12 months ago

7 Things: Jones knows his chances are tied to Harris/Biden, curbside voting in Alabama lawsuit moves forward, Alabama to extend unemployment benefits and more …

7. People don’t approve of how Trump has handled the pandemic

  • In a new poll released by CNN, 58% of people in America don’t approve of how President Donald Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic, and 51% of people are “very angry” with the current state of the country.
  • The poll also shows that 55% of people believe that we haven’t been through the worst of the pandemic yet, 52% of people aren’t comfortable going back to their normal lives yet and 93% of Democrats are embarrassed by how the country has handled the pandemic, compared to only 33% of Republicans.

6. United States will bring back sanctions on Iran

  • During a press conference, President Donald Trump announced that the United States intends to “snapback” sanctions on Iran, saying that he’s “directing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to notify the U.N. Security Council that the United States indents to restore virtually all the previously suspended United Nations sanctions on Iran.”
  • The “snapback” ability was part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that allows sanctions to be placed back on Tehran if they’re found to be in violation of the agreement. This decision by Trump comes after the United Nations decided not to extend the arms embargo on Iran that expires in October.

5. Alabama is adding unemployment benefits

  • Governor Kay Ivey has announced that Alabama has applied for the unemployment benefit program, Lost Wages Assistance Program, that will add $300 in weekly benefits through the federal government.
  • These benefits will be added to the state’s current weekly benefits of $275, but the state won’t be providing the additional $100 per week due to the concerns expressed by the House and Senate General Fund budget committees about the state being able to afford that.

4. Trump slams Goodyear for perceived political bias

  • Taking a page out of the “cancel culture” playbook, President Trump called for a boycott of Goodyear, a tire manufacturing company that recently closed a plant in Alabama and outsourced those jobs to Mexico, over the slide that appeared during a diversity training seminar connected to the company that declared that “Black Lives Matter” and LGBTQ activism on the clock is OK but “Blue Lives Matter” and MAGA activism is not.
  • Goodyear said the slide was not official, but after the tweet was sent, the boycott-loving American media and Democrats rushed to the company’s defense and declared them to be a great American company that should not be criticized for their apparent biased decisions.

3. Curbside voting lawsuit to proceed

  • U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon has ruled to allow the lawsuit that would allow curbside voting in Alabama to proceed. The plaintiffs in the case claim that banning curbside voting violates federal law.
  • Jefferson County and Montgomery County officials have already said that if the court rules to allow curbside voting, then they will “undertake reasonable efforts to provide curbside voting.”

2. Democrats party like it’s 2016

  • Wednesday night, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) was formally nominated as the Democratic vice president for the 2020 presidential election and accepted the nomination during a night that included former President Barack Obama and failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton rehashing their failed 2016 arguments.
  • Obama warned that democracy itself is at stake, again, stating, “Do not let them take away your power. Don’t let them take away your democracy.” Clinton seethed her massive failures and cast doubts on the results in 2016 and in 2020, saying, “Remember: Joe and Kamala can win 3 million more votes and still lose. Take it from me.” She added, “We need numbers so overwhelming Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”

1. Biden and Jones will do the same in Alabama

  • While on ABC News, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) spoke about former Vice President Joe Biden and what is expected in November in Alabama. Jones said that he doesn’t think the state “is as deep-red as everybody says,” using the special election in 2017 when he was elected to support that claim.
  • Jones remains confident, though, that Biden will gain more support in the state, saying that Biden “has a chance to win over a lot of folks.” He added, “I doubt that he’s going to take Alabama – that would be a real shock if that’s the case. But he’s going to do well in Alabama. He is going to do very well in Alabama. The people in Alabama know Joe.”
1 hour ago

Summer attendance booming at Alabama Power Preserves

The summer months are the perfect time of year to get out and appreciate the beauty of Alabama’s lakes and rivers. With 65 public-use spaces across 12 reservoirs, Alabama Power’s Preserves offer the chance for everyone to enjoy a day in the great outdoors.

