Tag: politics

Doug Jones packs out Anniston meet and greet

JoAnna MitchellStaff Reporter

“All across the state, excitement is building for this race. There is just an excitement brewing for change,” said Democrat Doug Jones, opening his speech to a cheering crowd at Classic Too on Noble Street in downtown Anniston this Tuesday, November 7. “It’s not about me. It’s not about Roy Moore,” said Jones, referring to his controversial Republican opponent. “It’s about you. It’s about every man, woman and child in Alabama who wants to see this state go forward, not backward.”

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Doug Jones

 

With the whole nation turning its eye to the upcoming December 12 election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vacant senate seat, Doug Jones has been putting in a good deal of footwork. Travelling across the state to meet citizens,  Jones has learned a lot about what issues are important to the every-day Alabamian. He has gained valuable insight into what the citizens of Alabama are hoping to get out of our next representative.

“My experience with the people in this state is that we have so much more in common than we do that divides us,” Jones said. Jones believes that the most important issue to most Alabamians is healthcare.

“People want good healthcare,” Jones said, eliciting a round of applause.  “The Affordable Care Act was never meant to be the end of the discussion. It was supposed to be a work in progress, but we have to find ways to make it better.”

Jones acknowledged that work needs to be done to help bring down insurance premiums while continuing to provide healthcare to Alabama’s struggling citizens: “We’ve got to continue to make sure that people talk about healthcare, that we quit playing political football with your health.”

Jones believes that another issue important to Alabama is building up the state’s manufacturing job opportunities.

“We have an opportunity to help put this state’s best foot forward,” said Jones. “To bring in jobs, to expand jobs, and to do it in a way that saves the planet and is environmentally friendly, but also lifts the wages of the people in this state, and while we lift those wages, to make sure that women get the same pay.”

Jones wants to help the state’s middle class by bringing back these manufacturing jobs, along with other business. He believes we can do so through education and with good workforce development. He believes that “putting the best foot forward” will attract businesses and other people to the great state of Alabama.

“The people of this state are saying ‘no more’ to the divisiveness, ‘no more’ to treating people like second class citizens. The bottom line is the people of this state are saying No Moore!”

After his speech, Jones personally met with nearly everyone at the rally and ended the event with a brief meeting with the press.

“I think to just throw cold water on it. Just tamp everything down with the rhetoric and make sure people start talking to one another and reach across the aisle and reach within my own party to find the things working with healthcare and examine those things that are not working so that we can find the common ground and ways to fix a broken healthcare system. I think we can do that with honor and civility. I think that is the only way we can fix this broken healthcare system,” Jones said in response to being asked what he felt he could do in the senate to put an end to the multiple failed attempts at repealing the ACA.

After being asked what he would say to millennials, a voting age group with notoriously low voter turnout, to get them to the polls, Jones said, “You’re not always going to be young. Sooner or later you will be my age and you will need to worry about Medicare. You’re going to need to worry about social security. You’re going to need to make sure that your children are educated and that there are hospitals in the community. I would also tell them to look at the elections that we’ve had the last two or three cycles. Elections have consequences. They have short term consequences, and they have long term consequences. I would tell them to examine the issues, really study. Millennials do that every day. They look at the issues that affect them every day and they make decisions, whether its their jobs, family, or education. They need to look at the electoral process in the same way. A vote is an investment in the future. As much as they need to save money for retirement now, they need to be investing by voting.”

For more information on Doug Jones and his platform visit dougjonesforsenate.com.

Charges filed in Mueller investigation

JoAnna Mitchell, Staff Reporter

An investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has produced its first charges against several individuals connected with the Trump campaign on Monday, October 30. This is the first official confirmation that someone involved with President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign turned to Russia to obtain damaging information on his opponent Hillary Clinton.

George Papadopoulos, foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his meetings with an individual believed to have “had substantial connections to Russian government officials.” The investigation unearthed that this individual, a professor, offered him thousands of emails by and about Clinton.

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George Papadopoulos (left) (photo via ABC News)

Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, and his associate Rick Gates were also indicted on charges of money laundering and illegally working with pro-Russian factions in the Ukraine. Both supplied a not guilty plea and were placed under house arrest. The bond for Manafort was set at $10 million and $5 million for Gates.

Manafort has been charged with 9 counts of conspiracy, money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, making false statements and failing to disclose foreign banking activity. Gates received 8 counts on the same charges. They could spend up to 40 years in prison and face millions of dollars in fines.

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Paul Manafort (photo via The New York Times)

Both individuals were revealed to have used their illegally earned income to live lavishly, without paying taxes. One report from the New York Times estimates that Manafort spent over $800,000 on luxury clothing over a 6-year period, while Gates is alleged to have spent a good portion of his money on redecorating his home and paying for his children’s tuition.

Mueller has notified the White House that six more aides close to the president will be sought for questioning including former press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus.

President Trump tweeted about the indictments, in an apparent attempt to shift focus to his former opponent: “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t crooked Hillary and the Dems the focus?????”

In another tweet, Trump reiterated his denial of any connections between him and Moscow: “Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”

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The tweets issued by President Donald Trump in response to Mueller’s indictments on Monday, October 30 (photo via Twitter)

 

 

 

Roy Moore speaks at JSU, goes on to win run-off election

JoAnna Mitchell Staff Reporter

The JSU College Republicans hosted Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Alabama Senator, on Sunday, September 24 at Houston Cole Library as part of his campaign. The speech came two days prior to his victory over President Trump’s endorsed candidate Luther Strange in Tuesday’s Republican primary run-off election. The Senate seat was left vacant by Jeff Sessions after Trump appointed him to the position of U.S. Attorney General.

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Roy Moore, former Alabama Supreme Court judge, spoke at JSU on September 24. (photo via WTVY)

Moore stated that “Washington is watching this election and attempting to control the vote in Alabama” and said that he believes the opposition against him is because he is “not part of the establishment.” Moore claimed that there is “a lot of fighting between parties” and that “nothing is getting done.” He stated that Trump’s agenda has stagnated but that with his victory, he could help repeal the Affordable Care Act and help the fight against “illegal aliens” coming to the country.

Moore said that despite threats against him and his family and slanderous ads paid for by the Luther Strange campaign he has run no negative ads against his former opponent.

In his speech, Moore stressed the importance of the limits of the Supreme Court and other governing bodies imposed by the Constitution and argued for smaller government. He claimed that the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage changed the definition of marriage and that is was not within the Court’s right to do so. Moore went on to compare the Supreme Court and its interference with “God-given law” to the genocide of people who wore eye-glasses during the reign of Pol-Pot and the Khmr Rouge in Cambodia.

“The government is out of control” said Moore.  His promise is to keep the government restricted to their powers given by the Constitution and preserve the Christian ideals this nation was founded on.

Moore stated that the government is trying to “flip the 1st Amendment so that God has nothing to do with it.” He claimed that “God gives you the right to disbelieve” and that without a Christian government we could have an alternative like an “Islamic form of government.” According to Moore, there is “no law against free exercise of religion and fulfillment of our duty to the Creator.”

The JSU College Republicans are a “fast growing political group dedicated to giving conservative students on campus a greater voice.”

According to the group’s vice president, Coleman Amason, the group contains “many different beliefs, just like any political organization should.”

Amason said the group does not endorse any one faction of the Republican Party.

“We stand for the obvious intentions this nation was founded on, like personal liberties, freedom from despotism and tyranny, government accountability, fiscal conservatism, freedom of speech and a much smaller government,” Amason said.

The group does not take public stances on issues that the party may be split on due to the differences of opinions within the group. The College Republicans meet every second and fourth Tuesday in Brewer Hall room 213 at 7:00 p.m.

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Members of JSU’s College Republicans, including President Jesse Battles (center)smile after  Roy Moore’s presentation on September 24. (JSU Republicans/Facebook)

“It wasn’t easy getting Roy Moore to come speak at JSU,” said Amason. “Our president, Jesse Battles, did a great job making sure every precaution was in place for the event.”

Amason’s personal response to the speech was that it was “one of the best he’s ever given.”

“Judge Moore consistently recited historical documents from America’s founding from memory, all while tying those documents into his unwavering faith in the U.S. Constitution,” Amason said.

Wesley Brewer, a 21-year-old sophomore at JSU who attended the speech said, “I did not appreciate the repetitive moral stance he took on almost every issue.”

Brewer agreed with parts of Moore’s speech, too: “I agreed with his ideals on the Constitution and its goal on limiting power to the three branches.”

Brewer appeared to have a moderate stance stating that he has mixed feelings if Moore is elected to the Senate.

“Although he stands for limited power,” said Brewer, “his moral stance may be a conflict of interest while in the Senate.”

Other students disagreed with Moore, such as Noah Davis, a sophomore and president of the Secular Student Alliance.

“The thing I disliked most about Moore’s speech was his reasoning behind his claim that America is a Christian nation,” Davis said. “He cites the parts of the Constitution where God is mentioned but does not recognize that all references to a creator are made to define the freedoms of individuals as rights given at birth and not to define the law.”

“The thing I took away from the speech was that his arguments were fallacious,” Davis continued. “He claimed that the Constitution is often misinterpreted by people, especially the Supreme Court justices, but his interpretation is right based on the sole interpretation of someone that agrees with him.”

The Secular Student Alliance is dedicated to secular advocacy on campus and in the community as well as a support system for atheists, agnostics, and skeptics. The group meets on Monday night in Martin Hall room 202 at 6:30 p.m.

