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VOL. 35 | NO. 48 | Friday, December 2, 2011


$2 Atlanta round trip? Seriously?

No trains, no problem; Megabus fills void with cheap express routes

Spencer Hostetter and his wife Carol have lived in Decatur, an Atlanta suburb, their entire lives without once visiting Nashville, though they’d talked about it. I met them on Nashville’s new express bus service, Megabus, as they were heading to Music City for a night out.

Commuter rail's future: Might be a long wait for the next train

Getting from here to there in Middle Tennessee has never been more time-consuming. And there’s no single solution in sight to change that.

Music City Star's success breeding contempt

In the case of the Music City Star, more isn’t necessarily better. The train is posting record ridership, and its governing body would like to add cars and stops along its existing route and beyond. But when it comes to funding, its success is being used against it.

Developer sees commuter rail depot as key to community’s success

Hamilton Springs: High-Speed Rail’s Future In Middle Tennessee? Lebanon developer Jack Bell has a vision. Whether it becomes a reality is beyond his control.

Local Weather
Nashville, TN
Partly Cloudy
Wind: South at 5.8 mph
Humidity: 48%


Book Writing Boot Camp. Author Carol Batey leads this Sunday workshop for aspiring authors at Symmetry, 212 Louise Avenue, 12:30-4 p.m. The class seeks to unlock a writer’s potential and is for writers who want to increase spirituality in their writing projects. Fee: $30. Information: 485-4548, carol37076@aol.com.

more events »

Truckers put foot down over new electronic log books

Hellbent on making deliveries at an ungodly pace. Willing to barrel over any vehicles, police or inspection stations that get in their way. Alone and in control at all times, they fudge log books and indulge in all-night benders.

Downtown depot a hit for planners, bus riders

Three years into its operation, the Music City Central bus depot might be that rarest of urban-development projects: one that has met its objectives.


Big changes for old foes in Jacksonville

For as long as the Tennessee Titans have been in Nashville, the Jacksonville Jaguars have served as their perfect foil.


Reagan named CMO for Tennessee Department of Health

David R. Reagan, M.D., Ph.D., has been named chief medical officer for the Tennessee Department of Health. In this position, Reagan will serve as an advisor to the commissioner on matters of health policy and assist in setting priorities for the department.


Strobel sees housing as human right

Sometime in our country’s rich history, the real estate wizards of their day produced the term “the American dream” as a pseudonym for home ownership. The term has played well and provided those incapable of dreaming their own dreams a nice crutch.


Black Friday’s importance fading

The Black Friday moniker was coined in the 1960s as the first day of the year retailers turn a profit or operate in the black. Consumers know it as the day after Thanksgiving when retailers offer deep discounts to kick off the holiday shopping season.


Put energy into what matters

Too often business owners are busy about everything but actually doing business. They don’t have bosses and can be time-wasters. Employees can catch that bug, too. Not good. Looking back, I can see that this was never much me and has a lot to do with my longevity.


As we feast, many children go hungry

Well, the big Turkey Day is over, gobble gobble. Hope you had a good time visiting with friends and relatives, watching football and/or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.


ACLU, Sumner school board agree on policies

NASHVILLE (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union and the Sumner County, Tenn., Board of Education have agreed on policies to be followed in the aftermath of a suit claiming educators were promoting Christianity.

Former Nashville agency attorney indicted

NASHVILLE (AP) — A former attorney for a Nashville government agency has been indicted on a felony theft charge.


Governor opposes weakening open meetings law

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday that he opposes efforts to water down Tennessee's open meetings law that says no more than two city or county officials can deliberate in private.

Moody's restores stable outlook for TN debt rating

NASHVILLE (AP) — Moody's Investors Service has revised Tennessee's credit outlook from negative to stable.

State has new initiative to boost exports

NASHVILLE (AP) — The state has announced an initiative to boost Tennessee exports.


Hiring outlook brightens as jobless claims fall

WASHINGTON (AP) — A steady decline in the number of Americans applying for weekly unemployment benefits is the latest signal that the U.S. economy has strengthened and businesses may be poised to step up hiring.

Exxon Mobil predicts surge in hybrid vehicles

NEW YORK (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corp. expects to see more and more hybrids on the world's roads, with gas-sipping models like the Toyota Prius making up half of all vehicles by 2040.

