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RIP Pat Summitt

By R. Neal, Tue, 2016/06/28 - 6:23am


A leader, a motivator and an inspiration, on and off the court.

UT Women's Basketball: As a coach, mentor, mother-figure, ambassador, trailblazer and role model, Pat Summitt was a living torchbearer. Hers is a light that also cannot be extinguished.

UT: Pat Summitt (1952-2016): The world knew Coach Pat Summitt as the winningest basketball coach of all time. To the members of the UT family, she was that and much, much more. She was a coach, a teacher, a role model, a co-worker, and a friend.

News Sentinel
Hartford Courant...
New York Times...
Washington Post...
Los Angeles Times...
Sports Illustrated...

Knox Co. Mayor Tim Burchett...
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero...
President Obama...

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Volunteer sunflower

By R. Neal, Mon, 2016/06/27 - 5:27pm

We have a few volunteer sunflowers coming up around one of the bird feeders. This one is the furthest along...


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Supreme Court upholds gun ban for domestic abusers

By R. Neal, Mon, 2016/06/27 - 3:36pm

NPR: 6-2 vote...

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in a 6-2 vote that domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanors can be barred from owning weapons.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, concludes that misdemeanor assault convictions for domestic violence are sufficient to invoke a federal ban on firearms possession.

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Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion restrictions

By R. Neal, Mon, 2016/06/27 - 11:36am

NPR: 5-3 decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt...

The Supreme Court has overturned a Texas law requiring clinics that provide abortions to have surgical facilities and doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The law was predicted to close many clinics and further reduce availability of abortion in Texas; the court has ruled the law violated the Constitution.

Tennessee has similar laws, which are now presumably invalidated.

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TIDAL wave?

By R. Neal, Sun, 2016/06/26 - 8:18pm

Look, I admit I'm an old geezer, desperately clinging to my semi-hi-fi audio rig and music albums I can hold in my hand (CDs for the last 30 years or so and LPs before that). TIDAL may convince me to let go.

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Alcoa Highway is growing

By bizgrrl, Sun, 2016/06/26 - 1:28pm

Big changes are happening along Alcoa Highway from Woodson Drive to Maloney Road. According to the Maryville Daily Times article, there will be "10 retaining walls and three bridges to provide connection for new collector roads that parallel the highway." I'm still against any sort of new Alcoa Highway Bypass/Parkway in Alcoa, Blount County. They should do the same thing there, if there is really a need to handle more traffic.

The Mr. said it looks like strip mining.

(click image for gallery).

A lot of the work is currently on the East side. However, a huge chunk of land has been removed on the West side at Lakemoor Hills, just past Montlake Drive. This land backs up to Timberlake Drive.

I grew up in this area. When we moved in to the neighborhood Alcoa Highway was a two lane road. Look at how it has grown and is growing. I hope these changes are worth the money, effort, and inconvenience. And, I hope it makes driving Alcoa Highway in this area safer.

One great thing right now is the speed limit is 40 mph in this area. It's a lot easier to drive through the area and visit the neighborhoods and businesses. Not that people obey the speed limit, but police are frequently positioned along the road.

I have driven through the construction area a few times during morning "rush hour". The pace is not as bad as you would think, even when the road goes to one lane on occasion.

The entrances to the local neighborhoods of Lakemoor Hills and Martha Washington Heights are accessible but definite construction zones as is Woodson Drive.

There is also a TDOT construction zone at Topside Road in Blount County, just over the river. In that construction zone the speed limit is still 55 mph. What are they thinking?

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Ralph Stanley RIP

By Stick, Fri, 2016/06/24 - 1:03pm


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Inside a Corrections Corporation of America for-profit prison

By R. Neal, Fri, 2016/06/24 - 10:12am

Worse than Angola. So bad the Louisiana Dept. of Corrections canceled CCA's contract:

Shane Bauer's undercover report for Mother Jones: My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard...

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UK votes to leave EU, PM Cameron resigns

By R. Neal, Fri, 2016/06/24 - 4:05am

BBC reports...

World markets in chaos...

What it means...

UPDATE: U.S. Markets open sharply lower...

