AG Marshall on the front lines of battling Alabama’s opioid crisis

Just last month, Attorney General Steve Marshall attended the opening of a treatment center in Mobile aimed at combating the growing opioid epidemic in our state. Marshall gave remarks at the opening of the new Pathway Healthcare location, stressing the importance of acting now to put an end to the crippling effects of addiction in Alabama.

“Some of you are aware of the personal story of my life. Having seen what addiction can do to families, this is a personal issue for me going forward and will continue to be a personal issue for me as attorney general.”

The opioid epidemic is one of Marshall’s key issues that he intends to continue working on while in office. The new treatment center provides resources that redirects focus to the root of the addiction. As the co-chair of Governor Ivey’s Opioid Overdose & Addiction Council, Marshall has bridged communication between all sectors of law enforcement and developed recommendations to combat the epidemic after six months of extensive research. He mentioned the state has begun to implement an action plan to fight opioid addiction.

“Badges and guns matter in this issue. But for us to make tremendous strides going forward, we’ve got to deal with those individuals right now who are suffering from these addictions to be able to get help.”

Marshall has remained focused on ensuring state and local law enforcement have the resources they need to effectively deal with those trafficking drugs while in office and plans to continue working with community members, activists and the church to identify how to most effectively treat the problem.

(Paid for by Steve Marshall for Alabama, P.O. Box 3537, Montgomery, AL 36109)

30 mins ago

Jones: Israel shouldn’t have barred Omar, Tlaib; Trump’s Tuesday comments ‘imbecilic’

BIRMINGHAM — Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) on Tuesday delivered the keynote address at an event entitled, “Opportunities for Technology Partnerships Between Alabama and Israeli Businesses.”

During his speech and in comments to the media afterwards, Jones made it clear that he is generally a supporter of Israel and values its friendship with the United States and the state of Alabama.

Enjoying the U.S. Senate’s August recess and back from his recent trip to San Diego, CA, Jones opened by joking, “I don’t know what the weather is in Israel, but I know it’s hot as hell here.”

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He highlighted the importance of international trade and relationships during his 16-minute speech, reiterating his apprehension about ongoing tariff tensions with China, which he called a “rogue” nation.

However, given the topic of the event, the conversation ultimately came back to a much different nation: Israel.

After extolling the significant bipartisan merits of fostering economic development partnerships between the U.S. and Israel, as well as Alabama and Israel, Jones concluded his remarks by addressing “the elephant in the room” — the ongoing, heavily publicized controversy involving Israel, U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and President Donald Trump.

Tlaib and Omar last week were barred from entering Israel on a congressional trip after the Israeli government learned of the freshmen Democratic lawmakers’ specific plans in the country. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended this decision, explaining that a 2017 law denies entry to supporters of the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement.

The situation with Tlaib has gained extra attention, as she said she wanted to visit her 90-year-old grandmother in the West Bank, but, after being granted permission by the Israeli government to do so on humanitarian grounds, Tlaib refused to travel to the country.

This led Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to state that Tlaib’s “hatred of Israel is stronger than her love of her grandmother.”

Trump has been active on social media and in comments to the press attacking Tlaib and Omar over the fiasco.

On Tuesday, he broadened his comments, saying, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

The president further said Omar “is a disaster for Jewish people” and lamented what the two have said in the past about Israel.

Jones on Tuesday expressed his hope that the situation can de-escalate on both sides of the aisle.

“[T]he relationship with Israel, I think is so, so important,” Jones said, saying how proud he was that Alabama in 1943 was the first state to call for the nation of Israel to be established.

“The commitment between the United States and Israel is as strong as it’s ever been,” Alabama’s junior senator advised. “And that is important. Israel has been such a strategic partner for the United States. And it has been good for us and it’s been good for Israel.”

“There’s been probably no better ally in the world in the last 40, 50 years than Israel. And we need to keep it that way,” he emphasized. “I want to make sure that we talk about that relationship.”

The senator outlined that there are strategic benefits for the U.S. in this relationship, spanning economic, military and humanitarian categories.

Jones also said the timing of the Birmingham event was “fortuitous” given the national controversy currently unfolding.

He called what was happening “a strain … with our relationship with Israel.”

