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Topics - Alabama

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1
Alabama may agree to keep abortion ban on hold until 2020

Alabama indicated in a court filing that it might agree to keep the state’s new abortion ban on hold until 2020 to let a legal challenge play out in court. The law set to take effect in November would make performing an abortion a felony in most cases. Abortion providers have filed a lawsuit arguing […]


The post Alabama may agree to keep abortion ban on hold until 2020 appeared first on Alabama Today.




Alabama indicated in a court filing that it might agree to keep the state’s new abortion ban on hold until 2020 to let a legal challenge play out in court.


The law set to take effect in November would make performing an abortion a felony in most cases. Abortion providers have filed a lawsuit arguing the ban is unconstitutional.


Attorneys for the state and abortion providers this week submitted a joint status report to a judge indicating the two sides would agree to delay the law if it’s not possible to resolve the case before November. The court filing said they would agree to a temporary restraining order until May 24, 2020 — a year from when the lawsuit was filed — to allow time to resolve the lawsuit.


“Attorney General (Steve) Marshall agrees that, as suggested above, a temporary injunction would be appropriate to preserve the status quo,” the court filing stated.


The court filing also indicated the state wants to obtain information from the opposing side although it was not clear what information it is seeking.


Abortion rights groups say the ban is blatantly unconstitutional. Abortion providers also have asked for a preliminary injunction to keep the ban blocked until the case is decided.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson gave the state until Aug. 5 to respond to that request.
The Alabama law would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider. There would be few exceptions.


Abortion rights groups say it is clearly unconstitutional.


Emboldened by new conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court, Alabama is part of a wave of conservative states seeking to mount new legal challenges to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.


Some supporters have acknowledged the ban will almost certainly be struck down by lower courts because Roe is controlling precedent, but they hope to spark a court case that might prompt the justices to revisit abortion rights.


Republished with permission of the Associated Press.


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2
Reporter jailed on immigration charges slams conditions at Alabama and Louisiana​ detention centers

A Spanish-language reporter who was recently released from immigration custody said Wednesday he was held for 15 months in detention centers that were plagued by insects and he had to bathe with cold water from water hoses. During a news conference, Manuel Duran discussed what he called inhumane conditions at immigration detention facilities in Louisiana […]


The post Reporter jailed on immigration charges slams conditions at Alabama and Louisiana​ detention centers appeared first on Alabama Today.




A Spanish-language reporter who was recently released from immigration custody said Wednesday he was held for 15 months in detention centers that were plagued by insects and he had to bathe with cold water from water hoses.


During a news conference, Manuel Duran discussed what he called inhumane conditions at immigration detention facilities in Louisiana and Alabama. Duran was released from an Alabama facility on bail last week as immigration courts consider his request for asylum.


The El Salvador native was arrested while covering an April 3, 2018, rally protesting immigration policies in Memphis. Protesters had blocked a street in front a downtown courthouse on the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King. Jr’s assassination.


Protest-related charges were subsequently dropped, but Duran was picked up by immigration agents and detained after he was released from jail.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said Duran was taken into custody because he had a pending deportation order from 2007 after failing to appear for a court hearing. Duran has said he did not receive a notice to appear in court with a time and date on it.


Duran has lived in Memphis for years. He ran the Memphis Noticias online news outlet and reported on the effects of U.S. immigration policies on the Hispanic community. Duran’s lawyers have said he came to the United States without permission in 2006 after receiving death threats related to reporting on corruption in El Salvador.


Duran spoke Wednesday from a statement he delivered in Spanish that was later translated into English and read to reporters. Mentioning President Donald Trump, Duran questioned his arrest and criticized U.S. policies of arresting immigrants who don’t have permission to be in the country and separating them from their families while targeting them for deportation.


“I have seen the cruelty of the mass incarceration of immigrants firsthand and it is unnecessary and inhumane,” Duran said.


Food portions were small in the detention facilities where he was held, Duran said. Facilities were infected by spiders and cockroaches, and for two months detainees at the Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama only had water hoses with which to bathe, he said.


“At Etowah, for two weeks, for no reason, the heater was turned on to its full capacity,” Duran said in the translated statement. “This happened during the summer and it was very difficult to sleep.”


Duran also said there were no recreation facilities at Etowah and detainees “were locked up without being able to see the sunlight.”


“This experience has been very difficult for me and my family, psychologically and economically,” Duran said. “I feel that my life has turned 180 degrees and I’m still trying to adapt.”


ICE spokesman Bryan Cox challenged Duran’s assertion about bathing with hoses in a phone interview with The Associated Press.


“If that were true, I would simply ask you, ‘Does it seem remotely plausible that you would not have heard about it at the time,’” Cox said.


Cox said all ICE facilities are subject to regular inspections. The Etowah detention center has repeatedly been found to operate in compliance with ICE’s standards, Cox said.


Cox said outdoor recreation at Etowah takes place within the detention center, but the recreation area has a fenced roof open to the outside.


As Duran returns to life in Memphis, his deportation case continues. Lawyers with the Southern Poverty Law Center who have been working to free Duran are now concentrating on his request for asylum, said Gracie Willis, one of the center’s attorneys.


Lawyers argue that conditions have worsened for journalists in El Salvador and Duran could be in danger if he returns. In granting his release, the Board of Immigration Appeals acknowledged that conditions for reporters have changed for the worse in Duran’s home country since his initial deportation order, Willis said.


The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has granted Duran an indefinite stay from deportation as his case is argued.


“His individual case epitomizes the crushing weight of the immigration incarceration system and the toll it takes on individuals, families and communities,” Willis said at the news conference.


Republished with the permission of the Associated Press. 


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3
Alabama / Daniel Sutter: How far should we take equal pay?
« on: July 19, 2019, 04:47:32 PM »
Daniel Sutter:  How far should we take equal pay?

Whether the U.S. Women’s Soccer team should be paid the same as (or more than) the U.S. Men’s team is one part of gender pay equity. The debate highlights how determinants of pay in markets do not align with our notions of fairness and equity. In the labor market, supply and demand set wages and […]


The post Daniel Sutter:  How far should we take equal pay? appeared first on Alabama Today.




Whether the U.S. Women’s Soccer team should be paid the same as (or more than) the U.S. Men’s team is one part of gender pay equity. The debate highlights how determinants of pay in markets do not align with our notions of fairness and equity.


In the labor market, supply and demand set wages and salaries. Potential employers (the demanders of labor) make offers to potential workers them (the suppliers). The two sides must reach mutually agreeable terms. Economists recognize that factors like the number of people with a given talent or the ability to learn a craft and the potential for machines to replace workers affect wages. Many of these factors, however, do not seemingly justify people earning different amounts of money.


For instance, LeBron James’s and Steph Curry’s unique basketball talents allow them to earn over $30 million a year. More people watch the Men’s World Cup than the Women’s World Cup, resulting in prize pools of $400 million and $30 million for the most recent tournaments. But we consider hard work, conscientiousness, and honesty as reasons why one person should earn more than another.


