Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gene Policinski: Who “owns” the news in a digital age?

  Who owns the news?

  The glib answer is “no one.”  But of course, the full answer is more complicated than that.

  Famously, news is “who, what, when, where and why”– the “five Ws.”  That mantra was drilled into the minds of generations of journalists, the essentials around which a news report is constructed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Erik Stegman and Katie Wright: Low-income victims of domestic violence facing a political super storm

  Americans across the country are bracing for the impact of the sequester, the automatic across-the-board spending cuts to domestic programs—including vital human-needs services—set for this Friday, March 1. The nation faces dire consequences should these cuts take effect, but it’s even worse for low-income women and their families suffering from domestic violence.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Echoes of George Wallace in Shelby County

  The 1960s was a tumultuous time in southern politics. Race, segregation and voting rights were the paramount issues.

  George Wallace came on the scene and won the governor’s office with the most anti-integration rhetoric in history. He threw down the gauntlet with his January 1963 inaugural speech declaring, “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.” White Alabamians shouted their approval.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Death to the World: Scaring up a modern slasher film in Montgomery

  The following is the Capital City Free Press’ exclusive interview with Shane Gillis, director of the forthcoming film, Death to the World.

CCFP: What is your background in filmmaking?

  Shane Gillis: I've wanted to make movies for as long as I can remember, but really got motivated in the mid to late 90s with the introduction of the Mini-DV format. That was the first type of camera I bought for myself. It was also around this same time that non-linear video editing became accessible to pretty much anyone with a computer and capture card. Before that, I was always interested, but never had the equipment to shoot or edit film. I began reading everything from Rick Scmidt's Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices to boring manuals on how cameras worked, film and digital. So really, I was just a movie fan that got obsessed and blindly started learning by doing.  Lots of terrible shorts and half a feature from those days….  Luckily our house got robbed and all that was stolen.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Larry M. Elkin: Republicans, lacking direction, cannot steer the country

  President Obama has finally come of age politically, and he knows where he wants to go. His political adversaries do not.

  The president served notice in his second inaugural address, and again in his State of the Union speech, that he intends to follow the path blazed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, two fellow Democrats who insisted that expanded government could improve most American lives. They pushed the costs of their programs onto future generations, but most citizens nevertheless came to cherish government-subsidized pensions, disability and unemployment insurance, and medical care for the elderly and poor.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Charles C. Haynes: When do student prayers cross the First Amendment line?

  Students are free to pray in public schools – except when they aren’t.

  If this sounds confusing, pity school administrators charged with figuring out if and when to draw the line on student prayers.

  Current controversies in two regions of the country illustrate how complicated this line-drawing has become:

  School officials in Birdville School District, near Fort Worth, Texas, allow students to offer prayers before football games, claiming that since the students freely choose to do so, the prayers are not endorsed by the school.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Teresa Tolbert: First they came for women’s reproductive rights

  How do you decimate the rights of women in Alabama? You do it one bill at a time.

  Tuesday women all over this state were busy, as we are most days going about our everyday lives. Home, kids, work… for most of us it’s a continuous balancing act just to make it through the week. Who has time to worry about what some legislators in Montgomery are doing when we all lead such busy lives? But while we were all distracted Tuesday with the important tasks we do every day, our legislators were busy too — busy stripping away our rights one bill at a time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Joseph O. Patton: Luther Strange: Political thug

  Amendment 744 to the Alabama Constitution is written in simple, Sesame Street level English. It spells out charitable bingo gambling in Macon County. Even a former Washington corporate lobbyist posing as the state’s attorney general could understand it… you’d think.

  Yet Tuesday, like a disgusting re-run from Bob Riley’s reign - replete with storm troopers - Luther Strange ordered a raid of Milton McGregor’s VictoryLand. Despite countless measures to ensure the legality of their operations and backed by national gaming experts, Strange seems to think his arbitrary, politically-driven opinions trump the facts and the law. Like crashing a crack house, Alabama State Troopers confiscated money and machines, even blocking the road to the business and cutting its electricity.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Alabama Legislature lacks women, white Democrats

  It is amazing how fast a year flies by, especially the older you get. This week marks the end of the first one-fifth of 2013.

  We are in the opening days of the 2013 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature. Just prior to the beginning of the session, Alabama received acknowledgement from the U.S. Department of Justice that under the auspices of the Voting Rights Act the new legislative districts drawn last year have been approved.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Michael Josephson: The Presidents Day Un-Celebration — Honoring not just the great, but all U.S. presidents

  If you’re not going to school or work today, it’s because it’s a national holiday. The country used to celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln separately, but in 1971 Richard Nixon and Congress, in order to create a perpetual three-day weekend, merged the two holidays into a brand new one called “Presidents’ Day,” to honor all U.S. presidents.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Christian E. Weller and Nick Bunker: A Higher minimum wage will not hurt U.S. businesses

  The minimum-wage increase President Barack Obama proposed in his State of the Union address—$9 per hour by the end of 2015—should be a dog-bites-man headline. It is a no-brainer. It would directly affect the lives of millions of the lowest-wage workers—mainly poor, single mothers and workers of color in service industries such as fast food restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and nursing homes—by giving them an average wage increase of about 10 percent. A hard day’s work deserves fair pay, and the proposed minimum-wage increase moves low-wage workers a step closer toward that reality.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Joseph O. Patton: Indie slasher film takes root in the Capital City

  Lights, camera… fundraiser!

  Lurking in the River Region’s shadows a group of locals is bringing a darker, fictional shade of Montgomery to the big screen.

  Indie filmmakers and cast members are counting down to the premier this year of Death to the World, a film described by Director Shane Gillis as a “classic slasher film with a modern psychological edge.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gene Policinski: Base locations, drones present challenges for free press

  Much attention has been focused in recent days on the Obama administration’s semi-secret “drone” program and on reports of covert surveillance and lethal attacks on terrorist targets in the Middle East and elsewhere.

  The use of such deadly force through the use of remotely piloted aircraft by the U.S. military certainly deserves scrutiny – as does the news media’s role in keeping citizens up to date on such overseas programs, secret or not.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Constitutionality of proposed firearms legislation

  Tragic mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and elsewhere have prompted renewed national interest in the federal regulation of firearms. In January 2013 President Barack Obama publicly announced support for three new legislative measures to regulate firearm ownership and sales:

-Banning certain semiautomatic weapons with military-style features—commonly referred to as “assault weapons”—in addition to high-capacity ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds

-Requiring background checks on all firearms sales, not just those purchased from federally licensed firearms dealers

-Enhancing penalties for trafficking in firearms

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Conservative legislature stays the course

  The 2013 legislative session kicked off last week. There is an old saying that nobody’s life, liberty or property is safe when the legislature is in session. A more accurate description for today in Alabama with a super Republican majority in charge of both chambers would be that no liberal or Democratic interests are safe when this Alabama Legislature is in session.

  It is hard to believe that they are in the third year of their quadrennium. The first two years have resulted in a plethora of conservative legislation. This GOP legislative body cannot be labeled as RINO’s. They are real Republicans. They have been determined to put their conservative stamp on the state. They have indeed left an indelible mark on the Alabama political structure. Lying in the carnage of their march is the once vaunted Alabama Education Association. They have been stampeded and stomped on by this herd of elephants.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wendy McElroy: Who is mentally ill?

  The current push toward gun control is being presented in a particularly dangerous and dishonest manner. It is being framed in terms of mental health and packaged in a way that almost guarantees victory for the advocates of control. The debating point proffered is, “How do we keep guns away from the mentally ill?”

  Thus far, President Obama’s answer has been vague and administrative enough to avoid the need for Congressional approval.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Charles C. Haynes: In Texas schools, failing grade for Bible courses

  Fifty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the devotional use of the Bible by public schools, in its ruling on Abington Township v. Schempp.

  But many school districts in the Lone Star State still haven’t gotten the message, according to a report released last month by the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) entitled “Reading, Writing and Religion.”

Friday, February 8, 2013

Gary Palmer: The Ranking that matters

  As the 2013 Legislative Session gets under way, Alabama Republican legislators will be dealing with a lot of facts and figures as they try to pass sensible budgets, eliminate wasteful and inefficient spending, and pay back the money being taken from the Alabama Trust Fund. If the Republican legislative agenda is any indication, there is a number that they clearly understand… Number 1.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

An Open letter to Rep. Kurt Wallace

  Though you do not represent me in the Alabama Legislature - and for that I am unspeakably thankful - as a matter of conscience, I do need to inform you that you are in no position to tell anyone what constitutes a family.

  In correspondence between you and a constituent, you arrogantly, ignorantly and divisively told a woman, “…by definition a ‘family’ is a husband, wife, and children.” In another patronizing bit of communication, you told a constituent: “Stop trying to play God.” The latter bit of communication is especially humorous… because who the hell do you think YOU are telling anyone what makes a family?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gene Policinski: Civil rights movement rode assembly, petition to greater freedom

  Assembly and petition are the “quiet freedoms” among the five rights set out in the First Amendment.

  Speech, press and religion are more often – or at least, more obviously – in the headlines.

  But during Black History Month, in February, the quiet kids on this corner of the constitutional block deserve at least as much attention as their better-known brethren.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The Alabama Legislature by the numbers

  The 2013 regular legislative session begins this week. There are a myriad of issues that must be dealt with during their four month journey. The most pressing will be resolving the current funding crisis in the state’s general fund budget.

  As the 140 delegates take their seats and settle in to wrestle with resolving the state’s dilemma, I am reminded of my earliest days observing the legislature. It is nostalgic to think back to my very first legislative endeavors. I began as a House Page in the mid 1960’s. That was almost 50 years ago. When I worked the House floor as a young teenager delivering notes and getting coffee, the membership was much different. At that time all the House and Senate members were white male Democrats. The scenario today is much different and diverse.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jacob G. Hornberger: One more life ruined by the Drug War

  The drug war has just taken another victim. This time the feds have ruined the life of Marc Gerson, a star law student at Georgetown University, who, according to the Washington Post, “was Phi Beta Kappa at Georgetown, a top economics student and an award-winning debater.” Washington, D.C., federal judge Reggie B. Walton has just sentenced Gerson to serve four years in the penitentiary, which also effectively eliminates his dream of practicing law.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hot sweaty men... seriously!

  Check out ringside photos from last night’s WWE house show in Montgomery! For many other photo albums and content from the Capital City Free Press, ‘like’ us on Facebook: We would like that. :-)

Michael Josephson: The Power of words

  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

  Really? Insults, teasing, gossip, and verbal abuse can inflict deeper and more enduring pain than guns and knives.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Philip E. Wolgin: Top 10 reasons why it’s time for immigration reform

The momentum for reform

1. Congressional leaders from both parties agree on the principles for reform. Just this week the bipartisan “Gang of 8”—a coalition including Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), and Marco Rubio (R-FL)—in the Senate released strong principles for immigration reform, signaling broad agreement for a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. In the House, Rep. John Carter (R-TX) has been leading secret bipartisan negotiations to produce an immigration bill, while Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told “Meet the Press” host David Gregory that he was “cautiously optimistic” on the prospect of reform. Other signs that a bipartisan reform agreement is not far off: