The Wire

  • Auburn University’s online programs ranked among the best in the nation

    Excerpt:

    According to U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best Online Program rankings released on Tuesday, Auburn University’s online graduate programs are among the best in the nation.

    The university’s online programs that received high marks include the Harbert College of Business’ MBA program at No. 9 and non-MBA, No. 13; Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, No. 12; and College of Education, No. 22

  • Marsh donates to border wall construction fund

    Excerpt:

    As a demonstration of his commitment to border security, Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has personally donated to an online campaign to fund the construction of a wall on America’s southern border.

    “It is obvious that we cannot rely on politicians in Washington to do their job,” Marsh said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “I have always believed that controlling our borders and our national security is of the utmost importance which is why I supported immigration reform in Alabama in 2011 and why today, I am putting my money where my mouth is and personally donating to build the wall.”

  • Brooks urges State of the Union be held in Senate chamber

    Excerpt:

    On Thursday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) and House colleagues sent a letter to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposing the president’s annual State of the Union Address be held in the Senate chamber in light of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s historic move to revoke Trump’s invitation to deliver the address.

    In the letter, Brooks and his House colleagues explained, “Holding the State of the Union in the Senate Chamber is the best way to reveal the veracity of Speaker Pelosi’s alleged once-in-history reason for [canceling] or postponing the State of the Union.”

11 hours ago

South Alabama attorney’s pageant coaching inspires another TV series

(Contributed/Alabama NewsCenter)

One day, Andalusia’s Bill Alverson was an attorney whose accidental hobby was just something he loved to do.

The next day, a seven-page feature in The New York Times, chronicling his pageant-coaching story of Miss America wins, suddenly crowned Alverson as the “Pageant King.” Before you know it, there’s a front-row seat into his world on TLC’s “Coach Charming” and the CBS network buys the series rights.

Today, it’s a scripted show on Netflix – “Insatiable” – which has been picked up for a second season.

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An accidental hobby

Alverson is a Dothan native and Auburn University graduate who earned his law degree from the University of Alabama. He began practicing in Andalusia in the early 1990s, specializing in family law and criminal defense.

He did not make a practiced entrance into the pageant coaching world. Instead, he discovered the talent when prompted by his church choir director nearly two decades ago to help a local teen. Soon, word spread.

Over the years, Alverson honed his craft, making his way into the Miss Alabama Pageant system. When three of his clients earned back-to-back-to-back Miss Alabama titles, he transitioned to the national stage. Today, his client list includes three Miss America winners and scores of local, regional and national title holders.

“I feel that it’s our job to inspire those in front of us,” Alverson said. “When I look back on things, I can say that it’s been amazingly unbelievable. I never envisioned I’d be on a reality show, that I would have a TV show based on my life. Me? This small-town Alabama guy, who’d have thought it?”

But that’s exactly what happened. In 2014, Alverson’s rise as much-sought-after pageant coach landed him in The New York Times.

“I could not have planned it,” he said. “When I’ve done a lot of things to self-direct myself to create things, it has not been as successful. I do really well guiding others.

“I knew my path to go to law school and to become an attorney,” he said. “As an old-school Southerner, I guess when you have this dream, it takes a lot of faith.

“How I ended up on TV, it was completely out of my spectrum,” he said. “I met one person, who met one person who got an article written – seven pages in The New York Times. Angelina Jolie and Donald Trump haven’t even had that. Who else gets that? Me. Strange, right?”

That “unknown” factor played in Alverson’s favor. When the publication decided to accompany the written piece with a short video, Alverson was contacted by movie producers and directors all asking the same question: How does someone from Alabama wind up as a pageant coach?

Alverson’s quick wit, sharp tongue and all-honesty approach, which can be seen in the clip “Pageant King of Alabama” on YouTube, were all the makings needed for good television.

It just kind of happened

From there, the TLC show “Coach Charming” was born.

“Literally within 60 to 90 days after the article came out, I was signed by an agency and working with a production company for a nonscripted reality show,” Alverson said. “There is no way – and even as much as I like to create things to happen – could I have ever created a situation like that to happen.”

The TLC shows highlighted Alverson’s lawyerly approach to the clients he coaches, working on interview responses and perfecting their overall look and performance. It also gave insight into Alverson’s family life and how, while practicing law with his son, William, he managed to juggle the demands of a second career.

“The fun thing about (‘Coach Charming’) was I got to do it with my family,” Alverson said. “What a lot of people don’t know is that while that show was happening, we were simultaneously working on ‘Insatiable.’ It was crazy.”

Written by Lauren Gussis of “Dexter” and “Once Upon a Time” fame, the Netflix original series features Disney star Debby Ryan and Alyssa Milano, with Dallas Roberts filling the role based on Alverson’s experiences. It is the tale of a bullied teenager who – with the help of an attorney turned pageant coach who soon realizes he’s in over his head – turns to pageants to exact her revenge. The “darkly comedic” 13-episode series debuted Aug. 10 and has been picked up for a second season.

“It’s just fun,” Alverson said of the show and its creation process. “I get to do a cameo in the first episode. I did a few lines, but I think only one made it in. It was very surreal to sit on the set with all these famous people with a chair that said ‘Insatiable’ on the back and know this is my story.”

In its early stages, the show received strong criticism that it “fat-shamed” young women and was detrimental to their self-confidence. One woman led a petition for the show’s cancellation.

It wasn’t a surprise to Alverson.

“The woman is an international spokesperson on this issue and basically saw an opportunity,” he said. “After the show was released, her petition essentially died because it falsely represented the show and, in fact, the show does the exact opposite.

