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The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

2 hours ago

Jones, Sewell call for resignation of Marengo County newspaper editor

(D. Jones, T. Sewell/Facebook)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) and Representative Terri Sewell (AL-7) are demanding the resignation of Goodloe Sutton, The Democrat-Reporter publisher and editor who has come under national scrutiny after writing an editorial advocating for the return of the Ku Klux Klan.

After learning of the editorial and Sutton doubling down on his written thoughts by calling for the lynching of “socialist-communists” in D.C., Jones took to Twitter to express his outrage.

“OMG! What rock did this guy crawl out from under? This editorial is absolutely disgusting & he should resign -NOW!” Alabama’s junior senator said.

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Jones added, “I have seen what happens when we stand by while people-especially those with influence- publish racist, hateful views. Words matter. Actions matter. Resign now!”

Sewell tweeted that she deems Sutton’s editorial “a threat.”

“For the millions of people of color who have been terrorized by white supremacy, this kind of ‘editorializing’ about lynching is not a joke – it is a threat,” she outlined. “These comments are deeply offensive and inappropriate, especially in 2019. Mr. Sutton should apologize and resign.”

Chip Brownlee, The Auburn Plainsman’s editor-in-chief whose tweet about the editorial drew media attention to the issue, has now compiled a host of “racist, sexist, xenophobic” old Democrat-Reporter pieces written by Sutton.

Brownlee also reported Tuesday morning that Sutton is being removed from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Mass Communication and Journalism Hall of Fame because of the Klan editorial.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Alabama’s ‘Democrat-Reporter’ calls for KKK ‘to night ride again’

(Pexels)

The longtime publisher and editor of The Democrat-Reporter in Marengo County – a man once celebrated by The New York Times as an exemplar of courageous journalism – is now drawing national criticism over a recent editorial advocating for the return of the Ku Klux Klan.

Goodloe Sutton has worked for the Linden newspaper since 1964, his family having owned it since 1917.

The Montgomery Advertiser contacted Sutton after Auburn Plainsman Editor-in-Chief Chip Brownlee and managing editor Mikayla Burns tweeted about an editorial published last week in The Democrat-Reporter entitled, “Klan needs to ride again.”

Sutton confirmed to The Montgomery Advertiser that he wrote the editorial in question.

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(Chip Brownlee/Twitter)

The editorial outlined, “Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama.”

“Slaves, just freed after the civil war, were not stupid. At times, they borrowed their former masters’ robes and horses and rode through the night to frighten some evil doer,” Sutton wrote. “Sometimes they had to kill one or two of them, but so what.”

He concluded the editorial by calling on the Klan to return to intimidate “the ruling class.”

“Seems like the Klan would be welcome to raid the gated communities up there. They call them compounds now,” Sutton said.

Read The Montgomery Advertiser’s full report here.

5 hours ago

Rep. Mo Brooks on ending the politicization of U.S. intel agencies: ‘I am dissatisfied with the progress since President Trump became president’

(MSNBC/YouTube)

Last week, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe revealed that within the Department of Justice, there were discussions about the possibility of attempting to invoke the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to remove President Donald Trump from office involving he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

During an appearance on Huntsville’s WVNN, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) called those revelations “troubling” and described it as a coup d’état.

He also added that he was “dissatisfied” with the Trump administration’s progress of changing the politicized culture of the intelligence agencies.

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“It is very troubling that the Justice Department and the FBI would be discussing what is in effect a coup d’état,” he said. “We’ve never had that done in the history of the United States where agencies of that power and influence, which historically are like Lady Justice – blind, nonpartisan, where they have become involved to that partisan a degree, and that is a horrible state of affairs for our country where justice is no longer equally applied to everybody, rather politics comes in and plays a heavy role. And that was what was happening with the Justice Department and the FBI engaging in the kind of conduct that it appears they were engaging with the 25th Amendment removal of the president of the United States.”

Brooks added it was the job of the Cabinet members, not the FBI or Justice Department, to make the decisions regarding the use of the 25th Amendment.

When asked for a fix to the status quo, the Huntsville Republican called on new Attorney General William Barr to act.

“The remedy is for us to have an attorney general who will investigate these matters and charge those who are guilty with the crimes that they will have committed if, in fact, they did what it appears they have done,” Brooks said. “And so, I hope that our new attorney general will be much more proactive in that regard in making sure the United State Constitution is paramount and is protected.”

Brooks expressed his dissatisfaction with implementing the remedy but also acknowledged it takes time.

“I am dissatisfied with the progress since President Trump became president of the United States because there has been little to no progress in holding those who are guilty accountable for their wrongful actions,” Brooks added. “Now the new attorney general is just getting his feet wet, so it will take some time. If you’ve been in the judicial system, it often goes slower than we would like. That’s the nature of the beast. And hopefully, the new attorney general will direct the Justice Department and the FBI to do what needs doing. The problem is that it is a contamination from within. The problem is you’re asking the Justice Department and the FBI to investigate themselves and to investigate colleagues and people who may be friends. And it is harder to get justice under those circumstances.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

5 hours ago

German firm to build headquarters in Tuscaloosa

(SWJ)

A German firm is opening its new North American headquarters in Alabama.

SWJ Technology will build the new 5,000-square-foot facility in a part of Tuscaloosa that was devastated by a tornado in April 2011, The Tuscaloosa News reported.

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The company has more than 85 employees in the Southeast United States.

It started in 2003 in Frankfurt, Germany, and was known as SWJ-Breilmann until a name change earlier this year.

It provides services to companies such as Mercedes-Benz U.S. International and the suppliers that service it.

The company plans to relocate aspects of its Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Greenville, South Carolina, operations to Tuscaloosa, officials said.

The firm was recently awarded a $200,000 federal grant through the city’s Innovate Tuscaloosa program.

