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VOL. 38 | NO. 6 | Friday, February 7, 2014

Millions for makeovers: Even newer downtown hotels are spending big to compete for Music City Center guests

The Hilton Nashville Downtown is wrapping up the first phase of its multi-million dollar renovation, with all 330 suites taken back to the walls and outfitted with all new upgrades.

Touches of Nashville highlight downtown hotel renovations

When the Omni Nashville opened a few months ago, embracing the best of Nashville in its food, design and staff was a key component in the hotel’s plan.

Renovated Renaissance faces new challenges

For decades, the Renaissance Nashville Hotel has been largely known as the one attached to the convention center.

Can tests scores be trusted to evaluate charter schools?

As the Tennessee Legislature prepares to debate a host of proposed charter school bills, opponents are tapping into research that claims charters often use questionable tactics to skew test scores, among them “cherry-picking’’ high-performing students while “counseling out,’’ those who test poorly.

Local Weather
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People’s Law School. A free program that provides an overview of common civil legal issues. Taught by Legal Aid Society attorneys and volunteer attorneys, the weekly, one-hour classes are 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays at Wright Middle School, 180 McCall St., and at Cohn Learning Center, 4805 Park Ave. Registration information: 298-8050, www.nashville.gov/Nashville-Community-Edcuation.aspx.

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Even for John Lennon, it was all about location

In case you missed the special edition of Life, Newsweek, People and Rolling Stone, along with specials on all 1,298 cable networks, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles invasion, or as they like to refer to it, first trip to America.


Ex-marine Gresham long past ‘cheerleading days’ in Senate

As chair of the Tennessee Senate Education Committee, Sen. Dolores Gresham has plenty of hot-button issues crossing her desk these days.


Japan, Tennessee meet in East Nashville at Two Ten Jack

You know things have changed in East Nashville when a restaurant puts up a valet stand. It happened on opening night at Two Ten Jack.


Walker calls out ‘cancers’ in Titans’ lockerroom

Please excuse this brief interruption of the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl celebrations and the post mortems being written about the Denver Broncos.


Capella Healthcare makes leadership promotions

Capella Healthcare has announced the promotions of three senior leaders to executive management positions and four others to its senior management team. Promoted to executive vice president duties are:


How to survive what could be a volatile 2014

Last week, the government released GDP statistics for the fourth quarter of 2013 showing the economy expanded at a 3.2 percent clip, which was above.


Did your favorite TV legal dramas make the list?

Today’s I Swear Crossword, “Legal Programs – 3 of 4,” is the third of a four-part series. The first two ran in early the Dec. 13 and Jan. 10 editions of the Nashville Ledger. If you’ve not solved these three puzzles, please go back and do so before reading on.


Edamame is an easy, nutritious snack

Edamame. Pronounced: ay-duh-MAH-may. Funny word. But only to Americans. It’s a Japanese word that literally means “twig bean” – eda (twig) + mame (bean).


Tennessee enrollment in health exchange up 66 percent

NASHVILLE (AP) - Nearly 60,000 Tennesseans signed up for coverage under the federal health insurance exchange through January, a 65 percent increase since the beginning of year.


Guns-in-parks bill passes Senate 26-7

NASHVILLE (AP) - A measure to do away with local government's power to decide whether to allow firearms in public parks has passed the Senate.


CCA to fight prison staffing audit result

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Corrections Corp. of America is pushing to get a forensic audit declared inconclusive after the auditors found the private prison company understaffed an Idaho prison by more than 26,000 hours.


Tennessee's January tax collections fall short

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Finance Commissioner Larry Martin says the state's overall tax collections fell below budgeted expectations in January.


GM recalling nearly 780,000 compact cars

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling almost 780,000 older-model compact cars in North America because a faulty ignition switch can shut off the engines without warning and cause crashes.


New gender options for Facebook users

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — You don't have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.


GAO recommends changes for student debit cards

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional investigators say small fees add up for college students using college-issued debit and prepaid cards, which often are used to draw financial aid.