Do women make less than men? One widely reported statistic is that women make only 77 percent as much as men. Yet economists know that earnings depend on education, experience, and hours worked among other factors. Controlling for these factors eliminates most of the pay gap.


Yet the absence of a pay gap does not leave us without concerns. Differences in educational attainment by gender, particularly in science and technology, may reflect biases. And women are less likely to leave the labor force to have and raise children, which may reflect stereotypes.


The interpretation of pay gaps, when they exist, is also complicated. The determinants of supply include personal values and decisions. The American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry and Andrew Biggs note that men hold 94 percent of jobs in the 20 professions with the highest on-the-job fatality rates. These dangerous jobs pay higher wages to compensate workers. Is it gender bias if women are less willing than men, on average, to take dangerous jobs?


The absence of a pay gap when controlling for relevant factors may seem surprising, but the profit motive can explain this. Suppose that airlines preferred hiring men over women as pilots. If pilots earned $150,000 a year, equally skilled female pilots shut out of the market might be willing to work for only $100,000 a year. A high-minded airline might break the gender barrier and hire women. But so would a greedy airline, to save $50,000 per pilot. Until the pay gap disappears, profit-seeking businesses should prefer hiring women.


What if bias affected access to education and training? Consider medicine, where arguably women were steered (or forced) into nursing, while men were encouraged (or allowed) to go to medical school. A nurse does not have all the skills of a doctor, but if not for bias, many women nurses would have become doctors.


Comparable worth laws mandate equal pay for jobs requiring comparable skill and responsibility. Some free market economists worry that firms cannot afford the mandated higher pay for women. Yet married men’s earnings premium demonstrates that employers typically have some discretion on pay. They can give a raise to a married man to help support his family instead of a single man looking to buy a fancier car.


A bigger problem, I think, is that comparable worth changes the salary setting process. The labor market balances supply and demand; no one person or entity sets pay. Any gender pay gaps result from decisions by thousands of people. Enacting comparable worth requires a government expert to determine which professions deserve equal pay. Once the government decides some wages, any group of workers can demand that the government boost their pay.


Women have faced discrimination and restriction of their right to earn a living. This is unfortunate. Gender bias is, I think, disappearing, and where pay gaps still exist, greed in the market will help equalize pay.


Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.


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4
Steve Flowers:  Alabama is a republican state but U.S. is probably a democratic nation

The 2020 Presidential Election year has already begun. It usually begins on Labor Day of the year prior to the Election. However, in recent decades the parade has started early. They really are four-year caravans. They begin the day after the President is sworn in. Indeed, President Trump never shut down his campaign organization, He […]


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The 2020 Presidential Election year has already begun. It usually begins on Labor Day of the year prior to the Election. However, in recent decades the parade has started early. They really are four-year caravans. They begin the day after the President is sworn in.


Indeed, President Trump never shut down his campaign organization, He essentially has never stopped campaigning. He loves to campaign. He loves to entertain. That is really what he was before he was President and that is what he has been as President, an entertainer. He treats the Presidency as though it is an extension and continuation of his television game show. As long as he is the center of attention he is happy.


Trump is amazingly similar to our two most colorful and prominent Alabama political icons, Big Jim Folsom and George Wallace. He is just as uninhibited and disarming as Big Jim was with the same irreverence for protocol and decorum. He is similar to Wallace in that he really likes campaigning and prefers campaigning to governing. Wallace really didn’t want to govern, he just liked running and getting elected governor.


Speaking of Wallace, he liked to run for President also. He ran several times. He usually ran under some third-party banner. As he ran around the country running as a third-party state’s rights candidate, he would proclaim that there is not a dimes worth of difference in the national Democratic and Republican parties. However, even Wallace could not say that with a straight face today.


Folks, there are a lot of philosophical differences in the national Republican and Democratic parties. They really should change their names to the Conservative and Liberal parties. The Republican Party is extremely conservative and the Democratic Party is very liberal. This extreme philosophy by each party is what has driven people into different political corners and is the reason for the political polarization of American politics.


The electronic media and news networks have further driven and enhanced this polarization. Fox News Network is simply the network that Republicans watch. CNN and MSNBC could be and people assume they are appendages of the national Democratic Party. The CBS Stephen Colbert show is unashamedly the hate Donald Trump show. They should change the title to that name.


The two-party machinery and nomination process is designed to choose a presidential contender as their nominee that is from the extreme segment of the party. This is especially true in the Democratic ranks. Therefore, the probability of a left wing socialist like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren being the nominee is likely.


This does not bode well for our anomaly junior Democratic U.S. Senator Doug Jones. He will be running along with one of his liberal Democratic buddies. Jones has organized and voted lockstep with the Democrats since his arrival last year, which is what most folks who know Jones expected. He is a real national, liberal Democrat. He has always been and will always be a Democrat.


In Jones’s defense, he is not a demagogue. He will not change his stripes or beliefs to get elected. That was evident with his vote against the conservative Trump Supreme Court appointee, Brett Kavanaugh. Jones was the only Southern Senator to vote against Trump.


Indeed, Jones is the only Democratic Senator in the Deep South. His being on the ticket with the Democratic Presidential candidate in November 2020 in the Heart of Dixie, makes his chance of being elected slim-to-none. It would be a surprise if he gets 40% even with a ton of left-wing money pouring into the state on his behalf.


Last year’s General Election proved we are a Red Republican State. One of the most Republican in the Nation. Donald Trump, or for that matter any Republican, will carry Alabama next year. Mickey Mouse would carry Alabama 60 to 40 if he were the nominee. However, Donald Duck would carry California and New York if he were the Democratic nominee. Folks, I hate to break it to you, but California and New York have more electoral votes than we do.


It was just as much an anomaly that Donald Trump carried Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and even Ohio and Florida, as it was that Doug Jones won in Alabama. As we look to the 2020 elections, it is evident that Alabama is a Republican state. However, the United States is probably a Democratic nation.


See you next week.


Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.


 


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5
Alabama / Planned parenthood president forced out after only 8 months
« on: July 19, 2019, 04:38:48 AM »
Planned parenthood president forced out after only 8 months

The president of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen, was ousted Tuesday after just eight months on the job as the organization faced unprecedented challenges related to its role as the leading abortion provider in the U.S. Wen, in a Twitter post, said she learned that Planned Parenthood’s board “ended my employment at a secret meeting.” […]


The post Planned parenthood president forced out after only 8 months appeared first on Alabama Today.




The president of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen, was ousted Tuesday after just eight months on the job as the organization faced unprecedented challenges related to its role as the leading abortion provider in the U.S.


Wen, in a Twitter post, said she learned that Planned Parenthood’s board “ended my employment at a secret meeting.” She indicated the board wanted more emphasis on political advocacy, while she sought to prioritize Planned Parenthood’s role as a provider of health care services ranging from birth control to cancer screenings.


“We were engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood,” Wen said. “I am stepping down sooner than I had hoped.”


Her departure came as the Trump administration announced it would start enforcing new rules that ban taxpayer-funded family planning clinics referring women for abortions.


Planned Parenthood, the largest recipient of those funds, says it will not abide by those rules.


