Wednesday, January 13

Tennessee Gov. Lee announces 5 new judicial appointments (WZTV-TV Nashville) Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday announced appointments to judicial positions across the Volunteer State. “I am proud to announce the appointment of these highly qualified individuals, and I value the experience they will bring to their respective judicial districts,” Gov. Lee said. “I’m confident they will serve Tennessee with integrity.” LINK

Judge beats out DA for criminal appeals slot (Nashville Post) Gov. Bill Lee has picked Circuit Court Judge Jill Ayers of the 19th Judicial District to fill a vacancy on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Ayers, based in Clarksville, must be confirmed by the Tennessee General Assembly for the seat left open by the retirement of Judge Thomas Woodall. She was appointed to her circuit court seat by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2015 and won a six-year term on the bench, running as a Republican, the following year. Other finalists for the spot were Kim Helper, the district attorney general for the district including Williamson County, and David Veile, a Franklin attorney and former Metro Nashville Police officer. LINK

Judge Ayers of Clarksville appointed to Court of Criminal Appeals by Gov. Lee (Clarksville Now) Judge Jill B. Ayers, who has served as a Circuit Court judge since 2015 for the 19th Judicial District that covers Montgomery and Robertson Counties, has been appointed to the Middle District Court of Criminal Appeals by Gov. Bill Lee. “I am proud to announce the appointment of these highly qualified individuals, and I value the experience they will bring to their respective judicial districts,” Lee said. LINK

Summer school and tutoring proposals expected as Tennessee tries to help students catch up (Chalkbeat) Gov. Bill Lee is expected to unveil proposals this week to create or expand summer school options and after-school tutoring programs as Tennessee seeks to catch up students from learning disruptions caused by the pandemic. House Education Chairman Mark White said Monday the proposals will be among a barrage of legislation on K-12 education filed in the coming days through the governor’s office. The 112th Tennessee General Assembly convened on Tuesday and is gearing up for a Jan. 19 special session to focus on pandemic-related challenges for students, educators, and schools. LINK

‘Is that the right thing to do?’ Teacher pay increase to be discussed at special legislative session on education issues (WJHL-TV Johnson City) Education has been warped and changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lives of teachers even more so. In Nashville, Tennessee legislators are eager to get to work on the special legislative session to address education issues. Tennessee legislators during next Tuesday’s special session will discuss, among other topics, teacher pay. “It’s came up in conversation that Gov. Bill Lee is considering proposing increasing teacher pay. Now, in light of record numbers of unemployment across the state, businesses that have had to close, shut down, alter operations, is it the right thing to do to increase teacher pay? I want the people to let me know,” TN Rep. Scotty Campbell (R) told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais. LINK

Ready to work: State lawmakers to focus on education (Crossville Chronicle) Teacher pay is among the items Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, has on his legislative agenda. The 112th Tennessee General Assembly convenes Tuesday, ready to work on the state’s budget and address issues sidelined amid the COVID-19 pandemic response last year.  But that work is being overshadowed by a federal investigation that led to the search of multiple lawmakers’ homes and offices on Friday. LINK

New COVID-19 treatment now available in Tennessee (WKRN-TV Nashville) A new treatment called Monoclonal Antibody Treatment is now available in Tennessee for COVID-19, and Governor Bill Lee is urging Tennesseans who test positive for COVID-19 to contact their health care provider immediately to ask about the therapy. “We have them available. They’re very effective particularly in this period of time before we get our elderly population vaccinated,” said Lee. The treatment is most effective when given early in the infection process, before COVID-19 symptoms worsen to the point of hospitalization. Infectious disease physician Tracy Osborne with TriStar Southern Hills Hospital explains how the therapy works: LINK