Applications for jobless benefits rise to 339K

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 8,000 last week to 339,000, evidence that layoffs ticked up. Still, the increase wasn't enough to suggest the job market is worsening.

US retail sales down 0.4 percent in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cold weather across much of the nation contributed to a drop in retail sales in January. Americans spent less on autos and clothes and at restaurants — a decline that suggests that momentum from consumer spending at the end of 2013 has tailed off.

Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Comcast Corp. will buy Time Warner Cable Inc. for about $45.2 billion in a deal that would combine the nation's top two cable TV companies and create a dominant force in creating and delivering entertainment.

Stocks edge higher as investors assess earnings

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher Thursday as investors assessed the latest corporate earnings and some weak economic reports. Goodyear Tire & Rubber soared after reporting a big earnings gain, while Cisco Systems and Whole Foods dropped after releasing disappointing results.

Oil below $100 on concern about US economy

Oil fell back below $100 a barrel Thursday as investors worried upcoming data would show weakness in the U.S. economy.

Lenders repossessed fewer US homes in January

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lenders repossessed fewer U.S. homes in January, bringing the number of completed foreclosures down to the lowest level in more than six years.

Huge thermal plant opens as solar industry grows

PRIMM, Nev. (AP) — A windy stretch of the Mojave Desert once roamed by tortoises and coyotes has been transformed by hundreds of thousands of mirrors into the largest solar power plant of its type in the world, a milestone for a growing industry that is testing the balance between wilderness conservation and the pursuit of green energy across the West.


Volkswagen workers begin 3-day union vote

NASHVILLE (AP) - Workers at Volkswagen's lone U.S. plant in Tennessee on Wednesday kicked off a three-day election that will determine whether they will be represented by the United Auto Workers union.

Toyota recalls 1.9M Prius cars for software glitch

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota said Wednesday it is recalling 1.9 million hybrid Prius cars globally for a software glitch that could cause the vehicle to stall.


Amazon to hire 2,500 new workers across US, including Murfreesboro

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon says it is hiring more than 2,500 full-time workers at its order fulfillment centers around the U.S.


Judge tosses suit filed against Fleischmann

NASHVILLE (AP) - A lawsuit filed by a former Tennessee Republican party official that accused two high-ranking fellow Republicans of defaming his reputation has been thrown out.

Tennessee declares state of emergency due to forecast

NASHVILLE (AP) - The state of Tennessee has declared a state of emergency because of a winter storm that is expected to pound parts of the state with snow and ice.

Haslam gets invite to state dinner at White House

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was on the guest list for a glitzy state dinner for French President Francois Hollande at the White House.


Health law sign-ups growing but goal still elusive

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wide disparities are emerging among states in health insurance sign-ups, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal enrollment statistics released Wednesday.

Health care tweak: Big companies get wiggle room

WASHINGTON (AP) — Big retail stores, hotels, restaurants and other companies with lots of low-wage and part-time workers are among the main beneficiaries of the Obama administration's latest tweak to health care rules.


US stock market indexes drift mostly lower

NEW YORK (AP) — Major U.S. stock indexes are ending mostly lower as a four-day rally peters out.

Negatives aside, AOL CEO posts positive results

NEW YORK (AP) — You've got gaffes.

Oil back above $100 on China data, OPEC outlook

The price of oil rose above $100 a barrel Wednesday as OPEC predicted faster growth in oil demand this year and China reported record imports of crude oil. The gains were tempered by an increase in U.S. supplies.

Late-payment rate on mortgages falls in 4Q

LOS ANGELES (AP) — U.S. homeowners are doing a better job of keeping up with mortgage payments, a trend that has reduced the rate of late payment on home loans to the lowest level in more than five years.

Obama raises minimum wage for contract workers

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama increased the minimum wage for a few hundred thousand federal contractors on Wednesday, then pressed the divided Congress to pass broader legislation that would apply to all workers. Obama declared, "It's the right thing to do."


Senate clears debt limit measure for Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a dramatic Senate tally in which top GOP leaders cast the crucial votes, must-pass legislation to allow the government to borrow money to pay its bills cleared Congress Wednesday for President Barack Obama's signature.

Sen. Rand Paul sues Obama over NSA surveillance

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Rand Paul and a tea-party backed group are suing the Obama administration over the National Security Agency's phone record collection policies. Paul says the suit is filed for themselves and on behalf of all Americans who are or have been customers of phone service in the United States since 2006.

Bedrock GOP principle dropped in debt ceiling vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was once the backbone of the House Republican majority — the hard-line stand that brought President Barack Obama to the negotiating table and yielded more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction.


GOP's Corker urges rejection of UAW at Volkswagen

NASHVILLE (AP) - Detroit's troubles have been front and center in the heavy campaign by union opponents seeking to dissuade workers at Volkswagen's lone U.S. assembly plant from voting for representation by the United Auto Workers.


Slavery exhibition on Tennessee plantation opens

NASHVILLE (AP) — A groundbreaking slavery exhibition is opening Tuesday at the Tennessee State Museum and will feature the stories of both slaves and slaveholders at a former Robertson County plantation that was once the largest producer of tobacco in the U.S.


Report: Tennessee below national average in AP scoring

NASHVILLE (AP) — A new report shows over the last decade more students are taking Advanced Placement courses in Tennessee.


Widest earnings gap for college grads in 48 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — The earnings gap between young adults with and without bachelor's degrees has stretched to its widest level in nearly half a century. It's a sign of the growing value of a college education despite rising tuition costs, according to an analysis of census data released Tuesday.

US stocks surge after Fed chief reassures

NEW YORK (AP) — Reassuring words from the new head of the Federal Reserve sent stocks soaring on Tuesday and gave the market its longest winning streak this year.

Oil slips below $100; pump price up another penny

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil slipped back below $100 a barrel Tuesday as the new head of the U.S. Federal Reserve promised to maintain the central bank's approach to monetary policy.

Yellen to investors: Expect continuity at the Fed

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sought Tuesday to reassure investors that she will embrace the approach to interest-rate policy that her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, pursued before he stepped down as chairman last month.

US job openings fall in December from 5-year high

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers posted fewer job openings in December and hiring slowed, adding to evidence that the job market weakened that month.

FDA wants more info on female libido pill

WASHINGTON (AP) — A drugmaker working to develop a pill to boost sexual desire in women says regulators are demanding more studies on the experimental drug.


Republicans set stage for raising debt limit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unwilling to risk spooking the markets, and leading a fractured GOP majority, House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday stepped back from a confrontation with Democrats to let Congress vote on increasing the government's borrowing cap without trying to extract any concessions from the White House.


Springsteen schedules April 17 tour stop in Nashville

NEW YORK (AP) - Bruce Springsteen is coming to Nashville.


MTSU Poll: Haslam job approval takes dive

MURFREESBORO (AP) - The latest Middle Tennessee State University poll released on Monday shows Gov. Bill Haslam's job approval has dropped since last spring.

Alexander announces federal OK of Smokies archive

NASHVILLE (AP) — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has announced that the U.S. Department of the Interior has approved a $4.3 million archive of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Tennessee teachers push back on evaluation process

NASHVILLE (AP) — When Tennessee was competing for a half-billion dollars in federal education money, teachers agreed to allow the state to ramp up its use of student test scores for evaluating educators.


Tennessee lawmakers: VW incentives threatened by UAW

NASHVILLE (AP) - Republican lawmakers in Tennessee on Monday threatened that the state could turn off the spigot of incentives for Volkswagen if workers at the German automaker's plant decide this week to approve union representation.

Nissan profits rise on weaker yen, China sales

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan says quarterly profit rose 57 percent, driven by a weaker yen and strong sales in China and Japan.


Gambling industry fights itself on Internet gambling

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Many experts believe online wagering is the future of gambling, but the casino industry is increasingly divided on the issue.

