The 10 Best Cities to Live in the World

Melbourne, Australia, loses the crown after a 7-year run.

By Megan Trimble, Associate Editor, Social Media

VIENNA HAS USURPED Melbourne, Australia, as the world’s most “livable” city.

Austria‘s capital city ended Melbourne’s record 7-year run atop the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual index, titled “The Global Liveability Report 2018.” The ranking considers 30 qualitative and quantitative factors to rank 140 cities in order of best living conditions. Those factors include benchmarks such as health care, education, infrastructure, stability and culture/environment, among others. The cities are scored overall from ideal to intolerable on a 100-point scale.

“Although both Melbourne and Vienna have registered improvements in liveability over the last six months, increases in Vienna’s ratings, particularly in the stability category, have been enough for the city to overtake Melbourne,” the report explains.

The cities are separated by just 0.7 of a percentage point, with Vienna scoring 99.1 in the assessment and Melbourne ranking second with a 98.4 rating. Vienna and Melbourne each scored perfectly in the areas of health care, education and infrastructure.

Australian and Canadian cities boasted strong showings in the ranking, with three cities apiece in the top 10. It may come as no surprise that both countries also ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s leading Best Countries. Canada also finished No. 1 in the 2018 Best Countries’ Quality of Life sub-ranking, and Australia ranked No. 5.

Japan’s Osaka and Tokyo, and Denmark’s Copenhagen also appeared at the top of the list at Nos. 3, 7 (tied) and 9, respectively.

As for America, “civil unrest is also on the decline in US cities, which are no longer experiencing the same level of mass protests related to political decisions from the previously nascent presidency of Donald Trump,” the report notes. Still, cities in the United States did not rank in the top 15, according to the index. Honolulu scored the highest rating for the U.S., ranking No. 23 overall.

Cities that ranked the lowest in the index were marked by terrorism and civil unrest, according to the index. In the most extreme cases, the cities were plagued by civil war. Damascus, Syria, was once again viewed as the least livable with a 30.7 overall rating.


The heat is on for 4 more years: Extreme temperatures expected through 2022


This summer’s heat has shattered records around the Northern Hemisphere, from Algeria to Canada and Japan to California. New research suggests this could be only the beginning of a four-year global “warm spell.”

Using a new forecasting technique, scientists in a study published Tuesday predict that the rest of 2018 through 2022 may be warmer than expected around the world as human-caused global warming and natural factors combine to heat the planet.

“The coming warm period is associated with an increased likelihood of intense to extreme temperatures,” the study says.

Scientists say that although the Earth will be warmer than average overall, it may not be hot everywhere for everyone:

“We are not predicting another heat wave – a warmer year doesn’t always mean (that),” study lead author Florian Sevellec told Deutsche Welle. “That’s because the forecast only covers global mean temperatures, not regional temperatures in certain parts of the world.”

The past four years have been the Earth’s four warmest on record (2016, 2017, 2015 and 2014, respectively).

Man-caused climate change, aka global warming, is caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

Though the overall trend is for rising temperatures, warming does not occur in a straight line and can wobble from year to year. “Global warming is not a smooth, monotonous process,” the study says.

Scientists say the warming trend appeared to lapse in the early 21st century, a phenomenon known as a global warming “hiatus.”

The researchers built their forecasting system by statistical “hind-casting,” according to The Guardian. This crunches the data from previous climate models to measure which combination was most effective in predicting past temperature trends.

 Looking back, the study successfully recreated that so-called hiatus, meaning it has some skill at seeing bumps in the overall warming trend. meteorologist Ryan Maue, who was not involved in the research, wonders whether the study “was really telling us anything new. The methodology is a statistical fit to previous (historical) data and climate model scenarios.”

In addition, he says, “there are no physics here – no El Niño or ocean dynamics.”

“The extreme warmth of … 2016 was caused by the strong El Niño, and we have been ‘stepped up’ at the global temperature level now for two to three years,” Maue says. “Thus, to skillfully predict global temperatures, you need to replicate the mechanisms that are actually changing the global temperature (such as El Niño).”

The study’s predicted warmth is not a sure thing: The research says there’s a 58 percent chance that the world’s temperature over the next four years will be unusually warm. There’s a 69 percent chance the oceans will be warmer than normal.

Beyond 2022, forecasts are blurry, according to Deutsche Welle. The model simply does not function well when looking further into the future, said Sevellec, a scientist at France’s National Center for Scientific Research.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature Communications.


Boy Forced to Pose Naked on Cross: Clergy Sex Abuse Report

Hundreds of ‘predator priests’ named in grand jury report
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2018 6:15 PM CDT

(NEWSER) – A long-awaited grand jury report examining clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania was released Tuesday, and it lists more than 300 “predator priests” accused of abusing more than 1,000 child victims over a period of seven decades. The almost 900-page report also has harsh words for Roman Catholic Church leadership, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible not only did nothing: They hid it all,” it says. Dozens of church superiors are accused of being complicit, including some who have become prominent nationally, like Cardinal Donald Wuerl, one of Pope Francis’ top US advisers. Wuerl released a statement denying being involved in any cover-up and insisting he “acted with diligence … to prevent future acts of abuse.”

Some of the accounts included in the report are shocking, including one describing four priests who allegedly used whips and forced one victim to pose, naked, as Christ on the cross. Other accusations include a priest accused of raping and impregnating a teen, then helping her get an abortion; a priest accused of sexually abusing five sisters, including one who was abused from the age of 18 months to 12 years; a priest accused of keeping pubic hairs from his alleged victims; a victim who was forced to perform oral sex and then had his mouth washed out with holy water; and a victim who was forced to say confession to his alleged abuser. The grand jury did not recommend any new charges. Many of the offenses are beyond the state’s statute of limitations, and grand jurors said they were “sick” over crimes going unpunished, the AP reports. They called for the statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes to be abolished. Click for key findings from each of the six dioceses probed. (Some of the dioceses had gotten ahead of the report by releasing their own lists of names.)


Report details sexual abuse by more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania’s Catholic Church

By Daniel Burke and Susannah Cullinane, CNN

A new grand jury report says that internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania show that more than 300 “predator priests” have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims.

“We believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid ever to come forward is in the thousands,” the grand jury report says.
“Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”
The lengthy report, released Tuesday afternoon, investigates clergy sexual abuse daying back to 1947 in six dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.
Pennsylvania’s two other dioceses, Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown, have been the subjects of earlier grand jury reports, which found similarly damaging information about clergy and bishops in those dioceses.
“There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale,” the grand jurors wrote in Tuesday’s report.
“For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”
The grand jurors said that “almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted.” But charges have been filed against two priests, one in Erie diocese and another in Greensburg diocese, who have been accused of abusing minors.
“We learned of these abusers directly from their dioceses — which we hope is a sign that the church is finally changing its ways,” the grand jurors said. “And there may be more indictments in the future; investigation continues.”
At a news conference announcing the report’s release, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called it the “largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States.”

Molestations and rapes

At times, the lengthy catalog of clergy sexual abuses in the report is difficult to read. As the grand jurors note, priests and other Catholic leaders victimized boys and girls, teens and pre-pubescent children.
Some victims were plied with alcohol and groped or molested, the report says. Others were orally, vaginally or anally raped, according to the grand jurors.
“But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.”
Among the more egregious cases, the grand jury reports that:
• In the Greensburg diocese, a priest impregnated a 17-year-old, forged a pastor’s signature on a marriage certificate and divorced the girl months later. According to the grand jury, the priest was allowed to stay in ministry by finding a “benevolent bishop.”
• Another priest in Greensburg groomed middle-school students for sex, according to the grand jury, by telling them that Mary had to “bite off the cord” and “lick” Jesus clean after the Nativity.
• In Harrisburg, a priest abused five sisters from the same family and collected samples of their urine, pubic hair and menstrual blood.
• Also in Harrisburg, a priest raped a 7-year-old girl who was in the hospital after her tonsils were removed, according to the report.
• In Pittsburgh, church officials said that a 15-year-old boy “pursued” and “literally seduced” a priest. A church report later acknowledged that the priest had admitted to “sado-masochistic” activities with several boys.
• In the Allentown diocese, a priest admitted sexually molesting a boy and pleaded for help, according to documents, but was left in ministry for several more years.
• Also in Allentown, a priest who had abused several boys, according to the grand jury, was given a recommendation to work at Disney World.
• In Scranton, a priest who later served prison time for abusing children was found to have been HIV-positive for years.
Tuesday’s news conference began with a short video of three victims who told how they were abused and how it changed their lives.
An 83-year-old man said he couldn’t show any affection to his wife and children as a result of the abuse he suffered. A woman said the abuse started when she was 18 months old. Another man said, “When you have the priest touching you every day, that’s a hard memory to have. The first erection that you have is at the hands of a priest.”
The victims said this was “not a vendetta against the church” and that abusers have “to be accountable in the church for what they did.”

‘Grave failings’

The grand jury’s searing report comes as the Catholic Church, including Pope Francis, is struggling to contain a sexual abuse scandal rapidly consuming the church on several continents.
In Australia, a bishop has been found guilty of covering up sexual abuse. In Chile, the Pope was forced to recant his dismissal of an abuse scandal involving a prominent priest and bishops accused of covering up his crimes.
And in the United States, a prominent archbishop was removed fromm the powerful College of Cardinals following reports that he had molested a teenage altar boy and several others while he was rising through the church’s ranks. Meanwhile, bishops in Boston and Nebraska are investigating possible cases of sexual abuse in Catholic seminaries.
“The report of the Pennsylvania grand jury again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty, chair of the bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, said in a statement.
“As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops.”
The Vatican declined to comment on the grand jury report.
DiNardo and Doherty noted that the grand jury’s report spans 70 years, and many of the abuse accusations were made before 2002, when the bishops adopted new policies. The policies, known as the Dallas Charter, after the city in which they were adopted, have been revised in 2011 and 2018.
The charter, the bishops said, “commits us to respond promptly and compassionately to victims, report the abuse of minors, remove offenders and take ongoing action to prevent abuse.”
For weeks, many Catholics in the United States had been warily waiting for the Pennsylvania grand jury’s report, especially as bishops in the state began publicly releasing the names of accused clergy in an apparent attempt to preempt some of the report’s findings.
In a statement on Monday before the report was published, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the former Bishop of Pittsburgh who now heads the Archdiocese of Washington, said the report “will be a reminder of the grave failings that the church must acknowledge and for which it must seek forgiveness.”
“We are now in the midst of a new era where our communal bonds of trust are once again being tested by the sin of abuse.”

Delays in publication

Court action had delayed the report’s publication. A number of individuals named in the report claimed that its findings were false or misleading, that they were denied due process of law and that its release would impair their reputations.
On July 27, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the grand jury report to be released by 2 p.m. August 14 with redactions in sections where litigation was ongoing.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro had written to Pope Francis on July 25, requesting that the Pontiff direct church leaders to stop “efforts to silence the survivors.”
“A comprehensive investigation by the Office of Attorney General found widespread sexual abuse of children and a systematic coverup by leaders of the Catholic Church,” Shapiro said in his letter.

Harrisburg abuse list

On August 1, the leader of one of the largest Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania released a list identifying 71 priests, deacons and seminarians accused of “substantiated” sexual misconduct over the past seven decades.
Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Harrisburg Diocese also issued an apology on behalf of the religious community.
“That conduct has left a legacy of pain and sorrow that is still being felt,” he wrote. “I apologize for these actions.”
While most men on the Harrisburg list are accused of sexually abusing children, others were investigated for inappropriate behavior, such as kissing or inappropriately communicating with a minor, Gainer wrote. Others were accused of viewing or possessing child pornography.
The list did not say how the diocese handled most of the accusations and did not give the men’s current whereabouts, though a few cases that were forwarded to civil authorities were more detailed.

WH press secretary: Can’t offer ‘guarantee’ there is no N-word recording




White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that she could not offer a “guarantee” that the president has never been recorded using the N-word.

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“I can’t guarantee anything,” Sanders said when asked to rule out that such a recording exists. “I can tell you the president addressed this question directly. I can tell you I have never heard it. I can tell you if myself or the people in this building serving this country every single day doing our very best to help people all across this country and make it better, if at any point we felt that the president was who some of his critics claim him to be, we certainly wouldn’t be here.”

During the White House press briefing, she referred reporters to the president’s own tweet where he claims the word is not in his vocabulary.

Sanders also disputed that there’s a pattern of the president insulting African-Americans, casting the president as an “equal opportunity” attacker.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with race and everything to do with the president calling out someone’s lack of integrity… the fact is the president’s an equal opportunity person that calls things like he sees it. He always fights fire with fire and he doesn’t hold back,” she said as she defended the president for “voicing his frustration” with Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Earlier in the day, Trump fired off an incendiary tweet at his former aide who has written in her new book, “Unhinged,” that a tape exists of Trump using the N-word from his days on “The Apprentice.”

“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” Trump tweeted.

Asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl during the press briefing why the president would hire someone who he now describes in such terms and whether his language is appropriate, Sanders defended the president for “voicing his frustration” and described his decision to hire her as generous.

“The president wanted to give her a chance,” Sanders told Karl. “And he made clear when General Kelly came on and he voiced concerns that this individual didn’t have the best interests of the White House and the president and the country at heart, the president said do what you can to get along. If you can’t, he gave him full authority to carry out the decision to let her go.”

The president’s tweet came after he denied claims of racism made late Monday by Manigault Newman.

Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday, Manigault Newman responded to Trump’s name-calling.

“If he says that publicly, what would he say privately? He has no respect of women and African-American women and having the chief of staff lock me up for two and a half hours to harass me and tell me that things can be ugly for me and there is damage for my reputation. He is unfit to be in this office and to be serving as the president of the United States.”

Another taped conversation

Manigault Newman also released yet another recording Tuesday morning that she says records a conference call among several Trump campaign aides in which she has said the group discussed how they would deal with the potential fallout of the release of any N-word tape.

Describing a clip she provided to CBS, Manigault Newman said on CBS “This Morning” that the call contradicted denials recently issued by former Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson and former campaign aide Lynne Patton, who in their most recent statements disputed Manigault Newman’s previous descriptions of the call.

In the audio, Pierson can be heard saying she wanted more info on how the word might have been used so they could “maybe try to figure a way to spin it.”

Patton then recalled how she personally asked the president about the existence of the audio and said Trump denied it, though Patton added that Trump still asked, “Why don’t you just go ahead and put it to bed?”

Soon after in the conversation, Pierson can be heard saying, “He said it [the N-word]. No, he said it. He’s embarrassed.”

But no officials on the call, including Manigault Newman, say they have personally heard the audio of the alleged tape.

Both Patton and Pierson Tuesday issued a joint statement in response to the audio release, arguing it does not contradict their previous denials.

But the joint statement does not directly address the portion of the recording where Pierson is heard saying the president “said it” and was “embarrassed.”

Trump goes on the defensive

Trump has spent much of the past two days attacking the former “Apprentice” star after Manigault Newman leaked a recording of her firing by Chief of Staff John Kelly on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. Trump said Monday he spoke to “Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett, and claimed Burnett said no tapes exist of Trump using “that word.”

“I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up,” Trump tweeted.

There was some confusion over whether Manigault Newman had actually heard him use the word on tape or whether someone made the claim to her. She attempted to clear up that discrepancy — in her book she says she didn’t hear it herself — when she said she heard him use the N-word after the book had gone to press.

Trump counselor offers an explanation

Talking to White House reporters on the North Lawn driveway Tuesday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, suggested she had actually briefed the president during the campaign regarding the possible release of an N-word tape.

“It was my job to tell the president every rumor, innuendo, fact, fiction,” Conway said.

Trump, after calling her a “low-life” a day earlier, referred to Manigault Newman as “deranged” in Monday’s tweets.

Manigault Newman released audio of her conversation with Kelly Sunday and then followed that up by releasing a conversation with Trump himself on Monday’s “Today” show. She played just a brief clip — not independently verified by NBC — in which the president seemed surprised by her exit and said he was not responsible.


Tennessee U.S. Senate race polls: Phil Bredesen, Marsha Blackburn vie to replace Bob Corker

Staff report, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

The race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker is entering its final months.

Republican nominee Marsha Blackburn and Democratic nominee Phil Bredesen each hope to win over enough support to head to Washington, D.C. to represent Tennessee in the Senate.

Corker, a Chattanooga Republican, announced in September that he would not seek a third term and he reiterated that decision in late February.

Blackburn and Bredesen faced nominal opposition in their respective party primaries on Aug. 2.