Tennessee makes rapid progress in vaccinating highest risk populations (WCYB-TV Bristol) The Tennessee Department of Health reports great progress in rapidly vaccinating those at highest risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19. Officials within the health department say within four weeks of Tennessee receiving its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, more than 221,000 people in the state have received vaccinations, and the Tennessee Department of Health is distributing COVID-19 vaccinations as rapidly as supplies are received from the federal government. Tennessee is one of the most successful states in the U.S. at quickly administering vaccine, having administered more than 50 percent of the vaccines received by the state. LINK

Tennessee updates nursing home vaccine progress (WDEF-TV Chattanooga) Gov. Lee’s office is updating their progress in getting Covid-19 vaccines to residents and staff of senior living facilities in Tennessee. While we saw people lining up for shots for the Hamilton County Health Department, the state had a separate program for nursing home and care facilities. CVS and Walgreens have been taking the vaccines to the facilities since the last week of December. Nursing homes got top priority, followed by other care facilities. Of course, the vaccine availability varies from county to county so they will not all get vaccines at the same time or in the same amounts. LINK

Tennessee Department of Health says the state is making rapid progress in vaccinating highest risk populations (WDEF-TV Chattanooga) In a press statement released Tuesday: Tennessee is making great progress in rapidly vaccinating those at highest-risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19. Within four weeks of Tennessee receiving its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, more than 221,000 people in the state have received vaccinations, and the Tennessee Department of Health is distributing COVID-19 vaccinations as rapidly as supplies are received from the federal government. Tennessee is one of the most successful states in the U.S. at quickly administering vaccine, having administered more than 50 percent of the vaccines received by the state. Tennessee is now providing COVID-19 vaccinations to residents and staff members in long-term care facilities, a priority population for Phase 1a1 of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. LINK

TDH County Health Departments offer COVID-19 vaccination by appointment (WRCB-TV Chattanooga) Tennessee County Health Departments are now booking appointments for people in Phase 1 populations of the Tennessee COVID-19 Vaccination Plan and those aged 75 and up who wish to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. “We’re excited to begin this process to help deliver this vital service in the most efficient way possible while managing the limited and somewhat unpredictable supply of vaccines,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. The COVID-19 vaccines currently in use require two doses for the best protection against the virus. People who receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a county health department will be contacted to make an appointment to receive their second dose of vaccine. LINK

Tennessee grocery store workers want higher vaccine priority ranking (WSMV-TV Nashville) Tennessee grocery store workers are frustrated over their position on the COVID-19 vaccination priority list. Currently the federal government categorizes grocery store workers as critical infrastructure, and in most states, those employees will receive vaccines in phase two. But in Tennessee, grocery store workers are grouped in phase three. TN Grocers and Convenience Store Association President Rob Ikard says that needs to change. “It’s very frustrating,” Ikard said. LINK

At 90-years-old, couple struggles to make COVID-19 vaccine appointment (WTVF-TV Nashville) Thousands of people across Tennessee have already gotten their COVID vaccine and in Davidson County you can only get one by appointment. Scheduling that appointment though is becoming a daily struggle, especially for those who should be at the top of the list. Like most people, 90-year-old David Terrell was excited to hear about a COVID-19 vaccination, and his doctor recommended he and his wife sign-up to get the shots. “I was happy because they said they were going to put it on warp speed and we’ll get it soon,” said Terrell. At his age, Terrell was expecting to be at the top of the list to receive a shot, but he’s been trying to make an appointment for two weeks. LINK

University president wants answers after Tennessee shorted TSU millions in research funds (WZTV-TV Nashville) For decades, Tennessee State University students have helped find answers and solutions some of the state and country’s most pressing health and agricultural needs. In fact, a TSU research program created a potential breast cancer vaccination. All of that work was supposed to be funded by an annual federal land grant matched by state dollars. U.T. and TSU are the only agriculture schools in the state to qualify. Over the summer, a legislative report found most years, TSU did not get its full funding. In those same years, UT did get full funding and often got extra funding. LINK

