Jan 21 2019
07:15 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Is not over.

Topics:'s billionaires are growing $2.5 billion richer every day, while the poorest half of the global population is seeing its net worth dwindle.

Billionaires, who now number a record 2,208, have more wealth than ever before, according to an Oxfam International report published Monday. Since the global financial crisis a decade ago, the number of billionaires has nearly doubled.

The top 26 billionaires own $1.4 trillion — as much as 3.8 billion other people

Jan 21 2019
11:38 am
By: jbr  shortURL

The US-Mexico border stretches for 1,954 miles. Currently, physical barriers cover 654 of those miles, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

What's known as vehicle fencing covers 280 miles. This is fencing that's low to the ground. It would stop a car, but people can easily step over it.

What's known as pedestrian fencing covers some 374 miles. This is taller and designed to block people from crossing on foot.

And if the Trump administration's proposal for $5.7 billion more for a border wall is approved, officials say they'll be able to build 234 miles of new and replacement barriers -- about 100 miles of which will cover parts of the border that didn't have a barrier before.

This is how much of the border wall has been built so far

Jan 20 2019
07:03 am

From the Nashville Scene,

a white millionaire named Bill replaced a white billionaire named Bill

Republican Bill Lee took his oath of office Saturday to become the 50th governor of Tennessee.

“Government is not the answer to our greatest challenges," Lee said. "Government’s role is to protect our rights and our liberty and our freedom. I believe in a limited government, that provides unlimited opportunity for we the people to address the greatest challenges of our day.”

"he lamented the fact that not enough Tennesseans have access to health care (he is opposed to expanding Medicaid). "

The next four years could be interesting.

Jan 20 2019
06:36 am

Ring security cameras, now owned by Amazon, are just one of a growing line of home security systems that store private individual customer data in "the cloud".

From the, Beginning in 2016, according to one source, Ring provided its Ukraine-based research and development team virtually unfettered access to a folder on Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service that contained every video created by every Ring camera around the world. This would amount to an enormous list of highly sensitive files that could be easily browsed and viewed. Downloading and sharing these customer video files would have required little more than a click.

At the same time, the source said, Ring unnecessarily provided executives and engineers in the U.S. with highly privileged access to the company’s technical support video portal, allowing unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras.

Then there is this from Consumer Reports.

Under some circumstances, a wireless home security camera made by D-Link can transmit unencrypted video across the web, a Consumer Reports investigation has found. That could allow the video to be accessed by strangers. In response to a Consumer Reports query, D-Link said that security would be tightened through updates this fall.

As explained by a a software engineer in Southern California who purchased a Nest camera system several years ago, "for important discussions about money or family matters, Zavislak and his wife unplug the camera or go into another room. “I’m very aware that the video is being uploaded to a server somewhere,” Zavislak, who is , says. “If it can be coded, it can be hacked.”

Be careful out there.

Jan 18 2019
03:37 pm

A Russian startup just revealed plans to use swarms of tiny, light-reflecting satellites to create sprawling billboards in space.

The first of StartRocket's space-based ads, shown in a new concept video released by the company last week, could go up by 2021. The ads — a bit like skytyping, only in low-Earth orbit rather than in the atmosphere — would be visible only at night but could be seen from just about anywhere on Earth

This Russian startup wants to put huge ads in space

Gov.-elect Bill Lee has appointed "reform advocate" Penny Schwinn as Commissioner of Education. Schwinn studied at the Broad Academy and is a Teach for America veteran. She also founded a charter school. Schwinn has described herself as "an advocate for public schools and school choice" according to the article.

One of Schwinn's first tasks will be awarding new contracts for TNReady testing services. She was involved in a Texas controversy regarding contract awards.

Schwinn was recently passed over for the same job in Massachusetts, where critics characterized her as a "determined, divisive reformer."



Jan 18 2019
10:30 am

What: Recode update, workshop
When: Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 5:30pm
Where: City County Bldg. Main Assembly Room

City Council will hold a workshop on the Zoning Code Update/Recode Knoxville for Thursday, February 7th, 2019 at 5:30pm in the Main Assembly Room. The specific topics to be covered at this workshop will be announced closer to the workshop date. (This takes the place of the workshop previously announced for Tuesday, February 5th, 2019.)