Here’s a look at what the polls are showing.

Gravis Marketing: Blackburn up 4 points

A poll taken and paid for by Gravis Marketing, a nonpartisan research firm based in Florida that works mostly for Republican clients, found Blackburn is leading Bredesen by 4 percentage points.

  • Blackburn — 48 percent
  • Bredesen — 44 percent
  • Undecided — 8 percent

The poll, a random survey of 620 likely voters taken from Aug. 9 to Aug 11, has a margin of error of 3.9 percent. According to the pollster, the poll was conducted using an “online panel” of cell phone users and interactive voice responses.

Emerson College: Bredesen up 6 points

A July poll from Boston-based Emerson College found Bredesen with a slight lead over Blackburn.

  • Bredesen — 43 percent
  • Blackburn — 37 percent
  • Undecided — 17 percent

The Emerson survey, conducted over a four-day period beginning July 11 with 657 registered voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Committee to Defend the President: Blackburn up 3 points

A poll commissioned by the Committee to Defend the President in mid-July found U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s bid for the U.S. Senate found her lead over former Gov. Phil Bredesen has narrowed in recent months.

Blackburn — 38 percent
Bredesen — 35 percent
Undecided — 11 percent

The latest poll, conducted by WPA intelligence over a three day period beginning July 9, surveyed 551 likely Tennessee voters. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

TENNESSEE SENATE POLL: Trump-aligned poll shows Blackburn’s lead over Bredesen narrowing

Duty and Country PAC: Bredesen up 3 points

Duty and Country PAC — a Washington, D.C.-based organization that favors Democrats — released a poll on July 12 which found former Gov. Phil Bredesen with a 3 percentage point lead over U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn.

  • Bredesen — 44 percent
  • Blackburn — 41 percent
  • Undecided — 15 percent

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling over a two-day period starting on July 10, surveyed 583 likely Tennessee voters. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

BLACKBURN-BREDESEN RACE: Bredesen has lead over Blackburn in Democratic-aligned PAC poll

Axios/SurveyMonkey: Blackburn up 14 points

poll from the news organization Axios and SurveyMonkey released July 10 showed Blackburn with a 14-point edge over Bredesen. Tennessee was among 13 states looked at in the poll.

  • Blackburn — 55 percent
  • Bredesen — 41 percent

The poll, conducted June 11 to July 2, surveyed 12,677 registered voters online across the nation. In Tennessee, the survey asked questions of 1,010 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points in Tennessee.

According to SurveyMonkey, respondents were selected from the “nearly 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day,” and the data is weighted for age, race, sex, education and geography.

Mason-Dixon poll: Bredesen up 3 points

A poll commissioned and released by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy found Bredesen with a 3-point advantage over Blackburn.

  • Bredesen — 46 percent
  • Blackburn — 43 percent
  • Undecided — 11 percent

The poll, conducted April 17-19, surveyed 625 registered Tennessee voters using cell phones and land lines.

More: Phil Bredesen holds narrow edge over Marsha Blackburn, new Mason-Dixon poll shows

MTSU poll: Bredesen up 10 points

A Middle Tennessee State University poll released in early April showed Bredesen with a 10-point advantage over Blackburn.

  • Bredesen — 45 percent
  • Blackburn — 35 percent
  • Undecided — 17 percent

The poll of 600 registered Tennessee voters was conducted March 22 to 29 using cell phones and landlines and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

► More: Phil Bredesen holds double-digit lead over Marsha Blackburn in US Senate race, new MTSU poll shows

Public Policy Polling: Bredesen up 5 points

A Public Policy Polling survey released in March showed Bredesen with a narrow lead.

  • Bredesen — 46 percent
  • Blackburn — 41 percent
  • Undecided — 13 percent

The poll from the Democratic-leaning firm surveyed about 1,000 Tennesseans from March 15 to 16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

► More: New poll finds Bredesen with narrow lead over Blackburn in US Senate race

Committee to Defend the President: Blackburn up 5 points

A poll commissioned by the Committee to Defend the President in February showed Blackburn with the edge. The group is a Trump-aligned political action committee and supports Blackburn.

  • Blackburn — 44 percent
  • Bredesen — 39 percent

The poll, conducted by WPA Intelligence from Feb. 13 to 16, surveyed 500 likely voters. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

► More: Poll: Marsha Blackburn holds major lead among GOP voters in matchup against Bob Corker

Committee to Defend the President: Blackburn up 9 points

A poll in December commissioned by the Committee to Defend the President, showed Blackburn with a large lead. The group is a Trump-aligned political action committee and supports Blackburn.

  • Blackburn — 43 percent
  • Bredesen — 34 percent
  • Undecided — 23 percent

The poll, conducted by WPA Intelligence, surveyed 500 likely general election voters Dec. 13 to 14 and on Dec. 17. The survey has a margin or error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

► More: Blackburn would beat Bredesen in head-to-head matchup, according to poll from Trump-aligned PAC

Vanderbilt University: Blackburn leading in name recognition

A poll, which did not ask a head-to-head question about who voters would pick, asked respondents to say whether they had heard of each candidate.

  • Blackburn — 73 percent
  • Bredesen — 65 percent
  • Steven Fincher (dropped out) — 22 percent
  • James Mackler (dropped out) — 10 percent

The poll, which surveyed 1,013 registered Tennessee voters, was conducted by the Vanderbilt University Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions between Nov. 16 and Dec. 5. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

More: Marsha Blackburn holds key early advantage in Tennessee Senate race, poll finds

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: Bredesen up 5 points

A poll conducted in October 2017 by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee showed Bredesen leading Blackburn. The poll was conducted in the lead up to Bredesen formally entering the race.

  • Bredesen — 46 percent
  • Blackburn — 41 percent
  • Undecided — 13 percent

The poll, conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang for the DSCC, surveyed 601 likely Tennessee voters. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

► More: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee poll: Bredesen has more support than BlackburnM 

MTSU poll: Blackburn, Bredesen virtually tied in approval ratings

The Middle Tennessee State University poll released in October found Bredesen and Blackburn virtually tied in approval ratings. The poll did not ask a head-to-head question about who voters would pick.

  • Blackburn — 37 percent had positive view
  • Bredesen — 34 percent had positive view

The poll, conducted between Oct. 16 and Oct. 23, surveyed 600 registered voters and has a margin or error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


Over 40 officials to help with Shelby County mayoral transition

By Staff

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) – The team tasked with helping Senator Lee Harris transition into Shelby County Mayor met for the first time Tuesday.

“I appreciate all of you because you represent a lot of different perspectives,” Harris said.

The team is made up of 46 members. The group discussed areas of focus and appointed seats in the county system.

Harris asked for the team to send qualified candidates for those positions.

The next step is to form committees.

“That gives me hope,” Harris said. “That gives me energy around what this report is going to look like and what kind of recommendations we’re going to get.”

Harris’ transition team is made up of Shelby County School Board members, community advocates, and Grizzlies former head coach Lionel Hollins as co-chair.

“If you’re in a leadership position, you have to help the followers become doers and help the doers become leaders,” Hollins said.

Members talked about their concerns and where they stand on topics like poverty, education, and the justice system.

Harris and his leadership team also talked about the more than 140 county-appointed positions.

They stressed some of those positions may already have qualified people in them.

Harris’ team also agreed that communication among different entities needs to be improved and he hopes this is a step in that direction.

“If you have those ongoing communications and that mutual respect and trust and you don’t sue your legislative branch, it makes for a much better chance of working out something that everybody will be happy with,” said Shelby County Commission Chairwoman Heidi Shafer.

Harris said working out something that will make everybody happy will be challenging.

But with this team, he’s hopeful they’ll come up with good ways to advance the community and bring in the right people to do just that.

“How do you corral all of these different folks, but there’s much more in terms of opportunity because there are so many ideas in this room,” Harris said.

Harris and his team have plans to put together committees based on the issues brought up at Tuesday’s meeting.

He said this transition process will likely last through the end of October, and the transition team plans to meet again August 28.

The team includes:

  • Josh Spickler, Executive Director, Just City
  • Kristine Roberts, Attorney, Baker Donelson
  • Hari Surineni, Trustee, India Cultural Center & Temple
  • Jason Wexler, President of Business Operations, Grizzlies
  • Mike Ritz, Former Commissioner, Shelby County
  • Rick Thompson, Business Manager, IBEW Local 1288 Union
  • Joe Royer, Owner, Outdoors, Inc.
  • Emily Fulmer, Community Activist
  • Dale Lane, Division Director, Office of Preparedness
  • Heidi Shafer, Commission Chairwoman, Shelby County
  • Michelle McKissack, New Commissioner, Shelby County School Board
  • John Freeman, Program Analyst
  • Roquita Coleman, Member, MATA Board of Commissioners
  • Derwin Sisnett, Founder, Maslow Development Inc
  • Inés Negrette, Executive Director, CasaLuz
  • Shante Avant, Board Chairwoman, Shelby County School Board
  • Cato Johnson, Chief of Staff, Methodist Lebonheur Healthcare
  • Stephanie Love, Vice Chairwoman, Shelby County School Board
  • Charlie Caswell, Outreach Pastor, The House Memphis Church
  • David Weatherspoon, Chaplain, LeBonheur Children’s Hospital
  • Stephanie Reyes, Director of Development, OutMemphis
  • Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO, RedRover Sales & Marketing
  • Mark Billingsley, Commissioner, Shelby County
  • Tosha Downey, Director of Advocacy, Memphis Education Fund
  • Anthony Tate, President, Ashaun, LLC
  • Cardell Orrin, Memphis City Director, Stand for Children
  • Josh Lipman, Philanthropist
  • Preston Butts Jr., CEO, Mem10 Consulting, LLC
  • Lori Spicer Robertson, Chief Communications & Engagement Officer, United Way of the Mid-South
  • Teddy Gorman, Director of Sales & Marketing, Gorham/Schaffler, Inc.
  • Elizabeth Low, Attorney, FedEx
  • Trey Carter, President, Olympic Career Training Institute
  • Courtney Leon, Program Officer, Plough Foundation
  • Janice A Banks, President & CEO, Small Planet Works
  • Tommy Malone, President, Memphis Firefighter Association
  • Kemp Conrad, Councilman, Memphis City Council
  • Julia Kavanagh, Attorney, Hall Booth Smith, P.C.
  • A C Wharton, former Mayor
  • TaJuan Stout Mitchell, former City Councilwoman
  • Walter Bailey, outgoing commissioner
  • Gayle Rose, philanthropist
  • Steve Cohen, U.S. Congressman
  • Paul Morris, President of Jack Morris Auto Glass and former President of the Downtown Memphis Commission
  • Lionel Hollins, former Memphis Grizzlies coach
  • Danielle Inez, honorary co-chair
  • Lee Harris, Shelby County mayor-elect


Federal judge sides with ACLU over MPD’s surveillance of protesters

By Kendall Downing, WMC

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) – Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings is defending his department after a federal ruling last week last week said the city engaged in political intelligence–despite a court order prohibiting it.

Federal judge Jon McCalla handed down a 35-page order that a legal analyst said is a blow to the city’s case, which starts versus the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee in federal court Monday.

Tuesday afternoon, Rallings issued a lengthy statement that said in part,

“The terms “surveillance” and “spying” are being used in the media, but that’s erroneous. Those words conjure up images of officers in unmarked vans on the street corner listening to tapped phone conversations. This does not accurately reflect MPD’s activities, or its motivation, regarding the monitoring of events which are the subject of this lawsuit.”

Click here to read the full statement.

The ACLU is accusing Memphis police of disobeying a consent decree from the late 1970s. It’s an agreement that prohibits the city from gathering intelligence relating to someone’s First Amendment rights.

“It would be amusing if it weren’t so illegal,” Mid-South Peace and Justice Center’s Paul Garner said.

Controversy exploded last February when WMC Action News 5 investigators discovered a so-called city blacklist, a document full of activists that had to be escorted inside City Hall.

Recent filings in the federal case revealed the list was expanded in December 2016 after a die-in protest at Mayor Jim Strickland’s house. MPD’s alleged monitoring of activists increased after that point.

In his order, Judge McCalla said the city engaged in political intelligence when it:

  • Added people to the list who did not participate in the die-in at the mayor’s house
  • Circulated “joint intelligence briefings” about lawful events on private property to people within and outside MPD
  • Deployed plainclothes officers to photograph and identify participants at protests

“The whole point of the consent decree was to prevent that kind of surveillance,” University of Memphis law professor Steve Mulroy said.

Mulroy is a former Shelby County Commissioner and Constitutional Law Professor at the UofM. He said the city’s broad approach to gathering information appears problematic in the eyes of the law.

“A lot of the things that were being surveilled didn’t seem like there was any imminent threat of violent activity or any kind of unlawful act–just First Amendment protected activity,” Mulroy said.

In a statement, the city maintained that the consent decree from 40 years ago is outdated and needs to be updated.

“If they thought the consent decree had been outdated, they could’ve moved to modify it,” Mulroy said. “They didn’t; they just quietly violated it.”

Bruce McMullen, the city’s Chief Legal Officer, issued a lengthy statement of his own Friday. It said in part:

“…the 40-year-old consent decree, which was drafted before the existence of the Internet, security cameras, body cameras, sky cameras, traffic light cameras and smart phones, is woefully outdated and impractical to apply in modern law enforcement.”

Click here to read McMullen’s full statement.

MPD argued that their watch of social media activity was conducted in the name of public safety–not First Amendment suppression.

A federal judge disagreed.

“Now there’s going to be a trial to see just how extensive that was, whether there were other violations of the court’s order as well,” Mulroy said. “The court’s going to decide what an appropriate punishment or sanction would be. Some sort of contempt sanction will probably be issued.”

The ACLU, in previous filings, requested a court-appointed monitor to ensure MPD did not engage in political intelligence. That’s something Mulroy said could be a viable option.

“Without a monitor, going forward for the next couple of years…I don’t see how you’ll be able to restore any trust,” Mulroy said.

The bench trial is set to begin August 20.


MLGW warns customers of scam on social media


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — MLGW is warning people about a scam that’s making its rounds on social media.

Customers called WREG filled with false hope after spotting a post in a Facebook group.

Nancy Crawford, with the Better Business Bureau, says scams like this usually surface during the summer when it’s really hot and people are in need for cash and are short on their bills.

“It’s called an impostor scam, and they use the name of a reputable company. If people are offering to help you out, people are going to want to take advantage of that.,” Crawford said.

The post claims some customers will only have to pay half their bill if the qualify for a special program, because Metropolitan Inter-faith Association, or MIFA, will pay the rest.

“If you see something on social media and it has not come from MLGW, then you want to be very wary of that,” Crawford said.

MLGW says it’s definitely a scam, but some parts of the post are true.

“We do partner with MIFA for the plus one program. Anyone who benefits must apply in person,” the company said.

But Gale Jones Carson says MLGW wouldn’t use Facebook to find people in need.

“We don’t advertise or promote the program via social media,” she said.

MLGW wouldn’t, but Crawford says scammers would.

“Unfortunately the crooks are just pocketing the money themselves.”

Even with the programs that are legit, customers still have to meet certain requirements.


City council delays vote on Beale Street security measures

By Jessica Holley, WMC

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) – City Council members delayed a vote Tuesday to discuss a recommendation for Beale Street crowd control.

For the last six weeks, security officials have been busy searching for ways to improve safety and security on Beale Street.

An expert was brought in to review if a cover charge to get on the street was working to reduce crime.

Tuesday, those officials presented their findings to Memphis City Council.

“The request today was to accept and recognize the report and study in the future whether a charging program would be implemented again,” Silky O’ Sullivan’s owner Joellen O’Sullivan said.

Security expert Peter Ashwin told council members there is no one solution to resolve the complex challenges, but it requires a holistic approach.

Ashwin’s study analyzed Beale Street’s crowd density and behaviors that might cause stampedes.

Included in Ashwin’s recommendations was reinstating the Beale Street Bucks program, which charged a cover charge after 10 p.m. on Saturdays in the summer.

“When we had Beale Street Bucks in place that downtown crime and all the problems that were on Beale Street were resolved,” O’Sullivan said.

Several of the Beale Street Merchants at the meeting left frustrated by the council’s delayed approval of the report–a delay many suspect came from the possible renewal of the Beale Street Bucks program.

While the approval of the study findings was tabled for the next meeting in two weeks, council did approve the release of roughly $600,000 to install barriers at the entrance of Beale at Second and Fourth Streets to prevent vehicles from driving on the road.