The Preserves are protected lands around Alabama Power lakes created to enhance natural resources and allow the public to enjoy the rich, ecological diversity of the state. Sites have a variety of amenities, including boat launches, picnic tables, grilling areas, fishing piers, weigh stations, hiking trails and swimming areas.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, Flat Rock Park on Lake Harris, which features hiking, fishing, swimming and picnicking areas, had more than 4,000 visitors. D.A.R.E. Power Park on Lake Martin, which has similar amenities, was visited by more than 1,500 people.

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Explore The Preserves by Alabama Power along Alabama lakes from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“Attendance numbers at our parks have been higher this year than we’ve seen in the past, especially over the holidays,” said Sheila Smith, Alabama Power land supervisor. “Visitors are telling us that they’re looking for outdoor activities closer to home and day trips they can enjoy with the entire family, so we are extremely pleased to provide these facilities for our communities. We’re even seeing visitors traveling to our parks from other states and areas over 100 miles away.”

To learn more or find a Preserve near you, visit apcpreserves.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Dr. Daniel Sutter: Shower freedom goes down the drain

The 1992 Energy Policy Act authorized imposition of energy and water efficiency standards on household and commercial products. Consumers have not been thrilled with the new products. As Jeffrey Tucker puts it, “Anything in your home that involves water has been made pathetic, thanks to government controls.”

President Trump repealed regulations on showers, but the Biden administration proposes to reinstate them.

Dozens of products now use significantly less water and energy. For example, showers cannot use more than 2.5 gallons per minute and toilets are limited to 1.6 gallons per flush. While described as efficient, efficiency here is used in an engineering and not economic sense.

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For engineers, efficiency involves using the least water or energy to accomplish a task. Department of Energy (DOE) engineers define showering, flushing waste or cleaning dishes, determine the minimum amount of water or energy needed for this, and only allow products meeting this standard to be sold.

Economists define efficiency in terms of consumer preferences. Consumer sovereignty is the basis on which we judge the economy’s performance. With the economic freedom and competition, manufacturers must cater to consumers. We get the showers and toilets we like.

The Energy Policy Act shifted control over product design from consumers to the DOE. All products have numerous dimensions of performance. Consumers choose products based on their personal tastes. Quality is also balanced against the cost because higher quality costs more; we do not always buy the best product on the market. DOE standards prioritize one dimension – energy or water use – over others.

Not surprisingly then, many consumers view the “efficient” products as worse. President Trump picked up on this during his 2016 campaign: “You have sinks where the water doesn’t come out. … You have showers where I can’t wash my hair properly, it’s a disaster!”

The government of a free country serves the citizens. The restriction of consumer choice can only be justified if it makes consumers better off in some way. Saving water is a bogus rationale.

For starters, households account for only a small fraction of water use. Furthermore, water-saving products do not always use less water: people end up repeatedly flushing low-flush toilets. But most significantly, water does not disappear when it runs down the drain. Property-treated wastewater can be safely discharged into a river or lake and remains part of the natural cycle.

“Saving water” amounts to reducing the demand on water and sewer systems. Delivering clean water to households requires the use of resources, and the cost is higher when water must be shipped great distances like in western states. Government supplies most water to Americans: cities operate water and sewer systems with the Federal government building large scale water delivery projects and funding most wastewater treatment plants.

Cities, however, generally supply water to households at an artificially low price. And Uncle Sam does not charge users the full cost of water delivered from large projects. Consequently, increased water use strains municipal water and sewer systems.

Elected officials are terrible at building, maintaining, and upgrading infrastructure. Replacing water mains is not an exciting way to spend tax dollars. Efficient household appliances provide a back-door way to avoid investing in water and sewer infrastructure.

Alternatively, suppose cities charged for water based on the full cost and used the proceeds exclusively for maintaining and expanding capacity. Americans wanting a surround shower delivering walls of water would pay a sizable bill every month, but the payments would cover the cost of providing extra water. Americans could enjoy shower freedom.

Although President Trump often spoke about regulations on consumer products, the shower rule was only repealed last December. Deregulation in 2017 would have given Americans time to upgrade their bathrooms, rendering the reimposition less relevant.

