7 Things: Members of Mueller’s team are frustrated, DOJ warns Alabama again on prisons, Joe Biden gives a sad apology and more …
7. Schools in Alabama may have to start actually teaching sex education
— State Senator Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) has introduced a bill that would change the way sex education is taught in K-12 schools. The bill would make it so that the curriculum is more medically based while removing discriminating and stigmatizing language about homosexuality. Alabama doesn’t require schools to teach sex education, and school systems that do teach it are required to emphasize abstinence. Despite the abstinence-focused teaching, Alabama has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and STI rates in the country. The bill Whatley has introduced would also require schools to include “medically accurate and culturally appropriate” teaching materials.
6. Alabama lawmakers want to improve teachers’ retirement to encourage more people to become teachers
— There is a teacher shortage in Alabama, which is leading to a desire to make changes in the way teachers’ retirements’ are handled. Concerns over cost and unfunded liabilities in the past resulted in changes in the retirement for new teachers, requiring them to work until they are 62. The new plan would call for teachers to pay more into the retirement program but they could retire after 30 years. The director of the School Superintendents of Alabama, Ryan Hollingsworth, believes the current plan is “killing our recruitment of teachers.”
5. President Donald Trump’s push for more defense spending in NATO is working
— Throughout President Trump’s campaign and his presidency, the president has constantly called for NATO nations to spend more on their national defense. His calls for NATO countries to fulfill their agreed upon obligations was often met with derision and false claims that he was trying to destroy NATO, sometimes for Russia, even though he was calling for more defense spending. Yesterday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared that Trump’s push for NATO allies to increase their defense spending has made an impact and made the alliance stronger. Stoltenberg said, “After years of reducing defense budgets, all allies have stopped the cuts and all allies have increased their defense spending. Before they were cutting billions, now they are adding billions.” Again, Stoltenberg also stated that NATO is stronger due to U.S. pressure.
4. Immune from embarrassment over the Democrats’ behavior over the Russian investigation, subpoena fights start
— House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is ready to serve the DOJ with a subpoena for the full Mueller report without redactions. He knows this is never happening, but the posturing must continue, it appears. Other committees are seeking subpoenas as well. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal sent a letter to the IRS requesting Trump’s tax returns from 2013 to 2018 under the spurious claim that the committee needs them to consider legislation about the IRS’s uncodified practice of auditing a president’s tax returns. But that’s not all. He also requested the tax returns of eight of Trump’s business entities. Trump’s tax returns have been highly requested in years past by Democrats. In other news, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) still hasn’t released his taxes. It’s doubtful the Republicans in the Senate will seek the IRS to release them.
3. Former VP Joe Biden looks sad in a new video where he claims he has learned not to be weird
— Biden, who is obviously still running for president, has vowed to be more mindful of people’s personal space due to allegations of inappropriately touching women. He says he will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. Biden said society has changed and so will he, outlining, “Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.” Of course, if he wasn’t planning to join the race then he likely wouldn’t have released an apology video when Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are already defending him.
2. Governor Kay Ivey said that they’re working to fix the prison system after the federal government makes another threat
— Once again, the federal government has declared Alabama’s prison system is terrible and possibly unconstitutional. The Department of Justice found the overcrowded system left inmates open to sexual and physical violence by other inmates. Ivey pointed out that federal investigators found many of the same areas of concern that have been discussed publicly for some time. The Alabama Department of Corrections is seeking funding this year to hire 500 more correctional officers. Ivey has also floated the idea of spending $900 million on new prisons, possibly by leasing them from private entities.
— The conclusions on the report will not change. No one on the Trump team is going to be indicted and none of them were in an election-stealing scheme with the Russian Federation. Regardless, Mueller’s investigators, who found no crimes in their main area of operation, are now reportedly upset that Attorney General William Barr didn’t damage the president more with his summary. The New York Times story on this is vague. They neither explain why or how many of the roughly 60 members on the Mueller team are frustrated with the summary. The Mueller team wrote their own summaries, but the DOJ concluded that those summaries contain sensitive information, classified material, grand-jury testimony and other information that should remain confidential.