Newest Tennessee data shows increase in suicide rates, especially in young girls (WBIR-TV Knoxville) New data shows an 11% increase in Tennessee’s suicide rate since 2015. The report from the Tennessee Department of Health assessed data up to 2019. The report said that during 2019, around 1,220 Tennesseans died by suicide. A concerning rise has come from younger girls who died by suicide. “It’s an epidemic and this needs immediate attention,” said Monica Gouffon. She lost her daughter, Sasha, to suicide. LINK

Mid-South officials say they’re preparing for FBI warning of armed protests in coming days (WMC-TV Memphis) A new warning leaked from the Federal Bureau of Investigation says there are plans for armed protests in all 50 state capitols and in Washington D.C. leading up to the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden. According to the internal bulletin from the FBI that was leaked to the public, these armed protests may target local, state and federal government buildings. The FBI warns there are plans by extremists groups to protest at all 50 state capitols and at other federal, state and local government buildings starting Jan. 16 and leading up to the inauguration on Jan. 20. LINK

Tennessee law enforcement planning heightened presence ahead of planned protests at Capitol (Tennessean) Law enforcement is planning a heightened presence at the Tennessee Capitol in coming days due to the risk of armed protests leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. The increased focus on possible protests comes after a riot erupted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The mob broke into the Capitol building and smashed doors and windows. Five people, including a Washington D.C. police officer, died in the attack.  The havoc was wrought by Trump supporters who breached the building in hopes of thwarting President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. LINK

Law enforcement monitoring planned protests at Tennessee Capitol (WTVF-TV Nashville) With just days until Inauguration Day, the FBI has warned law enforcement agencies across the country about possible armed protests at state capitols. Metro Nashville police officials say there are at least three planned protests leading up to Inauguration Day and they have safety measures in place to make sure the public and Capitol remain safe. LINK

Increased security on first day of Tennessee’s 112th legislative session (WKRN-TV Nashville) On the first day of Tennessee’s 112th legislative session, a large number of state troopers surrounded the Capitol building. Some lawmakers are on-edge following last week’s riots in Washington D.C.. Others are facing harsh criticism for attending the pro-Trump march that lead up to people storming The United States Capitol. House member Terri Lynn Weaver represents Tennessee’s 40th district and was in D.C. participating in the march prior to when things turned violent. “I did nothing wrong, nothing. I do not condone violence. I did nothing,” Weaver said to reporters as she walked through the Tennessee Capitol building Tuesday afternoon. LINK

State lawmakers elect leadership, call for unity on first day of the 112th Tennessee General Assembly (Tennessean) Tennessee lawmakers began a new legislative session on Tuesday, doing so largely in masks as COVID-19 continues to rampage Tennessee and as the state and nation brace for more turmoil in the coming days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. “We have seen dark clouds all across our country,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville. “Pandemics, tornadoes, violence and unrest and especially a particular tough Christmas Day right here in Nashville. Tennessee must continue to be an example for the rest of the country on how to work together during these challenging times.” LINK

Tennessee lawmakers begin 2021 legislative session; Sexton re-elected as House Speaker (AP) Tennessee lawmakers returned to Nashville to kick off their annual session amid a pandemic and an FBI probe that drew searches of multiple legislative offices by federal agents last week. As the session got underway, Cameron Sexton (R – Crossville) was re-elected as House Speaker and acknowledged the challenges of 2020. Sexton said he hopes there will be new opportunities in 2021, and one of those is getting students back in classrooms. LINK

Tennessee Lawmakers Start 2021 Session With A Quiet First Day (WPLN Radio Nashville) Tennessee lawmakers have officially started the new legislative session, with members of the state Senate and House of Representatives taking their oaths yesterday. It was a relatively quiet day, after tumultuous events in the legislature. Last week, FBI agents were searching the offices of three House Republicans, but a week later, the scene was different. Outside of the Tennessee State Capitol, a bit over a dozen protestors chanted and held signs. They were Black Lives Matter demonstrators. LINK