Wholesalers boost inventories by most since May

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wholesale companies increased their stockpiles of autos, paper, and other goods in October by the most in five months, a sign they expect consumer demand to rise.

Corzine deflects blame for MF Global demise

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jon Corzine will tell a House panel Thursday that he doesn't know the location of client money that went missing when MF Global failed. And he will argue that he inherited a firm doomed by the risks his predecessors took.

ECB cuts key rate a quarter point to help economy

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank has cut its key interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 1 percent, a modest step to help revive the eurozone economy as it slides toward recession because of the debt crisis.

Lack of ECB bond-buying plan sends stocks lower

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks fell Thursday after the head of the European Central Bank said there was no existing plan for large-scale government bond purchases, as many in the markets had hoped.

Costco profit rises slightly, misses expectations

ISSAQUAH, Wash. (AP) — Costco Wholesale Corp. says its fiscal first-quarter profit rose 2.6 percent. Higher costs ate up much of a 12.5 percent increase in revenue.


GOP faces uphill battle on policy issues

WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservative flashpoint issues from abortion and abstinence education to President Barack Obama's health care law are the biggest obstacles to Congress completing a massive year-end spending bill next week that would keep the government running through next September.

Census: Widening income gap as blacks leave cities

WASHINGTON (AP) — Affluent black Americans who are leaving industrial cities for the suburbs and the South are shifting traditional lines between rich and poor, according to new census data. Their migration is widening the income gap between whites and the inner-city blacks who remain behind, while making blacks less monolithic as a group and subject to greater income disparities.

Partisan divide spells defeat for Obama nominee

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's choice to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau established in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse faces almost certain defeat in the Senate, the victim of a particularly nasty partisan fight that could spill over into next year's presidential campaign.


Knoxville News Sentinel lays off 33, including 4 in newsroom

KNOXVILLE (AP) — The KNS Media group, which includes the Knoxville News Sentinel, has laid off 33 employees.

State overhauls balky phone system for jobless

NASHVILLE (AP) - A balky telephone system that quickly became overwhelmed when unemployment soared in Tennessee has been overhauled and should be less frustrating for callers.


Simpler credit card agreement gets a tryout

WASHINGTON (AP) — A simpler credit card agreement is getting a tryout. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday released a prototype of a credit card agreement that's written in plain English. The idea is to sweep away the legalese and make it easier for consumers to understand a card's costs and terms.

Consumers borrow more in Oct. as economy improves

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans stepped up their borrowing in October to buy cars and attend college, and they also charged a little more to their credit cards. The second straight monthly gain in overall borrowing suggests consumers are growing more confident in the economy ahead of the crucial holiday buying season.

Billion-dollar weather disasters smash US record

WASHINGTON (AP) — America's wild weather year has set another record: a dozen billion-dollar catastrophes.

Humbled Netflix CEO still thinking, talking big

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — To hear Netflix CEO Reed Hastings tell it, the bone-headed decisions that have dragged down the Internet's leading video subscription service during the past five months eventually will be forgotten like a bad movie made by a great film director.

BP cited for 5 more alleged violations

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Federal regulators have issued a second set of violations against BP for activities related to the 2010 blown-out well that led to the deaths of 11 rig workers and the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

JC Penney buying stake in Martha Stewart Living

PLANO, Texas (AP) — J.C. Penney Co. is buying a minority stake in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. for $38.5 million, the latest move by the department store to revive its brand.

Shoppers say 'ho-hum' not 'ho-ho-ho' to sales

Sale, schmale. Customers used to come running when stores cut prices. But these days, more Americans are becoming blasé about bargains.

Stocks close mixed as traders await Europe news

Optimism about a European debt-crisis summit this week rose and fell on Wednesday, but U.S. stock indexes barely budged. The Dow Jones industrial average closed 46 points higher; the Nasdaq composite index fell a fraction of a point.

Airlines: 2011 profits down because of oil price

GENEVA (AP) — Global aviation earnings will likely decline to $3.5 billion in 2012 but those could turn into steep losses exceeding $8.3 billion if the eurozone crisis veers toward catastrophe, the industry's trade group said Wednesday.

Saab says its salvage process is in jeopardy

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The owner of Saab Automobile says its court-appointed administrator doesn't think the cash-strapped car company has a future and has applied to end the salvage process.

