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 [ Text Menu: Today's Stack of Stuff | Audio | About Ralph | Contact Ralph | Ralph Rant! ]April 24, 2014 

Stay tuned! Ralph will soon be adding the topics for today.

Check out the top 10 topics from last week.
 AMP deal doesn't stop AMP, requires legislature approval
  State lawmakers have struck a deal that would allow the proposed Amp bus rapid transit project to go forward but with more oversight from the General Assembly. A conference committee of House and Senate legislators agreed to a measure that allows rapid projects to use dedicated lanes but requires the legislature to sign off on such projects, even if they don't require any state funding. The agreement would let the General Assembly block The Amp and similar projects, but it would not dictate how they can be designed. It is a compromise between Senate bill that would have killed the AMP project entirely, the House measure that only required the state's commissioner of transportation to sign off on such projects.
  The Tennessean: New Amp deal would give state veto power on BRT projects    

 Ukraine deal doesn't lower tensions
  Ukrainian and Russian diplomats, backed by the U.S. and Europe, agreed to take steps to turn down the heat in the escalating standoff with pro-Russian militias, even as President Vladimir Putin showed no sign of backing off. Talks in Geneva with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yielded an agreement for separatists to demobilize militias and vacate seized government buildings, and also established a political dialogue that could lead to more autonomy for Ukraine''s east. Yet even as the deal was being struck, Mr. Putin spoke at a televised event in which he adopted some of the language of the separatists and implied that Russia has more of a historical claim to territories in eastern Ukraine than its neighbor does. President Obama sounded skeptical that the deal would resolve the problem. "My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days, but I don''t think, given past performance, that we can count on that," Obama said at a White House news conference. He reiterated he wasn’t considering military options to stop any Russians, but said he was ready to impose new measures against Russians if he doesn''t see improvement. U.S. officials have said their next step is likely tougher sanctions against Russian oligarchs and other entities tied to the unrest.
  Wall Street Journal: Deadly Fighting in East Ukraine    

 Next Clinton generation taking form
  There will be another generation of Clintons. Chelsea Clinton, the 34-year-old daughter of Bill and Hillary, announced Thursday that she and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, are expecting this fall. [You’ll notice her name is still Clinton.] To bring you up do date with the rest of Chelsea’s life – she is currently pursuing a doctorate from Oxford University, serves as vice chair of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, helping direct the organization's humanitarian and philanthropic efforts around the globe. She also serves as a special correspondent for NBC News.
  Fox News: Chelsea Clinton announces pregnancy    

 Boehner 'hell bent' on dealing with immigration this year
  Expect the immigration debate to come back with a vengeance this summer. Speaker John Boehner and other senior House Republicans are telling donors and industry groups that they aim to pass immigration legislation this year, despite the reluctance of many Republicans to tackle the divisive issue before the November elections. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), chairman of the HouseJudiciary Committee, recently said he expects the House to vote this summer on five to seven immigration bills. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R., Fla.) is drafting legislation that would give some illegal immigrants legal status and the chance to apply for citizenship through existing channels. The bill includes border-security measures and an effort to clear the backlog of applications for permanent legal status, known as green cards. House leaders have told Diaz-Balart to have the legislation ready to go for possible debate in June or July. Speaker John Boehner said at a Las Vegas fundraiser last month he was "hellbent on getting immigration done this year.”
  Wall Street Journal: House Immigration Bills Are Still in the Mix    

 TN adops Sudafed limits - higher than governor wanted
  You’ll still be able to buy about a 5-month supply of medicines like Sudafed under a bill passed by the Tennessee House and Senate late Thursday. Governor Haslam and the Senate had supported a version of the bill that would have set an annual limit at about half that amount – as a way to combat meth manufactures who use the over-the-counter drug as a base ingredient. The measure went to a conference committee when the two chambers couldn't agree, and Senate negotiators agreed to the looser restrictions.
  wsmv.com: TN Senate backs off on meth bill, adopts weaker limit    

