Smartphone Addiction Increases Loneliness, Isolation; No Different From Substance Abuse, Experts Say

By Ben Renner, Study Finds

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s well-known that smartphone, or more broadly, digital addiction can result in many negative mental effects on people over time. Recent research even found it creates a brain imbalance in teens. Now a new study finds that over-attachment to your phone can cause serious social problems — boosting feelings of loneliness and isolation — while worsening anxiety and depression symptoms.

Smartphones have become useful, everyday tools that essentially manage our daily lives. From calendars to calorie monitors to sleep aids, smartphone owners find themselves constantly glancing at their screens from the minute they wake up to the seconds before hitting the sack.  Whether it’s reading push notifications, responding to dings and vibrations, or constantly refreshing one’s Facebook newsfeed on the go, the need for phone time is becoming a more serious problem.

Researchers behind the study, conducted at San Francisco State University, liken smartphone addiction to opioid dependency, arguing that overuse of a mobile device is no different from substance abuse.

“The behavioral addiction of smartphone use begins forming neurological connections in the brain in ways similar to how opioid addiction is experienced by people taking Oxycontin for pain relief — gradually,” explains Erik Peper, co-lead author of the study and professor of health education at the school, in a news release.
The ubiquity of smartphones today betrays their usefulness, but app developers and tech companies are highly incentivized to create features that draw your eyes, and your attention, as much as possible. “More eyeballs, more clicks, more money,” comments Peper.
Peper and co-author Richard Harvey surveyed 135 students at the university about their smartphone usage and general digital habits. The researchers found that the students that used their phones the most reported feeling more lonely and isolated than peers less dependent on their devices. The most frequent users also reported higher levels of depression and anxiety.
Peper and his team theorized that the loneliness increase is due to the replacement of face-to-face interaction with screen-based interaction, which often cuts off forms of simultaneous communication such as body language. The researchers also found that those who used their smartphones the most were constantly multitasking when doing things like studying, eating, or watching other media. The constant activity allows little time for the body and mind to relax and regenerate, and causes what the researchers called “semi-tasking,” in which the students performed several tasks at once, but did them all about half as well as if they did them one at a time.
Interestingly, he researchers are quick to take the blame away from the study participants. Apps are using the same neural pathways that humans have to warn them of danger. “But now we are hijacked by those same mechanisms that once protected us and allowed us to survive — for the most trivial pieces of information,” says Peper.
 If you feel like your smartphone is taking over your life, Peper suggests turning off push notifications, limiting email and social media use to certain times of the day, and setting aside time to take on tasks without any use of your digital devices.

The full study was published in the journal NeuroRegulation.


Oregon Is Too Good at Growing Pot

There’s too much of it to go around, and small operations are suffering

By Arden Dier
(Newser) – There’s never been a better time to buy weed in Oregon, or a worse time to be a small grower or dispensary owner. Across the state, marijuana dispensaries have slashed weed prices in half to $700 per pound, or about $4 or $5 per gram, simply to get the stuff off shelves, and some are still struggling. The problem, reports the Willamette Week, is there are too many recreational cannabis growers—963 as of this month, with another 910 awaiting approval by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission—who are too good at their jobs. Last year, Oregon growers produced 1.1 million pounds of cannabis flower, three times what was consumed. As a result, a man who invested $250,000 in an indoor marijuana farm, dreaming of returns of $1,500 per pound, was forced to sell his bud at an auction. Buyer’s price: $100 per pound.

“Currently, we’re operating at a $15,000-per-month loss,” the man says. It’s a trend seen across the state, leaving small growers with few options. They can cut their losses (a federal ban on weed means bankruptcy is out of the question), sell to out-of-state investors or large operations, or sell their product illegally across state lines. Two dozen people in the industry told the Week that legalizing such sales would solve everything. Others believe the OLCC should limit grower licenses—it says it doesn’t have that authority—or crop size. A third option is to let commercialism do its thing. That’s not the choice of Oregon’s top federal prosecutor, though. “We have an identifiable and formidable marijuana overproduction and diversion problem” and “we’re going to do something about it,” US Attorney Billy Williams said earlier this year, per the AP.


