Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Brandon Demyan: Restoring Alabama’s Gulf Coast

  After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, BP pledged to restore the Gulf Coast region. Four years later, many businesses with valid claims against BP remain in limbo awaiting a decision while tar balls still wash up along the Gulf Coast. While it seems as though the rest of the country has moved on, in the coming months, the Deepwater Horizon disaster will once again be very much on the minds of Gulf Coast residents due to the RESTORE Act.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Alabama's hottest legislative races

  Early on it appeared that the best political races of the year would be for legislative seats. Indeed, with this being a lackluster year for statewide contests there are some good senate races throughout the state to watch. Most of these hotly contested battles will be intraparty GOP squabbles.

  Senate District 11, which is composed primarily of St. Clair and Talladega Counties, may be the best race to watch. Incumbent State Sen. Jerry Fielding is being challenged by State Rep. Jim McClendon. Fielding is a former Talladega County Circuit Judge who retired from the bench after earning his judicial retirement and won this senate seat in 2010.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Claudia Calderon Machicado: The business case for paid leave and paid sick days

  Most opponents of paid sick days and paid family leave legislation claim that businesses cannot afford to cover their employees. But cities and states with paid family leave and paid sick days are proof that these policies are working. Growing support from many businesses—both big and small—as well as private-sector leaders, indicates that these policies are not only good for individuals and businesses but also for our economy as a whole.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Joseph S. Diedrich: Does intellectual property defy human nature?

  A music-composition professor of mine once lamented that without copyright protection, Western civilization would cease to exist. Most of us take intellectual property (IP) for granted, assuming it is ethically and economically necessary. We’ve become so blasé about IP that heavy-handed FBI warnings and billion-dollar lawsuits don’t faze us in the slightest. Yet despite the unquestioned consensus, intellectual property actually defies basic tenets of human nature.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cameron Smith: Supreme Court upholds Michigan ban on race preferences

  On April 22, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action upholding an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Michigan which banned racial preferences in public education, employment and contracting.

  The central issue in the case was "whether, and in what manner, voters in the States may choose to prohibit the consideration of racial preferences in governmental decisions…."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Michael Josephson: The illusion of success

  Reach for the stars. Pursue goals beyond your grasp. These are good life strategies. We never know how much we can accomplish until we try.

  But what happens when we’re told we must reach the stars or suffer consequences?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tami A. Martin: The global reach of religious liberty rhetoric

  For the past 16 years, the U.S.-affiliated and Kampala, Uganda-based Makerere University Walter Reed Project has conducted research on HIV vaccines and public health issues in the East African country. Earlier this month, Ugandan officials raided the project, detaining and interrogating a staff member, reportedly because of the project’s assistance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people. According to the project’s website, "the operations of the program are temporarily suspended to ensure the safety of staff and the integrity of the program." Speculation that Uganda’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act, which prohibits "promoting homosexuality," inspired the raid raises the question of what inspired the act in the first place.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The legacy of Looney's Tavern

  A good many of you found last week’s historical column interesting. You seemed fascinated about the vast diversity regarding the folks who settled in South Alabama versus those who homesteaded North Alabama at the state’s origination.

  You found it even more interesting how close the secession from the Union vote was in 1861 with the vote falling in line with regional sentiment with South Alabamians for and North Alabamians against secession. However, the most enthralling passage was my brief mention of Winston County and its legendary stand to secede from Alabama when Alabama seceded from the Union. This bold anomaly really piqued your interest. Therefore, this week I will expound on the in-depth details of the story of the "Free State of Winston."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Katherine Green Robertson: Tax season reflections on the growing cost of prisons

  With Governor Bentley's sign-off, the state’s budgets for both the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund are now set for fiscal year 2015. Of the $1.8 billion budgeted for the General Fund, spending on corrections is the second largest line item, behind only Medicaid, at $394 million or 21.43% of the total General Fund budget. With nearly 26,000 inmates in custody at an average cost of $42 a day, it is not hard to see why the system accounts for such a large portion of our General Fund–and this is case in many states.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Patrick Oakford: Top 5 reasons why immigration reform means more tax revenues

  Last year, the Senate passed the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, or S. 744, which the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, found would have significant fiscal and economic benefits for the nation. Yet since its passage, the House of Representatives has dragged its feet and failed to act on meaningful reform. This inaction means that the United States has already missed out on billions of dollars in potential tax revenues.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lisa Curtis: After encouraging turnout, Obama must stick with support for war-torn Afghanistan

  Afghans went to the polls earlier this month, but results won’t be in for at least another week. If none of the candidates wins a majority of votes (the most likely scenario), a run-off election will have to be held probably in late May or early June.

  The Taliban did their best to deter voting and undermine the electoral process in Afghanistan.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Patricia E. Gaston: What Anita Hill’s struggle still teaches women about equality

  How can something that happened nearly 23 years ago feel as if it just happened yesterday? I felt that way while watching the newly released documentary "Anita," which tells the story of Anita Hill, the law professor who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his Senate confirmation hearings.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

David L. Hudson, Jr.: Thomas again calls for overruling of Buckley v. Valeo

  A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court recently invalidated another campaign-finance restriction on First Amendment grounds in McCutcheon v. FEC.

  Eight of the nine justices evaluated the case under the Court’s seminal decision, Buckley v. Valeo (1976). Justice Clarence Thomas, however, once again reiterated his strongly held views that Buckley was wrongly decided.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The legend of Winston County

  When Alabama was being settled in the early 1800s our first settlers were diverse in their origins. Our river regions were the most desirable lands. Indeed this is where the Indians lived. They realized the importance of water and the abundant fishing for their sustenance besides the natural advantage offered by these waters. The river basins also offered the most fertile soil for cultivation.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Michael Josephson: Do bad people think they’re good?

