Month: January 2018

Alabama’s conservatives should support bills limiting special elections

[caption id="attachment_8822" align="aligncenter" width="724"] (Flickr)[/caption]   (Opinion) Recent efforts by Alabama’s lawmakers to do away with special elections to fill vacant U.S. Senate seats may have a little to do with that fiasco to replace Jeff Sessions. I mean, come on. The result of that unexpected and brief race was the nomination of an unpopular Republican candidate and the election of a radically pro-choice Democrat. And their efforts may have something to do with the cost. The bill’s sponsor in the State House, Ozark Republican Steve Clouse, said last year's special election cost the state $11 million. Dropping millions of dollars unnecessarily isn’t exactly the most fiscally conservative of notions. Besides, if our state has that much money to burn then give it back to the people. But their efforts have everything to do with, or at least they should have everything to do with, the gathering principle of conservative political philosophy – order. Healthy individuals and families are built upon order, and healthy governments are no different. The predictable, routine and well-regulated nature of our election process, established in our federal and state constitutions, is an essential ingredient to self-government, economic growth and individual liberty. In America, unlike those parliamentary governments scattered elsewhere, we don’t have random votes of “no confidence” in our executive officers or legislative branches or the snap elections that follow, often sending policies, markets and rights into disarray. Our framers didn’t envision such a chaotic system, for chaos is a ladder for corruption and, more…

Human trafficking bill passes Alabama State Senate

[caption id="attachment_60435" align="aligncenter" width="800"] (Unsplash)[/caption]   Human Trafficking Awareness month may officially end Wednesday, but advocates and lawmakers in Alabama are pushing legislative efforts on behalf of victims that will be felt long after January. The Alabama State Senate passed a bill Tuesday that establishes much stronger penalties for anyone found guilty of obstructing an investigation into human trafficking. “Because you want to make it such a hard deterrent for anyone engaged with or associated with this crime, we want to move from a Class C to a Class A felony for those who are involved in obstructing justice in these cases,” said Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), who sponsored the bill and chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. Under current law, someone convicted of a Class C felony for obstructing a human trafficking investigation may only serve one year in prison. A Class A felony has a minimum jail sentence of ten years. Ward told Yellowhammer News that the proposed legislation would prevent people who know about human trafficking activity from looking the other way so that legally, they “can claim a reason not to be charged in anything involving the crime.” Ward said the new law would help with situations like one that he said occurred in Birmingham. “What happened was, you had a couple folks who weren’t necessarily trafficking children, but they knew about [a child sex trafficking ring],” Ward said. “They were involved on the fringes, but when the time came to try and find out exactly how…

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones is an enemy of the unborn

Well, that didn’t take long. Twenty-six days. That’s all it took from between the time Doug Jones was sworn in as a United States Senator to the time he blew his re-election chances by casting one of the most disgusting, cruel and cowardly votes in the history of that chamber. Jones joined dozens of Democrats in voting down a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the point when an overwhelming amount of evidence shows an unborn child can feel pain from the gruesome procedure. The result: The United States remains one of only seven nations that allows abortion after that well-developed point in the pregnancy. Get smart: If you don’t know what a baby looks like at 20-weeks, here’s a video of one seen via an MRI scan: https://youtu.be/YQlLPdugRws Jones is now on record as officially believing that it should remain legal to kill that child for any reason and at any time. Of course, Jones told us that he’d vote against the measure during an appearance on MSNBC in October. Back then I wrote about how "abhorrent” his views were to most Alabamians and that “anyone in the state who values life must vote against Jones and his party’s monstrous pro-abortion policy.” But after his election many were hoping the weight of his office would cause him to moderate that extreme position. Sadly, we weren’t surprised. Now it’s up to us to remember this vote and to speak for the tens of thousands of unborn children who are killed…

Human trafficking in Alabama — How victims are lured in and what state lawmakers are doing about it

An at-risk teenager or vulnerable woman begins dating someone who showers her with gifts, takes her on dates, and woos her into loving and depending on him for care and protection – and, often, drugs. She feels that he is her “boyfriend” even though, eventually, he tells her that she needs to perform sex acts with other men to pay the rent or pay for drugs or to keep his love and protection. She complies. Is she a victim of sexual abuse or human trafficking or is she a prostitute? It’s the difficult-to-define-and-prosecute problem that often festers in the shadows, eluding law enforcement, social workers and lawmakers, said Pat McCay, secretary of the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force. “The problem with some of these cases is they are not recognized as human trafficking,” McCay said in an interview with Yellowhammer News. “It can look like sexual abuse or sexual assault. Women and girls will come in with bruises or emotional scars and even with the most well-trained people, if you don’t understand what human trafficking is or that it is going on in your community, it’s just not on your radar.” LAWS AND LOOPHOLES A growing army of advocates and legislators wants to cut through the confusion -- by pushing human trafficking into public awareness, and by enacting stronger laws to strong-arm it out of Alabama. State Rep. Jack Williams (R-Vestavia Hills) has been fighting human trafficking in Alabama since 2009 and last week introduced a bill in the state…

Watch the amazing video that Alabama Sen. Doug Jones probably never will

[caption id="attachment_60037" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Sen. Doug "See No Evil" Jones[/caption]   (Opinion) Today the U.S. Senate will vote on a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the point when evidence shows an unborn child can feel pain from the procedure. When the bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed the House last fall, then-candidate Doug Jones said that he would oppose the measure. (I wrote about that over the weekend here and here.) Pro-choice arguments have long relied on the unobserved nature of an unborn child’s development. “It’s just a lump of cells,” they say. But look at this video of an MRI taken during the 20th week of a pregnancy ... the time from which today’s bill is trying to stop abortions from happening. https://youtu.be/YQlLPdugRws   That’s not a lump of cells. That’s not some unrecognizable, unformed ... unperson. That’s a human being. A person, someone who’s entitled to the same rights we all enjoy, and someone who is certainly capable of feeling the severe pain of an abortion doctor’s needles and clamps and scalpels. If Sen. Jones would watch this video – and he probably won’t – there’s no way he could in good conscience vote ‘no’ on today’s bill. The video was posted on the YouTube page of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, a pro-life advocacy organization in the United Kingdom. And for those who still will not see, and believe this isn’t what an unborn child looks…

Alabama will know who Sen. Doug Jones represents Monday – his state’s pro-life constituency or his party’s pro-choice extremists

[caption id="attachment_56203" align="aligncenter" width="800"] (NBC News/YouTube)[/caption]   (Opinion) Sometime Monday the U.S. Senate will take initial votes on a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the point when an overwhelming amount of evidence shows an unborn child can feel pain from the gruesome procedure. Most Americans – and most Alabamians – support the bill but Democrats plan to block the legislation with the filibuster. Will Sen. Doug Jones join them? When the bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed the House last fall, then-candidate Jones appeared on MSNBC and was asked whether he’d support the measure if elected. “You wouldn’t be in favor of legislation that said ban abortion after 20 weeks, or something like that?” asked the host. “No, I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose,” Jones said. “That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years, it’s the position I continue to have.” The television host was visibly surprised at the hardline stance taken by Jones, and so were folks back home in Alabama. Jones later attempted to clarify the remarks, telling local reporters that “the law for decades has been that late-term procedures are generally restricted except in the case of medical necessity. That's what I support.” That’s ... not actually true. A woman can have an abortion at any time and for any reason in the United States. In fact, we live in one of only seven…

If Sen. Doug Jones wants to represent a majority of Alabamians, he should moderate his pro-choice position

[caption id="attachment_54092" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Sen.-elect Doug Jones appears on CBS Sunday Morning, Dec. 17, 2017 (CBS News/Twitter)[/caption]   (Opinion) In the wake of his stunning victory last month, Sen. Doug Jones signaled that he wanted to leave the contentious election behind by being an “independent voice” who would work with “both sides of the aisle” and not be tied to “just one particular group or philosophy.” He’s already demonstrated a willingness to buck his own party by siding with the GOP in last week’s government shutdown. Some thought that was merely theater, however, because the Democrats couldn’t win even with his vote (so their leader allowed Jones a throwaway moment to impress voters back home). Maybe. But if Jones really wanted to prove his independence and truly represent how an overwhelming majority of Alabamians feel about a certain issue, he should moderate his rather extreme pro-choice position. Nearly 60 percent of his constituents in Alabama believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. But during the campaign Jones expressed a pro-choice view that most Alabamians would view as extreme. In an appearance on MSNBC last fall Jones said he was “not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose.” “That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years,” he added. “It’s the position I continue to have.” But will Jones continue to have that “not in favor of anything” position now,…