“The show is satire and is off-cuff humor, but it does show the negative effects of many different types of bullying and the results of being a victim of bullying,” he said. “It’s a comedy, but the show’s design is to evoke conversation, which clearly it has.”

His Hollywood moment

Since 2014, Alverson has traversed the strange path to Hollywood. Again, the word “surreal” comes to mind.

“I coach differently,” Alverson said. “I get why people say pageants are shallow and superficial. One of my lines in the (TLC) show was, ‘Life is a pageant.’

“It was true then, and it’s true today. It is. Everywhere you go. If it’s not, why are you dressing your kid cute for picture day? It’s how it affects you and what you do with it.”

Alverson described himself as “very lucky and very fortunate” to have met people who are successful. He credits his journey with those meetings.

“We all have ideas of what we would love for our life to be,” he said. “As a child, I wanted to be an ambassador. I remember watching TV and visualizing myself in it. Little did I know that one day, that would become true.

“When I coach, I tell my clients to be prepared for the unexpected, but also be prepared to move in any circumstances and direction you’re in,” he said. “That’s what I’ve tried to do – be prepared for what comes my way and be thankful for it all.”

So, what’s next on Alverson’s to-do list?

“My grandfather told me he always wanted to learn something new every day,” Alverson said. “If other opportunities present themselves to be on TV, I’m all for it. I want to travel more. I’m always intrigued with people. I want to spend more time with my grandchildren.

“I’m a big Romans 8:28 guy – ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,’” he said. “I’m not a celebrity. I’ve been to Beverly Hills and Hollywood. I’ve seen superstars, people who’ve been famous all my life. It was fun, but I hope – at the end of it all – I want to have made a difference when it counted the most.

“Because you know, the thing is, it could all be gone tomorrow,” Alverson said. “So, don’t get lost in who you really are. I am still the guy who likes to ski on Gantt Lake, who goes to Walmart. But today, I’m planning on going to a premiere for a TV show.”

This story originally appeared in Alabama Living.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

12 hours ago

UAB Head Football Coach Bill Clark: The heart of a champion

(Solomon Crenshaw Jr./Alabama NewsCenter)

It’s halftime of the game against the Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers are facing a tough conference opponent on the road.

“We went into halftime. It was close. I can’t remember the score,” said UAB Head Football Coach Bill Clark. “One of those feelings coming out in the second half, I felt good. We won it going away in the fourth quarter, which is what you want to see. Finish. [Winning] it going away in the fourth quarter against a good team on the road, I thought, ‘That’s what a championship team looks like.’”

The Blazers were tied with the Bulldogs, 7-7, at the half, then scored 21 unanswered points after halftime to win 28-7 in that October game.

‘A winner’

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Clark knows what a championship team looks like because he has championship mettle, says everyone who knows him.

“Bill Clark is a winner,” said Royal Cup Coffee CEO Emeritus Hatton Smith, a key fundraiser for the team. “He’s won every place he’s been, from Prattville [High School] to Jacksonville [State University]and [at UAB]. With two years of no football, he kept most of his staff together. … He has remained loyal to the UAB program and has become a very valuable commodity. … We are very fortunate we have a winner as our football coach.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said, “Bill Clark represents not just the best of what UAB as a university offers but what [our city] offers. My favorite part is what he does off the field. … He’s intentional about character building. He believes in his students. [It’s not just about] coming here to play football, leaving early, … and attempting to go to the next level. Whether you go to the next level or not, [he tells student-athletes], ‘You need to complete school. You need to do your homework. You need to understand what community service means. You need to understand what giving back means. … The most important thing: You need to know what it means to be a part of the community.’”

Coach of the Year

The UAB football program was terminated after the 2014 season and reinstated in June 2015. After a two-season hiatus, in 2017 the team returned to the gridiron and went on to become one of the greatest college football comeback stories in recent history.

Clark, in addition to winning the prestigious Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year award, was also named the 2018 Sporting News Coach of the Year. This season, the UAB Blazers finished 11-3; captured their first Conference USA (C-USA) championship and first division title; made their first back-to-back bowl trips; and won their first bowl game.

“I just give him a great deal of credit for UAB having football and for the team being so fabulous and having such a level of can-do spirit and enthusiasm,” said Birmingham City Council President Valerie Abbott. “He himself is a game-changer. He set the example by staying. To me, that was big. The guy was out of a job. He didn’t have a team. … He stayed, and he kept beating the drum for the team.”

Brian Hilson, President and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), said, “Had he not stayed, I don’t know that we’d be having this conversation. I don’t know that the football program would be as successful as it’s been, but it’s even better because of him and the way he has handled it.”

Clark, 50, never wavered in his belief that UAB deserved a football team.

“It was really a belief in this city,” he said. “It was our community. UAB is intertwined with the community, and the community is intertwined with UAB, which is intertwined with our fans. All of these were intertwined together. … This is something we deserve.”

That’s a point Clark made to anyone who wanted to bring UAB football back to Birmingham.

“We should have these kinds of expectations — that we can do things great, that we can work together and we can pull together,” he said. “Being an Alabama guy and a guy from around the area [he was born in Anniston], I knew how special this was and how special our people are.”

Community

Reviving a program that would need millions of dollars would take a special person, someone who grew up knowing what a team could mean to a community. That person was Clark.

“My dad was coach in Ohatchee and Piedmont, two small communities,” he said. “My mom played piano at [Oak Bowery Baptist Church in Ohatchee, where I grew up]. It was church and ball and school. That was all part of the community. It all went together. We [in Birmingham] are just on a bigger scale. It’s still a community.”

With that in mind, Clark pursued the return of the UAB football program with the tenacity of a linebacker rushing unabated toward a quarterback.