 Cities hurt by population growth, lack of retail
  The Wall Street Journal highlights a problem this morning that at least one of our Middle Tennessee cities is dealing with right now. The Journal reports: Municipalities in many Western states try to keep property taxes low by using sales-tax revenue generated by stores to provide much of their municipal budget for city services. Homes, by contrast, generate costs by way of the city services that must be provided to them, such as police protection and road maintenance. If a city dependent on sales tax allows too much residential development at the expense of commercial development, it risks running up its costs and restricting its revenue. Unfortunately, there’s much more demand for housing construction across the U.S. than retail in this slow economic recovery. U.S. single-family home construction is projected to rebound this year to three-quarters of its annual average since 2000. Meanwhile, retail construction is expected to amount to a third of its 14-year average. [Spring Hill, Tennessee has experienced this same challenge over the last decade and a half, as the population grew from 7,000 to 33,000 – but the retail has not yet followed the rooftops.] The Journal reports while part of the problem is the slow recovery, but another part - that won't go away - is a move to more online shopping - that is giving retailers second thoughts about building more brick and mortar.
  Wall Street Journal: Towns Taxed by Shift to More Homes, Fewer Stores By Kris Hudson connect    

 Reid calls Bundy supporters 'domestic terrorists'
  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists.” The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.” Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states' rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns. “They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.
  Fox News: Sen. Reid calls supporters of Nevada rancher Bundy 'domestic terrorists'    

 Scientists clone human stem cells
  Scientists have grown stem cells from adults using cloning techniques for the first time — bringing them closer to developing patient-specific lines of cells that can be used to treat a whole host of ailments, from heart disease to blindness [moving us even closer to our very unwise dream of immortality]. The scientists’ technique was similar to the one used in the first clone of a mammal, Dolly the sheep, which was created in 1996. They “reprogrammed” an egg cell by removing its DNA and replaced it with that of an adult donor. Scientists then zapped the cell with electricity, which made it divide and multiply. The resulting cells were identical in DNA to the donor. The research, described in Thursday’s online edition of the journal Cell Stem Cell, is a controversial advance likely to reopen the debate over the ethics of human cloning. [So, if you like yourself enough – and you can afford it – you might one day be able to clone yourself, so when you die, you can start over again.][The bigger problem, in my view, is that this will help us live even longer - not necessarily a good idea.]
  Washington Post: Cloning advance using stem cells from human adult reopens ethical questions    

 SUPCO upholds Michigan ban on racial preferences
  The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Michigan’s ban on the use of racial preferences in university admissions, a decision that might encourage other states to adopt similar prohibitions. By a vote of 6 to 2, the court upheld the decision by Michigan voters to disallow consideration of race when deciding who gets into the state’s universities. California, Florida and the state of Washington have similar prohibitions. Tennessee attempted to pass a similar law last year, but failed. “This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in the court’s controlling opinion. Kennedy said the court’s earlier decisions -- that race may be used in limited ways in admission decisions -- did not dictate that race must be used. Kennedy was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed with the outcome, but would have gone further to prohibit racial preferences. Justices Sonia Sotomayor noted how strongly she disagreed by reading her dissent from the bench. The decision overturns a lower court, which had said that a Michigan constitutional amendment banning the use of racial preferences in university admissions, approved by 58 percent of the state’s voters in 2006, had unfairly targeted minorities. The decision does not change what states are allowed to do, but it indicates to states they are allowed to make laws that some lawmakers may have been reticent to pass, thinking the court would not allow it.
  Washington Post: Supreme Court upholds Michigan’s ban on racial preferences in university admissions    

 Home energy meters under scrutiny
  Utility companies across the U.S. are installing smart meters in customers’ homes, touting the technology’s energy-saving ways, but opponents argue that the meters are opening a Pandora’s box of privacy concerns. The smart energy meters read electric or gas usage, and enable a power company to collect detailed usage data on a particular home or building. But the readings also gather information that some critics argue is too intrusive. The information gathered from smart meters includes unencrypted data that can, among other details, reveal when a homeowner is away from their residence for long periods of time. The electric wattage readings can even decipher what type of activities a customer is engaged in, such as watching TV, using a computer or even how long someone spends cooking. The U.S. Department of Energy has even admitted that privacy and data access is a concern as far back as 2010 in a report on the smart meter technology. The report recommended there should be a prohibition on disclosure of customer data to said third parties. Ohio residents are dealing with the third-party collection issue, as police agencies work to obtain utility data to determine if suspects have been growing marijuana in their homes. In 2011, the Columbus Dispatch reported that at an average of 60 subpoenas are filed each month statewide by law-enforcement agencies seeking energy-use records from various utility companies. In Philadelphia, power customers have complained and opted out of having the smart meters installed because of its two-way communication capabilities. Last year, California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) was required to pay $390,000 to the state’s General Fund after it was discovered that they were spying on anti-smart meter activist groups.
  Fox News: Is your home's energy meter spying on you?    

Growing pains and gains tour - Springhill, TN - part 1
  April 17, 2014 - Our "growing pains and gains" tour stops in Spring Hill, Tennessee, which has grown from 7,000 to 33,000 people since 2000.
Carr defends Haslam against 'lying' charge
  April 4, 2014 - Rep. Joe Carr to VW. If you have proof Haslam has gone "all Sopranos' on you, have the courage to come forth yourself.
'Minimum'is not 'living'
  March 27, 2014 - This is for those who believe they are "stuck" in a minimum wage job, and think a higher minimum wage is the solution.
What is a free market?
  March 17, 2014 - Everyone talks about the free market, but exactly what is it?
Organized business v. Common Core Opponents
  March 17, 2014 - Here's my analysis of the campaign by organized business to protect Common Core.
Rep. Mathew Hill updates fight to repeal Common Core
  March 14, 2014 - Rep. Mathew Hill (R-Jonesborough)discusses the floor fight in the Tennessee House over Common Core, and where the fight goes next.
Looney defends Common Core
  March 14, 2014 - Williamson County School Supt. Dr. Mike Looney defends Common Core, even as he professes ambivalence about the program. He begins by answering that some central planning of the economy, and education, is beneficial.
Womick leads 'war on core'
  Mar. 11, 2014 - Rep. Rick Womick (R-Rutherford Co.) takes questions about his effort to repeal the Common Core education standards - with Common Core supporter Mark Hill, chief policy officer with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, joining the discussion about half-way through the program.
Mr. Obama, tear down these walls
  Jan. 31, 2014 - Here's a "reenactment" of my rally rant on the occasion of President Obama's visit to Nashville.
Carr accuses Lamar of protecting Obamacare
  Jan. 24, 2014 - State Rep. Joe Carr, running for U.S. Senate against Lamar Alexander, accuses the senior senator from Tennessee of siding with the defenders of Obamacare.
Sen. Stacy Campfield - Is Lamar in trouble
  Dec. 4, 2013 - State Sen. Stacy Campfield of Knoxville discusses why he thinks Sen. Lamar Alexander is running scared.
Matheny seeks 'vertical' ammunition industry in Tennessee
  Nov. 26, 2013 - Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) discusses the heightened Congressional interest in the problem of terrorists coming to the U.S. through our refugee program. He also introduces the prospect of recruiting a "vertical" ammunition industry in the state, to "guarantee ammunition to Tennesseans for generations to come."
RNC plots to squeeze out South
  Nov. 5, 2013 - A Daily Beast report makes it sound like the RNC is trying to squeeze Southern voters out of the presidential selection process. Listen and see if this makes sense to you.
Lamar ad - what he should have said
  Nov. 15, 2013 - A few people wanted to hear this again.
Matheny leads refugee cost investigation
  Oct. 2, 2013 - Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma, chairman of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee, discusses the fiscal, security and federalism issues surrounding a large population of refugees from war-torn Muslim countries.
Black, Blackburn balk at Obamacare defunding plan
  Sept. 13, 2013 - Middle Tennessee Rep. Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn are not on board with a "shutdown showdown" with President Obama over funding for Obamacare.
Taxation Townhall highlight
  April 12, 2010 - Author, historian William Federer was a big hit at our Taxation Townhall Meeting on April 9th, 2010 . Here's his 3-minute lesson on the history of concentrated power. [I'm re-posting by popular demand.]
Obama v. Obama - on red lines
  Sept. 4, 2013 - No need to elaborate.
Gowdy says public, media needed for scandal justice
  Sept. 3, 2013 - South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor, discusses the Obama administration scandals and Obama's plan to bomb Syria. He strongly suggests Congress needs more compelling witnesses and media interest for justice to be served in the scandals - and he's very skeptical of a national interest in Syria sufficient to put American lives at risk.
DeMint argues for Obamacare defunding plan
