Politics & Government

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

Talk in Israel of a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities has reached a fever pitch. Last week brought the news of an alleged "war plan" leaked to a blogger. This week, a well-informed military correspondent in Jerusalem reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "determined" to attack Iran before the U.S. election.

If you vote, you might very well be confused about what the rules will be when you go to cast your ballot this fall. There's been a flood of new laws on things such as voter identification and early voting, and many of them are now being challenged in court.

Some cases could drag on until Nov. 6, Election Day, and beyond. The outcomes will affect voters, and maybe even the results.

Alabama Governor To Announce New Disaster Plans

Aug 23, 2012
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/#ISAAC / National Hurricane Center

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says state officials are keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Isaac in the Caribbean and will decide later if drastic measures are needed such as reversing interstate highway lanes or ordering massive evacuations.

Bentley also says if Isaac appears to threaten Alabama he will stay in the state and cancel plans next week to go to Tampa for the Republican National Convention.

Alabama Trust Fund Not Taking Stand On $437M Vote

Aug 23, 2012
http://governor.alabama.gov / Office of the Governor

The board that oversees the Alabama Trust Fund is not taking a position on whether voters should approve taking more than $437 million out of the fund to help operate state government.

The board chairman, Gov. Robert Bentley, said he did not ask the board to take a position during a meeting Thursday because the board manages the $2.3 billion fund, but it's up to voters to decide the issue in a statewide referendum Sept. 18.

Alabama's Homeland Security Steadily Losing Funds

Aug 23, 2012
http://www.dhs.alabama.gov/ / Ala. Department of Homeland Security

Officials with Alabama's Department of Homeland Security say the agency has been steadily losing funds during the past decade. The department's federal funding this year is less than one-tenth of what it was in 2003. Department officials say state funding — $374,000 this year — is used mostly to meet the demands of Alabama's immigration law. State-level homeland security departments sprang up across the U.S. in the months and years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

As the presidential election nears, Morning Edition is visiting swing counties in swing states for our series First and Main. We're listening to voters where they live — to understand what's shaping their thinking this election year.

Former Senator's Suit Seeks To Block Ala. Budget

Aug 22, 2012
Sutherland Boswell / Wikimedia Commons

A former State senator has filed a lawsuit in state court in Montgomery claiming that legislators violated the Alabama Constitution earlier this year by passing a 2013 budget that was not balanced. The 2013 General Fund budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, relies on a transfer of approximately $467 million from the Alabama Trust Fund into state coffers over the next three years. Voters must approve the transfer in a constitutional amendment on the ballot Sept. 18. If the amendment is rejected, the state budget would have to be cut significantly.

Gov. Bentley Sets Special Election For Ala. House Seat

Aug 22, 2012

Gov. Robert Bentley has set a special election schedule to fill the seat of Republican Rep. Elwyn Thomas of Oneonta before the Legislature's next regular session. Bentley selected Thomas last week to become executive director of the Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission effective Sept. 1. Thomas is resigning from the Alabama House on Aug. 31. Bentley announced Tuesday that major party candidates for the District 34 seat have until Sept. 7 to qualify with their parties. Primary elections will be Oct. 23 and a runoff, if necessary, on Dec. 11. Then the general election will be Jan. 29.

Fed Hints At More Action To Boost Economy

Aug 22, 2012

The Federal Reserve could take more steps to boost the struggling U.S. economy. That's according to minutes released Wednesday of the Federal Open Market Committee's July 31-Aug. 1 meeting.

"Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery," the minutes said. [PDF]


Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. is the only Democrat to sign up to run for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

The Democratic Party's deadline to sign up was noon Wednesday.

The Democratic Party began seeking a new candidate after a party committee disqualified the original Democratic nominee, Pelham attorney Harry Lyon, on Friday. Lyon said Wednesday that he plans to vote for Republican nominee Roy Moore as a matter of principle.

Dave Martin/Associated Press

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is appealing his prison sentence three weeks before he is scheduled to report to federal prison to complete a more than six-year sentence in a government corruption case. Siegelman's attorney filed the notice yesterday in U.S. District Court in Montgomery saying the former governor is appealing the sentencing to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Sutherland Boswell / Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Robert Bentley says he's pleased with how much of Alabama's immigration law got left intact by a federal appeals court, and he's uncertain whether the state will appeal the ruling.

Bentley commented Tuesday after assessing the ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

He said the appeals court left intact key provisions designed to keep illegal immigrants from getting jobs and state licenses.

Ala. Governor: Pay Back $146 M To Trust Fund

Aug 21, 2012
Sutherland Boswell / Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Robert Bentley says he and legislative leaders are committed to paying back the money if Alabama voters agree to take more than $437 million from a state trust fund to balance the state General Fund budget for three years.

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.