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1
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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2
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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3
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 […]


The post Donald Trump’s tweets against 4 liberal congresswomen called racist appeared first on Alabama Today.




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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4
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 […]


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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.


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‘It will not be easy’:  Dems prepare for their Robert Mueller moment

Some are watching old video of his previous testimony. Others are closely re-reading his 448-page report. And almost all are worrying about how they’ll make the most of the short time they’ll have for questioning.Robert Mueller, the Democrats know, will be tough to crack. The stern, reticent former FBI director has said he won’t answer […]


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Some are watching old video of his previous testimony. Others are closely re-reading his 448-page report. And almost all are worrying about how they’ll make the most of the short time they’ll have for questioning.
Robert Mueller, the Democrats know, will be tough to crack.


The stern, reticent former FBI director has said he won’t answer questions beyond what is in the report on Russia’s election meddling and the Trump campaign and possible obstruction of justice when he comes to Congress on July 17.


Mueller is expected to testify in front of the Judiciary and intelligence committees for two hours each, with time split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, though that timing is still a subject of negotiations. That means Democrats will have to be efficient and targeted in their attempts to extract information from the former special counsel and spotlight what they say are his most damaging findings against President Donald Trump.


“It will not be easy,” said Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee. He added: “We just have to be very smart about how we use the time and really give the special counsel the time to tell the story.”


Cicilline says he’s reading the report a second time, thoroughly, with an eye toward what he wants to ask.


Separately, a Democratic aide said staff members have been watching old videos of Mueller testifying as FBI director during the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. They’re looking to see how he’ll act, the aide said, and they have noticed he gives minimal commentary when answering questions. The aide was not authorized to discuss internal preparations for the hearing and requested anonymity.


Wary of their challenging witness, Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee huddled Wednesday evening to discuss strategy for questioning Mueller, along with other topics. Exactly how the hearing will be structured is still being negotiated, members said as they emerged, but Democrats are expected to divvy up the questions in a methodical way.


Among the topics up for discussion as the hearing approaches: Should they work through the report step by step, or paint a general picture? Will every member be able to speak in the short time they have? And what can they do to best crystalize the findings of a report that they believe Americans haven’t read or absorbed?


New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a member of the panel, said before the meeting that he expects to discuss “what the team strategy is going to be as we begin an intensive phase of preparation.”


Republicans seem to have given it less thought. Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot, a senior GOP member of Judiciary, said he hasn’t started preparing and expects little news from the event. He said Democrats are just “chasing their tails” and are aiming to placate base voters who want to see the Democratic House majority take on the president.


“It’s possible a few people could change their opinion, but overall I think it’s not likely,” Chabot said.


The Judiciary Committee is expected to focus on the second half of Mueller’s report, which details multiple episodes in which Trump attempted to influence the investigation. Mueller said he couldn’t exonerate the president on obstruction of justice.


The House’s intelligence panel, which will go second, will focus on the first half of the report, which details Russian interference in the presidential election. Mueller said there wasn’t enough evidence to establish a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign, but detailed several contacts between the two as well as the Trump campaign’s willingness to accept Russian help.


Under a deal struck with the committees, two of Mueller’s deputies — James Quarles and Aaron Zebley — are expected to meet with the panels in separate closed sessions after Mueller’s public hearing. But that might be in jeopardy as the Justice Department has pushed back on the arrangement, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. They requested anonymity to discuss the private talks.


The chairman of the intelligence panel, Rep. Adam Schiff, Democrat-California, said Tuesday said he wouldn’t discuss the details of those negotiations, but that the deputies have agreed to appear and “I have no reason to believe that will be unsuccessful.”


One issue that Judiciary members are expected to focus on is whether Mueller will state whether Trump would have been charged with a crime were he not president. Jeffries said that answer could “strike to the heart of why a prosecution or recommendation to prosecute wasn’t included in the report.”


