Monday, October 20, 2014

Political Donors of Ill Repute: Payday Lenders Keep Giving Back

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Back in July, we looked at the way payday lenders — which thrive under lax regulation in Tennessee — pour thousands of dollars into state political campaigns. With early voting for the November election now underway, financial disclosures for the third quarter are out, and payday lenders are shelling out even more money to Tennessee politicians.

Financial disclosures show the industry spent more than $70,000 last quarter, whether in direct contributions to candidates or funneled through other political action committees. Here's a breakdown:

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The Tennessean Endorses Haslam for a Second Term

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Bill Haslam is going to win a second term. As sure as the sun came up this morning, as sure lungs needing air to breathe. He needs no media endorsements. Did you see his campaign ad? It's literally just children running around being cute. I hear that his next radio spot is just going to be 30 seconds of a baby laughing. His campaign stops from here on out, rumor has it, will just be Bill Haslam holding a puppy and letting people pet it. Questions from the media at these stops will all be answered, at least according to speculation, with "Who's a good boy? This puppy who wants to vote for Bill Haslam is a good boy, that's for sure." The thought of Bill Haslam wandering around the state with an adorable puppy makes me want to vote for him.

All the Democratic nominee has is a promise to put Bill Haslam in the electric chair, just for a little shock. Which, yes, normally, I'd be for, but think of the children!

So, why is the Tennessean bothering to endorse anyone for Governor?

OK, fine, maybe they need to endorse someone for governor out of a sense of tradition, but did you read this part?!

Four years ago, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam came out strong in his first bid to be governor of Tennessee. He had to fight off two tough rivals for his party’s nomination before going on to vanquish the son of a popular former governor in the general election.

With that much opposition, could Haslam have imagined that he would have such as easy path to re-election in 2014?

Every time I read that, I laugh. Two tough rivals for his party's nomination? Ron Ramsey, who acted like an ass for the first 20% of every time he spoke, sounded reasonable for the middle 60%, and then returned to ass-like foolishness for the last 20%? (Not to mention the guy who's managed to get most of his agenda through, as if not winning governor was, perhaps, the best thing politically to ever happen to him?) Or...I don't even remember who the other nominee was. Oh, Zach Wamp. Bad news, Zach Wamp, you don't leave much of an impression.

Haslam got the party nomination over Yosemite Sam and The Forgettable Man. Is that really tough?

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Dollars in Davidson: $256K Flows Into Local Races

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Some of Nashville’s biggest hottest elections were decided in August, but many are still racing to the November voting day finish line in a bid to win a seat in state office.

Collectively, candidates raised more than $256,000 to defend their seats on Capitol Hill or to win their way into office in the last three months, many of those dollars coming from within the state, and others from outside. Here’s a breakdown of the candidates still in the races and how much they’ve raised in their bids for office from July 29 to Sept. 30, according to campaign finance records filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

The Daily Links: GamerGate, Modern Medicine and Horror Moview

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 5:41 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 Deadspin: The future of the culture wars is here, and it's GamerGate

From New York: Modern medicine changed the way we die, and not always for the better

From California Sunday Magazine: Ruth Thalía, a teenager from the outskirts of Lima, Peru, became an overnight sensation on a hit television game show. Then, she disappeared.

From New York Times Magazine: When women became men at Wellesley

From Buzzfeed: How "New Nightmare" Changed The Horror Game

From Boing Boing: Psychedelic rock and roll posters from San Francisco, 1966-1971

Those are the links. This is a lynx...

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  • Amiee Stubbs

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The Front of the Book: Why Metro Schools Are Failing, Ad Wars, and Two Pee Wees

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 7:30 AM

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Why Metro Schools Are Failing: On the cover this week is part one of a three-part series from Andrea Zelinski on "the issues that face the beleaguered school district, the people they affect, and the district's reaches for success." Part One focuses on Nashville's immigrant population, the district's English Language Learners, and the challenge's they face navigating the city's public school system.

After a year in Metro Nashville Public Schools, Mishell struggles to learn a language still foreign to her, in a world where it's far too tempting not to speak English. It's a struggle some 24,000 students here face daily, trying to master a new language (and decipher what it means) while their family speaks their native tongue at home. She and more than 11,575 other beginning English language learners — referred to as ELLs — carry that burden on their shoulders as they walk the halls of Metro Nashville's public schools.

Mishell attends Overton High School, considered one of the entry points for Nashville's immigrant population into the public school system, and hence into American life. It's a stone's throw from tony private Franklin Road Academy, and just three minutes from the governor's mansion.

But it might as well be in another country. The school is bursting at the seams, and a staggering 70 percent of its student body — that's 7 out of every 10 kids — comes from a low-income family.