US stocks end slightly higher in quiet trading

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market ended up more or less where it began Monday in a quiet day for investors who had little economic data or company earnings to react to.

Oil above $100; new Fed chair's comments awaited

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices rose slightly Monday, enough to close above $100 a barrel for the first time this year.

Icahn backs off plan for $50B Apple share buyback

Activist investor Carl Icahn is backing off his proposal that Apple spend $50 billion buying back its own stock during the current fiscal year that ends in September.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg biggest giver in 2013

SEATTLE (AP) — Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were the most generous American philanthropists in 2013, with a donation of 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at more than $970 million, to a Silicon Valley nonprofit in December.

McDonald's US sales feel chill from Jan. weather

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's says a key U.S. sales figure fell last month, even as it fights to attract more customers by aggressively promoting its value menu.


From immigration to trade, inaction in Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — Little more than a week after Groundhog Day, the evidence is mounting that lawmakers have all but wrapped up their most consequential work of 2014, at least until the results of the fall elections are known.


Bellevue YMCA to reopen today after inspection

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Bellevue YMCA, site of a small plane crash on Monday night, is expected to reopen today.


UAW critics Corker, Haslam take differing approaches to VW vote

NASHVILLE (AP) - Two of the more vocal Republican critics of efforts to unionize the Volkswagen assembly plant in Tennessee are taking opposing approaches to a pending vote on the issue next week.


Hall tax proposal would affect city budgets

NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee municipalities are keeping a close watch on proposed legislation to eliminate or reduce the Hall tax.

TPA awards 2 lawmakers Open Government Award

NASHVILLE (AP) - Two lawmakers from eastern Tennessee have received the 2014 Open Government Award from state newspapers for opposing efforts to weaken the state's open records and public meetings law.

Lawmakers propose bills addressing Common Core

NASHVILLE (AP) - Lawmakers have proposed a number of measures this legislative session that seek to make changes to Tennessee's Common Core standards.


A scramble to sign up the young by health deadline

WASHINGTON (AP) — "Do you guys have health insurance?" David Bransfield asks each time a group of backpack-toting college students passes by.


Stocks end week higher, shaking off early stumble

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. stock market is ending the week with a modest gain after investors found bright spots in the government's monthly employment survey.

Oil briefly tops $100 as demand for fuel rises

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil briefly rose above $100 a barrel for the first time this year on rising demand for fuel and some positive sentiment about the U.S. job market.

US employers add 113K jobs; rate dips to 6.6 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A surprisingly weak jobs report for a second straight month has renewed concern that the U.S. economy might be slowing after a strong finish last year.

US consumers boost borrowing by $18.8B in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumers boosted their borrowing in December by the largest amount in 10 months as demand for auto, student and credit card loans showed big gains.

US jobs report for Jan. might be hard to interpret

WASHINGTON (AP) — One of the most highly anticipated U.S. jobs reports in months might also prove to be among the most puzzling.

Apple said to take $14B bite of stock via buyback

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple has repurchased $14 billion of its stock in the two weeks after its first-quarter financial results and second-quarter revenue outlook disappointed investors.

FEMA to delay some flood insurance increases

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some flood insurance premiums won't be raised until the fall of 2015 at the earliest.

Twitter stock sinks on user growth worries

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter's stock is sinking on worries that the short online messaging service is not popular enough.

New York Times 4Q net income tumbles

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times Co. said Thursday its fourth-quarter net income tumbled 63 percent, hurt by comparisons with the same period a year earlier that saw a hefty one-time gain and an extra week of revenue. The company's earnings still beat Wall Street predictions.


Analysis: Washington gridlock at a crossroads

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Congress stand at a junction.

Boehner: 'We're not going to default' on debt

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner promised Thursday that the GOP-controlled House won't miss a late-February deadline to increase the government's borrowing cap.

Speaker: Immigration measure will be tough to pass

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday it will be difficult to pass immigration legislation this year, dimming prospects for one of President Barack Obama's top domestic priorities.

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