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 [ Text Menu: Today's Stack of Stuff | Audio | About Ralph | Contact Ralph | Ralph Rant! ]April 24, 2014 
Apple beats expectations, rewards investors
  Apple made a big after-market move Wednesday that drove its share price up $40 in after-market trading. In a not to restive shareholders, Apple added $30 billion to its stock-buyback plan, raised its dividend about 8% and declared an unusually large 7-for-1 stock split, even as it reported strong iPhone sales that defied expectations of a slowdown. Shares jumped from $525 to $565 a share in after-hours trading. The company's quarterly results eased concerns that Apple's best days were behind it. Apple reported a profit of $10.22 billion for the quarter, up 7% from the year-earlier period. Apple said it sold 43.7 million iPhones in the second quarter, bolstered by strength in emerging markets, and far surpassing analysts' expectation of 38.2 million units. But Apple did particularly well in China during the quarter, with both the iPhone and iPad gaining market share.

Wall Street Journal: Apple Boosts Buyback, Splits Stock to Reward Investors
Did FCC reverse on 'net neutrality?'
  Regulators are proposing new rules on Internet traffic that would allow broadband providers to charge companies a premium for access to their fastest lanes. This latest plan represents the FCC’s effort to find a middle ground in the so-called “net neutrality” fight – the FCC effort to prevent broadband Internet providers such as Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable from blocking or slowing down individual websites served up to the consumer. It would allow providers to give preferential treatment to traffic from some content providers, as long as such arrangements are available on "commercially reasonable" terms for all interested content companies. Whether the terms are commercially reasonable would be decided by the FCC on a case-by-case basis. The FCC will circulate the proposal on Thursday ahead of a vote to move forward with the proposal at its May 15 meeting. One top cable executive told the WSJ, "I have to say, I'm pleased." Others had no immediate comment. Some consumer advocacy groups reacted strongly against the proposal. The American Civil Liberties Union called it a reversal in the FCC’s stance toward net neutrality. Another group called Free Press said, "With this proposal, the FCC is aiding and abetting the largest ISPs in their efforts to destroy the open Internet."

Wall Street Journal: FCC to Propose New 'Net Neutrality' Rules
Obama says more sanctions 'teed up' against Russia
  President Barack Obama warned Moscow this morning that the United States has another round of economic sanctions "teed up" - even as he acknowledged those penalties may do little to influence Vladimir Putin's handling of the crisis in Ukraine. With no appetite in the U.S. for a military response, Obama is largely banking on the Russian president caving under a cascade of economic sanctions targeting his closest associates, but he openly expresses pessimism it will work, even as he threatens the sanctions. "I understand that additional sanctions may not change Mr. Putin's calculus," Obama said during a joint news conference in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "How well they change his calculus in part depends on not only us applying sanctions but also the cooperation of other countries." The pending penalties on Russia are expected to target wealthy individuals in Putin's inner circle, as well as the entities they oversee. Although U.S. has also threatened to levy potentially crippling sanctions on key Russian industries - including its robust energy sector - officials say they only plan to employ those tougher penalties if Russia moves military forces into Ukraine. [With Russia being a big exporter of natural gas to Ukraine and Europe, and the largest producer of oil in non-Opec countries, any sanctions against the energy sector are likely to squeeze other countries too, and – if Obama reacts by allowing more exports of LNG, you may have to pay much higher heating bills next winter.] Obama to Russia: More sanctions are 'teed up'
Senior al Qaeda planner lives openly in Syria
  As an indication of how things are going in Syria, a member of Al Qaeda's senior leadership, Sanafi al Nasr, has relocated to Syria, where he is living openly and publicly courts his followers on twitter, according to counter-terrorism analysts and social media messages. While Nasr is not a household name, his pedigree is well established, according to counter-terrorism analysts. The third cousin of Osama bin Laden is a member of Al Qaeda's so-called Victory Committee, which sets policy and long term strategy for the network. "These are people who are trying to think about what happens next, how to plan for the future,” said one analyst. In recent congressional testimony, the head of the national counter-terrorism center, Matt Olsen, told Congress that Al Qaeda is making a significant play for Syria with its operatives and its cash. "Syria has become the pre-eminent location for Al Qaeda-aligned groups to recruit and to train, and to equip what is now a growing number of extremists some of whom seek to conduct external attacks," Olsen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in early March. Fox News military analyst Ralph Peters said "We've seen them moving into Syria in significant numbers. It tells me that they actually feel not only safer there, but that they have more flexibility there than they do in Pakistan."

