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President Joe Biden on Thursday awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to 17 people in a wide variety of endeavors. Biden’s list of recipients, his first as president, includes stalwarts of politics, sports, entertainment, religion, civil rights, labor and the military. They include actor Denzel Washington and, posthumously, inventor Steve Jobs and former senator John McCain. Others include Simone Biles, 25, the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history who has advocated for sexual assault victims, to former senator Alan Simpson, R Wyo., 90, the sharp-tongued politician and governor’s son who served 18 years in the Senate.

Pharmacists can now prescribe the leading COVID-19 pill directly to patients under a new U.S. policy announced last week that’s intended to expand use of Pfizer’s drug Paxlovid. The FDA said pharmacists can screen patients to determine eligibility for Paxlovid, then prescribe the medication, which has shown to curb the worst effects of COVID-19. Previously, only physicians could prescribe the antiviral drug. The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths rise again, though they remain near their lowest levels since the coronavirus outbreak began in 2020.

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order a 3rd round of free at-home tests. Order yours today. Place your order today by going to: https://special.usps.com/testkits

As part of a nationwide response to curb the outbreak of monkeypox, about 1,200 doses of monkeypox vaccine are heading to Georgia. U.S. health officials have expressed concern about the virus spreading faster than previously thought, and cases of the disease are ticking upward in Georgia and around the globe. In Georgia, the number of confirmed cases rose to 11 as of Friday afternoon — all men who live in metro Atlanta. Public health officials said there have been no U.S. deaths and officials say the risk to the American public is low, but they are working to expand testing and taking other steps to staunch the spread of monkeypox, which causes flu like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash that can take weeks to clear.

Growing questions about U.S. Senate hopeful Herschel Walker’s credibility is threatening his campaign at a time when Republicans want nothing more than to talk about high inflation and economic uncertainty. Walker’s exaggerations and false statements about his business background, academic record and family dogged him even before he launched his campaign and has intensified with the race in full swing. Now he’s confronted with a report that even his own aides don’t trust him. The Daily Beast obtained emails and texts that outlined how Walker’s advisers don’t believe the candidate and worry that he isn’t “mentally fit for the job.” One anonymous staffer told the left-leaning outlet that the former football star spouts falsehoods “like he’s breathing.” Allies to Walker confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Republican wasn’t forthright about the number of children he fathered, leading to days of revelations about previously unacknowledged children that undercut his criticism of absentee dads. 

The Georgia Department of Transportation is seeking public input on its communication efforts as it prepares to rebuild the I-285 interchange at I-20 west of Atlanta. It’s asking nearby residents and other interested parties whether they’re aware of the project, how they’d like to receive updates and other questions. You can take the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FCXQS7Z through July 31.

Federal education officials unveiled a plan Wednesday to remove student loan debt for some borrowers. The regulations propose to alleviate debt burdens for borrowers whose schools closed, borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled, and for public service workers who have met their commitments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. It would eliminate what U.S. Department of Education officials say are overly strict limits on when borrowers can file a claim and expand the type of misconduct that can lead to an approved claim to include aggressive and deceptive recruitment practices.

A satellite the size of a microwave oven successfully broke free from its orbit around Earth on Monday and is headed toward the moon, the latest step in NASA’s plan to land astronauts on the lunar surface again. It’s been an unusual journey already for the Capstone satellite. It was launched six days ago from New Zealand by the company Rocket Lab in one of their small Electron rockets. It will take another four months for the satellite to reach the moon, as it cruises along using minimal energy. 

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported that the average long-term U.S. mortgage rates eased again this week. The 30-year rate fell to 5.30% from 5.70% last week.

Jailed American basketball WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession during her trial in Moscow but said she had no intention of committing a crime. President Joe Biden called the wife of Griner and has pledged that he is working to win her release as soon as possible. Biden’s conversation with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, comes after Griner wrote Biden a letter saying she feared she would spend forever in a Russian jail. Griner has been detained for four months.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Derek Chauvin to 21 years in prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights, a move that adds a few years to the time the former Minneapolis police officer is already serving for his murder conviction while transferring him to federal custody.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson’s sentence came after Chauvin had agreed to a plea deal that called for a sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years. Federal prosecutors had sought the top end of that range, arguing that Chauvin, who is white, killed Floyd in cold blood when he pinned the Black man to the pavement on a Minneapolis corner in May 2020, for more than nine minutes as Floyd pleaded, he could not breathe.