Dow Jones  17,526.69	-484.38	(-2.69%)
S&P 500     2,061.59	 -51.73	(-2.45%)
Nasdaq      4,732.38	-177.67	(-3.62%)

UPDATE: At the close, year to date gains wiped out...

Dow Jones  17,399.86	-611.21	(-3.39%)
S&P 500     2,037.30	 -76.02	(-3.60%)
Nasdaq      4,707.98	-202.06	(-4.12%)
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Blues Cruise this Sunday Afternoon

By xmd, Thu, 2016/06/23 - 4:53pm

The Smoky Mountain Blues Society has their Third of the year Blues Cruises this Sunday afternoon, June 26th on the Star of Knoxville Riverboat. We had a tremendous turnout for last years cruises and this year hopes to be a banner year also. Join us for three hours of great blues music with THE STELLA VEES from KY.

Tickets are $16 in advance and $20 day of show. Smoky Mtn. Blues Members receive a $3 discount. Boarding at 3 PM, cruise from 4 to 7 pm. Hope to see you there. Call the Riverboat Company Mon-Fri from 10-4 and some Sat.(hrs vary)at 865-525-7827 | 800-509-2628 for tickets.
Check out the SMBS website for more info.

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Cruze Farm Milk Bar to open Friday on Union Avenue

By jbr, Thu, 2016/06/23 - 4:30pm

Some local culture and personality added to downtown for a couple months ...

from ...

Friday is a big day for Colleen Cruze. The co-owner of Cruze Dairy Farm has always dreamed of having a storefront. That dream comes true tomorrow when she opens the Cruze Farm Milk Bar in the former location of Just Ripe, 513 Union Avenue.

But don't get too excited. The milk bar will only operate for two months. There are other yet-unannounced plans for the space to occur this fall.

Cruze Farm Milk Bar to open Friday on Union Avenue

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Knox area financial counseling resources for the poor?

By jbr, Thu, 2016/06/23 - 11:15am

How can poor people needing objective sound financial guidance get it in the Knoxville area?

Say the single elderly widow on Social Security who has a significant medical expense, or expensive emergency house repair, or some other circumstance that without the resources or knowledge, would possibly turn to payday lender type loan, or mortgage her home, etc.

It seems like payday lenders, title loans, etc are showing where that sort of resource should be located.

Branch libraries and schools seem like a good location to provide those types of resources.

Zoning is fine, but the base problem is desperate people, people in a critical, stressful situation.

Free Advice on Money for Those With Little

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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City Council workshop on payday lending zoning ordinance

By R. Neal, Thu, 2016/06/23 - 9:26am

Knoxville City Council will hold a workshop on a proposed Alternative Financial Services Zoning Ordinance next Thursday, 6/30/2016 at 5:30 PM in the Main Assembly Room, City-County Building.

The ordinance would define "alternative financial services" (payday lenders, title loan companies, check cashing services, etc.), identify zoning districts in which they are permitted and establish standards for their location.

The City had asked MPC for a recommendation on the proposed zoning. Among other things, MPC recommended in their report a spacing standard of 1,000 foot separation from like businesses and 1,000 foot from residentially zoned properties. Here is their report.

City Council was to hear the proposed ordinance on first reading at their Tuesday 6/21 meeting. Here is the proposed ordiance and related documents (extracted the agenda package for that meeting).

We are told that the proposed ordinance was originally postponed at the 5/10/2016 meeting to the 6/21/2016 meeting. The workshop was scheduled for 6/30/2016, so it has been postponed again until 7/5/2016, when it will be heard on first reading.

Previous discussion here...

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DOJ: 301 defendants charged in $900 million Medicare/Medicaid fraud bust

By R. Neal, Thu, 2016/06/23 - 7:42am

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a massive Medicare/Medicaid fraud sweep that netted 301 individuals charged with $900 million in fraudulent Medicare/Medicaid billing. According to the DOJ, "This coordinated takedown is the largest in history, both in terms of the number of defendants charged and loss amount."

"The defendants announced today are charged with various health care fraud-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, money laundering and aggravated identity theft."

