Politics & Government

Politics, elections, law, military and veteran's affairs

Justice Dept. Opens Civil Rights Unit In Alabama

Aug 21, 2012
www.justice.gov / Wikimedia Commons

The Justice Department is establishing a civil rights unit in Alabama after the state's crackdown on illegal immigration raised broader concerns about compliance with federal laws. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Perez said Tuesday fewer than 10 such units are located around the country. The nearest is in Memphis, Tennessee. Perez said the move is meant to ensure that the federal government has a continuing eye on civil rights issues in Alabama, which was a hotbed of unrest during the civil rights movement 50 years ago. The U.S.

With all its current troubles, Pakistan has not been attracting much foreign investment recently. In fact, China seems to be the only country that's prepared to pour money into Pakistan in a big way.

But a boost in Chinese investment has sparked resentment in southern Pakistan, where activists accuse China of trying to be a new colonial power. A bomb blast recently hit near the Chinese Consulate in Karachi — an ominous sign of the rising tensions.

Has The Damage Been Done For Todd Akin?

Aug 21, 2012

U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin apologized for his remarks about rape and pregnancy, but calls have intensified for him to withdraw. Plus, a new e-book claims the Obama campaign is in a constant state of conflict. Guest host Viviana Hurtado speaks with Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America and Joy-Ann Reid of TheGrio.com.



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Steve Inskeep. Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin was going to face trouble, no matter what. But it's Akin's fate that he also faces a deadline today.

GREENE: If he should withdraw from the U.S. Senate race by 5 o'clock Central Time this afternoon, it will be easy for party officials to name a replacement. And he is under pressure not to miss this opportunity.

Florida Atlantic University

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has issued a ruling today on Alabama's immigration law or HB56. The Court has thrown out the provision that required schools to collect data on the immigration status of students who enroll in school. The Court has also temporarily blocked two sections of the law, Section 10 and Section 27. Section 10 is also known as the "papers please" section. It makes it a state crime if an immigrant is not carrying an alien registration document. Section 27 forbids citizens from entering into contracts with illegal immigrants.

Birmingham Judge Signs Up For Ala. Chief Justice Race

Aug 20, 2012

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. has signed up to run as a Democrat for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

The Alabama Democratic Party disqualified its nominee, Pelham attorney Harry Lyon, on Friday over some statements he made. The party started seeking a replacement candidate on Monday. A party official said Vance signed up shortly after the party headquarters opened Monday morning. So far, he's the only one to sign up. The deadline is Wednesday. If more than one candidate signs up, the State Democratic Executive Committee will pick a nominee.

The killing Sunday in Afghanistan of an American soldier in what officials say was the latest in a series of "green on blue" attacks by Afghans in uniform against coalition personnel was the 10th in just the past two weeks.

There have been "30 such attacks so far this year, up from 11 in 2011," The Associated Press writes.


The executive board of Alabama Public Television voted unanimously to hire WVUA-TV General Manager Roy Clem as its new executive director. The selection follows the controversial firing of former APT Chief Allan Pizzato and one of his lieutenants. The oustre is reportedly due to disagreement between Pizzato and members of the APT board on the airing of conservative christian programming. Mr. Pizzato is suing the board on the grounds that his firing was in violation of state law.

Siegelman Has Long Odds On Obama Commutation

Aug 18, 2012
By Mike Disharoon / Wikimedia Commons

Several thousand people have signed a petition asking President Barack Obama to keep former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman from spending the next few years in prison. But Siegelman realizes the odds of getting a presidential commutation are about the same as winning a state lottery. More than 5,700 people convicted of federal crimes have asked Obama for a commutation of their sentences. Siegelman says only one has been approved. Despite the long odds, Siegelman says he's proud of his daughter for starting an online petition to ask the president to commute his sentence.

Alabama Democrats Remove Chief Justice Candidate

Aug 17, 2012
www.montgomeryadvertiser.com / Montgomery Advertiser

Alabama Democrats have removed Harry Lyon as their nominee for chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

A party committee made the decision Friday. It came after Lyon addressed party officials during a hearing in Birmingham. Lyon has made disparaging remarks about homosexuals and Republican opponent Roy Moore in interviews and on Facebook.

Lyon's statement to the panel veered from his personal Christian faith to claims of political wrongdoing going back decades. He says he didn't have much time to prepare a defense because his house was flooded and his dog died.

Alabama Jobless Rate Rises To 8.3 Percent

Aug 17, 2012
http://dir.alabama.gov / Alabama Dept. of Industrial Relations

Alabama's preliminary unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent in July, up from 7.8 percent in June. Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees announced the new jobless figures in a statement Friday. He said the state's jobless rate represents 179,535 unemployed persons, compared to 168,602 last month and 202,311 in July 2011. Surtees says the state agency sees more partial unemployment claims in July and December than any other month, and last month was no exception.

splcenter.org / Southern Poverty Law Center

The United States Commission on Civil Rights is in Birmingham today (August 17, 2012) to discuss the effects of the state's recently enacted immigration laws on the civil rights of individuals. The commission will mainly focus on the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Arizona's immigration law on other state's with similar legislation. Mary Bauer is the legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery and is one of the speakers at the hearing. She says the impact of Alabama's law has been far reaching.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday that he's paid a rate of at least 13 percent in taxes over the past 10 years. But the Obama campaign again called on Romney to release more tax returns. Guest host Jacki Lyden discusses this and other political news with Univision's Fernando Vila and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Craig Gilbert.

