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ICYMI | Trump orders missile strikes against three Syrian targets

President Donald J. Trump speaks to members of the public and media Oct. 11, 2017, in an aircraft hangar at the 193rd Special Operations Wing, Middletown, Pennsylvania. The president discussed his plans for tax reform at the event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp/Released)
Brandon Moseley

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President Donald Trump on Friday ordered the U.S. military to attack targets in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town in Syria by Bashar Al-Assad’s Syrian government.

Congressmen Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, and Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, both expressed support Friday night for the president’s actions.

“President Trump is right to respond to the horrific use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria, and it is notable that two of our strongest allies have joined us in our response,” Byrne said in a statement. “I also join President Trump in calling on Russia and Iran to reject the Assad regime’s barbaric actions.”

“While I prefer that President Trump, and President Obama before him, consult with Congress and obtain an unambiguous Authorization for the Use of Military Force from Congress before engaging in acts of war against a foreign nation, I support President Trump and American troops as they engage in military action in Syria,” Brooks said.

Trump announced Friday that he approved military strikes in Syria and that the U.S. was being joined by France and the United Kingdom in the attacks.

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“A short time ago, I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad,” Trump said from the White House. “A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now under way. We thank them both.”

“This evening I have authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.

“The facts and the responsibility of the Syrian regime are not in any doubt.” French President Emmanuel Macron said. “The red line set by France in May 2017 has been crossed. I have thus ordered the French forces to intervene tonight, as part of an international operation with the United States of America and the United Kingdom, directed against the hidden chemical arsenal of the Syrian regime.”

“I am particularly pleased that America was joined by our British and French allies in these strikes,” Brooks said. “It is long past time that the world join American efforts to promote a more peaceful world. I am thankful our British and French allies stood strong in our fight against Syria’s barbaric use of chemical weapons on civilian men, women and children. It is one thing for America to fight solo. It is quite another for other major nations to share our burden in the fight for liberty and freedom.”

Trump said the U.S. is prepared to “sustain” pressure on Assad until he ends what the president called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons.

The bombings are in response to a chemical weapons attack in Douma 6 days previously, where 40 to 75 people died in and over 500 people, mostly women and children, were injured.

Assad’s actions, Trump said, “are not the actions of a man,” but “are the crimes of a monster instead.”

“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” Trump said.

“The evidence is strong that the Assad Regime used chemical agents, a weapon of mass destruction, against civilian men, women and children, thereby causing many of them to die horrific deaths,” Brooks said. “Regardless of whether they are nuclear, biological or chemical, weapons of mass destruction simply cannot be tolerated in a civilized world.”

“Tonight, the United States has taken decisive action in coordination with our allies,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said. “We are united in our resolve that Assad’s barbaric use of chemical weapons cannot go unanswered. His regime’s unconscionable brutality against innocent civilians cannot be tolerated.”

Syria is allied with Iran and Russia. Trump acknowledged this, in his statement.

“I also have a message tonight for the two governments most responsible for supporting, equipping, and financing the criminal Assad regime,” Trump said. “To Iran and to Russia I ask, what kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children. The nations of the world can be judged by the friends that they keep. Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or continue with civilized nations.”

“There should be no doubt that Russia and Iran have blood on their hands, and their partnership with Assad reveals the true nature of their regimes,” Ryan said. “The United States and our allies must continue to seek ways to hold Assad’s enablers accountable.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford said late Friday night from the Pentagon that “Important infrastructure was destroyed,” Dunford said that sites associated with the Syrian chemical weapons program were both “targeted and destroyed.”

Officials with the Pentagon say that B1 bombers flying out of Qatar and U.S. naval ships both fired Tomahawk cruise missiles, in a larger attack than the one launched after Assad reportedly used chemical weapons on the rebel-occupied town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 killing nearly 100 people.

The U.S. launched dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield as a warning to Assad not to use chemical weapons in the future. This time three targets were attacked.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “Clearly the Assad regime did not get the message last year,”

“More than anything tonight, I hope the American people will join me in saying a prayer for our servicemen and women taking part in the military action. May God bless these patriots,” Byrne added.

There reportedly will not be any follow up attacks.

Original reporting by Fox News, New York Times, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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Byrne supports increasing state’s share of Gulf Coast energy revenue

Brandon Moseley

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Friday September 14, 2018, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) recently announced that he has thrown his support behind HR6771, the Domestic Offshore Energy Reinvestment Act of 2018, which would increase the amount of revenue from oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico that is available to the Gulf states.

The bill was introduced by Congressman Garret Graves, R-Louisiana. It amends the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) to increase the amount of oil and gas revenue that is made available to Gulf states like Alabama. The bill advanced out of the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.

