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 [ Text Menu: Today's Stack of Stuff | Audio | About Ralph | Contact Ralph | Ralph Rant! ]December 22, 2014 

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 Drama unfolds in background of Sydney morning TV program
  A Sydney TV station, 7News Sydney, was on the air, doing the morning show with the street in the background, when the hostage situation unfolded across the street, and police converged on the sidewalk just a few yards from the TV studio. From their front-row seat, 7News reported, with live video, the first moments of the hostage incident. (link goes to the moment the story broke) They are now reporting: - At least 13, and up to 30, hostages are being held inside a cafe in Sydney's Martin Place. - The gunman, who calls himself "the brother", had reportedly demanded a flag of terrorist organisation Islamic State be delivered to the cafe and he wants to speak with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. - Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says police have moved to a "footing" similar to dealing with a terrorist attack. Siege situation in Martin Place    

 Illegal immigrants flock to amnesty workshops
  Illegal immigrants are flocking to workshops in community centers, schools, churches and a at least one vast city convention center to learn how to apply for President Obama’s deportation relief. In Los Angeles, advocates are hosting an information session for as many as 10,000 people at the city's convention center Sunday. Workshops have already been held at a high school in Knoxville, Tennessee, a church in Goshen, Indiana, and an Islamic Center in New York City. Eben Cathey, a spokesman for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said his organization has an event almost every night. At least 20 states have filed a lawsuit to try to block Obama’s executive action, which aims to benefit illegal immigrants who have been in the country for more than five years and have children who are American citizens or green card holders, along with some immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.
  AP: Immigrants flock to workshops after Obama reprieve    

 Missing TN teacher's ex facing attempted murder charge in FL
  The ex-husband of a Middle Tennessee teacher who’s been missing since 2011 faces an attempted murder charge in Florida in a case involving another woman. Police arrested 34-year-old Tyler Mook Saturday on a warrant stemming from a domestic battery incident in October when he allegedly tried to drown his girlfriend. His ex-wife, Shelley Mook, disappeared in February 2011. The burned car of the Shelbyville middle school teacher was found the day she went missing near Murfreesboro. Tyler Mook now lives in Palm City, Fla., and had been in a two-year relationship with a woman he allegedly attacked her on the Intracoastal Waterway, because she asked him to slow down in a manatee zone. Mook allegedly threw the woman overboard and tried to hold her under, but his brother stopped him. Police believe Mook was trying to drown her and would have if his brother had not intervened. He’s being held on $100,000 bond – and there’s a cold-case file in Rutherford County that’s about a get a fresh look.
  The Tennessean: Missing TN teacher’s ex faces attempted murder charge in Florida    

 Senate Passes spending bill, tax extenders
  Senate leaders overcame revolts from both liberals and conservatives Saturday night and passed the $1.1 trillion spending bill that funds most of the government through the end of September next year. The Homeland Security Dept. is funded only until Feb. 27, to give Republicans another swing at President Obama’s immigration order after assuming control of the Senate. Sen. Ted Cruz pushed the Senate to cast its first vote on the policy Saturday night, losing 74-22, with 23 of the 45 GOP senators voting down Cruz' point of order, including both Tennessee Senators. Sen. Bob Corker criticized Cruz’ move, saying, “The Constitution gives Congress the power to fund the government so to assert that the House-passed spending bill is unconstitutional is not only inaccurate but irresponsible." Liberals Democrats, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, rebelled against a provision the rolls back one of the Dodd-Frank regulations on banks, and because it raises the amount of money that wealthy donors may contribute to political parties for national conventions, election recounts and headquarters buildings. That’s a position the liberals share with many Tea Party leaders, who believe the change favors the establishment wing of the GOP. --- In addition to passing the $1.1 trillion spending bill, the Senate also followed the House’s lead in passing a one-year extension of dozens of tax breaks that had expired at the beginning of the year.
  Fox News: Senate passes $1.1 trillion spending bill, averting partial gov't shutdown    

