In 1 year, Minnesota man turns knack for making ice cream into a new career

Zach Vraa turned his quarantine hobby of making ice cream into an actual business, with his one-of-a-kind creations regularly selling out in just one minute.

Vraa, 29, is the founder of A to Z Creamery in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. At the beginning of the pandemic, he was working in sales, and while at home started using the ice cream machine his mom bought for his birthday. He came up with different flavor combinations, like Lucky Charms with black cherry frosting, and posted photos of his concoctions online. People asked if they could buy his ice cream, and Vraa started selling a few pints of each flavor. The demand was there: for every 10 pints he had available, Vraa received 100 messages from customers wanting the ice cream.

“That’s when I kind of figured out, ‘Wow, I need to start doing this full scale in a full commercial kitchen,'” Vraa told KARE 11. Now, he can make 300 pints a week, with the base and toppings all made from scratch. No flavor is too out there — Vraa has made an Everything Bagel ice cream, topped with a garlic cream cheese swirl — and none are ever repeated.

Vraa puts up one flavor for sale every week, and they typically sell out in a minute. The lucky people able to purchase a pint come down to the creamery to pick up their orders, and Vraa told KARE 11 that “every time I open the door and see the line wrapping around the corner, it’s a feeling that never gets old.”

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Elise Stefanik tells Steve Bannon in 2022, Republicans need Trump and ‘his coalition of voters’

In an overture to the MAGA crowd, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) appeared on Steve Bannon’s radio show Thursday, saying that to win in the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans have to “run with support” from former President Donald Trump and “his coalition of voters.”

Stefanik is the frontrunner to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as the House Republican Conference chair, should Cheney get ousted from the position. Cheney is a Trump critic, while Stefanik, who emerged as one of Trump’s biggest defenders during his first impeachment, has doubled-down on her support. “I’m committed to being a voice and sending a clear message that we are one team,” Stefanik told Bannon, “and that means working with [Trump] and working with all of our excellent Republican members of Congress.”

Several conservative pundits, media personalities, and organizations have accused Stefanik of being too moderate, with the Club for Growth going so far as to call her “a liberal.” Voting records show she sided with Trump 78 percent of the time, compared to Cheney at 93 percent, and while many of his fans are railing against Stefanik, Trump likes her and considers Stefanik a “Republican star.”

Stefanik also told Bannon she “fully” supports Arizona’s Republican-controlled Senate holding an unusual audit of the November presidential election in Maricopa County. Maricopa County election officials already conducted two audits and discovered no evidence of voter fraud, but Trump continues to spread false claims that the election was rigged against him.

“We want transparency and answers for the American people,” Stefanik said, later telling Bannon she wants to “be able to fix and strengthen our election security and election integrity.” The audit has come to the Justice Department’s attention, with the Civil Rights Division asking the Arizona Senate to explain the steps being taken to ensure the ballots are secure and no one is committing voter intimidation.

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Trump likes Elise Stefanik, but it appears his base still needs to come around

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) has won over former President Donald Trump, but has some work to do if she wants to get his base on her side.

Over the last several months, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the House Republican Conference chair, has criticized Trump over his role in inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and pushed back at his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. She’s likely about to be ousted from her position, and Stefanik is considered the frontrunner to replace her. Trump on Wednesday endorsed Stefanik, but not long after, some of his biggest supporters publicly expressed their doubts about the congresswoman.

Former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs dubbed her a “RINO,” and Big League Politics, a site founded by former Breitbart employees, called her out for only recently backing Trump, saying she is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Politico reports.

During Trump’s impeachments, Stefanik was one of his loudest defenders, but prior to that, she spoke out against his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and was against his policies of separating migrant children from their families at the border, Politico reports. The American Conservative Union has given Stefanik a lifetime grade of 44 percent, compared to Cheney’s lifetime grade of 78 percent. A look at her votes shows Stefanik sided with Trump 78 percent of the time, with Cheney several points higher at 93 percent.

Put all of this together and you have “the identity of a swamp creature,” conservative political consultant Ryan James Girdusky told Politico. Girdusky isn’t “a fan of Liz Cheney,” he added, and believes she “should have never been in House leadership. However, we are exchanging Liz Cheney, who at least votes correct, even though she bashes Trump publicly, [for] somebody who doesn’t bash Trump publicly but votes with them almost none of the time.” Read more at Politico.

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Ohio state senator caught driving during work videoconference insists he wasn’t distracted from the road

Ohio state Sen. Andrew Brenner (R) showed up to work Monday, participating in a videoconference meeting of the budget-adjusting Ohio Controlling Board.

“The problem for Brenner was that he did so while driving, while his government meeting was being recorded, and while his legislative colleagues were pressing to tighten rules on using smartphones behind the wheel,” The Washington Post reported Thursday. “A recording of the nearly 13-minute videoconference — much of which overlapped with Brenner’s drive — showed the seat-belt-using senator repeatedly glancing in the direction of his phone, which had been placed to his right.”

Brenner told The Columbus Dispatch he “wasn’t distracted” during the videoconference. “I was paying attention to the driving and listening,” he added. “I’m not paying attention to the video. To me, it’s like a phone call. … I was wearing a seat belt and paying attention to the road.”

In the video, Brenner does appear to be looking at the road most of the time, but he also glances at his phone pretty regularly. “I think it’s fairly obvious, but it’s a terrible idea,” Thomas Dingus, author of Survive the Drive, A Guide to Keeping Everyone on the Road Alive, tells the Post. “If they’re short glances, it’s better. It’s still not good. … If you’re looking double-digit numbers of times away form the roadway, your crash risk is increasing.”

“The funniest aspect of this whole minor scandal” is that “Brenner turned on a virtual background to make it appear like he was at home in his office,” Matt Novak argues at Gizmodo. “And he failed miserably.” Novak documented how “Brenner turned his camera on and off repeatedly in an apparent effort to disguise where he was actually calling from,” starting with his actual background in the car, then visibly tinkering with the background.

“Brenner’s explanation would be a lot more believable if he didn’t bother with the virtual background and wasn’t constantly fiddling with his phone while he was driving,” Novak writes. “His entire ruse made him way more distracted than if he had simply kept his camera off and only had the audio going.”

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U.S. airlines have banned 4,000 people over the last year due to bad behavior

Over the past year, more than 4,000 people have been banned by U.S. airlines, including one woman on a JetBlue flight who refused to wear a mask, threw food and an empty liquor bottle at flight attendants, and then grabbed and hit two members of the crew.

That passenger was on a Feb. 7 flight from the Dominican Republic to New York, and the pilot was forced to turn around after her outburst. In January, the Federal Aviation Administration announced a zero-tolerance policy for belligerence on airplanes, and on Wednesday said it is seeking fines from four passengers accused of either assaulting or interfering with flight attendants, CBS News reports. In the case of the JetBlue passenger, the FAA is asking that she pay a $32,500 penalty.

Many of the people who have been banned amid the coronavirus pandemic made the no-fly list because they refused to wear masks or follow flight attendant safety instructions, and since February, more than 1,300 passengers have been referred to the FAA due to unruly behavior, CBS News says. Delta has banned the most passengers — more than 1,200 since May 4, 2020 — while Allegiant has banned just 15 people since July 2.

In a statement, Allegiant told CBS News it aims to stop any issues with face coverings while still on the ground and “potential violators do not board the aircraft,” adding that “the great majority comply, and those few who may need a reminder in flight also comply.”

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