Weekend Fun

FRI: Roar and Pour at The Zoo,  Almost Famous at Lafayette’s, The Kickback at Hi Tone, Royal Blues Band at Neil’s, Jim Winter’s Fire and Rain at The Halloran Center, Grateful Dead Tribute at Railgarten, Moscow Festival Ballet:Giselle at GPAC

SAT: National Record Store Day so support our local record stores like Goner and Shangri-La, The Southern Hotwing Festival at Tiger Lane, Bacon and Bourbon Festival at The Farmer’s Market, Trouble No More: A Tribute to the Allman Brothers at Neil’s, Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s Tribute to Prince at The Cannon Center, Three Dog Night at The Fitz, Kool and The Gang at Gold Strike, South Main 420 Smokin Bar Crawl at Ghost River Brewing, Carl Thomas at Minglewood Hall, Thumpdaddy at Lafayette’s

SUN: Thirsty Curses at Lafeyette’s, The Dantone’s at Neil’s

More here


National Record Store Day Saturday

  • By C, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
  • Hey, Saturday is Record Store Day. Music lovers should plan to bop around Midtown, between the city’s two great independent records stores. In addition to sales and special releases, Shangri-La Records, on Madison, will have live music from emerging Memphis artist Liz Brasher. Around the corner on Cooper-Young, Goner Records is partnering with neighbor Memphis Made Brewing for a kind of street party, with Memphis Made hosting live music from River City Tanlines, Amy LaVere, and others.
  • More:

Netflix has considered buying theaters, including Mark Cuban’s Landmark, to gain an Oscar edge, sources say

Netflix, the global streaming giant that has dramatically changed the TV industry and clashed with movie theater owners, may be ready to move onto the big screen in a new and surprising way — by owning cinemas.

The Los Gatos, Calif., company has explored the idea of buying movie theaters in Los Angeles and New York that would enable it to screen a growing pipeline of feature films and documentaries, according to people familiar with the situation.

Netflix executives considered acquiring Los Angeles-based Landmark Theatres, the circuit co-owned by Mark Cuban, but recently backed off the idea, said two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are private.

One of the knowledgeable people said Netflix decided not to pursue a deal because executives believed the sale price for Landmark was too high.

 Although no cinema deal has materialized, the idea of Netflix buying a theater chain would mark a new phase in the company’s rapid ascent to become one of the most powerful players in the entertainment industry.

Netflix has attracted its 125 million subscribers worldwide by releasing dozens of original films and TV shows annually on its fast-growing streaming service, bypassing the traditional theatrical market, as well as the cable bundle.

Netflix has promised to spend as much as $8 billion this year on original and licensed content for its subscribers who pay a monthly fee to binge shows and films. The company said in October that it would release 80 original movies this year alone, and has done film deals with such high-profile figures as Adam Sandler, Martin Scorsese and the Duplass brothers.

The downside for Netflix is that its movies are locked out of major theater chains, and have been effectively blocked from one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

Netflix last week said it would not go to the Cannes Film Festival this year because the festival decided to ban movies from competition that don’t have theatrical distribution in France. Last year, Netflix movies including “Okja” competed at Cannes.

“We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told Variety. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival.”

Representatives of Netflix and Landmark declined to comment for this article. A person close to Netflix said there were no plans to buy Landmark.

The company’s interest in cinemas may seem like an about-face, given Netflix’s long-standing view that the traditional model of releasing movies in theaters before they hit streaming services is antiquated. Sarandos has consistently advocated for the simultaneous release of movies in theaters and on Netflix, an idea that is an anathema to most theater owners.

Owning a theatrical outlet would give Netflix a boost for awards consideration and make it more attractive for filmmakers who still want to see their movies play on the big screen.

“It seems Netflix would like to get some of its movies for Oscar contention or other types of industry awards,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners who covers the major theater chains. “They’re trying to get credibility. Netflix took off when a couple of their own titles got nominated for Emmys. That lent credibility to what they’re doing. If they can do that for various awards, that might raise the platform a little bit.”

Despite its ambitions and spending, Netflix has yet to crack the code of the movie industry. The buzz for its movies has rarely matched that for its TV shows, such as “Stranger Things,” “The Crown” and “Orange is the New Black.”

Recent awards contender “Mudbound,” Dee Rees’ acclaimed tale of racial divisions in the American South, was nominated for four Oscars but didn’t win. Some industry insiders said the movie would’ve received more attention from academy voters if it had received a wide theatrical release. Netflix did win a best-documentary Oscar for “Icarus,” about the Russian athletic doping scandal.

