3 months ago

7 Things: Doug Jones privately agrees with offensive abortion comments, Democrats still can’t get Trump’s tax returns, Americans support mandatory vaccines and more …

7. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is under fire again for her comments on Israel defending itself

— Over the weekend, there was a flare-up of violence in Gaza that was the worst since the 50-day war in 2014. On Sunday night, Omar tweeted, “How many more protestors must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends?” Republicans like former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley responded, “Agreed @IlhanMN so what should be done about Hamas? They are the ones behind all of this.” Omar has been called out multiple times before for her anti-Semitic remarks. A total of 25 Palestinians and four Israeli civilians were killed before a ceasefire on Monday. These were the first Israeli fatalities from rocket fire since the 50-day war.

6. A vote will be held on Wednesday to determine if Attorney General William Barr will be held in contempt

— The Justice Department did not turn over the unredacted Mueller report by the deadline set by Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), so now Nadler has scheduled a vote for Wednesday to decide if Barr will be held in contempt of Congress. The Justice Department has said that they are willing to negotiate with the House Judiciary Committee in good faith, but they’re disappointed that the immediate move was to hold Barr in contempt. Congressional leaders have already been given a less redacted version of the Mueller report, but the Democrats have made it clear that they want the whole report or nothing at this point.

5. Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) is questioning Joe Biden’s ties to China

— Byrne appeared on Fox News and was asked whether or not Biden’s ties to China should be investigated, to which he replied “absolutely.” Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, has a Chinese investment company called Bohai Harvest RST that is part of a group that has made several large investments in many Chinese companies. Biden has also recently downplayed the threat that China poses to the United States. Byrne brought up how Trump and his family were investigated for much less concerning Russia and Biden needs to be held to the same standard. When asked if there was a criminal component with Biden and China, Byrne said, “There might be. Now I’m not saying there is because we don’t know the full facts. But that’s why you have an investigation to get the full facts, and the facts we know of are very troubling.” Biden’s ties to Ukraine have come up recently as well. Meanwhile, his lead on the Democrats presidential primary field has grown to as much as 32 points.

4. Fantasy sports gambling bill will be proposed in the Alabama legislature; Passage is unsure

— State Representative Kyle South (R-Fayette) is sponsoring a bill that would legalize fantasy sports gambling in Alabama. Fantasy sports are most commonly played on apps through the phone, and the peer on peer competition allows people to create their own teams from existing players and how those players actually play affects how their fantasy team does. All of the states surrounding Alabama have fantasy gaming, but South believes that there’s still some confusion in Alabama about the contest. South believes that fantasy sports are more about analytics and further enjoying sports with your friends. The legislation would just allow people to play the game and be the team manager of their own sports team.

3. An overwhelming majority of Americans believe vaccinations should be mandatory

— In light of a recent resurgence of measles in the United States, there has been a small increase in support for mandatory vaccinations. Seventy-two percent of Americans believe that parents should be required to vaccinate their children. There are currently over 700 cases of measles so far this year and health officials expect that number to grow quickly. These numbers are actually only a small increase over polling in 2015 that showed 66 percent of Americans supported required vaccinations. Strangely, that number drops when you ask just parents. Only 61 percent of parents support mandatory vaccines.

2. House Democrats’ request for President Trump’s tax returns has been denied

— On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sent out a letter denying House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal’s request for the tax returns since they lacked legitimate legislative purpose. This was only one of the Democrats latest attempts to obtain Trump’s tax returns and financial records. In the letter, Mnuchin said, “As you have recognized, the Committee’s request is unprecedented and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers.” Trump has continued to imply that he has no intention of releasing any of his financial records.

1. U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) allegedly agrees with State Representative John Rogers (D-Birmingham) on abortion

— This weekend, Jones was publicly condemning Rep. Roger’s comments on abortion that you either “kill them now or kill them later.” According to Rogers, Jones called him and said he was “right” about his abortion comments. Rogers said, “He called me twice. He told me ‘John, I know you’re right but I [have] to come out against you.” On Monday, when Jones was interviewed by Alabama Media Group’s Roy Johnson, Jones was asked about the phone call. Jones’ main comment was “I’m disappointed he made our private conversation public.” He did not dispute Rogers’ claims. It’s no secret that Jones is pro-abortion, but to also agree with Rogers’ terrible comments about abortion after condemning him publicly is a new level for Jones.

4 hours ago

Mobile Bay Bridge project awarded $125 million grant by Trump administration

The I-10 Mobile Bayway Bridge project has been awarded a $125 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The announcement was made Monday by Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) office, which said the amount signifies one of the largest competitive federal grants ever awarded to the state of Alabama.