That was a major factor in selecting Tuscaloosa over Chattanooga and Greenville as the central hub of its U.S. and Mexican operations, SWJ President Wolfgang Kneer said.

SWJ Technology expects to invest about $1.5 million into the new, 5,000-square-foot (1,500-square-meter) facility, Kneer said.

The grant program is funded with proceeds from disaster recovery dollars administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It was created last year as a way to fuel business development and create jobs by bringing services to areas that have yet to recover from the tornado.

The company’s decision to build its headquarters in the Alberta neighborhood is a “game changer” on par with Mercedes-Benz choosing Tuscaloosa County for its first North American manufacturing facility in the 1990s, said Tuscaloosa Councilman Kip Tyner, who represents the area.

“How many times have you heard about high-tech jobs, retaining the best and the brightest? That’s exactly what this company is going to be able to do,” Tyner said. “But for Alberta itself, it’s on an area that had close to seven percent of the entire city’s crime just eight years ago, and now you’re talking about a corporate headquarters of an international company.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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6 hours ago

7 Things: Emergency declaration challenged, Alabama ISIS supporter wants to come home, an Alabama newspaper calls for folks to copy the Klan and more …

(WH/Flickr)

7. Noted liar and “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett will not talk to police now

— After getting the liberal media and celebrities to destroy their credibility further, Smollett has made it clear he will not be coming clean to the police anytime soon. His PR team released a statement announcing he wouldn’t meet with police. It read, “Smollett’s attorneys will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf.” Even Al Sharpton thinks this was ridiculous and said the actor should “face accountability to the maximum” if he made this up.

6. Conflicted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is on his way out

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— Following accusations from disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and a tweet from President Donald Trump where he accused him of a coup, Rosenstein is expected to leave in mid-March. Now, officials are disputing these allegations are the reason he is leaving. Instead, they claim Rosenstein was always going to leave when a new attorney general was confirmed.

5. After two-plus years and 90+ percent negative coverage, head-to-head polling still shows President Donald Trump holding his own in 2020 matchups

— You would think the media’s non-stop negative coverage would place the president’s re-election in massive peril, but this may not be the case. Trump still trails all expected Democrat challengers by anywhere from four to 10 points. All things considered, that is not a bad place for Trump to start. All of the races are within the margin of error, except a Trump vs. Biden matchup — where Biden wins by 10.

4. A teacher pay raise is the latest idea that starts to gain traction before the Alabama legislature meets

— With tax revenue in the state of Alabama up almost $400 million over the last year, State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) says the legislature could be ready to pass a three percent pay raise for teachers. If that happens, the increase will take place on October 1. There is also talk of limiting cost increased on health insurance for teachers and state employees.

3. An Alabama newspaper owner wants the people to mimic the Klan and string up politicians over taxes

— The publisher of a small town paper called for people to mimic the Klan, “as free slaves did” and take to the capitols of the United States and Alabama because “Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama,” adding, “[I]f we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off.” Universal condemnation and national media attention followed by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) calling for his resignation. As dumb as this story is, some of the coverage is terrible. AL.com sought and ran quotes from politicians who haven’t even seen the editorial.

2. Alabama ISIS fighter wants to come home

— Hoover’s Hoda Muthana, “one of Isis’s [sic] most prominent online agitators,” wants to come home to Alabama now that ISIS is expected to be on the verge of collapse and annihilation. Complicating the matters is that she has called for the death of Americans at home, “Americans wake up! Men and women altogether. You have much to do while you live under our greatest enemy, enough of your sleeping! Go on drivebys, and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriots, Memorial, etc day … Kill them.” She has married three jihadists and birthed a son, a son she wants to raise in Alabama.

1. California fulfills Trump’s prediction that we are heading to the 9th circuit court for the legal battle over his emergency declaration

— The state of California is leading the way in challenging the national emergency declaration that will allow the president to build parts of his desired wall. New Mexico, Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, Connecticut and others have joined the lawsuit as well. The issue is far more complicated than the media would have you believe. The president invoked a couple of different measures and some of them are not part of these challenged.

7 hours ago

State Rep. England: Ivey ‘ignoring reasonable alternatives’ on prisons — Should use leasing proposal as leverage to force legislature to act

(Facebook)

Monday on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Rep. Christopher England (D-Tuscaloosa) elaborated on his criticism of Gov. Kay Ivey’s $900 million prison plan proposal she unveiled last week.

England sounded off on social media about the proposal, arguing that it failed to address overcrowding given it just replaced old beds with new ones. He also said it left questions about the Tutwiler women’s prison unresolved.

According to the Tuscaloosa Democrat, the Ivey administration was “hellbent” on building new facilities.

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“[J]ust to be frank, if you start talking about alternatives, that doesn’t fit the narrative,” England said. “They’re so hellbent on building new facilities that they’re ignoring reasonable alternatives. Not only just reasonable alternatives for the system and the most effective usage of taxpayer dollars, but also if we’re talking about the political minefield the legislature is, these are ideas and plans that could actually work and actually get bills passed, and create the ability to bond the money.”

England referenced former Gov. Robert Bentley’s failed attempt in 2017 to get a plan for new prisons through the state legislature, and argued that was not reason enough to attempt to try again in this upcoming legislative session.

“You know, everybody cast the legislature in such a bad light because they rejected Bentley’s plan over and over again,” he said. “But we don’t have to accept that Bentley’s plan is actually the best one. As a matter of fact, the legislature is supposed to vet it. And while the prison plan itself made it through the Senate several times, it got killed in the House because they kept taking Tutwiler out of it, which again is our worst facility.”

“I think the legislature has done its job in terms of rejecting bad plans,” England continued. “Now clearly, it is our responsibility to take this on and do something about it. If I were Governor Ivey, I would challenge the legislature to do that. Say, ‘This is my plan, and this is how much it’s going to cost. If you got a better one, pass it. But if you don’t do it by a date certain, I’m just going to have to go forward, and the failure will be on you.’”