“Money from the GOMESA program is critical to coastal Alabama and allows for important infrastructure, coastal restoration, flood mitigation, and other projects,” Rep. Byrne said. “Under this bill, Alabama and the other energy producing states in the Gulf would receive more money, in line with what onshore states receive for their energy production. I am committed to working with my Gulf Coast colleagues to get this bill across the finish line and support our coastal communities.”

Under current law, 50 percent of oil and gas revenues goes to the federal government, 37.5 percent is shared among Gulf states, and 12.5 percent goes to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. HR6771 would increase the state percentage to 50 percent and reduce the federal amount to just 37.5 percent. The Land and Water Conservation Fund would continue to receive 12.5 percent. The bill also removes the current $500 million revenue sharing cap.

This year, Alabama received $21 million through GOMESA while Baldwin County received $2.47 million and Mobile County received $2.88 million. If this bill were law it would increase that by 33 percent.

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“After working on this for 20 years I can tell you: what happened today is historic,” said Rep. Graves. “Moving this bill is a big deal and has enormous implications for South Louisiana.”

“Louisiana is battling the largest historical, ongoing and prospective loss of coastal wetlands we’ve ever seen, and it’s a national crisis,” Graves said. “Diverting Louisiana’s energy revenues away from efforts to improve the resiliency of the people, communities and ecosystems responsible for generating the resources in the first place is a fundamentally flawed approach to addressing the maintenance backlog in national parks. Our bill ensures that these increased revenues will be committed to projects that restore the coast, protect our coastal communities from hurricanes and other disaster and, ultimately, reduce our nation’s outrageous disaster response costs.”

Since coming to Congress Rep. Byrne has consistently offered an amendment to the Department of Interior Appropriations bill to protect important GOMESA revenue.

Congressman Bradley Byrne seeks another term in the U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s First Congressional District. Byrne is being challenged for former U.S. Navy officer, Robert Kennedy Jr.

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Senators Shelby, Jones applaud passage of comprehensive opioids legislation

Brandon Moseley

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Monday, U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Doug Jones (D-Alabama) both voted in favor the Senate’s passage of H.R. 6, “The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.” The legislation passed by a vote of 99 to 1.

“I am proud to have supported this significant legislation that will aid in combatting a crisis that is affecting nearly every community in the nation,” said Senator Shelby. “We have worked in a bicameral, bipartisan effort to fight the dangerous opioid epidemic and present viable solutions for prevention. I look forward to getting this bill to the President’s desk for his signature.”

“Alabama has the highest rate of opioid prescriptions per person in the country and that comes at a steep and sometimes devastating cost for our communities and families,” said Senator Jones. “The opioid crisis has taken hold in every corner of our nation, and while we have seen some strides to turn that tide, we need to take an all-of-the-above approach to combatting this deadly epidemic. I was proud to support a comprehensive legislative effort through my work on the HELP Committee and I am glad to see several of the provisions I supported early on have been included in the final bill.”

The legislation includes the STOP Act, which helps improve detection of illegal drugs at the border. It also improves the sharing of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs data between states. Along with efforts to reduce the use and supply of these dangerous drugs, the bill aims to drive innovation and long-term solutions for the opioid epidemic, including spurring development of new non-addictive pain killers.

Last Thursday, the Senate and House Appropriations Conference Committee came to an agreement on H.R. 6157. The appropriations bill includes $3.8 billion for opioid funding, an increase of $206 million above the Fiscal Year 2018 enacted level.

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Senator Jones is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Last month, Senator Jones hosted a roundtable discussion in Birmingham, Alabama with a diverse group of stakeholders to talk about the challenges that first responders, medical professionals, nonprofits, and the judicial system are facing in Alabama related to the opioid crisis. Jefferson, Walker, and Winston Counties are particularly hard hit by the opioid epidemic.

In April, Senator Jones cosponsored the bipartisan Senate version of OCRA, led by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Patty Murray (D-Washington), which passed the HELP Committee unanimously. Jones also cosponsored two provisions that were included in the legislation passed on Monday. Those provisions include the Jobs Plus Recovery Act, which establishes a pilot program to help recovering substance users access career training and services, and the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act, which mandates a report by the Surgeon General to study the effects of substances like synthetic drugs on young adults.bi
The bill includes provisions designed to crack down on shipments of fentanyl.

“It is outrageous that Poisonous Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl comes pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China,” President Trump said. “We can, and must, END THIS NOW! The Senate should pass the STOP ACT – and firmly STOP this poison from killing our children and destroying our country. No more delay!”