Additionally, the city of Tuscaloosa was separately awarded a $6.87 million INFRA grant to help replace an overpass bridge located on University Boulevard and U.S. Highway 82.

“Both of these projects will help improve safety, alleviate traffic congestion and concerns with overcapacity, and promote increased economic development opportunities across the state,” Shelby said in a statement.

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“Investing in essential infrastructure in Alabama and across the country promotes a more prosperous future for our nation,” he concluded. “I thank (U.S. DOT) Secretary Chao for her attention to these projects and look forward to continuing my work to ensure that our state is well represented in any effort to fund federal transportation priorities.”

The federal award to the I-10 Mobile Bayway Bridge project comes amid significant controversy over the Alabama Department of Transportation’s (ALDOT) plan to pay for the project, at least partially, through tolling. The total projected cost of the project is approximately $2 billion.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) has previously lamented that ALDOT was not more focused on securing federal money and avoiding tolling, even as Alabama federal officials like Byrne and Shelby worked to secure funding access.

ALDOT was previously turned down for a $250 million federal grant application for the project last year.

Byrne led Alabama’s entire House delegation in sending a bipartisan letter to Chao in February in support of funding the project with an INFRA grant.

After the news of the award broke on Monday, Byrne released a statement celebrating the news and reaffirming his opposition to ALDOT’s tolling proposal.

“This is outstanding news for the people of Southwest Alabama! Fighting for federal funding for this bridge has been one of my top priorities in Congress, and I am glad the Trump Administration has come through with this grant award,” Byrne said. “I am very appreciative of the help from our entire Alabama congressional delegation, especially Senator Richard Shelby.”

“Today is a positive step toward making this project a reality, but our work is not over,” he added. “The current tolling proposal for this project is unacceptable, and I will continue leading the fight against tolling and working to ensure this project helps – not hurts – the people of South Alabama.”

The tolling proposal has also become a statewide political piñata, with 2020 Republican U.S. Senate candidates such as Tommy Tuberville and Secretary of State John Merrill coming out swinging in addressing the topic recently.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

Byrne: Border battle harms Alabama communities

The detrimental effects of the humanitarian and national security crisis on our border extend all the way to Alabama communities. That’s why I’ve made it a priority to address our immigration policies.

One of the most obvious ways our insecure border harms our communities is the drug trade. Our porous border is perhaps the most significant contributing factor to the ongoing opioid crisis — the worst drug epidemic in modern American history. In 2017, over 47,000 lives were claimed by opioids. That’s more than those from car accidents and firearms. These deaths have affected families across our great state.

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The drug problem is made worse by the unprecedented migrant surge. James Carroll, director of the U.S. Office of Drug Control Policy, said just last week that drug seizures are down this year because so much attention is being diverted to humanitarian needs.

Because of that diversion, border patrol agents and resources are unable to be allocated towards their fundamental law enforcement functions. According to Carroll, more drugs are coming in than ever before.

One of the primary drivers of the migrant crisis is our asylum policy. Through a combination of loopholes worsened by a legal settlement made by the Clinton administration, migrants are encouraged to cross our border and give themselves up to law enforcement.

After arrest, migrants claiming asylum are eventually permitted entrance into the country while their claims are processed. This is permitted even when migrants do not cross at a legal checkpoint.

Although, by some estimates, only around a tenth of asylum claims are found by our courts to be legitimate, the vast majority never show up for their court date and remain free inside the United States.

A disproportionate number of these asylum claims are made by able-bodied young men. Only a few months ago, a Mobile teacher was killed in a car crash by an illegal immigrant minor who had falsely claimed asylum but never showed at his court date to avoid deportation.

The coyotes and cartels, of course, have every reason to facilitate migrants along their journey and orchestrate lawlessness at the border.

Last week, one of the biggest points of entry at the Southern border had to be shut down after a wave of nearly 50 undocumented immigrants rushed the border into Texas. The group attempted to tear down barricades and assaulted several border patrol officers who were forced to deploy tear gas and pepper balls.

Let’s call these people what they are – criminals. And while border agents were able to keep these criminals out of our communities, many more slip through the cracks while agents deal with illegal stunts like this and the humanitarian needs of asylee claimants.

Last year, a 13-year-old girl in Huntsville was beheaded after witnessing the stabbing of her grandmother by gang members in a horrific incident involving members of the Sinaloa Cartel. It is disheartening that gangs like MS-13 have infiltrated communities throughout our nation, but stories like this reinforce the sad truth that the problem is impacting Alabamians.