Netlfix’s attempts at Hollywood-style blockbusters have been ambitious, but mixed. Its $90-million Will Smith movie “Bright” was lambasted by critics, though Netflix said it was a highly popular viewing choice for its subscribers. Netflix does not release viewership data for its shows and films.

The company also struck a deal with Imax to release the 2016 sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” but few theaters would agree to screen the movie. Netflix in 2016 signed a deal to screen its movies at Florida-based chain IPic Theaters, which operates 15 luxury cinemas. Netflix’s prestigious early cinematic effort “Beasts of No Nation” screened at Landmark’s theaters in 2015.

“Netflix wants to establish itself as a critical exhibition source on both coasts,” said a person familiar with the plans. “For awards consideration they need to be able to release pictures on screens in major markets.”

Netflix’s interest in the theater business comes as exhibitors are consolidating. AMC Theatres, the world’s largest chain, was sold to China’s Dalian Wanda Group in 2012. AMC then bought Carmike Cinemas and British exhibitor Odeon Cinemas. London’s Cineworld reached a deal to acquire Regal Entertainment in December.

No one expects Netflix to purchase one of the giant domestic theater operators. Instead, it’s more likely to pursue a deal with a smaller player that would give it a foothold in key industry markets.

An obvious choice would be Landmark, which hired an investment bank this month to explore options after potential buyers expressed interest in doing a deal, according to people familiar with the situation.

A deal to purchase Landmark, owned by Cuban and Todd Wagner, would give Netflix a footprint of theaters in major media markets across the country. The privately held chain has 53 theatres comprising 255 screens in 27 markets including New York, Denver, Washington and San Francisco, according to its website. The exhibitor has three Los Angeles locations.

Crucially, Landmark specializes in the types of specialty and foreign movies that often get Oscar buzz.

Buying a smaller movie theater chain such as Landmark would hardly be a financial strain for Netflix, which carries a market value of more than $130 billion.

Cuban and Wagner bought Landmark in 2003 from Los Angeles-based asset manager Oaktree Capital, which spent $40 million to take the company out of bankruptcy. Cuban and Wagner previously put Landmark on the block in 2011, but no sale occurred. Cuban and Wagner also own indie film distributor Magnolia Pictures.

An outspoken billionaire and “Shark Tank” personality, Cuban has long been bullish on Netflix. At a November business conference, he said that his largest holding is in e-commerce giant Amazon, followed by Netflix. Amazon is one of Netflix’s biggest competitors in the streaming video market.

Amazon, in contrast with Netflix, has embraced the theatrical windowing model for now, partnering with established studios and distributors to release titles such as “Manchester By the Sea” and “The Big Sick” around the country before streaming them for Amazon Prime subscribers. Amazon’s strategy has been welcomed in the exhibitor industry, which meets next week at the annual CinemaCon conference in Las Vegas.


Traveling in the Memphis area this weekend? Expect delays.


Interstate highway travelers can expect to see plenty of traffic cones and detour signs this weekend as Memphis and West Tennessee seemingly turn into one big construction zone.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation plans three major closures or detours on Interstate 40 and I-240 to accommodate bridge and interchange projects.

The closures, all weather-dependent, are as follows:

  • Beginning Friday at 8 p.m. and lasting through 6 a.m. Monday, I-40 at mile 31 in Fayette County will be reduced to one lane in each direction, with westbound traffic shifted into the eastbound lanes. A 60-mph speed limit and 16-foot width restriction will be enforced.
  • From 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, eastbound and westbound traffic on I-40 will be detoured at Exit 80, the U.S. 45 Bypass in Jackson. Northbound and southbound lanes on the bypass also will be closed at the interchange.
  • From 7 a.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Monday, eastbound I-240 in Memphis will undergo lane closures between the Quince and Walnut Grove overpasses, although two lanes will remain open. The eastbound Poplar exit to eastbound  I-240 and the I-240 eastbound exit to westbound Poplar will be closed.

The I-40 closures in Fayette County will allow a TDOT contractor to set beams over westbound lanes for a new interchange being constructed at Tennessee 196. The $15.9 million project is slated for completion around October 31.

The detours in Jackson will enable crews to erect steel beams for the U.S. 45 Bypass bridge being built over I-40.

In Memphis, the closures on I-240 will make way for the removal of a concrete barrier wall along the eastbound lanes. The work is part of a $54 million project replacing four aging bridges over the interstate.