“And I am concerned,” Jones stressed. “I will be very candid about this. I’m concerned that the relationship with Israel is beginning to see some cracks for political reasons. And that should not be the case. We need to do everything that we can in our respective countries to speak out against that. Because what I see and what I’m fearful of is that the relationship with Israel is now being used as a political weapon to try to divide people and try to drive political wedges for political gain. And it’s happening here, it’s happening in Israel. And we can’t, we can’t allow that to happen. Our alliance is too important to allow that to happen.”

He added that he was happy to witness firsthand Alabama and Israeli business leaders coming together to partner.

“[W]hat you’re doing, what you’re doing here is to demonstrate to so many people, whether they’re senators, whether they’re members of Congress, whether they’re members of the Israeli government or the President of the United States, that the foundations of the United States/Israeli relationship is strong, it’s bipartisan and it’s going to remain strong,” he told the crowd at Alabama Power Company’s headquarters building.

‘Not a whole lot of profiles in courage to stand up to your own party’

Lenny Roth, who co-chairs a PAC that supports positive relations between Israel and the U.S., then asked Jones if he is feeling pressure from his fellow Democrats, especially ones currently running for president in the 2020 cycle, to adopt an anti-Israel position.

“I think I’m the only one in the [Democratic] Caucus not running for president,” Jones joked.

Roth also asked whether supporting the country or not would become a litmus test for candidates, something he said would be unfortunate if it was to happen.

“I agree with you,” Jones responded. “There is a litmus test on the left, there is a litmus test on the right. And that’s unfortunate, and it goes way beyond just the Israeli thing right now.”

“I don’t feel any pressure in my caucus,” he added, getting back to the first question. “Where the pressure — it’s not pressure. Where the conflict comes is when you have certain members of the Democratic Caucus who say things that I don’t agree with and that so many of our caucus does not agree with and speaks out against — but yet when they get attacked on a personal level, when they get attacked as members of Congress, not because of just their beliefs but [they’re] because members of Congress and they get denied the right to go to visit [Israel] with other members of Congress, they’re — you have to defend those people as members of Congress. And therein lies the challenge, because people — there are those on the other side of the political aisle that want to kind of pull those together. And that’s going to be the challenge, I think, for people like me who absolutely have condemned comments that I found to be anti-Semitic by members of my party. Just like there are members in the Republican Party who have made comments that I believe are absolutely, unequivocally racist comments.”

He continued, “And people in the Republican Party need to condemn those remarks just as much. We don’t do enough of that. There’s not a whole lot of profiles in courage to stand up to your own party these days. I think you’re going to start seeing that more. I don’t feel any pressure, and I’m not going to feel any pressure. They know better than that. But I think the overwhelming numbers of people of goodwill of both Republican and Democratic Parties hopefully are not going to let this happen. They’re going to let this die down, and they’re not going to let this happen.”

Jones said the American-Israeli relationship will “take nurturing” moving forward to ensure longterm strength. He explained that “challenging members” of his own party “is the best” he can do right now to safeguard the relationship between the two nations.

From there, Jones was directly asked minutes later in a media gaggle about Trump’s statement made hours earlier, when the president said, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

“I think it’s absurd,” Jones said of Trump’s statement. “It’s imbecilic almost, I mean —  that’s exactly what I was talking about.”

He said whether it is the president or anyone else, any action “trying to drive a wedge” regarding the United States’ relationship with Israel is “shameful.”

Jones said Trump made the statement because the majority of Jewish voters voted Democratic in the last presidential cycle, according to Pew Research, and that the president is trying to “peel away” these voters.

“Look — if the president can’t win on his own policies and his own economic policies — the economy’s good even though we’re teetering right now — if he can’t win on his own policies, he apparently feels like he has to drive a wedge and use just language like that that is just absurd. And it is really unfortunate. It is unnecessary. And it really puts the United States at a real disadvantage on the world stage. And that’s what I think he doesn’t fully understand.”

The junior senator from nearby Mountain Brook was then asked about Omar and Tlaib, by name, being barred from entry into Israel on the congressional trip.

“Well, I don’t think it was appropriate. They [are] members of Congress. They [are] representatives of the United States who were going over there as part of a larger delegation. They should have been allowed to go just like the other members of the delegation,” Jones said, ignoring that the other members were not admittedly planning on breaking Israeli law. “Having said that, I don’t agree with a lot of their views about Israel. But they’re entitled to those views when we’re a country of diverse opinions and diverse political opinions.”

Still not invoking their names, he said Omar’s and Tlaib’s views about Israel “are not consistent with the historical relationship” between the two nations.

“What I will caution them to do is to not use such incendiary language, that they’ve often done, that confuses the relationship with Israel as being anti-Semitic,” Jones added. “And that has happened, and it’s unfortunate and should not happen.”

He stressed his belief that Israel and the United States “will get past this.”

Before leaving the venue, Jones seemed to stray from his anti-wedge stance, coming back to the “Russian collusion” narrative that Democrats have tried to use as a political weapon in referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as “Moscow Mitch.”

Jones has been consistent in stating his desire for the Democrats to retake the U.S. Senate, which would presumably make Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) the majority leader.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Van Smith scores impressive victory in Alabama’s HD 42 primary, advances to November general

Autauga County Commissioner Van Smith is the presumed winner of the Republican special primary election in House District 42.

The primary to fill the vacancy left by the the death of State Rep. Jimmy Martin (R-Clanton) occurred on Tuesday in parts of Autauga and Chilton Counties.

According to the Alabama Republican Party, unofficial results of the primary were as follows:

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Van Smith – 2,237 (56.85%)
Jimmie Hardee – 686 (17.43%)
Allen Caton – 622 (15.81%)
Shannon Welch – 390 (9.91%)

While provisional ballots will be counted on August 27 and the certification of votes will occur on August 28, a statement from the ALGOP stated that Smith is seemingly the Republican nominee for HD 42, impressively avoiding a runoff in a very competitive race.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said, “I offer my congratulations to Van Smith on his apparent victory in the Republican Special Primary Election for Alabama State House District 42.”

“While this district is considered a solid Republican area, we will not take anything for granted and plan to work hard to ensure we hold this seat,” she concluded.

Smith was endorsed by the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Forestry Association in the primary.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Birmingham’s new Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema is ready for its premiere

The new, permanent home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will open its doors this weekend, just in time for this year’s event.

Chloe Cook, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival, said the 11,500 square-foot facility is not complete, but is far enough along to be used as a festival venue this weekend.

“After the festival we will go dark for a week,” Cook said. “Then we will have a soft opening Labor Day weekend before our grand opening September 13-15. We’re very excited.”

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Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema a dream come true from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The cinema, located in the basement of the Pizitz building on 2nd Avenue North, features two 89-seat theaters and an education room for special events. Outside of the festival week, it will function very much like a typical movie theater, operating seven days a week on a year-round basis, screening the latest independent feature films on one of two screens.

“We’re excited to have something slightly larger than a jewel-box movie theater, but not a huge multiplex-type facility where we can carefully curate the programming for our community,” Cook said. “When I took the job in 2009 I did not imagine this would come to fruition. I really think a lot of redevelopment in the north side of downtown Birmingham has happened around our annual festival and it continued happening to the point that we felt like the timing was right to pursue this project and fill that cultural void.”

Cook said the $4.9 million facility would not have happened without the generous support of a variety of contributors.

“We have been so fortunate to receive generous support from our corporate community, including Alabama Power (Foundation)Regions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, as well as our foundation community,” Cook said. “We’ve seen support from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, The Stephens Foundation, The Daniel Foundation, but we’ve also seen a lot of individuals who are not people who could start a foundation but they can send in a check for $250 or $25. That’s been really rewarding.”

To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, visit MakeMovieMagic.com. To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Festival, visit SidewalkFest.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

SchoolFest sets the stage for Alabama children

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

Plato said art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said it was the other way around. It’s an argument that continues. However, one art form brings us face to face with the connection between art and life, perhaps better than any other: theater. It’s here people act out stories, hoping their audience forgets for a moment that it’s all make-believe. Were it not for the SchoolFest program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), many Alabama children might never be exposed to the magic of theater.

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Every year, 40,000 students attend SchoolFest in Montgomery. From the professional actors to the costume and set design, the productions are the same as those presented to other ASF audiences. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Power Foundation and others, ticket prices are discounted and many schools attend for free, exposing students from all walks of life to art.

For some, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. For others, like Emily Prim, it’s life-changing. Prim is assistant wardrobe supervisor at ASF. She remembers distinctly when the “theater bug” bit her. “I was in seventh grade at St. James School in Montgomery. We had a field trip to SchoolFest, where we saw ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ I remember it so well, because there was a Ferris wheel on stage that was the peach, and I thought that was so cool. I was sorta thinking about theater, because of shows we had done in school and stuff, but when I came to see ‘James’ here, it made me start thinking that this is something I could do after I graduate,” Prim said.