India backtracks on plan to let in foreign retail

NEW DELHI (AP) — India on Wednesday suspended its plan to open its huge retail sector to foreign companies such as Wal-Mart in a reversal seen as a major capitulation to political opponents that further weakens the administration.


US health official says no to young teens on pill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. health secretary stopped the Plan B morning-after pill from moving onto drugstore shelves next to the condoms, deciding in a surprise move Wednesday that young girls should not be able to buy it on their own.

No. 2 official takes over after FAA chief resigns

WASHINGTON (AP) — The resignation of the nation's top aviation official places the Federal Aviation Administration under the leadership of Deputy Administrator Michael Huerta, a well-regarded manager who nonetheless lack's his predecessor's insider knowledge of the aviation industry.

SPIN METER: GOP debates nonexistent dust rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — The issue may be dust in the wind, but Republicans are still moving to block it.


Misdemeanor charges against Britt dropped

NASHVILLE (AP) - Prosecutors in Nashville have dropped misdemeanor charges against Tennessee Titans' wide receiver Kenny Britt.

Fisk's accreditation reaffirmed, put on probation

NASHVILLE (AP) - Fisk University's accreditation has been reaffirmed but a state board has put the historically black university on probation for one year to get its finances in order.


Tennesseans with Medicare save $33 mil this year

NASHVILLE (AP) - Federal health officials say Tennesseans with Medicare have saved $33 million this year on their prescriptions.

Haslam urges quicker permitting for chicken farms

FRANKLIN (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that his administration is trying to speed up the time it takes for poultry farms to get environmental permits.

State honored for budget and financial reporting

NASHVILLE (AP) — The state has been honored for its budget and financial reporting.


Bank of America settles mortgage suit for $315 mln

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America agreed to pay $315 million to settle claims by investors that they were misled about mortgage-backed investments sold by its Merrill Lynch unit.

FDA favors more risk info on birth control pills

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health regulators are leaning toward adding new information about the risk of blood clots to the labels of widely prescribed birth control pills such as Yaz, in light of growing evidence suggesting the newer contraceptive drugs may be riskier than older drugs.

EU in antitrust probe of Apple, e-book publishers

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's antitrust watchdog is probing whether Apple helped five major publishing houses illegally raise prices for e-books when it launched its iPad tablet and iBookstore in 2010.

First-class mail: Just a little bit s-l-o-w-e-r

WASHINGTON (AP) — Already mocked by some as "snail mail," first-class U.S. mail will slow even more by next spring under plans by the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service to eliminate more than 250 processing centers. Nearly 30,000 workers would be laid off, too, as the post office struggles to respond to a shift to online communication and bill payments.

Stocks close mixed after euro bailout fund news

Stocks are closing narrowly mixed after a report that a second European bailout fund was being considered set off a brief, late-day rally.


Bill would make drug price gouging a federal crime

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Price gouging on prescription drugs already in short supply would become a federal crime under legislation about to be introduced.

FAA chief on leave after drunken driving arrest

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Department officials are deciding how to handle Federal Aviation Administration chief Randy Babbitt's weekend arrest on charges of drunken driving in suburban northern Virginia.

Obama prods GOP on payroll tax cut

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama accepted a move by Senate Democrats to scale back his Social Security payroll tax cut extension on Monday, then prodded Republicans to support it despite a requirement for the very wealthy to pay more taxes.


10 candidates file for Tenn. presidential primary

NASHVILLE (AP) - Nine Republican candidates have filed paperwork to be placed on the ballot for Tennessee's March primary.


Dollar General 3Q profit up on strong Nov. sales

GOODLETTSVILLE (AP) - Dollar General Corp.'s fiscal third-quarter profit rose 34 percent, helped by strong November sales as customers continued to seek out bargains heading into the holiday season.

Bridgestone arena celebrating 15th anniversary

NASHVILLE (AP) - Bridgestone Arena in Nashville is celebrating its 15th anniversary and running highlights online.

Haslams having open house during the next 2 weeks

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam are inviting Tennesseans from across the state to a free holiday open house at the Executive Residence during the next two weeks.

Occupy protesters arrested, journalist detained

NASHVILLE (AP) — Police have arrested four more Occupy Nashville protesters and briefly detained a journalist who was trying to cover their activities.