“I’ve had to be more than a coach,” he said. “To bring this program back, we had to raise money. … I was an [athletic director] when I was at Prattville, [and] I had to raise money all the time there. [Of course], when I was at [the University of] South Alabama, we started that program from nothing. … We had to build the facilities. We had to raise money. We had to create interest. We sold tickets. That’s why I talk about doing things the right way. When you do things the right way, people are going to get involved.”

Clark was adept not only at raising money but also recruiting, and he used his talents to assemble a coalition that would help provide both the funding and the foundation for the team’s return.

“When you’re recruiting, you’re selling. … You’re putting your best foot forward. You’re selling your school. You’re selling your city. You’re selling all these things, … [and] you’ve got other people doing it as well,” he said. “That’s the same thing we’re doing with our program. We’re selling it. What are the benefits of all this? What’s it going to do for the city? What’s it going to do for our community? You need to get involved.

“I think that was the pitch for us. This was about more than just UAB, even though UAB is the economic driver of this city, maybe the state. We are the number-one job producer in the state of Alabama. But it became a Birmingham thing.”

Setting the standard

Clark’s hard work paid off, and he has set the standard for others.

“I think Coach Clark’s commitment to the UAB football program is him saying he’s not afraid to take risks, he’s not afraid to fail, he’s not afraid to dare, [he has] a belief in this program,” Woodfin said. “Having a belief in those students and pushing those players sends a message to this nation and this world that UAB football not only is here to stay but is a winning program that produces a good product.”

Woodfin added that Clark pulled off a rare feat in the Birmingham area.

“When was the last time you saw the Birmingham business community respond the way it has as it relates to UAB football?” said Woodfin. “I think that was bigger than numbers. I think that was bigger than UAB. I think that was bigger than football. I think that was about what Coach Clark stands for and what he means to this community.”

Jack Williams, a longtime UAB supporter and former Alabama state representative, said, “Bill Clark deserves an incredible amount of credit not only for the success, obviously, that this team has had but [also for] the success this community has had in rallying together and building something really positive. They’ve put a great product on the field, and in the past two years Birmingham and Jefferson County have responded by supporting the games in numbers beyond what we had in any years previous.”

Family

Clark is aware of the momentum sweeping the community, but he remains humble. Even today, the coach doesn’t forget his roots — his dad, the coach; his mom, the church pianist; his wife, the nurse turned educator; and the 18- to 22-year-olds he grooms to become men.

“That’s why I always talk about family,” Clark said. “When you think about family you think about these things: ‘I’ve got your back.’ ‘We’re going to work together.’ We’re not always going to agree, but when you know I love you and we’re doing this because we really care about each other, good things are going to happen.’”

This story originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

14 hours ago

Alabama rocket builder ULA powers critical national security mission

(ULA/Twitter)

The state of Alabama and one of its manufacturers proved again how vital their work is to the country’s national security when United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully powered a new intelligence satellite into space.

ULA’s Alabama-made Delta IV Heavy rocket launched the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite into space on Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Delta IV Heavy is built at the company’s manufacturing plant in Decatur, with the plant being the largest such facility in the western hemisphere.

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“The Delta IV Heavy’s unique capabilities, as the only rocket with the ability to complete many [NRO] missions, have given our military the tools to keep America secure,” said ULA CEO Tory Bruno in a statement from the company.

The NRO is a joint Department of Defense-Intelligence Community organization and is tasked with operating the nation’s intelligence satellites used for national security.

ULA has a long history of providing the American intelligence community with launch capabilities.

“For generations ULA and our heritage rockets have launched national security payloads – providing critical communications capabilities to the intelligence community. Today’s launch marks ULA’s 51st successful launch supporting the defense community,” said Bruno.

Saturday’s launch was the eleventh time a Delta IV Heavy has been put to use and the 132nd mission overall for ULA.

ULA’s work has drawn the attention of some of the state’s most prominent elected officials lately.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) paid a visit to ULA’s plant this past week to view the progress of the Vulcan Centaur program.

The Vulcan Centaur is ULA’s newest program and is being manufactured and assembled in Alabama.

Bruno was quick to point out Saturday that the Vulcan Centaur will only enhance the ability of the nation’s military to gather global intelligence.

“ULA looks forward to strengthening our partnership with the Air Force as we develop our next generation rocket, the Vulcan Centaur, which will meet all DoD’s national security needs, delivering even greater capabilities than are available today to meet our Nation’s future challenges,” said Bruno.

State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) noted that he had met with Bruno to discuss the company’s activity in the state.


ULA is a large employer within Orr’s state senate district.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

15 hours ago

Wilsonville Elementary boasts first-class playground thanks to help from volunteers

(Karim Shamshi-Basha)

It was good news and bad news for Wilsonville Elementary.

The good: The school was one of 107 in Alabama selected for the First Class Pre-K program in 2018-19.

The bad: The state grant for the program didn’t include $10,000 needed for the required playground equipment suitable for 4-year-olds.

The better: Gaston Steam Plant in Wilsonville donated $5,000, while its Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) chapter threw in $1,000 and was instrumental in getting Landscapes company to donate $2,000 in mulch.

The result: Combined with a donation from the town of Wilsonville, the playground equipment is up and teeming with children.

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“I can’t tell you the joy our pre-K students have had watching the pieces be delivered and seeing it assembled outside of their classroom,” said Principal Melody Byrne. “This would not have been possible without our friends at Alabama Power. They are like our family.”

Last year, Gaston APSO members:

  • Built a sensory room for special-needs students.
  • Were a book sponsor for the library.
  • Built shading for two playground benches.
  • Sponsored T-shirts for Special Olympics.
  • Sponsored a fishing trip for special education students.
  • Provided and presented awards to students at Awards Day.
  • Sponsored Read Across America Day and volunteered to read to the entire school, with The Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two making appearances.
  • Power-washed sidewalks.
  • Painted the railing leading to the front entrance.

Alabama Power is the epitome of a good neighbor to our school,” Byrne said. “It is impossible to put into words the great impact Alabama Power has had on our school. Specifically (APSO board member and maintenance team leader) Justin Bailey and the APSO team are our heroes. They consistently pour themselves into the lives of our students.”

“We like to be involved with our community and Wilsonville Elementary is our neighbor,” said Rhonda Mann, Plant Gaston team leader in maintenance planning.

APSO feels proud to be part of this endeavor as our community is growing. We as a company can help with that growth and help provide the things needed.”

Getting the pre-K program was a coup for Wilsonville, as First Class Pre-K was named last spring as the nation’s highest-quality program for the 12th year in a row by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The goal is simple: Give students a solid foundation from which to begin academic studies. Studies show students in a high-quality pre-K program score higher on achievement tests; are less likely to repeat a grade, require remedial or special education; and are more likely to graduate from high school, go to college and get higher pay in the workforce. Conversely, they are less likely to be imprisoned or on government aid.

Research conducted by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama and UAB shows children participating in the pre-K program are more likely to be proficient in reading and math at every grade level.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle: Internet sales tax, gas tax revenue could fund road, bridge improvements

(Tommy Battle/Facebook)

In an appearance Thursday on North Alabama radio’s WVNN, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle made a plea to state lawmakers to take on improving Alabama’s Interstate Highway System, explaining they were over-capacity — not just in his city, but throughout the state.

Battle noted the problem areas on Interstates 65 and 565 and suggested the different sources of taxation that could be used to finance improvements.

He also said that with the economic expansion, particularly the Port of Mobile, improvements to roads and bridges would be necessary.

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“I think we all know that we’ve got to do something with our highway system,” Battle said. “Our Interstate Highway System – [Interstate] 565 every morning, folks coming over from Tanner and Decatur basically come to a stop. It’s a parking lot for a little while as they’re headed over in the morning and the evening as they head back into their communities. The roads are over-capacity. We’re having over-capacity problems when you go on [Interstate] 65, and you hit that Calera area.”

“Now you have it when you come down, about mile marker 300 and you go from six lanes down to four lanes,” he continued. “You start having some tremendous back-up. And so, we got to do something with the roads and to do it. We’ve got to have the money to do it. The legislature has got to come up with how they’re going to do it. They have a new revenue of tax coming in, the SSUT, which is the internet sales tax – is coming in and could offer something for it. I’ve heard the talk about road taxes and putting taxes on gasoline.”

Battle acknowledged that he did not have all the answers.

“I don’t know what the absolute answer is,” he said. “I don’t have the numbers like the governor’s office, and the legislature does. But I know it is not just something we want to do. It’s something we have to do.”

The Huntsville mayor also warned that with the dredging of Mobile Bay and improvements to the Port of Mobile that will facilitate increased container capacity, Interstate highways would require improvements to handle the transportation of those containers.

“You think about what’s happening in Mobile right now – they’re going to dredge the bay and take on some bigger and heavier cargo container ships into the state docks down there,” Battle said.

“As they do that, every one of those containers will be on our Interstate Highway System. They’ll be on Interstate 10, or they’ll be on I-65, or they’ll hit 59, 20 or [85] as they come up. It’s just adding capacity to the roads that are already over-capacity.”

“You look at where both Amazon and Walmart both put in their distribution centers down in Mobile,” he continued. “Both of those facilities will be adding more traffic to the roads. What we’re seeing now is just kind of the start of an over-capacity problem that has to be taken care of one way or another.”

@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.

17 hours ago

In the lab: University of Alabama students help inspire next wave of scientists

(University of Alabama)

Akshay Narkhede routinely prepares polymeric biomaterials during lab work in the Science and Engineering Complex at the University of Alabama.

Narkhede, a doctoral student in chemical and biological engineering, uses these hydrogels to mimic the mechanical aspects of human tissue to study how cancer cells behave in human or clinical settings. In Dr. Shreyas Rao’s lab in the SEC, Narkhede uses the hydrogels to investigate how breast cancer cells will behave in distant organ tissues – for instance, brain, lungs, bones or liver – to study the spread of breast cancer to these organs.

Narkhede has other research focal points in Rao’s lab, but on this day, he’s duplicating hydrogels to demonstrate to several young, curious shadows: high school seniors in a daylong immersion of hands-on lab experiments at UA.

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“As a high school student, you have four walls and a classroom,” Narkhede said. “But when you get to come in the lab and actually see that happening, that’s the most aha! moment for them. They get to experience what they’ve been learning theoretically, and now being translated into an actual practice.”

Nine students from five high schools in the Tuscaloosa area participated in Scientist for a Day, an Alabama Science in Motion program designed to inspire upperclassmen to major in a STEM field. In the last five years, 34 high school students have participated in the program.

This year, in addition to Rao’s lab, students conducted experiments in a biology lab in Mary Harmon Bryant Hall and the Caldwell Lab, better known as the “Worm Shack,” in the SEC. There, undergraduate lab assistants demonstrated their many uses of microscopic nematodes (roundworms) to study neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

“In here, we use these scopes to transfer worms back and forth for different kinds of experiments, and that’s what [the high school students] were doing,” said Nathan Moniz, third-year biology major.

Moniz has been working in the Caldwell lab since spring semester of his freshman year. He said the experiences gained in the lab have been “very enriching,” as he’d never set foot in a research lab prior to enrolling at UA. Moniz said the high schoolers participating in Scientist for a Day have an opportunity he wasn’t afforded.

