Newswire: Sen. Vivian Davis Figures introduces bill to repeal Alabama’s extreme Abortion Ban

Kirsten J. Barnes, Communications Director for Alabama Senate Minority

In response to the negative reactions to Alabama’s Abortion Ban not only from Alabamians, but worldwide, Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile) took a bold step on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, by introducing a senate bill to repeal the state’s extreme abortion ban.
“There are consequences for every decision we make as legislators, and for every vote we cast there are ramifications,” Sen. Figures said. “However, some of these effects are unintended and I truly believe this has been the case for SB314. I do not believe my Republican colleagues had any idea what the consequences for passing this bill would be.”
Since the passing of the bill, Alabama lawmakers have been inundated with calls from people nationwide expressing their concern that the bill goes too far. Not only have Democrats come out against the bill, put top Republicans such as President Donald Trump, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, 700 Club Founder Pat Robertson, and Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee Ronna McDaniel have all expressed outrage by the passing of this extreme law which seeks to force women and girls impregnated through rape and incest to carry those babies to term.
“I felt that the least I could do was to offer a bill to repeal HB314 with the hopes that it would help to heal some of the wounds that my Republican brothers and sisters have inflicted on the great state of Alabama,” Sen. Figures said. “Unfortunately this bill is serving as a detriment to the entire state of Alabama in terms of revenues and in terms of healthcare, particularly for women.”
Although, Alabama is known for its increase of visitors during the summer months, but that could change drastically this year.
“I have heard from people all over the country saying they planned a vacation to Alabama’s beautiful beaches, but when this extreme abortion ban was signed into law, they immediately canceled those plans,” Sen. Figures. “If we care about the future and well-being of our state, this law must be repealed.”

Newswire : If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you

By Steven Mufson and Tracy Jan, The Washington Post

If you’re a poor person in America, President Donald Trump’s budget proposal is not for you.
Trump has unveiled a budget that would slash or abolish programs that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and obtaining legal counsel in civil matters.
These cuts to smaller programs that are targeted to poor people are in addition to major cuts of $735 billion in Medicare, $250 billion in Medicaid and $250 billion in Social Security benefits.
During the presidential campaign last year, Trump vowed that the solution to poverty was giving poor people incentives to work. But most of the proposed cuts in his budget target programs designed to help the working poor, as well as those who are jobless, cope.
“This is a budget that pulled the rug out from working families and hurts the very people who President Trump promised to stand up for in rural America and in small towns,” said Melissa Boteach, vice president of the poverty to prosperity program at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.
The White House budget cuts will fall hardest on the rural and small town communities that Trump won, where one in three people are living paycheck to paycheck – a rate that is 24 percent higher than in urban counties, according to a new analysis by the center.
The budget proposes housing “reforms” that add up to more than $6 billion in cuts while promising to continue assisting the nation’s 4.5 million low-income households. If enacted, the proposed budget would result in the most severe cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development since the early 1980s, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
It would also eliminate the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 federal agencies.
The administration’s reforms include eliminating funding for a $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, one of the longest continuously run HUD programs that’s been in existence since 1974.
The program provides cities and rural small towns with money to address a range of community development needs such as affordable housing, rehabilitating homes in neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosures, and preventing or eliminating slums and community blight. It also provides funding for Meals on Wheels, a national nonprofit that delivers food to homebound seniors.
Robert Rector, a senior fellow who focuses on welfare at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank, calls the community block grants a “slush fund for urban government.”
The White House touts its cuts to what the administration characterizes as “a number of lower priority programs” as a way to “promote fiscal responsibility.” In actuality, it guts federal funding for affordable housing and kicks the financial responsibility of those programs to states and local governments.
Gone would be $35 million in funding for well-known programs such as Habitat for Humanity and YouthBuild USA, fair housing planning, and homeless assistance, among other housing help for needy Americans.
Poor people need not lean on community banks for financial help either, because Trump plans to eliminate the $210 million now dedicated towards Community Development Financial Institutions. The program, administered through the Treasury Department, invests in community banks that provide loans and financial services to people living in some of the most distressed communities of the country.
“Cutting that program would be nothing short of a disaster and the ripple effect would be felt in urban areas and some rural areas all over America,” said Michael A. Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, a lobbying group for black-owned banks.
The administration would also eliminate the Energy Department’s weatherization assistance program, which dates back to 1976 when Gerald Ford was president. Since then, it has given grants to states that have helped insulate the homes of about 7 million families with low-cost techniques that have large payoffs, saving money for those families and curtailing U.S. energy consumption. It has also helped establish weatherization job training centers in states such as Utah and New York.
Also on the chopping block: the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known widely by its acronym LIHEAP. This program, part of the Health and Human Services budget, helps homeowners cover monthly energy costs, or repair broken or inefficient furnaces and air conditioners. The program is usually underfunded; LIHEAP says that on average, only about 20 percent of the households that qualify for assistance receive benefits before the money run out. Congress sometimes adds funding during emergencies or energy shortages when costs spike.
Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the Community Services Block Grant, a $715-million program within HHS that funds more than 1,000 local anti-poverty organizations around the country. The organizations provide services ranging from job training to food assistance to more than 16 million people in 3,000 counties. The grants also help communities respond quickly to natural disasters, plant closures and other economic shifts.
Without the grants, there would be little coordination between faith groups, local governments, private companies and nonprofits in addressing the needs of the poor – “just a few unconnected programs that don’t have nearly the impact they have now,” said David Bradley, who founded the National Community Action Foundation and wrote the legislation behind the grants in the early ’80s.
The Trump budget would also target the Legal Services Corp., an independent agency that provided $343 million to 134 legal aid organizations for the poor who are tangled up in cases of wrongful eviction, custody disputes, child support or domestic violence.
In 2015, Legal Services offices closed 755,774 cases – more than 100 for every lawyer and paralegal employed. About 70 percent of its clients are women, and the majority of its clients are white and between the ages of 36 and 59. The program provides lawyers only to people earning no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline, which is currently $15,075 for an individual and $30,750 for a family of four.
The budget would also zero out funds to help native Alaskan villages obtain access to clean drinking water and modern sewage systems.
Cuts to the Agriculture budget also eliminates the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority that encourage economic growth in distressed rural communities. And while the budget allocates $6.2 billion to “serve all projected participants” in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children, that is $150 million less than USDA had budgeted.
The White House proposed shrinking Job Corps, a program administered by the Labor Department that provides education and job training to more than 60,000 young and disadvantaged youth. The proposal called for closing centers that do a “poor job” of preparing students for the workforce, but did not elaborate how many of the 125 centers nationwide would be targeted.
Job Corps, which was created in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s anti-poverty agenda, helps young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 earn high school diplomas and receive vocational training.

Newswire: Trump’s National Emergency Declaration called unconstitutional, ‘egregious abuse of power’

By Hazel Trice Edney


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – U. S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest ranking African-American in the U. S. Congress, has assailed President Donald Trump’s immigration national emergency as an “egregious abuse of power” and calls on his fellow congressional members to challenge his actions.
“The President’s declaration of a manufactured national emergency in order to erect an ineffective, wasteful, and medieval wall sets a dangerous precedent,” Clyburn said in a statement. “All of us who have taken an oath to the Constitution must challenge this egregious abuse of power and uphold the checks and balances that are the foundation of our republic.”
Clyburn joins a chorus of voices expressing outrage about Trump’s action which could draw $5.7 billion of tax payer dollars for a wall that more than 58 percent of Americans say they do not want, according to a recent PRRI survey.
“This declaration has more to do with the President’s bruised ego than actually doing what is best for America. The author of ‘The Art of The Deal’ couldn’t make a deal to build a wall. This is a fake solution to a fake crisis and we must stand firm in keeping the nation focused on the real issues impacting Americans,” says Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.).
The Washington Post has reported that a coalition of 16 states have filed a federal lawsuit to block Trump’s plan for a border wall. Like Clyburn, the complaint filed in the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of California, argues that Trump’s declaration of a national emergency was unconstitutional.
The lawsuit is being brought by states with Democratic governors, except Maryland’s Larry Hogan, a Republican who has challenged Trump on several major issues.
Trump is clear that he is declaring the national emergency because Congress refused to provide enough money for a border wall that he promised as a presidential candidate and also promised that Mexico would pay for it. But, then Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto refused to pay for the wall, saying “Mexico doesn’t believe in walls.” Trump was then stuck with the unkept campaign promise and now appears desperate for a way to make good.
The 16 states suing Trump are California, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia.
In a Rose Garden announcement of his intent to declare the emergency, Trump claimed he is protection the nation from caravans of people that he says are bringing drugs and crime into the U. S. through the Southern border, a claim that experts have refuted as false.
“So, we’re going to be signing today, and registering, national emergency. And it’s a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people, and it’s unacceptable,” Trump said in his Rose Garden announcement, calling the emergency a “National Security and Humanitarian Crisis”.
As Trump continues to dig in his heals, predicting an eventual win in the U. S. Supreme Court, civil rights leaders are fighting their war in the court of public opinion.
CBC Chairwoman Bass concludes, “There are families who can’t make ends meet because their wages are too low. Citizens are being denied equal access at the ballot box because of voter suppression. We have a criminal justice system that still treats Americans better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent. Black boys and girls are dying prematurely from gun violence while Black women are losing their lives during childbirth. These are just some of the real crises confronting America. Mr. President, it’s time to finally demonstrate the leadership worthy of the office you hold.”

