2. Seven people sentenced in federal bust of cockfighting ring
Seven members of an Alabama family will serve sentences, ranging from probation to two years in federal prison, for running what authorities called one of the largest cockfighting enterprises in the country, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
The Department of Justice said the final member of the Easterling family of Verbena, Alabama, was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to violating the Animal Welfare Act’s prohibition against animal fighting. The U.S. Department of Justice said that for more than two years, the defendants held illegal cockfighting events at an arena with stadium-style seating for 150 people.
Prosecutors said participants paid large entry fees — up to $1,500 to fight seven roosters — while spectators wagered on the roosters, which fought with blades strapped to their legs, according to court documents. The defendants also ran two large fighting-bird breeding businesses known as Swift Creek Gamefarm and L&L Gamefarm where thousands of birds were bred and sold to be used in fights, according to court documents.
Due to the strong leadership of Governor Ivey, the Alabama Legislature, the State Board of Education, the State Department of Education, and education advocates in business and industry, Alabama’s historically anemic student proficiency scores and national rankings are beginning to move in the right direction.
Alabama’s business community, through the work of the Alabama Workforce Council and other advocacy groups, have worked in conjunction to implement much-needed educational improvements.
We are pleased that Alabama’s 2019 Mathematics and 2021 English Language Arts courses of study were developed by Alabama’s teachers and members of business and industry.
Consistency will allow all Alabama education stakeholders—parents, students, educators, businesses, and citizens—to understand our educational goals and test results.
3. Warnock delivers 51-seat Senate for Democrats, and much more
For Senate Democrats, an oh-so-slim 51-49 majority never sounded so good.
Sen. Raphael Warnock’s victory in swing-state Georgia gives Democrats a welcome “lift,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday at the Capitol — newly confident of sidelining Trump-inspired Republicans in Congress and reaching across the aisle to other GOP lawmakers to deliver on bipartisan priorities with President Joe Biden.
Tuesday’s election was for just one seat, but Warnock’s win in the tight runoff provides an unexpected capstone to the midterm election cycle for his party. It makes it easier for Senate Democrats to organize and govern, and provides a crucial edge in a divided Congress as Republicans take hold of the House.
Gone is the especially intense political pressure of a 50-50 Senate that required all Democrats to toe the line — and made it possible for a single senator, notably Joe Manchin, to buck party priorities.
When the new Congress assembles in January, the extra seat will give Senate Democrats a solid majority that provides greater control over not just floor votes but also the committees, which are the backbones of legislating.
4. Trump blowback could carry less bite in 2024 for some in GOP
Donald Trump’s attacks on fellow Republican David McCormick contributed to the former hedge fund manager’s loss in Pennsylvania’s Senate primary. Now, as McCormick considers running again for the Senate, Trump’s derision may not be such a liability.
While McCormick, 57, has not said whether he will challenge three-term Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in 2024, he is taking steps signaling a campaign may be in the works, including attending recent receptions with influential GOP strategists and donors. McCormick also plans to publish a book in March — “Superpower in Peril: A Battle Plan to Renew America” — that could raise his profile.
He would be running in what could be a much different political environment.
Trump dominated the GOP primaries this year, wielding the power of his endorsement to lift his preferred candidates to the party nomination. But many of those contenders, including Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, lost in the general election. The latest was Herschel Walker, whose defeat on Tuesday in Georgia gave Democrats 51 of the Senate’s 100 seats.
Trump is now facing blame from some Republicans for contributing to the party’s midterm shortcomings, and that could open room for McCormick and others without worrying about blowback from the former president.