Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A group that has attacked the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro is now taking aim at a recent hire by Gov. Bill Haslam based on her religion.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/Mrtu2Q ) the Center for Security Policy and the 8th District Tea Party Coalition have urged their members to put pressure on the state to dump Samar Ali, an attorney appointed last month as the new international director for the state's Economic and Community Development office.

NASHVILLE, Tenn (AP) — Tennessee's tea party activists hope to expand their influence with the fall election, but the movement's various groups may be too divided to have much impact.

The Tennessean reports tea party groups hope to pick off a few members of the state legislature, with the idea of reshaping its leadership. But the groups have not agreed to which members to go after. Nor have they settled on a slate of candidates to support.

The situation in Tennessee may also indicate a broader problem for the tea party movement.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Middle Tennessee State University is making efforts to increase its graduation rate. Just over half its students are currently completing college within six years.

According to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, 53 percent of MTSU students who began in fall 2004 graduated by 2010. That was fourth best among the state's four-year public universities. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was tops with 67 percent. Tennessee Tech had a 55 percent graduation rate, and UT-Martin's rate was 54 percent.

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — The Department of Defense has announced four units, including two from Fort Campbell, that will deploy to Afghanistan this year.

The scheduled rotation announced Thursday includes more than 11,000 soldiers from the four units who will start deploying between spring and winter.

More than 3,000 soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division based at Fort Riley, Kan., will deploy in the spring.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Rutherford County judge has ruled that construction of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro’s new mosque can continue for now. 

Opponents of the Murfreesboro Mosque convinced Judge Robert Corlew to nullify the county planning commission decision that approved it, but they lost their bid to stop construction immediately.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn (AP) — A Fort Campbell soldier has turned his lifelong passion for finding military artifacts into a mission to discover what happened to a young World War II pilot who had been missing since 1945.

Sgt. First Class Danny Keay (KAY), who is serving with the 101st Airborne Division, grew up in Germany and has worked for years uncovering war crash sites. He has helped recover the remains of eight service members missing in action, including an American fighter pilot found in 2005.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With federal stimulus funds drying up, the availability of summer jobs in Middle Tennessee will be limited.

That means there will be more competition for jobs that usually go to teens and young adults with little or no real working experience.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Soaring temperatures in Middle Tennessee have broken a record set in 1911.

National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Richards told The Tennessean that the temperature on Saturday hit 95 degrees. That's one degree more than the record temperature of 94 that was set more than a century ago. Richards said the data was recorded at the Nashville International Airport.

The normal temperature of the area near the end of May is 81 degrees.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Up to 150 Memphis City Schools teachers could be fired over performance issues.

The Commercial Appeal is reporting that teachers are starting to get notices of termination. According to their contract, teachers must be notified by June 15 if they’re not being retained for the following academic year.

GUNTOWN, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi authorities say a fugitive accused of a double-slaying and kidnapping has been killed but the two girls he fled with are safe.

Guntown Police Chief Michael Hall says 35-year-old Adam Mayes was killed Thursday evening. He says 12-year-old Alexandria Bain and 8-year-old Kyliyah Bain are safe.

Hall says Mayes died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The chief says a SWAT team located Mayes and when they moved in to apprehend him, he shot himself.

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority is reporting that reservoir levels in East Tennessee are already at mid-summer highs.

Officials on Thursday told the Bristol Herald Courier (http://bit.ly/Kf2PqQ ) that South Holston, Watauga and Boone lakes are at levels that are ready for recreational use this summer. That usually doesn't happen until June.

West Tennessee is a different story.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — More than $38 million in federal money is headed to dozens of Tennessee schools targeted to boost student performance.

A report in The Commercial Appeal of Memphis (http://bit.ly/IIj0cq) said the schools will use the money to make systemic changes, such as extending the school day and adding technology.

Gov. Bill Haslam announced the grant Thursday at a Nashville middle school where he also signed into law a new school accountability system required under Tennessee's waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn (AP) — Murfreesboro Police Officer Kristy Inglish has testified that the former Middle Tennessee State University student accused of killing her roommate during a fight never complained of any injury.

Shanterrica Madden has claimed self-defense, saying she was being beaten up when she stabbed Tina Stewart with a knife that she found on Stewart's bed.

The Daily News Journal reports Inglish drove Madden to the police station on the night of the stabbing, March 2, 2011.

MTSU

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Attorneys in the murder trial of a former Middle Tennessee State University freshman who stabbed to death her roommate presented very different pictures of the problems that lead to a deadly fight last year.