“There’s only one college in my hometown, and it’s a liberal arts school,” he said. “I only ever thought I was interested in research by things I saw in movies.”

Moniz said he’s fortunate to get research lab experience as an undergraduate, an opportunity that, while not rare, is more common for graduate students. Northside High School senior and UA Early College student John Ellis Kuykendall was surprised to see undergraduates leading demonstrations at Scientist for a Day.

“I knew I needed to do research because I want to go to medical school, but I didn’t really know what that meant,” Kuykendall said. “I thought undergraduates would just clean dishes in the labs. But [at UA], the undergrads actually get to do stuff.”

Narkhede said he mostly started to develop a broader picture of experimentation once he reached his senior year of undergrad, so he relished the chance to “impart my knowledge and these experiments” at Scientist for a Day.

The event is an extension of ASIM’s mission to provide high-tech lab experiences for students and professional development for teachers. ASIM has 33 branches across the state, including an office at the UA-UWA In-Service Center at UA.

In addition to Rao, participating UA faculty included Drs. Guy Caldwell and Kim Caldwell, Jack Dunkle, Ryan Earley, Kevin Kocot and Ryan Summer.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

18 hours ago

Roby: ‘I will continue to use my position in Congress to be a vocal advocate for the unborn’

(Rep. Roby/Facebook)

In an appearance Friday on Huntsville’s WVNN, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) recognized participants in Friday’s March for Life event in Washington, D.C. marking 46 years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling effectively legalizing abortion.

Roby pledged to use her position as a member of Congress to promote pro-life policies and be an advocate for the unborn.

She also acknowledged President Donald Trump’s commitment to the pro-life cause.

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“I’m unapologetically pro-life,” Roby said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “And as you all know, 46 years ago, the Supreme Court offered its infamous Roe v. Wade decision, which legalizes abortion on demand in the United States. And as I said on the floor the other day, and this is breathtaking to say, more than 60 million unborn babies have had their lives ended by abortion. So to all the courageous individuals that have taken to the Hill today to participate in the March for Life, I just want to say thank you for your willingness to do that. As you know, it’s an annual event where the pro-life community comes together to advocate for those who do not have a voice.”

“I’m really grateful for those who made the trip to Washington today out of dedication for what I believe is a deeply worthy cause,” she continued. “It’s our responsibility. It’s my responsibility to speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves. But this March for Life provides a tremendous platform for all pro-life Americans to do that and come together once a year. I would just like the message today to be thank you, but also that I will continue to use my position in Congress to be a vocal advocate for the unborn.”

Roby also addressed the House Franking Commission’s ruling stating that lawmakers were prohibited from using official accounts to promote the March for Life, calling it quite stunning.

She also acknowledged President Donald Trump’s vow to veto legislation that would weaken federal pro-life policies.

“One of the things that we just recently did – I joined 169 of my House colleagues in sending a letter to President Trump asking him to reject any legislation that would weaken our federal pro-life policy,” Roby said. “We just got word today that he said he will veto any existing legislation that weakened existing pro-life laws as long as he is president.”

“That is a huge win for the pro-life movement,” she added. “So again, I think Democrats’ reaction to this is they feel threatened, but we’re just going to continue to fight, and that is what this is.”

@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.

19 hours ago

Stray dog finds love and comfort at Alabama Power plant

(Contributed/Alabama NewsCenter)

When a stray dog wandered onto the property at Alabama Power’s Plant Greene County a dozen years ago, workers there had no idea how she would end up touching them all.

They also had no idea the dog was pregnant.

The latter became apparent when she had five puppies a few days later. The former has been firmly established by those who have come to love the dog they call Pup-Pup.

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Initially, they cared for the dog expecting she would find her way back home. It was soon apparent that Pup-Pup was home.

“Little did she know she went from hell to heaven when she showed up here,” said Christopher “Critter” Glass, mechanic-welder at the plant, who gave Pup-Pup her name.

Stray dog Pup-Pup finds loving family at Alabama Power plant from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Pup-Pup’s five puppies were given to contractors and employees. Employees donated to have her fixed and she has been a fixture at the plant ever since.

“An all call will go out and everyone here pitches in for anything she needs, whether it’s food, medicine or a new bed,” said Elaine Fetzer, financial specialist at Plant Greene County.

Recently, Pup-Pup was diagnosed with kidney failure and is no longer able to stay at the plant overnight. Fetzer, who once wanted to be a veterinarian, has tapped into that calling in caring for Pup-Pup away from the plant. She takes Pup-Pup home at the end of the workday and dispenses her medicine twice a day.

“Pup-Pup’s never missed a day until all of this went down (kidney failure), so she’s taking a few vacation days, but she has earned it,” Fetzer said. “Now she is getting her weekends and holidays.”

Even before Pup-Pup’s current health problems, she has had challenges. A vet visit after she was hit by a car revealed she had been shot before her days at the plant. She has always been skittish around flashlights and flashes, possibly because she may have been shot at night when someone shined a light on her.

But at Plant Greene County, Pup-Pup gives and receives love.

The outpouring of love is tinged with sadness as her plant family fears Pup-Pup is facing her final days.

As Plant Greene County Mechanic Chris Cameron put it: “Pup-Pup’s been a great dog, never seen a dog as mighty as her.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

21 hours ago

Birmingham Iron football team finishes first week of training camp, holds joint practice

(Contributed/Alabama NewsCenter)

The Birmingham Iron has finished its first week of training camp in San Antonio, ending with a joint practice with the Salt Lake Stallions.