There are other significant problems that do not receive headlines. I’ve spoken with Alabama sheriffs who have shared horror stories about the strain illegal immigration places on their deputies. And I’ve talk to incredibly frustrated school superintendents who must divert resources away from educating local students to deal with their illegal immigrant population. Our hospitals are also placed under enormous burdens by illegal immigration. And governments are forced to pay for services for illegal immigrants that could have gone towards roads, bridges and other services for Americans.

This is not just a Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California issue. This is an Alabama issue. I will continue standing with President Trump and work to get an immigration system that works for the American people.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

6 hours ago

Boating deaths are soaring on Alabama’s lakes and rivers

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama has already had its deadliest year in two decades for boaters — and the summer isn’t nearly over yet.

Boating accidents in the first 6 ½ months of 2019 have killed 25 people, AL.com reported.

Already, that makes this year the deadliest one since 1998, when 32 people died. The number of deaths so far this year is already higher than year-end totals for the past several years.

This July alone, 12 crashes resulted in six deaths.

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“In my 24 years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Capt. Gary Buchanan, the commander of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol.

Investigators can’t definitively pinpoint the cause for this year’s drastic increase, Buchanan said.

“Some have happened at night, some during the day, some have involved one boat, some two boats and alcohol has been a factor in some,” Buchanan said. “It’s all over the spectrum.”

There has been a decrease in Marine Patrol presence on Alabama’s lakes and rivers. There are roughly 45 Marine Patrol current officers throughout Alabama. There are 21 vacancies — jobs that were all filled 10 to 15 years ago, Al.com reported.

Boater registrations have also increased in recent years.

“There’s an increase in boaters and there are fewer Marine Patrol troopers on the waterways,” Buchanan said. “There’s no doubt that an enforcement presence has an effect on behavior, just like when you top that hill and you see a trooper car in front of you.”

The year with the most boating-related fatalities was 1972, which had a year-end total of 55. The year with the fewest, according to ALEA statistics, was 2013, with 10.

(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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7 hours ago

Alabama K9 officer dies after drug raid

“Jake,” a K9 officer with the Alabama Department of Corrections, has died following a raid Thursday on Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore County.

CBS 42 reported last week that Jake was recovering after having a medical emergency during a contraband raid at the prison. He reportedly came into contact with synthetic marijuana and became unresponsive. Medical personnel and his handler at the prison then heroically performed live-saving measures on the K9, who was expected to return to duty within a few weeks.

However, CBS 42′ Reshad Hudson reported on Monday that Jake died from complications following the initial incident.

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WSFA is reporting that Jake died on Saturday at Auburn University Veterinary Clinic.

“I was saddened to hear that one of the Corrections K9s, Jake, lost his life over the weekend,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “This K9 died in service to public safety and in service to the state. Jake is an example of the goodness, the loyalty and service that our four-legged friends provide. We certainly lost a loyal companion.”

A criminal investigation into Jake’s death is reportedly underway. More testing of the apparent synthetic marijuana is pending, according to ADOC. Officials told WSFA that anyone found to be responsible in Jake’s death will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Jake had worked with his handler, Sgt. Quinton Jones, since the K9 joined ADOC in 2014.

“This is a difficult time for our ADOC family and especially for Sgt. Jones and those assigned to our K9 Bureau who worked with Jake on a daily basis,” ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn told WSFA. “I extend our deepest condolences for the loss of this noble K9 who honorably served the State of Alabama and for ultimately giving his life while protecting the public.”

Dunn added that Jake likely saved lives by detecting the substance during the raid.

“With Jake’s training and ability to find the narcotic, he saved other lives by giving his own in the line-of-duty. Jake’s heroism and ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten,” he emphasized.

Jake will be given a burial with full honors this week, according to WSFA.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Byrne visiting U.S.-Mexico border on Monday

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) is visiting the United States’ southern border on Monday, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate’s office announced in a release.

Byrne reportedly arrived at the border Monday morning and will meet with Customs and Border Protection officials, tour a port of entry and visit an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility.

“As the national security and humanitarian crisis at our border escalates, it is important to see the situation firsthand and talk directly with border agents, law enforcement, and local officials about the challenges they face and what resources they need,” Byrne said in a statement.

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He has been a consistent supporter of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

“The American people have demanded a lawful system of immigration that protects their economic and personal safety, and I will continue working closely with President Trump and his Administration to secure our border, support law enforcement, and keep the American people safe,” Byrne concluded.

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has opposed building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn