State Attorneys General Launch Investigation into Instagram’s Effects on Kids

Young person on Instagram

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general launched a probe into Instagram on Thursday to examine whether the company violated state-level consumer protection laws.

The states are investigating whether Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which owns Instagram, promoted the image-sharing platform “to children and young adults” despite being aware of its negative effects, according to statements from the attorneys general. The probe cites internal Facebook communications and research leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen and published by The Wall Street Journal showing Meta was aware that use of Instagram could contribute to body image and mental health issues among teens.

“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws,” Republican Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement.

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Commentary: Tennessee Legislature Must Pass Big COVID Test in ‘Special Session’

The red state/blue state dichotomy is not simple.

Nowhere is that more apparent than Tennessee where—despite having one of the most conservative electorates in the country—the leadership has been passive at best in responding to the wishes of their supporters during these days of great crisis.

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Michigan Missing Out on Ford’s Joint $11.4B Electric Vehicle Factories in Tennessee, Kentucky

Despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s claim that Michigan is the future of electric vehicles (EVs), Ford Motor Company and battery maker SK Innovation announced plans to build three new plants in Kentucky and Tennessee.

The new plants, which will host production of electric vehicles and advanced lithium-ion batteries by 2025, will cost roughly $11.4 billion to build and create a projected 11,000 jobs.

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Commentary: Teacher Codes of Conduct Offer Alternative to Critical Race Theory Bans

The firing of Matthew Hawn, a high school teacher in Sullivan County, Tennessee, recently made national news and seemed to confirm fears that newly-enacted state bans on critical race theory (CRT) would have a chilling effect on teacher speech. Hawn, a 16-year veteran tenured teacher and baseball coach, had assigned students in his contemporary issues class Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essay, “The First White President,” and a spoken word poem from Kyla Jenée Lacey called “White Privilege.” One headline declared, “A Tennessee teacher taught a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and a poem about white privilege. He was fired for it.” A Georgetown professor tweeted, “This really seems extreme and a harbinger of what is to come.”

But contrary to news coverage and social media chatter, Hawn wasn’t fired for violating the state’s newly passed CRT ban. Really, he was dismissed for failing to adhere to the Tennessee “Teacher Code of Ethics,” a seldom-invoked but sensible state requirement for teachers to provide students access to varying points of view on controversial topics. Not only did Hawn fail to follow this code when he assigned the contentious poem and Coates’ essay from The Atlantic, which contains claims such as, “With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness,” he also later asserted that “there is no credible source for a differing point of view.” (Hawn recently denied making such a claim, though he declined to explain why the district attributed this statement to him.)

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Tennessee’s and Georgia’s COVID-19 Policies Protected Lives and Also Minimized Damages to Both States’ Economies, Report Says

During COVID-19, Georgia and Tennessee have both fared substantially better economically than Kentucky and Michigan with no significant increase in cases from reopening their economy. This, according to a report that members of the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee published this month. Beacon is a free market think tank.

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High Court Hears Arguments on Tennessee’s School-Choice Program

ORNL Traveling Science Fair at the TN 4th Annual Tennessee STEM Innovation Summit and STEMx Event, Nashville, TN

Tennessee’s highest court heard arguments on a disputed school choice program.

Tennessee’s Education Savings Accounts (ESA) pilot program, approved by the state Legislature in 2019, would provide state-funded scholarships of about $7,100 to low-income students in Nashville and Memphis – home to the state’s two lowest-performing school districts. Students would be able to use the funds to attend nonpublic schools of their choice.

A district court ruled the program unconstitutional when the two counties sued the state to stop the program. The state Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, and the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

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Gov. Lee’s Signature Makes Tennessee a Second Amendment Sanctuary

Guy shooting hand gun at gun range

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill Wednesday that makes the state a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Senate Bill 1335 prevents any “law, treaty, executive order, rule, or regulation of the United States government” that violates the Tennessee Constitution or the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution from being enforced in the state.

That violation would have to be determined by either the Tennessee or U.S. Supreme Court. The stipulation was added during debate of the bill in the Tennessee House, and the Senate concurred.

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Tennessee Becomes Second State to Ban Trans Hormone Treatments Before Puberty

child running with trans flag

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation Tuesday that bans hormone treatment for prepubescent minors.

SB0126 goes into effect immediately, making Tennessee the second state to ban trans procedures for minors, NBC reported. The Arkansas state legislature overrode Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill banning transgender surgeries and procedures for minors in April.

Arkansas’ “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act,” otherwise known as the SAFE Act, prohibits physicians from performing gender transition procedures, such as puberty blockers or “top” and “bottom” surgeries, on minors before puberty. Transgender surgeries include vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, breast implants, and facial surgeries.