  Aug. 9, 2013 - Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation, in the first of two live interviews, argues the plan to defund Obamacare is the last, best chance and only workable plan to stop or repeal the President's signature healthcare law, which DeMint believes is uniquely destructive to America.
Heritage Action locks horns with Corker
  Aug. 7, 2013 - Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler rebuts Sen. Bob Corker's position that efforts to defund Obamacare are "silly" and "political."
Corker dismisses Obamacare defunding effor as political
  Aug. 7. 2013 - Sen. Bob Corker called into the program Weds. morning and continued the running debate over efforts to defund Obamacare.
The AMP - an experiment in public transporation
  Aug 3, 2013 - A Nashville's Morning News report and analysis on the issues involving a proposed Bus rapid transit system, The AMP, which would dramatically effect traffic and business on one of Nashville's busiest city streets. And that's just the beginning. [long download][runs 23 minutes]
Ralph Rant: Get to the 'top' of this
  May 22, 2013 - To preserve the Republic, Republicans in Congress cannot stop until they get, not "to the bottom of this," but "to the top of this."
ABC Analyst: IRS decision goes close to Obama
  May 21, 2013 - ABC political analyst Trey Hardin talks about his blunt assestment of the origin of the IRS scandal. “I can say with a very strong degree of certainty that people very close to the president not only knew but authorized that,” said Hardin, and much more.
Opponents rise against BRT
  May 15, 2013 - In this premeditated Ralph Rant, I break the news of a new group that has formed to oppose Nashvill'e planned Bus Rapid Transit on West End Ave.
Rick Williams, BRT opponent, speaks out
  May 15, 2013 - Rick Williams is a member of the steering committee for TNResponsibleTransit, the group opposing the planned Nashville Bus Rapid Transit on West End Avenue. You can reach him at TNResponsibleTransit@gmail.com. This is the group's debut media interview - in its new campaign to stop BRT.
Tennessee Tea Party leaders respond to IRS scandal
  May 13, 2013 - Ben Cunningham, founder of the Nashville Tea Party and Mark West, President of the Chattanooga Tea Party, respond to the IG report that busts the IRS for targeting Tea Party Groups for harassment in 2011, prior to the 2012 election.
Sen. Rand Paul on guns, immigration, taxes
  April 18, 2013 - U.S. Sen. Rand Paul discusses the failed gun bill, the immigration reform bill ahead, and the right strategy on taxes.
Leahy launches 'The Real Conservative National Committee'
  April 4, 2014 - Author, Breitbart correspondent and tea party activist Michal Patrick Leahy discusses a new organization formed to improve the ground game needed to help elect more conserative candidates to Congress, starting in 2014 with the GOP primary for U.S. Senate
Alexander on coal regs - Round 2
  June 14, 2012 - Sen. Alexander returns to respond to some of the reaction to his stand on new coal plant regulations.
Alexander defends coal regulations, says he will run again
  June 13, 2012 - Sen. Lamar Alexander defends his stand in favor of new coal plant regulations - explains why he belives Medicaid is to blame for higher college tuition - and says he intends to run for reelection in 2014.
Exclusive: The first hand account of "The Last Man to Die"
  May 11, 2012 - A 92-year-old Cookeville, TN WWII veteran solves a 67-year secret behind one of the most famous WWII photographs.

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Ralph Bristol is a 30-year veteran of radio and TV broadcasting. He is a US Air Force veteran and holds a BS degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Ralph was a radio and TV reporter, anchor and news director in Missouri and Illinois before joining WORD Radio in Greenville/Spartanburg, SC in 1995.

In the spring of 2007, Supertalk 99.7 WWTN beckoned Ralph to Nashville. Ralph defies political labels, and has no partisan loyalties, but can best be described as a libertarian/conservative. Ralph writes and speaks extensively on education, tax and economic issues. In his spare time, Ralph terrorizes golf courses, invents useful things with sharp tools and dead wood, and entertains audiences with irreverent humor and contrarian insight. Invite him to speak to your group at your own risk.