Newswire: Abrams blasts Trump, McConnell for ‘power grab’ after State of the Union Address

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Stacey Abrams


Stacey Abrams may not be the governor of Georgia, but she did make history on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
After patiently waiting in the wings as President Donald Trump used 90 minutes to deliver what was supposed to be a 45-minute State of the Union Address, Abrams provided a scathing Democratic rebuttal to the president’s highly-scripted speech to Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
In doing so, Abrams became the first Black woman for either party to deliver a formal response to the State of the Union. Speaking firmly and with a fervor that has earned her the national stage, the former Georgia Gubernatorial candidate said the “hopes of American families are being crushed” by Republican political leadership.
“In Georgia and around the country, people are striving for a middle class where a salary truly equals economic security,” Abrams said. “But instead, families’ hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn’t understand it.”
The response is a tradition undertaken by a representative of the president’s opposing party, who gives a speech immediately after the State of the Union to rebut claims made in his address.
According to CBS News, the first rebuttal was delivered by Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen and Rep. Gerald Ford in response to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1966 State of the Union. Since 2011, there have been responses in English and one in Spanish given by a separate speaker.
The address has usually been given by a member of Congress or a sitting governor, making Abrams an intriguing choice given she doesn’t currently hold a political office.
Only one other time has an elected official not holding statewide or federal office given their party’s response: Elizabeth Guzman, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates, delivered the Spanish-language response for Democrats in 2018, CBS reported. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra gave the Spanish address this year.
However, since losing her gubernatorial bid, Abrams has said she is open to running for political office again. Abrams talked about family values – taught by her parents. In one instance on a cold winter night, her family went looking for her father and when they found him walking along a road, he was shivering and without a coat.
“He had given his coat to a homeless man,” Abrams said. “I knew he would still be alone when I left him, but I knew you were coming for me,” she said, relating her father’s words. “I hold fast to my father’s credo, we are coming for a better America,” Abrams said.
Abrams railed against Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the government shutdown. Abrams noted McConnell’s recent verbal assaults on a House Democratic voting rights and an election bill that he has labeled a Democratic “power grab.”
“Voter suppression is real … we can no longer ignore these threats to Democracy. We cannot accept efforts to undermine our right to vote,” Abrams said. “This is the next battle for our democracy, one where all eligible citizens can have their say about the vision we want for our country,” she said. “We must reject the cynicism that says allowing every eligible vote to be cast and counter is a ‘power grab.’”
She blasted Trump and McConnell noting the missed paydays and the struggles of more than 800,000 federal workers who could still face another shutdown in just a couple of weeks because Trump wants to build a $5 billion wall on the southern border.
“Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers. They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received a paycheck in weeks,” Abrams said. “Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace,” she said.
Further driving home her point, Abrams continued: “The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values.”
Trump, who continues to garner headlines over a myriad of alleged misdeeds, misstatements, and the division that’s enveloped the country since he took office, called for bipartisanship in his address.
He claimed outstanding records on jobs and the economy and America’s global standing. He also again took credit for low African American and Latino unemployment, saying more people – 157 million – are working now than anytime in the past in America.
The president also talked about the 300 or so judicial nominees that are in the Senate, ignoring that President Barack Obama’s high court choices were blatantly disregarded by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Abrams, who was once the Democratic Leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, dismissed those claims. Abrams also firmly rebutted the notion that the Trump administration has the best ideals for the country going forward. “We may come from different sides of the political aisle, but our joint commitment to the ideals of this nation cannot be negotiable,” she said.
“The Republican tax bill rigged the system against people. Wages struggle to keep pace with the cost of living. We owe more to the folks who keep our country moving.”
“We know bipartisanship can craft a 21stcentury immigration plan, but this administration chooses to cage people. Democrats stand ready to secure our borders, but we must understand America is made stronger by immigrants, not walls.”

Newswire : President announces end to Shutdown

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

U. S. Capitol with shutdown sign


The longest government shutdown in American history is over – and President Donald Trump did not get his Wall.
Trump announced on Friday a short-term deal to temporarily reopen the government. NBC News was the first to report that a stop-gap agreement with congressional leaders will last three weeks, until Feb. 15, and would allow talks to continue over security on the southern border.
The deal includes no money for his border wall. “In a short while, I will sign a bill to reopen the government for three weeks until Feb. 15,” Trump said in the Rose Garden, according to NBC News.
“I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible.”
Trump announced the deal 35 days into the longest-ever partial government closure that has left an estimated 800,000 federal employees without pay and created a host of problems.
On Thursday, the president said that if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., were about to reach a reasonable agreement to end the shutdown, he would support it.
The shutdown began just before Christmas and has left approximately 400,000 workers home from work without pay, while another 400,000 were required to be on the job without pay. The workers will receive back pay, under the agreement.
Trump and congressional Democrats have been at a standoff over the president’s demand for $5.7 billion to build his wall along the southern border.
The news was met with joy from government workers, including the thousands of African Americans who have gone without pay since the shutdown began.
“Are you serious?” Sharon Clifford, a TSA worker who sought babysitting jobs during the shutdown, told NNPA Newswire. “Thank God,” said Clifford, who said she was visiting her parents in North Carolina to ask for a loan to get her through the end of the month.

Newswire : Global voter suppression efforts against Black Americans are confirmed in new report

Written By Nigel Roberts, Newsone
A new report detailed how the Russians specifically targeted African-American voters in the 2016 election to help President Donald Trump win—adding to domestic efforts to suppress the Black vote.
The New York Times obtained an advanced copy of the report that was released on Monday, and it found that a Russian-backed team used an array of tactics to suppress turnout among Democrats through social media outlets, especially Instagram and Facebook.
In response, the NAACP called on Congress to conduct additional investigations into Facebook. Derrick Johnson, the organization’s president and CEO, told NewsOne that the report added urgency to its “LogOut Facebook” digital protestplanned for Dec. 18.
“We’re raising awareness about an attack on Black and brown users, which Facebook was in part complicit with. The Russian interference during the 2016 election called into question the integrity of the voting processes that took place, and overwhelmingly, people of color have suffered the most as a result of that election,” he stated.
A U.S. Senate committee commissioned the study that was produced by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company based in Austin, Texas, along with researchers at Columbia University and Canfield Research LLC.
The efforts through Facebook and Instagram focused on developing Black audiences and disproportionately recruited unwitting African-American activists who were sometimes paid to stage rallies to create turmoil.