Fox News: Top Al Qaeda commander relocates to Syria
GOP mental health bill juggles multiple interests
  To put it crudely, “we can’t have a lot of crazy people running around shooting people.” Crude or not, it gets to the nut of the thinking by Republicans who want to satisfy people’s yearning to do something about senseless mass shootings, without interfering with 2nd amendment rights. The problem is, there are multiple vested interests and expert opinions in the debate to tackle mental health reform. Republicans are so determined [desperate?] to pass a mental health bill, they are leaning on former Democrat Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a prominent mental health advocate, to try to bridge the divide. The Hill reports: “Conflict over the measure has exposed deep fault lines among mental health groups about how to help patients and families coping with serious mental illness.” The privacy police are on duty too, further complicating the solution. Don’t expect this to end without costing you money (for a mental health triage and treatment surge). We can have our guns, or we can have our money, but we probably can’t have both. Republicans will gladly spend our money to help us keep our guns – and the mental health problem does appear both real and a compelling interest of the state [at either the federal or state level] to address.

The Hill: GOP Newtown bill hits impasse
IRS gives bonues despite conduct issues, tax delinquency
  The IRS is not about to let pesky tax delinquency or disciplinary issues stand in the way of its employees’ eligibility for performance bonuses – or maybe they will, now that they’ve been caught. IRS employees who had been disciplined for tax and conduct issues were nonetheless rewarded with monetary awards or time off, according to a watchdog report released Tuesday. The watchdog found that from October 1, 2010 to December 31, 2012 over 2,800 employees who had been disciplined for conduct problems, including issues with federal tax compliance, had received over $2.8 million in monetary awards and over 27,000 hours in time-off awards. The IRS responded in a statement that “…the IRS has not issued awards to any executives that were subject to a disciplinary action. We are also considering a similar policy for the entire IRS workforce.” In a statement that illuminates what one might rightly think obvious, “…providing awards to employees who have been disciplined for failing to pay federal taxes appears to create a conflict with the IRS’s charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration,” said Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.

Fox News: IRS employees with tax and conduct issues still got awards, watchdog report finds
4th grader busted for selling pot
  In an “I told you so” for marijuana opponents, Colorado parents (and grandparents) are being reminded to keep their legal pot away from the kids after two fourth graders were busted for selling marijuana at their elementary school. School officials said a 10-year-old boy brought a small quantity of leafy marijuana to Monfort Elementary School in Greeley, Colorado, on Monday. The next day, authorities say one of the three young buyers brought a marijuana edible to school and gave it to the boy who sold the pot on Monday. Both boys apparently got the weed from their grandparents. School officials are reminding notes to parents urging them to “…treat marijuana as you would prescription drugs, alcohol or even firearms. This drug is potentially lethal to children, and should always be kept under lock and key, away from young people.” It’s Legal to Sell Pot in Colorado, But Not If You’re in 4th Grade
No backpacks, bags at Country Music Marathon
  Backpacks, duffel bags and travel bags will be banned from this year’s Country Music Marathon, scheduled for Saturday. Local, state and federal officials gathered Wednesday to announce a new security plan for the Marathon. Officials from 12 different law enforcement organizations will be present at the race on Saturday. Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson stressed that there were no known threats to the city or the marathon, but he and others wanted to provide as much assurance as possible that this year's race will remain as safe as those in past years. The main security changes: backpacks, duffel bags and travel bags will be banned on Broadway from 1st to 12th Avenues, on Demonbreun Street from 1st to 8th Avenues, the Music City Center and LP Field. The only bags allowed are clear ones issued to runners by marathon organizers. The block of 6th Avenue South that runs under the Music City Center will also be closed as an additional security measure. The area near the starting line will be closed to vehicles starting at 3 a.m.

The Tennessean: Nashville Police outline Country Music Marathon security plan
Food stamp enrollment recedes
  After spiking 25% since 2009, food stamp usage in Tennessee is finally on the decline. Some 270,000 more people in Tennessee relied on food stamps in 2013 than four years earlier, but the number dropped by 13,000 in January this year, according to the latest report. Nationwide, the drop in enrollment was much a steeper 2.6 percent, leaving a million fewer people enrolled. Tennessee continues to rank among the highest in the nation for reliance on the federal food assistance. Nearly one in five Tennesseans continues to receive food stamps. Conservative lawmakers say the high numbers represent an abuse of the program, and have advocated for cuts in funding and restrictions such as banning junk food purchases by recipients. Advocates for the poor say the January drop in numbers proves the program is working to help people get back on their feet. [It’s a big stretch to credit the food stamp program itself with the drop in food stamp enrollment. It’s also interesting to note that the drop coincides with the expiration of extended unemployment benefits for more than a million Americans. It’s more likely that a lot of unemployed people who were collecting food stamps found work and left both the unemployment and food stamp rolls.]

The Tennessean: Fewer people get food stamps, but TN still ranks high
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 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.