Trading firms to face new rules on customer funds

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal rule adopted Monday places tighter restrictions on how U.S. trading firms can invest their customers' money. The action comes amid a federal investigation into whether MF Global illegally tapped its clients' accounts before filing for bankruptcy.

Market gains fade on fears of Germany downgrade

Stock indexes gave back some of their gains Monday and the euro turned lower against the dollar following a report that Germany and five other major European nations could risk having their credit ratings downgraded.

US service firms expanded in Nov. at slower pace

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. service companies, which employ 90 percent of the U.S. work force, expanded at slower pace in November and a measure of employment fell sharply.

US factory orders fall for second straight month

WASHINGTON (AP) — Companies decreased their overall orders to U.S. factories in October for the second straight month, evidence that the economy remains weak despite other signs of improvement.

Oil rises to near $102 as Iran tensions rise

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices rose to near $102 a barrel Monday in Asia amid growing tensions between Iran and Western powers and signs the U.S. economy is improving.

Microsoft rolls out Xbox TV platform

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Microsoft Corp. is rolling out a new interface for its Xbox game console users — one that allows you to navigate through music, movies, TV shows and games with the wave of your hand or the sound of your voice.


FDA revisits safety of newer birth control drugs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Birth control drugs that were heavily promoted as having fewer side effects and the ability to clear up acne and other hormonal bothers are under new scrutiny from safety regulators.

Democrats drop plan to give tax cut to employers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic officials say a new payroll tax cut plan by Senate Democrats drops President Barack Obama's proposal to award the tax cut to employers in addition to every worker who draws a paycheck.

Cuts to first-class mail to slow delivery in 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unprecedented cuts by the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service will slow first-class delivery next spring and, for the first time in 40 years, eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day.

High court mulls suit over Cheney event arrest

WASHINGTON (AP) — A chance encounter with Vice President Dick Cheney at a shopping center in Colorado allowed Steven Howards to express his disgust with the Iraq war and touch Cheney on the shoulder. It also led to Howards' arrest by Secret Service agents.


Barge hits pier of downtown Nashville bridge

NASHVILLE (AP) — A barge has hit a pier of a downtown bridge in Nashville, and officials closed the structure for two hours to inspect it.

Judge favors plaintiff in CCA lawsuit

NASHVILLE (AP) - A Nashville judge ruled Thursday that private prison company Corrections Corporation of America must turn over more documents to a magazine that advocates for the rights of prisoners.


Tennessee lottery reports swift sales in November

NASHVILLE (AP) - The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. says ticket sales in November were the most of any November since the game's inception in 2004.

TN Supreme Court has new website to help the poor

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court has a new website designed to help people who cannot afford legal representation.


Unemployment rate falls to lowest since March 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — Small businesses that were skittish about the economy this summer started hiring in bigger numbers this fall, helping drive the unemployment rate down to 8.6 percent in November, the lowest in two and a half years.

Cable companies to resell Verizon Wireless service

NEW YORK (AP) — Cable companies Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks are giving up on their dreams of creating their own wireless network, opting instead to resell Verizon Wireless service.

Stock indexes mixed on US jobs news, Merkel talk

NEW YORK (AP) — The best week for the stock market in more than two years is ending with major indexes nearly unchanged.

Study confirms many of us go online for no reason

NEW YORK (AP) — For anyone who needed official word, a new study confirms that many of us — and the majority of young adults — go online for no good reason at all.

US auto sales look strong in November

DETROIT (AP) — People are finally replacing the cars and trucks they held on to during the economic slump, giving a boost to U.S. auto sales in November.


Democrats to pursue protections for voting rights

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats said Thursday they are planning a major effort to protect voting rights in the 2012 election after several states passed voter identification laws and restrictions on early voting and same day registration.

House passes bill to end public election funding

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has voted to end the public financing of presidential campaigns. The bill would dismantle a system set up after the Watergate scandal of the 1970s that has been overshadowed in recent years by the private money pouring into campaigns.

Congress, White House at odds over defense bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress and the White House are headed for a showdown over a massive, $662 billion defense bill that would require the military to hold suspected terrorists linked to al-Qaida or its affiliates, even those captured on U.S. soil, and detain some indefinitely without trial.

House Republicans step up anti-regulation effort

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans have launched their most ambitious, pro-business effort yet to rein in Obama administration regulators, triggering a furious debate over the value of new rules for clean air, workplace safety, children's toys and many other categories.

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