Mueller said at a May news conference that charging a president with a crime was “not an option” because of longstanding Justice Department policy. But Democrats want to know more about how he made that decision, and when.


It’s unclear if he will go beyond his previous comments. Mueller, who was reluctant to testify at all, has been firm that he will stick to what’s already in the report.


Some lawmakers say that’s OK and just want to reach a broader audience of Americans who they fear have tuned out.


“This isn’t a question of creating a narrative,” said Florida Rep. Ted Deutch, another Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. “The narrative is already out there. It’s simply highlighting what is already there.”


By Mary Clare Jalonick and Lisa Mascaro Associated Press


Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.


Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.


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9
U.S. government opens new holding center for migrant children

A former oilfield worker camp off a dirt road in rural Texas has become the U.S. government’s newest holding center for detaining migrant children after they leave Border Patrol stations, where complaints of overcrowding and filthy conditions have sparked a worldwide outcry. Inside the wire fence that encircles the site are soccer fields, a giant […]


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A former oilfield worker camp off a dirt road in rural Texas has become the U.S. government’s newest holding center for detaining migrant children after they leave Border Patrol stations, where complaints of overcrowding and filthy conditions have sparked a worldwide outcry.


Inside the wire fence that encircles the site are soccer fields, a giant air-conditioned tent that serves as a dining hall, and trailers set up for use as classrooms and as places where children can call their families.


The long trailers once used to house workers in two-bedroom suites have been converted into 12-person dorms, with two pairs of bunk beds in each bedroom and the living room.


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said about 225 children are being held at the site in Carrizo Springs, with plans to expand to as many as 1,300, making it one of the biggest camps in the U.S. government system.


The government said the holding center will give it much-needed capacity to take in more children from the Border Patrol and prevent their detention in stations like the one in Clint, Texas, where lawyers last month reported some 250 youngsters were being held in cells with inadequate food, water and sanitation. Of the children held at Carrizo Springs, 21 had previously been detained at Clint, HHS spokesman Mark Weber said.


HHS said the Carrizo Springs location is a comfortable environment for children while they wait to be placed with family members or sponsors in the U.S.


But immigrant advocates and others liken such places to child prison camps and worry that the isolated location 110 miles (180 kilometers) from San Antonio, the nearest major city, will make it more difficult to find lawyers to help the teenagers with their immigration cases.


Advocates have complained that HHS’ largest holding centers — a facility in Homestead, Florida, a converted Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, and a now-closed tent camp at Tornillo, Texas — have traumatized children through overcrowding and inadequate staffing.


“All of this is part of a morally bankrupt system,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, a San Antonio Democrat.


There’s also the huge cost: an average of $775 per day for each child. HHS plans to pay the nonprofit Baptist Child and Family Services up to $300 million through January to run the Carrizo Springs site.


The government allowed The Associated Press to visit on Tuesday and distribute photos and video, though the AP could not show children’s faces because of privacy restrictions.


Boys and girls are kept in separate buildings and follow separate schedules. They have decorated their rooms with drawings of superheroes and the flags of their home countries, including Guatemala and El Salvador. Many children smiled and greeted visitors as they walked by. Several girls knitted yarn hats and armbands.


A series of tents serves as the infirmary, with nurses on hand treating a few children for lice and flu-like symptoms.


Breakfast is at 7 a.m., followed by soccer, then six hours of classes in reading, writing, social studies, science and math.


In reading class on Tuesday, the students were asked to practice reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in English. Many did so haltingly before the teachers called one student to the front to help lead them. After he finished, the whole class applauded.


HHS said the goal is to move the children through the holding center and others like it as quickly as possible. The department said it has sped up placing children with sponsors to an average of 45 days, down from 93 days last November. One key, HHS said, was lifting a requirement that all adult relatives be fingerprinted before they can take a child out of custody.


“This facility is all about unification,” said Weber, the HHS spokesman.
The holding center is opening amid record numbers of family members apprehended at the border and thousands of children traveling without their parents as they flee violence and poverty in Central America.


Baptist Child and Family Services also ran the Tornillo camp, which opened last summer as thousands of children were separated from their parents by Trump administration policy. Tornillo reached as many as 2,800 children until it was closed in January.


BCFS CEO Kevin Dinnin said he had refused in December to take more children at Tornillo because the camp was holding them for so long, a decision that led to its closing. Dinnin said he resolved never to open another emergency center like it, but the conditions reported in Border Patrol custody changed his mind. He said he also believes HHS is doing more to process children more quickly.


“At the end of the day, our philosophy has been … to keep kids out of CBP jail cells,” Dinnin said.


Jonathan Ryan, executive director of the legal group RAICES, said his organization is ready to send lawyers to Carrizo Springs but is waiting for the OK from the government.


“We just want to get inside and work with those kids,” Ryan said. “Children who have been detained, who have gone through deprivation and cages in Border Patrol custody, are potentially being released without ever having had access to legal advice and screening.”


By Nomaan Merchant Associated Press


Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.


 


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10
Alabama / Lawsuit challenges Alabama’s method of electing judges
« on: July 15, 2019, 10:10:44 AM »
Lawsuit challenges Alabama’s method of electing judges

Alabama’s practice of picking its appellate judges in statewide elections results in all-white courts in a state where one in four people is African-American, civil rights activists claim in a lawsuit that will soon come before a federal judge. Oral arguments are scheduled next month in Montgomery in the 2016 lawsuit filed by the Alabama […]


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Alabama’s practice of picking its appellate judges in statewide elections results in all-white courts in a state where one in four people is African-American, civil rights activists claim in a lawsuit that will soon come before a federal judge.


Oral arguments are scheduled next month in Montgomery in the 2016 lawsuit filed by the Alabama State Conference of the National Association  for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and four black voters. The lawsuit contends the at-large method of electing judges violates the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution because it dilutes the voting power of African Americans in the state and keeps them from electing their preferred candidates.


“Today, in 2019, all 19 of Alabama’s most powerful judges are white. This is the colorline in Alabama: a racially segregated judiciary where Blacks can be elected only to lower court positions,” lawyers for plaintiffs in the case wrote in a brief filed Monday.


Plaintiffs are asking a judge to order the state to switch to elections by districts, or another method.


The state will file its closing brief later this month. In earlier court filings the state argued that judges should be accountable to all Alabama voters, and not just certain districts, and that political party preference, not race, is the overriding factor. Plaintiffs argued that Alabama’s history “shows that its shift to one-party Republican control was driven principally by race.”


The oral arguments next month will be the culmination of the lawsuit filed in 2016. A federal judge heard evidence in a bench trial that ended in November.


Alabama’s appellate judges run in statewide partisan elections, just like the governor, attorney general and other top officials. The appellate courts in Alabama are all-white and all-Republican and have been for years.


There has never been a black judge on the criminal and civil appeals courts. There have been three black judges on the Alabama Supreme Court but all were first appointed by governors.


“No African American has won an election for the Alabama Supreme Court without first being appointed to office by the Governor_and that has only occurred three times in almost 200 years,” lawyers for plaintiffs wrote in their closing brief.


The lawsuit is similar to one in Texas filed on behalf of several Hispanic voters. A judge in September ruled in favor of the state in that case.


Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.


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11
Federal court: Donald Trump can’t ban critics from Twitter account

President Donald Trump can’t ban critics from his Twitter account, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, saying the First Amendment calls for more speech, rather than less, on matters of public concern. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court judge who said Trump violates the Constitution when he blocks […]


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President Donald Trump can’t ban critics from his Twitter account, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, saying the First Amendment calls for more speech, rather than less, on matters of public concern.


The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court judge who said Trump violates the Constitution when he blocks critics.


“The irony in all of this is that we write at a time in the history of this nation when the conduct of our government and its officials is subject to wide-open, robust debate,” Circuit Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel.


