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Hampton Sides Essay on Giffords Shooter in Newsweek

Memphis native Hampton Sides, a former writer for Memphis magazine and the author of renowned books like “Hellhound on his Trail”, has an essay in the current issue of Newsweek. It’s a comparison of the shooters of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gabrielle Giffords, as well as the shooter’s motivations.

An excerpt:

“Sadly, the events in Arizona last week carry many odd hints and echoes of the events in the spring of 1968 that culminated in King’s death at the hands of James Earl Ray. Then, as now, the country was fighting an intractable and apparently interminable war against a hard-to-find enemy on the other side of the planet—a conflict that had drained the nation’s coffers and left the populace fatigued and paranoid. Then, as now, the airwaves seethed with reactionary speech. Then, as now, gun sales were going up, up, up.”

Read more here.

First Horizon CEO Talks About Q4 on CNBC

Not long after his company reported a quarterly loss Friday, the CEO of First Tennessee Bank’s parent company went on “Mad Money,” the show hosted by motor-mouthed CNBC personality Jim Cramer.

First Tennessee parent First Horizon National Corp. reported a fourth quarter net loss of $49 million Friday, as well as a loss for the year. Cramer, however, saw a silver lining in the cloudy numbers.

The year was peppered with positive indicators, such as First Horizon deep-sixing its TARP funds, returning to profitability for the first time in two years, continuing to improve credit quality and restoring a cash dividend.

“We view (the turnaround) as a marathon, not a sprint,” First Horizon CEO Bryan Jordan told Cramer. “We knew when we started this process two-and-a-half, three years ago that it wouldn’t be a straight line.”

“I didn’t think the quarter was that bad,” Cramer told Jordan, who during the interview had a view of the Memphis skyline behind him. “I think the market doesn’t get it. I think they’re looking at the earnings per share numbers and making a decision based on that. That’s not how you pick stocks. I think you’ve got a good story.”

After bidding Jordan farewell, Cramer hiked his leg up on the chair behind his desk, leaned on it and addressed his viewing audience. He referenced First Horizon’s stock price, which closed at $11.79 Friday.

“People are going to look back and say, ‘Why didn’t I get into one of these (stocks) at $11? What was I thinking? What was I thinking? Ok, here: (First Horizon) is at $11. You should be thinking – pull the trigger.”

Great News for Memphis Real Estate

While real estate data provider Clear Capital predicts home prices to tumble another 3.7 percent in 2011, it also predicts rising prices in 13 U.S. cities.

For Memphis, this means foreclosure sales and tax incentives are boosting sales.

Clear Capital reported Memphis’s price change took a 4.9 percent dip year-over-year in 2010 and is expected to increase 3.2 percent year-over-year in 2011.

The top five highest performers are:

  1. Washington, D.C
  2. Houston
  3. Honolulu
  4. Memphis
  5. Columbus, Ohio

“Some housing markets are well on their way to recovery, while others are experiencing a renewed downturn reminiscent of the housing crash only two years ago,” Clear Capital analyst Alex Villacorta said in a release. “The two clear drivers are local unemployment rates and the prevalence of distressed homes.”

December Existing Homes in South Rise 10 Per.

Existing-home sales increased for the fifth time in the past six months in December according to the National Association of Realtors.

Existing home sales – which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – jumped 12.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million in December from a revised 4.70 million in November.

December’s total, however, remains 2.9 percent below the 5.44 million pace in the same month of 2009.

Regionally, the South’s existing-home sales increased 10.1 percent to an annual pace of 1.97 million in December, but are 2.5 percent below December 2009. The median price in the South was $148,400, unchanged from a year ago.

Existing homes in the West rose the highest of all regions in December to 16.7, but median price took a 5.6 percent dip to $204,000.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said sales have reached a tipping point.

“December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal,” Yun said. “The December pace is near the volume we’re expecting for 2011, so the market is getting much closer to an adequate, sustainable level. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum and rising rents encourage more renters into ownership while exceptional affordability conditions remain.”

FHN Pays Cash, Adds to Board; Downtown Board Supports Biz; Steve Cohen Speaks

Here’s a brief news roundup for your Thursday morning:

On Wednesday, the Center City Development Corp. approved a $101,000 loan to developers that want to bring apartments, commercial space and a lounge that serves tapas at 115 Union Ave.

Shareholders of First Tennessee Bank’s parent company will no longer face an automatic event each quarter that dilutes their shares. That’s because Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. has resumed the payment of quarterly dividends to shareholders in cash, as opposed to stock.

In other First Horizon news, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee CEO Vicky Gregg has been added to First Horizon’s board of directors.

Also:

Shelby County GOP Chairman Lang Wiseman is calling for an apology from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, who in remarks on the House floor reportedly compared Republican criticism of last year’s health care reform legislation – that it represents a “government takeover of health care” – to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

Cohen defended his remarks in an interview with the national political blog site Talkingpointsmemo.com.

An excerpt from TPM –

“It was a lie, and if you repeat a lie over and over again it doesn’t make it the truth and that’s what Goebbels did,” Cohen said. “Goebbels is known for political propaganda, probably one of the most successful political propagandists whose philosophy was to lie, and if you repeat it over and over again then people will believe it.”

“Last night I did mention Goebbels because I thought about it and I’ve had people tell me ‘it’s just like Goebbels, it’s the big lie’ you repeat it over and over and over again,” Cohen said.

“No, there are no — Republicans, and members of Congress and hardly anybody in America — is a Nazi. But lies are lies and lies are uncivil and lies are wrong,” Cohen added.

Dansette

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