The Wire

  • Boy with autism builds world’s largest Titanic LEGO replica

    Excerpt from Fox 17:

    A young boy with autism spent more than 700 hours to build the world’s largest Titanic replica out of LEGOs.

    Brynjar Karl Bigisson, now 15, of Reykjavik, Iceland, built the massive project when he was 10. It took 11 months to complete.

    The ship, built from 56,000 LEGO blocks, made its American debut on Monday and will be anchored at Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge.

    “The world calls him LEGO BOY and that’s just fine with Brynjar Karl Birgisson, after all he had spent a good part of his young life surrounded by thousands of LEGO bricks – the building blocks of his monumental tribute to the 2,208 men, women and children who sailed on Titanic,” attraction owner Mary Kellogg-Joslyn said.

  • Ala. First Class Pre-K Named Nation’s Highest Quality Pre-Kindergarten Program for 12th Consecutive Year

    Excerpt from a news release:

    Alabama’s high-quality, voluntary First Class Pre-K program was today named the highest quality state-funded pre-kindergarten program in America. This is the 12th year in a row the state’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds has received this distinction.

    The title was bestowed upon Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program by the National Institute for Early Education Research in its 2017 State of Preschool Yearbook. The State of Preschool Yearbook is an annual report measuring the quality of state-funded early childhood education programs across the country. In this year’s report, NIEER’s 15th edition, Alabama was one of only three states, along with Michigan and Rhode Island, to meet or exceed all ten of the benchmarks NIEER measures to determine program quality.

    In its report, NIEER also featured Alabama as one of six states to watch. NIEER profiled the state’s sustained commitment and incremental approach to giving more families an opportunity to voluntarily enroll their four-year-olds without lowering the pre-k program’s quality standards.

    Advocates from the Alabama School Readiness Alliance welcomed today’s announcement.

    “NIEER’s endorsement of the state’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program is another sign that the investments state leaders have made in early childhood education will have a strong return,” said Allison Muhlendorf, the executive director of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance. “However, being number one in the nation for quality should be only half of the state’s goal. State leaders should also strive to also be number one in access for four-year-olds.”

    Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program is managed by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

  • Why a lack of GOP enthusiasm could benefit Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s campaign

    Excerpt from AL.com:

    Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s absence from the Republican debate stage ahead of the June 5 primaries is occurring the same time national polls suggest a widening enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans ahead of November’s midterm elections.

    The Alabama GOP governor hopefuls, individually, are pointing to their own candidacies to suggest that the disenchantment, reflected in poll after poll, isn’t trickling into their race.

    But Ivey’s lack of interest in attending the debates isn’t helping to drum up Republican enthusiasm, according to the political pundits. The governor will, once again, be a debate no-show during the 7 p.m. Reckon by AL.com GOP gubernatorial debate tonight at the Lyric Fine Arts Theatre in Birmingham.

    In fact, most of political observers believe the governor’s race, overall, is lacking in much intrigue just months after the international spotlight shined on Alabama during the special U.S. Senate race which saw Democrat Doug Jones defeat Republican Roy Moore.

2 days ago

Facebook is breaking a promise, and now conservatives are paying the price

(CBS News/YouTube)

When Facebook makes promises, news outlets make bets, and dozens of outlets did just that when Facebook signaled an increase in traffic for video products in 2017.

Now, Facebook seems to be reneging on its promise. Vox fired 50 video producers due to lagging Facebook traffic in February, but conservative news outlets have been on unstable ground with Facebook since 2016. The IJR had a culling of its own, and RARE went out of business entirely. In January, Facebook changed policies and cut the amount of news users will see on the site in general and also made the decision to boost “trusted” news outlets while suppressing their competitors.

According to a report from The Outline, conservative and right wing outlets are hit the hardest, while the engagement numbers of most predominantly liberal publishers remain unaffected. Liberal or left-leaning outlets made up nine of the top ten performing publishers on Facebook in March 2018, with only Fox News representing conservatives.

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When Texas Sen. Ted Cruz dug into Mark Zuckerberg on this exact topic last week, Zuckerberg floundered, insisting that the far left views of Silicon Valley don’t leak into how Facebook does business, but some former Facebook employees tell a different story. They say they “routinely” suppressed conservative news stories from the site’s “trending” news section.

“Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation,” Gizmodo writes.

What that translates to is every conservative outlet in the country has to get through a liberal newsroom before it gets to Facebook users.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

1 month ago

Alabama one step closer to limiting civil forfeiture, but it may not matter

The Alabama Senate moved one step closer to requiring police officers to get a criminal conviction before taking a citizen’s property, but states that have already implemented such limits have run into loophole: the federal government.

Alabama lawmakers passed their ban through a state Senate committee last week under the impression they had the authority to ban civil forfeiture in their state. New Hampshire passed a bill similar to Alabama’s in 2016, but state and local police are still managing to take property without a criminal conviction.

The federal equitable sharing program, which allows state and local police to partner with federal authorities when making forfeitures, effectively ignores state-level limitations.

“The government ought to be required to prove that criminal conviction before being able to seize stuff,” Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr told the Heartland Institute. “The idea that the government can take a citizen’s property without a criminal conviction does not sit well with most people that I discussed this issue with.”

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In New Hampshire, state and local police forfeit property under the authority of the federal government, rather than the state. Despite the federal government technically being the one to take the property, the proceeds of the forfeiture cases remain with local authorities.

The federal stance on civil forfeiture is unlikely to change under President Donald Trump’s administration as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has long argued the practice is essential to combating the drug trade. Most often, officers will find large amounts of cash in cars traveling across state lines and seize it under the assumption that it was ill-gotten.

The program allows police to make the seizure without charging the owner with a crime. To avoid due process concerns, authorities instead charge the property with a crime, allowing them to assume its guilt in court and put the burden of proof on the owner to show that his property was not involved in criminal activity.

Police also argue they use the power responsibly, but law enforcement often directly benefit from the funds they forfeit. Federal authorities took more than $4 billion through forfeiture in 2015, and most states allow departments to keep the vast majority – if not all – of the proceeds from the forfeitures they make. In Alabama, police departments receive 100 percent of the funds they forfeit.

North Dakota and Massachusetts are tied for the worst states in the U.S. on civil forfeiture, according to a study from the Institute for Justice. Both received an “F” from the group on the issue, but the rest of the country isn’t much better: 21 states are tied at a “D-,” including Alabama.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)