Alabama

 

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This 7 Second Video Perfectly Explains Alabama Weather

People from outside of the Yellowhammer State may not know that our weather is crazy as can be.

So for those who don’t yet know, just show them this Tweet and it should clear up nice and quick like:

 

Yep. This is life here. Looks sort of a Lord Of The Rings scene. What’s your point?

In Historic Move, U Of Alabama Elections Board Acknowledges Existence Of Secret Society

In a historic announcement, the University of Alabama SGA elections board acknowledged for the first time, the existence of a secret society that has for decades dominated campus politics.

The action came in the form of a post on the SGA website asking for students to “provide information regarding the existence of Theta Nu Epsilon a.k.a ‘The Machine.'”

Here’s the full announcement from the elections board:

 

“The Elections Board is extending an open invitation from anyone wanting to provide information regarding the existence of Theta Nu Epsilon a.k.a “The Machine.” This could include but is not limited to those that are members or officially tied to “The Machine” in any way.

To clarify, we would like to offer the opportunity to all individual(s) that are involved to speak before the board, as is one’s rights to due process. We do this to ensure all parties are given the opportunity to speak on the matter at hand.

Persons willing may send tangible evidence and information or submit a request to speak with the board in person, can correspond to kknox-hall@sa.ua.edu. We request this be done ASAP and at least by Monday, March 6 at noon.

This information is requested in response to multiple violation reports regarding endorsements and any information provided will be included on record for this case.”

This is a breaking story. We will update this story as more information becomes available. 

For more background on “The Machine”:

Read- Here’s Why The Current State Of Student Government Elections Are Killing American Democracy

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: University of Alabama/ Facebook

Admitting Your Machine Backing Isn’t Courageous

By Mike Smith

Alabama SGA Presidential candidate Jared Hunter dropped a bomb on campus politics after he wrote a piece in The Crimson White acknowledging his Machine backing.

It was a bold, surprising act rarely seen among Machine supported candidates.

The response on social media so far has been a mixture of appreciation and support.

I am here to say that this should stop.

Don’t get my wrong, publicly announcing your Machine backing takes a lot of guts and the honesty Jared displayed should be admired.

But that doesn’t make his actions right.

No matter what is written in a Crimson White column, the fact still stands that The Machine acts as a vehicle for certain Greek students to pad their resume and has systematically oppressed women and minorities for a century.

I will remind you that The Machine has burned crosses on campus lawns, painted swastikas on university sidewalks, and literally physically assaulted an independent presidential candidate.

Jared Hunter is the Machine backed candidate in the SGA election. Photo Credit: Facebook

Within the past decade alone, The Machine has systematically suppressed numerous rape allegations among their members, tossed out FYC applications for black students after labeling them with the N-word, and delayed the racial integration of sororities until 2013.

Being associated with this organization is not something that can be written off in one column.

Read More: Here’s Why The Current State Of Student Government Elections Are Killing American Democracy

Having its support is not a cute, little trivia fact.

Being backed by The Machine is something to be ashamed of.

Lillian Roth getting sworn in as SGA President in 2016. Photo Credit: Lillian Roth/ Facebook

SGA candidate Gene Fulmer. (r). Photo Credit: Trinidad Miller/ Facebook

Over social media, I have heard plenty of people say that admitting to be a Machine candidate takes some real courage.

I vehemently disagree.

It takes real courage for my friends who stay in their Machine sororities even though they have verbally abused, socially ostracized, and personally threatened.

It takes real courage for Lillian Roth (the incumbent and prior Machine backed candidate) to run for re-election even after some of her best friends started working against her.

It takes real courage for Gene Fulmer to run a huge grassroots campaign in the face of two giant competitors.

It doesn’t take real courage to admit something everyone already knew.

Read More: This “Funny Map” Of Tuscaloosa According To An Alabama Student Is Hilarious And Sort Of Spot On

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo: The University of Alabama/ Facebook

We Really Need To Talk About Jalen Hurts’ Mustache

There is something that is incredibly important that the entire sports media has failed to report on.

They should all be ashamed of themselves frankly for how derelict in duty they have been on this front.

You should cut the cord, end subscriptions, and stop clicking on their stories because of this oversight.

Jalen Hurts, the freshman quarterback of the University of Alabama has a French police inspector mustache.