 Nashville Police hold detailed news conference about deadily shooting
  Metro Police have taken a proactive approach in addressing racial concerns after officers shot and killed a 16-year-old robbery suspect. That teenager, 16-year-old Xavier McDonald, was killed Sunday after he pulled out a pistol and shot an officer. Officer John Downs was struck in the thigh, just below the groin, and is expected to make a full recovery. Metro Police spokesman Don Aarons yesterday released a video of a police sergeant explaining to detectives what happened leading up to the shooting. After what Sgt. Michelle Jones described as a lengthy and often heated negotiation with McDonald, he came out of the restroom and walked out the front door. He had not yet relinquished a possible weapon. A SWAT officer just to the side of the porch fired a TASER in an attempt to bring McDonald into custody. Officials said for some reason one of the prongs of the stun gun did not fire and they were unable to control the teen. They said McDonald then turned toward the direction of the TASER, brandished a gun and fired, hitting Officer Downs, who was standing next to the SWAT officer. Four officers then returned fire, hitting McDonald three to four times. Aaron said the police department wanted to make it clear the circumstances of this incident were vastly different from recent cases of officers shooting and killing teenagers in other parts of the country – most notably, he was armed and he shot a police officer before he was killed.
  Newschannel 5: Police Hold Candid, Detailed Press Conference About Deadly Shooting    

 'Shortcut' app destroying quiet LA neighborhoods
  A smartphone app is reportedly destroying the serenity of Los Angeles neighborhoods by sending drivers to “shortcuts” where they can shave minutes off daily rush-hour commutes. "The traffic is unbearable now. You can't even walk your dog," said one woman who lives on a once quiet little street in the Santa Monica Mountains in a neighborhood called Sherman Oaks. The winding little road is now filled each weekday morning with a parade of bumper-to-bumper cars. So is practically every other nearby street that parallels the busy Interstate 405 freeway. Some residents are trying to fool the app by using it to report phone car crashes and traffic jams on their streets, but it’s not keeping the shortcut seekers away.
  Fox News: Popular smartphone app causes traffic jam uproar in California neighborhoods    

 Islamists take hostages in Sydney
  Five people have fled from a Sydney, Australia cafe where a gunman took an unknown number of hostages at the height of Monday morning rush hour. Two people inside the cafe were earlier seen holding up a flag containing an Islamic declaration of faith. The first hostages either fled, or were freed, about six hours after the crisis began. Three men, followed shortly by two women, sprinted from the café into the arms of police. It was not clear how many people remained inside the cafe in the heart of the city's financial and shopping district. Many would have been taken hostage as they stopped in for their morning coffees. New South Wales state Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said police did not know the gunman's motivation. "We have not yet confirmed it is a terrorism-related event," Scipione said. "We're dealing with a hostage situation with an armed offender and we are dealing with it accordingly." Police negotiators have reportedly made contact with the gunman. Television footage shot through the cafe's windows showed several people with their arms in the air and hands pressed against the glass, and two people holding up a black flag with the Islamic declaration of faith written on it - and a man with a backpack inside the cafe could be seen walking back and forth in front of the glass doors. The government raised Australia's terror warning level in September in response to the domestic threat posed by supporters of the Islamic State group. 5 people flee Sydney hostage-crisis building    