Holy Hanceville! Gorgeous Alabama church in rural town off I-65 is secret worth exploring

  [caption id="attachment_58294" align="aligncenter" width="800"] (Curbed.com/Facebook)[/caption]   You have to see it in person to believe it, but this Facebook video from Curbed.com comes close to showing the epic grandeur of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament located in rural Hanceville near Cullman. If you are driving north or south on I-65 between Birmingham and Huntsville, consider carving out a few hours to stop in and pray. You won't regret it.   This Romanesque church sits on 400 acres in rural Alabama. How did this $50 million Italian church end up in Alabama? Posted by Curbed on Tuesday, January 9, 2018   The details: -- Mother Angelica, founder of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, felt that God called her to build the shrine while traveling to Columbia in the mid-1990s to seek funding assistance for EWTN's Spanish programs, according to the shrine's website. -- Through the donations of just five families, Mother Angelica was able to fund and build the opulent property without taking any funds from EWTN or other ministries. -- The feisty nun, known for her sharp wit and quick humor, took criticism at times for the site's costly materials -- such as the use of real gold and diamonds in parts of the worship areas. -- According to author and EWTN host Raymond Arroyo's 2007 biography of the remarkable nun, she told the nuns in her community of Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration: Sisters, you can never go overboard when it comes to Our Lord and…

Alabama State Senator to introduce human trafficking bill today

  Alabama State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) is expected to introduce a bill Tuesday designed to impose heavy penalties on anyone who obstructs human trafficking investigations. “Human trafficking is a growing problem not just in Alabama, but around the country,” Ward said in an interview with Yellowhammer News. “Particularly human trafficking in young kids, which is often for the purpose of sexual abuse.” Human trafficking is defined as a form of modern day slavery “involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion,” according to Polaris, a non-profit that tracks human trafficking. The average age of victims’ entry into sex trafficking is between 11-14 years old, according to the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force. Ward said that under current Alabama law, active engagement in human trafficking is a Class A felony, but penalties are much less strict for those who may not be directly involved in trafficking -- but who know about trafficking activity and obstruct law enforcement from investigating. In Alabama, Ward said such obstruction is currently classified as a Class C felony, which is punishable by a minimum amount of time in prison. Ward said his proposed legislation would change that and provide a stronger deterrent to anyone engaged with or associated with the crime. “Oftentimes, those who are obstructing justice in these human trafficking cases are just as guilty as those who are actually participating in it,” Ward said. “In the new law,…

Spring Hill College, University of Alabama top 2018 list of hardest schools to get into in the Yellowhammer State

[caption id="attachment_26125" align="aligncenter" width="820"] University of Alabama quad (Photo: University of Alabama)[/caption]   If your children want to go to college alongside the likes of Tua Tagovailoa or someday stroll the Avenue of Oaks to get their degree, then they better start studying. Spring Hill College in Mobile and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa are the two most selective schools in the state, according to the 2018 Hardest Colleges to Get Into list produced by the data website Niche. Nearly 6-in-10 applicants are rejected by Spring Hill College, and more than half are told ‘no’ by the Capstone, according to the report. The rankings are based on acceptance rates and SAT/ACT test scores using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Here’s Niche’s top ten: #1: Spring Hill College -- Acceptance rate: 44% -- SAT range: 1000-1190 #2: University of Alabama -- Acceptance rate: 53% -- SAT range: 980-1230 #3: Birmingham-Southern -- Acceptance rate: 48% -- SAT range: 990-1180 #4: University of Alabama – Birmingham -- Acceptance rate: 58% -- SAT range: 970-1300 #5: Oakwood University -- Acceptance rate: 48% -- SAT range: 750-1010 #6: Tuskegee University -- Acceptance rate: 50% -- SAT range: 890-1110 #7: Faulkner University -- Acceptance rate: 45% -- SAT range: 880-1120 #8: University of North Alabama -- Acceptance rate: 56% -- SAT range: 862-1053 #9: Alabama State University -- Acceptance rate: 46% -- SAT range: 730-920 #10: Huntington College -- Acceptance rate: 57% -- SAT range: 845-1050 Auburn University was 11th on the list, with…