Politics & Government

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

City Explores Hosting Teams Displaced By Disasters

Aug 7, 2012
Ralph Daily / Flickr

Birmingham's mayor has commissioned a study to determine whether the city could be home to sports teams displaced by hurricanes and other natural disasters. The Birmingham News reports that Bravis Building Solutions was hired partly to research whether Birmingham has the capacity to serve as an evacuation city for pro teams when natural disasters strike their home cities. The study also explored the possibility of Birmingham hosting National Football League summer training camps. Recruiting some type of professional team to Birmingham has been among Mayor William Bell's goals.

As its stock tumbled today following word that New York State regulators have labeled it a "rogue institution" that allegedly hid about 60,000 secret transactions involving $250 billion in Iranian funds, Britain's Standard Chartered Bank strongly denied the accusations.

It "rejects the position or portrayal of facts as set out in the order," the bank said.

Tech President reminds us that one way to possibly figure out who will be a vice presidential pick is to watch the various contenders' Wikipedia pages in the days before such an announcement is likely.

Schedule Set For Special Alabama House Election

Aug 6, 2012
Sutherland Boswell / Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Robert Bentley has called a special election to fill the Alabama House seat vacated when Rep. Blaine Galliher of Gadsden joined the administration. Party primaries for the House District 30 seat will be held on Oct. 23, followed by any runoffs that are needed. The general election will be either Dec. 11 or Jan. 29, 2013, depending on whether there's a runoff. The district includes parts of Etowah and St. Clair counties. Galliher held the seat until he resigned to become Bentley's new legislative director.

Tuscaloosa Gets FEMA Grant For Warning System

Aug 6, 2012
ci.tuscaloosa.al.us / City of Tuscaloosa

The city of Tuscaloosa plans to begin using a system that will warn residents of threats ranging from tornadoes to chemical spills.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved a $124,000 grant for the city to implement an early warning system that sends alerts by telephones, pagers and text messages.

City officials say a computer linked to a phone system will send alerts to any resident who signs up for the service.

The system is similar to one that the University of Alabama uses to send alerts to students and staff members during an emergency.

OAK CREEK, Wis. (AP) — More details are emerging about yesterday's deadly shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Authorities say 40-year-old Army veteran Wade Michael Page walked into the suburban Milwaukee temple without saying a word and opened fire with a 9mm handgun that was purchased legally. They say he killed a woman and five men before being shot dead in an exchange of gunfire with a police officer. The police chief says that officer was shot eight to nine times at close range. He's in critical condition. Two other people were critically wounded.

The Board of Education in Baldwin County meets today to hire additional teachers and other employees before classes begin on Aug. 20. A school system spokesman told The Mobile Press-Register that enrollment has increased roughly 2 percent.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


Residents of several Alabama communities ravaged by last year's tornadoes are completing storm shelters with some help from federal money.

The Florence TimesDaily reports (http://bit.ly/NwmoHX) that the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved 100 individual shelters for Franklin County with the promise that it would cover 75 percent of the cost of the shelter, as long as 75 percent of the cost did not exceed $4,000.

Ex-Ala. Gov. Going Back To Prison For Bribery

Aug 3, 2012
Dave Martin / Associated Press

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is going back to prison.

Federal judge Mark Fuller sentenced Siegelman on Friday to 6 and a half years for his conviction on bribery and other charges. Earlier in court, Siegelman apologized for his actions.

Siegelman and former HealthSouth chief Richard Scrushy were convicted in 2006. They arranged $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman's campaign for a state lottery in exchange for the governor appointing Scrushy to an important hospital regulatory board.

Alabama Prisons To Scan Fingerprints Of Visitors

Aug 3, 2012
Exercise Tradewinds / Flickr

State prison officials say visitors to Alabama prisons will have their fingerprints scanned for security reasons.

The the policy begins this weekend.

Prison officials say the new system will improve security by making sure visitors are who they claim to be, and that the new system will also speed up the process of checking in.