The closures could be rescheduled in the event of bad weather, according to TDOT.


5 great places to visit in May

Forrest Brown, CNN
(CNN) — As things heat up in the United States and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere in May, so do the travel opportunities.
For US residents, early and mid-May can present the last opportunity to nab discount rates before Memorial Day (May 28 in 2018) launches the peak summer season of travel.
Julie Hall, AAA spokesperson, says that within the US most people will be driving to their holiday destinations.
If you are driving on Memorial Day weekend, Hall says “consider traveling on the holiday itself, when there is often less congestion and fewer crowds.”
She also says AAA expects family trips abroad to be a hot trend in 2018.
“Of families who will take a trip this year, 35% plan to visit an international destination — a 9% increase from just two years ago,” she says.
With that in mind, here are five great places to visit in May:

1. Memphis, Tennessee

“They’ve got catfish on the table. They’ve got gospel in the air. And Reverend Green be glad to see you. When you haven’t got a prayer. But, boy, you’ve got a prayer in Memphis.”
Celebrated in song by Marc Cohn and many others and a major generator of America’s 20th century soundtrack, a trip to Memphis is a trip to the musical and cultural soul of America.
And May is a great time to come to Tennessee’s second-largest city. It will likely be quite warm, especially toward Memorial Day, but you’ll miss the truly hot, humid weather of a Lower Mississippi River summer.
This city goes all out for its Memphis in May celebration, a month-long fete of music, food, athleticism and culture. For 2018, highlights include the Beale Street Music Festival (May 4-6), a salute to the Czech Republic (May 7-13), barbecue contest (May 16-19) and a river run (May 26). To contact festival organizers directly: 56 South Front Street, Memphis 38103. Phone: + (901) 525-4611)
Folks probably know something about some of the most famed attractions in Memphis already: Graceland, home of Elvis Presley. Beale Street, boulevard of the blues. The Peabody Hotel and its daily parade of ducks. So Hall has recommended some other things to do that may not be quite as widely known:
— Sun Studio: Cut your own record at Sun Studio, said to be the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. This is the small, unimposing studio where a young Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash first recorded their now signature sounds. (706 Union Avenue, Memphis 38103. Phone: +1 901- 521-0664)
— Stax Museum of American Soul Music: Learn the history of soul music at on the site of the original Stax Records, where you can see Isaac Hayes’ blue ’72 Cadillac, Ike Turner’s Fender guitar and a century-old church from the Mississippi Delta. (926 East McLemore Avenue Memphis, 38106. Phone: +1 901-942-7685)
— Memphis Brooks Museum of Art: Peruse paintings from the Italian Renaissance, British portraiture and more. The museum’s 1916 Beaux Arts building in Overton Park is a work of art itself. (1934 Poplar Avenue Memphis, 38104. Phone: +1 901-544-6200)
If you’re there during an early heatwave or just want a sweet break, locals swear by Jerry’s Sno Cones, where you might find long lines. (1657 Wells Station Road Memphis, 38108. Phone: +1 901-767-2659)
Finally, take the time to explore a painful but vitally important part of American history at the National Civil Rights Museum. It’s at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on a balcony in 1968. (450 Mulberry Street Memphis, 38103. Phone: +1 901- 521-9699)

2. Bali, Indonesia

Bali evokes images of the quintessential Asian tropical paradise for good reason. One of many islands making up Indonesia, it lies well within the equator’s sphere of influence, so its warm temperatures vary only a little. Elevation makes the biggest difference. You’ll find it cooler if you head to its beautiful mountains.
The great thing about Bali in May: It’s the dry season and also the shoulder season between tourist peaks around Easter and July. So you’re less likely to have downpours during your trip, and May can offer up some bargain rates.
When you think “Bali,” you usually think beaches. A few of Bali’s best beaches include:
— Amed Beach: On the island’s eastern shore, divers are drawn to its coral reefs and shipwrecks.
— Karma Beach: You reach this exclusive strip of sand via funicular. Enjoy paddle yoga or a massage right on the beach.
— Sanur Beach: Sanur has plenty of beachfront resorts, but its small fishing village charm still exudes.
If you want some culture and historic architecture with your scenery, head to Tanah Lot temple, one of the island’s most revered. (Beraban, Kediri, Tabanan Regency, Bali 8217. Phone: +62 361 880361)
While Bali’s beaches are truly heavenly, there’s more to this island. Consider heading to Ubud, the cultural epicenter. Along with being known for its art, it’s a great culinary getaway, too.
In the bucolic garden setting of Mozaic, enjoy a fusion of modern European cooking techniques with indigenous flavors. (Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Ubud, Kedewatan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571. Phone: +62 361 975768.)
If you’re looking for a gorgeous place to stay with great views, try Amankila. Perched high atop an outlook, golf carts can transport you down to a black-sand beach. (Amankila, Manggis PO Box 33, Manggis, Bali 80871 Indonesia. Phone: +62 361 341333)