That hurdle is compounded by a vast communications gap. At Overton, which serves South Nashville's sprawling mix of immigrant cultures, some 38 separate languages are spoken. At nearby high schools Glencliff and Antioch, according to the state report card, more than 1 in 6 students are trying to learn English while speaking another language at home.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Metro Pulse Dissolved After 23 Years

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 10:12 AM


Tennessee's alternative news scene is poorer today, after the news that the staff of Knoxville's Metro Pulse has been laid off and the alt-weekly will "be merged with Knoxville.com." According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Scripps Media daily which owned the Pulse, Knoxville.com is "the paper’s Friday entertainment section, to create a new, comprehensive guide to activities in the metro area" — sounds to us like a bastardized version of the Pulse, minus its vital news coverage and unique voice. Blegh.

The KNS laid off 23 employees in all, representing six percent of the paper's workforce. More from the paper's statement about the layoffs, after the jump:

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Mary Overton is Not a Witch, Which, Yes, Is Kind of a Bummer

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 6:00 AM

If you've been over to Travellers Rest in the past year or so, you've probably noticed that they have an awesome herb garden and a sign that says, "According to tradition, Mary Overton, wife of Judge John Overton, was a talented herbalist. All of her eight children lived to adulthood, a rare occurrence in the early 19th century considering the constant threat of disease."

"Talented herbalist." That's often the kind of language polite people use to mean "She was a witch or a hoodoo woman!" And it being October, I thought I'd go over and get you all a good true story of early Nashville weirdness for Halloween, objectively our nation's best holiday.

On Tuesday, Tonya Staggs, the education director for Travellers Rest, was kind enough to sit down and talk to me about Mary Overton who was, it turns out, not a witch. The stories that Stagg told me about Mary Overton and her relationship to her herb garden, ended up being really interesting, if not spooky. Mary Overton was less witch and more scientist.

Mrs. Overton was, originally, Mary White, the daughter of James White, the founder of Knoxville. She was born in 1782. Her father greatly valued education and, by all accounts, Mary was very well-educated for a woman at the time. She was a life-long reader.

She met her first husband, Francis May, a Nashville doctor, after he fled town and hid in Knoxville after he killed another doctor, Frank Sappington, in a duel. You'll be unsurprised to learn that May was a personal physician of Andrew Jackson and often accompanied him when he was dueling with people. Mary and Francis eventually were able to return to Nashville and the May house still stands at 631 Hill Road (and is for sale, if you have a few million dollars lying around). She was very interested in and supportive of May's medical career and I think it's likely, considering her love of learning, that she picked up a lot from him.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Daily Links: Chemical Weapons, Cheap Beer, and Dudes With Drones

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 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 Guardian: Kesha's lawsuit against Dr Luke and the murky history of pop svengalis

From GQ: My Name Is David Chang, and I Hate Fancy Beer

From The Atlantic: Dudes With Drones

From The New York Times: The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons

From The New York Times: Bill Simmons’s Return Sets Intrigue in Motion at ESPN

Those are the links. This is a lynx...

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  • Amiee Stubbs

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Cooper Denounces Voter ID in Wake of GAO Report

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Congressman Jim Cooper and representatives from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters Wednesday denounced Tennessee's voter ID law as an affront to one of "our most fundamental rights," and impugned the motives of those who supported the law, in light of a new report showing its effects on turnout.

A 200-page report released last week by the Government Accountability Office found that voter turnout dropped by at least 2.2 percentage points in Tennessee in 2012, the first election after passage of the new voter requirements. Based on the data, The Washington Post estimated that 88,000 Tennesseans likely would have voted, if not for the new law.

Tennessee's Secretary of State Tre Hargett has disputed the report, calling it "fundamentally flawed" and arguing that, unlike Tennessee, other states analyzed in the report had hotter issues or races that attracted voters. Cooper singled out Hargett for criticism Wednesday, both for his response and the design of Tennessee's new line of "I Voted" stickers.

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Report: Secret Service Asked Metro Cops to Fake A Warrant

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM

In a letter to members of a congressional oversight committee, Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said local agents of the U.S. Secret Service asked his officers to fake a warrant last year, News Channel 5 reports.

Phil Williams has the details:

In the Nashville case, a Secret Service agent made a frantic call for backup to Nashville police after he and another agent went to the home of a Nashville man, investigating threatening comments on Facebook about the President. The man who posted them had refused to let the agents into his house.

"He shoved the door in our face and went around the corner. Looks like, we're not sure if he ... possibly he had a gun in his hands," the agent told a 911 operator.

In a letter that he first sent to Secret Service headquarters, the Nashville police chief recounted what happened.

"The resident refused to come outside and shouted back, 'Show me your warrant,'" Anderson wrote.

So "one of the agents then asked a [police] sergeant to 'wave a piece of paper' in an apparent effort to dupe the resident into thinking that they indeed had a warrant."

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned earlier this month amidst multiple reports of security lapses by the agency charged with protecting the president.

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