Without elaboration, Planned Parenthood announced Wen’s departure via a Twitter post, thanking her for her service and wishing her luck going forward.


It also announced that Alexis McGill Johnson, co-director of a research consortium called the Perception Institute, will serve as acting president of Planned Parenthood and its political wing, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, while a search for new permanent leader is conducted.


Wen, a Chinese immigrant who fled her native country when she was a child, took over as Planned Parenthood’s leader in November, succeeding Cecile Richards, who had been president since 2006. Wen had been Baltimore’s health commissioner since 2015.


Wen’s tenure coincided with major challenges for the U.S. abortion-rights movement, in which Planned Parenthood has long played a major role. Emboldened by a strengthened conservative presence on the U.S. Supreme Court, several Republican-controlled state legislatures have enacted laws this year aimed at banning most abortions. None of the laws have taken effect, but backers hope they might eventually lead the high court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that establish a nationwide right to abortion.


Meanwhile, the Trump administration has moved to withhold federal family planning funds from clinics, including Planned Parenthood’s, that refer women for abortions.


With about 400 clinics, Planned Parenthood is the largest provider in the federal family planning program for low-income women, known as Title X. The program does not pay for abortions, but until now clinics had been able to refer women for the procedure. Planned Parenthood clinics have long been a target for religious and social conservatives because the clinics separately provide abortions.


Jacqueline Ayers, Planned Parenthood’s top lobbyist, said its clinics will stop accepting federal money and tap emergency funding as they press Congress and the courts to reverse the administration’s ban.


Title X serves about 4 million women annually through independent clinics. Taxpayers provide about $260 million a year in grants to clinics, but that money by law cannot be used to pay for abortions.


In a letter to her colleagues at Planned Parenthood, Wen said she had believed its primary mission was to be a health care organization, more so than an advocacy organization.


“With the landscape changing dramatically in the last several months and the right to safe, legal abortion care under attack like never before, I understand the shift in the Board’s prioritization,” Wen wrote.


By David Crary AP National Writer.


Republished with permission of the Associated Press.


 


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6
Facebook’s currency plan gets hostile reception in Congress

Under sharp criticism from senators, a Facebook executive on Tuesday defended the social network’s ambitious plan to create a digital currency and pledged to work with regulators to achieve a system that protects the privacy of users’ data. “We know we need to take the time to get this right,” David Marcus, the Facebook executive […]


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Under sharp criticism from senators, a Facebook executive on Tuesday defended the social network’s ambitious plan to create a digital currency and pledged to work with regulators to achieve a system that protects the privacy of users’ data.


“We know we need to take the time to get this right,” David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading the project, told the Senate Banking Committee at a hearing.


But that message did little to assure senators. Members of both parties demanded to know why a company with massive market power and a track record of scandals should be trusted with such a far-reaching project, given the potential for fraud, abuse and criminal activity.


“Facebook is dangerous,” asserted Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the committee’s senior Democrat. Like a toddler playing with matches, “Facebook has burned down the house over and over,” he told Marcus. “Do you really think people should trust you with their bank accounts and their money?”


Republican Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona said “the core issue here is trust.” Users won’t be able to opt out of providing their personal data when joining the new digital wallet for Libra, McSally said. “Arizonans will be more likely to be scammed” using the currency, she said.


The litany of criticism came as Congress began two days of hearings on the currency planned by Facebook, to be called Libra. Meanwhile, a House Judiciary subcommittee extended its bipartisan investigation of the market power of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.


On the defensive from bursts of aggressive questioning, Facebook’s Marcus indicated the currency plan is a work in progress. “We will take the time” to ensure the network won’t be open to use by criminals and illicit activity like money laundering and financial fraud. “We hope that we’ll avoid conflicts of interest. We have a lot of work to do,” Marcus said.


He said the new venture would be headquartered in Switzerland, not to avoid oversight but because the country is a recognized international financial center.


The grilling followed a series of negative comments and warnings about the Libra plan in recent days from President Donald Trump, his treasury secretary and the head of the Federal Reserve.


But some senators emphasized the potential positive benefits of Facebook’s plan, meant to bring money transacting at low cost to millions around the globe who don’t have bank accounts. Facebook had its strong defenders of the project, too, on the panel.


“To strangle this baby in the crib is wildly premature,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, Republican-Pennsylvania.


In that vein, Marcus said Libra “is about developing a safe, secure and low-cost way for people to move money efficiently around the world. We believe that Libra can make real progress toward building a more inclusive financial infrastructure.”


The planned digital currency is to be a blend of multiple currencies, so that its value will fluctuate in any given local currency. Because Libra will be backed by a reserve, and because the group of companies managing it will encourage a competitive system of exchanges, the project leaders say, “anyone with Libra has a high degree of assurance they can sell it for local (sovereign) currency based on an exchange rate.”


Promising low fees, the new currency system could open online commerce to millions of people around the world who lack access to bank accounts and make it cheaper to send money across borders. But it also raises concerns over the privacy of users’ data and the potential for criminals to use it for money laundering and fraud.


To address privacy concerns, Facebook created a nonprofit oversight association, with dozens of partners including PayPal, Uber, Spotify, Visa and MasterCard, to govern Libra. As one among many in the association, Facebook says it won’t have any special rights or privileges. It also created a “digital wallet” subsidiary, Calibra, to work on the technology, separately from its main social media business. While Facebook owns and controls Calibra, it won’t see financial data from it, the company says.


Senators demanded to know exactly what that separation will entail.


“Facebook isn’t a company; it’s a country,” said Sen. John Kennedy, Republican-Louisiana. Kennedy and other conservative senators took the occasion to air long-standing grievances against Facebook, Twitter and Google for a perceived bias against conservative views.


Facebook’s currency proposal has also faced heavy skepticism from the Trump administration.


Trump tweeted last week that the new currency, Libra, “will have little standing or dependability.” Both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jerome Powell have expressed serious concerns recently that Libra could be used for illicit activity.


The Treasury Department has “very serious concerns that Libra could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financers,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House on Monday. “This is indeed a national security issue.”


Also Tuesday, across the Capitol in the House, the chairman of a Judiciary Committee panel investigating the market power of big tech companies said Congress and antitrust regulators wrongly allowed them to regulate themselves. That enabled companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple to operate out of control, dominating the internet and choking off online innovation, Rep. David Cicilline, Democrat-Rhode Island, said at the start of a hearing. “The internet has become increasingly concentrated, less open, and growingly hostile to innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said.


As concerns have mounted over data privacy and market dominance of Big Tech, an increasing number of lawmakers from both parties are calling for tighter regulation of customarily free-wheeling companies or even breaking them up. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are pursuing antitrust investigations of the four major companies.


Executives of the companies, testifying at the Judiciary hearing, pushed back against lawmakers’ accusations that they operate as monopolies, laying out ways in which they say they compete fairly yet vigorously against rivals in the marketplace.


And Google executive Karan Bhatia, at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on online bias, insisted that the company’s search engine does not filter on the basis of political views. “We surface the results that are most responsive,” he said. “We don’t use political (markers) to blacklist or whitelist.”