The debate generates a “level of passion and intensity the likes of which have rarely been seen,” the court’s decision read.


“This debate, as uncomfortable and as unpleasant as it frequently may be, is nonetheless a good thing,” the 2nd Circuit added. “In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less.”


The Justice Department did not comment.


The ruling came in a case brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. It had sued on behalf of seven individuals blocked by Trump after criticizing his policies.


Jameel Jaffer, the institute’s director, said in an email that public officials’ social media accounts are now among the most significant forums for discussion of government policy.


The ruling “will ensure that people aren’t excluded from these forums simply because of their viewpoints,” he said. “It will help ensure the integrity and vitality of digital spaces that are increasingly important to our democracy.”


Trump has over 60 million followers of his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account.


During oral arguments earlier this year, attorney Jennifer Utrecht argued for the president, saying that the account was created long before Trump became president and that he was acting in a private capacity when he blocks individuals.


Parker was critical during those arguments, foreshadowing Tuesday’s decision.


“Are you seriously urging us to believe that the president is not acting in his official capacity when he is tweeting?” Parker said, noting that Trump subtracts from robust public discussion by blocking critics. “Why isn’t that just a quintessential First Amendment violation?”


The appeals court ruled that the First Amendment does not permit a public official using a social media account for “all manner of official purposes” to exclude people from an otherwise open online dialogue because they disagree with the official.


“The President violated the First Amendment when he used the blocking function to exclude the individual plaintiffs because of their disfavored speech,” Parker wrote.


The 2nd Circuit said it didn’t matter that blocked individuals could still engage in dialogue through “workarounds” such as logging out to view Trump’s tweets or searching for tweets by other users about the president to engage in conversations.


“And burdens to speech as well as outright bans run afoul of the First Amendment,” it said.


The ruling Tuesday upheld a decision last year by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, who did not order Trump to unblock users but said people have a right to reply directly to politicians who use their accounts as public forums to conduct official business.


Trump has been a social media pioneer among politicians, earning daily headlines from tweets that often start early in the morning.


His Twitter account has become a must-read forum for other world leaders and critics and fans, who witness Trump boasting of accomplishments, belittling opponents and blasting critical media coverage as “fake news.”


Among individuals who were blocked from the account were author Stephen King and model Chrissy Teigen.


Republished with the permission of the Associated Press. 


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Alabama / Steve Flowers: 2020 races around the corner
« on: July 14, 2019, 01:54:24 PM »
Steve Flowers:  2020 races around the corner

Folks, don’t look now, but the 2020 Presidential Election is upon us. Indeed, as many as 21 Democratic aspirants are already announced and campaigning. They are quite a liberal group as you might expect. Leading the pack of Democrats trying to take Donald Trump out of the White House is an avowed, true socialist, Bernie [...]


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Folks, don’t look now, but the 2020 Presidential Election is upon us. Indeed, as many as 21 Democratic aspirants are already announced and campaigning.


They are quite a liberal group as you might expect. Leading the pack of Democrats trying to take Donald Trump out of the White House is an avowed, true socialist, Bernie Sanders. Behind ole Bernie are a host of ultra-liberal U.S. Senators who are socialists wannabes. They hail from either the left coasts of California or New England. Included in the pack of CNN/MSNBC/Stephen Colbert watchers are Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren of Massachusetts. She makes Teddy Kennedy look like a conservative. You also have Kamala Harris of California, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and losing Texas Senate candidate, Beto O’Rourke, in the race.


Our own anomaly Democratic Senator Doug Jones really should run for president next year. He would have a much better chance of winning the Democratic nomination for President than winning a seat in the U.S. Senate from the Heart of Dixie.


He has been a liberal Democrat in Alabama his entire adult political life. He has been the soul of the liberal Alabama Democratic Party for decades. He has campaigned and voted for George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Teddy Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.


Since he has been in Washington for the past year, he has organized with and voted with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Therefore, he is just as liberal with a much lengthier liberal pedigree than all of the aforementioned liberal Democratic Senators in the race; plus he has a proven Civil Rights record.