        “As Russia takes aim at African-American voters, we can’t ignore the fact that people of color remain the primary targets for voter suppression schemes right here on American soil. In setting its main target on African Americans, Russia is taking a page out of the U.S. voter suppression playbook; by allowing voter suppression domestically, we send a dangerous message to bad actors such as Russia that Black votes don’t matter,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said.
        America’s long history of suppressing the Black vote also impacted the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. For example, after the Republican-led statehouse in Wisconsin changed its voter registration law mandating stricter identification, more than 200,000 voters, mostly African Americans, were not able to vote, according to a study from Priorities USA that was reported in The Nation.
        The progressive voting rights organization found that Wisconsin’s voter-ID law reduced turnout by 200,000 votes. Trump won the state by only 22,748 votes.
        A St. Petersburg company called the Internet Research Agency operated the influence campaign. It was owned by businessman Yevgeny V. Prigozhin who has a close connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
        The company created a dozen fake websites using names that would appeal to African Americans, such as blackmattersus.com, blacktivist.info, blacktolive.org and blacksoul.us. It operated a YouTube channel that covered the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality.
        On Facebook, ads targeted users who showed an interest in certain topics like Black history or the Black Panther Party.
        The NAACP called for its digital protest of Facebook ahead of Monday’s release of the report. Over the past year, the organization said it expressed concern about the company’s multiple data and privacy breaches, as well as the lack of employee diversity at large tech companies.
        “We’re holding Facebook accountable for the role it played in the proliferation of propaganda against people of color. The hackers preyed on the vulnerability of racial tensions in America, and Facebook fed them our information on a silver platter. As a corporation, Facebook needs to acknowledge this negligence, and we’re empowering people to use #LogOutFacebook as a means to express their discontent,” Johnson stated.

Newswire: Mississippi campaign heats up after ‘Lynching’ Remark’

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent@StacyBrownMedia

 Mike Espy

It’s a campaign that flew quietly under the radar – though the outcome could not only make history but change the dynamics in the United States Senate. Down in the Delta – where the public lynching of African Americans was the rule and not the exception and the Ku Klux Klan was usually law enforcement, judge, jury and executioner – Mike Espy, a Black man, has forced a runoff against Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. As stunning as Espy’s rise in one of the classic “Good Ole Boys” states, Hyde-Smith, perhaps in a fit of desperation or a time lapse, helped to shine the spotlight on the race that had taken a back seat to the historic runs for governor in two other southern states, Florida and Georgia. “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” Hyde-Smith said as she was surrounded by cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson and other supporters at a gathering in Tupelo. Hyde-Smith later tried to walk back the inflammatory comment, saying “In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.” If the comment was an exaggerated expression of regard, many in the one-time civil rights hotbed — and many more from across the nation — didn’t see it that way. It not only ignited interest in the under-the-radar Senate race, it galvanized Espy’s supporters. “Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s shameful remarks prove once again how [President Donald] Trump has created a social and political climate that normalizes hateful and racist rhetoric. We’ve seen this in Florida from Ron DeSantis and others during this election season and denounce it,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick. To envision this brutal and degenerate type of frame during a time when Black people, Jewish People and immigrants are still being targeted for violence by White nationalists and racists is hateful and hurtful,” Johnson said. According to the NAACP, Mississippi had 581 lynchings between 1882 and 1968, more than any other state. The state’s population has the highest percentage of African-Americans of any state, 37 percent according to the last census. “Any politician seeking to serve as the national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better. Her choice of words serves as an indictment of not only her lack of judgement, but her lack of empathy, and most of all lack of character,” Johnson said. Senator Hyde-Smith’s remark that she would “be on the front row” of a “public hanging” is repulsive and her flippant disregard for our state’s deep history of inhumanity tied to lynching is incensing,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “What is worse is her tone-deaf justification for the comment,” said Lumumba, who’s African-American. The ACLU of Mississippi released a statement calling Hyde-Smith’s comments “Despicable and abhorrent.” “We expect and demand that Mississippi leaders represent and remain committed to inclusion and diversity. Sitting senators should not be referencing public hangings unless they are condemning them,” The ACLU’s statement said. Espy himself weighed in. “Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are reprehensible. They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country,” Espy said. “We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state.” The race for the Senate out of Mississippi has grown in its importance since election day. With the Democrats taking control of the House, the party has continued to narrow the majority in the Senate. After a stunning victory in Arizona by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, and Rick Scott’s win in Florida after a recount, Republicans hold a narrow majority of 52 to 47, with the Mississippi election to determine the final result. Espy once served as agriculture secretary under Democratic President Bill Clinton and, in 1986, he became the first African-American from Mississippi elected to Congress since Reconstruction. Born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Espy received a B.A. from Howard University in 1975 and then attended law school at the University of Santa Clara where he received his J.D. degree in 1978. Espy returned to Mississippi after law school and worked as an attorney for Central Mississippi Legal Services from 1978 to 1980, according to blackpast.org. Between 1980 and 1984 Espy served as assistant secretary of the Public Lands Division for the State of Mississippi and then took the post of assistant State Attorney General for Consumer Protection, a position he held until 1985. The following year Mike Espy won the 2nd Congressional District seat which included much of the Mississippi Delta, becoming the only black Congressman to represent a predominately rural district. Now, Espy is trying to unseat Hyde-Smith, whose comments have those outside of Mississippi rallying for him as the runoff approaches on Nov. 27. “North Mississippi and Memphis are connected at the hip,” said Corey Strong, the Shelby County Democratic Party Chair in Memphis.“We are looking at potentially having a day of action for members of Shelby County and a concerted effort to go down and support Mike Espy in that race,” Strong said.