By Mary Gordon AP Business Writer


Republished with permission of the Associated Press.


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7
Condemn Donald Trumps tweets? Here’s a round-up of what the Alabama delegation thought about it

Did Donald Trump go too far in his tweet to 4 women in the democrat house caucus? Here’s how Alabama’s delegation reacted to a House Resolution 489 filed to condemn his message as racist. ….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to […]


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Did Donald Trump go too far in his tweet to 4 women in the democrat house caucus? Here’s how Alabama’s delegation reacted to a House Resolution 489 filed to condemn his message as racist.




Bradley Byrne, District 1:


“Today’s vote is a transparent and ineffective attempt to distract from the open warfare inside the Democratic Party.  The long histories of anti-Semitic and un-American comments from the so called “Socialist Squad” deserve universal condemnation, and Democrats’ overnight transition from a circular firing squad to a circle of support is the height of hypocrisy.  


“Since ‘the Squad’ thinks America is such a terrible place, I’ve offered to fly them to the socialist paradise of Venezuela. In the meantime, we should stop wasting time on show votes like this and finally take action to secure the border and solve the immigration crisis.”


Martha Roby, District 2:


“As elected officials, we owe it to this country and our political discourse to combat unseemly speech consistently and fairly, but Democratic leadership in the House has demonstrated they are only willing to call out members of the opposing party by name while sparing their own from the finger-pointing. While I do not condone the President’s recent comments, I will vote against H. Res. 489 because I refuse to participate in this blatant political gamesmanship. Regardless of party affiliation, we must all treat one another with respect and civility in order to effectively do the important work of the American people.”


Mo Brooks, District 5:


“President Trump hammered various Socialist Democrats for their support for evil Socialism; repugnant, non-stop invective and hatred shown for the foundational principles which have made America the greatest nation in world history; open disdain and dislike of Israel; and religious prejudice against the Jewish people.


“Socialist Democrats have no legitimate defense of Socialism, hatred for America’s foundational principles, open disdain and dislike of Israel, and religious prejudice against the Jewish people so, instead, they do what Socialist Democrats candidate schools train them to do:[1] divert public attention by hollering racism despite the facts being crystal clear that President Trump was motivated by a lot of things, but none of them had anything at all to do with race or skin pigmentation.


“I will proudly vote against H.Res. 489 because it falsely injects race as a motivation without any supporting proof whatsoever. Just as a person’s skin pigmentation should not be wrongly used as a sword against him, a person’s skin pigmentation should also not be wrongly used as a shield that deflects from proper political discourse. Socialist Democrats are wrong, sinister and insidious to interject race as a motivation for President Trump’s tweets when those very same tweets show on their face a variety of motivations that have nothing to do with race or skin pigmentation.


“The Socialist Democrats’ imputing false, racial motive to President Trump without supporting evidence and in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is malicious and vile conduct that insidiously divides America on racial grounds while undermining the credibility of legitimate racist claims made in American society. Revolting and malevolent conduct that promotes racial division for political gain must be condemned and opposed. With my vote, I do both.”


Gary Palmer, District 6:


“President Trump’s comments on Twitter were ill-timed and insensitive, but not racist, as the Socialist Democrats have hypocritically claimed,” Palmer said. “The hypocrisy is glaringly apparent when you consider that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently tweeted, ‘This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants,’ and that Representative Ilhan Omar recently tweeted that support for Israel was ‘all about the Benjamins.’

“The Founders envisioned the House floor as a place where the people’s business is conducted. It was not designed for hypocritical, political grandstanding. The House could conduct no other business if we responded to every unbecoming comment of elected officials on social media. 

“Instead of wasting time on comments made on a Twitter account, we should be focused on addressing the issues that are of greatest concern to Americans, including the crisis at our southern border. This is what we have been elected to do. We have not been elected as the social media police.”


Terri Sewell, District 7:


“The President’s continued attacks on four Congresswomen of color who he said should go back where they came from are offensive and overtly racist. These Congresswomen are U.S. citizens who have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution and improve our nation. Right now, that means they are speaking out against Trump Administration policies that keep innocent children in cages and continue to tear families apart. To suggest their voices do not belong based on the color of their skin is below the dignity of the presidency.


“I know I was elected to improve the everyday lives of those living in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. The President should be working with Members of Congress to solve the challenges our country is facing, not engaging in attacks on Members’ personal character that stand in the way of progress. The President should get off of Twitter and start working to raise wages, improve and expand health care access and lower the price of prescription drugs. None of us can afford to go backward. We should all be working to move this nation forward.”


 


 


 


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8
Fundraising heats up in the ​congressional race to replace Bradley Byrne

Totals can be deceiving. If you looked at just the overview of fundraising available on the FEC website in the open race to replace Congressman Bradley Byrne for Alabama’s first congressional district you’d think that Jerry Carl is blowing away the competition. But you’d be wrong. He’s ahead in total cash on hand but not […]


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Totals can be deceiving. If you looked at just the overview of fundraising available on the FEC website in the open race to replace Congressman Bradley Byrne for Alabama’s first congressional district you’d think that Jerry Carl is blowing away the competition. But you’d be wrong. He’s ahead in total cash on hand but not in fundraising.  


A look at his reports show that while Carl is leading the field with cash on hand it’s due to two factors: First, is he had a headstart in raising money and secondly he has loaned himself a substantial amount, $305,000 to be exact.


The fundraising leader of this race is currently Bill Hightower but before we assume that he can turn money into votes and run away with this race we have to look at his history.


In his failed attempt to primary Governor Kay Ivey in 2018 he came in a distant fourth place garnering just 5% of the vote even though he spent $1,068,507. That’s not a promising vote to dollar turnaround for donors and potential donors. 


Summing up the most recent filings on the FEC site: Senator Bill Hightower raised $386,238 (though his numbers aren’t fully processed you can view the raw data here), State Representative Chris Pringle raised $215,611 and Carl raised $108,026 in the same time period. Wes Lambert raised $48,129 but spent an astounding portion of that leaving himself with just $2,000 cash on hand. Carl’s first report due in May showed that he raised $187,592.


Here are the tables currently available from the FEC website.












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Donald Trump calls on GOP to oppose House resolution condemnation of tweets

President Donald Trump called on fellow Republicans Tuesday to stick with him, “not show weakness” and oppose a House resolution condemning his tweets urging four Democratic congresswomen of color to return to their countries. His comments, he insisted, “were NOT Racist.” Trump renewed his rain of insults against the four lawmakers — American citizens all […]


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President Donald Trump called on fellow Republicans Tuesday to stick with him, “not show weakness” and oppose a House resolution condemning his tweets urging four Democratic congresswomen of color to return to their countries. His comments, he insisted, “were NOT Racist.”


Trump renewed his rain of insults against the four lawmakers — American citizens all — as his GOP allies in Congress mostly leapt to his defense. Following his cue, they tried refocusing the battle by accusing the four progressive freshmen and their party of pushing the country toward socialism.


