State Attorney Generals Launch Investigation into Instagram’s Effects on Kids

Young person on Instagram

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general launched a probe into Instagram on Thursday to examine whether the company violated state-level consumer protection laws.

The states are investigating whether Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which owns Instagram, promoted the image-sharing platform “to children and young adults” despite being aware of its negative effects, according to statements from the attorneys general. The probe cites internal Facebook communications and research leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen and published by The Wall Street Journal showing Meta was aware that use of Instagram could contribute to body image and mental health issues among teens.

“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws,” Republican Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement.

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Commentary: Tennessee Legislature Must Pass Big COVID Test in ‘Special Session’

The red state/blue state dichotomy is not simple.

Nowhere is that more apparent than Tennessee where—despite having one of the most conservative electorates in the country—the leadership has been passive at best in responding to the wishes of their supporters during these days of great crisis.

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Georgia Receives Major Investment by Solar Company Plagued by Ethics Issues

Lee County, Georgia will accept a more than $220 million investment from a Tennessee-based company with a reported history of ethics problems. That company, the Silicon Ranch Corporation, helps finance the construction of solar arrays. Silicon Ranch will invest those millions into the 250-megawatt (MWAC) DeSoto Solar Farm.

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Commentary: Teacher Codes of Conduct Offer Alternative to Critical Race Theory Bans

The firing of Matthew Hawn, a high school teacher in Sullivan County, Tennessee, recently made national news and seemed to confirm fears that newly-enacted state bans on critical race theory (CRT) would have a chilling effect on teacher speech. Hawn, a 16-year veteran tenured teacher and baseball coach, had assigned students in his contemporary issues class Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essay, “The First White President,” and a spoken word poem from Kyla Jenée Lacey called “White Privilege.” One headline declared, “A Tennessee teacher taught a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and a poem about white privilege. He was fired for it.” A Georgetown professor tweeted, “This really seems extreme and a harbinger of what is to come.”

But contrary to news coverage and social media chatter, Hawn wasn’t fired for violating the state’s newly passed CRT ban. Really, he was dismissed for failing to adhere to the Tennessee “Teacher Code of Ethics,” a seldom-invoked but sensible state requirement for teachers to provide students access to varying points of view on controversial topics. Not only did Hawn fail to follow this code when he assigned the contentious poem and Coates’ essay from The Atlantic, which contains claims such as, “With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness,” he also later asserted that “there is no credible source for a differing point of view.” (Hawn recently denied making such a claim, though he declined to explain why the district attributed this statement to him.)

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Tennessee’s and Georgia’s COVID-19 Policies Protected Lives and Also Minimized Damages to Both States’ Economies, Report Says

During COVID-19, Georgia and Tennessee have both fared substantially better economically than Kentucky and Michigan with no significant increase in cases from reopening their economy. This, according to a report that members of the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee published this month. Beacon is a free market think tank.

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Georgia Man Sentenced in Tennessee for Stealing Veteran’s Identity, Claiming Medical Benefits

A Georgia man traveled to Tennessee and posed as a veteran to receive more than $20,000 in medical benefits, according to federal officials. Federal officials this month sentenced that man Kristopher M. Voyles, 31, to 27 months in prison followed by three years’ supervised release.

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High Court Hears Arguments on Tennessee’s School-Choice Program

ORNL Traveling Science Fair at the TN 4th Annual Tennessee STEM Innovation Summit and STEMx Event, Nashville, TN

Tennessee’s highest court heard arguments on a disputed school choice program.

Tennessee’s Education Savings Accounts (ESA) pilot program, approved by the state Legislature in 2019, would provide state-funded scholarships of about $7,100 to low-income students in Nashville and Memphis – home to the state’s two lowest-performing school districts. Students would be able to use the funds to attend nonpublic schools of their choice.

A district court ruled the program unconstitutional when the two counties sued the state to stop the program. The state Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, and the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

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Gov. Lee’s Signature Makes Tennessee a Second Amendment Sanctuary

Guy shooting hand gun at gun range

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill Wednesday that makes the state a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Senate Bill 1335 prevents any “law, treaty, executive order, rule, or regulation of the United States government” that violates the Tennessee Constitution or the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution from being enforced in the state.

