Politics & Government

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

Alabama National Guard Investigated for Improper Travel

Jul 22, 2012
photo of military plane - KC-135 Stratotanker
U.S. Air Force / Wikimedia Commons

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) —

The Alabama National Guard has launched an investigation into a recent deployment from Birmingham to England to determine whether guard personnel improperly took relatives along on military aircraft.

The Birmingham News reports Berryhill has confirmed the investigation. The guard declined to elaborate on the nature of the allegations.

At issue are members of the 117th Air Refueling Wing based at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

This week, NPR News released the results of its first poll for the 2012 general election season. The survey, by a bipartisan polling team, yielded several interesting results, including that the Affordable Care Act is still stirring deep political division weeks after the Supreme Court upheld the law's constitutionality and that President Obama and Mitt Romney are in a statistical tie in 12 key battleground states.

Democratic Legislators Say AL Can't Afford Session

Jul 21, 2012
Alabama House of Representatives / legislature.state.al.us

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) —

Democratic leaders in the Alabama House and Senate have issued a news release asking Republican Gov. Robert Bentley to postpone calling a special session of the Legislature.

But a spokeswoman for the governor says Bentley has nothing to postpone.

The release Friday by House Minority Leader Rep Craig Ford of Gadsden and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Roger Bedford of Russellville said the state can't afford to call a special session at this time.

Law Firm Files Complaint Concerning APT Firing

Jul 20, 2012
photo Allan Pizzato
APTV.org

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) —

A Birmingham law firm has filed an initial complaint concerning the decision to fire the former executive director of Alabama Public Television and another top executive.

Attorneys Mark White and Augusta Dowd of the firm White, Arnold and Dowd said in a statement Thursday that they filed the complaint for their client Alan Pizzato, who was fired by the Alabama Educational Television Commission. The complaint was filed in the Jefferson County Circuit Court.

(Updated @ 1:11 pm ET)

As deeply as the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., shocked the national conscience, they also quickly affected the U.S. political scene, with both major party presidential campaigns ripping up their scripts for Friday, and the mayor of the nation's largest city using the issue to put the candidates on the spot on gun control.

It's not just states where abortion is heating up as an issue this election year. Congress is getting back into the fray, too.

The latest European country to ask for financial support will get substantial assistance. Spain's ailing banks will receive billions of dollars from other European countries, as Spain wobbles on the edge of a financial cliff.

Gay Pride Marchers In San Diego To Make History

Jul 20, 2012

Transcript

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Mention Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and a lot of people still remember his 2009 Republican response to President Obama's first address to Congress. In a voice often compared to Kenneth the Page on 30 Rock, Jindal addressed viewers across the nation as if they were primary school students.

North Korea's army has been swearing oaths of loyalty to leader Kim Jong Un after he was given the new title of marshal of the nation, cementing his position. This comes just days after the army chief was dismissed for illness. Analysts suspect these announcements are masking far deeper changes, but there's disagreement about what it means.

Take one guy with an abiding interest in politics, another guy with website-building skills and throw in the shared desire to get people more engaged in the political process, and you have the ingredients for an interactive site called ISideWith.com.

The site's purpose is to show you which presidential candidate's views most align with yours by running you through a short quiz that asks your stance on various policy issues, then determines which candidate most agrees with you.

Now that a federal judge has ruled that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Rutherford County, Tenn., can open, the mosque's imam says muslims elsewhere should take notice.

Foreign Policy: The End Of The Political Solution

Jul 19, 2012

Michael Weiss is research director of the Henry Jackson Society.

A. Following the controversy-crazy U.S. presidential election of 2000, in which the Supreme Court was drafted to determine the outcome, there have been efforts by various groups to reform the country's electoral system. However, "we have not changed much of substance really since the 2000 debacle," says Norman Ornstein, a co-writer of the 2010 Election Reform Project report.

He was "looking like any other tourist," as NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro said on Morning Edition.

One day after three members of his inner circle were killed in an explosion, opposition fighters in Syria are continuing to put pressure on the regime of President Bashar Assad as clashes with government forces draw near to the his palace in Damascus, residents tell Reuters.

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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The civil rights organization co-founded by Martin Luther King Junior meets in Sanford, Florida today for its annual convention. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference has struggled in recent years with leadership battles and declining membership. Now members want to rebrand the SCLC. Here's NPR's Kathy Lohr.

