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Three Big Things

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  • Biden planning to offer pathway to legal status to migrants who have lived in the US for 10 years

    The Biden administration is planning to offer work permits and deportation protections to illegal immigrants who marry to American citizens, provided they’ve lived in the US at least 10 years.

    The program, known as Parole in Place, would also clear the way to permanent legal status and US citizenship for hundreds of thousands of migrants, CBS News reported.

    It would gut existing laws to remove obstacles preventing anyone who entered the US illegally from obtaining green cards without leaving the country.

    Another plan being pushed by President Biden would allow migrants to request waivers that would make it easier for them to obtain temporary visas, such as H-1B visas for high-skilled workers, sources told CBS News.

    The measures could be announced as early as Tuesday, when White House officials will host an event to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shield 530,000 illegal immigrants who entered the country as children from deportation. 

    It is expected to face major pushback from Republican lawmakers.

     See more here: Biden to offer migrants in US for 10 years legal status (nypost.com)

  • Mackey anticipates cuts to school programs, positions

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey told members of the State Board of Education Thursday to brace themselves for a significant number of school program and position cuts in the coming years as a multi-billion dollar pool of federal pandemic relief dollars is set to expire.

    Those funds, which totaled $190 billion, were allocated toward school districts across the country through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program, known as ESSER, a component of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act.

    “As I’ve mentioned over and over again, we are losing a couple of billion dollars in ESSER funds in September, and a lot of programs are going to go away,” Mackey said during the board meeting at the Gordon Persons Building. 

    “Now I don’t want to choose the programs, I would suspect local school boards don’t want to choose the programs either, but there are programs that are going away, there are positions that are going to go away, and that’s just a matter of there (being) a lot less money for the 2024-2025 school year.”

    Some school districts have already begun cutting major programs, such as in Chilton County, which last week announced that it would not be continuing its free after-school program, which at $2.5 million, was funded entirely by ESSER funds.

    Some districts have also begun cutting school positions, Mackey said, including teachers, who in many cases were offered different positions but ultimately declined. 

    Ultimately, the significant federal funding Alabama schools have received over the last several years, Mackey said, had led to a hiring spree that was unsustainable for the Education Department and local school districts.

    “Right now we have about 3,000 more employees in public schools than we had in 2019, 2020,” he said. 

    “The population of children has been declining, we’ve got about 20,000 fewer kids; well, that’s not sustainable long term. So I know that’s going to normalize, and that number of employees, as the federal money goes away, is going to come down. It’s just the way it is.”

    School leaders have previously been warned by legislative budget leaders that the state would not pick up the slack for personnel and recurring expenses when federal COVID funds run out.

    While Mackey said “many” school districts already started making cuts to both programs and positions, he urged school districts to not drag their feet in making those decisions, and warned that doing so could result in severe budgetary consequences.

    “I know I’ve been talking about this for four years that the day was coming, but it’s here,” he said. 

    “I feel hard for local school boards, it’s going to be really hard to make those cuts, but the boards that don’t make those cuts, three or four years from now are going to be looking at state intervention because they’re going to run out of money. They’ve got to do that, unless they can raise local tax or something like that to bridge the gap.”

    The wave of school program and position cuts was not isolated to this year either, Mackey said. While there was less money at schools’ disposal this year when compared to last year, subsequent years would see progressively less and less money.

    “There’s going to be less money to spend this year, there’s going to be even less money to spend the next year, and there’s going to be much less money to spend the third year,” he said.

    Some school districts will be able to better “soft land the cuts” Mackey said, given that the large pool of federal pandemic relief funds, which expire in September, could be used ahead of the deadline for service contracts that extend for multi-year periods.

    “Just know, this is going to be an issue over and over,” he continued. “All the stories are not going to play out in the press, but there are going to be programs cut because there is going to be a lot less money.”

    Read the rest of the story here: Mackey anticipates cuts to school programs, positions - Alabama Daily News (aldailynews.com)

  • US military targets Houthi radar sites in Yemen after a merchant sailor goes missing

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. military unleashed a wave of attacks targeting radar sites operated by Yemen’s Houthi rebels after one merchant sailor went missing and the vessel he was on caught fire in the latest Houthi strike on shipping in the crucial Red Sea corridor, authorities said Saturday.

    The attacks come as the U.S. Navy faces the most intense combat it has seen since World War II in trying to counter the Houthi campaign — attacks the rebels say are meant to halt the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip. However, the Iranian-backed rebel assaults often see the Houthis target ships and sailors who have nothing to do with the war while traffic remains halved through a corridor vital for cargo and energy shipments between Asia, Europe and the Mideast.

    U.S. strikes destroyed seven radars within Houthi-controlled territory, the military’s Central Command said. It did not elaborate on how the sites were destroyed and did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.

    “These radars allow the Houthis to target maritime vessels and endanger commercial shipping,” Central Command said in a statement.

    The U.S. separately destroyed two bomb-laden drone boats in the Red Sea, as well as a drone launched by the Houthis over the waterway, it said.

    The Houthis, who have held Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, since 2014, did not acknowledge the strikes, nor any military losses. That’s been typical since the U.S. began launching airstrikes targeting the rebels.

    The Central Command said one commercial sailor from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk cargo carrier Tutor remained missing after an attack Wednesday by the Houthis that used a bomb-carrying drone boat to strike the vessel.

    “The crew abandoned ship and were rescued by USS Philippine Sea and partner forces,” Central Command said. The “Tutor remains in the Red Sea and is slowly taking on water.”

    The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said Saturday afternoon that the Tutor was “still on fire and sinking.”

    The missing sailor is Filipino, according to the state-run Philippine News Agency, which cited Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac. He said most of the Tutor’s 22 mariners were from the Philippines.

    “We’re trying to account for the particular seafarer in the ship and are praying that we could find him,” he said Friday night.

    Also on Saturday, Central Command said the vessel M/V Anna Meta rescued crew members from the cargo carrier M/V Verbena, which was struck Thursday in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Yemen in two separate missile attacks by the Houthis.

    The crew abandoned ship after being unable to bring fires on the vessel under control. One mariner was severely wounded.

    CENTCOM said the Verbena is a Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned and Polish-operated bulk cargo carrier that had docked in Malaysia and was on its way to Italy carrying wood.

    The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration. A U.S.-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

    READ MORE: US military targets Houthi radar sites in Yemen after a merchant sailor goes missing – NewsNation (newsnationnow.com)

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