The Wire

  • Jeff Davis High School hires woman to coach boys basketball

    Excerpt from AL.com:

    ew Jeff Davis boys basketball coach LaKenya Knight has already identified a major challenge the Vols face in the coming season.

    “I told the guys they’re going to get everyone’s best effort,” she said, “because no one is going to want to lose to me.”

    She — yes, she — understands the challenge ahead. She knows the childhood “you lost to a girl” taunt isn’t lost on adult coaches and expects her male counterparts will have extra motivation to beat Jeff Davis with a woman leading the program.

    Sexist? Sure, but it’s undeniably true.

    Knight became one of the few female coaches hired to coach a boys high school team — and believed to be the first in AHSAA basketball history — when she was named the Volunteers’ new coach last week. A handful of women have coached boys teams, including Carolyn Wright stepping in for her husband, Bobby, at Central-Phenix City in 2014 and Connie Morris filling in for a ill coach in the early 2000s at Jess Lanier.

  • Birmingham man drowns in rough surf at Panama City Beach

    Excerpt from WKRG:

    An Alabama man has died after being pulled from rough waters in the Gulf of Mexico Friday evening.

    According to the report from Panama City Beach Police, officers responded to a water call of a swimmer in distress at Trade Winds Condos. When they arrived, 31 year-old Darrius Stone Jr. of Birmingham, Alabama was unresponsive and being pulled from the water.

  • Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized

    Excerpt from ABC News:

    Former President George H.W. Bush was admitted to the hospital Sunday afternoon for low blood pressure and fatigue, his spokesman Jim McGrath said.

    “He will likely remain there for a few days for observation,” McGrath said. “The former president is awake and alert, and not in any discomfort.”

2 days ago

Alabama deploys Guard helicopter, crew to Mexican border

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Flickr)

Alabama is sending a National Guard helicopter and guardsmen to help patrol the Mexican border at the request of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s office announced Friday that the helicopter and five guard members will support the Texas National Guard in partnership with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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The state will dispatch a UH-72A Lakota helicopter on Tuesday, along with a flight and maintenance crew, from an aviation battalion based in Birmingham.

Ivey’s office said the crew will be an additional tool for the “observation and tracking of illegal activity in the region,” but the soldiers will not be conducting law enforcement operations.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Muscle Shoals, Ala. drummer Roger Clark dies at 67

(R. Clark/Facebook)

Roger Clark, a drummer who contributed to the legendary Muscle Shoals sound, has died.

The Times Daily reports that guitarist Travis Wammack says Clark died of a heart attack Thursday at home, at the age of 67.

Clark worked at FAME Recording Studios and Wishbone Recording Studio in the 1970s and ’80s, playing on albums by Lou Rawls, Paul Anka, Tom Jones and others. He played drums on “Family Tradition,” the breakthrough 1979 album of Hank Williams Jr.

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Clark played his first paying gig at 14, going on to work in studios in Muscle Shoals and Nashville.

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame says he drummed on more than 30 gold and platinum albums touring with the Steve Miller Band, Journey and Pointer Sisters, among others.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Alabama man faces 6,547 child porn charges

(Florence PD)

Authorities say an Alabama man has been indicted on more than 6,500 child pornography charges.

News outlets report that 50-year-old Jeffery Dale Hunt of Cherokee is being held with bail set at $10 million following his arrest Thursday.

Police say an indictment returned this week includes 4,378 counts of possession of child pornography and 2,169 counts of producing child porn.

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The large number of charges relates to the number of images Hunt allegedly had in his possession.

He was previously charged with having more than 2,200 images last year.

Police haven’t said exactly how many children are involved, but they’ve said some were from the Florence area where Hunt was living when he was first arrested in 2016.

An attorney representing Hunt didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Tropical weather system strengthens as it moves toward Gulf

(NOAA/Facebook)

Forecasters say a tropical weather system moving toward the Gulf of Mexico is strengthening.

The National Hurricane Center said Friday that a low pressure system in the northwestern Caribbean Sea has become better defined overnight and could be a tropical depression or storm by Saturday.

They put chances of formation at 90 percent over the next two days.

The system sits east of the Yucatan Peninsula but moving northward. Forecasters say heavy rains are likely across western Cuba, much of Florida and the northern Gulf Coast into early next week.

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Portions of the northern Gulf Coast are likely to experience tropical storm force winds and storm surge.

