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Alabama leaders react to the passing of former President George H. W. Bush

Brandon Moseley

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Saturday Alabama and national leaders sent statements mourning the passing of the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush (R).

The Alabama Republican Party released a statement on the death of President Bush Saturday morning.

“The Alabama Republican Party extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of President George H.W. Bush,” ALGOP Chairman Terry Lathan wrote. “Our nation not only mourns a great president, but a great man. As a dedicated husband, father and grandfather, he spent a lifetime proudly caring and supporting those he loved the most.”

“A WWII veteran, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.N. Ambassador and Republican National Committee Chair, the 41st President of our United States dedicated his life to earnestly and courageously serving the American public,” Lathan continued. “We are deeply grateful for the way President George H. W. Bush loved and led America. Now and in the years to come, we will remember President George H.W. Bush and the lasting impact his legacy leaves behind. He truly is a point of light in our country’s history. May his faith in God be a great comfort to his family and all who love him.”

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) said, “President George H.W. Bush was a true statesman and patriot who served our country in the U.S. Navy during World War II and later as Congressman, Ambassador, CIA Director, Vice President and President. The honor he showed our people will live on long after today. He was a leader for us all, and his presence will be truly missed. I pray for the Bush Family as they mourn the death of their father, grandfather, great-grandfather and our 41st President.”

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, released said, “President George H.W. Bush was a true American statesman and hero. He dedicated his life to serving the country he loved for more than 70 years. From a young Naval aviator shot down in WWII to Commander-in-Chief, President Bush led our nation with integrity, honor, and measure. Annette and I join all Americans in mourning his passing. His legacy of humility and devotion will never be forgotten.”

U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, said, “I was deeply saddened this morning by the news of President George H.W. Bush’s passing. President Bush served the United States of America throughout his life with honor and dignity, both at war and here at home, as a Navy pilot, a diplomat, and a statesman. He made the most of his 94 years of life and he set an example we should all strive to follow, especially his unwavering dedication to his family and to our country. Louise and I send our heartfelt condolences to the entire Bush family as they grieve the loss of their beloved patriarch.”

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Congressmen Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, said: “George H.W. Bush was an American hero and icon. Throughout his 94 years, he served our nation in so many ways, and he accomplished so much. Despite all of this, I think the life of George H.W. Bush is best summed up in a very simple phrase: he was a good man. May God be with the Bush family and a grateful nation as we mourn and remember a good man and an American hero.”

Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon,R-Monrovia, said, “President George H.W. Bush epitomized all that is great about public service. A man of means who could have lived a life of comfort and relaxation, he chose instead to open himself to the criticism that politics and difficult decisions often bring. Our nation is better off for the service that he gallantly offered both in office and as a veteran of World War II. During his presidency, the Berlin Wall fell, the Iron Curtain was finally parted, and our world became more stable and secure under his watch. President Bush is now reunited with his beloved Barbara and the daughter, Robin, that they lost. History will be kind to him, which is just and deserved.”

Congressman Mike D. Rogers, R-Saks, said on social media, “Sending heartfelt prayers to the Bush family this morning after the passing of President George H.W. Bush. The world lost a great man today who will be remembered for a lifetime of service.”

Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, said, “The members of the Alabama House Republican Caucus join the rest of the nation and freedom-loving people around the world in mourning the loss of President George H.W. Bush. He will be considered among the greatest of our one-term presidents, and most will agree that our nation would have been spared much drama and turmoil had he been elected to a second term. He was both a gentleman and a gentle man who offered an example for others to follow. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they celebrate 94 years of a life well lived.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, “NASA and the nation mourn the passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush, a leader who was a passionate advocate for space exploration. President Bush is a personal hero of mine and a major inspiration in my life. I remember like yesterday watching the 1992 Republican National Convention, learning of his life of sacrifice, and hearing his whimsical memories of ‘sitting on an aircraft carrier, looking at the stars, and dreaming about a girl named Barbara.’ From being the Navy’s youngest fighter pilot in World War II and being shot down, to his years of public service in Congress, the State Department, CIA, Vice President and President, there was nothing he wouldn’t give for our country and her people.”

“President Bush’s Space Exploration Initiative helped us to think big and long-term about space,” Bridenstine continued. “His impassioned vision of ‘a journey into tomorrow – a journey to another planet – a manned mission to Mars,’ helped sustain NASA’s early work on the International Space Station, and it still can be felt in our ongoing efforts to send humans farther into the solar system to live and work for extended periods. The President noted it was humanity’s destiny to explore, and America’s destiny to lead. We salute this great American leader, who challenged us to chart a course for the future to benefit all humanity.”

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde said, “This morning, America, and the world, have lost an iconic statesman. As a Congressman, Ambassador, Vice President, and President, George H.W. Bush believed deeply in the power of international cooperation. The arc of his career—from World War II pilot to the President who helped heal divisions at the end of the Cold War—was defined by a commitment to creating a more prosperous and peaceful future for all people. His life’s work is a powerful and timely reminder of what can be achieved when nations work together. My personal condolences and heartfelt sympathies go out to the entire Bush family.”

The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said, “George H.W. Bush was a man for all seasons. He was great in his impact, making the world safer and freer. He was great in his character, leading with decency and integrity. A war hero and statesman, the country is inspired by his example.

“Like so many Americans, I admired President Bush not only for how he served, but for how he lived,” Speaker Ryan said. “He took pride in being a family man. The affection he showed for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren was so endearing. His 73 years of marriage to Barbara marks a long and beautiful love story. President Bush best demonstrated the qualities he once described as ‘those little touches of grace and affection and humor that make life sing.’ His life was a hymn of honor. It was in the people’s House where he began his time in public office. In our sadness today, we express our deepest condolences to the Bush family. We give thanks to God for the life of this patriot.”

“President Bush led a great American life, one that combined and personified two of our Nation’s greatest virtues: an entrepreneurial spirit and a commitment to public service,” President Donald J. Trump (R) said. “Our country will greatly miss his inspiring example. On the day he turned 18, 6 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, George H.W. Bush volunteered for combat duty in the Second World War. The youngest aviator in United States naval history at the time, he flew 58 combat missions, including one in which, after taking enemy fire, he parachuted from his burning plane into the Pacific Ocean. After the war, he returned home and started a business. In his words, “the big thing” he learned from this endeavor was “the satisfaction of creating jobs.”

“The same unselfish spirit that motivated his business pursuits later inspired him to resume the public service he began as a young man,” Trump continued. “First, as a member of Congress, then as Ambassador to the United Nations, Chief of the United States Liaison Office in China, Director of Central Intelligence, Vice President, and finally President of the United States, George H.W. Bush guided our Nation through the Cold War, to its peaceful and victorious end, and into the decades of prosperity that have followed. Through sound judgment, practical wisdom, and steady leadership, President Bush made safer the second half of a tumultuous and dangerous century.”

President Donald J. Trump (R) has called for a national day of mourning on Wednesday and ordered flags to be flown at half-staff for 30 days following Bush’s death. The New York Stock Exchange has confirmed that they will close for the day to honor President Bush.

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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America celebrates Independence Day

The United States celebrates its independence from Great Britain every year on July 4.

Brandon Moseley

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The United States celebrates its independence from Great Britain every year on July 4.

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Second Continental Congress. This is a national and state holiday that is celebrated with fireworks, family gatherings, concerts of patriotic music and is traditionally the height of the summer holiday season.

The Declaration of Independence defined the rights of man and the relationship between government and the governed. It also stated the colonists grievances with the distant British government and explained why independence was both justified and necessary.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation,” the Declaration reads.

The principal writer of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson, who would go on to be the wartime governor of Virginia, vice president and the third president of the United States.

As brilliant as the Declaration of Independence is, independence was not won by words alone — but by the sacrifices of the men and women who sacrificed on and off the battlefields of Concord, Lexington, Bunker Hill, Quebec, Charleston, Trenton, Saratoga, Valley Forge, Kings Mountain, Cowpens, Guilford Court House, Yorktown and countless more to win the nation’s independence.

That ragtag, often poorly equipped and underfed army was led by General George Washington. Washington would go on to be the head the Constitutional convention and the first president of the United States, serving two terms.

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Both Washington and Jefferson are immortalized on Mount Rushmore as two of the greatest presidents.

An estimated 25,000 Americans were killed fighting the Revolutionary War. The British forces lost over 10,000 troops including many Americans who opposed independence and fought and died for the British crown. An estimated 58,000 crown Loyalists would leave this country over their loyalty to the British crown. Many of them settled in Canada.

“Today, we celebrate our Nation’s independence and the vision of our Founding Fathers revealed to the world on that fateful day, as well as the countless patriots who continue to ensure that the flames of freedom are never extinguished,” President Donald Trump said in the annual presidential July 4 message.

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ADPH urges Alabamians to have “safer-at-home” July 4th celebrations

This year, amid a global pandemic, the Alabama Department of Public Health is urging Alabamians to celebrate at home to avoid catching or spreading the virus.

Brandon Moseley

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Saturday is the Fourth of July, a day when many families hold elaborate celebrations with their friends. It is a time for friends, family, fireworks, barbecue, celebrating our nation’s independence and enjoying the summer weather.

But this year, amid a global pandemic, the Alabama Department of Public Health is urging Alabamians to celebrate at home to avoid catching or spreading the virus.

“Independence Day is a wonderful celebration for all Americans,” the ADPH said on their website. “As we move toward this major holiday, we want to share some recommendations and reminders for local governmental officials.”

The novel strain of the coronavirus is the largest pandemic to deeply impact this country in a century. At least 57,236 Americans were diagnosed with the virus on Thursday alone and 131,533 Americans have died, including 983 Alabamians.

A few simple steps can greatly reduce your chances of being exposed and exposing others to COVID-19. Everyone should practice good hygiene, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your face and wash hands often. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home, and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others not in your household.

The use of cloth face coverings or masks when in public can greatly reduce the risk of transmission, particularly if the infected individual wears a mask. Many people are contagious before they begin to show symptoms — or may never develop symptoms but are still able to infect others.

The ADPH emphasized that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to it.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warns that everyone should avoid large gatherings.

This CDC video explains more about how large gatherings can spread the virus.

According to ADPH, there are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses at this time.

There is ongoing medical research regarding treatment of COVID-19. Although most people will recover on their own, you can do some things to help relieve your symptoms, including taking medications to relieve pain and fever, using a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough and drinking plenty of fluids if you are mildly sick. Stay home and get plenty of rest.

Alabama is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases in the month of June and into early July.

The state reported at least 1,758 positive cases on Friday alone, the most since the pandemic began. In the past seven days, 7,645 cases have been reported, the most of any seven-day period since the pandemic began.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases — used to smooth out daily variability and inconsistencies in case reporting — surpassed 1,000 for the first time Friday.

Since the first coronavirus case was identified in Alabama in early March, 41,362 Alabamians have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

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National

Byrne secures authorization for additional Austal ship in NDAA

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, this week announced that the House Armed Services Committee approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 by a vote of 56 to 0. The bill includes a Byrne amendment authorizing $260 million to construct an additional Expeditionary Fast Transport vessel at Austal Mobile. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for a vote for passage.

“Today’s defense authorization bill received strong bipartisan support and will ensure that the men and women of our military have the resources necessary to protect American interests and safety,” Byrne said. “Like most legislation, the bill isn’t perfect, but the committee’s willingness to work together towards a common goal should be a template for the entire House of Representatives to follow.”

“It is great news for Southwest Alabama and our entire nation that the committee accepted my amendment to authorize the construction of an additional EPF at the Austal shipyard in Mobile,” Byrne said. “Passage of this amendment acknowledges the critical role the 4,000 men and women at Austal Mobile play in supporting our nation’s military readiness and moving us closer to our goal of a 355-ship fleet. In fact, just this week we reached a landmark when the Austal-built USS Oakland LCS was delivered to the Navy, becoming the 300th ship in our Navy’s fleet. Construction of an additional EPF will strengthen Austal’s footprint in Mobile and bolster its contributions to our national defense, and I hope Congress moves quickly to pass this bill into law.”

The NDAA sets policy and authorizes funding for the entire United States military and has been passed by the House each year for the previous 59 years. The bill is expected to receive a vote in the House as soon as this month.

An Expeditionary Fast Transport is a 338-foot shallow draft aluminum catamaran designed to be multi-mission capable of intra-theater personnel and cargo lift, providing combatant commanders high-speed sealift mobility with inherent cargo handling capability and agility to achieve positional advantage over operational distances. Bridging the gap between low-speed sealift and high-speed airlift, EPFs transport personnel, equipment and supplies over operational distances with access to littoral offload points including austere, minor and degraded ports in support of the Global War on Terrorism/Theater Security Cooperation Program, Intra-theater Operational/Littoral Maneuver and Sustainment and Seabasing. EPFs enable the rapid projection, agile maneuver and sustainment of modular, tailored forces in response to a wide range of military and civilian contingencies such as Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. It is a non-combatant transport vessel characterized by its high volume, high speed, and flexibility. Its large flight deck can accommodate a variety of aircraft.

The EPF is designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots in Sea State 3. The ships are capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank (M1A2). The EPF includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that allow vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. The ramp is suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in developing countries. The ship’s shallow draft (under 15 feet) will further enhance littoral operations and port access. This makes the EPF an extremely flexible asset for support of a wide range of operations including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support or as the key enabler for rapid transport.

EPF has a crew of 26 Civilian Mariners with airline style seating for 312 embarked troops and fixed berthing for an additional 104. Military Sealift Command (MSC) operates and sustains the EPFs, which will be allocated via the Global Force Management for Theater Security Cooperation, service unique missions, intra-theater sealift and special missions.

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Byrne represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

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Supreme Court sides with Alabama in COVID-19 voting case

Brandon Moseley

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The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision Thursday blocked a federal district judge’s order that would have made it easier for many Alabamians to vote during the pandemic, issuing an emergency stay of the lower court’s injunction in People First of Alabama v. Merrill.

The court’s more liberal justices dissented, while the five conservative justices voted to strike down the lower court ruling, which had blocked absentee ballot witness requirements in a few Alabama counties and a statewide ban on curbside voting programs.

The decision to grant the stay means that Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s ban on curbside voting remains in place, and he may intervene into any county in Alabama to prevent curbside voting.

Voters in every county in the state must still follow all the required witness, notary and photo ID requirements for absentee ballots.

Federal District Judge Abdul Kallon had found in favor of the plaintiffs and issued an order allowing local officials to implement curbside voting. Merrill and the secretary of state’s office appealed the lower court ruling to the Supreme Court, who issued the emergency stay.

The court could still hear Alabama’s appeal, but the ruling was a blow for the groups representing the plaintiffs in the case. Caren Short is the senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“While we are deeply disappointed with today’s ruling, we look forward to presenting our clients’ case at trial later this summer,” said Short. “Our goal is simple though unfortunately at odds with Alabama officials. We want to ensure that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama voters will not be forced to choose between exercising their fundamental right to vote and protecting their health or the health of a loved one.”

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Deuel Ross is the senior counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“We are deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court‘s stay,” said Ross. “Unfortunately, this means that Alabama voters who are at greater risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 will be required to risk their health and violate CDC recommendations in order to vote on July 14. This is occurring at a time when COVID-19 infections are soaring in Alabama and nationwide. Nonetheless, the litigation will continue and we intend to seek relief for our clients and other voters in time for November.”

Plaintiffs argued that making voters go to the polls and wait in line to show a photo-ID would be a bar to voting given the fear of the coronavirus in Alabama. Voters will have to decide whether voting in the July 14 party runoff elections is really worth the risk of possibly contracting the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and possibly dying.

At least 14 Alabamians died from COVID-19 on Thursday, taking the state death toll to 961. Additionally, 1,162 Alabamians tested positive for the coronavirus.

The state argues that voter ID and other security measures are necessary to protect the integrity of the vote and prevent voting fraud. Since his election as Alabama secretary of state, Merrill has said that it is his goal to “make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

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