Lawyers gave those differing views during opening statements Wednesday in the murder trial of Shanterrica Madden. The 19-year-old is accused of stabbing her former roommate to death, MTSU basketball player Tina Stewart.

Madden, who is charged with first-degree murder, is claiming that she acted in self-defense.

MTSU

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — The trial of a Middle Tennessee State University freshman who stabbed her roommate to death last year is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

Nineteen-year-old Shanterrica Madden has said she acted in self-defense when she killed Tina Stewart during a fight in their off-campus apartment on March 2, 2011.

Madden has said the fight happened when Stewart called police on her after she brought home a friend who was smoking marijuana.

Madden is charged with first-degree murder in the death of the 21-year-old Lady Raiders junior guard.

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — A former West Tennessee sheriff has been arrested after a shooting outside a Jackson bar.

The Jackson Sun reports that 52-year-old Ricky Lunsford of Jackson was charged with attempted murder and kidnapping in an attack against his estranged wife early Sunday.

Calls to police indicated a man pulled a woman at gunpoint from the Tap Bar and Grill and that shots had been fired.

MTSU photo by Andy Heidt

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Middle Tennessee State University says an alumnus has donated $10 million to the school's Centennial fundraising campaign — the largest gift from an alumnus in the school's history.

The announcement of the gift by Nashville entrepreneur Woody Miller is part of MTSU's public launch of its $80 million Centennial Campaign. The campaign has been in a "quiet phase" since before the University observed its 100th anniversary last Sept. 11. Miller's gift has helped boost the campaign's early commitments to nearly $54 million.

Major League Baseball expanded its playoff format to 10 teams Friday, adding a second wild-card in each league.

The decision establishes a new one-game, wild-card round in each league between the teams with the best records who are not division winners, meaning a third-place team could win the World Series.

This is the only change in baseball's playoff structure since the 1995 season, when wild-card teams were first added.

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) — The Maury County Commission has voted to oppose metropolitan government in the county.

Commissioners voted 15-3-3 Tuesday on the proposed consolidation. According to The Daily Herald (columbiadailyherald.com), three other legislative bodies in the county have also opposed the change.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — The NAACP in Chattanooga is helping lead a statewide effort to recruit black ministers to get out the vote.

Joe Rowe is vice president of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP. Rowe says he’s contacted all 42 chapters of the Tennessee NAACP, as well as a number of youth organizations, and ministers statewide to promote a plan to increase voter participation.

From now until the presidential election in November, the NAACP will organize marches, host voter registration drives and offer transportation to the polls.

MOUNT PLEASANT, Tenn (AP/WMOT) — Governor Bill Haslam's plan to lift a cap on class size averages is meeting resistance from educators.

The Republican is calling the proposal a key element of his effort to allow school districts to hike teacher salaries. Haslam told reporters after visiting a Maury County middle school Tuesday that Tennessee is the only state to set maximums for both total and average class sizes.

Haslam says increasing class size means schools could get by with fewer teachers, freeing up the money needed to pay the remaining teachers higher salaries.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — More than 37,000 people have signed an online petition calling on JP Morgan Chase & Co. not to foreclose on an elderly Nashville woman.

A news release from petition website change.org says Helen Bailey is a 78-year-old homeowner who has paid her mortgage for years. It says she fell behind on payments due to medical bills.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Volkswagen is creating another 200 jobs at its Chattanooga assembly plant as production increases.

A plant spokesman says that the positions are needed as production capacity increases from 31 to 35 cars per hour.

The new jobs will be integrated into Volkswagen's current two-shift operation and filled by full-time Volkswagen employees.

The Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga currently employs more than 2,500 people, about 2,000 by Volkswagen and 500 by staffing partner Aerotek.

NASHVILLE, Tenn (AP) - The State Supreme Court will decide whether the Nashville's sheriff's office violated the Metro Charter when it entered into an agreement with federal immigration authorities.

Attorney Elliott Ozment sued the department in January 2011 on behalf of three Nashville residents affected by the 287(g) program. That program allows deputies to investigate the immigration status of inmates.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's death rate from drug overdoses has nearly tripled since 1999, a trend that state officials are hurrying to tackle with expanded regulations.

The proposals include one from Gov. Bill Haslam that would require doctors and pharmacists to consult a controlled substance database before writing or dispensing such prescriptions. State Sen. Ken Yager of Harriman tells The Tennessean he believes new state regulations will help reduce drug overdose deaths.

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