The self-proclaimed "Toughest Sheriff in America" is facing one of his toughest tests. A trial begins Thursday morning in Phoenix accusing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of violating the civil rights of Latino citizens and legal U.S. residents. The class-action civil suit says the sheriff went over the line in his efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

Ten members of the U.S. military who were involved in the Secret Service prostitution scandal have received punishment but will not face criminal charges.

NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Those disciplined include seven soldiers and two Marines. They received administrative punishment that could include penalties such as loss of pay.

"Another Air Force member has been reprimanded and investigations are continuing against two Navy sailors.

"Officials say there will be no criminal charges.

Authorities in Tuscaloosa are piecing together what led to a shooting at a downtown bar that left seventeen people injured.  

This is how the day ended.

“I’d like to report to the media and the public that we do have a suspect in custody at this time,” says Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson

This is how it started.

“At approximately 12:29 am, the Tuscaloosa Police Department started receiving 9-1-1 calls concerning an individual who was shooting at the Copper Top Bar.”

police photo, Nathan van Wilkins
Tuscaloosa Police Department / http://www.facebook.com/TuscaloosaPoliceDepartment

3:49 p.m.
Nathan Van Wilkins, 44 years old, of Northport has been charged with 1 count of Attempted Murder and placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on a $100,000.00 Bond. Investigators are currently obtaining 16 more warrants for Attempted Murder and 1 warrant for Shooting into an Occupied Building. Once the warrants are obtained Wilkins will have a $1,800,000.00 Bond.

1:00 p.m.
Jasper police have shooting suspect in custody after he surrendered to authorities.  APR News to bring more updates as they develop.

Alabama, Georgia, Missouri Water Trails Get Honor

Jul 16, 2012
Dave Stone / Flickr

Water trails in Georgia, Missouri and Alabama are among three designated Monday by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to be National Water Trails.

Purpose of the designations is to encourage state, local and federal governments to work together to increase water-based outdoor recreation, to promote tourism and help local economies.

PCI Gaming / Poarch Band of Creek Indians

Wind Creek Casino, owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, is at the heart of rising tension between the tribe and Escambia County commissioners. Robert McGhee is the Governmental Affairs advisor for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. He says since the casino opened the tribe has experienced a large boon in revenue. McGhee says a fact that hasn’t been lost on the county…

Pretty soon we'll be obsessing full time over Mitt Romney's running mate selection, but until then I thought I'd weigh in one on Veepstakes story that's been making the rounds in recent days.

Republican and Democratic strategists tell NPR that most of the estimated $4 billion to be spent by the campaigns, political action committees and others on the 2012 presidential race will make no difference in the outcome.

President Obama and his campaign are being "dishonest" when they attack his record as a business executive, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said this morning on Fox & Friends as a new week on the presidential campaign trail began where the last one left off.

Nearly Half of Alabama Declared Drought Emergency

Jul 13, 2012
picture of dry river bed
taigasylvan / Flickr.com

The U.S. secretary of agriculture has declared a drought emergency in about half of Alabama's counties.

Gov. Robert Bentley and state Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said the declaration by Secretary Thomas Vilsack makes farmers in 33 counties eligible for low-interest federal loans.

Uzbek Man Gets More Than 15 years For Obama Threat

Jul 13, 2012

A federal judge in Alabama has sentenced a man from Uzbekistan to more than 15 years in prison for plotting to kill President Barack Obama.

U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon imposed the term Friday on Ulugbek Kodirov (OO'-legh-bek KAH'-duh-rahv). He faced up to 30 years in prison.

A defense lawyer argued the 22-year-old Kodirov has accepted responsibility for his actions and is trying to straighten out his life.

Feds want Alabama to repay $5.1 million

Jul 12, 2012
U.S. Forest Service / Wikipedia Commons

The U.S. Forest Service says it will soon send the Alabama Forestry Commission a bill for $5.1 million due to unsubstantiated spending from a federal grant.

The notice was contained in a letter from the service's chief financial officer, Thelma Strong, to State Forester Linda Casey. Strong said the state has not adequately addressed unsupported costs.

Casey says the federal government is misunderstanding Alabama's accounting procedures for the grant, and her agency doesn't owe anything.

Fake Pot Is A Real Problem For Regulators

Jul 12, 2012

This week, President Obama signed a law banning synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs. Dozens of states and local governments have already tried to outlaw fake marijuana, which has been blamed for hundreds of emergency room visits and a handful of fatalities.

But the bans have proved largely ineffective, and there are fears that the federal law won't be any different.

Synthetic marijuana looks a bit like dried grass clippings. It's readily available on the Internet and in convenience stores and smoke shops, where it's sold as herbal incense or potpourri.

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