Friday, January 23, 2015

The Daily Links: RIP Modern Farmer, Security Journalism, and American Sniper

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From The New York Times: Modern Farmer ceases publication

From Mark MacKinnon: The king is dead. Long live the king. And the Saudi “queen scene”

From Modern Farmer: Why we only have trash potatoes now

From Medium: How Paper magazine’s web engineers scaled THEIR back-end for Kim Kardashian’s

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Nashville Was No. 9 For Guns In Airports in 2014

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 4:18 PM

The Transportation Security Administration confiscated more than 2,000 guns in U.S. airports in 2014. Congratulations, Nashville! You made the Top 10!

Nashville had a little more than twice as many as Memphis (48 vs 23), which makes sense since it's a little more than twice as busy (5,052,066 passenger boardings in 2013 vs. 2,301,481 for Memphis).

From Five Thirty Eight:

Five Thirty Eight
  • Five Thirty Eight

Airports in Texas and Florida dominate the list — unsurprising given their large populations and loose gun laws — but there is not a single state without at least one airport in which one person tried to bring one gun through the security line. And the only U.S. territory that went the whole year without someone trying to take a gun on an airplane was the North Mariana Islands, the little-regulated and rarely mentioned Pacific archipelago containing Saipan. The TSA noted on its blog that “in many cases, people simply forgot they had these items” in their carry-ons, but this number is a 22 percent increase over 2013’s confiscated gun yield — which itself was a 16.5 percent increase over 2012.

Five Thirty Eight also has a sortable list of all U.S. cities. It's well worth checking out.

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RIP The Amp

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 1:55 PM

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The prognosis for Mayor Karl Dean's proposed bus rapid transit line hasn't been good for a year at least.

After a near-fatal beating at the state legislature last year, and with the federal budget process perpetually up in the air, its prospects for funding were looking dim. In October, Dean announced he would not be seeking state or local funding for the project this year, effectively handing it off the next mayor, although none of the candidates for the job seemed particularly eager to carry it forward. Yesterday, Metro Transit Authority CEO Stephen Bland put the thing out of its misery, recommending that design work on the project cease and the remaining funds be reallocated.

The Amp is dead.

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Yes, The Open Meetings Law Means You Have to Speak Into The Mic

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 10:27 AM

If you haven't been following the events in Greene County (motto: "Hey, look! We're almost North Carolina!"), here's the short version:

— U.S. Nitrogen wants to build a pipeline to bring in water from the Nolichucky River. But they need permission from the Greene County Industrial Development Board.

— At a July meeting of the IDB, board members were inaudible to the public who attended it. After complaining about not being able to hear, one citizen was arrested and jailed (the charges were later dropped).

— Greene County residents then filed an open meetings lawsuit against the IDB and U.S. Nitrogen. To the amazement of anyone with a lick of common sense, the IDB argued, with a straight face, that the Open Meetings Act doesn't mean the public must be able to hear deliberations at public meetings, only that they be given the opportunity to be present. Let that sink in for a bit.

A chancellor yesterday said that there's enough evidence for the open meetings suit to go forward:

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Front of the Book: David Fox, NashVegas Cab and Legislative Preview

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 8:20 AM

In this week's print edition, we look at another mayoral candidate, the process for licensing cabs in this town and what the General Assembly is in for.

Where other mayoral candidates want the pedal down on Nashville's success, David Fox throws a caution flag, by Steven Hale:

If he thought the race was about who could take the wheel from Karl Dean and keep the city moving straight ahead, he wouldn't be in it. He has more steering in mind.

This comes through at candidate forums, where his flat delivery accentuates the fact that he thinks the emperor is missing some clothes. In a recent interview with the Scene, he matter-of-factly works through a number of issues he finds troubling.

He is concerned, to put it lightly, about the billions of dollars in debt and unfunded liabilities the city is carrying into the future. He thinks the 30-year experiment with an elected school board, of which he was once the chairman, has been a failure, and he's calling for a discussion about a wide expansion of charter schools. He envisions a "complete redo" on public transportation. And while it's not pleasant, he thinks a lot about the city's sewage.

"If everything were on autopilot in Nashville, then there'd be no chance of me running for mayor," he says. "Zero."

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What You Missed at Tennessee Right To Life's Press Conference

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Yesterday marked the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Hundreds of thousands of activists flooded our nation's capitol, some marching in protest of abortion, others marching in order to preserve the right to it. It's difficult for anyone who is part of a generation born after this landmark decision — myself included —  to imagine not having access to safe abortion. Knowing that it was a legally guaranteed option gave me peace of mind, should I ever be faced with that difficult decision.

Imagination aside, over the past few years, we have seen the reality of what happens to women when their elected officials pass legislature that restricts their ability to access an abortion procedure. We've seen what happens when four states — Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming — only have one abortion-providing facility within their borders, or when another state enacts a 72-hour waiting period that adds additional expense, stress and time to an already stressful circumstance. Regardless of which state you live in, we're in a state of crisis.

The abortion argument continues to intensify on a national level. On Wednesday, House Republicans saw their Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act — a bill sponsored by our very own Rep. Marsha Blackburn that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy — faceplant due to protest from female GOP lawmakers, highlighting a growing rift in the party. Amid the many concerns with this bill is the mandate that a rape victim could only receive an abortion after this time period if she reports the rape to police, a terrifying idea in the rape-shaming society we unfortunately still exist in. (Instead, on Thursday the House voted on a bill that would forbid federal funding for abortions. It passed.)

Locally, tensions are also rising accordingly. On January 13, the Women's March on Nashville politely stomped over the first day of the 109th General Assembly. At 10 a.m., hundreds of people gathered for a rally at the foot of the Tennessee Tower, where speakers opined on topics ranging from fair wages to abortion.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Daily Links: Sheldon Silver, Deflategate, and Jeffrey Epstein

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From The New York Times: The Case Against Sheldon Silver

From Grantland: The Worst Question in Sports: What We Talk About When We Say ‘Talk About’

From The Atlantic: Life in the Sickest Town in America

From Gawker: Flight Logs Put Clinton, Dershowitz on Pedophile Billionaire’s Sex Jet

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MTA CEO: 'We Should Not Build The Amp at This Time'

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 2:25 PM

Metro Transit Authority CEO Stephen Bland says Nashville "should not build The Amp at this time" and that design work on Mayor Karl Dean's proposed 7.1 mile bus rapid transit line should cease.

Bland made the announcement at a meeting of the MTA's board of directors, where he presented his findings and recommendations after reviewing the findings of the Citizen Advisory Committee formed by Dean last year. He said the project had provoked "an unprecedented level of public engagement, discussion, and debate regarding the future of public transit in Nashville and Middle Tennessee," but the city should not move ahead with it now.

Bland's remarks, released by the MTA Thursday afternoon, also included other recommendations such as allocating $750,000 of the remaining Amp design funds toward the MTA's strategic planning process, and continuing "to advance new products and services that provide improvements in service" for customers.

Dean told the CAC in October that his administration would not seek funding for the project in 2015.

Update 3:10 p.m.: A statement from Dean:

“I am proud that we have laid the groundwork for a future mass transit system in Nashville, and, in doing so, raised the level of discourse around transit. To continue our momentum as a city, we have to offer more efficient and reliable transportation options in this corridor and others around the city to address increasing traffic, and I am glad that work will continue. We’ve never come so far in bringing this level of mass transit to Nashville, and we have to continue the conversation to make it a reality. I encourage all citizens to get involved in the strategic plan on transit for the city and region in the coming months. We can’t do it without involvement and input from community and business members.”

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Woman Sues Corrections Corp. Over Strip Search To Prove She Was Menstruating (UPDATED)

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 11:38 AM

A Tennessee woman filed suit in federal court Thursday, alleging that corrections officers at a prison owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America required her to expose her genitalia to officers so they could "verify" that she was menstruating after they spotted a feminine sanitary napkin in her pocket.

The lawsuit seeks to have CCA's "strip-search policy" declared unconstitutional along with compensatory and punitive damages for the officers' "unconscionable and callous regard" for the woman's rights.

The woman, who was visiting an inmate at the prison at the time of the alleged incident, is only identified in the suit as Jane Doe. Her attorneys have also filed a motion that would allow her name to be disclosed to the court and the defendants, but kept from the public "because of the extremely humiliating and embarrassing nature" of the alleged incident. CCA, which has its headquarters in Nashville, is the nation's largest for-profit prison company. The company currently runs six facilities in Tennessee and finalized contracts for one more last year.

CCA, Avril "Butch" Chapman — the warden of South Central Correctional Facility — and six other CCA employees are named in the suit (although their full names are not included as, according to the suit, the plaintiff does not know their complete names and would likely add them during discovery).

The Scene has asked CCA for comment.

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It Starts With Richard Fulton

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Fascinating piece by Bruce Dobie looking at Richard Fulton's career as mayor.

If this time saw the birth of the city's activist young Democrats, it also saw the more conservative elements in the city coalesce. A different leadership axis extended from downtown out West End Avenue and into the comfortable neighborhoods clustered in affluent Belle Meade. Men like David K. "Pat" Wilson, Nelson Andrews, Sam Fleming, Eddie Jones and others built strong civic forces of their own. Unlike the Democrats, this talent pool drew from the Vanderbilt Board of Trust, from the city's top banks and insurance companies, from Hospital Corporation of America and Ingram Industries, and the city's Chamber of Commerce. Mostly Republican, these civic leaders in 1967 had run a controversial campaign to legalize liquor-by-the-drink. Fresh from that victory, and with Jones installed as head of the Chamber, the group then created "Watauga," a behind-the-scenes group of approximately 30 businessmen who would play a secret and domineering role in numerous elections and initiatives for the next 25 years. Reporters were instructed by publishers never to mention Watauga in the city's newspapers. In virtual secrecy, the captains of business proceeded with plotting the city's future.

Then came one Saturday, in 1975, when three of the leading members of Wautaga convened at banker Sam Fleming's spacious house on Jackson Boulevard, in Belle Meade, to talk with Richard Fulton about the upcoming mayor's race. By the end of the meeting, Watauga had promised Fulton the campaign funds he would need to leave Congress and run for mayor; Fulton ultimately accepted their overture. And so it was, that in spite of the political and social and cultural gulfs that came between them, Watauga and Dick Fulton—West Nashville and East, business and labor, Democrat and Republican—found common ground on which to move the city forward.

Fulton won the race in a runaway.

The piece is part Fulton bio, part political history and the kind of telling that's perfectly in Dobie's wheelhouse. It's a great read.

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