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FBI Raids Locations Tied to Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Plus Additional Lawmakers and Staff

The FBI on Friday reportedly raided locations tied to former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) and Republican allies over allegations of possible public corruption.

Current Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) issued a statement about the raid that took place at the Cordell Hull Building in Nashville.

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Tennessee Senate Considers Bill to Allow First Responders to Live Outside the Jurisdictions They Serve

State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) on Wednesday filed SB 29 which would allow first responders to live where they choose, the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement.

Kelsey posted on the caucus’ Facebook page, “This is a public safety bill. It will enable us to hire more police officers, which will help us fight our rising crime rates.”

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U.S. Representative Mark Green Repeats Intent to Object to Electoral College Results

Not long before the tallying of and objections to the Electoral College results were disrupted by the violent protest at the Capitol, U.S. Representative Mark Green (R-TN-07) had repeated his intention to contest the election results.

Green on Wednesday announced his intention to object to the slates of electors in “certain states.”

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Federal Prompts for Gov. Bill Lee to Issue Statewide Mask Mandate Begs Question of Who Is Behind the Idea

Tennessee is ranked fourth in the nation for COVID deaths per 100,000 people, WUOT reports, citing the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s red zone report, which calls for Gov. Bill Lee to implement a statewide mask mandate.

The controversial report is from earlier this month. The task force issues frequent red zone reports.

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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Tennessee’s Challenge to Federal Refugee Resettlement Program

The U.S. Supreme Court said this week it will not hear Tennessee’s challenge of the federal refugee resettlement program, which claimed it violated the 10th Amendment.

Tennessee’s Republican-led government had asked for the review, The Associated Press reported. The court filed its denial earlier, letting a lower court ruling stand.

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Fox 17 Reports Nashville Bars and Restaurants Account for Less Than One-Half of One Percent of Virus Cases

Dennis Ferrier of Fox News 17 continues his reporting on Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s overreach in closing restaurants and bars, which account for only a fraction of coronavirus cases even as that industry continues to suffer.

Ferrier has been digging into the story for some time to gain the actual number of cases.

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Fox 17 Reports Nashville Bars and Restaurants Account for Less Than One-Half of One Percent of Virus Cases

Dennis Ferrier of Fox News 17 continues his reporting on Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s overreach in closing restaurants and bars, which account for only a fraction of coronavirus cases even as that industry continues to suffer.

Ferrier has been digging into the story for some time to gain the actual number of cases.

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Shelby County Says Woman Dead for Six Months Contracted COVID-19, Needs to Isolate

When is a COVID-19 patient not a COVID-19 patient? When the person has been dead for six months, as has reportedly happened in Memphis.

Media reports have carried the story, including coverage here by KVUE.

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Kanye West Might Appear on Tennessee Presidential Ballot

Rapper Kanye West wants Tennessee officials to place him on the ballot for the 2020 presidential election.

An unidentified person representing West arrived at the Tennessee Division of Elections office Friday. That person picked up a petition that would allow West to run in the Volunteer State, said Tennessee Secretary of State spokeswoman Julia Bruck.

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Tlaib Calls for Bill Barr’s Resignation, Steve Cohen Wants to Impeach

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) called for the impeachment of U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr during a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week.

In a statement released before the hearing, Cohen claimed the Department of Justice “has clearly been corrupted” under Barr’s leadership. He pointed to the recent removal of Geoffrey Berman, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the Justice Department’s request to dismiss its criminal case against Michael Flynn as evidence of corruption.

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The Tennessee Star’s Neil McCabe Interviewed by Politico for Story on Nation’s Division

Neil McCabe, the national correspondent for The Tennessee Star and Star News network, was interviewed by Politico last week for a front-page story on the nation’s division.

The article focused on Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, called CHAZ for short, which Politico described as a “microcosm of the culture wars.” The CHAZ was established by protesters earlier this month after law enforcement officers withdrew from the scene.

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Ads for Children’s Book on 19th Amendment Written by Sen. Blackburn and Her Daughter Banned by Instagram

Instagram reportedly believes a children’s book written by U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and her daughter, about the history of the 19th Amendment, may “influence the outcome of an election,” so the tech giant has banned advertising for it.

The Federalist reported on the book’s ban.