That violation would have to be determined by either the Tennessee or U.S. Supreme Court. The stipulation was added during debate of the bill in the Tennessee House, and the Senate concurred.

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Tennessee Becomes Second State to Ban Trans Hormone Treatments Before Puberty

child running with trans flag

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation Tuesday that bans hormone treatment for prepubescent minors.

SB0126 goes into effect immediately, making Tennessee the second state to ban trans procedures for minors, NBC reported. The Arkansas state legislature overrode Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill banning transgender surgeries and procedures for minors in April.

Arkansas’ “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act,” otherwise known as the SAFE Act, prohibits physicians from performing gender transition procedures, such as puberty blockers or “top” and “bottom” surgeries, on minors before puberty. Transgender surgeries include vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, breast implants, and facial surgeries.

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FBI Raids Locations Tied to Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Plus Additional Lawmakers and Staff

The FBI on Friday reportedly raided locations tied to former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) and Republican allies over allegations of possible public corruption.

Current Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) issued a statement about the raid that took place at the Cordell Hull Building in Nashville.

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Tennessee Senate Considers Bill to Allow First Responders to Live Outside the Jurisdictions They Serve

State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) on Wednesday filed SB 29 which would allow first responders to live where they choose, the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement.

Kelsey posted on the caucus’ Facebook page, “This is a public safety bill. It will enable us to hire more police officers, which will help us fight our rising crime rates.”

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U.S. Representative Mark Green Repeats Intent to Object to Electoral College Results

Not long before the tallying of and objections to the Electoral College results were disrupted by the violent protest at the Capitol, U.S. Representative Mark Green (R-TN-07) had repeated his intention to contest the election results.

Green on Wednesday announced his intention to object to the slates of electors in “certain states.”

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Tennessee’s New Laws Taking Effect in 2021

The Volunteer State gained a set of new laws that took effect on the first day of the new year.

These laws impacted tobacco purchasing, emergency alert systems, pregnant employees and their employers, 911 operators, Department of Veterans Services staff, correctional officers and emergency medical personnel, animal owners, and those who rent out their homes or cars.

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Tennessee Will Support Texas in U.S. Supreme Court Election Lawsuit Against Four Other States, Attorney General Announces

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced Wednesday that he will support an Amicus Brief supporting the Texas election lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court. As The Tennessee Star reported Tuesday, Texas officials filed a lawsuit directly to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the election results in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argues that officials in those four states changed election rules without legislative consent, thus violating the U.S. Constitution.

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Blackburn, Hagerty Represent Tennessee in 50-State Effort to Support Georgia Runoff Candidates and Preserve Republican Control of Senate

Tennessee Republicans are joining in a 50-state effort today to raise funds to support Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff elections. The Georgia Battleground Fund event will be held in all 50 states, Fox News reported. The Jan. 5 runoff election for incumbent Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler against their…

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Federal Prompts for Gov. Bill Lee to Issue Statewide Mask Mandate Begs Question of Who Is Behind the Idea

Tennessee is ranked fourth in the nation for COVID deaths per 100,000 people, WUOT reports, citing the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s red zone report, which calls for Gov. Bill Lee to implement a statewide mask mandate.

The controversial report is from earlier this month. The task force issues frequent red zone reports.

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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Tennessee’s Challenge to Federal Refugee Resettlement Program

The U.S. Supreme Court said this week it will not hear Tennessee’s challenge of the federal refugee resettlement program, which claimed it violated the 10th Amendment.

Tennessee’s Republican-led government had asked for the review, The Associated Press reported. The court filed its denial earlier, letting a lower court ruling stand.

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Fox 17 Reports Nashville Bars and Restaurants Account for Less Than One-Half of One Percent of Virus Cases

Dennis Ferrier of Fox News 17 continues his reporting on Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s overreach in closing restaurants and bars, which account for only a fraction of coronavirus cases even as that industry continues to suffer.

Ferrier has been digging into the story for some time to gain the actual number of cases.

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Fox 17 Reports Nashville Bars and Restaurants Account for Less Than One-Half of One Percent of Virus Cases

Dennis Ferrier of Fox News 17 continues his reporting on Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s overreach in closing restaurants and bars, which account for only a fraction of coronavirus cases even as that industry continues to suffer.

Ferrier has been digging into the story for some time to gain the actual number of cases.

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