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Nodine Speaks Out On Hubbard And ALGOP

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

BIRMINGHAM—The Speaker of the Alabama House or Representatives Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn) is under indictment for 23 counts of ethics violations. While everyone is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, can Hubbard still effectively conduct the people of Alabama’s business while under criminal indictment?

Former Mobile County Commissioner Stephen Nodine (R) has been where Hubbard is and has seen his life turned upside down by a criminal indictment while in office. Former Commissioner Nodine told the Alabama Political Reporter that “Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do what is best for the party.” Nodine said that Speaker Hubbard, “Should do what I did and resign.”

Nodine was also critical of Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead. He asked, “I wonder where was the Republican Party?,” when Mike Hubbard was indicted. Nodine said that the Party should call for Hubbard to resign his seat after he was indicted on ethics violations.

Nodine had announced intentions to run for Congress after former Representative Jo Bonnor (R from Mobile) resigned last year; but was blocked in that effort by Chairman Armistead who said then, “I can tell you that as chair, I see no circumstances where I would support a convicted felon being a candidate for the Republican Party.”

The U.S. Constitution sets the requirements to run for the U.S. House the U.S. Senate, and for President and there is no restriction preventing felons from running for federal office; but the Alabama Republican Party has its own rules for qualifying candidates. To run as a Republican, a person must affirm, “I have not been convicted of a felony under the laws of the United States or of another state.”

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Nodine said that he can run for President, for Congress, or for the U.S. Senate; but can’t run for any office in Alabama…..and can’t run as a Republican because the party won’t allow it.

Commissioner Nodine said that with, “The Alabama Republican Party make one mistake and you are out forever.”

Commissioner Nodine was a rising star in Alabama politics until tragedy struck and his girlfriend, Angel Downs, was killed by a gunshot.

The initial investigator and the coroner’s initial thought was that Ms. Downs had killed herself. Baldwin County District Attorney Judy Newcomb however rejected that view in favor of the theory that Nodine murdered her. Newcomb rushed that theory directly to a grand jury who indicted Nodine for murder just 15 days after Downs death.

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The coroner’s initial report, Down’s well documented 2006 suicide attempt, and statements by investigators supporting the suicide theory were never shown to the Grand Jury.

Nodine said, “It was surreal to go through that. You can indict a ham sandwich.”

The trial ended in a hung jury. Nodine was however convicted on a federal charge of being in possession of (legally permitted) firearms while using illegal drugs because he tested positive for marijuana. Nodine said he might have been the second person to be convicted of that rarely prosecuted charge.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) appointed David Whetstone to take over the case after the first trial ended in a hung jury on the most serious charges.

Before his second murder trial, Nodine pled guilty to harassment and perjury for making an incorrect statement on a financial filing requesting legal aid. In exchange for Nodine pleading guilty to anything the state dropped the murder charge with prejudice.

Nodine said of his plea deal, “Sometimes you have to take what you can get.”

Nodine later told the Alabama media group, “If not for the brave investigators and law enforcement personnel that have come forward, (since my October 24, 2012 sentencing), to shine the light of my wrongful prosecutions. I would still be rotting in prison.”

Stephen Nodine remains fiercely critical of the justice system which he says is broken, “I don’t wish it on anybody….The system has become so political. There are no checks and balances on them (prosecutors).” Commissioner Nodine said that the two investigators who believed in his innocence weren’t allowed to testify.

Former Com. Nodine believes that if Downs had not died that he would have eventually run for Congressman Bonner’s First Congressional District seat once Bonner retired.

Nodine said that there has been a huge division in the Republican Party since 2003 and it all stems from Amendment One….a series of tax increases advocated for by then Governor Bob Riley. “I supported Riley.” Nodine said that Bill Armistead and his faction opposed Amendment One.

Nodine said, “The gambling issue has corrupted both political parties.” Democrats were taking money from gambling interests in the state and Republicans were taking money from casinos in Mississippi and from the Indians.

Nodine said, “Never once did I use office for personal gain.” “The Party that was so quick to kick me to the curb now wants to protect him (Hubbard).”

Nodine said that if the Republican party wants to win Black and Hispanic voters they need to back a stronger criminal expungment bill and offer redemption after you make mistakes to people convicted of crimes.

Nodine said that he can’t run for a state office, he can’t vote, and has lost his Second Amendment rights even though his prosecution has been, “Exposed as a wrongful prosecution.”

“Did I have moral problems? Yes Did I have a girl friend? Yes.”

Nodine said that personal failings and mistakes should matter less than, “Are you working your ass off for the people.”

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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USDA is seeking rural energy grant applications

The deadlines to apply for grants is Feb. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand on Wednesday invited applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems, and to make energy efficiency improvements, conduct energy audits and provide development assistance.

The funding is being provided through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, which was created under the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized under the 2018 Farm Bill. This notice seeks applications for Fiscal Year 2021 funding.

The deadlines to apply for grants is Feb. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.

REAP helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations.

Eligible systems may derive energy from wind, solar, hydroelectric, ocean, hydrogen, geothermal or renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters).

USDA encourages applications that will support recommendations made in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to help improve life in rural America.

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Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments.

Key strategies include achieving e-Connectivity for rural America, developing the rural economy, harnessing technological innovation, supporting a rural workforce and improving quality of life. For additional information, see the notice in the Federal Register.

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Trump says that coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin within two weeks

Trump said that front-line workers, medical personnel and senior citizens would be the vaccine’s first recipients.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

President Donald Trump said Thursday that coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin as early as next week.

“The whole world is suffering, and we are rounding the curve,” Trump said. “And the vaccines are being delivered next week or the week after.”

Trump made the announcement during a special Thanksgiving holiday message to U.S. troops overseas via teleconference. Trump said that front-line workers, medical personnel and senior citizens would be the vaccine’s first recipients. He also argued that his election opponent, President-elect Joe Biden, should not be given credit for the vaccines, which were developed during the Trump administration.

Trump referred to the vaccines, which were developed and tested in less than ten months as a “medical miracle.”

Regulators at the FDA will review Pfizer’s request for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine developed with BioNTech during a meeting on Dec. 10. The director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research says a decision is expected within weeks, possibly days after that key meeting.

The latest trial data for Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine showed that it was 90 percent effective.

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The CDC plans to vote next week on where the distribution of approved vaccines will begin and who will be allowed to get the first vaccines when they become available.

Dr. Celene Gounder, a member of Biden’s COVID Advisory Board, warned against rushing a vaccine to market.

“The single biggest risk of rushing an approval would be Americans’ distrust the vaccine,” Grounder said. “It’s essential people feel confident this is a safe and effective vaccine.”

Moderna said that its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

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AstraZeneca says its preliminary results showed its vaccine ranged from 62 percent to 90 percent effective depending on the dosage amount given to participants. AstraZeneca is having to launch a second round of global trials to clear up the discrepancies.

Many Americans appear to have ignored CDC warnings to scale back Thanksgiving holiday plans. More than six million Americans flew over the holiday week, raising fears by public health officials that the surge in coronavirus cases we are experiencing now will be followed by a bigger surge in the next three weeks.

As of press time, there have been 62 million diagnosed cases of coronavirus cases in the world, including nearly 13.5 million in the United States, but many cases are mild and go undiagnosed.

A CDC researcher estimates that the real number of infections in the U.S. has topped 53 million since February. More than 1.4 million people have died around the world since the virus first appeared in China late last year. The death toll includes 271,029 Americans and 3,572 Alabamians.

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The Iron Bowl is today

Alabama will have to play without head football coach Nick Saban who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Brandon Moseley

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The 2019 Iron Bowl (VIA ALABAMA FOOTBALL/UNIV. OF ALABAMA ATHLETICS)

The Auburn University college football team will play the University of Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday with the game kicking off at 2:30 p.m. Attendance is strictly limited because of COVID-19 restrictions. The game will be televised on CBS stations.