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Facebook Provides $16M in Grants to 200 Mostly Liberal Local Newsrooms

Facebook last week announced that more than 200 news organizations will receive nearly $16 million in grants through the Facebook Journalism Project’s relief fund for local news. These grants come from $25 million in relief funding announced in March from Facebook’s $100 million global investment in news. It includes:

$10.3 million being awarded to 144 US local newsrooms as part of the COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program. The fund is supporting many publishers who are hardest hit by this crisis: nearly 80 percent of recipients are family- or independently owned and more than half are published by or for communities of color.

$5.4 million being awarded to 59 North American newsrooms that participated in Facebook Local News Accelerator programs focused on subscriptions and memberships.

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Americans Are Ending the Lockdown, Despite Orders from Elected Officials

by Chris White   Americans are venturing out more to fast food restaurants, gas stations and public places even as health experts and government officials demand extending economic lockdowns, location data show. People are back to visiting gas stations and fast food restaurants at pre-COVID-19 levels, according to location data…

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3D Printing Presents Possible Solution to Personal Protective Equipment Shortage

Mayo Clinic announced last week that it is exploring the possibility of 3D printing face masks and other personal protective equipment items to employ in the national fight against COVID-19.

The famous clinic said its 3D Anatomic Modeling Laboratories across the country as well as its Division of Engineering are working together to “reverse-engineer, 3D-print and machine solutions for patient care.”

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Coders Building Database Need Health Care Workers to Report Coronavirus Testing Sites So They Can Provide Data to Officials Battling Disease

A coalition of computer coders and medical experts is looking for volunteers — including from the Volunteer State — to help provide better information on COVID-19 coronavirus testing sites.

TechCrunch reported on the one-week-old Coders Against Covid project, which is building a database of testing sites. The team of about 15 developers includes Andrew Kemendo of KesselRun, an Air Force software developer, and Dr. Jorge A. Caballero, a clinical instructor of Anesthesia at Stanford University. The goal is to inform officials tracking the disease and to better distribute the tests where they are needed.

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Biden Dominates Super Tuesday States, Upsets Sanders in Minnesota

Former Vice President Joe Biden defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Tuesday night in Minnesota’s Democratic primary, a shocking upset in what was a tough night for the Vermont socialist.

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‘Democrats Are Attacking Freedom,’ Rep. Mark Green Says of Democrats’ Impeachment Efforts

U.S. Rep. Dr. Mark Green (R-TN-07) has a lot to say about Democrats’ efforts to impeach President Donald Trump, which he says is an effort to reverse “the will of the people.”

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Commentary: Senators Blackburn and Hawley Want to Move Washington Out of Washington

What do you suppose the Alliance for American Advertising has in common with the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the American Society of Civil Engineers, or American Apparel and Footwear? Apart from beginning with the letter “A,” they are among the nearly 3,500 trades or firms that have dedicated lobbying operations in Washington, D.C.

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Detroit’s Duggan and Lansing’s Schor Among the 235 Mayors Demanding U.S. Senate Return to Washington to Enact Gun Control

More than 200 mayors from across the country sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), urging them to immediately call the Senate back to Washington, D.C. to take action on gun control legislation.

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Lee Beaman Commentary: Green Space Is Vital to a City’s Success

by Lee Beaman   We hear often the laments of the challenges that urban growth brings. From challenges with school systems to rising prices and reduced availability of homes, Nashvillians’ concerns over our growth are valid.  But one of the aspects of urban growth is the appreciation of our green…

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Same Earthquake That Rattled California Could Devastate Tennessee

  Tennessee residents may hear news about this week’s major earthquake in California from afar, but what some don’t realize is the same thing could happen here — with more devastating results. As reported, Tennessee also lies along the East Tennessee Seismic zone. No one at the Tennessee Emergency Management…

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Beacon Center Tells 30 Largest Tennessee Cities It Will Call Them Out on July 4, 2020 on How Free Their Citizens Are

  Conservative think tank Beacon Center of Tennessee has placed the 30 largest Volunteer State cities on notice: On Independence Day 2020, it will call them out on how free their citizens are – or are not. The Beacon Center of Tennessee announced Tuesday it will release a City Freedom…

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Thales Academy, High Quality and Affordable Private School, Is Coming to Nashville

  Thales Academy, a non-profit company that owns and operates eight private schools in North Carolina, is coming to Nashville. Founder and CEO Bob Luddy, the entrepreneur who also owns CaptiveAire, the nation’s leading provider of commercial kitchen ventilation equipment, and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Tim Hall will be among…

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Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order Against New Tennessee Law Requiring Licenses for Online Auctioneers

  A U.S. District Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing Tennessee officials from enforcing a new state law that forces online auctioneers to get a state license. U.S. District Court Judge Eli Richardson (pictured above) of the Middle District of Tennessee issued his ruling late last week.…

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