“But I think putting forth a reasonable plan that actually puts an effective dollar amount in how much you want to borrow on the problem itself, can get through the legislature,” he added. “I’m pretty sure of it. It’s just really hard to tell people, ‘I need three new prisons,’ and not tell you where they’re going, not tell you what’s closing, not addressing Tutwiler, and also putting us in debt for 35 to 40 years.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

8 hours ago

Drummond Company names Nathaniel Drummond as its CCO, president of coal sales subsidiary

(Drummond Company/Twitter)

In this day and age, it is rare to see proud family businesses stay so through generations — especially when that company is handling billions of dollars in annual revenue and employs thousands across the globe.

Count Birmingham-based Drummond Company, Inc. as the exception to the rule.

Drummond, the historic juggernaut which has still been ranked as Alabama’s largest private company in recent years, made a major personnel move Monday bearing a familiar name.

In a press release, the company noted its pleasure in announcing the appointment of Nathaniel Drummond to the key positions of its chief commercial officer and president of subsidiary Drummond Coal Sales, Inc.

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Nathaniel, grandson of the late Garry Neil Drummond, joined the Drummond organization in 2013 as vice president of Drummond Coal Sales, Inc. He was promoted to senior vice president of Drummond Company, Inc. in 2017, where he has been involved with all aspects of the company’s business units.

Prior to joining the company, Nathaniel started his professional career with Vitol in their London office. He later transferred to their Houston office where he helped start their U.S. coal trading desk. In this role, he was responsible for North American coal operations from 2009 to 2013.

Nathaniel has a BS in Civil Engineering from Southern Methodist University.

He will report directly to Drummond CEO Mike Tracy and spearhead the sales and marketing efforts for the company, subsidiary coal sales and ABC Coke sales.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

22 hours ago

Doug Jones on border security: ‘I don’t think it rises to the level of a national emergency’ (VIDEO)

(G. Skidmore/Flickr, D. Jones/Facebook)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) says there is no emergency at the nation’s southern border, speaking out against President Donald Trump’s border security declaration in an interview with WVTM 13 Monday.

Jones called Trump’s national emergency declaration “a slippery slope.”

“I don’t think it’s good policy,” he advised, saying he opposes the declaration.

While Jones, like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is worried about the “humanitarian crisis” brought on by illegal immigrants and asylum seekers coming to the United States-Mexico border, the junior senator from Alabama added, “I don’t think it rises to the level of a national emergency.”

Watch:

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The attorney general of California on Monday announced that at least 13 states will be filing a legal challenge to the president’s declaration.

Read more about national emergency declarations here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

23 hours ago

Birmingham seeks to host 2025 World Police and Fire Games

(Alabama News Center)

Birmingham is in the running to host the World Police and Fire Games in 2025, according to a report by the Birmingham Business Journal.

The planned event, which will take place between June 27, 2025 and July 6, 2025, features approximately 10,000 athletic competitors, in addition to event attendees. The competition will also reportedly feature more than 50 sports and is open to active and retired law enforcement and fire service professionals from around the world.

Birmingham’s advantages to hosting the World Games, according to the CEO of the 2021 World Games, are the quality of venues. By the year 2025, Birmingham will feature a new stadium at the BJCC and a newly renovated Legacy Arena.

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“I’ve known about the games for a while, so when there was an opportunity to get Birmingham out in the fray, I thought that this was very exciting, certainly [with] what we’ve done with the World Games coming up, the Senior Games, we are kind of versed in that multi-sport world,” David Galbaugh, vice president of sports sales and marketing for the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, said via Birmingham Business Journal.

Galbaugh said the bid process is ongoing, with several other cities expressing interest.

According to the Birmingham Business Journal, city officials will present a formal bid to host the 2025 edition of the event at the 2020 World Police and Fire Games in the Netherlands.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

Byrne: Staying focused in a crazy Washington

(Rep. Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

Before the new Congress began at the start of this year, I made a prediction: With the new Democrat majority, we could expect crazy season from the left, with Democrat members taking every chance they could to undermine President Trump.

I don’t claim to have a crystal ball, but I think I hit the nail on the head in this case.

So far in just the first month and a half of the 116th Congress, the Democrat Party has become the Obstructionist Party: They have stood in the way of strong national security measures, our American values, and President Trump.

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We saw a prime example of this just last week when the president was left with no other option to secure our borders and get a handle on the national security crisis there than to declare a national emergency.

Ensuring the safety of the American people is a fight worth fighting, and while I wish it hadn’t come to this point, the Democrats have left President Trump with no choice. We must secure the border and build the wall.

But it seems that Democrat craziness is totally unbounded this year, not just when it comes to border security but on issues of abortion, the environment, and the Second Amendment. They have completely lost sight of our core American values and are not listening to the millions of Americans who still hold fast to those values.

As long as I am in Congress, I will continue to do everything in my power to keep focus in a crazy Washington. I remain dedicated to the issues that matter most to Alabamians, and I will continue to fight for you.

The crisis at the southern border is real, yet Democrats seem intent on doing everything they can to push their open border policies. They want to put a cap on the number of people ICE can detain, but they don’t want to do anything to secure the border. In other words, it seems they just want to let criminals get away without any consequences. We are a nation of laws, and they need to be enforced.

A few weeks ago, House Democrats blocked Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) from testifying during a committee hearing on gun violence. Democrats are pushing new gun laws that would restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans without doing anything to actually prevent crime.

As a victim of gun violence himself, it only seemed appropriate that Congressman Scalise should share his views. The issue, however, was that he still believes in supporting the Second Amendment, as do I, but this was not what the Democrats wanted to hear.