Birmingham’s Alliance of American Football team is using the camp to whittle its roster down from the 85 original players to the 52 that will take the field against the Memphis Express at 1 p.m. on Feb. 10 at Legion Field to kick off the inaugural season for the team and the new league.

The Iron released interviews with two players expected to make the final roster – running back Trent Richardson and quarterback Luis Perez.

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Update from Birmingham Iron training camp from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Richardson said the practice with the Stallions showed the progress the Iron is making as a team.

“It shows that we got something special,” the former University of Alabama and NFL running back said. “It shows that both sides still need a lot of work. But we did a lot of great things out there. We showed that team chemistry, too.”

Perez agreed that they are building something with this team.

“As a team, I think we’re doing a very good job,” he said. “We’re stacking those blocks, getting better every single day. Not making the same mistake twice is the end goal. Just getting better, installing all these plays and studying them. Right now we’re all in a learning phase, and I think we’re doing a good job.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

23 hours ago

Alabama WFF Ramps Up CWD Sampling Effort

(Billy Pope)

With positive tests for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Tennessee and additional positives in Mississippi, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division has ramped up testing in north Alabama.

WFF officials set up manned sampling stations in Hackleburg the first weekend of the new year and followed with sampling last weekend in Waterloo.

Self-service sampling stations were recently set up by WFF in north Alabama to accommodate drop-offs 24 hours a day.

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WFF Director Chuck Sykes said testing for the always-fatal disease, which is caused by a rogue protein called a prion, has been ongoing since 2002, but the positive tests in neighboring states caused WFF to increase its sampling effort.

“The Mississippi positives made us test more in the areas that joined Mississippi,” Sykes said. “When the deer in Tennessee tested positive, it prompted an increased level of testing where it fell within the response zone. Those positives just prompted us to increase our surveillance in those areas.”

Sixteen deer were brought in for sampling at the Hackleburg station, but Sykes said the interaction with hunters who didn’t harvest deer may have been the most productive aspect of the manned sampling station.

“We didn’t know what to expect, but I consider it a success for a volunteer check station,” Sykes said. “More important than the 16 deer brought in, we had two times that many hunters stop by and ask questions. It was a really good way for our staff to get in front of the public, and the public to be able to ask questions one-on-one.”

Sykes and the WFF staff discovered that, although the Division has been immersed in the CWD Response Plan, it has yet to be widely discussed in the public.

“We (WFF) are up to our eyeballs in CWD,” Sykes said. “Even though we’ve offered seminars, done articles and put up billboards, a lot of people don’t pay attention until it hits close to home. A lot of the questions were just basic CWD knowledge that the average hunter in Alabama doesn’t understand. What is it? Why is it a problem? What makes it different from other diseases? These were very positive interactions. There was nothing negative about it.”

Sykes said the self-service sampling stations are part of the standard protocols of the CWD Response Plan (https://www.outdooralabama.com/deer-hunting-alabama/chronic-wasting-disease-what-you-should-know).

“With the positives in Mississippi and Tennessee within 50 miles of our border, that prompts us to do more testing in those areas,” he said. “It’s been shown time and time again that hunter-harvested deer and road-kills are the best ways to achieve samples and to get the most out of those samples. Just going in and randomly shooting deer is okay, but in areas that have had CWD for a long time, there is a higher predominance in road-kill deer and hunter-harvested deer because they lose their sense of wariness. The most effective way to sample is by hunter-harvested deer and working with ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) to identify road-kills.”

Above all, Sykes said he wants hunters to continue to pursue deer just like they always have.

“Again, this is not something to cause people to quit hunting,” he said. “We need them to become educated on what CWD is. Don’t rely on what they’ve heard at hunting camp or what they saw on Facebook. Talk to us to try to understand the disease and what we’re doing to try to prevent it.”

Sykes reiterated how hunting, especially deer hunting, is a cornerstone in Alabama’s culture and economy. Hunting has an almost $2 billion impact annually on Alabama’s economy.

“This is not a hunter issue,” he said. “This is not even a deer hunting issue. This is a State of Alabama economic issue and a way of life issue. We need people to understand what’s going on, and we need their assistance to gather these samples in the most efficient way so we can stay on top of it. Heaven forbid, if it does get here, we will be prepared to mitigate the risks as much as possible.”

Previously, tissue samples had to be sent out of state to be tested for CWD. In 2018, WFF provided funds for the Alabama Department of Agriculture to purchase CWD testing equipment, which was set up at Auburn University. The equipment and technician have been certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and can test up to 90 samples per day.

Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship said the new CWD testing equipment speeds up the state’s response time considerably.

“We don’t have to wait on anybody,” Blankenship said. “We take our samples to the Department of Agriculture lab at Auburn University. We will get those test results quickly and be able to respond as soon as possible.”

The freezers for the self-service sample stations are located in Fayette, Lamar, Marion, Franklin, Lauderdale, and Colbert counties and are available to receive deer head samples 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At the self-service locations, hunters must first remove the deer’s head with 4-6 inches of neck attached. For bucks, antlers can be removed at the base of each antler or by removing the skull plate before bagging the head. Hunters will then place the head in the provided plastic bag and tie it closed. They will need to complete all sections of the Biological Sample Tag, and attach the tag to the bag with a zip tie. Hunters will take the bottom receipt portion of the Biological Sample Tag before placing the bagged head in the freezer. All materials needed to drop off a sample are provided at each freezer location.