There.

We’ve said it.

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Literally pick any French police inspector from a film- recent or otherwise. They will have similar facial hair to Jalen Hurts.

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It hasn’t always been so French for Jalen.

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24/7 Sports

In fact there was a time when the mustache didn’t exist at all. Those were smoother days indeed.

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Sure. We can sort of understand why no one in the sports media landscape has taken on this very important topic.

And we guess that Hurts’ dominant performance on the field- which he’s doing as an 18 year old is pretty cool in its own right.

But his mustache deserves more attention.

I mean come on!

His facial hair is such a throwback that we bet his grandparents can’t even relate to it.

Oh wait.

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Nevermind.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

The View Of Trump’s Election From Alabama’s Black Belt

I have never been one to follow the crowd.

But as a writer, I feel I should discuss how I feel about this election for the sake of my personal journalistic ethics.

Politics have never been something I have cared for.

We rarely discussed them in my house, because we agreed on everything.

I was taught to never ask someone who they voted for, as it was none of my business. I still live by that rule.

Previously, I have voted in two local elections, but those did not compare to the tremendous amount of pride I felt when I walked into my polling place in rural Providence, Alabama.

The right to vote is something we are truly privileged to have as Americans.

As a woman walking into the polling place, I felt extremely privileged and humbled as my right to vote is something still relatively new in our country’s history.

At first, this election felt like one big joke, where we all waited for someone to jump out and yell “GOTCHA.” But as time went by, it became evident we were not being fooled.

The two major political parties nominated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to compete for the highest job in the country – President.

My home state of Alabama has always been and will always be a red state. But my particular area, The Black Belt, has always been blue.

The term is said to have a double meaning; the most popular coming from the type of soil found in the area.

Additionally, the area was heavily populated with African-American slaves and sharecroppers.

Some of the most important moments from the Civil Rights Movement happened in the area such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Bloody Sunday, and The Voting Rights Act of 1965.

I do not conform to the idea of a two party system because there are elements of both that I can get on board with.

I am also extremely neutral in almost every opinion I form because I can always see both perspectives.

I do not like Donald Trump.

That being said, I do not like Donald Trump. Of all the qualified candidates the GOP could muster up, they chose him?

A reality TV star, an actor, and a sketchy businessman? Trump successfully mastered the art of a bad deal.

From unreleased tax returns to failed business ventures (i.e. Trump University, Trump Steaks, Trump Airlines etc.) he has proved he cannot be trusted with responsibility. How can a man who is offended by a Saturday Night Live skit, have the strength it takes to defeat one of the world’s biggest and dangerous terrorist organizations?

He also finds joy in making fun of those who are not affluent white men.

From disabled reporters, to immigrants, and women who do not conform to his standards, he is insensitive and just plain rude.

I also do not care much for Hillary Clinton.

While I adore the fact she is a woman who ran for office with all the odds against her, I am uncomfortable with her role in foreign affairs.

I do not doubt her knowledge (as she knows more than I), but it is what she does with that knowledge that scares me.

Foreign policy is not why the Black Belt is blue, though.

Simply put, the area depends on the democratic view of Clinton’s social policy, which helps the majority of the area’s population.

Democratic views on public housing, education, healthcare, and other social aspects are the main reason why Alabama’s poorest counties are blue.

The presidential election of 2016 will be something that we one day will look back on and laugh.

But for now, we need to keep a close eye on our country and our friends.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Kinsey Haynes

#BamaSits: Alabama Students Sit During Protest Of National Anthem

At least a few dozen University of Alabama students sat during the playing of the national anthem before the kickoff of the Alabama-Texas A&M game Saturday afternoon.

Some of the students participating in the #BamaSits protest held signs calling for racial justice in the United States.

Other students tried to block the #BamaSits protest by standing in front of the seated demonstrators.

Some students, including UA students expressed support for the protest on social media.

But not everyone was happy with the protest.

Share how you feel about the protest in the comments below. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Kyle Burger/ Twitter (Screengrab)

Alabama GOP Leaders Must Reap What They Sow With Trump’s Downfall

By Everett Secor

I’m not mad at Trump.

Sure, the things he’s revealed to have said during a 2005 taping of Access Hollywood are beyond repugnant. More than the blatant objectification of women, they describe harassment and sexual assault with a sense of pride and bravado.