Some are expressing concerns about the new system.

State Sen. Cam Ward, who chairs a joint legislative committee that oversees prisons, said he's troubled by the idea of fingerprinting people who have not broken laws.

Dave Martin / Associated Press

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman heads back to federal court in Montgomery today for a new sentencing hearing for his conviction on bribery and other charges.

A judge will decide Siegelman's new sentence and could order the 66-year-old former governor to immediately return to federal prison after more than four years of freedom. 

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. 

Late last month, counterterrorism officials discovered a disturbing video on YouTube that showed what appeared to be a faction of the Syrian rebel army standing in front of a fluttering black banner. The mysterious flag — which read "no god but God" in white Arabic cursive — is thought to be a reproduction of the Prophet Muhammad's battle flag. It has also become al-Qaida in Iraq's calling card in Syria.

Judge Delays Sentencing For Ala. Casino Lobbyist

Aug 2, 2012

A judge has delayed the last sentencing in Alabama's gambling corruption case. U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins granted a request Thursday from former Country Crossing casino lobbyist Jennifer Pouncy to delay her sentencing from Aug. 29 to Sept. 26. She sought the delay to allow more time to study a presentencing report by federal probation officers. That report is due Aug. 22. Pouncy pleaded guilty in 2010 to one count of conspiracy. She admitted offering bribes to legislators to support pro-gambling legislation.

Are Polls Good News For Either Candidate?

Aug 2, 2012



I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, we'll hear why some analysts are calling Mali, of all places, the Afghanistan of Africa. We'll ask NPR's West Africa's correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton about why this formerly stable democracy has so many in the region on edge. We'll have that conversation in just a few minutes.

taxfoundation.org / Tax Foundation

Alabama's seventh annual sales tax holiday for school-related items starts Friday. Items from pencils to computer equipment are exempt from the state's four percent sales tax as well as sales tax in participating counties and cities.

The holiday is expected to help businesses and customers alike but a new report says such holidays are poor tax policy. Joseph Henchman is vice president for legal and state projects for The Tax Foundation. He says when you get down to it, customers aren't really saving that much money.

The Alabama Department of Revenue says taxpayers should be on the lookout for an email scam that is using the department's name.

The emails say the taxpayer has been awarded gift cards or other prizes from the Department of Revenue. Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee says the department does not initiate communications with taxpayers through email. She said taxpayers should not reply to an email from someone who claims to represent the department and is seeking personal information.



It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

A damaging analysis has worked out the implications of Mitt Romney's plan to change the tax code. Romney says if elected, he would cut taxes, and do it in a way that does not expand the federal deficit.

It was just a year ago that the House rejected a deal with President Obama and threatened to allow the U.S. to default on debt obligations coming due. The Tea Party refusal to raise the debt ceiling led to a downgrade in U.S. credit and a selloff in the markets. NPR's David Welna reports on what's changed since then and what hasn't.

Testimony is scheduled to end Thursday in the racial-profiling suit against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff faces a class-action civil suit on behalf of Latino citizens and legal residents in Maricopa County.

The plaintiffs say deputies stopped and detained them because of the color of their skin. As lawyers fight Arpaio in the courtroom, activists outside are using the trial as a rallying point against the sheriff in his upcoming election.

'Adios Arpaio'

Republicans hope to win control of the U.S. Senate from Democrats in November, and one seat they have high hopes for is in Missouri.

Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill is facing a tough re-election fight. Outside conservative groups have already been running ads against her. On Tuesday, Republicans will select their candidate for the fall.

Meet The Candidates

In Neosho, Mo., on the edge of the Ozarks, summertime in an election year can only mean one thing: the Newton County Republican Party's watermelon fest.