3. Lisbon, Portugal

Once the seat of the world’s most impressive global empire in the 1500s, Libson started a slow fade and became a bit forgotten in modern times in its southwestern corner of Europe. That’s been changing in the past decade as visitors are catching on to what is now sometimes called “the coolest city in Europe.”
As for the weather, you’ll catch the capital of Portugal just before the heat of summer and a tourist wave settles in. So bask in the warmth and the lower prices of a Lisbon May.
Special for 2018 visitors: The wildly popular Eurovision song contest will be held in Lisbon on May 8, 10 and 12. Even if you can’t get your hands on last-minute tickets to see the show inside Altice Arena, all kinds of parties and special events are planned.
If you love tennis and arrive early in May, you might want to make time for the Millennium Estoril Open, April 28 through May 6 at Clube de Ténis do Estoril (Av. Condes de Barcelona, 2765-470 Estoril, Portugal. Phone: +351 21 466 2770),
A newcomer to the city’s growing arts and cultural scene is ARCOlisboa, which is already drawing an international crowd. Some people are calling the city “the new Berlin.” In 2018, ARCOlisboa will be held May 17-20 at the Cordoaria Nacional. (R. da Junqueira 342, 1300-598 Lisbon. Phone: +351 21 363 7635).
Don’t miss the city’s incredible pastry shops (called pastelarias) that form the social center of many neighborhoods. One of the city’s best: Centro Ideal de Graça(Largo da Graça 5,6,7, Lisbon, Portugal 1170-165. Phone: +351 21 886 1673).
And May is a perfect time of year for a ride on Lisbon’s famed Tram 28, which winds its way through the narrow and twisting hills of the intriguing Alfama district.

4. Peru

 Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz learns how to cook root vegetables without a stove or barbecue in Cusco, Peru.
May is the start of the dry season in Peru, but the biggest crowds won’t be streaming in quite yet. You can expect sunny days and nippy nights in the Andes.
Remember that Peru is a country of stark geographical and weather contrasts: desert, high mountains, Amazon jungle. But sure to pack accordingly for the parts you’ll plan to visit. What serves you well in the Andes won’t in the Amazon.
Lima is the capital and biggest city. May can bring a lot of fog and gloom, but that’s nothing that good Peruvian food can’t fix — from cerbiche (cured raw fish) to picarones (doughnut-like rings made from sweet potatoes or squash).
Excellent restaurants abound in Lima. Central often comes up on lists of highest-ranked places to eat in all of Latin America. (Santa Isabel 376 Miraflores Lima. Phone: +51 1 2428515).
You’ll also want to take some time to explore the colonial architecture of the city. A good place to start is the Basilica Cathedral of Lima in downtown’s Plaza Mayor. The foundation was laid in 1535, and conquistador Francisco Pizarro is buried here. (Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001. Phone: +51 1 4279647).
The clearing skies of May give you a chance to take part in a daring Peruvian adventure: spending the night in clear pods alongside a cliff in the Sacred Valley. Skylodge Adventure Suites can set it all up for you. (Phone: +51 084-201253).
Speaking of the Sacred Valley, this 70-mile strip runs roughly from the amazing city of Cusco to famed Machu Picchu. It’s a place of eerie natural beauty. While Machu Picchu remains the big draw, don’t miss out on the valley’s other attractions, such as Chinchero, a village renowned for its colorful textiles.
Special just in May: Fiesta de la Cruz, a religious ceremony celebrated mostly in the Andean Highlands from May 2 to 4, marked with processions of crosses, music and fireworks. (The festival’s main day is May 3, and it can be called different names depending on where you are specifically.)

