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News briefs from around Tennessee

News briefs from around Tennessee

Posted: Friday, January 22, 2010 8:01 pm

Coal baron debates Kennedy over mountaintop mining
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Don Blankenship and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the coal baron and the conservationist, are certain they could win over the world if only the public could see mountaintop removal mining through their eyes. On Thursday, they get their shot.
Blankenship, the outspoken chief executive of Massey Energy Co., goes toe-to-toe with Kennedy, the celebrity environmental attorney, in a debate that amounts to a prize fight for the hearts and minds of Americans who know next to nothing about coal.
Each man will step out of his customary setting — preaching to the converted about Appalachian strip mining — and face off at the University of Charleston before a hand-picked crowd of 950. They hope the conversation will carry beyond coal country via the Internet.
Kennedy and Blankenship will spar over what’s at stake if the federal government restricts the efficient, cost-effective practice of extracting coal by flat-topping mountains and filling valleys with excess material.
What’s at stake is a way of life.
To some, mountaintop mining puts food on the table and mortgage checks in the mail. To others, it defaces majestic scenery, pollutes water and shatters the quiet country existence of people who’ve called the mountains home for generations.

Microsoft, HCA donating $1.25M to Tennessee nonprofits
NASHVILLE (AP) — Microsoft Corp. and HCA Inc. are donating $1.25 million, primarily in software, to Middle Tennessee nonprofits to improve their technological capabilities.
Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer and Hospital Corporation of America Chairman and CEO Richard Bracken were at Nashville’s Downtown YMCA on Wednesday to announce the partnership.
The YMCA of Middle Tennessee last year received a software donation from Microsoft that has allowed the organization to better serve more than 270,000 people in a 12-county area.
Ballmer said part of Microsoft’s mission is to help bridge the digital divide.
“One of the biggest divides is in the technology systems in most non-governmental organizations versus what you find in corporations like HCA,” he said. Technology grants can help “bring these agencies along.”
YMCA of Middle Tennessee CEO Journey Johnson said nonprofits are often hesitant to spend money on technology that improves their infrastructure, instead wanting everything to go into their services.
“But when you get the infrastructure in place, you are in a better position to help people,” he said.

Republican Jack Bailey running for 4th District
FRANKLIN (AP) — Franklin businessman and former congressional staffer Jack Bailey on Wednesday announced he will seek the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis this year.
Bailey’s campaign said it had already raised more than $100,000 in the bid for the 4th Congressional District seat that cuts across Tennessee from Kentucky to Alabama.
Bailey, who is a former chief of staff to Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, has a law degree from Vanderbilt and is the confounder of investment bank Bailey Southwell and Co. He said his campaign will focus on themes of limited government and restoring trust in Congress.
He joins Scott DesJarlais, a physician from Jasper, in seeking the GOP nomination. DesJarlais’ campaign had raised about $126,500, including more than $34,000 from the candidate, through the third quarter.
Davis is a former state lawmaker who was first elected to Congress in 2002.
He won re-election by 21 percentage points in 2008 even while Republican presidential nominee John McCain carried the district by 29 percentage points.
Davis chief of staff Beecher Frazier said the congressman is ready to run a spirited campaign.
Published in The Messenger 1.22.10

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