There’s also a strong threat of rip currents from Florida to Louisiana.

An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Alabama inmate escapes from work release center

(AL DOC)

Alabama prison officials say a state inmate is on the loose after escaping in central Alabama.

A statement from the Department of Corrections says 47-year-old Anthony Scott Marler fled a work-release center in Childersburg early Friday.

Marler was last seen wearing a white prison uniform.

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Records show Marler was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2014 after being convicted of manufacturing drugs in Clay County.

Court records show the Ashland man has a long record of drug and traffic offenses.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Doxakis, Texas A&M shut down Auburn, 4-2 in SEC

(Auburn Athletics)

John Doxakis carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and Texas A&M beat Auburn 4-2 on Thursday night in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The Aggies (39-19) move into the semifinals while Auburn (39-20) faces Mississippi on Friday in an elimination game.

Doxakis (7-5) didn’t allow a hit until Jay Estes’ infield single to lead off the eighth. He struck out 10 and didn’t walk anybody but did hit two batters.

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Conor Davis brought Estes home with a double to center field.

Closer Nolan Hoffman then earned his 14th save, allowing an unearned run in the ninth.

Zach Deloach went 3 for 3 with two RBIs for Texas A&M, which took a 3-0 lead on Braden Shewmake’s two-run double in the sixth.

Auburn ace Casey Mize (9-5) pitched into the eighth in his third straight loss. He is projected as a possible No. 1 overall draft pick.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Alabama school district probes possible bullying by teacher

(MPS)

A school district in Alabama is investigating after a video surfaced that reportedly shows a Jefferson Davis High School teacher making fun of a student.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that the video captures a student alone in a classroom with a teacher while a woman narrates and taunts the student. The woman taunts the student for being alone. The man teaching the student laughs throughout the video at the woman’s commentary.

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The woman narrating the video uploaded it to Snapchat. A woman who claims to be the student’s sister shared it online Wednesday and identified the narrator. Montgomery Public Schools Senior Communication Officer Tom Salter says the school cannot confirm the narrator’s identity until an investigation into the matter is complete.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Judge won’t cut bail for Alabama ex-football player in beating death

(Lauderdale County Sheriff)

A judge won’t lower the bail set for a former University of North Alabama football player charged with murder.

The Times Daily reports that Lauderdale County Circuit Judge Gil Self denied the request Wednesday of Khadedryck Devonte Todd.

Todd is charged with beating 21-year-old Anthony Coleman of Florence on April 2 in a convenience store parking lot.

Coleman died 10 days later from injuries sustained in the attack.

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Self says he won’t overrule the recommendation by grand jurors that the 23-year-old Todd be held on $150,000 bail.

Todd is also charged with hitting or shoving a woman and marijuana possession.

Todd is originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He was an offensive lineman for North Alabama last year and was projected to start this year. The team dropped him after his arrest.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Rural Alabama school closes suddenly as board balks at repair costs

(Paint Rock Valley HS)

A northeast Alabama school district is closing a rural school instead of paying for repairs.

Thursday is the last day for Paint Rock Valley High School in Jackson County, after board members voted 3-2 to close the K-12 school last week.

The move was unexpected after Jackson County leaders kept open the 74-student school last year. But board members balked at $200,000 in needed repairs to the historic school. Board members say they feared more expensive repairs in the future.

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Jackson County superintendent Kevin Dukes tells news outlets that parents can choose between schools at Skyline and Woodville for their children next year. He says students will have more opportunities at larger schools.

Dukes says the school board could lease the vacant building for use as a community center.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Alabama city again refuses to release body camera recordings

(Huntsville Police/Facebook)

Officials in one of Alabama’s largest cities stand by their refusals to release recordings from police body cameras.

WHNT-TV reports the city has once again refused a request to release a recording.

The latest request came after a bystander’s video appeared to show a Huntsville police officer punching a suspect while trying to make an arrest. The department cleared the officer Monday, saying the video was part of a longer struggle.

Huntsville City Attorney Trey Riley says recordings are a “public record to a certain extent” but that doesn’t mean they’re “automatically available.”

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Riley says Huntsville will generally withhold recordings while a criminal case is ongoing.

The lawyer says the public can see videos if a case goes to trial, but acknowledges most cases don’t go to trial.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

2 struck by car in Birmingham parking lot after argument

(YHN/Pixabay)

Police are searching for a driver they say tried to run over a woman and her daughter in a fast food parking lot.

