4 months ago

As North Korea tensions rise, Huntsville’s Boeing crucial in meeting amped up goals

(Missile Defense Agency)


In the wake of increased aggression from North Korea and the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the hostile regime, the Missile Defense Agency installed the last of 44 interceptors for a Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system ahead of schedule at Alaska’s Fort Greeley this month.

A Boeing facility in Huntsville has taken a leading role in providing the technological advances necessary to bolster defenses as tensions– and budgets– rise.

Earlier this year, a test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system successfully intercepted a mock long-range rocket traveling at speeds comparable to an ICBM. The MDA said the Boeing-managed test was an “incredible accomplishment,” with experts comparing the precision to one bullet hitting another bullet from an enormous distance, according to Reuters.

Improving the U.S. missile defense system has become a top priority for Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks), chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces.

In an August letter to President Trump, Rogers requested that President Trump approve additional funding as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA 18).

President Trump has asked for an additional $4.4 billion above his initial request for missile defense systems. More investments could be in the works, with the Pentagon and MDA aiming to increase from 44 interceptors to a proposed 64, according to Defense News.

“I want to commend President Trump for agreeing with us that our nation needs additional missile defense resources in light of the evolving North Korean ballistic missile threats,” Rogers said. “The request from the Office of Management and Budget this week on behalf of President Trump will aid our push for increased discrimination capabilities and the addition of a new field at Fort Greely will help build our capacity.”

When asked about the additional funding and the significant improvements to the missile defense system being developed at the Boeing facility in his district, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) expressed his pride and enthusiasm for the new plan.

“These key investments will ensure we remain far ahead of any threat,” Brooks said, “I am proud of the numerous national security efforts developed by the missile defense community right here in the Tennessee Valley.”

The increase in defense spending is a boon to the Alabama economy. Boeing employs 2,700 employees and has plans to add 400 more by 2020. The aerospace manufacturer’s main Alabama operations are at two facilities in Huntsville, located in the Jetplex Industrial Park and at Redstone Gateway.


Human trafficking bill that would impose severe penalties for obstruction is step closer to becoming law

Anyone who obstructs a human trafficking investigation in Alabama could be met with the same penalties as the traffickers if the governor signs a bill that passed the House this week with near unanimous support.

The bill, which already passed the Senate, increases penalties in place for those who obstruct, interfere with, prevent, or otherwise get in the way of law enforcement’s investigation into the practice that includes child sex trafficking.

Under current law, such obstruction is only a Class C felony and could result in just one year in prison. The new legislation would increase the maximum offense to a Class A felony, with a minimum jail sentence of ten years.


Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) sponsored the bill and said he is proud that the Alabama Legislature made this a priority.

“This week we’ve taken another crucial step in ending this horrific practice,” Ward said in a statement. “By increasing penalties for those who would aid traffickers, we will hold them just as accountable as the traffickers themselves.”

Human trafficking victims are often children who are trafficked into sexual exploitation at an average age between 11-14 years old, according to the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.

“Most people assume, ‘Well, that doesn’t happen in my backyard,’” Ward said in an interview with Yellowhammer News when the bill was first introduced. “…It’s everywhere in our state, but there’s low awareness as to how bad it really is.”

Just this week, a Decatur man pled guilty to child sex trafficking and other charges related to his plan to kidnap, rape and kill a mother and sell her 14-year-old daughter to a Memphis pimp, according to horrifying details reported by the Decatur Daily.

Brian David “Blaze” Boersma’s plan was thwarted because an informant, who Boersma recruited to help him with his plan, alerted the FBI.

“Oftentimes it’s like what we say with terrorism,” Ward said. “If you see something suspicious, tell somebody, because a lot of times, trafficking can take place right underneath our noses in our communities.”

The legislation to increase penalties for obstructing human trafficking investigations was delivered to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature Wednesday afternoon.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.

Bill funds ‘active shooter’ training for local law enforcement, school faculty and staff, and students

For much of the year, the safety of our students rests in the hands of the faculty, staff, and resource officers at our schools.  Without a shadow of a doubt, the people who know best how to protect our schools are the teachers, parents, administrators, police officers, and students in their own communities.

In February, the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida resonated throughout our communities, highlighting a disturbing trend of individuals who clearly show signs of grave mental instability falling through the cracks.

Sadly, this incident likely could have been avoided had there been better oversight at every level of law enforcement. From the top down, we failed these students by not heeding the warning signs and working together as a team to ensure our students’ safety.


In response to this incident, the House recently passed the Student, Teacher’s Officer’s Prevention (STOP) School Violence Act, which Bill  to help identify and prevent school violence before these tragic events occur.

First, the STOP School Violence Act provides funding for training to prevent student violence, including training for local law enforcement officers, school personnel, and students in the event of an emergency.  This training would be designed to give students and school personnel the ability to recognize and respond quickly to warning signs of violent behavior and would include active shooter training.

