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U.S. Attorneys say Project Safe Neighborhoods is making Alabama safer

Brandon Moseley

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Friday, Alabama’s three U.S. Attorneys released a statement detailing their efforts over the last year to combat Alabama’s violent crime problem.

One year ago, the Department of Justice announced the revitalization and enhancement of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which Attorney General Sessions has made the centerpiece of the Department’s violent crime reduction strategy. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Federal authorities have partnered with all levels of law enforcement, local organizations, and members of the community to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.

“Project Safe Neighborhoods is a proven program with demonstrated results,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “We know that the most effective strategy to reduce violent crime is based on sound policing policies that have proven effective over many years, which includes being targeted and responsive to community needs. I have empowered our United States Attorneys to focus enforcement efforts against the most violent criminals in their districts, and directed that they work together with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and community partners to develop tailored solutions to the unique violent crime problems they face. Each United States Attorney has prioritized the PSN program, and I am confident that it will continue to reduce crime, save lives, and restore safety to our communities.”

“In late 2017, Montgomery needed help,” U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama Louis V. Franklin Sr said. “Too many people were illegally carrying guns, too many people were being shot, too many people were living in fear. PSN was the perfect program to help Montgomery. So, we joined with our federal, state and local partners and focused on the worst of the worst violent criminals in Montgomery. We had a goal to reduce violent crime in Montgomery, and we saw results. By May of 2018, we saw an almost 16 percent decline in violent crime in Montgomery. This PSN partnership will continue to see Montgomery through this violent crime crisis. We have an obligation to our community and we will fulfill that obligation.”

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“Because of PSN and the leadership of our Attorney General, never before have our law enforcement partnerships been so robust,” stated U.S. for the Northern District of Alabama Jay E. Town. “Never before have we prosecuted so many defendants, especially violent criminals, in federal court, where sentences do not suffer the sanctuary of parole. Never before has there been the commitment to resources by the Department of Justice at every level of law enforcement to aggressively address violent crime. Federal prison beds are being filled by our worst offenders, and our neighborhoods are safer than ever before.”

“Most Alabamians are benefiting from a much safer Alabama as a direct result of the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions,” stated U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Richard W. Moore. “Law enforcement officers have been empowered to do what they do best and the violent crime rate in many of our communities is going down. Aggressive efforts to take the “trigger pullers” who terrorize neighborhoods off the street makes sense and makes Alabama a safer place to live. Violent crime rates, however, are still too high and we are not resting on the good results that we have seen over the past two years. The American people have been clear about their desire to have a safer country. We are starting to deliver on the promise that President Trump made to make that a reality.”

The Justice Department said in their statement that as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the revitalized PSN program, here are some of the highlights of our PSN actions over the past year:

Federal, state, and local agencies tackled the violent crime problem in Montgomery by vigorously pursuing illegal firearm prosecutions. From January to April of 2018, the USAO concentrated on indicting Montgomery firearm cases.

Additionally, Operation Triple Beam Operation Triple Beam was led by the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force and focused on street level crime, gang-related crime, undercover narcotics operations, traffic stop enforcement, and a warrant service in identified high-crime districts. kicked off and saturated law enforcement in those areas in Montgomery with the largest number of shootings. As a result of these partnerships and the re-invigorated PSN program, in May of this year the violent crime rate dropped in Montgomery by almost 16 percent.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District has formed an array of task forces and partnerships that have seen impressive results. The Northern District office has formed Public Safety Task Forces in Huntsville and Birmingham, both designed to target the worst offenders and repeat offenders who have besieged those cities. The office also formed the Prosecutor-to-Prosecutor Program, or “P3”, where District Attorneys from around the Northern District are given training and direct lines of communication to federal prosecutors so that state charges can be removed to federal court where the sentence does not suffer the sanction of parole. We have dramatically increased our federal presence in every community, every county, and every corner of the Northern District.

This summer, a three-month operation focused on reducing violent crime in Selma and the Gulf Coast region resulted in federal charges against 24 defendants, with about 50 guns seized. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama joined with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to interrupt the pattern of federal firearms violations.

Focused enforcement efforts throughout the Southern District are bringing armed criminals to justice in federal court, where the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged 192 cases with 205 defendants with federal gun crimes in the past 12 months.

In order to increase illegal firearm prosecutions in Montgomery, the U.S. Attorney’s Office joined with the Montgomery Police Department to organize training for each Montgomery Police officer, starting with patrol. The PSN coordinator and the Law Enforcement Coordinator met officers at rollcall at 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. until all officers were trained. The USAO has now expanded that project to other Middle District counties.

AG Sessions designated Birmingham as one of the nations’ few Public Safety Partnership communities where the Department of Justice infuses resources to the city and creates a platform for all levels of law enforcement to join forces to reduce violent criminal activity in the metropolitan area. Never before has there been the level of inter-agency cooperation that now exists in Birmingham. The Northern District office has taken that formula and expanded it around the Northern District, especially to include Anniston and Tuscaloosa. Not only are traditional members of law enforcement at the table, but also community leaders, City Hall, non-profits, and other groups with the sole interest of making neighborhoods safe again.

In the Southern District, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has continued its Bridging the Gap program, a successful partnership with the FBI, the Mobile Police Department, community leaders, and school systems to reach out to ninth-grade students about demonstrating the proper conduct youth and law enforcement should expect from one another during a law enforcement encounter. This program, developed in Mobile, was implemented nationwide by all 56 FBI field offices.

U.S. Attorney Richard Moore and his staff have been actively involved in the Selma area, coordinating with community organizations, community leaders, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, and the public to develop prevention and enforcement priorities, and to establish a long-term presence in the community.

The FBI’s official crime data for 2017 reflects that, after two consecutive, historic increases in violent crime, in the first year of the Trump Administration the nationwide violent crime rate began to decline. The nationwide violent crime rate decreased by approximately one percent in 2017, while the nationwide homicide rate decreased by nearly one and a half percent.

The attorneys said that the preliminary information for 2018 gives reason for optimism that their efforts are continuing to pay off. Public data from 60 major cities show that violent crime was down by nearly five percent in those cities in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period a year ago.

Due to the enhanced partnerships created by the re-invigorated PSN program, the violent crime rate in Montgomery decreased in May by almost 16 percent.

The Northern District of Alabama has prosecuted more defendants in the past two years than in any two-year period in over a decade. Now, more than ever, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are working together to target the worst offenders in the highest crime areas so that those neighborhoods can be returned to their rightful owners…the law-abiding citizens who live there. Recognizing that incarceration alone will not solve all problems with crime, the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to work with community leaders from around the Northern District to provide opportunities and prevention programs that will not only prevent future criminal behavior, but make such behavior unnecessary in the first place.

Statistics from the Mobile Police Department show that focused enforcement efforts are paying off. From January 1 through the end of September, violent crime decreased by 1.7 percent, and includes a 34.4 percent reduction in criminal homicides and a 9.4 percent reduction in robberies.

These enforcement actions and partnerships are part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime. Learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods.

Alabama has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country and has the fourth highest murder rate. Efforts to fight crime are being hindered by a lack of sufficient prison capacity in the Alabama Department of Corrections to keep offenders locked up longer. Prosecutors are moving more cases to the federal system in order to combat the shortage of beds in the state system.

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Featured Columnists

Opinion | Trump’s con game is almost over

Josh Moon

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It’s all true.

All of the rumors. All of the speculation. All of the oh-my-God-have-you-heard-about whispers.

All of it is true.

All of the things that Donald Trump and his administration and family have been accused of doing … they actually did them. All of them.

Even the really dumb ones.

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Even the really awful ones.

They did it all.

Oh, listen, I know that the typical Alabama conservative voter has zero idea what I’m talking about right now, because they have so fully wrapped themselves in the protective bubble of conservative opinion sources that they’re still talking about the Clinton Foundation. But I don’t care.

Because this isn’t speculation. Or partisan hopefulness. Or ignorant accusations.

This is under oath.

And right now, after the last two weeks, here’s what people under oath, facing the penalty of perjury and providing supporting evidence and documentation, have said about the conman you people elected president: He has lied repeatedly. He has directed illegal payments. He has sought to cover up affairs. He has bought off a tabloid. At least 14 members of senior campaign staff were in contact with Russians. And Trump — or “Individual 1,” as he’s known in court filings these days — was involved in it all.

Trump’s personal attorney has now been convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for a crime personally directed by the president.

That makes five — FIVE! — of Trump’s top aides or attorneys who have struck deals with Robert Mueller and are now working with the broad investigation into possible (certain) Russian interference and collusion.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Trump’s personal businesses are also under federal investigation. His campaign staff’s use of funds is now under federal investigation. And most of his immediate family is under investigation.

And absolutely none of this should be a surprise to anyone.

Because all of you should have known well before this clown was elected president that he is nothing more than a two-bit conman with an ego large enough to fill a stadium and less shame than a 90-year-old stripper.

You should know because we told you. We, the media. The actual media.

We wrote story after story on this crook and his shady business dealings — how he rarely paid his bills, how he left working men holding the bill, how he created a scam college to bilk poor people out of money, how he skirted laws and tax codes constantly and how he gamed the system over and over again to stay wealthy using taxpayer money.

All of it was right there for anyone to read.

But a good portion of this country didn’t care. They were too caught up in this buffoon making jokes and calling people names and kicking people out of rallies and saying offensive things. He catered to white men and claimed he could fix any problem just by saying he could fix any problem.

And they bought it. Just like the conman planned. You didn’t even make this dude show you his tax returns!

And the white, working-class folks are still buying it. Which would make sense if he had done even one thing to help them.

But he hasn’t.

His economic policies have been a disaster, especially for the people of Alabama. And his tough talk has produced zilch in the way of foreign respect, better trade deals, lower prices for consumers or more American jobs. In fact, we’ve lost respect, have worse deals and higher prices and companies are still moving American jobs to other countries.

And yet, the supporters remain.

I don’t understand it. But you know what? I don’t have to understand it for much longer.

The walls are quickly closing around the conman president. Soon, the rest of Mueller’s investigation will drop, and the indictments will roll out. The full breadth of the Trump administration’s illegal acts will be laid out for Congress to see. Given what we already know from the few filings that have been made public, this will not go well for Trump and his closest associates.

I do not expect the Trump supporters to ever admit they were wrong.

But if there is justice in this world, and if the indictments break just right, those supporters will have to deal — at least for a brief period — with the two words that could make this whole thing almost worth it.

President Pelosi.

 

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Aerospace and Defense

Jones appointed to powerful Senate Armed Services Committee

Chip Brownlee

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After a brief stint with no representation on the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, Alabama is back in the mix.

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones has been appointed to the influential committee tasked with overseeing the nation’s armed forces, national security and military research and development. Jones will assume his position on the committee when the 116th Congress convenes in January.

Alabama is home to five military bases, which employ 8,500 active-duty service members and more than 23,000 civilians. With Jones’ appointment, Alabama will regain some representation for the aerospace industry in Huntsville and the shipbuilding industry in Mobile, both of which have deep ties to the military.

In 2017, the Department of Defense spent $7.7 billion on contracts in Alabama. Alabama hasn’t had any representation on the committee since Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions left the Senate to become attorney general and his temporary replacement, Luther Strange, lost the Republican primary to Roy Moore.

More than 375,000 veterans, including 65,000 retirees, live in Alabama.

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“Alabama and its citizens have long played a significant role in our national defense, from building or maintaining ships and other vehicles to leading cutting-edge research and development to volunteering to serve in our armed forces,” Jones said. “It is vital that we have a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, a role that I am honored to be able to fill in the next Congress.”

Jones said he is committed to serving as Alabama’s advocate for a strong national defense, which also means a strong and prosperous economy in our state.

“I look forward to working with Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed to advocate for our service members and their families, and for a robust national defense posture that protects our interests at home and abroad,” Jones said.

Democrats had to fill three seats on the committee after losing three of the senior Democrats who were serving there. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida; Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri; and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, all lost their re-election to the Senate, leaving a gaping hole for the Democrats. Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, is the highest-ranking Democrat on the committee.

“Senator Jones is a tremendous advocate for Alabama and a true champion for our service members and their families,” Reed said. “I am pleased to welcome him to the committee and know he’ll continue working on a bipartisan basis to help keep America strong militarily and economically.”

Jones will remain on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where his office says he will continue to advocate for improved access to health care and quality educational opportunities for Alabamians.

Jones will also continue to serve on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Senate Special Committee on Aging. He will no longer serve on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

 

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National

Sewell calls Trump’s threat to shutdown the government over border wall “disgraceful”

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Selma, said that President Donald J. Trump’s threat to shut down the government if his border wall project is not funded “disgraceful.”

The President made the comments in a televised White House meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California.

“We need funding for teacher pay, health care, for job skills training and access to higher ed,” Rep. Sewell said on social media. “We need funding for roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems. Shutting down the government over funding for a wall that the public doesn’t want is disgraceful. Plain and simple.”

Congress is currently considering the delayed 2019 Homeland Security budget. A key sticking point is a wall on the southern border that Trump promised in the 2016 election. Pres. Trump is demanding that the budget include a $5 billion appropriation for beginning construction of his wall along the approximately 1,954 miles of the U.S./Mexico border. The Democrats have offered just $1.3 billion for general border security. While Republicans have a one-seat majority in the Senate and a majority in the House, passing a budget is going to require bipartisan support, given Senate rules.

Leader Pelosi told the President, “You can’t win,” on the border wall issue and Senator Schumer warned that the President would be held responsible if there was a shutdown.

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An angry President Trump replied: “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not gonna blame you for it. The last time you shut it down it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down. And I’m gonna shut it down for border security.”

Leader Pelosi replied, “Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you so that we can work together in a bipartisan way to meet the needs of the American people. I think the American people recognize that we must keep government open — that a shutdown is not worth anything. And that you should not have a Trump shutdown.”

“A what, did you say?” Pres. Trump said.

“Trump shutdown,” Pelosi responded. “You have the White House. You have the Senate. You have the House of Representatives. You have the votes. You should pass it.”

“No, we don’t have the votes, Nancy,” Pres. Trump replied. “Because in the Senate we need 60 votes.

“No, but in the House,” Rep. Pelosi said. “You can bring it up right now.”

After the meeting, Schumer and Pelosi told reporters outside the White House that the shutdown will be Mr. Trump’s responsibility, and Trump’s alone.

“The President has the White House, he has the Senate, he has the House of Representatives, all in Republican control,” Pelosi said. “He has the power to keep government open. Instead, he has admitted in this meeting that he will take responsibility, the Trump shutdown is something that can be avoided. The American people do not need at the time of economic uncertainty, people losing jobs, the market in the mood and the rest, the Trump shutdown is luxury that the American people cannot afford.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement after the meeting, “President Trump had a constructive dialogue with Democrat Leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. The President and the Democrat Leaders agreed to support the passage of historic criminal justice reform, and discussed significant progress with the farm bill. Major disagreement remains on the issue of border security and transparency. Walls work – where walls have been built, illegal crossings have dropped substantially. President Trump made clear that any government funding measure must include responsible border security, including a wall, to protect the American people from drugs, crime, terrorism, public health threats, and the severe straining of the social safety net.”

A shutdown does not necessarily benefit the President’s position. There is only expected to be a week left in this lame-duck Congress. When Congress returns from the Christmas break, Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) will be out as the Speaker of the House and instead, Pelosi will be Speaker because Democrats picked up 40 Republican seats and will have the majority of the House for the first time since 2010. Passing a budget through a Democratic-controlled House could be more difficult for the President.

Sewell represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District and is a member of the House Democratic leadership. Sewell is presently the ranking member on the Subcommittee on the Department of Defense Intelligence and Overhead Architecture so could chair that important subcommittee when the Democrats take over in January.

Original reporting by Fox News and CBS News contributed to this report.

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Economy

Farm Bill passes the House of Representatives

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, the bipartisan 2018 Agriculture and Nutrition Act, H.R.2, better known as the Farm Bill, passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill covers agriculture subsidies, conservation, rural development and nutrition.

The Farm Bill reauthorizes farm programs and directs the nation’s agricultural policy for the next five years. The House and Senate had both passed differing versions of the Farm Bill prior to the general election. Following the Thanksgiving break, a conference committee met to resolve the differences between the two versions of the bill. This is the conference committee version.

“In Alabama’s Second District, agriculture is the largest employer. It is imperative that Congress honor our commitments to the hardworking farmers and producers across the country,” U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) said. “The 2018 farm bill provides certainty to the American families who work every day to provide the food and fiber we depend on. I was proud to support this legislation on behalf of the farmers I represent, and I am eager to see President Trump sign it into law.”

The 2018 Farm Bill supports and sustains Alabama’s farmers and foresters by reauthorizing farm programs and directing the nation’s agricultural policy for the next five years. Despite recent gains in manufacturing, Alabama remains an agriculture state. Farming, forestry, livestock and crop production represent more than $70 billion in annual economic output in Alabama.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said: “Our farmers and foresters are our future. I am pleased to support this bipartisan legislation to better support our farmers in Alabama and throughout the country.”

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“The 2018 Farm Bill will allow for improved crop protections and loan options for farmers, incentivize rural development, support animal disease prevention and management, and will continue our nation’s commitment to agriculture and farmers,” Rep. Byrne said. “I am especially pleased to see the substantial resources provided to improve rural broadband access to communities. Providing Internet access to people in rural Alabama is absolutely critical to economic development and the success of these communities in the 21st Century.”

Roby’s office said that H.R. 2 improves agriculture policy by: Providing a nationwide yield update for Price Loss Coverage (PLC), beginning with the 2020 crop year and allowing PLC to better respond to market conditions; Making several key improvements to Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), including increased yield plugs and yield trend adjustments; Protecting and improving crop insurance; Investing in research, extension, and education projects; and Protecting farmers from additional costly and burdensome red tape.

H.R. 2 also strengthens the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) capacity to combat the opioid crisis and refocuses efforts to expand quality broadband to rural America.

The conference report to accompany H.R. 2 passed the House by a vote of 369 to 47. The Senate approved the bill yesterday 87 to 13. It now goes to the White House where it awaits President Donald J. Trump’s (R) signature.

The current legislation has been praised by farm groups for preserving safety nets for farmers while enhancing conservation and increasing USDA loan availability. One thing the bill doesn’t have is tighter work requirements for supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP – commonly still called food stamps) recipients, which was the major difference between the House bill, which only had Republican votes, and the more bipartisan Senate version.

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan (R) explained that the farm bill protects more than just farmers. It serves to protect land and natural resources, develops new trade opportunities, levels the playing field for producers, strengthens rural communities and provides nutritious foods for underserved families.

“Alabama is blessed to have a congressional delegation in Washington that understands the importance of agriculture,” said Commissioner McMillan. “Our nation’s food security depends on strong agricultural policies that provide stability for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

With the President’s signature, this will be the first time since 1990 that Congress has enacted the Farm Bill in the same year it was introduced. It would also be the first time since 2002, that the new Farm Bill was enacted in the same year that the old one expired.

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U.S. Attorneys say Project Safe Neighborhoods is making Alabama safer

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 9 min
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