In the Middle District of Tennessee, a doctor was charged for his role in an illegal kickback scheme under which he allegedly referred patients to a certain DME supplier in exchange for cash kickbacks.

In the Southern District of Florida, a total of 100 defendants were charged with offenses relating to their participation in various fraud schemes involving approximately $220 million in false billings for home health care, mental health services and pharmacy fraud.

Full statement from the DOJ...

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You can tell it's summer

By michael kaplan, Thu, 2016/06/23 - 12:01am

... when motorists sit in grocery parking lots with their engines idling and air conditioners running, reading or using their phones. This one is at Three Rivers Market, but it could be Kroger or Walmart or any of the others.


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Incarceration event

By michael kaplan, Wed, 2016/06/22 - 2:25pm

Save time and money by visiting your incarcerated friends and family from the comfort of your home or office.


The Knox County Incarceration Collective, an autonomous prisoners' rights and prison reform group invites you to "iExploit: Prison Privatization" Thursday June 23rd at 6 p.m. Let's gather at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 600 South Chestnut Knoxville, TN 37914.

We will serve dinner for the evening! This is a chance to hear about current issues for incarcerated folks at Knox County and strategize against the root of the most recent issues, which is privatization!

Tennessee is leading the country's prison models for privatization, sentencing, and maintaining max prison capacity, and Knox County is a player in this model. The winter of 2015 Knox County jails and detention center secured a contract with Securus Technologies, a private service and third party to Knox County jails.

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Democrats staging sit-in on House floor

By R. Neal, Wed, 2016/06/22 - 1:03pm

Led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, about 60 Democrats are staging a sit-in on the House floor (literally on the floor) demanding a vote on stricter gun control measures...

"No bill, no break!"




UPDATE: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has joined them...

UPDATE: Historic moment captured: A powerful speech...

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"Make America White Again"

By xmd, Wed, 2016/06/22 - 11:31am

"Make America White Again" campaign sign causing controversy in Polk Co.
Wow and we thought we had it bad.

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Pay your parking tickets... Sotomayor's rousing dissent in 4th Amendment case

By Mike Knapp, Wed, 2016/06/22 - 9:50am

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's dissent in Monday's 4th Amendment case decided by a 5-3 margin appears to be a classic. "Fiery", "ringing", "epic", and "scathing" are some of the words popping up on google to describe her remarkable dissent in a case in which the SCOTUS voted to allow evidence gathered from otherwise illegal police searches if a defendant was discovered to have an outstanding warrant.


For generations, black and brown parents have given their children “the talk”— instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger—all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them. See, e.g., W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903); J. Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963); T. Coates, Between the World and Me (2015).

By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.

We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere.

See L. Guinier & G. Torres, The Miner’s Canary 274–283 (2002). They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.

Further Reading
Matt Ford in The Atlantic Justice Sotomayor's Ringing Dissent

John Nichols in The Nation  Sonia Sotomayor’s Epic Dissent Explains What’s at Stake When the Police Don’t Follow the Law

Mark Joseph Stern in Slate Read Sonia Sotomayor’s Atomic Bomb of a Dissent Slamming Racial Profiling and Mass Imprisonment

Brandon Morse at RedState Your 4th Amendment Rights Are Being Defended By…Justice Sotomayor?

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Check your email... you may have some surprise money and free stuff

By R. Neal, Wed, 2016/06/22 - 8:46am

Payouts on a couple of high-profile class action lawsuit settlements have started, and you may have some money and/or free stuff coming.

Yesterday I got an email from Amazon saying they had applied a credit to my account as part of the Apple ebook price fixing settlement. To confirm it wasn't a fake email, I checked my account and was pleasantly surprised to find a fairly substantial gift card credit. The credits expire June 24, 2017. More info from Amazon...

Ticketmaster has also announced payouts on a class action lawsuit settlement involving disclosure of fees. Those affected are eligible to receive $5 UPS vouchers and $2.25 discounts on a limited number of purchases, plus vouchers for free tickets to selected upcoming concerts. (It doesn't appear there are any in Tennessee, but there are several in the Atlanta area and some in Kentucky.) I checked my account page under "vouchers" and did not have any. You might. More info from Ticketmaster...

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