- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

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March 26

The Gadsden Times says areas cleaning up after tornados need to be wary:

Be careful.

Those two words of advice and, we hope, wisdom are applicable anywhere, in any situation.

Heeding them should be a massive priority right now, however, on two fronts, as residents in Etowah and Calhoun counties continue trying to clean up and begin the rebuilding process from last week’s tornadoes.

First, be careful as you work. Over the weekend, the Gadsden/Etowah County Emergency Management Agency reported that two people - one each in Riddles Bend and Southside, which were battered by one of the tornadoes - were injured in falls from the roofs of their respective homes. One suffered a concussion, the other a serious head injury.

The EMA also reported that a woman who had been cleaning up debris in her yard suffered a fatal heart attack.

Those reports didn’t cite specific details of the incidents, so we’re not going to make any assumptions about the precautions that were taken. That would be completely out of line on our part, because accidents can happen even when people are vigilant and take the proper precautions.

However, let it be a mind-focusing reminder that safety needs to be a priority, both in the use of equipment and the situations people place themselves in. Don’t overextend your capabilities or your stamina.

Second - and we’ve mentioned this before, but it can’t be mentioned enough - be careful should the tasks in front of you prove too much for you to handle and you need to seek help.

Sometimes the help will seek you, and that’s when your antennae need to be fully engaged.

We’re not talking about the volunteers who have registered with emergency management personnel and are donating their talents, tools and sweat to help their neighbors. We’re talking about the cretins who are drawn to disaster situations like moths to a light bulb, who aren’t interested in helping anyone or anything save their bank accounts.

State Attorney General Steve Marshall advises people to:

. Check the licenses, references, bonding and insurance information of any contractors they employ;

. Make sure there’s a written contract that contains the contractor’s contact information and stipulates what work will be done, when it will be done and how much it will cost.

. Pay nothing substantial on that amount until the work is completed;

. Ensure that the contractor has obtained all necessary permits for the work.

Getting slammed by a tornado is a big enough life disruption. Don’t make things worse by getting conned.

Online: http://www.gadsdentimes.com

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March 15

Tuscaloosa News on how black women are influencing state politics:

A record number of black women are running for office in Alabama. And Roy Moore gets the credit. Surprised by that? You shouldn’t be. After all, Moore’s candidacy awakened this large but often dormant voting bloc, leading to their unprecedented turnout at the polls in December in support of Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones.

Moore was an abysmal candidate who was able to capture the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in the special election held to replace Jeff Sessions, who had vacated the seat to become U.S. attorney general. Moore was upset in that election by Jones, thanks in large part to the turnout of black women voters. A whopping 98 percent of black women who went to the polls in that election voted for Jones. As a result, Jones was the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama in 25 years, which happens to coincide with the shift among many white conservatives in the state to the Republican Party.

According to a report published Friday by NBC News, more than 35 black women have launched campaigns or re-election efforts in the current election cycle in Alabama.

By upending the polarizing Moore, black women demonstrated what a powerful force they can be in Alabama politics, so it should come as no surprise that they are now being courted by Democratic leadership to build on that momentum by emerging as viable candidates for office in local and statewide elections.

The GOP leadership shunned Richard Shelby, the veteran Republican senator from Tuscaloosa who abandoned the Moore campaign and said he would rather write in a candidate than cast a vote for Moore. Republican leadership in the state went all-in for Moore, even after a host of women accused him of inappropriate behavior. By refusing to buckle to the pressure to distance themselves from Moore, the shot callers in the GOP leadership helped to energize black women in their opposition, and they discovered exactly what they could accomplish at the polls.

“I don’t know if it was Doug Jones as much as it was Roy Moore himself lighting the fire under African Americans and African-American women,” Cheri Gardner, a Democratic candidate for circuit clerk in Jefferson County told NBC News.

Alabama has long been a strongly red, conservative state, and it remains to be seen whether this surge will have a lasting impact on statewide politics. But it is apparent that a crippled Democratic campaign apparatus was rebuilt with the Jones campaign. As a result, national political action committees that would have wasted little time and money on the lost cause of turning Alabama purple now perceive an opportunity to gain a foothold and will divert funds here.

Regardless of whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, this surge of black women engaging in the political process is a good thing. Any time any group of citizens awakens to the political process, it gives us all a greater opportunity to hear opposing viewpoints and have more viable choices on Election Day.

Online: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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March 25

The Decatur Daily and TimesDaily say Sen. Doug Jones actions don’t line up with his statements on gun violence:

In his first speech to the U.S. Senate, Alabama freshman Sen. Doug Jones urged Congress to address gun violence.

The speech Wednesday came just hours after Jones voted to abrogate his responsibilities when it comes to the U.S. using force abroad. Jones was one of just 10 Democrats to break party ranks and vote to table a joint resolution seeking to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, a campaign that has led to a humanitarian crisis in what already was the Arab world’s poorest country. The Saudis’ blockade of Yemen threatens the lives of millions.

Senate Joint Resolution 54 was a modest attempt by a few in the Senate to reclaim a sliver of Congress’ war-making authority from the executive branch, but it was still too much for an institution that can’t bring itself to rein in a president who lacks even basic impulse control, or restrain any other president since the Vietnam War, for that matter.

In his speech, Jones spoke about the U.S. reaching a “tipping point” when it comes to gun violence. Gun violence in America is certainly a problem. According to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, there were 38,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. in 2016, a figure that includes accidents and suicides. But like most bad things in America, that is down from a peak in the early 1990s.

The difference today is twofold. First, school shootings have increased, and second the media culture of cable news can elevate bad news into catastrophic news. There is little incentive for level-headed analysis and admitting to not having an easy answer when outrage and snap solutions attract more viewers and more clicks.

The flip side of this is something like a potential genocide can go ignored if it happens a world away, far from the cameras, even if it involves U.S. policy and especially if it involves a country, namely Saudi Arabia, that has its claws in America’s political class.

Vladimir Putin’s meddling in American politics is child’s play compared to the game the oil-rich Saudis have played in America for decades.

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman toured the U.S. last week, taking softball questions and winning praise from the punditocracy - is there any autocrat, besides Putin, whom New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman doesn’t like? - and President Donald Trump, who was jubilant about the prospect of yet more military sales to the Saudi kingdom.

Prince Mohammed wins plaudits from the West for reforms such as lifting restrictions on women driving, a handy bit of symbolism that plays well with the jet set and gives Western politicians cover for supporting his war in Yemen.

As Daniel Larison, foreign policy analyst for The American Conservative, writes, “U.S. support for the war on Yemen could be used as leverage to press Saudi Arabia and its allies to lift the blockade, but coalition governments would have to believe that the administration is willing to cut off military assistance if they won’t do that. Following the administration’s intense lobbying to defeat S.J.Res. 54, it is unlikely coalition governments will take such a threat seriously.”

U.S. support for the Saudis is meant as a check on Iranian influence in the region. But such geopolitical maneuvering is of little interest to the sick and starving of Yemen.

Jones is new to the Senate and has no foreign policy experience. But his votes can nevertheless impact the world stage. His decision to cross party lines in order to give President Trump a free hand to continue support for a disastrous policy in the Saudi Peninsula is more than a freshman mistake. It is a signal that military contractors at home are more important than the lives of innocent civilians overseas. The purpose of a strong military is to defend America, not enable the petro-state that gave birth to al-Qaida to establish hegemony in the Middle East.

Jones’ vote on S.J.Res. 54 stands in stark contrast to his words about gun violence on the Senate floor.

Online: http://www.decaturdaily.com , http://www.timesdaily.com


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