“I will vote against this resolution,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California told reporters, calling the measure “all politics.” No. 3 House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming said the four Democrats “are wrong when they attempt to impose the fraud of socialism on the American people.”


The House resolution would condemn “President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”
The four-page measure traces the country’s history of welcoming immigrants from colonial times and includes an entire page of quotes from Republican President Ronald Reagan.
Reagan said in 1989, during his final days in office, that if the U.S. shut its door to new arrivals, “our leadership in the world would soon be lost.”


Democrats were hoping the resolution would put Republican lawmakers on the spot and would win some GOP votes. Top Republicans were urging their GOP colleagues to stand against the language, and it was unclear if any would defect.


“The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game. Republicans should not show ‘weakness’ and fall into their trap,” Trump tweeted.


“I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” he wrote.


He also reprised a taunt he initially made on Monday, tweeting, “If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!” The lawmakers strongly oppose Trump’s policies and have voiced support for his impeachment.


His barrage came amid a continued backlash to his weekend tweets that the progressive women “go back” to their “broken and crime-infested” countries. The tweets, widely denounced as racist, were directed at Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.


Ocasio-Cortez returned the fire Tuesday, tweeting, “You’re right, Mr. President – you don’t have a racist bone in your body. You have a racist mind in your head and a racist heart in your chest.”


McCarthy said Monday that Trump was not a racist. But he said he disagreed that the four lawmakers should leave the U.S., telling reporters, “They’re Americans. Nobody believes somebody should leave the country. They have a right to give their opinion.”


The episode served notice that Trump is willing to again rely on incendiary rhetoric on issues of race and immigration to preserve his political base in the leadup to the 2020 election.


At the Capitol, there was near unanimous condemnation from Democrats and a rumble of discontent from a subset of Republicans, but notably not from the party’s congressional leaders.


In response, Trump tweeted anew Tuesday about the four congresswomen: “Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”


His words, which evoked the trope of telling black people to go back to Africa, may have helped narrow the divides among House Democratic, who have been riven by internal debate over how best to oppose his policies.


At a closed-door meeting Tuesday of House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, “We are offended by what he said about our sisters,” according to a congressional aide who attended the meeting and described the remarks on condition of anonymity.
Trump allies said he was also having some success in making the progressive lawmakers the face of their party.


The Republican president questioned whether Democrats should “want to wrap” themselves around this group of four people as he recited a list of the quartet’s most controversial statements.


“Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party,” he wrote Tuesday, adding: “See you in 2020!”


Trump, who won the presidency in 2016 in part by energizing disaffected voters with inflammatory racial rhetoric, made clear he has no intention of backing away from that strategy in 2020.


“The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four ‘progressives,’ but now they are forced to embrace them,” he tweeted Monday afternoon. “That means they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!”


Trump has faced few consequences for such attacks in the past. They typically earn him cycles of wall-to-wall media attention and little blowback from his party. He is wagering that his most steadfast supporters will be energized by the controversy as much, or if not more so, than the opposition.


The president has told aides that he was giving voice to what many of his supporters believe — that they are tired of people, including immigrants, disrespecting their country, according to three Republicans close to the White House who were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.


In an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll from February 2017, half of Americans said the mixing of culture and values from around the world is an important part of America’s identity as a nation. About a third said the same of a culture established by early European immigrants.


But partisans in that poll were divided over these aspects of America’s identity. About two-thirds of Democrats but only about a third of Republicans thought the mixing of world cultures was important to the country’s identity. By comparison, nearly half of Republicans but just about a quarter of Democrats saw the culture of early European immigrants as important to the nation.


Republished with permission of the Associated Press.


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10
Coal ash disposal plans​ pit environmental groups against one another

Coal ash: To move it or not to move it? That is the question that even environmentalists can’t agree on as Alabama Power announces its plan for handling existing coal ash in the state.   In April 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a national rule governing how coal ash is managed and stored. The Obama-era […]


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Coal ash: To move it or not to move it? That is the question that even environmentalists can’t agree on as Alabama Power announces its plan for handling existing coal ash in the state.

 

In April 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a national rule governing how coal ash is managed and stored. The Obama-era rule provides two options for closing basins: either manage coal ash by storing it in place (closed-in-place) or excavate and move the coal ash to a new location. The EPA rule, which has been preserved by the Trump Administration, recognizes that both storing in place and removing and transporting coal ash options are viable options that provide environmental benefits.

 

When faced with the decision of securing ash in its five ponds, Alabama Power considered both options. Ultimately, the company decided to move forward with plans to secure its coal ash using guidance from the closed-in-place standard approved in 2015 but to go further than the required guidelines.

 

As Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman told Al.com, “the new plans show the company is going “above and beyond” what is required by state and federal coal ash rules, in some cases using redundant dike systems and subterranean retaining walls that extend 30 feet below the ground to prevent contaminants in the ash from reaching rivers or groundwater.”

 

Even so, this solution drew condemnation from Keith Johnston, managing attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Birmingham office who in the same article told Al.com, “Alabama Power refuses to do what other utilities are doing in Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia (including Georgia Power): excavating and removing these contaminants to modern, dry-lined landfills away from our waters.” 

 

A look at what utilities are doing in the aforementioned states, however, shows that Johnston is not comparing apples to apples. As EPA has acknowledged, each coal ash site is unique, meaning utilities in different states are dealing with a number of mitigating factors. Those include different environmental and political circumstances that influence how they are responding to pond closures.

 

Rather than the one-size-fits-all solution that Johnston, Mobile Baykeepers, and others are suggesting, Alabama Power’s proposal cites location-specific plans for each of its ponds. Those are outlined here for public postings.

 

Meanwhile, demonstrating the “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” decision-making process that power companies face in an age of never-ending environmental backlash, environmental activists in Central Florida have rallied to end a state-of-the-art storage deal involving coal ash from Puerto Rico. Florida activists criticized the same closed-by-removal option being advocated by critics in Alabama, citing the risk of transportation and local storage. Coal ash from Plant Barry north of Mobile, for example, would be transported across the Mobile Bay watershed to some other location, were the removal of coal ash to occur.

 

“If Puerto Rico is generating coal ash, it shouldn’t be taken and dumped in someone else’s backyard,” Osvaldo Rosario, a doctorate professor in chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico with a specialization in EPA Environmental Chemistry and more than 35 years of research experience, told a local news outlet

 

Rosario, who also serves as a consultant to the Federal Food and Drug Administration. “It’s something I’ve always criticized.” 

 

Luis Martinez, a director for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s clean energy and climate program, who speaking to Mother Jones about ash being transported from Puerto Rico to Florida was more direct in stating the problem facing those attempting to close ash ponds saying, “Nobody wants [coal ash] in their backyard. That’s a very human reaction.”

 

Paul Griffin, Executive Director of Energy Fairness, a not-for-profit that has testified regularly on energy issues on behalf of power customers and which has supported the closed-in-place approach to coal ash storage addressed critics of the plan saying, “On one hand you have Alabama Power’s proposal to responsibly store coal ash, which goes above and beyond rules written by the Obama Administration to ensure safety for the public and the environment. On the other hand, the vision of Mobile Baykeeper is to spend years digging up coal ash and transporting it through south Alabama communities to some undisclosed place, costing power customers more money and offering zero net environmental benefits.”