Birmingham police tell news outlets an unnamed 40-year-old woman was hospitalized Wednesday with serious injuries after she and her 21-year-old daughter were struck at a McDonald’s.

Witnesses say one of the victims had been arguing with a second woman and spit on the second woman’s car. That’s when police say the second woman hit the mother and daughter with the red car she was driving.

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The red car left the scene and hit another vehicle. Police are also trying to determine whether a gun was fired and whether that is linked to the hit-and-run.

The driver of the red car could face felony assault charges.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 days ago

Auburn defeats Ole Miss 9-3 in SEC Tournament

(Auburn Athletics)

Edouard Julien hit a grand slam Wednesday as No. 7 seed Auburn defeated No. 2 seed Mississippi 9-3 in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Auburn (39-19) remains in the winners’ bracket in the double-elimination portion of the tournament and faces No. 11 seed Texas A&M (38-19) on Thursday. Ole Miss (42-15) meets No. 3 seed Georgia (37-18) in an elimination game Thursday.

Auburn scored nine runs in the final three innings to rally from a 2-0 deficit.

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Julien capped the outburst with his grand slam in the ninth. On Tuesday, he had the game-winning hit in the 11th inning against Kentucky.

Auburn’s Conor Davis and Jay Estes each drove in two runs. Ole Miss’ Jacob Adams scored twice.

Auburn starter Tanner Burns (6-4) allowed three runs — one earned — in seven innings. Ole Miss reliever Greer Holston (2-1) took the loss after allowing one unearned run without retiring a batter.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 days ago

Alabama teacher charged with having sex with student

(Tuscaloosa PD)

A statement from police says 54-year-old Meta Lovely of Duncanville surrendered Wednesday. She is being held on $30,000 bond on a charge of having sex with a student less than 19 years old.

Lovely worked as a substitute teacher at Bryant High School.

Police say they were told about a possible improper relationship between a school employee and a student on May 2.

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A lawyer representing Lovely, Mary Turner, says her client is innocent and “adamantly” denies the allegations.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 days ago

Rain from Gulf floods Southeast; tropical storm possible in Alabama

(W.Miller/YHN)

Heavy rains from the Gulf of Mexico are causing flooding in the Southeastern United States ahead of what could become the season’s first tropical storm.

The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday a disturbance has a 60 percent chance of becoming a subtropical or tropical system by Memorial Day. The rain is forecast to continue even if it doesn’t.

As much as 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain is possible in south Florida, where some areas had more than 14 inches (35 centimeters) of rain last weekend.

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Similar rain totals are possible from southeastern Louisiana to central Georgia. In eastern Alabama, officials say downpours already have covered roads and bridges in Lee County.

The system will be named “Alberto” if it strengthens into the first tropical storm of the 2018 season.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 days ago

No parole for Neelley, convicted murderer in Alabama slaying of Georgia teen

(AL DOC)

Alabama’s parole board is refusing to free a woman convicted of killing a 13-year-old girl who was abducted from a north Georgia shopping mall.

The board refused parole for 53-year-old Judith Ann Neelley on Wednesday following emotional testimony from relatives of the victim, Lisa Ann Millican.

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Calvin Millican says Neelley should have gotten death for killing his sister.

Millican was abducted from a mall in Rome, Georgia, in 1982. She was sexually assaulted, injected with drain cleaner, shot and dumped into a canyon in northeast Alabama.

An attorney for Neelley, Julian McPhillips, says Neelley was “brainwashed” by her older husband into committing the crime.

Neelley became eligible for parole consideration after then-Gov. Fob James commuted her death sentence. She will be sent to Georgia if ever freed in Alabama.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 days ago

Former Alabama shelter director sentenced for animal cruelty

(B. Taylor/Facebook)

The former director of an Alabama animal shelter will avoid jail time after being convicted of animal cruelty.

Lawrence County Circuit Judge Mark Craig sentenced 84-year-old Bobbie Taylor to two years of probation and fined her $11,100 during a hearing Tuesday.

The Decatur Daily reports he also ordered her to undergo mental health treatment and barred her from possessing more than 10 animals.

Taylor was charged after police raided the animal shelter she was operating for the Lawrence County Commission in June 2015. Authorities say they found malnourished, neglected and sick animals living in overcrowded conditions.