 Haslam to ask legislature to accept Medicaid expansion plan
  Gov. Bill Haslam will ask the legislature to approve an expansion of Medicaid he calls the Insure Tennessee plan to provide health care coverage to tens of thousands of Tennesseans who currently don't qualify for Medicaid or for subsidies when they enroll in Obamacare. "We made the decision in Tennessee nearly two years ago not to expand traditional Medicaid," said Haslam, who decided in March of 2013 not to accept the Medicaid expansion, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that was one part of Obamacare the federal government could not require states to accept. Haslam says his plan “introduces market principles to Medicaid, provides coverage to more than 200,000 low-income Tennesseans at no additional cost to taxpayers, and leverages a payment reform initiative that is working to control healthcare costs and improve the quality of care.” ---Insure Tennessee is a two-year pilot voucher program that provides a fixed subsidy to the costs of a worker’s private market plan. --- As an alternative, eligible individuals may choose to receive coverage through a new program that will introduce “Healthy Incentives for Tennesseans” (HIT) accounts –which can be used to pay for a portion of required member cost-sharing. Members “earn” contributions into their HIT accounts by performing healthy behaviors. The account can then be used to cover copayment expenses. The plan has to be approved by the legislature, which signaled two years ago it would not accept the expansion of Medicaid prescribed by Obamacare, and by the Obama administration as an alternative use of expanded Medicaid dollars under Obamacare. Haslam plans to call a special session in January focused on Medicaid expansion.
  The Tennessean: Haslam to expand Medicaid program in Tennessee    

 Study: Electric car not so green
  A new study finds electric vehicles actually make the air dirtier than gas guzzlers. The key is how the electricity is made. If it’s made from coal, not only do they produce more “heat-trapping carbon dioxide,” that allegedly worsens global warming, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study that is published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. However, when the power supply comes from natural gas, the all-electric car then produces half as many air pollution and health problems as gas-powered cars do. And if the power comes from wind, water or wave energy, it produces about one-quarter of the air pollution deaths. The study examines environmental costs for cars' entire life cycle, including the source of power and the environmental effects of batteries. The study concludes all-electric vehicles cause 86 percent more deaths from air pollution than do cars powered by regular gasoline.
  AP: Study: Your all-electric car may not be so green    

 Republican governors reshaping welfare
  A growing number of Republican governors are pushing to reshape social-welfare programs with drug testing or other requirements, arguing that the new rules better prepare recipients for employment and assure taxpayers that the benefit money is well spent. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin said he would propose his state join several others in mandating drug screening for people seeking nutrition or cash assistance. Utah Republicans want to require that certain residents allow the state to assist them in finding a job if they want Medicaid benefits. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is proposing Medicaid recipients kick in at least a few dollars a month as a condition for receiving benefits. Critics say the new welfare requirements, particularly drug screening, unfairly target low-income people and are aimed at cutting recipients off the benefit rolls. Walker said his state’s drug-screening plan is intended to ensure that welfare recipients are eligible for work. “I can’t tell you how many employers in transportation, even in construction, certainly in health care and other professions who say, ‘We can’t get people to pass the drug test.’ ” --- Drug-screening rules, the most contentious of the new programs, have disqualified relatively few people from benefits The liberal group Think Progress reported in August “In July, Tennessee began a drug testing program for applicants to the state’s welfare program. Since then, just one person has tested positive out of more than 800.” Other states are reporting similar results, which liberals say disproves the belief that welfare recipients are more likely to use illegal drugs. Republicans counter that such figures show drug testing may be an even more effective deterrent than they thought. ---The state’s new efforts are running into legal and federal roadblocks. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court struck down a 2011 Florida law that required drug screening for people seeking benefits through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, saying the requirement was unconstitutional and that the state hadn’t demonstrated that recipients have more of a drug problem than the general population. This year, the U.S. Agriculture Department blocked a drug-screening requirement in Georgia for the state’s food-stamp program, which it oversees.
  Wall Street Journal: Republican Governors Push to Reshape Welfare Programs    

Lamar dodges amnesty question
  July 28, 2014 - The audio version of a Ralph Rant by the same name.
Rafael Cruz to rally Nashville Tea party crows
  July 16, 2014 - Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, prepares for his starring role in the Nashville Tea Party "We the people" rally.
Laura Ingraham to stump for Carr in Nashville
  July 16, 2014 - National talk show host Laura Ingraham discusses why she's coming to Nashville next week to stump for Joe Carr in his race against Lamar Alexander.
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.