 

Griffin went on to say, “Any level-headed person can see that is a terrible bargain not just for power customers, but for the environment too.

 

With coal ash storage a topic of increasingly heated political debate, one thing seems clear. Decisions about which option is best for the environment and for power customers should be based on the best available science, not rhetoric.”

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11
Donald Trump’s tweets against 4 liberal congresswomen called racist

Starkly injecting race into his criticism of liberal Democrats, President Donald Trump said four congresswomen of color should go back to the “broken and crime infested” countries they came from, ignoring the fact that all of the women are American citizens and three were born in the U.S. His attack drew a searing condemnation from […]


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Starkly injecting race into his criticism of liberal Democrats, President Donald Trump said four congresswomen of color should go back to the “broken and crime infested” countries they came from, ignoring the fact that all of the women are American citizens and three were born in the U.S. His attack drew a searing condemnation from Democrats who labeled the remarks racist and breathtakingly divisive.


Following a familiar script, Republicans remained largely silent after Trump’s Sunday morning broadsides against the four women. But the president’s nativist tweets caused Democrats to set aside their internal rifts to rise up in a united chorus against the president.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump wants to “make America white again.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, after jousting for days with Pelosi, said Trump “can’t conceive of an America that includes us.”


Trump, who has a long history of making racist remarks, was almost certainly referring to Ocasio-Cortez and her House allies in what’s become known as “the squad.” The others are Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Only Omar, from Somalia, is foreign-born.


Ocasio-Cortez swiftly denounced his remarks . “Mr. President, the country I ‘come from,’ & the country we all swear to, is the United States,” she tweeted, adding that “You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.” Omar also addressed herself directly to Trump in a tweet, writing: “You are stoking white nationalism (because) you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.”


Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, summed up the Democratic response: “Racial arsonist strikes again. Shut. Your. Reckless. Mouth.”
With his tweet, Trump inserted himself further into a rift between Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez, just two days after he offered an unsolicited defense of the Democratic speaker. Pelosi has been seeking to minimize Ocasio-Cortez’s influence in the House Democratic caucus in recent days, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to accuse Pelosi of trying to marginalize women of color.


“She is not a racist,” Trump said of Pelosi on Friday.


On Sunday, Trump’s tone took a turn.


“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” he tweeted.


“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”


He added: “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”


The attacks may have been meant to widen the divides within the Democrat caucus, which has been riven by internal debate over how far left to go in countering Trump and over whether to proceed with impeachment proceedings against the president. Instead, the president’s tweets, which evoked the trope of telling black people to go back to Africa, brought Democrats together.


Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential front-runner, tweeted Sunday that Trump “continues to spew hateful rhetoric, sow division, and stoke racial tensions for his own political gain.”


“Let’s be clear about what this vile comment is: A racist and xenophobic attack on Democratic congresswomen,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate.


Another 2020 contender, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, tweeted at the president: “This is racist. These congresswomen are every bit as American as you — and represent our values better than you ever will.”


Few Republicans weighed in on the president’s comments. Congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Sen. Tim. Scott of South Carolina, the only Republican black senator.


Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in a previously scheduled appearance on “Face the Nation” on CBS, said only: “You’re going to have to ask the president what he means by those specific tweets.”


Shortly after the tweets, and a later presidential post defending the harsh scenes at a border detention facility where hundreds of migrant men are being held in sweltering, foul-smelling conditions, Trump left the White House to go golfing at his Virginia club.


Trump appeared unbowed Sunday night when he returned to Twitter to say it was “so sad” to see Democrats sticking up for the women. “If the Democrat Party wants to continue to condone such disgraceful behavior,” he tweeted, “then we look even more forward to seeing you at the ballot box in 2020!”


It was far from the first time that Trump has been accused of holding racist views.
In his campaign kickoff in June 2015, Trump deemed many Mexican immigrants “rapists.” In 2017, he said there good people on “both sides” of the clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacists and anti-racist demonstrators that left one counter-protester dead. Last year, during a private White House meeting on immigration, Trump wondered why the United States was admitting so many immigrants from “shithole countries” like African nations.


Repeatedly, Trump has painted arriving immigrants as an “infestation” and he has been slow in condemning acts of violence committed by white supremacists. And he launched his political career with false claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.


Despite his history of racist remarks, Trump has paid little penalty in his own party.
Though a broad array of Republicans did speak out against his reaction to Charlottesville, they have largely held their tongues otherwise, whether it be on matter of race or any other Trump provocation. Fearful of his Twitter account and sweeping popularity among Republican voters, GOP lawmakers have largely tried to ignore the provocative statements.
Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democratic presidential hopeful from California, tweeted, “Let’s call the president’s racist attack exactly what it is: un-American.”


Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in suburban Westchester County.


Pressley, the first black woman elected to the House from Massachusetts, was born in Cincinnati.


Omar, the first Somali native elected to Congress and one of its first Muslim women, was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country. She immigrated to the United States at age 12, teaching herself English by watching American TV and eventually settling with her family in Minneapolis.


Tlaib was born in Detroit.


By Jonathan Lemire and Calvin Woodward Associated Press

Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report.

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Woodward at http://twitter.com/@calwd.


Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.


 


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Alabama / Joe Biden campaigns as Obamacare’s top defender
« on: July 17, 2019, 04:48:19 AM »
Joe Biden campaigns as Obamacare’s top defender

Joe Biden is taking an aggressive approach to defending Obamacare, challenging not just President Donald Trump but also some of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination who want to replace the current insurance system with a fully government-run model. The former vice president will spend much of the coming week talking about his approach […]


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Joe Biden is taking an aggressive approach to defending Obamacare, challenging not just President Donald Trump but also some of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination who want to replace the current insurance system with a fully government-run model.


The former vice president will spend much of the coming week talking about his approach to health care, including remarks he’ll deliver on Monday in Iowa at a presidential forum sponsored by AARP. His almost singular focus on the 2010 health care law has been on display recently in the early voting states.


In Iowa, he declared himself “against any Republican (and) any Democrat who wants to scrap” Obamacare. Later in New Hampshire, he said “we should not be scrapping Obamacare, we should be building on it,” a reference to his approach to add a government insurance plan known as the public option to existing exchanges that sell private insurance.


Biden is hoping his positioning as Obamacare’s chief defender could be helpful on several fronts. It’s a reminder of his close work alongside President Barack Obama, who remains popular among Democratic voters. And it could reinforce his pitch as a sensible centrist promising to rise above the strident cacophony of Trump and Democrats including Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, all single-payer advocates.


Perhaps as important, it’s an opportunity for Biden to go on offense ahead of the next presidential debate at the end of July. Biden has spent the past several weeks on defense, reversing his position on taxpayer funding for abortions and highlighting his past work with segregationist senators. Harris slammed him during the first debate, blasting the segregationist comment and criticizing his opposition to federal busing orders to desegregate public schools during the same era.