Second, the bill provides funding for technology and equipment to improve school security.  This includes the development and operation of anonymous reporting systems, as well as the installation of metal detectors, locks, and other preventative technologies to keep schools secure.

The legislation also authorizes funding for school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams for school personnel to respond to threats before they become real-time incidents.  Recognizing the warning signs of violent, threatening behavior and having the proper resources to address it on the front end can prevent these tragedies from ever occurring.

Finally, the STOP School Violence Act provides funding to support law enforcement coordination efforts, particularly the officers who already staff schools.  From the federal level all the way down to our local law enforcement, we need to ensure there is accountability and communication when handling violent behavior.

Many of our local schools are already reevaluating their security measures and taking additional steps to promote a safe learning environment for our students.  Our students’ safety and security should always remain a top priority, and I believe it is imperative that our local schools have the most appropriate resources in place in the event of an emergency.

As we look for ways to prevent these terrible tragedies, I am open to additional solutions to address the underlying issues that cause these events to occur.  That said, I remain steadfastly committed to upholding the individual right of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms.  Millions of Americans should not have their Second Amendment rights infringed upon due to the bad actions of a few individuals.

Rather, I believe we should focus on addressing mental health issues and combatting the role of violence in our modern culture, such as the prevalence of violent video games that normalize this behavior for our young students, and promoting commonsense solutions that will address the larger issues of mental health so that those with mental illness do not fall through the cracks.

There is still work to be done to ensure each child’s safety and well-being while attending classes. However, I am proud that we have taken this action in the House to promote a safe, secure learning environment for our children.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. 

(Image: File)

49 mins ago

Ex-Tuskegee football coach accused of selling cocaine, pot

A former assistant football coach at Tuskegee University is accused of selling cocaine and marijuana in Alabama.

U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr. says in a statement that 33-year-old Ramone Jardon Nickerson was arrested Wednesday. Prosecutors say the Phenix City man was indicted by a grand jury after being found with roughly 3 ounces of cocaine, a pound of marijuana and a .40-caliber handgun March 13 in Russell County.


Tuskegee’s website says the alumnus coached cornerbacks and was a four-year starter before joining the coaching staff in 2006.

If convicted, Nickerson could be sentenced to a maximum 20 years in prison for drug trafficking charges and at least 5 years for a related gun charge. There’s no parole in the federal system.

It is unclear if Nickerson has a lawyer.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

1 hour ago

We have plenty of gun bills, we lack action

Is the Alabama legislature serious about dealing with the issue of school violence? If they are, it sure doesn’t seem like it. Yes, we have bills, lots of bills, some good and some bad. We have a bill about allowing teachers to carry, a bill about allowing volunteers to carry, a bill about metal detectors, a bill about banning semi-automatics, and a bill on age-limits. So we have bills, but apparently, we don’t have time. Maybe a special session can get it done:

“Not dissuaded by the announcement, Ainsworth floated the idea of a special session addressing school safety over the summer, and the Guntersville representative was darting around the chamber on Wednesday with petition and pen in hand,” reported Sam Mattison of Alabama Political Reporter.

Why this matters: A special session? For what? Do these legislators not know where they stand on banning semi-automatics or allowing teachers to carry firearms? Yes, these are controversial issues, but they aren’t hard to figure out whether you support them or not.


The legislature piddled around on this legislation and is letting the clock run out. Now everyone gets to go back to their district and talk about how they’re pro-gun/anti-gun legislation didn’t pass, but if we send them back for four more years they can get the job done.

The details:

— The length of the legislative session is 30 meeting days over a 105 day period.

— The House Public Safety Committee was unable to meet on gun bills on Wednesday because not enough members showed up.

— Depending on the source, a special session would cost taxpayers roughly $400,000.

— If Governor Kay Ivey calls a special session, and no one thinks she will, it will be limited to whatever she specifically puts in the “call”.

Dale Jackson hosts a daily radio show from 7-11 a.m. on NewsTalk 770 AM/92.5 FM WVNN and a weekly television show, “Guerrilla Politics,” on WAAY-TV, both in North Alabama. Follow him @TheDaleJackson.

2 hours ago

Alabama House approves school security money

Schools could soon be able to tap a state technology fund for security measures such as paying for school resource officers or surveillance cameras.

The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday voted 96-4 for the bill. The Alabama Senate will now consider whether to go along with House changes to the proposal.


The legislation by Republican Sen. Trip Pittman of Montrose is one of the few school security proposals nearing final passage in the Alabama Legislature.

According the Legislative Services Agency, schools received a total of $21.4 million from the fund in 2016, but no money in 2017. A separate bill would steer an additional $58.8 million to the fund.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has announced support for the legislation.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)