Locations of the self-service CWD drop-off sampling sites are:

Fayette County, Fayette County Extension Office, 650 McConnell Loop, Fayette, Ala., 35555

Lamar County, Hunter’s Gold Processing, 11634 County Rd. 9, Millport, Ala., 35576

Marion County, Watson’s Grocery, 5658 State Highway 19, Detroit, Ala., 35552

Franklin County, Fancher’s Taxidermy, 715 Newell Rd., Red Bay, Ala., 35582

Lauderdale County, Florence Frozen Meats, 1050 South Court St., Florence, Ala., 35630

Colbert County, Yogi’s Texaco, 17750 US Highway 72, Tuscumbia, Ala., 35674

Hunters can also have deer sampled at any WFF District Office (www.outdooralabama.com/wildlife-section) or at the WFF office in Marengo County at 1105 Bailey Dr., Demopolis, Ala., 36732, phone number 334-289-8030. WFF offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Before dropping off the sample, hunters should call ahead to make sure a biologist is available.

Sykes said the test results will be emailed to the hunter within three to four weeks.

Currently, self-service freezers are located throughout northwest Alabama only because of the increased surveillance samples needed in the response zones of the CWD-positive locations in Mississippi and Tennessee.

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

2 days ago

Mo Brooks to continue key service for Tennessee Valley on House Armed Services Committee

(Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Friday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) announced he will again serve on the highly influential House Armed Services Committee in the 116th Congress, with increased seniority this time around.

Brooks has served on the important committee for the Huntsville area since taking office in 2011. He will also receive a second committee assignment to be revealed by the House Republican Steering Committee next week.

Among Republican members of the Armed Services committee, Brooks’ seniority has improved to 16th out of 26. His seniority among the full committee membership has officially yet to be determined, but it is expected to improve as well.

In a statement, Brooks emphasized the committee assignment’s importance to his district.

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“The military side of Redstone Arsenal employs roughly 30,000 Tennessee Valley residents,” Brooks said. “In light of the dramatic cut in Republicans on the Armed Services Committee (as we moved from majority to minority status), I am pleased my Republican colleagues chose me to continue serving on Armed Services, where my growing seniority empowers me to better protect America’s national security and promote Redstone Arsenal’s role in providing that security.”

Brooks concluded, “The Tennessee Valley is experiencing rapid economic growth in large part because of Redstone Arsenal’s reputation as a center of excellence. Quite frankly, we often do what no one else in the world can do. Recognizing this, I again successfully competed for a position on Armed Service, which annually produces the National Defense Authorization Act, the primary mechanism whereby Congress authorizes Department of Defense programs.”

Subcommittee assignments for the House Armed Service Committee will be announced in the coming weeks.

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

2 days ago

Aderholt: ‘Abortion ends a human life, plain and simple’ – ‘Not a matter of religion vs. science’

(Screencap/APTV)

With the March for Life in full swing in Washington, D.C on Friday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) released a statement mourning “the loss of more than 60 million unborn children” since Roe v. Wade became law of the land.

Wednesday, January 22 is the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on abortion.

“Today, thousands of Americans joined together to mark the 46th anniversary of a terrible moment in American history – the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs. Wade,” Aderholt said. “Since that court ruling, we have mourned the loss of more than 60 million unborn children. We must continue to fight for these children who do not have a voice of their own.”

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The congressman added, “This is not a matter of religion vs. science. Science itself shows us that these are not just masses of tissue. I feel calling these unborn children a fetus instead of what they are, an unborn child, is simply a measure to ease guilty consciences. Science has proved that an unborn child’s heart begins beating just 18-21 days after fertilization, that an unborn child’s brainwaves can be detected just 6 weeks after fertilization, and that at 10-11 weeks after fertilization, every organ system is in place.”

“These facts add up to one conclusion, abortion ends a human life, plain and simple,” Aderholt concluded.

In the 116th Congress, Aderholt serves as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, and Related Agencies for the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

He is also a member of that committee’s Defense Subcommittee and its Agriculture Subcommittee, as well as the Helsinki Commission.

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

2 days ago

Report: Doug Jones ‘holding the same position as Nancy Pelosi’ on border wall — ‘Dead man walking’ in 2020

(N. Pelosi, D. Jones/Flickr)

An article published by The New York Times on Friday explained that Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is taking “the same position as Nancy Pelosi” regarding border security, despite interviews with Jones’ constituents affirming that this stance is unpopular amongst Alabamians.

The piece opens by reminding readers that Jones won in December 2017 while calling himself a “Doug Jones Democrat,” or someone who would not toe the party line.

Yet, his time in office has not necessarily seen this promise come to fruition on key votes, including Jones coming out against the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and key pro-life bills.

His voting record has even led constituents and Republican activists to accuse Jones of being more loyal to House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) than the wishes of the majority of Alabamians.

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Now, the New York Times pointed out, “Mr. Jones finds himself holding the same position as Nancy Pelosi, the liberal House speaker: Reopen the government, then negotiate on border security.”

“By taking on President Trump and the border wall, which are both popular in Alabama, and refusing to give ground on the shutdown, the senator may be the last ‘Doug Jones Democrat’ to win here anytime soon,” the article advised.

The publication then backed up this assertion with the comments of Alabama voters from diverse backgrounds, including a one-time Jones supporter.

“I voted for Jones, I did,” Ann Lynch, an 86-year-old retired schoolteacher in Huntsville, told The New York Times. “But he doesn’t support the wall. I don’t like that, of course. I think we need it. Trump knows we need it.”

Angie Gates, a restaurant owner outside of Huntsville, summarized, “If Doug Jones doesn’t support the wall, I don’t support him.”

This statement comes in spite of Gates’ family-owned business losing significant lunch business because a prison training program was shut down during the current funding standoff.

“For us, because we’re a small town, the shutdown is kind of difficult. But there’s also things in politics that may be worth doing,” she explained.