Legislature returns, re-elects speakers (Nashville Post) The 112th Tennessee General Assembly convened Tuesday, re-electing speakers of the House and Senate and setting the stage for a session clouded by an FBI investigation of lawmakers and staff and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Senate Speaker Randy McNally, both Republicans, were unanimously re-elected to their posts with limited Democratic abstentions. The chambers are holding organizational meetings this week ahead of an expected special session next week devoted to public education and the pandemic. LINK

Tennessee’s General Assembly convenes amid threats of violent protest (WCYB-TV Bristol) Tennessee’s General Assembly got to work in Nashville amid threats of violence. The FBI warns of threats at all 50 U.S state capitols and protest may start later this week and extend through President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. A small peaceful black lives matter protest happened outside the Tennessee capitol Tuesday afternoon. Senator Jon Lundberg noticed beefed up security. “We have state troopers in more numbers deployed and on the grounds,” he says. LINK

Newsmaker: High stakes on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill (WKRN-TV Nashville) January 12, 2021 marks the start of a new legislative session in Tennessee. There’s already high stakes swirling inside the State Capitol. The FBI has honed in on three Republican House members. Plus, an armed protest threat looms as the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden nears. This will be the second legislative session dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, legislatures are already preparing for an upcoming special session called by Governor Bill Lee last year. It will address student learning loss amid the pandemic. Former News 2 State Capitol Newsroom reporter Chris Bundgaard breaks down all this in more in a phone interview with News 2. LINK

2021 TN legislative session begins amid FBI investigation (WKRN-TV Nashville) The state legislature is back in session on Capitol Hill just days after the FBI raided offices and even homes of three Republican lawmakers. The former Tennessee House Speaker is at the center of federal raids that took place Friday. The offices and homes of representatives Glen Casada, Robin Smith, and Todd Warner were all searched. Agents searched the home of Casada’s former chief of staff, Cade Cothren. “Just understand I’m fully cooperating, there is an investigation, the statement is as it is,” Rep. Smith said. “I’m not the target of the investigation and I certainly don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.” LINK

Tennessee doctors group turns to lawmakers for mask mandate (Johnson City Press) A group of Tennessee doctors that has been pushing Gov. Bill Lee for a statewide mask mandate turned its attention to the legislature Tuesday, the first day of the 2021 legislative session. Speaking to reporters via videoconference, Dr. Diana Sepehri-Harvey, a Franklin primary care physician, addressed Lee’s stance that individual personal responsibility, not a mandate, is the best way for Tennessee to fight the virus. “This is a global pandemic, so it cannot be fought by individuals,” she said. “We need to come together with a cohesive response. We are asking our state representatives to do the job Gov. Lee has not.” LINK

Tennessee doctors press for statewide mask mandate (WHBQ-TV Memphis) Tennessee doctors are calling for state lawmakers to make a statewide mask mandate happen quickly. Governor Bill Lee has not called for a statewide mandate. The group of doctors from across the state represents ForwardTN. The doctors are hoping their calls for a statewide mandate will be taken seriously on the first day of the state’s legislative session. Tennessee reported over 3,000 new cases Tuesday and 146 more deaths due to COVID-19, according to the state health department. A Vanderbilt University study released in November found that counties without mask mandates had more deaths due to COVID-19 than those that did have a mask mandate. LINK

Doctors, business owners call for Tennessee legislators to intervene in COVID-19 response (WZTV-TV Nashville) Doctors and business owners are calling on Tennessee lawmakers to intervene in the state’s COVID-19 response as they convene for the 112th General Assembly on Tuesday. Doctors from across the state with “Protect My Care” and a Nashville business owner held a news conference Tuesday. “Now, we have arrived at some of the darkest days in the pandemic for our state, thousands of our citizens are dead, disabled and suffering,” Dr. Diana Sepehri-Harvey said. “Today we gather to task legislators to take matters into their own hands. The science is there, the evidence is there, we need a mask mandate.” LINK