Two-thirds of Alabama voters cast straight party tickets

By The Associated Press MONTGOMERY Nearly two-thirds of Alabamians voted a straight-ticket — either all Republican or all Democratic— when they went to the polls 0n Tuesday, November 6, a record number that reflects political polarization and likely boosted Republicans in their easy sweep of state races. According to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, about 1.1 million of the 1.7 million ballots cast on Tuesday were straight-ticket votes, where voters checked one box to vote for all of a party’s candidates. Of those straight- ticket votes, 661,898 were for the Republican Party and 460,408 were for Democratic Party. Another 135 were for the Libertarian Party. In Greene County, 3, 228 (89.8%) voted straight Democratic and 367 (10.2%) voted straight Republican. Secretary of State John Merrill said that is a record high for straight party ticket voting in the state. “This is a very high, high number,” Merrill said. “It tells me that people are becoming more polarized.” Republicans swept all statewide and contested congressional races, holding Democrats to about 40 percent of the vote. Republicans also picked up six seats in the Alabama Legislature. Alabama is one of eight states that allow or offer straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A number of states have abolished the option in recent years. The other states in addition to Alabama are:  Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas. Political scientist Jess Brown said Wednesday that party label and national politics appeared to be increasingly on voters’ minds as they went to the polls. According to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate and nonvoters, more than half of Alabama voters said a reason for their vote was to express support for or opposition to President Donald Trump Thirty-seven percent of voters said a reason for their vote was to express support for Trump, and 21 percent said they voted to express opposition to Trump. By comparison, 42 percent of Alabama voters said Trump was not a factor they considered while casting their votes. Immigration was at the forefront of voters’ minds: 31 percent named it as the most important issue facing the nation in this year’s midterm elections.

Newswire: NAACP: Mississippi candidate’s ‘public hanging’ remark is sick, shameful