Then we have the “Green New Deal,” which is nothing more than unserious, unfocused political messaging, proposed at the expense of the American people. This plan is poorly thought out, horribly expensive, and puts partisan politics over the American people. Let’s call it out for what it is.

And far too many Democrats in Congress have made it clear they support infanticide, either with outright statements of support for radical abortion measures or through their silence in not condemning late-term and live-birth abortion. In fact, we have attempted to pass a bill to ensure a baby born alive after an attempted abortion receives appropriate medical care, but Democrats even object to that bill.

On every one of these issues, it seems common sense has lost out and Democrats are most interested in pandering to the far left than solving problems.

No matter how out-of-touch, crazy, and disconnected Washington, D.C., and the Democrats get, I will remain steadfast in fighting for the values we hold dear in Alabama.

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

Concerns continue in south Alabama for ‘dangerous’ Highway 98

(YHN)

Fred Kelly has lived near U.S. Highway 98 in Mobile County for decades. At least three times a day, he hears the emergency services sirens up the hill from his house heading to yet another wreck on the busy two-lane highway.

“People get hurt on that highway every day,” Kelly said. “Many people just don’t realize how hard it is for people who have to go this way every day.”

Highway 98, a major east-west, two-lane route in the county that is frequently traveled by commercial vehicles, local residents and beachgoers on their way to Interstate 10 and the Alabama Gulf Coast, is dubbed “Bloody 98” for its many severe traffic accidents. Wrecks on this curvy highway can back up traffic more than 10 miles.

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“People who know just don’t get onto 98 to get home,” said State Sen. Jack Williams (R-Wilmer). “People will go 20 miles out of their way, down dirt roads or however they can to avoid it. What ought to be a 20-minute drive for people who live in Mississippi but work in Mobile and vice versa is an hour or more.”

State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) agreed.

“It’s one of the most dangerous highways in the state,” he stated. “Anything would be an improvement.”

Work began in 2001 to build a new four-lane extension of U.S. 98, but environmental litigation in 2008 and other setbacks took the project off the front burner. Plans were redesigned, and more right-of-way purchased so that the project would be more environmentally sensitive.

“It’s been on the radar for a long time,” said Mobile County Commission President Connie Hudson, whose western-area district includes 98. “Our concerns are for our constituents who have to travel this road daily. It is dangerous.”

But now, work has started back in earnest, thanks to a $40 million funding windfall from the 2016 BP oil spill settlement. In 2017, ALDOT restarted work on the U.S. 98/SR-158 extension project, broken into several segments so that local contractors can participate in the construction as funding is available. The $160 million, 12-mile SR 158 extension will connect with the new U.S. 98 west of Mobile. Environmental concerns are being addressed in several ways.

The ultimate goal is to have a new two-lane road, so far dubbed the new 98, from the Mississippi state line to Schillinger Road. It will run parallel to the “old” 98, which still will be in operation, but is undergoing safety improvements, including center lane rumble strips.

“We’re hoping at least a half of the traffic on 98 will move onto the new road,” Williams said. “The new 98 won’t have stoplights, so we’re hoping more trucks will use it.”

Since 2017, steps underway include:

September 2017: An eastbound bridge extension project begins on U.S. 98 over Big Creek Lake. The $5.5 million project finished in fall 2018.

December 2018: A 2.7-mile project begins east of Glenwood Road to west of SR 217 (Lott Road) in Semmes. It should be finished by fall 2021.

April 2018: Work begins on the SR-158 extension, a 1.5-mile project that starts east of Lott Road to the junction of Schillinger Road in Semmes. It also includes building two more bridges. It should be finished in fall 2019.

The two lanes on the new 98 are anticipated to be complete by 2022, which will complete the link from Mississippi to Interstate 65. The new 98 will have enough room on either side to expand to four lanes should funding become available.

“I’d like to eventually see both roads four-laned for safety,” Hudson said. “We’re just excited and happy it’s active and we look forward to having the new road.”

Kelly, who serves on an ALDOT community outreach committee that informs residents of the progress, is pleased.

“It should have been done years ago … but ALDOT is doing the best they can with the money they have,” he said.

ALDOT plans to let four more projects, including construction of a Lott Road overpass, a bridge on Glenwood Road, construction of a bridge on Wilmer-Georgetown Road over U.S. 98, and paving the original U.S. 98 project from the Mississippi line to east of Glenwood Road. The entire project is expected to finish in about six years.

Lori Chandler Pruitt is a journalist whose contribution is made possible by a grant from the Alabama Alliance for Infrastructure

1 day ago

Alabama ISIS bride begging to return to America after advocating for terror attacks

(Hoover HS Yearbook)

Hoda Muthana, who left Hoover in 2014 to join ISIS in Syria, now claims she made “a big mistake.”

The 24-year-old is begging American officials to let her return home now that ISIS is on the verge of total annihilation, according to reports.

The Guardian reported Sunday that Muthana was 19 years old when she left Alabama and headed to Raqqa, Syria. There, she first married an Australian jihadist named Suhan Rahman, who was reportedly killed later in the town of Kobanî.

After Rahman’s death, Muthana – called “one of Isis’s [sic] most prominent online agitators” – took to social media in a vengeful call for the blood of American citizens to be spilled by radical jihadists living in the country.

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She tweeted, “Americans wake up! Men and women altogether. You have much to do while you live under our greatest enemy, enough of your sleeping! Go on drivebys, and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriots, Memorial, etc day … Kill them.”

The Guardian outlined that this type of online behavior continued for some time.

“For many months in 2015, her Twitter feed was full of bloodcurdling incitement, and she says she remained a zealot until the following year. She now says her account was taken over by others [after she allegedly stopped being a zealot],” the publication explained.

After the death of Rahman, she married a Tunisian fighter, with whom she had her son, Adam. This second husband was soon killed in Mosul, and Muthana briefly married a Syrian fighter last year to complete her own trifecta of jihadist husbands.