Roy Moore, also known as “The Ten Commandments Judge,” has been the subject of controversy since he was ousted from his position as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

In 2003, Moore was removed from office by a judicial ethics panel after refusing to remove a 5,000-pound monument of the Ten Commandments from the Supreme Court building. He ran again and won in 2012 but was again under scrutiny of the same ethics panel after defying a federal court ruling on same-sex marriage. He resigned in April of this year to focus on Sessions’ vacant Senate position.

Moore sparked controversy days before his JSU appearance with this quote: “Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. Who’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

This quote sparked backlash as his use of the terms “reds and yellows” was seen as racially insensitive to Native Americans and Asians.

Moore’s Democratic opponent in the December 12th general election is Doug Jones, a lawyer and politician who has been involved in prominent court cases such as the Monsanto case in Anniston and the last trial of those the bombers of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

U.S. orders closure of three Russian diplomatic facilities

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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin (photo from CNN.com)

JoAnna MitchellStaff Reporter

The U.S. has ordered the closure of three Russian diplomatic facilities in retaliation for being forced to downsize its own diplomatic presence in Russia by 60%.

The American order, issued on Thursday, August 31, 2017, called for the closure of Russia’s oldest consulate general in San Francisco, a chancery annex in Washington D.C. and a consular annex in New York City by the following Saturday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry that he “expressed regrets over the escalation of tensions in bilateral relations, which were not initiated by us.”

Russia ordered the decrease in U.S. diplomats on Sunday, July 30, days after Congress approved sanctions to punish the Kremlin for election tampering, the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s continued military presence in the Ukraine.

“We waited for quite a long time, that perhaps something will change for the better. We held out hope that the situation would somehow change. But, judging by everything, if it changes, it will not be soon,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin on Rossiya 1 Television, a state-run television channel. The Kremlin claims its expulsion of U.S. diplomats was to seek “parity” in the number of diplomats working in either country.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that the White House wishes to “halt the downward spiral” of relations between the countries.

“We’re going to look for opportunities to do that, but we’re also going to make sure that we make decisions that are best for our country,” Sanders said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated that relations between the two countries could be at their worst since the Cold War.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, suggested on Sunday that President Donald J. Trump may not serve a full four-year term.

“Not all American presidents have reached the end of their term. It could be worth remembering, considering the government we are dealing with in today’s historical times,” Zakharova said on Rossiya 1 in an interview which aired 2 days after the closure of the diplomatic centers in the U.S.

 

BENTLEY RESIGNS

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Former governor Robert Bentley speaks at a press conference at the State Capitol on Friday, April 7. Bentley resigned from office on Monday, becoming the first Alabama governor to do so since 1837. (Albert Cesare/AP)

Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief

Alabama governor Robert J. Bentley resigned from office on Monday, April 10 after allegations arose that he had used campaign funds for personal gain.

ersonal gain. Bentley’s reputation was irreparably damaged when an affair with his top adviser, Rebekah Mason, was brought to light in March 2016. Bentley’s wife, Dianne, had filed for divorce the previous year, and it was finalized in September 2015.

The governor’s resignation comes in the wake of official impeachment hearings that began Monday morning.

“All indications are that Governor Bentley is going to resign shortly,” Koven L. Brown, a state representative for District 40, wrote on Facebook on Monday. “He has submitted his letter of resignation to Lt. Gov. [Kay] Ivey and she is to be sworn in a little [later] this evening. As sad as this situation is, I am relieved that it is over and our state can move on. We have much work to do in this legislative session and it will hopefully move smoother with this cloud lifted. Please continue to pray for all of us in state government. Most all of us love to serve our respective districts and take our legislative positions very seriously.”

Bentley, who was serving his second term as governor, had been under investigation by the Alabama Attorney General’s office for criminal felony charges. The Alabama Ethics Commission confirmed that it had probable cause to support these accusations.

Bentley pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors: failing to file a major contribution report and knowingly converting campaign contributions to personal use.

As per the plea deal, Bentley has one week to pay $36,912 in campaign funds, essentially emptying that fund and giving the money to the state. He will also be required to pay thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket fines to return the misappropriated money to the campaign fund before that fund can be closed.

Bentley must also perform 100 hours of community service and is prohibited from running for public office again.

In a report released on April 7, the lawyer for the Alabama House of Representatives alleged that Bentley had coerced, sent threatening messages to and threatened to prosecute some of those who had criticized his affair with Mason. The report also described how Bentley reportedly used a member of his security detail to end his relationship with Mason on his behalf and how he allowed Mason to use official state

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A “not anymore” sign was taped under Robert Bentley’s name on an Alabama welcome sign on Monday night. (The Ostrich/Facebook)

vehicles after she had left state payroll.

Also included in the report are accounts of how Bentley attempted to cover up audio tapes of sexually charged conversations between himself and Mason.

Bentley will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, a former state treasurer, high school teacher and bank officer. Ivey is only the second female governor of Alabama, the first being Lurleen Wallace, who served from 1967-68.

“The Ivey administration will be open, it will be transparent and it will be honest,” Ivey said on Monday.