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UltraViolet says Kavanaugh nomination must be withdrawn over sexual misconduct allegation

Brandon Moseley

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Brett Kavanaugh appeared to be a sure confirmation, likely this week; until U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) presented claims that Kavanaugh may have abused a young woman at a pool party in the 1980s when both Kavanaugh and his accuser were teens.

Friday, the ‘New Yorker’ published a piece about how Senate Democrats referred a complaint from a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they both were in high school, to the FBI.

Following the news, Shaunna Thomas, the Executive Director and Co-founder of UltraViolet, a leading national women’s group, issued a statement, calling on Kavanaugh to withdraw his nomination for the Supreme Court.

“The accusations against Brett Kavanaugh are serious, troubling, and totally disqualifying,” Shaunna Thomas said. “He should withdraw his nomination immediately. Violence against women should have no place in our society and it certainly should have no place on the highest court in the nation.”

UltraViolet and the left were already opposing Kavanaugh.

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“With news that the Senate will begin confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in early September, the time is now for Democrats to unite and oppose his nomination,” Thomas wrote on August 10. “Any Senator who votes for Kavanaugh is voting to overturn Roe v. Wade, criminalize abortion, punish millions of women and cement the worst policies of the Trump Administration into law for a lifetime. A vote for Kavanaugh is a vote against women and against the rights and freedoms of millions of Americans. If Democrats cannot find the courage to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, why should voters trust them this November?”

Christine Blasey Ford is now a professor at Palo Alto University in California.

She has accused Kavanaugh of holding her down on a bed and groping her at a house party in Maryland in the early 80’s when Kavanaugh was 17 and Ford was 15. Both were minors at the time. Ford says that Kavanaugh has been drinking.

Ford said that she thought Kavanaugh was going to “inadvertently” kill her, claiming, “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Ford says that the assault was stopped by Mark Judge who intervened and jumped on top of them.

Judge has completely denied that the incident ever took place. Kavanaugh also denies that the incident ever occurred. Ford did not report any of this to authorities at the time.

Sen. Feinstein has known about the allegations but hid it until last week from the public and the rest of the Senate.

Ford has donated to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), signed a letter attacking Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, asserting that it was “violating fundamental human rights”, and attended a women’s march protesting against President Donald J. Trump (R).

Kavanaugh is Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court.

Both Ford and Kavanaugh are both expected to testify about the alleged incident at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Republicans have compared the allegations to the unsubstantiated allegations levied against Clarence Thomas when he was nominated to the Supreme Court and those levied against Roy Moore last year when he was running for the Senate.

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SPLC, Alabama civil rights organizations urge “no” vote on Kavanaugh

Brandon Moseley

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Friday, ten left leaning Alabama civil rights organizations, including the Alabama NAACP, the Greater Birmingham Ministries, Planned Parenthood Southeast, and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), issued a statement urging U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Doug Jones (D-Alabama) to vote against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s troubling record on protecting the rights of the most vulnerable in our society convinces us that he is not suited for a lifetime appointment to the court,” the civil rights groups explained in letters addressed separately to each senator. “Our concerns about him have been exacerbated by his seeming lack of candor during the confirmation process.”

In the letters, the groups highlighted what they called Kavanaugh’s hard-line opposition to affirmative action, his troubling record on matters of criminal justice, and his repeated votes “to uphold the interests of the wealthy and powerful and large corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, and communities of color.”

“The Alabama NAACP stands strongly against the Kavanaugh nomination,” said Alabama NAACP President Bernard Simelton. From Selma to Shelby County, Alabama is ground zero for voting rights. Confirming Brett Kavanaugh could finish off the Voting Rights Act. A vote for Kavanaugh is a vote against democracy.”

“When Robert Bork, an ideologue like Brett Kavanaugh, was nominated to the Supreme Court, Alabama’s legendary Sen. Howell Heflin exercised great wisdom by voting against him,” said Richard Cohen, president of the SPLC. “We hope that Sens. Shelby and Jones follow Sen. Heflin’s example by voting against Kavanaugh, because the rights that the people of our state hold dear hang in the balance.”

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In addition to the Alabama NAACP, the Greater Birmingham Ministries and the SPLC, other groups that signed the letters to the senators are the Alabama affiliate of the National Employment Lawyers Association, Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, the Fair Housing Center of North Alabama, the Mobile Fair Housing Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, and URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity.

Senate Republicans are expected to fast track Kavanaugh’s confirmation, despite allegations that Kavanaugh tried unsuccessfully to remove a girl’s swimsuit 36 years ago when both were teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied the accusation.

Kavanaugh is President Donald J. Trump’s (R) second nominee for the Supreme Court. The first, Neal Gorsuch, was confirmed by the Senate with bipartisan support.

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ICYMI | Trump orders missile strikes against three Syrian targets

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