It is supposedly in part out of concern for her son that she wants to return to her family in the Yellowhammer State. She also claims to have become de-radicalized over time after seeing the realities in the Middle East.

“I look back now and I think I was very arrogant,” Muthana told The Guardian. “Now I’m worried about my son’s future. In the end I didn’t have many friends left, because the more I talked about the oppression of Isis the more I lost friends. I was brainwashed once and my friends are still brainwashed.”

She is now living with her son in the tent-city and refugee camp called al-Hol – also known as al-Hawl – after being captured by Kurdish forces.

Muthana told The Guardian that she had not yet talked with American officials since her capture but that she “deeply regrets” ever leaving her homeland in the first place.

“I would tell them please forgive me for being so ignorant, and I was really young and ignorant and I was 19 when I decided to leave,” she claimed. “I believe that America gives second chances. I want to return and I’ll never come back to the Middle East. America can take my passport and I wouldn’t mind.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

Legally blind Huntsville high school wrestler wins state championship

(WZDX/YouTube)

This weekend, Jay Spencer became the first wrestler in his school’s history to win a state title. And even more impressively, he did so while being legally blind.

“[D]on’t let what anyone thinks about you change how you think,” Spencer told WZDX. “As long as you believe you can do something, then you can.”

Spencer, a senior at St. John Paul II in Huntsville, is wise beyond his years. However, the inspiration he is providing people comes from more than his words alone.

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A multi-year starter as the football team’s center, Spencer has constantly lived out his own words after being diagnosed with an inherited retinal degenerative disease when he was only three years old. The state title is just the crowning achievement on a high school athletics career that anyone would be proud of.

“He’s probably the hardest working wrestler I’ve coached in 25 years,” St. John Paul II coach Duke Labasi told WZDX. “He puts in work on the mat, in practice, on his own personal time – his work ethic is really incomparable.”

The coach added, “Jay has never let any type of impairment that it may seem he has affect him on the mat.”

Watch:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

US Supreme court to hear undeliverable mail case out of Alabama

(USPS/Facebook, Pixabay)

Mitch Hungerpiller thought he had a first-class solution for mail that gets returned as undeliverable, a common problem for businesses that send lots of letters.

But the process he helped develop and built his small Alabama technology company around has resulted in a more than decade long fight with the U.S. Postal Service, which says his solution should not have been patentable.

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The David vs. Goliath dispute has now arrived at the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the justices will hear Hungerpiller’s case, which involves parsing the meaning of a 2011 patent law.

“All I want is a fair shake,” said Hungerpiller, who lives in Birmingham and is a father of three.

Hungerpiller, 56, started thinking seriously about returned mail in 1999 when he was doing computer consulting work.

While visiting clients, he kept seeing huge trays of returned mail.

He read that every year, billions pieces of mail are returned as undeliverable, costing companies and the Postal Service time and money.

So he decided to try to solve the problem.

He developed a system that uses barcodes, scanning equipment and computer databases to process returned mail almost entirely automatically.

His clients, from financial services companies to marketing companies, generally direct their returned mail to Hungerpiller’s company, Return Mail Inc., for processing.

Clients can get information about whether the mail was actually correctly addressed and whether there’s a more current address.

Hungerpiller says developing Return Mail’s system took several years.

As part of the process, the company applied for a patent. In 2004, right before Thanksgiving, Hungerpiller got a call with good news.

The company would be issued U.S. Patent No. 6,826,548.

“Oh, I was so thankful. Best Thanksgiving of my life,” he said, describing the phone call as “just a wow moment.”

To celebrate he bought decorative copies of the patent for company leaders.

His copy, a plaque about the size of a piece of paper, hangs in his office next to a painting of his late father.

Even early on, the Postal Service expressed interest in Return Mail’s invention, Hungerpiller said.

By 2006, the government and Return Mail were talking about licensing options and a formal pilot program.

Partnering with the Postal Service, Hungerpiller said, would have “changed my life.”

But the Postal Service ultimately developed its own, similar system for processing returned and undeliverable mail, announcing its launch in 2006.

“I was crushed. I got a dagger in my back,” Hungerpiller said.

And his business suffered.

“Bottom line is that we had to lay off employees,” Hungerpiller said, adding that it “suffocated the business.”

The Postal Service soon went further.

It tried to get Return Mail’s patent invalidated, but failed.

Return Mail sued the Postal Service, arguing that the government should pay for using Return Mail’s invention without permission.

A spokesman for the Postal Service declined to comment on the case because it is ongoing.

Just as Hungerpiller thought his company might be gaining the upper hand, the Postal Service switched tactics, successfully using a 2011 patent law overhaul law to invalidate Return Mail’s patent.

Now, at the Supreme Court, Return Mail’s lawyers are arguing that the Postal Service cannot use that law, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, to challenge Return Mail’s patent.

The law says that a “person who is not the owner of a patent,” can file a patent challenge using the law.

The Postal Service does not count as a “person,” Return Mail’s lawyers say.

The government disagrees. The Supreme Court will decide who is right.

Hungerpiller said he is pleased the Supreme Court wants to at least hear his case.

He said what he has been through to get to this point hasn’t made him lose faith in his government.

Most days he wears an American flag pin, something he has done since 9/11. He calls himself a “proud American.”

“This is just a process,” he said. “I honestly believe that one day I’ll get justice.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 day ago

Football fuels more passenger traffic at Birmingham airport

(Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport/Facebook, Pixabay)

Birmingham’s airport is experiencing strong growth in passenger traffic, new numbers show.

More than 2.9 million passengers passed through the airport in 2018, AL.com reported.

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That is a 10 percent increase compared to the 2.7 million passengers who used the airport in 2017.

In January, the airport set a record: It served 224,012 passengers, a nearly 16 percent increase in passengers over the previous year.