The Knoxville-Knox County Planning commission recently voted to approve the proposed zoning overhaul and recommended it to City Council for implementation.

Jan 18 2019
10:10 am

Steve Ross (aka Vibinc, one of the Memphis Steves) has an interesting article on the history of the Electoral College and how it gives some states disproportionate power in electing the president...

Time to Get Rid of the Electoral College

(Also, previously at Knoxviews...)

Jan 18 2019
07:13 am

Dominion Development Group will break ground on a new $15 million "loft-style" apartment complex, City South, on Sevier Avenue this spring. City South will offer one-bedroom and studio units with concrete floors and exposed ducts.

City South will be a 121-unit apartment complex just east of Honeybee Coffee at the corner of Sevier and Davenport. Construction should take 14-15 months, estimating a late summer 2020 completion.

Dominion is the developer of the River's Edge apartments near the Island Home community.

South Knoxville is changing, big time.

Jan 18 2019
06:27 am

Florida Power & Light Co. (NextEra Energy) plans to install more than 30 million solar panels around the state by 2030, increasing the company’s solar capacity from its current 950 megawatts to 11,000 megawatts. The dramatic drop in the cost of solar panels and the increased efficiency of solar panels helps make this possible.

The world's biggest solar producer will build Alabama's biggest solar farm in Hollywood, Alabama, in the next two years to supply renewable energy for Google's new data center.

NextEra Energy Resources (Florida Power & Light) will build a new 150-megawatt solar farm near the abandoned Bellefonte nuclear plant and sell the power to the Tennessee Valley Authority to help TVA deliver only renewable energy for Google's nearby facility.

A similar-sized solar farm also will be built by Invenergy in Yum Yum, Tennessee to supply another Google data center being built near Clarksville, Tennessee.

Collectively, the two solar energy companies will put up 1.6 million solar panels on the two parcels, representing the biggest solar installation in both Tennessee and Alabama, capable of generating up to 413 megawatts of electricity at peak periods from the sun.

I think the eventual goal should be to do like California has started doing and "require solar panels for new homes". Eventually, there should be solar panels on all residential and commercial roofs. We need to try and stop taking large areas, if possible.

Jan 17 2019
06:40 am
By: bizgrrl  shortURL

US states are starting to regulate the term "meat".

On Aug. 28, a law went into effect in Missouri that makes it a crime to use the term “meat” to describe any product that does not come from a “livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof.”

Nebraska lawmakers will consider a bill this year defining meat as “any edible portion of any livestock or poultry, carcass, or part thereof” and excluding “lab-grown or insect or plant-based food products.” It would make it a crime to advertise or sell something “as meat that is not derived from poultry or livestock.”

Similar measures aimed at meat alternatives are pending in Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming. They come amid a debate over what to call products that are being developed using the emerging science of meat grown by culturing cells in a lab. Supporters of the science are embracing the term “clean meat” — language the conventional meat industry strongly opposes.

In response to a request by FDA and USDA for public input on the oversight of cell-cultured meat, GFI and seven cell-cultured meat companies jointly submitted comments.

"Of course, consumers want to know what they are buying, and if cell-cultured meat products were labeled as something other than meat, this would cause confusion and make it harder for consumers to make informed purchasing decisions."

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved one company’s product additive that mimics heme (an iron-containing compound of the porphyrin class which forms the nonprotein part of hemoglobin and some other biological molecule), which gives meat its unique metallic tinge.

The animal products industry has petitioned the FDA to enforce its definitions of mayo.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for nondairy products to be called milk.

Meat substitute/alternative, mayonnaise substitute/alternative, milk substitute/alternative.

IMHO, people should know from where their food comes from, easily. If it's meat, it's meat. If it's a meat alternative, then say it is so. If it is so great, own up to it's origin.

Soylent green! It's people!

The Supreme Court appeared ready Wednesday to strike down a Tennessee provision that requires people to live in the state for two years before obtaining a license to sell alcohol.

Supreme Court appears ready to void Tennessee alcohol law in Memphis case

Some history about Tennessee and liquor licenses ..

Jan 16 2019
03:47 pm


I interviewed Eddie Mannis for my newsletter last year, and wanted to share it with y'all here. Eddie is the founder of Prestige Cleaners, HonorAir, and was Mayor Rogero's first chief operating officer. He is an announced candidate for Knoxville city mayor.

An Interview with Eddie Mannis

Jan 15 2019
08:36 am

Starting Jan. 1, a new federal rule requires the nation’s hospitals to post all their full-price charges on their websites. The idea is to introduce transparency into the world of hospital charges. But these newly-published price lists may end up leaving consumers even more confused than ever before.

Hospitals use a chargemaster list of prices for all services, goods, and procedures. The chargemaster price is usually the highest price a hospital would charge for services, goods, or procedures. Most people with insurance do not pay the chargemaster price. Insurance companies negotiate with hospitals to bring down the prices. If you don't have insurance or if a service, goods, or procedure is not covered, I would guess you will have to try and negotiate a lesser price or pay the high price.

Each of the hospital's standard charges sites has a disclaimer to which you have to agree with the understanding that the "information provided on these sites are estimates of the charges for a medical service or procedure. The information does not represent the actual amount you will be charged as many variables are involved in providing the amount."

Locally, UT Hospital uses the CDM code, charge description master. Tennova Turkey Creek uses a SVCCD code (don't know what that is). Fort Sanders (Covenant) uses a CPT code (current procedural terminology) as well as a CDM code.

I found it very hard if not impossible to use the price lists provided by the local hospitals to compare prices for services, goods, or procedures. It was my understanding that CPT codes were the standard for how medical providers identify services, goods, and procedures. However, using Fort Sanders Hospital downloaded file, it appears that there are over 4,000 items without a CPT code.

Besides that it is hard to navigate the price lists to compare prices, many people are covered by insurance and the prices are completely different and you are still unable to compare them.

Ft. Sanders (Covenant) has the best web site for looking up prices. UT Hospital and Tennova have you download a csv file, which can be opened in MS Excel or MS Word or similar software. Ft. Sanders also has an option to download a csv file.

I have yet to find the standard charges information when going directly to the local hospital web sites. I've had to Google hospital name standard charges to get links with access to this information.

Ft. Sanders Hospital Price Transparency

UT Hospital Price Transparency

Tennova Turkey Creek price Transparency FAQs RE Price Transparency

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Requirements for Hospitals To Make Public a List of Their Standard Charges via the Internet

Jan 14 2019
10:30 am

What: Books Sandwiched In welcomes Dr. Zach McKenney
When: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 12:00pm
Where: East Tennessee History Center, 601 South Gay Street

Janesville.jpgBooks Sandwiched In starts the new year welcoming Dr. Zach McKenney for a consideration of Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein, Wednesday, January 23, noon–1:00 in the East Tennessee History Center auditorium at 601 South Gay Street.

"Amy Goldstein provides a harrowing account of the human consequences of plant shutdowns and the rippling effects that they have throughout affected communities," McKenney said.


Jan 13 2019
09:09 pm

MarketWatch: A hedge-fund-backed media group known for buying up struggling local papers and cutting costs is planning to make an offer for USA Today publisher Gannett Co., according to people familiar with the matter.

Not sure what's left to cut.

The Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association has a case before the Supreme Court. They say that Total Wine & More should not be able to have stores in Tennessee, arguing that Tennessee law requires retail owners to be residents of the state.

The issue:
Does the Twenty-first Amendment permit states to require that alcohol retail license applicants reside in-state for a specified length of time prior to obtaining a license?

The National Association of Wine Retailers has gotten involved, arguing that the right of wine producers to sell and ship bottles to out-of-state consumers should be extended to retailers. Currently 36 states (including Tennessee) prohibit interstate shipping from retail wine shops.

Oh, my. States rights! States rights!

Jan 13 2019
05:38 am

HANNITY: What are the options, though, if you declare a national emergency? The Pentagon also has the funds available that they would be able to help support the building of the wall.

TRUMP: If we don’t make a deal with Congress, which we should be able to. Really just common sense, and there is some compromise needed, and, look, they know that the wall is working. Do you know what works? A wheel. And a wall. They call it a medieval thing.

Well, you know, I’m looking at all these very expensive cars all over here loaded up with machine guns and every single one of them has wheels. A wheel is an old thing. There are two things that they work. A wall would be so effective. It would solve so many killings and so much death and drugs and human trafficking. Where they tape up women on their face. They tape them up and put them in the back of a car or a van and they drive right through our border.

(I am not making this up.)

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