friday, lead sponsors Sens. Teresa Ruiz and Nicholas Scutari pulled their names from a compromise bill that would have resolved last-minute technical concerns the Murphy administration raised over cannabis measures that were sent to the governor’s desk on Dec. 17, a full two weeks before the new amendment took effect.

Both Scutari and Ruiz told POLITICO they have no intention moving forward with the measure, NJ A5211 (20R), claiming it could potentially impose unnecessarily harsh penalties on minors charged with possession of the drug, echoing concerns first raised by Legislative Black Caucus leaders Sens. Ron Rice and Nia Gill (both D-Essex).

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COVID vaccine is completely covered by insurance or free, Murphy reminds public

Posted Jan 07, 2021

If people who live or work in New Jersey are still leery about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Phil Murphy reminded them Thursday that it won’t cost them any money, even if they don’t have insurance.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention negotiated a deal with vaccine providers that they would have to accept whatever insurance covered as payment, Murphy said. And people without insurance would not be charged at all, the governor’s statement said.

“As we continue to roll out our robust statewide vaccination program, we want to make it clear to New Jerseyans that no one will have to pay for the vaccine itself, regardless of whether or not they have health insurance coverage,” Murphy said in a statement Thursday.

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N.J.’s largest school district to stay all-remote until April due to COVID outbreak

Newark Public Schools announced Wednesday that students would continue with remote class until April 12 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Students were scheduled to begin returning to in-person classes on Jan. 25. But the plan was opposed by Newark Teachers Union President John Abeigon, Chalkbeat first reported.

“We don’t want to play ping pong with the economy of our parents,” Abeigon told NJ Advance Media on Thursday, adding that it wouldn’t make sense to reopen schools just to close them again in a week. “Right now everyone is a groove. The parents are in a groove. The teachers and students are in a groove.”

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Governor Signs Economic Recovery Act Sponsored by Newark Lawmakers

Governor Phil Murphy signs the landmark New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020.
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The landmark New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 sponsored by two Newark lawmakers was signed today by Governor Phil Murphy.

The massive tax incentive measure is among the most significant pieces of legislation to be signed into law so far this legislative session and comes at a time when New Jersey's economy needs a shot in the arm.

“These programs are the product of nearly three years of hard work, during which we received input from hundreds of voices on how best to structure our state’s recovery and growth,” Murphy said. 

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