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Community Tea


Under growing pressure to bring down high energy prices, President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the United States would release up to 180 million barrels of oil from a strategic reserve to counteract the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gasoline prices have risen nearly $1.50 a gallon over the last year, undercutting consumer confidence.

As the Justice Department aims to determine the full extent of any conspiracy to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory, the criminal investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has expanded to examine preparations for the rally that preceded the riot. In the past two months, a federal grand jury in Washington has issued subpoena requests to some officials in Donald Trump’s orbit who assisted in planning, funding, and executing the Jan. 6 rally, said the people familiar with the matter.

Extra booster shots used to be available only for people who are immunocompromised, but the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it’s authorizing an additional booster dose for anyone 50 and older. More Georgians now have the option to get a second coronavirus booster shot. The announcement, which various media outlets reported was anticipated, applies to both Pfizer and Moderna boosters. Proponents of the new policy said it helps boost COVID-19 protection as Western Europe and some parts of the U.S. have seen a rise in cases of the new omicron subvariant, BA.2.

The state of Georgia has fined Blue Cross Blue Shield, also known as Anthem, $5 million for a repeated, yearslong pattern of violations of policyholder’s rights, the largest fine ever levied by the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner.

Walmart has announced that it will no longer sell cigarettes in some of its stores through tobacco sales can be a significant revenue generator. Walmart is not the first national retail chain to cut off cigarette sales even on a trial basis, but it is the largest. Target ended cigarette sales in 1996 and the drugstore chain CVS Health did the same in 2014.

Soliant, a Gwinnett-based staffing firm that specializes in health care and life sciences, plans to open a sales office at the Galleria Atlanta Office Park that could bring as many as 130 sales jobs to Cobb County. Soliant plans a spring opening for the office, which would be the company’s first in Cobb. Soliant provides temporary staffing for positions in speech therapy, school counseling, nursing, and other health care specialties, such as radiology.

Employees in the Cobb County School District will receive a $2,000 bonus, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale recently announced. Cobb is using federal pandemic aid to offer compensation to permanent full-time and part-time employees, who will receive the bonus in April. Gov. Brian Kemp previously approved a midyear budget with $2,000 bonuses for some school employees, including teachers. “

Skippy announced a recall of peanut butter products on March 30 and the FDA published the announcement on their website the same day. The products are being recalled because they “may contain a small fragment of stainless steel from a piece of manufacturing equipment.” However, the recall is categorized as Class II, meaning “the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote,” according to the FDA. The three products being recalled are Skippy Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread, Skippy Reduced Fat Chunky Peanut Butter Spread, and Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter Blended with Plant Protein that have been stamped with the following five “Best if Used By” dates: MAY0423, MAY0523, MAY0623, MAY0723 and MAY1023. If you have any of the three affected peanut kinds of butter, you can return it for an exchange at the place of purchase or call Skippy Foods Consumer Engagement at 1-866-475-4779. You can also visit www.peanutbutter.com for instructions and information. Their Consumer Engagement team is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time.

Ford is issuing two recalls covering over 737,000 vehicles to fix oil leaks and trailer braking systems that won’t work. The oil leak recall includes 2020 through 2022 Ford Escape SUV and the 2021 and 2022 Bronco Sport SUV with 1.5-Liter engines. The trailer braking recall includes F-150 pickups from 2021 and 2022, as well as 2022 F-250, 350, 450, and 550. Also covered are the 2022 Maverick pickup, Ford Expedition, and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.

The NFL is changing its overtime rules to guarantee each side gets the ball in the playoffs. Concerned that the coin toss to begin the extra period has too much impact on postseason games, owners voted Tuesday to approve a proposal presented by the Colts and Eagles. Beginning this season, if the team possessing the ball first in overtime scores a touchdown on that series, the opponent still gets a possession. Under previous rules, the 10-minute overtime in the regular season only continued if the team getting the ball first failed to score or kicked a field goal.

To ensure more opportunities for diverse candidates, the NFL added requirements for the hiring of offensive assistant coaches, and women in general. Beginning this season, all 32 clubs must employ a female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority to serve as an offensive assistant coach. The person will receive a one-year contract and work closely with the head coach and offensive staff to gain experience.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plans to spend $55 million to replace X-ray machines at its main security checkpoint with more advanced scanners to screen carry-on bags. The new computed tomography scanners will generate higher quality images for security screeners and could reduce congestion in security queues, according to Hartsfield-Jackson.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans plan to return to Stone Mountain Park next month for their (mostly) annual celebration of Confederate Memorial Day. State officials denied the Confederate group’s request to gather for a ceremony last year, citing the possibility of “a clear and present danger to public health or safety” among the reasons. The AJC says they obtained records that show that this year’s permit application — submitted by Richard K. Straut, an SCV representative who’s also running for a seat in the Georgia state Senate — was approved this month. Activists called the Stone Mountain Memorial Association allowing the event a “tone deaf” decision for a state entity that’s purportedly taking steps to soften its ties to the Confederacy. 

Have a wonderful week.


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