 By Hazel Trice Edney

 Mike Espy, Democratic candidate for Mississippi U. S. Senate seat

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The NAACP has issued a stinging rebuke to Republican Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who recently invoked a reference to a “public hanging” amidst her campaign against African-American Democratic candidate Mike Espy. Referring to a glowing endorsement from Mississippi cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson, Hyde-Smith said, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” The remarks drew laughter and applause, but she apparently did not know the comments were being videotaped by journalist Lamar White Jr. After public release of the video, Hyde-Smith issued a statement saying, “In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.” She has refused to make any further comment or apologize for the remark, which clearly invokes painful images of thousands of Black people who were lynched or killed by White supremacists in the Deep South with Mississippi being a leading offender. The highest number of lynchings in the U. S. took place in Mississippi from 1882-1968 with 581, according to the NAACP. “Georgia was second with 531, and Texas was third with 493,” says a report by the civil rights organization, adding that 79 percent of lynching happened in the South. Among the best known killings of Black people by White supremacists, Emmett Till and Medgar Evers, occurred in Money and Jackson, Mississippi respectively. Further exacerbating the impact of Hyde-Smith’s remark is the fact that she has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, who has made no public comment on the issue. “Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s shameful remarks prove once again how Trump has created a social and political climate that normalizes hateful and racist rhetoric. We’ve seen this in Florida from Ron DeSantis and others during this election season and denounce it,” said NAACP President Johnson in a statement. Ron DeSantis, Republican nominee for Flordia governor, also drew a fire storm of criticism when he said in a television interview that Florida voters should not “monkey this up” by electing Andrew Gillum, his opponent, who would be the state’s first black governor. That campaign is amidst a recount. “Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick. To envision this brutal and degenerate type of frame during a time when Black people, Jewish People and immigrants are still being targeted for violence by White nationalists and racists is hateful and hurtful,” Johnson said. “Any politician seeking to serve as the national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better. Her choice of words serves as an indictment of not only her lack of judgement, but her lack of empathy, and most of all lack of character.” Espy himself has released a statement calling Hyde-Smith’s comments “reprehensible” and saying, “They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state.” Joining the rebuke of Hyde-Smith, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson described her comments as “beyond disrespectful and offensive.” He pointed out that Mississippi has “one of the highest numbers of public lynching, that we know of, than any other state in this country.” Hyde-Smith has refused to speak further on the issue, saying, “I put out a statement yesterday, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.” It is not clear how or whether this new controversy will affect her Nov. 27th run-off against Espy. They both received about 41 percent of the vote in a four-way race Nov. 6. Espy, a former member of the U. S. Congress who served from 1987 to 1993, would become the first black senator to represent Mississippi since Reconstruction. From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States. Of these people that were lynched 3,446 were Black. The Blacks lynched accounted for 72.7 percent of the people lynched. These numbers seem large, but it is known that not all of the lynchings were ever recorded. Out of the 4,743 people lynched only 1,297 White people were lynched. That is only 27.3 percent. Many of the Whites lynched were lynched for helping the Black or being anti-lynching and even for domestic crim

Newswire : ‘Morally Wrong’: former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon condemns US for not having Universal Health Care

 By Amanda Michelle Gomez, ThinkProgress

Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon

Failing to provide health care to 29.3 million people is “unethical” and “politically wrong, morally wrong,” said former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an interview with the Guardian. The U.S. is the only wealthy country without universal coverage — and Ban faults “powerful” interest groups within the pharmaceutical, hospitals, and doctors sector. “Here, the political interest groups are so, so powerful,” Ban said. “Even president, Congress, senators and representatives of the House, they cannot do much so they are easily influenced by these special interest groups.” Ban is hardly alone in his disillusionment with the U.S. health care system and is definitely not the first foreign leader to call the United States out. When President Donald Trump attacked Britain’s health system to slam Democrats running on universal health care, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt blasted him back on Twitter, saying no one in his country “wants to live in a system where 28m people have no coverage.” It’s a well-known fact that the U.S. is an outlier in the developed world, as we spend more on health care but have worse health outcomes than other countries. Indeed, health spending is projected to rise 5.5 percent, on average, annually from 2017 to 2026 according to the federal health department. And while health spending is expected to make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy in 2026, the uninsured population is also expected to rise. “It seems with Trump just undoing Obamacare, people were not happy first of all,” said Ban about the Trump administration’s reforms that, so far, have undermined the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “Ironically, it might have motivated people to think other ways, and influence their senators, and their Congressman to think the other way.” Ban’s observations hold. A recent poll finds a majority of the public favors single-payer, meaning they’d want to replace the current private-public insurance patchwork system with a single government plan. Support for single payer or Medicare for All became especially pronounced after Republicans tried to repeal and replace the ACA, jeopardizing quality insurance particularly for those with pre-existing conditions. Since Medicare for All garnered critical support from likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, health care industry groups launched a lobbying group against single-payer plans. The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future is comprised of major players including America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the American Medical Association, and the Federation of American Hospitals. Ban hopes California and New York will ultimately pass single-payer bills currently stalled in each state’s legislature, sparking a national wake-up call. “It will be either California or New York who will introduce this system,” he told the Guardian. “Then I think there will be many more states who will try to follow suit. I think that’s an encouraging phenomenon we see.” Ban made his comments as a member of The Elders, a peace and human rights organization launched by Nelson Mandela to promote ideas like universal health care. His interview with the Guardian isn’t the first time he’s criticized Trump for undermining coverage and urging states like California to embrace single payer. He recently spoke at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where he also said, “the good news is that at a state level things appear to be changing for the better.”