The scenario that occurred in last year’s special election to fill Jeff Sessions’s seat was a perfect storm that will never occur again. First of all, it was the only show in the country and the first opportunity for liberals all over the country to show their distaste for Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Having Judge Roy Moore as an additional lightning rod just added fuel to the fire. It attracted over $20 million of liberal, left-wing money to Doug Jones. He was able to out spend Moore 21 to 3. That is almost impossible to overcome, plus, with it being a Special Election it became a referendum on Doug Jones versus Roy Moore and the Republican vs Democratic delineation became obscured.


During this race, Doug Jones built a national liberal fund-raising base from left-wing America, much like Beto O’Rourke did in Texas. They both have become national stars as Democrats in Red States. Although O’Rourke probably has an edge on Jones in looks and youth. However, recently, Jones appeared on the left leaning Democratic Stephen Colbert Show. Jones may very well be eyeing national politics.


Doug Jones, as a lifelong stalwart Democrat, has worked diligently for the State and National Democratic party for most of his adult life. In recent months, he has tried to wrestle some control away from longtime Democratic dictator Joe Reed. It is practically impossible to understand what is going on in the State Democratic Party. Eventually, there may be a new vote on the party chairmanship. The National Democratic Party has mandated a new election due to the clandestine way that Nancy Worley was elected. The state hierarchy has ignored the National Party.


There is no doubt that Joe Reed is still in control of the Alabama Democratic Party. You can bet your bottom dollar that he calls all the shots. My guess is that he has his horse picked out of the 21 Democratic presidential candidates. He asked California Senator, Kamala Harris, to be the keynote speaker at his Alabama Democratic Conference June annual event. Therefore, Senator Harris might be a good horse to bet on to win next year’s March third Alabama Democratic Presidential Primary.


The Democratic Party in Alabama continues to be a big mess. The bottom line is that on the state level the Party is essentially irrelevant. The odds of a Democratic candidate for President carrying Alabama or a Democratic nominee winning any statewide race in the Heart of Dixie is slim to none.


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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Alabama / Daniel Sutter: Battling on and off the field
« on: July 14, 2019, 03:43:34 AM »
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 [...]


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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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Gov. Kay Ivey: State environmental agency needs to do better

Alabama’s environmental agency needs to do a better job responding to chemical releases into the Tennessee River in north Alabama, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday. Responding to media reports that 3M released pollution for years without state intervention or disclosure, Ivey told reporters in Huntsville on Wednesday that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management [...]


The post Gov. Kay Ivey: State environmental agency needs to do better appeared first on Alabama Today.




Alabama’s environmental agency needs to do a better job responding to chemical releases into the Tennessee River in north Alabama, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday.


Responding to media reports that 3M released pollution for years without state intervention or disclosure, Ivey told reporters in Huntsville on Wednesday that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management needs to present solutions to the problem.


“I have a lot of respect for ADEM authority but this case needs solutions on the table and I’m not seeing many of those solutions. And while I have a lot of respect for the ADEM and their operations… I look forward to having some real solutions offered to address the concerns of those citizens,” Ivey said in response to a question from WHNT.


Ivey says the state doesn’t actually control the agency, which is overseen by a seven-member commission and monitors environmental enforcement in the state. However, governors appoint members to the commission under state law.


“Well, the state does not control ADEM, per se. It’s a state agency so everybody assumes. But anyways I’m just encouraging them to show some positive possible solutions,” Ivey told WHNT.


The company this week said it’s looking at possible contamination at old landfill sites in Morgan and Lawrence counties dating back to the 1950s.
Maplewood, Minnesota-based 3M has operated a plant in Decatur since 1961.


Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.


 


The post Gov. Kay Ivey: State environmental agency needs to do better appeared first on Alabama Today.


Source: Gov. Kay Ivey: State environmental agency needs to do better

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