Jones siding with the Democratic Party on the hot-button issues of the day do not appear to be gaining him any extra voters in 2020.

“Senator Jones, bless his heart, he’ll be a one-term senator,” Sheila Pressnell, 61, said. “The only reason he got it was because he was up against a child predator.”

Pam McGriff, the owner of a custom interior car detailing shop in Holly Pond and a Republican, remarked, “If he would go up there and balk the Democrats, like Schumer and Pelosi, and say, ‘Hey, I think Trump is right,’ and all that kind of stuff, I wouldn’t mind splitting my ticket.”

However, her husband Wayne has seen enough out of Jones already.

“He should support what the people of Alabama want, which is the wall,” he said. “[Jones] shouldn’t be there, and next time he’ll be voted out.”

Jones is even facing pressure from the epitome of a statesman, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL).

On Friday, during a speech in Mobile, Shelby said, “I like Doug Jones. I work with him. But we need to have a Republican.”

In an interview with The New York Times, Shelby made his thoughts clear on the current impasse in partial government shutdown negotiations.

“The president is not going to blink, and he shouldn’t,” Shelby said, adding that he would tell furloughed federal workers to “get your Democrat friends to the table and negotiate with us.”

While it is perhaps unsurprising that Republicans are bucking Jones, what should concern him is the seeming lack of belief among Democrats in the state that he can win re-election, especially after the lopsided 2018 general election results in the Yellowhammer State.

During a presidential election cycle in 2020, assuming he is facing a candidate not named Roy Moore, Jones faces an uphill battle of historic proportions with the electorate and even the enthusiasm gap of his own supporters.

Former Congressman Parker Griffith (AL-5), who helped Jones in 2017 and continues to support him, admitted, “He’s a dead man walking.”

“[Jones] leaned into his base, and his base is not big enough to elect him,” Griffith concluded.

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

2 days ago

Alabama breaks two Department of Labor records

(W. Miller/YHN)

Friday, Governor Kay Ivey announced that the state of Alabama had broken two of its Department of Labor records.

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, Alabama had the highest average weekly earnings ever from December 2017 to December 2018. Total private average weekly earnings were $857.77 in December 2018, up $46.41 from December 2017.

Ivey shared her excitement on social media and also announced that Alabama had reached the largest over-the-year percentage growth on record.

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“We reached the largest over-the-year percentage growth on record at 2.2%, representing an increase of 44,300 jobs, as well as the highest average weekly earnings ever,” Ivey wrote on Facebook.

Alabama State Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston) also reacted to the news of accelerated Alabama job growth with excitement.

“It is great to see that Alabama is outpacing the nation and breaking records for job growth. This has been one of the top priorities of the GOP Legislature over the past several years,” Marsh said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “From passing the largest tax cut in a decade to enacting responsible balanced budgeting that forced the state to live within its means, Alabama is proof that conservative pro-growth policies work. I look forward to continuing to make Alabama one of the best places in the world to do business.”

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

2 days ago

Gary Palmer: ‘The right to life is sacred’

(G. Palmer Campaign)

With the annual March for Life taking place in the nation’s capital on Friday, Congressman Palmer (AL-6) welcomed many of his constituents arriving in Washington, D.C. to show Alabama’s support for pro-life efforts.

“I am heartened and greatly encouraged to know that many of my constituents came to Washington to peacefully stand up for the lives of unborn children,” Palmer said in a statement. “I stand with them in the belief that the right to life is sacred and that life must be protected from its earliest stages.”

The congressman also reaffirmed his opposition to the January 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

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Palmer added, “The Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in favor of abortion must continue to be challenged if we are to adhere to our nation’s founding principles. The Declaration of Independence states that each person has the ‘unalienable rights’ of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ Life is the first and most basic right that makes all other rights possible. It is the prerequisite.”

“I’m grateful for those who have fought for the rights of the unborn since 1973, including so many from the Sixth District who have added their voices to the cause,” he concluded.

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

2 days ago

‘The sanctity of human life is immeasurable’: Byrne reaffirms pro-life commitment in support for March for Life

(Rep. Byrne)

As the annual March for Life took place in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) reaffirmed his vocal support for pro-life policies and legislation in the 116th Congress, including calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, permanently ending taxpayer funding of abortions and overturning Roe v. Wade.

In a press release, Byrne emphasized his long-standing commitment to pro-life efforts. As a potential 2020 Republican challenger, this marks a stark contrast to Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL).

Byrne said, “The sanctity of human life is immeasurable.”

“Since I have been in Congress, I have consistently stood up for the unborn, and I continue to stand up for life,” Byrne continued. “I am proud hundreds of Alabamians, most of them young people, are in our nation’s capital today to stand up for life as part of the March for Life. Those who support pro-life causes support American values, allowing all the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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“Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, nearly 61 million abortions have been carried out in the United States. That is absolutely unacceptable. I remain dedicated to doing everything I can to ensure we defund Planned Parenthood, permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion, overturn Roe, and ensure all lives are protected,” the congressman added.

Byrne has already taken several pro-life legislative actions in 2019, including:

  • Re-joined the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus;
  • Sponsored H.R. 369 –the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2019, which would place a one-year moratorium on federal funding to Planned Parenthood and increase funding to community healthcare centers that do not perform abortions but provide more comprehensive care;
  • Sponsored H.R. 490 –Heart Beat Protection Act, which bans abortion after a detectible heartbeat;
  • Sponsored H.R. 616 – the Life at Conception Act, which defines that human life begins at conception;
  • Sponsored the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), which prohibits sex-selective abortions while protecting women upon whom sex-selective abortions have been performed;
  • