By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
BIRMINGHAM—The Rainy Day Patriots will be hosting Convention of States organizer, Mark Meckler, on Thursday at 5:45 at Hoover Tactical Firearms.
The Alabama Legislative Liaison for the Convention of States Terry Richmond announced on Facebook, “Mark Meckler is coming to Alabama next week! See him at The Wetumpka TEA Party Wednesday night at Elmore Community Hospital Cafeteria 6:30PM and The Rainy Day Patriots Tea Party meeting Thursday night Hoover Tactical Firearms 5:45PM.”
The Rainy Day Patriots describe Mark Meckler as, “One of the nation’s most effective grassroots activists. After he co-founded and was the national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, he founded Citizens for Self-Governance to revolutionize American government. Founded in February 2012, this grassroots initiative expands and directs the ever-growing, bipartisan self-governance movement. Mark appears regularly on wide variety of television outlets, including MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He is the co-author of “Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution,” and writes regularly on Breitbart, the American Spectator, and SelfGovern.com. He also is an attorney who specializes in internet privacy law.” “Mark and his wife live in Northern California with their two teenage children where they share their love of the outdoors, mountain-biking, soccer and horses.”
The Convention of States (COS) Project was founded by Citizens for Self Governance for the stated purpose of stopping the runaway power of the federal government. Their stated goal is to seek to urge and empower state legislators to call a convention of states, under Article V of the U.S. Constitution (this has never happened since the present Constitution was ratified). The delegates at such a convention would have the power to propose amendments to the Constitution to limit the power of the federal government. According to the COS website, “We want to call a convention for a particular subject rather than a particular amendment. Instead of calling a convention for a balanced budget amendment (though we are entirely supportive of such an amendment), we want to call a convention for the following purpose: Limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.”
The COS has gotten some prominent conservative endorsers:
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R) said in a statement, “On a state level I think it’s very important that we find candidates and elect them, who would be willing to call for a Convention of States if need be. Because that is the tool the people have to rein in government.”
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) said, “The federal government has clearly grown far beyond the size and scope that the Founders ever envisioned. Over-spending, excessive regulatory overreach, and disdain for individual liberty all run rampant in Washington D.C. Luckily, the Founders gave us a mechanism to reform a runaway federal government in Article V of the Constitution. We can — and we must — scale back the monstrosity that our federal government has become. For this reason, I support the Convention of States project efforts to call an Article V convention to propose amendments to restrain the size of the federal government.”
Former Congressman Colonel Allen West (R from Florida) said, “Thank goodness the founders had the wisdom to provide us with Article V of the Constitution, which gives us the right and power to hold an Amending Convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to restrain the scope and power of the federal government… Under the system of federalism, I support the efforts to gather a constitutional Convention of States consistent with Article V and honoring the 10th Amendment.”
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) said, “My longtime friend, Michael Farris — who is an excellent constitutional litigator and professor — has joined with Mark Meckler and Citizens for Self-Governance to actually bring [a Convention of States] into reality. I have reviewed their plan and it is both innovative and realistic. I urge you to join me in supporting the Convention of States Project with Citizens for Self-Governance.”
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R from Oklahoma) said, “There is not enough political will in Washington to fix the real problems facing the country. It’s time for the people to take back their country. The plan put forth by Convention of States is a great way to do just that by using the process the founders gave us for reigning in the federal government.”
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R from Wisconsin) said, “[Our nation’s] problems are not going to be solved in Washington D.C….We’ve got to take the power back. I can’t think of a better way of doing it [than Convention of States], because Washington is not going to give up power.”
A Convention of States would be convened when 34 state legislatures pass resolutions (applications) on an agreed topic or set of topics. COS claims that the Convention would be limited to considering amendments on these specified topics. The states would still have to ratify any amendments that actually came out of the Convention.
For more information about the Convention of States project visit their website: http://www.conventionofstates.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Iron Bowl is today
Alabama will have to play without head football coach Nick Saban who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.