Alabama will have to play without head football coach Nick Saban who has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing mild symptoms. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will coach the Crimson Tide in Saban’s absence. He has a 46-35 record as a head coach at USC and Washington.

Auburn will be coached by Gus Malzahn, who has a 67-33 record as a head coach. He is the fifth winningest coach in Auburn history, trailing only Shug Jordan, Mike Donahue, Pat Dye and now-Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville.

Alabama has a 7-0 record and is currently the No. 1 team in the country in the college football rankings. Auburn is 5-2 but with a win could still win the SEC West with wins in its remaining two games, and if Alabama were to lose another game down the stretch. Alabama is just one game ahead of Texas A&M for first place in the SEC West, but the Tide has the tiebreaker by virtue of having defeated the Aggies in head-to-head competition.

In addition to team honors, there is a lot riding for individual players in today’s game. Alabama redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones has thrown for 2,426 yards and 18 touchdowns in Alabama’s first seven games. Jones’s strong performance has made him a Heisman contender and has earned him consideration as a possible first-round or high second-round draft pick by the NFL if he were to leave Alabama early.

Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has thrown for 1,627 yards and ten touchdowns over seven games.

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Alabama and Auburn played their first football game against each other in Lakeview Park in Birmingham on Feb. 22, 1893. The game is called the Iron Bowl because historically the game was played on a neutral site: Birmingham’s historic Legion Field. Birmingham at the time was best known for the iron that was mined there and then made into steel and other metal products.

The game is now played as a home and home series, but the Iron Bowl name has stuck with the rivalry.

Alabama leads the series with 46 wins to Auburn’s 37. There has been one tie. Auburn defeated Alabama 48 to 45 in last year’s high scoring contest.

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Health

Vaccines should protect against mutated strains of coronavirus

Public health experts say it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Multiple vaccines for COVID-19 are in clinical trials, and one has already applied for emergency use authorization, but how good will those vaccines be against a mutating coronavirus? A UAB doctor says they’ll do just fine. 

Dr. Rachael Lee, UAB’s hospital epidemiologist, told reporters earlier this week that there have been small genetic mutations in COVID-19. What researchers are seeing in the virus here is slightly different than what’s seen in the virus in China, she said. 

“But luckily the way that these vaccines have been created, specifically the mRNA vaccines, is an area that is the same for all of these viruses,” Lee said, referring to the new type of vaccine known as mRNA, which uses genetic material, rather than a weakened or inactive germ, to trigger an immune response. 

The U.S. Food And Drug Administration is to review the drug company Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 10. Pfizer’s vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, as is a vaccine produced by the drug maker Moderna, which is expected to also soon apply for emergency use approval. 

“I think that is incredibly good news, that even though we may see some slight mutations,  we should have a vaccine that should cover all of those different mutations,” Lee said. 

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found in a recent study, published in the journal Science, that COVID-19 has mutated in ways that make it spread much more easily, but the mutation may also make it more susceptible to vaccines. 

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In a separate study, researchers with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation found that while most vaccines were modeled after an earlier strain of COVID-19, they found no evidence that the vaccines wouldn’t provide the same immunity response for the new, more dominant strain. 

“This brings the world one step closer to a safe and effective vaccine to protect people and save lives,” said CSIRO chief executive Dr. Larry Marshall, according to Science Daily

While it may not be long before vaccines begin to be shipped to states, public health experts warn it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public. Scarce supplies at first will be allocated for those at greatest risk, including health care workers who are regularly exposed to coronavirus patients, and the elderly and ill. 

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, speaking to APR last week, urged the public to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing for many more months, as the department works to make the vaccines more widely available.

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“Just because the first shots are rolling out doesn’t mean it’s time to stop doing everything we’ve been trying to get people to do for months. It’s not going to be widely available for a little while,” Harris said.

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