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Jurors convicted Taylor of six counts of second-degree animal cruelty involving dogs in February.

Defense lawyer Tony Hughes says he’s thankful Taylor isn’t going to jail, but they still plan to appeal her conviction.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 days ago

UGA tennis player off team after drug charges in Alabama

(Pixabay)

A University of Georgia tennis player has been arrested in Alabama on drug charges.

Georgia coach Manny Diaz told the Athens Banner-Herald in a statement Monday that 20-year-old sophomore Nathan Ponwith was arrested Saturday in Baldwin County. Diaz says Ponwith has been dismissed from the team.

The county sheriff’s office website says Ponwith was charged with possession of a controlled substance (hallucinogen), second-degree possession of marijuana and public intoxication. He was released from jail Sunday after posting a $5,000 bond.

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It is unclear if Ponwith has a lawyer.

The Scottsdale, Arizona, native was the 2017 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year, and worked his way to be the Bulldogs’ No. 1 singles player. He usually played in the third and fourth spots during the team’s 13-11 record in 2017-18 season.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 days ago

Auburn beats Kentucky 4-3 in 11 innings in SEC Tournament

(AU Athletics)

Edouard Julien singled home the winning run in the 11th inning Tuesday as No. 7 seed Auburn beat Kentucky 4-3 to eliminate the 10th-seeded Wildcats from the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Auburn (38-19) advances to the double-elimination portion of the tournament and faces No. 2 seed Mississippi (42-14) on Wednesday.

Julien’s one-out single to center field off Zack Thompson (2-1) scored pinch runner Cade Evans from second base. Brett Wright singled and Brendan Venter walked to start the winning rally.

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Kentucky (34-22) wasted a brilliant performance from Sean Hjelle, who struck out nine and allowed just four hits in 7 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Kole Cottam hit a solo homer for Kentucky and had a game-tying RBI double with two outs in the ninth inning.

Auburn’s Will Holland had a solo shot and scored twice. Freshman Cody Greenhill (4-2) allowed Cottam’s game-tying double but pitched three innings of scoreless relief.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 days ago

Rabid fox attacks golfer, groundskeeper at Alabama club

(Rock Creek/FB)

Police say a rabid fox bit a golfer and a groundskeeper at an Alabama golf club.

AL.com cites a release from Fairhope police that says the male golfer reported being bitten as he stepped out of his golf cart at Rock Creek Golf Club on Sunday afternoon. A groundskeeper was then bitten while trying to catch the fox Monday morning.

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The golfer was hospitalized for treatment.

Fairhope Animal Control ended up catching the fox, which tested positive for rabies at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. Both bite victims were notified of the fox’s rabies status and advised to take appropriate treatment.

The victims’ current conditions have not been reported.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 days ago

Alabama doctor acquitted in rock guitarist’s overdose death

Dr. Richard Snellgrove (ESIM)

Jurors acquitted an Alabama physician accused of prescribing drugs that killed a former guitarist for rock band 3 Doors Down.

The not guilty verdict was returned Monday in the case of Dr. Richard Snellgrove, court documents show. Snellgrove had been indicted on 13 counts of unlawful distribution of drugs and health care fraud tied to the 2016 death of Matthew Roberts.

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Prosecutors said Snellgrove prescribed drugs to Roberts even though he knew Roberts struggled with addiction. Snellgrove’s lawyer, Dennis Knizley, said the physician’s actions were reasonable and prosecutors targeted Snellgrove because Roberts was famous.

Knizley said text messages introduced by the defense at trial showed that Roberts was seeking illegal drugs in addition to medications he got from Snellgrove. The defense argued that alone showed Roberts’ death couldn’t be hung on Snellgrove.

“He was obtaining and abusing street drugs at the same time he was obtaining drugs and to a certain degree deceiving Dr. Snellgrove,” Knizley told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Richard Moore did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Roberts was a founding member of 3 Doors Down when the rock group began in 1996 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He co-authored the band’s hit song “Kryptonite,” which in 2001 was nominated for a Grammy award for best rock song. Roberts left the band after its 2012 European tour, checking into rehab the same year. He was found dead in August 2016 in a hotel hallway in West Bend, Wisconsin, where he had gone to perform a charity concert.
Snellgrove had treated Roberts as early as 2005, and prosecutors argued that Snellgrove prescribed escalating amounts of medication in a way that was imprudent. Knizley described his client as a “good person and a good doctor” and said federal prosecutor had “wrecked” his reputation and medical practice.