Reimposition of the shower rule is not official yet. Like with all proposed regulations, the DOE must accept public comments on the rule. I try to avoid prognostication, but I suspect that public comments will have little impact on the final decision.

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.

3 hours ago

USA College of Nursing receives $1.9 million grant to boost nursing diversity

Increasing the diversity of the nursing workforce is a key focus of the University of South Alabama College of Nursing, which recently received a $1.9 million federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to support the advancement of diversity in the nursing field.

The grant will fund a new initiative known as the EMPOWER project, which will serve two purposes. First, it will advance USA’s goal of educating a more diverse nursing workforce. Second, it will reduce health disparities in underserved communities.

EMPOWER will concentrate on recruiting, retaining and graduating bachelor of science in nursing students of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. This is the first time USA’s College of Nursing has received the HRSA workforce diversity grant, which focuses on educating and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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The College of Nursing EMPOWER Project Director, Dr. Shanda Scott, assistant professor and director of diversity, equity and inclusion, and Co-Project Director Dr. Christina Thompson, assistant professor of maternal child care, partnered to apply for the HRSA grant. Additional College of Nursing faculty members supporting this grant initiative are Dr. Nerkissa Dixon, assistant professor of adult health nursing, Dr. Loretta Jones, assistant professor of adult health nursing, and Dr. Dedra Reed, assistant professor of community mental health nursing.

“We are very excited to receive this significant funding to start the EMPOWER project,” Scott noted. “We plan to recruit, retain and graduate undergraduate nursing students from underrepresented backgrounds that will one day serve rural and underserved populations. We are striving to increase the number of minority students entering the nursing workforce. Understanding the needs of diverse student populations is critical for student retention through graduation.”

Research shows that to advance health equity, there’s a need to improve diversity in the nursing profession, Scott said.

“We understand that a more diverse healthcare workforce can reduce health disparities,” Scott explained. “Research has shown that by strengthening the skills and diversity of the nursing workforce, patients receive better healthcare.”

USA is one of 32 institutions of higher education nationally to be funded through this HRSA four-year award.

“I am proud of USA’s College of Nursing faculty who are leading this project to increase opportunities in nursing education for students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities,” said Dr. Heather Hall, dean of the College of Nursing. “The program will be developed to include recruitment, retention, and graduation goals that will provide a pathway for students of backgrounds underrepresented in nursing. It is vital for the nursing profession to include a more diverse nursing workforce to strengthen the understanding and awareness of the needs for individual patients.”

Under the EMPOWER project, 10 traditional BSN students will be in the first cohort. The grant funding will aid a total of 100 students over the four-year period. All grant recipients will receive a scholarship for tuition, books and fees, and a monthly stipend for personal expenses like food and gas.

“The scholarship will be paid annually, and students will receive additional funds each month from the stipend with a goal to alleviate some of their financial burden,” Scott said. “Our students must drive to attend their mandatory 8-12-hour clinical rotations located at various hospitals. Through the stipend, we are addressing these basic needs.”

It was determined by the EMPOWER project team that, in order to be successful, the initiative needs to include mentoring, peer tutoring, career, faculty and professional mentorship for each of the students in the cohort.

“As students navigate through the nursing program, they will participate in a clinical immersion experience at the USA Simulation Lab and through the community health partner, Franklin Primary Health,” Scott said. “We would like students to engage in learning experiences to enhance their knowledge regarding the care of culturally diverse and underserved patients. The students will also participate in academic success workshops to include test taking, resilience and mindfulness sessions”

The funding allows the South’s College of Nursing to receive holistic review training and a faculty mentorship plan to help with the recruiting and retention of minority faculty members.

“Increasing diversity of both students and faculty in the USA College of Nursing will prepare graduates to meet the important workforce needs,” Scott said. “The initiative’s goals align with the mission of the University’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.”

For more information about EMPOWER, send an email to shaston@southalabama.edu.

4 hours ago

Is the American alligator population in Tuscaloosa increasing?