Prim’s experience is what ASF is all about. Executive Director Todd Schmidt put it this way: “It’s really a bedrock of our mission at ASF, which is to create communities through transformative theatrical experiences. It’s a lot of kids’ first introduction to theater. It’s important to do that, especially in this time of continued cuts in arts funding.”

Shakespeare Festival’s SchoolFest puts the arts at center stage for Alabama students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Just in the past year, students have seen productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Our Town,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.” The latter featured 24 students from Montgomery Public Schools in the cast. Schmidt chooses shows that are appropriate for audiences of all ages. SchoolFest builds many of these productions around school curricula.

“We put our programming out to schools, and then they select what they think is relevant to what they’re doing and what they want their kids to be exposed to,” Schmidt said.

What started decades ago as productions appropriate for students has continued to expand. In addition to SchoolFest, ASF offers educational programs. There are theater classes for adults and children, and summer theater camps for students. ASF has hosted a series of conversations that are tied – at least in part – to the shows. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke alongside a cast member from “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.”

“These are not about our productions, but they focus on themes of the productions,” Schmidt said. “There’s one coming up that talks about women dealing with glass ceilings, working in fields normally dominated by men, which ties somewhat into the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a new production, ‘Into the Breeches.’”

Lonny Harrison, director of theater at St. James School in Montgomery, has been bringing students to see productions at ASF for 21 years. “We have some students who, up to the point they’ve hit SchoolFest, have never seen a live production outside of a school play. This definitely helps get them more into the arts.

It seems like kids respond differently to every show, but whether it’s something that’s the most amazing thing to them, or something that makes them think more critically, it at least makes them think about it. When we left ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the other day, kids were saying, ‘Let’s do some Shakespeare!’ I had to tell them, ‘Small steps.’”

Harrison has a long history with SchoolFest. He saw stage productions at ASF when he was in school. His experience echoes that of many Alabamians. Were you to poll the state, you’d likely be amazed at the number of people of all ages who’ve shared the marvel of live performance in a theater at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

In Alabama, it’s a generational thing. When it comes to the art imitating life vs. life imitating art question, perhaps Shakespeare got it right when, in the second act of “As You Like It,” the character Jaques said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

The parts being played by the men and women of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival are a rich and vital service to the people of our state. These are the people who transform our children, who show them a new and lively way to understand stories, and life – its comedies and tragedies. These are the “players” who expand the minds of our young people, and show them a world that lives within their own ability to imagine.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

19 hours ago

Aderholt’s advice for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates: ‘Make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president’

Although it is still the early going of the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary election campaign, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has some advice for the handful of candidates seeking the GOP nod.

When asked what he saw as important to him and his constituents in Alabama’s fourth congressional district, he said it was support for President Donald Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated Aderholt’s district by winning more than 80% of the vote and was the only district in the country to break the 80% threshold.

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“They’ve clearly got to make sure that they make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president,” Aderholt said. “I mean, this president has as much support of any since I have been in office. I have never seen a president that has the support this president has. He has, everywhere I go, people are very optimistic that they are very positive about what he is doing. And they’re optimistic about the future. So I would first of all — they need to let their constituents, future constituents that are voters, know that they’re someone who would stand with the president.”

“As someone who is in another branch of government, we always want to make sure we don’t do just exactly like the executive or the president wants to do regardless of who it is,” he continued. “The Founding Fathers wanted the different branches to be a watchdog on each other. But, as I have seen from this president, the things that he is doing is consistent with what the voters want and what has been good for America. I’m fully supportive of this president. I think they need to communicate they’re supporting the president. I think that is probably the biggest thing right now. Alabama is a very pro-life state, and I think they need to communicate that, which again is consistent with the president’s message.”

Aderholt also suggested the Senate candidates should be supportive of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

“I am also getting the feedback that the Mexican-Canadian trade agreement that the president is trying to negotiate — to redo NAFTA, people are very supportive of that,” Aderholt added. “But again, the president has been very supportive of these issues. What the president is doing, I’m very supportive of. I don’t see any issue as far as supporting what the president’s issue is.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.