Washington County’s new state representatives take office (Johnson City Press) Washington County’s two new representatives in the state House were sworn into office when the 112th Tennessee General Assembly convened in Nashville on Tuesday. State Reps. Rebecca Alexander, R-Jonesborough, and Tim Hicks, R-Gray, begin their legislative careers less than a week after FBI agents searched the homes and legislative offices of the former House speaker and two other Republican lawmakers. Federal officials have declined to speak on the reason for the inquiry. Alexander and Hicks took their oaths as family members joined them on the House floor. The two are among 10 freshmen serving in the House this session. LINK

Tennessee General Assembly begins new session amid FBI warning of armed protests (WMC-TV Memphis) Tennessee lawmakers returned to the state capitol on Tuesday to begin a new session. Lawmakers are reconvening at a critical time. The FBI is warning about potentially armed protesters at state capitols across the country leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Tennessee lawmakers didn’t address the issue during the session on Tuesday. Instead, they alluded to the deep political divisions across the country. But safety is something lawmakers are talking about outside the chambers. LINK

First House GOP meeting following FBI raid will be secret (TN Journal) The House Republican Caucus is holding its first meeting since federal agents descended on the homes and offices of three sitting GOP members. It will be closed to the press and public under a new rule adopted by its members without debate following the November elections. During the same meeting two years ago, then-House Speaker Glen Casada of Franklin made the hard sell on rule changes that ended the unrestricted power of the speaker pro tem to vote in any committees and eliminated floor speeches unrelated to pending bills or motions (the latter appeared to apply to all but then-Rep. John DeBerry or Memphis, who was continued to be allowed to speechify to his heart’s content). LINK

FBI probe of Tennessee lawmakers appears focused on shadowy campaign activities (WTVF-TV Nashville) Shadowy groups working behind the scenes to settle Republican scores – playing with money that cannot be traced. That situation, first exposed by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, appears to be driving the latest FBI investigation into Capitol Hill corruption. Friday, FBI agents hauled away boxes of evidence from Tennessee’s Capitol Hill. Included among that evidence, NewsChannel 5 has learned, was computers and other materials potentially linked to a group of shadowy campaign firms. It was part of a series of early-morning raids that began at the Franklin residence of former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada. LINK

Lawmakers in FBI probe return to work at state capitol (WTVF-TV Nashville) Several lawmakers at the center of a FBI probe were present for the first day of the 2021 legislative session. State representatives Kent Calfee, Glen Casada, Robin Smith and Todd Warner were served search warrants at either their homes or offices or both Friday by the FBI. Federal investigators would not say the specific purpose for the investigation but noted it was a corruption investigation. LINK

Legislative session begins as FBI investigates some state lawmakers (WSMV-TV Nashville) The Tennessee General Assembly is now in session and it starts with a cloud of chaos. The FBI is looking into a handful of state lawmakers. Agents raided their homes and offices on Friday. If there is a conduit to Friday’s raid on the houses and offices of state Republican lawmakers and former staff, it is clearly former Speaker of the House Glenn Casada. What they’re looking for remains unclear. LINK

Rep. Smith: ‘Fully cooperating’ with FBI following raid but yet to be interviewed (Times Free Press) Tennessee Republican Rep. Robin Smith of Hixson said Tuesday she has no explanations for Friday’s raid by FBI agents on her home and legislative offices but is fully cooperating with the investigation that involves two other lawmakers and legislative aides. “I’m fully cooperating, there is an investigation,” said Smith, a business and political consultant. “You know the statement is what it is. I’m not the target of the investigation. But I certainly don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.” She said she has not yet spoken with federal investigators. LINK

Investigators combing through evidence following FBI raid on lawmakers (WZTV-TV Nashville) Investigators are now going through evidence gathered in an FBI raid involving local lawmakers on Friday. The FBI executed search warrants on four local republican state house representatives, including former house speaker Rep. Glen Casada. Federal sources tell FOX 17 News the investigation involves the possible laundering of campaign finance money. “Before they got to this point, there was already an investigation, they had reached the point of being willing to do this,” former Assistant US Attorney Gary Blackburn said. “That’s a pretty significant thing for a federal agent to show up at the state capitol.” LINK

Tennessee lawmakers in FBI probe recently spent $182K in campaign funds with 3 little-known companies (Tennessean) As an FBI investigation involving Tennessee Republican House members and staff moves forward, a Tennessean analysis found the three legislators whose homes federal agents raided have something in common: they have each spent tens of thousands of campaign dollars with little-known companies in recent months. Reps. Glen Casada, Robin Smith and Todd Warner had their homes searched Friday morning by the FBI, while agents also descended on the state legislative office building to search multiple offices. LINK

State Sen. Jeff Yarbro asks AG for opinion on Tennessee lawmakers who may have aided Jan. 6 Capitol riot (Tennessean) A Tennessee Democratic senator is asking the state’s attorney general to clarify the legal ramifications for any state lawmakers involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s capital. Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, urged Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s office Monday to issue an opinion on the legality of Tennessee lawmakers who were “engaged in insurrection” or provided “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists, citing the Fourteenth Amendment. LINK

Social justice group takes to Tenn. Capitol demanding racial equality, Medicare for all (WZTV-TV Nashville) A social justice group out of Knoxville, Tennessee made the trek to the State Capitol building on Tuesday, demanding that lawmakers take immediate action on issues like Medicare for all, and the fight for racial equality. This comes on the first day of the legislative session. Earlier Tuesday afternoon when the demonstration was still happening, the rally organizers said their groups wasn’t as big as they had hoped it would be, partly because of what happened at the U.S. Capitol last week. But despite their small numbers, they say their message carried big importance. LINK

Rep. Diana Harshbarger opposes removing Trump from office (AP) Tennessee Representative Diana Harshbarger released a statement Tuesday voicing opposition to attempts by the House of Representatives to remove President Donald Trump from office following a riot and invasion on Capitol Hill last week. As of Tuesday House lawmakers are reconvening at the Capitol to approve a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare the president unable to serve. If Pence doesn’t, the House is expected to move swiftly to impeach President Donald Trump. LINK

Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger Statement on Efforts to Remove President Trump from Office (WCYB-TV Bristol) Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger released the following statement regarding efforts to remove President Trump from office prior to the conclusion of his term:   I strongly oppose invoking the 25th Amendment and impeaching the President. After the atrocities on January 6th, President Trump announced his full support for a peaceful transition of power. The calls for impeachment are at odds with Joe Biden’s call for unity and will only further the divide. Congressional Democrats have even floated the idea to wait until after Biden’s first one hundred days in office to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, showing this is nothing more than a way to score political points with their base. LINK

Cohen, Kustoff go different ways on House 25th Amendment vote (Daily Memphian) On the eve of the Wednesday, Jan. 12, U.S. House vote on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, the city’s two representatives in the House split their votes on a nonbinding resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office immediately. The resolution cited the storming of the Capitol by a mob carrying Trump banners who came directly from a nearby rally Trump spoke at one week ago Wednesday. Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis voted yes with the majority in the 223-205 vote. Republican U.S. Rep. David Kustoff of Germantown voted no. LINK

Tennessee GOP politicians stand to lose thousands as corporations halt donations after Capitol riot (Tennessean) Tennessee Republican lawmakers who objected to the Electoral College certification last week won’t have to answer to voters for two years, but their decision will cost them anyway. A dozen or so large companies have announced in recent days they are suspending political donations over the next few months while others announced they are suspending donations only to members who voted against the Electoral College certification in Arizona and Pennsylvania. The news comes days after the U.S. Capitol was raided by President Donald Trump supporters looking to overturn the election. LINK