The Birmingham Airport Authority attributes the January numbers to its work with the airlines to add more seats and flights from Birmingham.

Many of those extra flights have been added during the college football season, as fans flew in and out for games.

For instance, American Airlines and United Airlines added flights to the San Francisco Bay Area for Alabama’s appearance in the national championship.

“This growth is a direct result of the Birmingham community creating demand for the airlines by making BHM their airport of choice when flying to their game day destinations,” said Sylvester Lavender, the Birmingham Airport Authority’s Interim President and CEO.

“We anticipate our passenger numbers to continue to rise throughout the year as more routes and flights will be added for both business and leisure travelers,” Lavender said.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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All roads lead to Alabama jobs

(AAI)

“940,353 full times jobs are completely dependent on Alabama’s transportation network. If we want to recruit new industry and create more jobs, we need a road and bridge system that supports economic growth in Alabama. It’s time to take this issue seriously and invest in Alabama’s future. Let’s take action and rebuild Alabama’s roads!” #FixALroads

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1 day ago

Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame inducts eight

(AEHOF)

This past weekend, the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame kicked off National Engineers Week by inducting into its membership eight accomplished individuals for their contributions to the state through their profession.

The Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame was formed in 1987 to recognize individuals, projects and companies who have made a lasting impact on the state through the field of engineering.

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List of those inducted:

• Lowell Christy, founding principal, Christy Cobb Consulting Engineers
• Stephen Cook, executive vice president of Corporate Development, Dynetics
• Dorothy Davidson, CEO, Davidson Technologies
• Tanya Fratto, director, Boart Longyear
• Carl Register, managing director, Railcar Solutions, Ltd
• Jonathan Sharpe, director of Weapon Systems Integration, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Co.
• Zeke Smith, executive vice president of External Affairs, Alabama Power Company
• Norman Tew, vice president and general manager, The Boeing Company

Yellowhammer News spoke with Stephen Cook and Zeke Smith about the induction. Both shared their appreciation of the honor and spoke of those who helped them get to where they are in the profession.

“First I’m very honored and humbled by this recognition,” Smith said. “I’m very appreciative to Chris Roberts and Jim Killian of Auburn University for nominating me, the Board of Directors for considering me, and my teammates at Alabama Power for their long-standing support. Anything good that is accomplished in life cannot happen without the support of your family and other people. I am blessed and certainly inspired to live up to the high standards that this hall of fame represents.”

“It’s an incredible and humbling honor to be inducted into the hall of fame,” said Cook. “My faith in God and my wonderful family provided the foundation which allowed me to have a wonderful engineering career.”

There are seven universities in Alabama which offer engineering programs to their students.

Cook and Smith offered valuable insight for those studying in those programs.

Cook’s advice for aspiring engineers was “to seek out areas where they can be passionate about contributing and constantly striving for excellence in how and what they do.”

“My engineering background helps me in everything I do,” Smith said. “Engineers take a problem, analyze it, develop a plan of action and see it to the end. My experiences of learning – whether in engineering classes many years ago at Auburn or through my career at the company – have taught me discipline and how to think strategically. I’ve applied engineering to every job I’ve had, including the one I have now.”

“Alabama engineers have accomplished many great things over the years and I’m excited to see what the next generation contributes in the future,” Cook added.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 day ago

7 Things: Jones and Marsh disagree on Medicaid, Ivey supports Trump’s declaration, fake hate crime exposed and more …

(D. Jones, D. Marsh/Facebook)

7. A major Democrat talking point on tax refunds is obliterated by the Washington Post

— Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) received “four Pinocchios” from fact-checkers at the post for repeating a Democratic talking point about how lower refunds mean taxes have gone up. The Post’s Glenn Kessler pointed out how this talking point is being misused, explaining, “Though few people look at this way, a smaller tax refund means you gave less of a loan to the U.S. government over the course of the year.” Facts don’t matter here, Democrats and pundits will continue saying this.

6. Alabama’s attorney general wins another court battle over Alabama’s monument law

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— The long battle over the Confederate monument in Birmingham is hardly over, but the AG notched another win when the State Supreme Court won a stay against a ruling that the state’s law was unconstitutional. This means that the city of Birmingham can not remove or obstruct the “Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park.”

5. Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley declares attempts to replace her are “racial”

— Chairwoman Worley, who is Caucasian, announced she will comply with the Democratic National Committees decision to force new elections for the top two leadership posts in the state, but she also believes there is a racial component to the challenges. She added, “I think in the whole group, they had maybe one black. But when they lost, they started looking for another avenue to go. And so, I think it is what it is.” That “one black” was the candidate for chairman, Peck Fox. Now, former State Sen. Myron Penn (D-Union Springs) is running.

4. As media outlets call for a higher gas tax, cracks in the ALGOP start to show

— State Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) is sponsoring the gas tax in the State House, but still doesn’t have a number for the increase he will propose, which makes some legislators uneasy voicing support for something that is undefined. Some, like State Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant) is already a no on any gas tax hike, saying, “People are just tired of being taxed.”

3. Obviously fake hate crime is fake

— “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is now accused of hiring two Nigerian actors to stage a hate crime that he would then blame on white Trump supporters. He will now face a grand jury. Media outlets, celebrities and politicians bought the story completely and now deflect their responsibility. Alternately, conservatives were vindicated again after another hate crime or racism hoax proved to be untrue.

2. President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration border wall get the support of Alabama’s governor

— Governor Kay Ivey believes the border needs a wall and that the president chose a reasonable path to make it happen. The governor told reporters, “We certainly have a problem with security at the border and we need to fix that security problem, and so I’m supporting President Trump in his effort to keep our borders safe.”