Florida Atlantic University

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is holding a public hearing about crackdowns on illegal immigration in Alabama and other states. The panel will meet in Birmingham on Friday to hear from both supporters and opponents of the laws. Speakers include Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who's pushed for such measures nationwide, and Republican state Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, a sponsor of Alabama's law. Critics of the measures are on the agenda, but they're complaining that members of what they call hate groups are being allowed to participate.



This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

For more than 30 years, Charles Daum made a living by defending people accused of run-of-the-mill crimes. Then he met a charismatic Washington, D.C.-area man charged with distributing cocaine.

What happened next is a plot worthy of a television crime drama.

The accused drug dealer, Delante White, turned the tables and helped convict his own defense lawyer of manufacturing evidence and putting on false testimony to help the drug dealer's case.

Former Democrat Davis To Address GOP Convention

Aug 16, 2012
Artur Davis campaign / Wikimedia Commons

Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis will address the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Davis served as Barack Obama's Alabama campaign chairman four years ago and gave the seconding speech for Obama's nomination at the Democratic National Convention. But the Republican National Convention announced Thursday that Davis will speak later this month at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., to support Mitt Romney.

Davis lost Alabama's Democratic primary for governor in 2010. Then he moved to Virginia and switched parties.



This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we go to the Democratic Republic of Congo where a rebellion has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Could it lead to a wider regional war? We'll ask.

Update at 11:35 a.m. ET. Charges Filed:

The man arrested for opening fire at the Washington, D.C., offices of the Family Research Council on Wednesday faces charges of "assault with intent to kill" and illegal transportation of a gun and ammunition. He has not been charged with attempting a terrorist act.

In a statement emailed a short time ago to reporters, the Justice Department says:



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

When Mitt Romney put Paul Ryan on the ticket, it had the potential to reset the presidential race - that is, offer a choice between two radically different visions of government, in a campaign seemingly stuck in tit-for-tat attacks over the economy. So far, though, the campaigns have a somewhat different fight on their hands. NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

longislandwins / Flickr

Beginning today, undocumented immigrants under the age of 31 can apply for so-called "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals."

The program is designed to allow migrants to live and work in the U-S openly without fear of deportation.

State Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier says this will create a bureaucratic hurdle for Alabama law enforcement and businesses. Collier says since the policy change potentially could apply to anyone between 16 and 30 years of age, this new layer encompasses a substantial portion of the undocumented alien population.

Judge Refuses To Block New Ala. Bail Bond Fees

Aug 15, 2012

A Montgomery County judge has declined to temporarily block a new state law that adds fees to bail bonds. Several individuals and bail bond companies filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the law, which added a $35 fee to every bail bond. Circuit Judge Tracy McCooey denied a preliminary injunction, but still must rule on other issues in the suit. The Legislature passed the law to provide money for Alabama's court system. The plaintiffs say it infringes on the constitutional right to bail.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Mitt Romney is coming to Alabama to raise money for his Republican presidential campaign.

The former Massachusetts governor will be in Birmingham for a reception being held tonight at an exclusive private club overlooking the city.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

One of the candidates is House Speaker John Boehner's close friend and golfing buddy.

The other is an ally of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Both have their roots in rural Iowa, have long served together in the U.S. House, and are pretty darn well-liked by their constituents.

But Iowa, the focus of the political world this week, lost a House seat in congressional redistricting that came after the 2010 census.

By telling a racially mixed audience in Virginia on Tuesday that the Republican ticket's economic plans would "put y'all back in chains," Vice President Biden sparked the latest campaign controversy.

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney called it an "outrageous charge" and said called on President Obama to "take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago."



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

You could say that the presidential campaign got a jolt of energy this week. President Obama was in Iowa yesterday, touting the electric potential of wind power. Republican rival Mitt Romney was in Ohio, talking up that old standby, coal. Each man accused the other of standing in the way of a rival energy source.

NPR's Scott Horsley has more.

Timothy Courtois' family had been worried about him for weeks. They repeatedly told police in Biddeford, Maine, that the 49-year-old was off his meds for bipolar disorder. And police were also told he had guns. But still, because he wasn't doing anything that rose to the legal definition of imminent threat, police said their hands were tied.

Young people brought to the U.S. illegally began applying for a deportation deferral and a two-year work permit on Wednesday. It's the boldest immigration program yet by the Obama administration — putting into effect elements of the so-called DREAM Act even though it has not passed Congress.

Lizbeth Mateo has high school and college diplomas from California and evidence that she has been in the country continuously for at least five years. What she wants now is assurance that she won't be deported.

Broke Ala. County Delays Decision On Indigent Care

Aug 14, 2012

Commissioners in bankrupt Jefferson County have delayed a decision on whether to close its charity hospital serving the poor. Commission President David Carrington recessed a meeting indefinitely Tuesday after chaos erupted in the packed commission chamber. Demonstrators yelling and singing civil rights protest songs prevented members from discussing the future of Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. The hospital is costing the county millions of dollars annually, and supporters of the shutdown say the county can't afford it.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate may help energize support from conservative voters who like his tough approach to overhauling the federal budget.

But there's a risk that Ryan may turn off an important voting bloc: senior citizens.