  When she was six, my daughter Carissa asked, "Do dumb people think they’re smart?" Answering her own question, she added, "They probably do because they’re dumb."

  This made me think: "Do bad people think they’re good?"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cameron Smith: Five questions to ask Alabama’s federal candidates

  Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District, which encompasses the suburbs of Birmingham, may be the only hotly contested election this cycle, but that is no excuse for voters to give the remaining federal candidates a free pass on detailing their solutions to the challenges facing Alabama and the nation.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Justin Abodalo: 50 years ago, Lenny Bruce’s arrest no joking matter

  The First Amendment is serious – except when it’s not.

  Comedian Lenny Bruce, a hero of stand-up comedy, was arrested April 3, 1964 — 50 years ago — in New York City during his act for saying profane words on stage. Bruce’s routine was mild in comparison to what today’s comedians say on stage – but at the time, it meant a series of confrontations with local police in various cities.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jacob G. Hornberger: Military tribunals are un-American

  Last month New York jurors convicted Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, a man named Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, of terrorism-related offenses in a trial in federal district court in New York City. The New York Times reported that "his swift conviction on all counts would seem to serve as a rejoinder to critics of the Obama administration’s efforts to try suspected terrorists in civilian courts, rather than before a military tribunal."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Charles C. Haynes: Gay marriage, religious freedom and the need for civil dialogue

  In recent months, legislators in more than a dozen states — from Hawaii to Georgia — have attempted to enact laws they describe as necessary to protect religious freedom.

  Some are broad "religious freedom restoration acts" very similar to laws already on the books in many states. Others are amendments to existing laws aimed at allowing businesses to deny wedding services to gay couples on religious grounds.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Agriculture is still king in Alabama

  Alabama has seen its share of industrial recruitment coups in the past few years. In fact, 20 years ago the landing of Mercedes was the impetus that has catapulted us to the top of the nation in automobile manufacturing. Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai and the peripheral support manufacturing companies have placed us in the top three states in America when it comes to automobile manufacturing jobs.

Monday, April 7, 2014

David G. Bronner: America's infrastructure

  Recently it was revealed that snipers took out 17 of 20 large transformers in about 20 minutes at a Silicon Valley PG&E substation last April, requiring 27 days and $16 million to repair. The California attack on the PG&E substation is considered "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving our power grid that has ever occurred," according to the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC).

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Ryan budget is a broken record of failed trickle-down economics

  For the past three years, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been trotting out the same conservative, top-down policies that have failed the nation’s middle- and working-class families, seniors, and the economy. The House Republican budget is built around the tenet that nearly everyone else must sacrifice in order to continue to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to millionaires, big corporations, and Big Oil. At every turn, the House Republican budget reveals its vision of an economy and government that only works for the wealthiest individuals and special corporate interests at the cost of everyone else.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Gene Policinski: ‘Abracadabra!’ Judge says Teller’s trick is protected

  Now you see it. Now you don’t … or don’t copy it, at least.

  Magician Teller of "Penn and Teller" sued another magician in 2012 in federal court in Nevada over what Teller asserted was a copycat performance of Teller’s signature trick, "Shadows," and his competitor’s offer to sell the secret behind the illusion.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Montgomery-based "Death to the World" film premiere slated for Saturday

  In February 2013, we highlighted a film project that was getting underway in Montgomery that features Capital City Free Press managing editor Josh Carples as an actor. We talked about the fundraiser here and interviewed director Shane Gillis here.

    The film, "Death to the World," is now complete, and the company behind it, Foolish Henry Films, is having a screening this Saturday in Montgomery at the Capri Theatre. The one-time showing starts at 9:15 p.m. and standard Capri ticket prices apply.

  The film’s synopsis says, "Since Nick’s arrival, Weston has been plagued by fear and murder. The unprepared police force has proven to be an asset to Nick, and the small town has become a safe haven for his dark deeds. Nick’s life begins to unravel, however, as new relationships threaten to reveal his secret – a secret he has killed to protect. But he soon discovers that he is not the only one with secrets...."

  "This has been a very fun project to be a part of," said Carples, who also serves as director of Public Relations for Foolish Henry Films. "The cast and crew have been a pleasure to work with, and I hope that people enjoy the finished product."

Copyright © Capital City Free Press

Catch Steve Flowers' verdict on this legislative session tonight on CBS 8

  Don't miss political analyst and Capital City Free Press contributor Steve Flowers tonight on CBS 8/WAKA/Alabama News Network @ 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.! The regular session of the Alabama Legislature ends today and we always look forward to the Flowers' verdict.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sam Fulwood III: Of bats, gloves, and an all-in nation

  Baseball season gets underway this week, bringing with it the springtime hopes that a favored team will remain active into fall’s World Series.

  I can’t escape the annual optimism that coincides with the first professional pitch of the year. What red-blooded American can resist feeling a sense of promise and potential that the start of a new baseball season represents? And, not to get all George Will up in here, but baseball truly is a metaphor for our national cultural life.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Alabama loses spot as most conservative state

  The Gallup poll has come out with their ranking of the most conservative and most liberal states in America.

  Last year we were ranked as the most conservative in the country. We lost that mantle to Wyoming this year. In fact, we fell dramatically to number ten. In past years either Alabama or one of our sister southern Bible Belt states took home the title. This year the Western states made inroads into our group in the top ten rankings.