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Auburn to limit attendance to 20 percent in Kentucky opener

Brandon Moseley

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Auburn football vs Georgia South on Saturday, September 2, 2017 in Auburn, Ala. (Via Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics)

Auburn University announced Wednesday that it will be capping attendance at Jordan-Hare Stadium at around 20 percent capacity, approximately 17,490 seats, for its first home game against Kentucky on Sept. 26. Most of those tickets will be distributed to Auburn University students.

“While we wish we could pack 87,451 fans into Jordan-Hare Stadium for all five home games this season, the coronavirus pandemic has necessitated a temporary reduction in capacity,” said Auburn athletic director Allen Greene. “With so many passionate Auburn supporters eager to attend, the decision to select who receives access to tickets is extraordinarily difficult.”

“I’ve heard from many of you who treasure the memories you made by attending Auburn football games when you were students,” Greene continued. “We plan to provide that same opportunity for our current students, so they’ll be able to forever look back fondly on their fall Saturdays on the Plains. Students, we’re counting on you to amplify your voices – while practicing physical distancing and wearing face coverings – so that Auburn will maintain what Coach Malzahn calls ‘the best home-field advantage in college football.’”

“As the season progresses, tickets for non-students may become available, potentially allowing our Tigers Unlimited season ticket holders to attend,” Greene added. “With stadium capacity reduced by 80 percent and five home games instead of seven, our Athletics budget will experience a shortfall of tens of millions of dollars this year. As you may know, revenue from football finances all 21 Auburn teams.”

“To make up a portion of this deficit, we’re asking our donors and season ticket holders who opt out of attending to please consider donating their season ticket purchases as part of our ‘Believe in Auburn’ campaign,” Greene said. “It’s a tough time to be asking for donations. However, one thing I’ve learned about Auburn people is that their love for our university and its athletic programs is often exceeded only by their generosity. So, I come to you today humbly asking you to consider investing in Auburn by converting your season ticket purchase into a philanthropic gift. Strength in numbers is the ultimate checkmate, giving us a distinct advantage.”

“Every day, I see the return on your investment,” Greene wrote. “I see it in the 550 student-athletes we serve. I see it when they compete for championships. I see it when they serve our community. I see it when they earn their degrees. I see it when they go on to enjoy success in careers as educators, attorneys, accountants, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, engineers and too many professions to enumerate. Our student-athletes, coaches and sports medicine team, under the direction of Dr. Michael Goodlett, have worked tirelessly to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

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The university held out hope that they will be able to increase ticket sales for the four home games in October, November and December. Tim Jackson is the executive associate athletic director at Auburn.

“At this time, because of a substantial reduction in capacity, we are not able to offer you tickets to the Kentucky game on Sept. 26,” Jackson wrote Tigers Unlimited donors. “This does not mean that you are not eligible for the remaining four home games. Eligibility for the remaining home games will be determined later based on the number of opt-outs, number of donor seats made available and TUF-Football priority.”

“In the coming days, you will receive an email from us asking that you opt-in or opt-out of tickets for the 2020 season,” Jackson continued. “If you wish to attend any of the home games for the 2020 football season, if the opportunity becomes available, please opt-in. Those who are not interested in attending games for the 2020 football season should opt-out and will have three options available: (1) Make a philanthropic donation to support the ‘Believe in Auburn’ fund, supporting Auburn student-athletes, (2) credit purchase to the 2021 football season or (3) receive a full/partial refund. Regardless of your preference, your 2021 seats/membership will not be jeopardized.”

A season ticket holder, who was not a Tigers Unlimited donor, was sent an email from the Auburn ticket office: “We expect Jordan-Hare Stadium to be around 20% of capacity for the home opener vs. Kentucky and a large majority of the tickets will be distributed to current Auburn University students. We did not make this decision lightly and are grateful for your support as a 2020 Eagles Nest season ticket holder. We have elected to offer tickets to the students in hopes that they receive the same opportunity that so many of us were able to enjoy as students by attending an Auburn football game together. As we all know, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed our world and we are reminded daily just how quickly things can change. With this reduced capacity, we will not be able to fulfill your order and will receive a full refund later this fall.”

Public Service Announcement

The University of Alabama has been cleared to operate at up to 25 percent capacity when they open their home football season in Tuscaloosa in October. Alabama opens the season on Sept. 26 playing the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.

The Southeastern Conference, which both Auburn and Alabama are members of, is one of three Power Five conferences who are attempting to play college football this fall. The PAC 12 and Big 10 college presidents have both voted to postpone fall sports, including college football, to some time in Spring. The PAC 12 has suspended all sporting activities to January 1. That impacts winter sports, including college basketball, as well. The Ivey League, MAC, SWAC, and Mountain West conferences have also postponed football to spring due to coronavirus fears.

At this point 1,905 Alabamians have died from COVID-19.

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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