Siegelman Lawyer Asks For Leniency In New Sentence

Aug 1, 2012
Dave Martin / Associated Press

An attorney for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman has asked a federal judge to not send Siegelman back to prison on Friday, but in a letter to supporters Siegelman says he may be returning to federal prison for a lengthy stay. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller originally sentenced Siegelman to more than seven years in prison for his 2006 conviction for bribery and other charges. Fuller is resentencing Siegelman because a federal appeals court dropped two of the charges.

Alabama Public TV COO Charles Grantham Resigns

Aug 1, 2012
aptv.org / Alabama Public Television

The chief operating officer for Alabama Public Television has resigned after two other top network executives were fired seven weeks ago. The 62-year-old Grantham says his resignation is expected to take effect at the end of August. Grantham says his resignation is in response to the June 12 firings of executive director Allan Pizzato, and deputy director and chief financial officer Pauline Howland. The Alabama Educational Television Commission, which runs APT, fired Pizzato and Howland because they said it wanted to change leadership. Grantham sent an open letter to Gov.

USPS Defaults On $5.5 Billion Payment To Treasury

Aug 1, 2012

For the first time ever, the United States Postal Service has defaulted on a payment to the Treasury.

The USPS warned of a default in a statement on Monday. It it would not make the $5.5 billion payment due today and that it would also default on a $5.6 billion payment due Sept. 30. Both of those payments are federally mandated and go toward prefunding retiree health benefits.

There was a 163,000-gain in the number of jobs on private payrolls in July, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report.

That's down from an estimated 172,000 boost in June (a number revised slightly from ADP's previous report of a 176,000-increase for that month).

Conservatives Rally Around Chick-fil-A

Aug 1, 2012

Chick-fil-A has been in the news lately, not because of its chicken sandwiches but thanks to comments by the fast food company's president opposing same-sex marriage.

Social media helped spread the story and some of the country's mayors urged Chick-fil-A not to come to their cities. This led conservatives, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, to call for the public to support the chain on Wednesday by eating at one of its restaurants.

Alabama Speaker To Lead Southern Legislative Group

Jul 31, 2012
Alabama House of Representatives

Alabama House Speaker Republican Rep. Mike Hubbard of Auburn has been elected chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference. Hubbard was elected chairman of the organization that includes legislators from 15 Southern states at the organization's annual meeting Tuesday in Charleston, W.Va. As chairman, Hubbard will be host of next year's meeting in Mobile. Hubbard was the unanimous choice to replace West Virginia House Speaker Rick Thompson as chairman. Hubbard said the conference provides quality assistance and research for legislators whether they are Republicans or Decmocrats.

Huntsville Students Want Campus Chick-fil-A Closed

Jul 31, 2012
maigrey / Flickr

Some students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville are calling for the campus Chick-fil-A restaurant to close after a company executive's comments caused an uproar in the debate over gay marriage. Members of UA Huntsville's Gay-Straight Alliance want the restaurant shut down. GSA Founder and President Heather Shelton said having the restaurant on campus is not consistent with the university's anti-discrimination policy. She said the group plans to take up the issue with Sodexo, which operates the campus Chick-fil-A. Another student, Adelle Sutton, disagrees.

Beer Firm: State OKs Brew With Controversial Name

Jul 31, 2012
Tim Pearce / Flickr

A beer distributor says Alabama's alcohol board has reversed an earlier decision to ban a beer over its name, and will now allow it to be sold in the state.

The Birmingham Beverage Co. said in a statement that Alabama's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will allow the sale of Dirty Bastard Beer.

State officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the decision.

It might be too early to say what the exact cause of India's latest massive power outage is, but in its simplest form, it probably has something to do with supply and demand –- not enough of the former and too much of the latter.

The outage, which left more than 670 million of the country's 1.2 billion people without power, snarled traffic, shut down electric trains and idled some businesses. Indian officials say they are rapidly restoring power, but it's unclear how soon the situation will be back to normal.

Get used to hearing the name Julian Castro. You're likely to be coming across it a lot in coming days and perhaps beyond.

President Obama chose Castro, the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio, to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September.