Each of the episodes raised questions about whether Biden can maintain his front-runner status.


In New Hampshire over the weekend, it was clear Biden wanted to turn the tables as he touted the idea of a “Medicare-like” plan that any American could buy as opposed to a “Medicare-for-all” that would be imposed on everyone.


“I think one of the most significant things we’ve done in our administration is pass the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said. “I don’t know why we’d get rid of what in fact was working and move to something totally new. And so, there are differences.”
He argued that some of his opponents, with the exception of Sanders, aren’t fairly representing the consequences of their proposals.


“Bernie’s been very honest about it,” Biden said. “He said you’re going to have to raise taxes on the middle class. He said it’s going to end all private insurance. I mean, he’s been straightforward about it. And he’s making his case.”


Asked specifically whether Harris has been honest about how her plan would affect private insurance, Biden said, “I’ll let you guys make that judgment.”


During last month’s debates, Harris, Warren and Sanders raised their hands when candidates were asked as a group whether they supported eliminating private insurance. A day later, Harris, a Senate co-sponsor of Sanders’ single-payer bill, reversed her answer — the second time since her campaign launch that she’d walked back her seeming endorsement of eliminating private insurance.


She explained that she interpreted the debate moderator’s question as asking whether she’d be willing to give up her existing coverage as part of a single-payer model. She said she wants private policies to remain “supplemental” options for consumers.


Sanders, meanwhile, hit back at Biden, clarifying that his plan would be a net financial benefit for most households: Their federal taxes would go up, but their private insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays would be eliminated.


“At a time when Donald Trump and the health insurance industry are lying every day about ‘Medicare for All,’ I would hope that my fellow Democrats would not resort to misinformation about my legislation,” Sanders said in a statement responding to Biden’s New Hampshire comments.


Biden hasn’t yet introduced his full health care plan, but has said it will be anchored by a “Medicare-like” plan that would be available to anyone — including the 150 million-plus Americans now covered by job-based insurance, a group now ineligible for exchange-based policies. Biden has indicated that income-based subsidies would ensure that any household could get coverage. The idea is to expand coverage immediately and shake up insurance markets long-term by forcing private insurers to compete alongside the government, theoretically pressuring to lower their premiums and out-of-pocket costs for private policy holders.


Biden isn’t the only public-option advocate running for president.


Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper warns that Republicans will brand single-payer as “socialism,” hurting Democrats in the general election. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet echoes Biden’s argument with a call to “finish the work we started with Obamacare.”
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar touts a public option as the next logical move even for single-payer advocates.


“I think it is a beginning and the way you start and the way you move to universal health care,” she said in the first debate.


If anything, the dynamics illustrate Democrats’ overall leftward shift on health care.
A decade ago, as Obama pushed for ACA, the public option was effectively the left-flank for Democrats, a reality made obvious when Obama angered House liberals by jettisoning the provision to mollify some moderate Senate Democrats needed to pass the legislation. Now, after Sanders’ insurgent 2016 presidential bid and his promise of “health care as a human right,” the left has embraced single-payer, with moderates moving to the public option.
Yet with the exception of Biden, the moderates are languishing far back in polls, leaving the former vice president to capitalize on the dividing lines and promising that he would do what Obama couldn’t.


“And,” he declared, “it can be done quickly.”


By Bill Barrow Associated Press


Associated Press writers Hunter Woodall and Julie Pace contributed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Follow Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP.


Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.


 


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Martha Roby Weekly Column:  Be prepared during hurricane season

It’s hard to believe that July is halfway over, and summer will be ending soon. Temperatures here in Southeast Alabama continue to reach nearly 100 degrees on any given day, but fall and cooler weather will be here before we know it. In less than a month, students across our district and state will begin […]


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It’s hard to believe that July is halfway over, and summer will be ending soon.


Temperatures here in Southeast Alabama continue to reach nearly 100 degrees on any given day, but fall and cooler weather will be here before we know it. In less than a month, students across our district and state will begin another school year, and shortly after that, college football season kicks off.


While this time of year brings a lot of excitement, be mindful that hurricane season lasts until the end of November, and it’s extremely important that we take the necessary precautions to protect our loved ones and property. Hurricanes are one of nature’s most powerful and destructive forces. On average, 12 tropical storms, six of which become hurricanes, form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico during this time each year.


Unfortunately, many people who live in the Second District recently experienced the devastation this season can bring when Hurricane Michael made landfall last October. Last month, I shared that Congress approved and the President signed into law disaster relief legislation that will aid our farmers. It is my understanding that the process of making these funds available will soon be underway.


As we continue to rebuild together, and as we monitor the ongoing severe weather events happening in the Gulf of Mexico, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some safety tips from the National Weather Service (NWS) to prepare for storms that may impact us in the months ahead. Here’s a useful checklist to review prior to warnings of a hurricane:


1. Know your zone. The Second District doesn’t have any hurricane evacuation zones, but our neighbors in Baldwin and Mobile Counties reside in hurricane evacuation areas. Keep this in mind if you’re vacationing nearby in the upcoming months or if you have friends and relatives who live further south in Alabama. A list of evacuation zone maps is available at www.flash.org/2017EvacuationZones.pdf.


2. Assemble an emergency kit. Your kit items should be stored in airtight plastic bags, then placed in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as plastic bins or duffel bags. Your emergency kit should include the following items: one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a manual can opener, battery-powered radio, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a whistle to signal for help, and local maps. You can download the rest of the recommended supplies list and read about additional suggested supplies by visiting www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.


3. Write or review your family emergency plan. Before an emergency happens, sit down with your family and close friends and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in a weather emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency kit. You can start working on your plan by visiting www.ready.gov/hurricanes.


4. Review your insurance policies. This is an important step to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property.


5. Understand the NWS forecast language. There’s a difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning, and it’s important to have a strong understanding of the two. Read about this by visiting www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-ww.


Hurricanes can happen along any U.S. coast and can impact areas more than 100 miles inland. I hope you will share this information with loved ones during this time of year especially, remembering that hurricanes are typically most active during the month of September. In many cases, planning and preparation can make a huge difference, so I encourage you to prepare now and remind your friends and family to do the same. In the meantime, my family and I will be praying for an uneventful hurricane season in Southeast Alabama.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.


 


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Alabama / Daniel Sutter: Battling on and off the field
« on: July 16, 2019, 02:17:16 PM »
Daniel Sutter:  Battling on and off the field

The U.S. Women’s soccer team is fighting two battles this year. On the field in France they successfully defended their World Cup title. In March, team members sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination. The case highlights gender pay equity and potential discrimination by sports fans. Determining compensation is trickier than you might think, […]


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The U.S. Women’s soccer team is fighting two battles this year. On the field in France they successfully defended their World Cup title. In March, team members sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination. The case highlights gender pay equity and potential discrimination by sports fans.


Determining compensation is trickier than you might think, due to differences in numbers of games and whether either team is playing a World Cup. Court filings suggest that for an equivalent schedule, women are paid 62 percent less than men. If this is true, is it fair?


If you think pay should depend on performance, the U.S. Women should make much more than our men. The Women have won four World Cup titles and Olympic Gold medals each; the Men have never won either and failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.


If you think pay should depend on effort and hard work, equal pay probably seems fair. The members of both teams undoubtedly train and play extremely hard.


Economists would focus on revenue generation by each team. Total player compensation across major professional sports leagues is generally 50 to 60 percent of revenue. Economics would find the pay differential fair if based on a revenue difference.


Economics explains how athletes’ compensation depends on revenue, but is this fair? We can offer a fairness defense as follows. Participation on the national soccer teams, like all market activity, is voluntary. And fans choose voluntarily to attend games, watch on TV, and purchase merchandise.


Voluntary participation means that events like the Women’s World Cup make the world a better place than otherwise. And pay differentials provide people an incentive to supply more labor, if possible.


Sports economics also suggests why unequal pay may persist even with equal revenue. Competition between employers in labor markets drives salaries up to the value a worker generates. Competition in sports is less intense than other professions because athletes make so much more in their sport than other work. Salary caps and other measures can further limit bidding for players. U.S. Soccer could potentially indulge prejudices regarding gender and pay if desired.


Whether the soccer pay gap is due to revenue is unclear. Gate revenue from women’s and men’s matches has been equal since 2015, but the gate is only one component of overall revenue. Litigation will likely reveal the truth.


Let’s turn then to a more challenging question: do revenue differences reflect fan prejudice against women’s sports? The prize pool for the Women’s World Cup was $30 million, versus $400 million for the 2018 Men’s World Cup. Huge earnings differences also exist in professional basketball. In 2017-18, the average WNBA salary was $72,000, compared with a minimum NBA salary of $838,000. These enormous pay gaps are primarily due to differences in revenue. Do sports fans just not like watching women play?


Economists have tested for racial discrimination using sports data, particularly focusing on salaries from within the same sport. Different sports leagues, to my mind, represent different products. Economists generally attach little moral significance to people’s preferences across products. Americans like football more than soccer, but so what? Such differences in preferences simply make the world more interesting.


Differences in fan interest though may well be due to gender stereotypes and consequently be disturbing. Even so, separating gender stereotyping from other, less problematic, preferences would be difficult. Should we try to mandate equality in fan attendance and spending for the NBA and WNBA? Should companies have to sponsor both the men’s and women’s national soccer teams for the same amount?


The long run provides reason for optimism. Women’s sports are relatively new – the WNBA is 21 years old and the first Women’s World Cup was held in 1991 – and sports loyalties are often formed young. As gender stereotypes break down, fewer fans will be biased. The 2019 World Cup’s record TV audiences worldwide demonstrate progress. When the revenue gap between men’s and women’s soccer disappears, if it still exists, equality in pay should follow.


Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.


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J. Pepper Bryars:  Like Chilton County’s peach trees, Alabama’s occupational license laws need regular pruning

Motorists who travel I-65 between Birmingham and Montgomery during summertime often enjoy the tradition of stopping in Clanton for a freshly-picked basket of Chilton County’s famous peaches. There’s something special about that part of Alabama, a Goldilocks zone that produces those thick, juicy, tasty treats. Not too cold. Not too hot. Just right. Well, that […]


The post J. Pepper Bryars:  Like Chilton County’s peach trees, Alabama’s occupational license laws need regular pruning appeared first on Alabama Today.




Motorists who travel I-65 between Birmingham and Montgomery during summertime often enjoy the tradition of stopping in Clanton for a freshly-picked basket of Chilton County’s famous peaches.


There’s something special about that part of Alabama, a Goldilocks zone that produces those thick, juicy, tasty treats.


Not too cold. Not too hot. Just right.


Well, that and an awful lot of pruning.


Thing is, peach trees need to be cut back annually so that they can continually produce the best and most fruit. A snip here. A lop there. Just planting them and walking away isn’t enough.


Kind of like laws, and there’s no better example of such a thing than those governing occupational licensing in Alabama.


When we first began planting them decades ago, occupational licensing laws were meant to ensure that those who were practicing potentially dangerous professions were doing so safely. Those early measures covered around 5 percent of the U.S. labor force, according to a recent policy memo from the Cato Institute.


But like an untended peach tree, they’ve been left to grow wild.


“Alabama licenses a total of 151 occupations, covering over 432,000 Alabama workers, which represents over 21 percent of the state’s labor force,” wrote the authors of The Costs of Occupational Licensing in Alabama, a special report commissioned by the Alabama Policy Institute.


The report found that the initial costs of occupational licensing are $122 million, with another $45 million for renewals plus $243 million in annual continuing education costs. Those costs are eventually passed along to consumers.


Clearly, these laws are due for pruning, but Alabama’s lawmakers have taken an uneven approach to the orchard lately.


Near the end of the last legislative session they passed a bill that doubled the license application for landscape architects to $150 and increased the maximum fine that could be imposed on them for violations from $250 to $2,500 per instance.


But they allowed a bill to die that would have reformed the Alabama Sunset Committee, the body responsible for periodically reviewing state professional licensing boards, agencies, and commissions to ensure they’re operating effectively and ethically.


The bill would have added a “sunrise” provision to the process so that when a new licensing requirement is proposed, lawmakers would have an objective set of thorough standards to judge its merits, like if licensing would create an unreasonable effect on job creation or place unreasonable access or restrictions on those seeking to enter the profession.


Proponents would have also needed to demonstrate how the public would be harmed without the licensing measure, and how we couldn’t be protected by other means.


In other words, it would have to be more about protecting the people than protecting the profession, used only as a last resort, and even then, it would be applied to the least degree possible, but the bill failed to even get a public hearing.


Lawmakers did manage to do a little pruning, though, by providing a path to occupational licensing once denied to former convicted felons.


“For people who have served their full sentence … they should be able to get a job to feed their family, contribute to society, and lessen the chance that they fall back into crime,” wrote State Sen. Cam Ward, Republican-Alabaster, who sponsored the reform.


Former convicts can now petition a judge for an order of limited relief, which prohibits an occupational licensing board from automatically denying their application.


“The board or commission must give the case a fair hearing,” Ward said, adding that the new law “recognizes the dignity of work.”


Some of Alabama’s occupational licensing laws are good.


Some are bad.


But most are just in need of some regular pruning.


Let’s hope our lawmakers bring a good pair of garden shears to next year’s legislative session so that Alabama’s laws, like Chilton County’s peach trees, can produce the best fruit.


Pepper Bryars is a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute and host of the 1819 podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @jpepperbryars.


API is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families. If you would like to speak with the author, please e-mail communications@alabamapolicy.org or call (205) 870-9900.


Permission is hereby granted to display, distribute, and quote from this publication, provided that it is properly attributed to the Alabama Policy Institute and the author.


For editorial questions, please contact communications@alabamapolicy.org.


The post J. Pepper Bryars:  Like Chilton County’s peach trees, Alabama’s occupational license laws need regular pruning appeared first on Alabama Today.


Source: J. Pepper Bryars:  Like Chilton County’s peach trees, Alabama’s occupational license laws need regular pruning

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