1. State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) dismisses Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and his calls to expand Medicaid

— Talk of a plan to expand Medicaid in Alabama has been brought up in the weeks leading to speculation that hospitals will be leading the charge to get a deal that Jones says the state needs to take advantage of. State Sen. Marsh believes the federal government will eventually leave the state holding the bag for increased costs. “We want to encourage an efficient system and the last thing we want to do is send a message that ‘spend as much as you want because the federal government is coming to the rescue and oh, by the way, they are leaving in a few years and then it’s all on us,” he explained.

1 day ago

Langford’s crimes still costing taxpayers as Birmingham leaders move to honor him

(André Natta/Flickr)

As Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and other city leaders push to name the CrossPlex after the late Larry Langford, the people of Jefferson County are still paying for the crimes he committed while in office.

ABC 33/40 reported last week on how county officials in the midst of what was then the worst municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history consolidated inmates from the Bessemer jail into the Birmingham jail. The decision was ultimately made as a desperate attempt at saving money, however county officials on Wednesday said this has now led to a fresh $2 million in repairs that the Bessemer jail requires.

This came the very day after Woodfin publicly declared his campaign to honor Langford’s legacy.

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All sanitary plumbing inside the jail must be replaced, as the pipes are rusted and serious leaks have plagued the facility for years. Officials advised the rust was primarily caused by water and moisture left in the pipes when the jail went unused for nearly four years.

The county bankruptcy stemmed from the very debacle that landed Langford in prison with a 15-year sentence, having been convicted on 60 of the 101 federal counts on which he was indicted.

While Langford was head of the county commission, a federal investigation revealed that he received $235,000 in bribes to help influence bond deals to raise money for improvements on the county’s sewer system. Ultimately, the bonds resulted in a $3.2 billion sewer debt, contributing to the Jefferson County commissioners voting to declare bankruptcy in 2011.

Langford passed away in January shortly after receiving compassionate leave from a federal penitentiary in Kentucky.

Yet, the taxpayers of Jefferson County are apparently still paying a hefty price for his public corruption.

As ABC 33/40 detailed, this new repair project to the jail is coming out of the county’s general fund.

Additionally, a cost-increasing practice from the bankruptcy crisis days is forced to temporarily return, as the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will have to transport inmates daily from Birmingham to the courthouse in Bessemer for their cases to be adjudicated.

Despite the mayor and some city councilors pushing to honor Langford by putting his name on the Birmingham CrossPlex, at least one member of the council is willing to stand up and speak out.

According to Alabama Media Group, District Two Councilman Hunter Williams said his constituents have been very vocal in opposing the plan to honor the convicted felon. He hand-delivered a letter to Woodfin’s office Thursday summarizing his position.

“I do not want to send the wrong message by renaming a facility … after a public servant who was convicted on felony bribery and corruption charges. Of course, those actions eventually led to what was the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of our country,” Williams outlined.

He added, “Taxpayers are still feeling the aftershock of that and they deserve to know that their involuntary contributions to the city are being handled by good stewards.”

On the other hand, Woodfin last week said, “[Langford] made many contributions to our city and we feel …  those contributions today where it has an amazing, positive ripple and benefit not just for our city but for all of our residents and our guests who come to our city.”

The mayor added that “it’s fitting for all the work [Langford] did” that he be honored with the renaming of the CrossPlex.

Woodfin’s proposal to do so is expected to be officially put before the city council in the near future.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

Three percent teacher pay raise expected — State Rep. Clouse: ‘Would see it on their paycheck after Oct. 1’

(YHN/Pixabay)

With a little breathing room in state coffers as tax revenues are up over $400 million over the last year, there has been some speculation that Alabama’s public school teachers could see a pay raise this year.

According to a report from WDHN’s Courtney Chandler, that raise is likely to be three percent.

Speaking to Chandler in his report, Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) said if passed by the legislature, teachers would see that raise on checks after October 1.

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Clouse also said there would be an effort to limit increases in health insurance for state employees, which includes teachers, in the upcoming legislative session.

“They wouldn’t see it until October 1 with the new budget year,” Clouse said. “So yeah, they would see it on their paycheck after October 1. I also think that in the budget there will be a proposal to make sure the health insurance doesn’t go up on education employees as well as state employees. So that’s pretty significant, too.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 days ago

Revised figures confirm Alabama set record with 2018 holiday sales

(Pixabay)

The Alabama Retail Association said final figures from the Alabama Department of Revenue confirm that 2018 holiday sales in Alabama set a record and topped $12 billion for the first time.

According to the Revenue Department, shoppers in the state spent nearly $12.07 billion, up 2.66 percent from 2017. The numbers were just shy of the Alabama Retail Association’s prediction of $12.2 billion.

The National Retail Federation’s preliminary numbers show a 4.6 percent growth in holiday sales nationally.

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The Alabama Retail Association said the state’s early adoption of tax policy related to online sales helped boost sales figures during the holiday season. A U.S. Supreme Court decision and a state tax rule broadened the collection of online taxes starting Oct. 1.

For the holiday season, those sales brought an additional $12 million dollars in tax revenue into the state compared to 2017. The sales reflected in Alabama’s simplified sellers use tax jumped 72.27 percent, or $154.5 million, in November and December 2018, from $213.8 million to $368.3 million. Alabama holiday sales for the almost 1,000 simplified sellers represent just 3.05 percent of total holiday sales in the state.

The Alabama Revenue Department reports sales tax collections on general merchandise, restaurant and other food service, automobiles, machinery and vending.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

The house that survived the hurricane

(Sand Palace of Mexico Beach/Facebook)

Last October, Hurricane Michael slammed the Florida panhandle with 155 mile per hour (mph) winds. Mexico Beach was largely destroyed, except for one exceptional, and now much reported on, house called the Sand Palace. Does it offer a guide for building for the future?

Strengthening buildings to reduce damage from natural disasters is called mitigation, and is a topic I have researched. I can’t tell anyone how much they should spend to strengthen their home, but I can help you think about this question.

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Engineers can design buildings to pretty much withstand nature’s extremes. The Sand Palace was built to withstand 240 mph winds. It is built on 40-foot pilings with one foot thick concrete reinforced walls. Steel cables anchor the roof. Florida’s 2001 building code requires construction to withstand 120 mph winds, and existing homes were not required to be brought up to the code. The Sand Palace was built to survive a hurricane like Michael, while surrounding structures were not.

How much extra did the hurricane-proof design cost? Owners Lebron Lackey and Russell King of Tennessee think that it added 15 to 20 percent to the cost. Let’s round up and say 20 percent. The 20 percent is added “only” to the cost of the structure, not total property value. The home for a $700,000 listing might only cost $400,000, so the added cost would be $80,000.

The full cost of mitigation, though, exceeds $80,000. Hurricane-proofing altered the Sand Palace’s design, reducing the number of windows, scrapping a planned balcony, and only a small roof overhang. The design diminished the enjoyment provided by the residence and is part of the cost.

Still, spending $80,000 to prevent destruction of a $400,000 home (and protect the contents and residents) sounds like a good deal. Especially if we knew the home would be struck by 155 mph winds within a year of construction. Yet hurricanes as powerful as Michael, rated at the very top of Category 4 of the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind intensity scale, are rare. Only three highest-rated Category 5 hurricanes have hit the continental United States since 1900, with only Camille striking the Gulf Coast.

The Sand Palace’s engineering primarily prevents destruction from a really powerful hurricane. Yet since World War II, only two parts of the Atlantic and Gulf coast have experienced winds stronger than Michael’s. Spending $80,000 to prevent a disaster likely to never happen is less attractive.

Timing also matters. While the return on the Sand Palace’s construction occurred within a year; the owners might have waited fifty years for a Michael-type storm to hit. Time is money. The money invested in mitigation, if invested in stocks or real estate, could easily have yielded enough money to replace the home after a monster hurricane fifty years in the future.

Valuing mitigation involves even more details. The design will likely reduce losses from weaker hurricanes, storm surge, and tornadoes. We would also need the exact cost of hurricane-proofing for homes of different sizes and designs plus hurricane landfall probabilities by Saffir-Simpson category.

The calculations can only tell if the investment is worthwhile given all the assumptions made. The value of mitigation depends on how we value protecting ourselves, our loved ones, and our possessions. Two people can reasonably disagree about whether a hurricane-proof design is worth the cost. Neither is wrong, because the values are personal.

This is why building codes, I think, provide a poor way to encourage natural hazards mitigation. Building codes don’t encourage; they force everyone to build to the specified level of wind resistance. Mr. Lackey and Mr. King decided that the Sand Palace’s resilience was worth the cost, and many others will likely follow their example. Yet Florida’s 120 mph building code likely already makes many homeowners spend more on mitigation than they desire.

Just because we can build homes to resist the strongest hurricanes does not mean that we should. No single level of protection is right for everyone when the values at stake are personal.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University.

2 days ago

VIDEO: Emergency declaration is happening, $900 million for prisons, the vote on the Green New Deal and more on Guerrilla Politics …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Can President Donald Trump go it alone on the border?

— Can Governor Kay Ivey pull off her prison plan?

— Should Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) force a vote on the Green New Deal?

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On the third anniversary of the show, Jackson and Burke are joined by State Senator Tom Butler (R-Madison) to talk about gas taxes and $900 million for new prisons.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” addressing the continued waste of government resources funding subsidies to print media outlets in the state.

Roby: Lawmakers must stop playing games with the Second Amendment

(M. Roby/Facebook)

As a gun owner myself, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. The overwhelming majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens who use firearms for sporting purposes, as historical collector’s items, to go hunting with their children or friends and, if necessary, to protect themselves and their families.

The Second Amendment states that the “right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes. Unfortunately, some lawmakers view the Second Amendment as an inferior amendment, subject to being restricted and curtailed whenever political winds blow. But, the bottom line is that the Founding Fathers included the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, because they understood the need to place restrictions on the federal government in order to protect Americans’ individual liberties.

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Any time Congress discusses placing restrictions on an enumerated constitutional right, it is our responsibility to very carefully weigh the many competing interests, which is ultimately why I recently voted against H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, during its consideration in the House Judiciary Committee. This is a poorly drafted and ill-considered bill that would punish lawful gun owners without doing anything to prevent gun violence.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, H.R. 8 would implement a system of universal background checks that make the following actions illegal: Loaning a gun to your neighbor, donating a historic firearm to a museum, and gifting a gun to a relative.

Democrats in Congress have been campaigning on ending gun violence in America for years. I, along with my fellow Republicans, want to see a reduction in violent crime and gun violence, too – but H.R. 8 won’t accomplish that, especially in relation to mass shootings. In fact, none of the recent mass shootings in this country would have been prevented by this bill.

The State of California has some of the strictest firearm laws in the country, and their system of universal background checks has proven to be a failure. A recent study by the liberal-leaning Violence Prevent Research Program at the University of California – Davis and Johns Hopkins University found that the implementation of universal background checks has had no effect on the rates of homicide or suicide by firearm.

In order to actually combat gun violence, we must take a long, hard look at making improvements in our society, like repairing our mental health care system. Our country has been experiencing a mental health crisis for far too long, and it is past time we address it with meaningful change. We must also more effectively enforce the laws that are currently on the books before implementing new regulations that criminalize law-abiding gun owners.

To put it plainly, Congress should not be wasting valuable time on ineffective bills that would only serve to impede upon Americans’ constitutional rights. While I voted against H.R. 8, it ultimately passed the Judiciary Committee, and it will be considered for a vote by the full House in the coming weeks. I have and will continue to urge my colleagues to oppose this measure and get to work finding real solutions to gun violence. We must stop playing politics with legislation that will not benefit the American people.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.