Democrat Stacey Abrams collected more than $22 million over the past two months, putting her well ahead of Gov. Brian Kemp in the race for campaign cash.

The two rivals have topped the fundraising totals from their entire 2018 campaigns. Abrams amassed roughly $9.8 million in campaign contributions between May 1 and June 30, along with an additional $12.3 million through her leadership committee, a financial vehicle that can accept unlimited donations and coordinate with candidates. The Republican collected roughly $3.8 million in campaign contributions and an additional $3 million through his leadership committee over the same period.

The Fulton County special grand jury investigating potential criminal interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections has subpoenaed key members of former President Donald Trump’s legal team, Rudy Giuliani and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham are named as “necessary and material” witnesses.

U.S. drivers are starting to see some relief at the pump amid an unseasonal drop in consumption and fears of a wider economic slowdown, which have sent oil prices below $100 a barrel for the first time since May. The average regular gasoline price has fallen for 22 straight days, according to AAA data, the longest losing streak since April 2020.

Due to a rise in assessed property values in Cobb County of 12.3%, Marietta City Schools is estimated to collect an additional $6.5 million in local property tax revenue next fiscal year, an increase of 9.14%.The Marietta Board of Education will vote July 19 on setting the general fund mileage rate at 17.97 mills, the same tax rate as last year. Since assessments are increasing, the steady millage rate amounts to a tax increase — under state law, local governments are required to advertise it as such.

Elon Musk’s tumultuous $44 billion bid to buy Twitter is on the verge of collapse. The Tesla CEO sent a letter to Twitter’s board Friday saying he is terminating the acquisition. The chair of Twitter’s board, Bret Taylor, tweeted Friday that the board is “committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement. We are confident we will prevail in the Delaware Court of Chancery.” Twitter could have pushed for a $1 billion breakup fee Musk agreed to pay under these circumstances. Instead, it looks ready to fight over the deal, which the company’s board has approved, and CEO Parag Agrawal has insisted he wants to consummate.

Charles Barkley, the NBA legend who has already made major donations to two local colleges, is adding Spelman College to his philanthropic portfolio. Barkley said this week that he is donating $1 million to Spelman, after seeing the impact that the Atlanta-based historically Black women’s college has made on Jordyn Hudson, the daughter of his business partner, John Hudson.

The Southeast Homeschool Expo is coming to the Cobb Galleria Centre, 2 Galleria Parkway, Atlanta on July 28-30. Homeschooling for Excellence 101 will be presented on July 28, then the Teen Leadership Conference on July 29-30 and Kids Zone for ages 4 to 12 on July 28-30. Homeschool Expo volunteers will receive free admission.

For more information, email info@SoutheastHomeschoolExpo.com or visit SoutheastHomeschoolExpo.com

Which Oreo flavor is the best? The South Cobb Regional Library, located at 805 Clay Road in Mableton, will have the Great Oreo Taste Test on July 26 from 4 to 5 p.m. Participants can be the judge in the Great Oreo Taste Test by trying a variety of Oreos. Registration is required. This program is for teens and tweens ages 12-17 (grades 6-12). To register, visit https://www.cobbcounty.org/library/events/great-oreo-taste-test-south-cobb.

A company has recalled a seafood product after it tested positive for cancer-causing chemicals. Bumble Bee Foods, LLC Issues Voluntary Recall on 3.75 Oz Smoked Clams Due to the Presence of Detectable Levels of PFAS Chemicals

Ford is recalling certain models of the 2020 to 2022 Escape, Maverick, and Corsair due to the risk of under-hood fires, according to reports from Reuters and CNBC. The recall affects over 100,000 vehicles in the US, all of which come with a 2.5-liter hybrid / plug-in hybrid (HEV / PHEV) engine. In the case of an engine failure, Reuters and CNBC report that engine oil and fuel vapor could flood ignition sources, causing a possible fire beneath the hood of the car.

Have a wonderful week…


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