5. Malawi

 Inside Africa explores Lake Malawi which is home many species of fish found nowhere else in the world.
You might not have even heard of Malawi. In case you haven’t, it’s a small, narrow country surrounded by larger southern African neighbors. But the destination is big on beauty — both natural and from its friendly people.
May is at the front end of this hilly nation’s dry and cooler season, so typically you’ll benefit from falling temperatures and all the remaining lushness from the just-ended rainy season.
The big draw here — and with good reason — is Lake Malawi. It’s the third-largest lake in Africa and holds the most species of fish of any lake in the world.
This is a paradise if you like freshwater snorkeling and diving in limpid water. And it’s not just the colorful and unusual fish you can enjoy. Many types of birds, as well as warthogs, baboons, hippos and even elephants, frequent its waters.
One place you may want to stay: Cape Maclear Ecolodge, where you can enjoy hiking, diving, kayaking and boat trips on the lake. While flying here could be expensive, staying here can be a grand bargain. Prices at this lodge start in the US$40 range. (Located on the west side of Cape Maclear, opposite Panda Garden. Phone: +265 999 140 905).
Lake Malawi is just the start of what you can see here. Two more options:
— Mount Mulanje: In southern Malawi, this bare granite mountain towers over green plains below and makes for excellent hiking for beginners and experts.
— Majete Wildlife Reserve: This site is testimony to perseverance and hope. Poaching up into the 1990s decimated wildlife here, but now the reserve is restoring the land and wildlife population. It’s now even possible to see The Big Five here — elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo — and it’s a chance to contribute to revitalizing this pocket of Africa. (P.O Box 232 Chikwawa. Phone: +265 999 52 17 41).
Hall of AAA says that a tourist visa is required for US citizens.
“To apply for a visa, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of intended departure. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Malawi for details,” Hall says.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specific health information for travelers going to Malawi.

Appeals court rules against Trump policy punishing sanctuary cities

A panel of GOP-appointed judges upheld an injunction blocking the Justice Department from enforcing new grant conditions that require sanctuary cities to cooperate with immigration enforcement.

A three-judge panel—all of whom are Republican appointees—ruled that there were strong indications that the administration exceeded its legal authority in trying to implement the new conditions without approval from Congress.

In a strongly worded opinion, Judge Ilana Rovner said allowing federal agencies to add conditions to grant funds without explicit congressional authority could lead toward “tyranny.”

“The Attorney General in this case used the sword of federal funding to conscript state and local authorities to aid in federal civil immigration enforcement. But the power of the purse rests with Congress, which authorized the federal funds at issue and did not impose any immigration enforcement conditions on the receipt of such funds,” Rovner wrote, in an opinion joined by Judge William Bauer. “It falls to us, the judiciary, as the remaining branch of the government, to act as a check on such usurpation of power.”

One judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel, Daniel Manion, said he would narrow the injunction to protect only Chicago.

“The nationwide injunction is simply unnecessary here,” Manion wrote. “Other jurisdictions that do not want to comply with the Notice and Access conditions were not parties to this suit, and there is no need to protect them in order to protect Chicago. An injunction, particularly a preliminary injunction, is an extreme remedy. A nationwide preliminary injunction is more extreme still. One should only be issued where it is absolutely necessary, and it is far from absolutely necessary here.”


However, the nationwide injunction freezing the Justice Department’s effort will remain in place since Rovner and Bauer ruled that Chicago-based U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber’s order that it apply across the country appeared to be justified.

The Justice Department has found little traction in court for its policy. Judges in Philadelphia and Los Angeles also blocked attempts to add the immigration-related conditions to new federal grants.

Rovner was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, Bauer by President Gerald Ford and Manion by President Ronald Reagan, all Republicans.


Memphis-area students stage walkouts


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Students at several schools in Memphis staged walkouts Thursday as part of the national movement against gun violence.

According to social media posts, local schools participating Thursday included Cordova High, White Station High, East High, Central High, Ridgeway High, KIPP Memphis and Overton High.

A group calling itself YouthSolutions, which released a video on the protests, says it is a partnership between students and faculty at Shelby County Schools.

“This is the start of a partnership that we believe is more important than any class lesson, test or assignment,” a student says in a YouTube video posted by SCS. “We are working on a unified list of recommendations to make our schools safer.”

At the end of the walkout, suggestions for curbing violence in schools will be posted under the hashtag #Youthsolutions901.

Friday is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting, and schools around the country are planning a walkout on that day.