CoreCivic sells 42 properties in $106.5M commercial portfolio deal (Nashville Business Journal) The Nashville-based prison operator announced at the end of last year that it had sold 42 properties in 11 states to Tanenbaum Equity Partners (TEP), a subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based Gardner Tanenbaum. “We are pleased with the positive market response we have seen throughout the marketing process of our non-core government leased properties, and today’s closing announcement is a positive initial step in the process to recycle capital towards higher returning opportunities,” Damon Hininger, CoreCivic’s president and CEO, said in news release at the time of the announcement. LINK

Nokian rolls out ‘breakthrough’ tire at Dayton, Tennessee, plant as more hiring expected (Times Free Press) Nokian Tyres is keeping the pedal to the metal at its production plant in Dayton, Tennessee, as it rolls out a new tire exclusively for the North American market and readies for more hiring this year. The Finland-based company, which opened its $360 million Southeast Tennessee factory a little more than a year ago, unveiled the Nokian Tyres One all-season tire for cars. LINK

Nokian Tyres Announces New Innovative Tire Produced at Dayton Facility (WDEF-TV Chattanooga) Nokian Tyres announced Tuesday a new, all-season passenger tire exclusively crafted for North American roads. The Nokian Tyres One is made with the latest technology to provide safety and durability in line with their sustainability standards. The tires will be produced at the manufacturing facility in Dayton. LINK

Survey: Tennessee among 2021’s worst states to raise a family (WVLT-TV Knoxville) Tennessee is among the year’s worst states to raise a family, according to a report from WalletHub. WalletHub puts the Volunteer State at 39 on the list of 50 states where families will be happiest. It ranked 47th for “health and safety.” “To help with the evaluation process, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 52 key indicators of family-friendliness. WalletHub compared the 50 states across five key dimensions: 1) Family Fun, 2) Health & Safety, 3) Education & Child Care, 4) Affordability and 5) Socio-economics,” the site said. Tennessee was also ranked among the top 5 states with the most violent crimes per capita. LINK


Jackson Baker: Bob Corker’s Back: Resumes Criticism of Trump, Eyes Political Future (Memphis Flyer) Not everybody thinks he’s entitled to do so, but former Tennessee Senator Bob Corker is making a point of saying “I told you so” about the potentially ill consequences of Donald Trump’s presidency, now on life support as a bipartisan coalition seeks to terminate it less than a week before it’s scheduled to expire. In several formats and forums, Corker is issuing reminders that he was one of the first Republican public officials to utter serious criticism of the president, whom he now refers to as a “tin-pot dictator.” There were a number of such occasions, but the best remembered — by Trump and others — was in 2017, in the aftermath of Trump’s handling of several events, including a disturbance at Charlottesville, Virginia, involving white supremacists. LINK

Guest column: Republicans must reevaluate how to better advocate conservative values (Leaf-Chronicle/USA Today Tennessee Network) As an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Tennessee, U.S. Senate in 2020, it would be easy to say that “I am relieved I am not a US Senator (R-TN)” especially with the recent disruption in Washington, the Capitol building House of Representatives, and the Senate. The opening of the 117th Congress in January 2021 has been chaotic, and violent to an unprecedented degree. I could say I’m not glad to not be a part of this chaos. Also, it would be easy to say about our president “I told you so,” since my campaign focus was “President Trump is not always right.” LINK

Column: The narratives of a post-truth world endanger our country (News Sentinel) Just about everybody’s heard of Big Brother. George Orwell’s vision was of an omnipresent central government long having seized our individual freedom. A lot of this is done by the manipulation and control of information. In Orwell’s world it is the state. What is and is not true is regulated: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” In “1984,” a central government exerted control through mechanisms such as a restricted vocabulary of “newspeak,” which limits the range of acceptable thought, or even possible thought. LINK

Clint Cooper: Fleischmann should acknowledge betrayal over Capitol insurrection felt by Trump voters (Times Free Press) My but what short memories we have. The same people who today suggest U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah, among others, should resign his seat and that Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, among others, should step down for objecting to certification of electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden last week are some of the same people who applauded challenges to President George W. Bush’s electoral votes in 2005 and those for President-elect Donald Trump in 2017. LINK

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