In May, an alligator was struck by a train on Kauloosa Avenue in Tuscaloosa, and in June another gator was hit by a car on the same road.

In the past few years, there have been several reported gator sightings at Lake Tuscaloosa and at Van de Graaff Park.

Should alligators now be expected as a common part of the Tuscaloosa wildlife experience? And are their numbers growing?

Scott Jones, a University of Alabama New College LifeTrack instructor who specializes in herpetology, zoology and conservation biology, said Tuscaloosa has always been firmly within the natural territory range for the American alligator.

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He said Tuscaloosa is not generally considered well-known for alligators because their populations aren’t as dense in T-Town as they are in Florida and south Alabama.

“The American alligator’s range goes all the way up to North Carolina,” Jones said. “So seeing them here isn’t that unusual. In fact, seeing them here is a success story.”

In the 1970s, the American alligator was put on the endangered species list because they were hunted to near extinction. But in the past 50 years, their population in Alabama has grown to the point where hundreds of annual complaints about them are reported. In 2006, alligator hunting season in Alabama was reinstated by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Do increased sightings of alligators in Tuscaloosa mean their numbers are on the rise in the city?

Jones said not necessarily.

“They’re more active in the summer because it’s breeding season, so that’s one of the main reasons someone may spot one,” he said. “In addition, there’s been a lot of major rain events here. Heavy rain and flooding will wash them out of their typical habitats and into areas where they’re swimming on the street, like with the sightings on Kauloosa Avenue.

“I can’t say for sure that their population is experiencing a boom in growth here, but I can say that their population here is stable and slowly increasing, and that American alligator population in the South, in general, is growing.”

What should be done if a person encounters an alligator?

Jones said people need to be aware of their surroundings at all times when outdoors, particularly near bodies of water. Alligators like to sunbathe well away from populated areas, but if someone is out fishing early in the morning or late at night, their chances of seeing one will increase.

“They look a good bit like logs,” he said. “If you see a log all of a sudden emerge from the water, that might be a good sign that it’s actually an alligator. If you’re out at night and you see a pink eye shine on the water, it’s a good sign that it could be an alligator.”

Jones said they’re not generally a threat to people, especially on land. They primarily attack when on land if they’re harassed, so the best thing people can do if they see one is to leave it alone.

“They tend to be shy, so just give them space. Obviously, if you’re driving and one is in the way there’s nothing you can do if it crosses your path, but that’s rare. They’re generally content to stay in the water or around the water.”

However, alligators pose a threat to pets, Jones said.

“If you’re in an area where they’re known to be, don’t let your pet spend time by the water’s edge.”

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 hours ago

Orr: Birmingham-Southern $500 fee on unvaccinated could be a ‘constructive denial’ — ‘I’ve been in touch with those in law enforcement’

On Thursday, reports surfaced that Birmingham-Southern College students were told that if they were not vaccinated, they could be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

Some argued the $500 requirement was in defiance of a so-called vaccine passport ban passed by the Alabama Legislature and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey earlier this year, which prohibits the requirement of proof of vaccination as a condition of attendance at both private and public colleges, according to guidance issued by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall earlier this week.

State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), the architect of Alabama’s vaccine passport ban, called the Birmingham-Southern fee a “constructive barrier,” which if so could be in violation of the new law. He explained his position during an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Friday and added that he had notified “those in law enforcement.”

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“I think the $500 limit gets into a zone where you can say that is a constructive barrier against those who may be unvaccinated,” he explained. “By throwing up such a barrier, you would have to say they are constructively denying students admission because what if you don’t have $500? The bill doesn’t prohibit any type of restrictions based on if you make one group wear masks and the vaccinated no masks, things like that. The bill says you cannot refuse services or education services, in this case, and even private school — it does apply explicitly to private schools, as well, like Birmingham-Southern. So this is something that does apply to the school. And again, the argument can certainly be made that charging the $500 is a constructive denial.”

“I’ve been in touch with those in law enforcement,” Orr added. “They’re aware of it.  This is not the end of the story here. I think this will continue to play out.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.