But it feels a little silly to feel sudden anger towards someone for once again genuinely displaying who we already knew they are.

Trump’s history of misogyny steeped in sexual objectification, body shaming, and toxic masculinity is well documented.

We have several decades of sexual harassment, vulgar language about women, incestuous remarks about his own daughter, and even rape allegations to show for it.

The recent revelation of how he described Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado as “Miss Piggy” and an “eating machine”, forcing her to embarrassingly exercise in front of a horde of news crews, resulted in his bizarre response of feigning disgust at her involvement in a non-existent sex tape to discredit her.

This comes from a man who has proudly been featured giving intros in multiple exploitive Playboy films.

We all knew who he was.

Which is why, when the recordings were released two weeks ago, my shock was not at all at their content, but at the reaction to them.

What I saw as run-of-the-mill behavior for this man was finally drawing harsh rebuke from his political supporters.

Multiple Republican politicians who have either endorsed Trump, or stated they’re voting for him, have since withdrawn their support.

Read More: Tuscaloosa Isn’t Such A Good Place For The LGBT Community According To HRC

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan disinvited Trump from a speaking engagement in Wisconsin.

Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence said, “I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.”

None of these objections were more shocking than when they came from one of the most steadfast strongholds of republican power: Alabama.

If there’s a place that will bend before it breaks blue, it’s the land that proudly pronounces “we dare defend our rights.”

And yet, United States Representatives Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, and Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, both made announcements denouncing Trump.

They were joined by none other than Robert Bentley, Alabama’s own sex-scandal plagued governor who was elected twice in landslide elections on sentiments of Christian family values and integrity and is now facing impeachment.

Even AL.com, Alabama’s #1 online media site and the state wide web presence of the Birmingham News offered up their endorsement to Clinton.

Alabamians are no strangers to making excuses and seeking reconciliation for impropriety, but it seemed this time, Trump’s actions were beyond absolution.

Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) did the right thing by withdrawing her support for Trump. Photo Credit: (S.K. Vemmer/Department of State)

Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) did the right thing by withdrawing her support for Trump. Photo Credit: (S.K. Vemmer/Department of State)

At least for some.

Rather than rebuke Trump, unendorse him, renounce his words, denounce his behavior, or share any sentiment that women should be treated better than this, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions decided the best response to Trump’s comments that his power and influence allowed him to grope women without consequence was to say “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault.”

As one of Trump’s most vocal supporters who reportedly helped him prep for the second Presidential debate, it seems Sessions has strapped himself to the Trump Rocket and is prepared to go wherever it takes him.

But as this shock wave of disgust spreads through the rest of the GOP, the question is:

Why now?

Why, after all Trump has said about women, are they suddenly surprised and offended?

Even outside the realm of misogyny, why did his disparaging marks about Latinos, Muslims, and African Americans not disqualify him from being the party’s standard bearer long ago?

That he has consistently been giving the benefit of the doubt again and again, to the extent that his VP pick just flatly denies his words ever happened, proves how acceptable these attitudes are to the Republican party until they’re staring the worst manifestation of them squarely in the face.

Read More: Jeff Sessions Says That Trump “Grab Them By The P—y” Video Comments Not Sexual Assault

Take out the private microphone conversation on the bus in the leaked tape.

Watch only the video of Donald Trump and self described “apolitical” Presidential nephew/cousin and Ryan Lochte apologist Billy Bush walking with Arianne Zucker onto the set of Days of Our Lives.

Their immediate focus on her physical appearance and jockeying for opportunities for her embrace is a pathetic and disgusting spectacle on its own.

But without the preceding conversation on the bus, this tape wouldn’t raise an eyebrow among Trump’s prior supporters.

The fact is that this treatment of women as an inferior gender whose primary purpose is to serve the sexual appetites of men is central tenant to the Alabama Republican party.

Senator Jeff Session continues to be a strong Trump supporter. Photo Credit: Ryan J. Reilly/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Senator Jeff Session continues to be a strong Trump supporter. Photo Credit: Ryan J. Reilly/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Beyond the typical hyper-masculine attitude associated with American conservatism, the religious right’s war on sexual education has done nothing but perpetuate these attitudes in the name of “family values”.

The sort of abstinence-only sex education taught in Alabama refuses to teach our kids about the nature of consent, instead treating sex like a shameful act in which young women, trained frequently on how to say no, are the responsible gatekeepers while young men, rarely taught how to take no for an answer, are the hapless victims of their own hormonal urges.

This stigma is strong enough to drive young female victims of sexual assault to stay silent about their experiences, driven by a sense of shame and diminished self worth.

The state’s flagship college, The University of Alabama, is not immune from the sexual assault epidemic plaguing American universities, and recently announced the number of reported sexual assaults more than doubled from 2014 to 2015.

While an increase in reports could be indicative of better support programs to shed light on sexual assault rather than an increase in incidents, the school still has a long way to go.

Last month, Rebecca Walden, a woman who attended a UA football game, published a piece in the Huffington Post telling “young ladies of the SEC, cover it up!”.

She claimed female Alabama students they looked like they were at a “Victoria’s Secret fashion show” and that any sense of class they had was rendered “tasteless” by their attire.

Huffington Post has since deleted the controversial article, but not before RISE NEWS captured her indignant slut shaming that perpetuates the idea that women are not allowed to make decisions about their own sexuality.

There was no word from Ms. Walden what she thought about the young men who proudly go shirtless every game with letters painted on their chest.

WATCH: What Real “Ladies Of The SEC” Have To Say About That Slut Shaming HuffPost Piece

“Boys will be boys” should just be a permanent item on the RNC Platform.

In fact, that’s essentially Donald Trump’s response in 2013 when facing the staggering rate of sexual assaults that occur in the US Military:

“26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”

Men are left largely unaccountable for toxic behavior and women are left to deal with the consequences.

The statehouse in Montgomery, AL. Photo Credit: David Brossard/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The statehouse in Montgomery, AL. Photo Credit: David Brossard/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Forty-three years after the passage of Roe V. Wade, Alabama still isn’t sold on the notion that women have autonomy over their own bodies.

The abortion battle rages on, with new legislation constructed every year finding loopholes in the decision to combat a woman’s right to chose whether she serves a purpose beyond procreation.

Trump’s past comments that women seek abortions should be punished drew some ire, but this isn’t a far cry from the already established stance of the GOP.

Many lawmakers even believe in preventing abortions in rape cases, attempting to give the sort of legislative legitimacy to sexual assault that most infamously resulted in former Congressman Todd Akin’s comments that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

In Alabama, legislation signed this year blocks abortion clinics from being within 2,000 feet of public K-8 schools, or from performing a common method of second trimester abortions. While currently being considered by a federal judge who may block the statutes, the laws threaten the operation of the state’s four abortion clinics which serve over four million people.

This misogyny is present in stances all across the board of the Republican party:

Their anti-transgender laws, fueled by a notion that a transgendered woman who doesn’t fully conform to their notions of desired femininity doesn’t fulfill the value of a woman.
Their opposition to equal pay legislation.

Their opposition to paid maternity leave (something Trump is bizarrely progressive on by comparison.)

Their opposition to mandating employers allow contraception to be covered by health insurance.

Conservative have spent years decrying “political correctness”, but are now running for the hills when given an politically incorrect phrasing of their attitude towards women.

Make no mistake.

Sexual assault and mistreatment of women are by no means purely a conservative problem.

They exists in “progressive” realms of literature and academia.

Misogyny was seen too well by the often gendered vitriol thrown at Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Schultz by a certain sect of Bernie Sanders supporters during the Democratic primaries.

Heroes of the new atheist movement have expressed seriously disturbing attitudes towards women.

While it doesn’t serve as any sort of defense of Trump, try as me might to leverage it, former President Bill Clinton has his own troubling history with crass behavior and sexual assault allegations.

The Alabama GOP headquarters. Photo Credit: Dystopos/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Alabama GOP headquarters. Photo Credit: Dystopos/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Additionally, conservatives certainly have their champions, too.

Governor Bentley’s deeply religious ex-wife, Dianne, endured her marriage well after clear evidence of infidelity by the governor to continue to push through her agenda giving stronger support to domestic violence victims in Alabama.

But despite the actions of these individuals, you’d be hard pressed to find an organization in America where misogyny such an unabashed, central theme as it is in the Republican party.

Barring the impossible, it seems Trump will lose in November. But that’s not enough to stem the right’s war on women, and all of those who have stood by him until now should not suddenly be able to jump ship without being taken down too.

Denouncing Trump is an absolute necessity, but it’s not enough to hide how they’ve enabled him until now, or to rescue the heart of dixie from its politicized misogyny.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Vicky van Santen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Tuscaloosa Isn’t Such A Good Place For The LGBT Community According To HRC

The Human Rights Campaign released its fifth annual Municipal Equality Index, which measures the state of LGBT equality in 506 cities across the country.

The Index also measured eight Alabama cities on a series of 44 criteria that fall into five general categories:

1) Non-discrimination laws
2)Municipal employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage and non-discrimination requirements for contractors
3)Inclusiveness of city services
4)Law enforcement, including hate crimes reporting
5)Municipal leadership on matters of equality

Read More: This Is Not A Drill- Whataburger Is Really Coming To Tuscaloosa

None of the Alabama cities did well at all in the index- with none of the eight cities scoring above a 12 out of 100 possible points.

The national average was 55 points out of 100.

Here’s how the cities performed:

  1. Birmingham-12%
  2. Florence– 12%
  3. Hoover– 12%
  4. Montgomery– 9%
  5. Mobile– 7%
  6. Tuscaloosa– 6%
  7. Huntsville– 5%
  8. Auburn– 0%

The only points that Tuscaloosa received was for having “Enumerated Anti-Bullying School Policies” in place in city schools.

Pretty pitiful.

And if you think it is impossible for a Southern city to get a perfect score on the HRC index, you would really wrong.

Atlanta actually got a 104.

Orlando got a 100.

Heck even Gainesville, FL got a 98.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

This Is Not A Drill- Whataburger Is Really Coming To Tuscaloosa

Whataburger, the fast food burger joint that people across the South love is finally coming to Tuscaloosa.

According to the Tuscaloosa News, the Tuscaloosa Whataburger location is hoping to be open by March, 2017.

It will be located near the Skyland Boulevard and Alabama 69 intersection according to real estate developer Stan Pate.

“Everybody needs to start getting ready for their made-to-order burger,” Pate told the paper.

Photo Credit: Rick/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Photo Credit: Rick/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

In addition to a Whataburger, Tuscaloosa will also soon be getting a new Starbucks that features a drive thru located the intersection of McFarland Boulevard and 15th Street, close to the CVS Pharmacy.

Folks seem to be pretty excited about the new hamburger option in Title Town as Whataburger has been promised for some time.

“Beyond excited,” Whataburger enthusiast Nicholas Heady told WVUA-TV. “I’ve been tricked every single year. Every year someone says it’s going to be in Tuscaloosa, but it’s crazy that there’s actually going to be one.”

Can you say game changer?

Tell us what you think about this addition to T-Town in the comments below. And feel free to say which restaurants you wish we had here!

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Terry Ross/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Jeff Sessions Says That Trump “Grab Them By The P—y” Video Comments Not Sexual Assault

Alabama’s junior Senator Jeff Sessions continues to be the gift that just keeps giving.

According to the Weekly Standard, Sessions actually defended his boy Donald Trump after that embarrassing “grab them by the pussy” tape from 2005 was released.

While, he admitted that the language was wrong, he did not consider the actions Trump described to be sexual assault.

Here is the play-by-play according to the Weekly Standard interview:

SESSIONS: This was very improper language, and he’s acknowledged that.

TWS: But beyond the language, would you characterize the behavior described in that

as sexual assault if that behavior actually took place?

SESSIONS: I don’t characterize that as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch. I don’t know what he meant—

TWS: So if you grab a woman by the genitals, that’s not sexual assault?

SESSIONS: I don’t know. It’s not clear that he—how that would occur.

What the hell is he talking about?

Does he really believe that grabbing women in the private area is not a sexual assault?

And just for the record, Sessions is a former prosecutor.

In a written statement sent to AL.com Monday night, Sessions said that his comments in the Weekly Standard were mischaracterized.

“My hesitation was based solely on confusion of the contents of the 2005 tape and the hypothetical posed by the reporter, which was asked in a chaotic post-debate environment,” Sessions said in the statement. “I regret that it resulted in an inaccurate article that misrepresented my views.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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