Monday, October 16, 2017

Bigotry is not an American value

  On October 14, 1979, more than 100,000 people marched on Washington to demand equal rights for LGBT people.

  But nearly four decades after the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is intent on rolling back their rights.

  Just over a week ago, Sessions issued a memo to Department of Justice lawyers asserting that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect transgender workers from employment discrimination. His directive overturned the protective policy established under President Barack Obama.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Gene Policinski: To Trump on NBC ‘license’ tweet: No!

  There’s only one appropriate, spirit-of-freedom response to the “Trump tweet” on Wednesday asking when it’s “appropriate” for the government to punish NBC News for a story the president didn’t like:

  Never. And yes, the repetition of “appropriate” and the use of italics are for emphasis.

  Trump is disputing an NBC report earlier in the day — based on interviews with three officials in the room at the time — that during a July meeting Trump had proposed a massive increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal, which critics immediately pounced on as evidence he was naïve and ignorant of the cost, policy and treaty barriers to such an increase.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1583: Vision is really, really powerful!

  Vision is powerful. Vision is really, really powerful. Vision helps us to know where we are going to. Vision helps us to understand where we are coming from. Vision helps us to know where we are in relation to where we are going and where we are coming from. Vision helps us to know how to take what we have and make what we need to get to where we are going. Vision helps us know that it is not what we are going through but what we are going to. Vision is really, really powerful.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Craig Ford: Committee looking into school suspensions and expulsions is a step in the right direction

  The late actor Nelsan Ellis, who grew up in Bessemer and went on to become famous for his role on the HBO series “True Blood,” was interviewed by al.com back in 2009. When asked about his experience at Jess Lanier High School, he said, "It's hard to get an education when teachers spend 70 percent of their time trying to discipline students. I grew up knowing I wanted to escape that life, and the only escape was education."

  I believe he hit the nail on the head. Discipline issues are at the heart of why some schools are failing, and addressing those discipline issues is essential for fixing failing schools.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mississippi police called ICE then an agent shot an unarmed man

  Police in riot gear. Protesters blocking highways. A heated discussion about the acquittal of a white police officer for his role in the shooting of a black man.

  It’s becoming a familiar scene for St. Louis, Missouri.

  More than 300 protesters have been arrested in just 18 days following an innocent verdict in the non-jury murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who fatally shot 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Partisan drama in JeffCo and how it affects the race for Alabama AG

  Jefferson County is transitioning from a Republican to a Democratic county. In the process, they are having an interesting array of intriguing political happenings. You may recall that a few months back I wrote about the indictment of the newly-elected Jefferson County District Attorney, Charles Todd Henderson, on perjury charges. To say a lot has happened since then would be an understatement. 

  Dr. Robert Bentley has vacated the governor’s office under a scandalous cloud. Lt. Governor Kay Ivey has ascended to the governorship and appears to be the favorite to win election to a four-year term of her own in next year’s general election. We have had a special election to fill the remaining three years of Jeff Sessions’s six-year Senate term. Former Governor Bentley’s appointee, former state Attorney General Luther Strange, was overwhelmingly defeated by former state Chief Justice Roy Moore, and the Ten Commandments Judge is poised to become our junior U.S. Senator. And that brings me back to Henderson. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Laurence M. Vance: Decriminalization is not enough

  According to recently released FBI crime data, there were 1,572,579 drug arrests in the United States last year. That’s an average of one drug arrest nearly every 20 seconds. The total number is up by about 5.6 percent from the 1,488,707 arrests for drug crimes in the United States in 2015.

  Because of a change in how the annual law enforcement numbers are publicized, it’s harder to determine just how many people were busted for marijuana and how many were busted for other drugs. However, Tom Angell — founder of the nonprofit Marijuana Majority and editor of the cannabis news portal Marijuana Moment — was able to determine that “marijuana arrests are on the rise in the U.S., even as more states legalize the drug.”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Trump administration's guidance on religious freedom undercuts LGBT rights

  Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued guidance Friday setting forth the views of the Department of Justice about how federal agencies should protect religious freedom.

  The guidance directs agencies to give the broadest possible protection to people, companies and government contractors who cite religious beliefs to avoid compliance with anti-discrimination and other laws.

  This latest memo reflects the Trump administration’s continuing campaign to roll back the rights of the most vulnerable members of society, including LGBT people. By saying virtually nothing about how the invocation of religious exemptions can cause real harm to real people, it invites taxpayer-funded agencies, government employees, government contractors and government grant recipients to discriminate against LGBT people, as long as they cite a religious reason for doing so.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Myth vs. Fact: Debunking the gun lobby’s favorite talking points

  The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), pursues a number of different policies in state legislatures across the country and in Congress, including eliminating permit requirements for concealed carry; expanding locations where guns may be carried; weakening regulation of the gun industry; and overriding duly enacted state laws that limit gun carrying. While each of these policies have different elements, all are united by a core set of dangerous and misleading arguments perpetuated by the NRA that more guns in more hands will lead to increased personal and community safety.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Trump’s anti-worker judges will outlast his administration

  President Donald Trump is transforming the federal judiciary through dozens of nominees to lifetime positions as federal judges, and many of his nominees have a record of siding with corporations over workers. By appointing Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump has ensured that the U.S. Supreme Court will become the same pro-corporate, anti-worker tribunal that it was when former Justice Antonin Scalia was on the court. With a reliable fifth conservative vote, the court has brought back cases that could hobble public employee unions and make it harder for employees to have their day in court if their employer does something wrong.