U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose on Thursday had dismissed four of the charges against Snellgrove relating to prescriptions he wrote to Jeremy Ryals, Roberts’ roommate and cousin. Prosecutors had alleged that Snellgrove knew the drugs were really for Roberts, but Knizley said prosecutors never proved those claims.

Jurors began deliberating on the remaining counts Friday after a two-week trial.

Roberts’ family is also suing Snellgrove, Rite Aid Corp. and others in a civil lawsuit in state court in Alabama. That case was stayed pending the outcome of Snellgrove’s criminal case.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 days ago

Police identify Alabama man found in truck in river crash

(The Gadsden Times/YouTube)

Police in Alabama have identified man whose body was found in a pickup truck that plunged into a river after driving off a bridge.

Authorities say 56-year-old Bobby Lee Benefield of the Ball Play community in Etowah County was identified after the truck was removed from the Coosa River at Gadsden on Monday.

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Investigators haven’t determined whether anyone else was in the vehicle at the time of the crash. And it’s unclear why the pickup crossed lanes of traffic before hitting the guardrail and going into the water.

Divers found the struck upside down at a depth of 22 feet (6.7 meters).

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 days ago

Alabama governor opposes release of Judith Ann Neelley, convicted in slaying of Georgia teen

(AL DOC, Ivey Campaign)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is opposing parole for a woman convicted of killing a Georgia teenager more than 35 years ago.

Ivey is urging the state’s parole board to reject an early release for Judith Ann Neelley.

Members are scheduled to consider her case on Wednesday.

Neelley was convicted with her husband of killing 13-year-old Lisa Ann Millican, who was abducted from a mall in Rome, Georgia, in 1982. The girl was sexually assaulted, injected with drain cleaner, shot and dumped into a canyon in northeast Alabama.

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Neelley was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die, but Alabama Gov. Fob James commuted Neelley’s death sentence to life in 1999.

Neelley’s lawyer said she wanted to waive the hearing, but paperwork wasn’t filed and it’s scheduled in Montgomery.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 days ago

Alabama sues over undocumented residents in US Census

(Pixabay)

Alabama’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, challenging the longstanding practice of including immigrants living in the country illegally in U.S. Census counts that are used to determine congressional districts.

In the lawsuit filed Monday, Attorney General Steve Marshall argues that the predicted 2020 census numbers will cause Alabama to lose a congressional seat, and thus an electoral vote, to a state with a “larger illegal alien population.” Along with the state, U.S. Rep Mo Brooks of Alabama is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, filed against the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau.

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It has been a longstanding practice to include all U.S. residents, both citizens and noncitizens, in the census, which also determines the number of congressional seats for each state. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against two Texas residents who argued their votes were diluted by the practice of using the “whole population” to draw legislative district lines.

“As the Framers of the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment comprehended, representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote,” the court ruled.

Nonetheless, Alabama is seeking to have the practice declared unconstitutional. The state argues it violates existing statutes that “require a census enumeration of the total of legally present resident population.”

“Congressional seats should be apportioned based on the population of American citizens, not illegal aliens,” Brooks said in a statement. “After all, this is America, not the United Nations.”

On the other end of the political spectrum, mostly Democratic states have expressed concern that immigrants will be undercounted in the 2020 census as a result of a decision by President Donald Trump’s administration to include the question about citizenship status.

Seventeen states are seeking to have the question declared unconstitutional, based on fears that it will deter immigrants, including those in mixed-status households, from participating in the census and dilute representation in those states.

This story was updated by the AP at 2:20 p.m.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 days ago

Alabama school: No punishment over racist video

(Central High School)

A southeast Alabama school system says it can’t punish students who are seen chanting a racial epithet and cursing the NAACP in a video on social media.

Phenix City Schools superintendent Randy Wilkes told a news conference Monday the video showing five young men is “terribly offensive.” But he says it doesn’t have any apparent connection to area schools, so the teens can’t be punished.

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The Phenix City-Russell County NAACP is asking the system to show it doesn’t condone the behavior shown in the Snapchat video, which depicts young men riding in a car as they spell out a racial slur in unison.

Wilkes says principals at two schools met with parents of the students after learning of the video. He declined to disclose details of those conversations.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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