An SCS spokesperson said local students chose to walk out on Thursday because “the students wanted to honor the wishes of Columbine victims’ families.”


TNReady results this year won’t count against students, teachers, Tennessee lawmakers decide

, The Tennessean

The Tennessee General Assembly struck a deal Thursday that will ensure this year’s TNReady test won’t be held against students, teachers and public school districts.

The measure agreed upon by both chambers says test results this school year will count only if it benefits students, educators and districts. Districts can’t base employment or compensation decisions based on the data, the legislation says.

It came about after an extraordinary 11th-hour deal by the House to address ongoing test issues that continued sporadically on Thursday across the state.

“All across the state we have heard from superintendents, testing coordinators about some issues logging in, recording the tests as the kids took them, sometimes not being able to log in,” said House Republican Caucus Chair Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville.

“I think what happened was the House felt like we needed to do something to protect teachers and our students and our institutions from further erosion of the trust as it relates to these tests. I think what you saw today is an effort to do that.”

The Haslam administration also said the message was clear.

“It was clear many members of the General Assembly wanted to address concerns related to the recent administration of state assessments,” said Jennifer Donnals, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Haslam. “The governor and Commissioner (Candice) McQueen understand these concerns and did not oppose the legislation.”

Issues have marred the start of spring testing this week

Issues were reported on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

By far, Tuesday marked the most significant issue for the state. On that day, the Tennessee Department of Education announced a reported cyberattack on its vendor Questar Assessment that caused the company to shut down the system.

As news alerts about continued issues reached House lawmakers on the chamber floors, members immediately began speaking out of order, calling for action.

House Democrats called for McQueen’s resignation. In a Republican caucus meeting, members considered an amendment similar to the final decision Thursday. Another amendment would have returned the state to paper testing.

On Wednesday, McQueen appeared before lawmakers, facing questions for more than two hours on the problems that have plagued TNReady for several years.

Lawmakers demanded accountability and for the state to work toward instilling confidence in the $30-million-a-year test.

The commissioner apologized for the issues and after the hearing asked for Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk to call on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and state Office of Homeland Security to investigate.

Funk requested the TBI investigation Wednesday night, according to TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland.

House lawmakers had enough of the problems

Scattered reports of additional problems emerged Thursday in districts that included Knoxville, Nashville and Shelby County.

 The issues were resolved quickly, and the Tennessee Department of Education reported about 250,000 test sessions were successfully completed online — a new one-day high for online testing in Tennessee.

But those in the House had enough.

The Senate passed its version of the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget and sent it back to the House for review.

Members ended up holding up the measure for more than two hours until the Senate, in a conference committee, ensured they would accept the House’s wishes.

“I guess maybe it was a negotiating tool,” Williams said and smiled. “I guess it could just be considered as coincidental. I think if the budget wasn’t here it would have been some other bill.”

At the end of the day, Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate were congratulating one another for coming together to get the bill through.

Others also praise lawmakers

The move by lawmakers drew applause from groups representing districts and teachers.

Dale Lynch, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents executive director, said no student or teacher should be held accountable after the problems this week.

“We need to recognize this test administration was a failure,” Lynch said. “I completely support, and superintendents support, moving to an online assessment. We just need to get it right, and this is not right.”

The Professional Educators of Tennessee, one of the state’s teacher groups, praised the measure.

“We are very pleased legislators ensured that employment or compensation decisions based on the data cannot be used,” said JC Bowman, the group’s executive director. “I think everyone, despite their position on the testing, wanted this to be a success.”

Questions about accountability still exist

The decision by lawmakers says that districts and schools won’t receive A-F rankings on tested data.

The legislation also means that the upcoming fall 2018 priority list, required by law to be created every three years, will be absent of the 2018 data. The priority school list details the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state and has legal implications for schools.

The TNReady results can be used to improve a school’s status on the list.

But it brings into question whether the upcoming priority list will be created with one year’s data in grades 3-8 and two years’ data for high schools.

In 2016, only high school students took the spring TNReady test after online tests were canceled statewide. Last year elementary and high school students took paper tests.

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, called the last-minute deal unusual and added that not every situation will have been thought out. But the intent is clear, he said.

“I would think that the department should be and would be very reluctant to act in a way that is contrary to what the legislature tried to do today,” he said.

Jennifer Pignolet and Amy Nixon contributed to this report.