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Weekend Digest – February 14, 2021

Good afternoon and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Here’s your Daily News for Sunday, February 14.

1. Trump acquitted, denounced in second impeachment trial

  • Donald Trump was acquitted of inciting the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol, concluding a historic impeachment trial that spared him the first-ever conviction of a current or former U.S. president but exposed the fragility of America’s democratic traditions and left a divided nation to come to terms with the violence sparked by his defeated presidency.
  • Barely a month since the deadly Jan. 6 riot that stunned the world, the Senate convened for a rare weekend session to deliver its Saturday verdict, voting while armed National Guard troops continued to stand their posts outside the iconic building.
  • The quick trial, the nation’s first of a former president, showed in raw and emotional detail how perilously close the invaders had come to destroying the nation’s deep tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power after Trump had refused to concede the election.
  • The verdict, on a vote of 57-43, is all but certain to influence not only the former president’s political future but that of the senators sworn to deliver impartial justice as jurors. Seven Republicans joined all Democrats to convict, but it was far from the two-third threshold required.
  • Read more HERE.


2. Vaccination of black people lagging behind whites in Alabama

  • New statistics indicate a disproportionately small number of Black people are getting vaccinations against the new coronavirus in Alabama, a trend the state’s top health official said Friday shows the need to increase immunization efforts in the minority community.
  • While demographic data compiled by the state has big gaps, with the race of tens of thousands of vaccine recipients not reported, Dr. Scott Harris said the numbers that are available show about 55% of vaccines have gone to white people so far compared to about 11% for blacks. By comparison, Alabama’s population is about 27% Black, Census figures show.
  • Read more HERE.


3. Religion and the death penalty collide at the Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court is sending a message to states that want to continue to carry out the death penalty: Inmates must be allowed to have a spiritual adviser by their side as they are executed.
  • The high court around midnight Thursday declined to let Alabama proceed with the lethal injection of Willie B. Smith III. Smith had objected to Alabama’s policy that his pastor would have had to observe his execution from an adjacent room rather than the death chamber itself.
  • The order from the high court follows two years in which inmates saw some rare success in bringing challenges based on the issue of chaplains in the death chamber. This time, liberal and conservative members of the court normally in disagreement over death penalty issues found common ground not on the death penalty itself but on the issue of religious freedom and how the death penalty is carried out.
  • Justice Brett Kavanaugh, one of three justices who said they would have let Smith’s execution go forward, said Alabama’s policy applies equally to all inmates and serves a state interest in ensuring safety and security. But he said it was apparent that his colleagues who disagreed were providing a path for states to follow.
  • States that want to avoid months or years of litigation over the presence of spiritual advisers “should figure out a way to allow spiritual advisors into the execution room, as other States and the Federal Government have done,” he wrote in a dissent joined by Chief Justice John Roberts. 
  • Read more HERE.


4. Amazon faces biggest union push in its history

  • The second Jennifer Bates walks away from her post at the Amazon warehouse where she works, the clock starts ticking.
  • She has precisely 30 minutes to get to the cafeteria and back for her lunch break. That means traversing a warehouse the size of 14 football fields, which eats up precious time. She avoids bringing food from home because warming it up in the microwave would cost her even more minutes. Instead she opts for $4 cold sandwiches from the vending machine and hurries back to her post.
  • If she makes it, she’s lucky. If she doesn’t, Amazon could cut her pay, or worse, fire her.
  • It’s that kind of pressure that has led some Amazon workers to organize the biggest unionization push at the company since it was founded in 1995. And it’s happening in the unlikeliest of places: Bessemer, Alabama, a state with laws that don’t favor unions.
  • The stakes are high. If organizers succeed in Bessemer, it could set off a chain reaction across Amazon’s operations nationwide, with thousands more workers rising up and demanding better working conditions. But they face an uphill battle against the second-largest employer in the country with a history of crushing unionizing efforts at its warehouses and its Whole Foods grocery stores.
  • Read more HERE.


5. Fat Tuesday crowds in Mobile a threat for spreading virus

  • Health officials and leaders in Mobile are urging people to follow pandemic safety guidelines as a subdued Mardi Gras season comes to an end on the coast minus big parades but with crowds still possible.
  • Parades that typically draw thousands and massive balls were canceled in Mobile because of the coronavirus threat this year. But officials there didn’t take the extra step of closing restaurants and bars, as was done in New Orleans to keep down crowds.
  • With the end of the carnival season approaching on Fat Tuesday, Alabama’s top state health official, Dr. Scott Harris, said he was worried that what celebrations do occur would lead to further spread of the virus even without traditional activities.
  • “There’s nothing magic about it being a parade format versus, you know, milling around in the street together without a parade format,” he said Friday. “I think both of those certainly have the potential for disease transmission, for sure.”
  • Anticipating the possibility that people will still come out to celebrate, Mobile is shutting down streets in a large part of its downtown to allow people room to spread out on Tuesday.
  • Read more HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump acquitted, denounced in second impeachment trial
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Vaccination of Black people lagging behind whites in Alabama
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Religion and the death penalty collide at the Supreme Court
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Fat Tuesday crowds in Mobile a threat for spreading virus
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Amazon faces biggest union push in its history
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers approve virus liability legislation
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tier II change legislation clears House, moves to Senate
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Early gambling debate mired in casino location concerns
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 makes kindergarten requirement bill ‘priority’
AL.COM – Senate votes to acquit Donald Trump in historic second impeachment trial.
AL.COM – Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial: Alabama Sens. Tuberville, Shelby explain ‘not guilty’ votes.
AL.COM – Mobile mayor: City won’t tolerate unsanctioned Mardi Gras marches.
AL.COM – When will Alabama children get a COVID-19 vaccine?
AL.COM – New CDC guidance, CARES money for Alabama schools.
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: The Medicaid Civil War is over. Quit fighting, Kay Ivey.
AL.COM – Alabama worst in nation in vaccine rate, but COVID cases falling: Week in review.
AL.COM – Columnist Amanda Walker: The beauty of Alabama dirt.
AL.COM – Birmingham jail logs with Martin Luther King Jr.’s signatures up for sale.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Ann Berry, Alabama native, named first Black secretary of the Senate.
BAMA POLITICS – Columnist Clete Wetli: Alabama Political Winds Starting to Shift
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – License plate data bill advances.
ANNISTON STAR – Editor James Bennett: Superspeedway wants to sell some land; will transaction bring Amazon to Talladega?
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: Pence, Romney show political courage.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Why can’t my friend sleep over? The lessons of 1980s Montgomery.
WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post: 57 senators got it right. But the Senate has more work to do.
WASHINGTON POST – Lack of health services and transportation impede access to vaccine in communities of color.
WASHINGTON POST – Breaking the Rule of One: After upending a racial norm in rural Alabama, a Black councilwoman contends with defiance from a community she wants to serve.
NEW YORK TIMES – Contributors Stacey Abrams and Lauren Groh-Wargo: How to Turn Your Red State Blue
NEW YORK TIMES – Primary Care Doctors Are Left Out of the Vaccine Rollout
NEW YORK TIMES – Columnist Nicholas Kristof: Can Biden Save Americans Like My Old Pal Mike? A childhood friend’s deadly mistakes prompt reflection on our country’s — and my own.
COMMON DREAMS – Contributor Rev. Dr. William Barber II: The Fight for a $15 Minimum Wage Is a Fight for Racial Justice

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