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Alabama leaders share Christmas wishes

Brandon Moseley

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Today is Christmas day. A number of Alabama leaders have expressed Christmas messages to the people of the state, asking us to reflect on the reason for today’s celebrations.

“As we gather with family and friends this year to celebrate, I pray that we do not forget the reason behind this special holiday: the birth of Jesus Christ and His message of hope in a troubled world,” Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, said. “This powerful message rings as true today as it did centuries ago for the shepherds and watchmen who gathered to bear witness to Jesus’ birth. Although it is easy to get caught up in the stress and chaos of our promises and commitments, the nativity story and this important holiday serve as reminders that there is always a source of hope, no matter the circumstances.”

“Jesus lived his life on earth displaying love, kindness, and joy to all, regardless of their situation or struggles, and we are called to follow His example and do the same,” Roby continued. “Many of us are fortunate enough to celebrate in the company of our loved ones. Let’s do our best to ensure that everyone in our communities enjoy the Christmas holiday by remembering those who are not as fortunate.”

“My thoughts are with those who are suffering: those who are battling illnesses, fighting financial struggles, or spending Christmas in the absence of loved ones,” Roby stated. “Many mothers and fathers selflessly serve in our military, and they will not be able to celebrate Christmas at home with their children. We owe much gratitude to these devoted servicemembers for sacrificing time with their family to protect our country. In the spirit of the holiday, I am encouraged by all those who are able to reach out to those in their community who may need a helping hand. Whether you decide to donate toys to children in need, write letters to soldiers overseas, collect food for local food banks, or bake delicious Christmas treats for your neighbors, every heartfelt action makes a difference. Each bit of compassion makes the world brighter. Let’s spread kindness with every opportunity that comes our way. Joy is contagious, and our efforts will have a positive impact across our communities.”

“God so loved the world that he became one of us,” Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, said. “He literally lowered himself to become a part of His own creation and for the sole purpose of saving us. The babe in the manger became the tortured man dying on the cross – for us. He experienced hate and rejection, betrayal and estrangement, pain and death. All for us.”

“What kind of a God does that?” Byrne said. “A God who only wants one thing: love. That’s why John talks about light in a dark world, a light which cannot be overcome. The Song of Solomon says that love is strong as death. In Jesus, love was actually stronger than death.”

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“Dear Friends, Merry Christmas! We are celebrating the Savior and Hope of the world this Christmas,” Judge Roy Moore (R) and his wife Kayla wrote. ““Jesus Christ, Who being in the form of God, thought it was not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, but took on Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in the fashion of a man, humbled Himself, and made Himself obedient un to death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God has also highly exalted Him and given him a name which is exalted above every name, that is the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, things of heaven, things of earth, and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to +the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 25-31). O Come Let us Adore Him Christ the Lord. Thank you for your friendship and support this year! May God bless you and your family this Christmas season.”

“There are as many traditions for the Holidays as there are those who observe it,” Alabama Republican Executive Committee member former State Representative Perry O. Hooper Jr. said. “For the Hooper family we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. My Jewish friends celebrate Hanukkah which commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. There are however common threads for everyone. This is a time spent with family and close friends. It’s a time for sights and smells that evoke memoires of Christmases past. It is time for the warmth and hope that comes from random acts of goodwill for those less fortunate. It’s a reminder of the enduring power that Christmas has in bringing out the best in the human spirit. It is a time we appreciate the richness of life and those who have gone before us who contributed to it. The new year and its challenges will come soon enough.”

“As most of us prepare to spend the holidays with loved ones, let’s remember the military men and women deployed overseas who will be apart from their families this holiday season,” Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, wrote. “A couple weeks ago, I was fortunate to have lunch with Charlie Company 115th Expeditionary Signal Battalion in Huntsville some of whom were getting ready to deploy. These brave men and women are the reason we have the freedom to celebrate Christmas and for that they deserve our gratitude. Merry Christmas to all those deployed overseas and thank you for your service!”

“Tis the season of giving!!” Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell, D-Selma, said.

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Sewell and her office provided Christmas for a family in need in Birmingham.

“It was great partnering with Community Care Development Network who connected us with the Gunn Family,” Sewell said. “Ironically, Ms. Gunn’s deceased brother was a LOYAL volunteer of my campaign and is dearly missed. Special shout-out to the Director Tamika Holmes and Stephanie Hicks and all their continuous hard work giving back to the citizens of Birmingham. As my Mom would say, ‘It’s a blessing to be a blessing!!’ Happy Holidays Everyone!!”

The Alabama Political Reporter wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for your readership in 2019, and we look forward to serving you in 2020.

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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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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National

UAB cancels third game

The only remaining game on UAB’s schedule is a game at Rice on Dec. 12.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The UAB Department of Athletics on Thursday announced that it is canceling its final home game of the season. UAB was scheduled to play Southern Mississippi on Friday at Legion Field, but the game was canceled due to continuing problems with COVID-19.

UAB has said that it will “continue to work with Conference USA on the remaining regular-season schedule.”

The only remaining game on UAB’s schedule is a game at Rice on Dec. 12.

UAB currently has a record of just four wins and three losses.

A win at Rice would guarantee the Blazers a winning season, but in this COVID altered season, a four and three or four and four record is probably good enough to be bowl eligible.

Southern Miss has had a dreadful season. They are two and seven and have two remaining games, against UTEP and Florida Atlantic. Both of those games were postponed from earlier in the season.

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Unless the season is extended a week to the 19th, there is no way for UAB and Southern Miss to make up the canceled game.

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National

Today is Thanksgiving

Today is a national and state holiday. Schools, banks, government offices and many private businesses are closed.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Four hundred years ago, on Nov. 11, 1620, after 66 days at sea, a group of English settlers landed near what is today Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Onboard the Mayflower were 102 men, women, and children, including one baby born during the Atlantic crossing, who made up the Pilgrims.

The Mayflower, captained by Christopher Jones, had been bound for the mouth of the Hudson River. The ship took a northerly course to avoid pirates, but the decision to avoid the then widely traveled sea lanes to the New World took the ship into bad weather, which had blown the Mayflower miles off course and left the ship damaged. Off Cape Cod, the adult males in the group made the fateful decision to build an entire colony where none had existed prior. They wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact.

“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc. Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.”

After a few weeks off Cape Cod, they sailed up the coast until they reached Plymouth. There they found a Wampanoag Indian village that had been abandoned due to some sort of plague. During the Winter of 1620-1621 they lived aboard the Mayflower and would row to shore each day to build houses. Finally, they had built enough houses to actually move to the colony, but the cold, damp conditions aboard the ship had been costly.

Some 28 men, 13 women (one of them in child birth), and 8 children died in that winter. Governor John Carver would die in April. His widow, Kathrine White Carver, would follow a few weeks later. There is some recent archaeological evidence suggesting that some of the dead were butchered and eaten by the survivors.

The Mayflower and her crew left for England on April 5, 1621, never to return.

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About 40 of the Pilgrims were religious Separatists, members of a Puritan sect that had split from the Church of England, in defiance of English law. In 1609, they immigrated to Holland to practice their religion but ran into problems there too. Others in the group had remained part of the Church of England but were sympathetic to their Separatist friends. They did not call themselves Pilgrims, that term was adopted at the bicentennial for the Mayflower voyage. The members of core Separatist sect referred to themselves as “Saints” and people not in their sect as “Strangers.”

In March 1621, an English speaking Native American, named Samoset, visited the Plymouth colony and asked for beer. He spent the night talking with the settlers and later introduced them to Squanto, who spoke even better English. Squanto introduced them to the chief of the Wampanoag, Massasoit.

Squanto moved in with the Pilgrims, serving as their advisor and translator. The friendly Wampanoag tribe taught the Pilgrims how to hunt and grow crops. The two groups began trading furs with each other.

William Bradford, a Separatist who helped draft the Mayflower Compact, became the longtime Plymouth Governor. He was also the writer of the first history of the Plymouth Colony and the Mayflower. Bradford’s more notable descendants include author, dictionary writer and scholar Noah Webster; TV chef Julia Child; and Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

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In the fall of 1621, 399 years ago, the Pilgrims invited their Wampanoag Indian friends to a feast celebrating their first harvest and a year in the New World with a three-day festival. This has become known as the first Thanksgiving.

Today is a national and state holiday. Schools, banks, government offices and many private businesses are closed.

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National

Civil rights leader Bruce Boynton dies at 83

The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

Brandon Moseley

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Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton

Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton died from cancer in a Montgomery hospital on Monday. He was 83. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

“We’ve lost a giant of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “Son of Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bruce Boynton was a Selma native whose refusal to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant led to the landmark SCOTUS decision in Boynton v. Virginia overturning racial segregation in public transportation, sparking the Freedom Rides and end of Jim Crow. Let us be inspired by his commitment to keep striving and working toward a more perfect union.”

Boynton attended Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. He was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, in his senior year of law school for refusing to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant. That arrest and conviction would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where Boynton and civil rights advocates prevailed in the landmark case 1060 Boynton vs. Virginia.

Boynton’s case was handled by famed civil rights era attorney Thurgood Marshal, who would go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1960 7-to-2 decision ruled that federal prohibitions barring segregation on interstate buses also applied to bus stations and other interstate travel facilities.

The decision inspired the “Freedom Rides” movement. Some Freedom Riders were attacked when they came to Alabama.

While Boynton received a high score on the Alabama Bar exam, the Alabama Bar prevented him from working in the state for years due to that 1958 trespassing conviction. Undeterred, Boynton worked in Tennessee during the years, bringing school desegregation lawsuits.

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Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on social media: “NAACP LDF represented Bruce Boynton, who was an unplanned Freedom Rider (he simply wanted to buy a sandwich in a Va bus station stop & when denied was willing to sue & his case went to the SCOTUS) and later Bruce’s mother Amelia Boynton (in Selma after Bloody Sunday).”

His mother, Amelia Boynton, was an early organizer of the voting rights movement. During the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965, she was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She later co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. His father S.W. Boynton was also active in the Civil Rights Movement.

Bruce Boynton worked for several years at a Washington D.C. law firm but spent most of his long, illustrious legal career in Selma, Alabama, with a focus on civil rights cases. He was the first Black special prosecutor in Alabama history and at one point he represented Stokely Carmichael.

This year has seen the passing of a number of prominent Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Troy native Georgia Congressman John Lewis.

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