Fun with guns
The Tennessee Firearms Association is emailing legislators to demand that they enact the guns-in-bars bill without that pesky 11 o'clock curfew. Like the Clanton Gang in Wyatt Earp's Tombstone, our state's Second Amendment defenders chafe at the idea of giving up their guns in a saloon just as the fun's about to start. Here's the association's latest Tennessee action alert:
"I cannot stress enough that we need more phone calls and emails to legislators about passing HB0962 in the House and Senate without the House restrictions. The Senate version of the bill strips out these restrictions. We expect, at this point, for the bills to be in both Houses on Thursday the 30th of April and to be potentially in and out of conference by that time." Jeff Woods
Wrath of God and money
Tennessee just got another little taste of what it means to live in a state whose legislature is run by the Christian Right. A House subcommittee has adopted a bill by Rep. Tony "Wrath of God" Shipley to make it illegal for health-care providers to deny parents immediate access to the medical records of their children. Under the bill, an incestuous father could demand his pregnant daughter's records. Not surprisingly, this imperils the $6.5 million in federal family planning money that Tennessee receives.
To save that money and protect the confidentiality of patients, Rep. Henry Fincher tried to amend Shipley's bill to give physicians some discretion with the records of teenagers. As usual, Shipley was undeterred by logic. He compared the federal family planning money to "13 pieces of silver," coming up 17 pieces short of what Judas took to betray Jesus. (OK, so Shipley's not exactly a biblical scholar. But we all know what he meant.)
"My characterization is that $6.5 million that we get from the federal government for Planned Parenthood or family planning doesn't measure up to what's important to parents," he told the subcommittee.
The bill was important enough to Christian conservatives to bring none other than House Speaker Kent Williams to the meeting. As speaker, Williams can vote on any committee, but he exercises that power rarely. He cast the deciding vote to defeat Fincher's amendment 4-3 and to send Shipley's bill to the full Judiciary Committee. Jeff Woods
Vandy on the rise
Eat it, Stanford! After years of playing second fiddle, Vanderbilt's Peabody graduate school of education has finally surpassed the Harvard of the West Coast as No. 1 in the nation. This is according to U.S. News & World Report's annual college rankings (a.k.a. the advertising showpony that pays for the other 51 issues).
Peabody's U.S. News ranking is the highest ever achieved by a Vandy school. But they're not the only ones on the upswing. The Commodores' schools of medicine, business, history, psych and English also gained ground in their respective lists. So there: definitive proof that Vanderbilt is as good of a school as you always thought it was. Caleb Hannan
The UPS thief
It was almost the perfect crime: Thousands of dollars in jewelry siphoned from UPS packages whose delivery he was charged with overseeing.
Now, because of some pot he left in plain view in his Honda Accord, police say Richard Traughber, 31, is charged with theft and felony drug possession. Police say an interested citizen spied the ganja in Traughber's car parked in front of a business on Dana Way and tipped off police. An officer was taking down the car's vitals when a UPS delivery truck dropped the man off at his Honda.
Police say Traughber admitted the car, the dope, the pills and the digital scale were his. He may have been a little more loath to admit that the $15,000 in rings, necklaces and a Rolex watch were, in fact, not his. Traughber allegedly confessed that he'd been pawning jewelry stolen from UPS packages. Brantley Hargrove
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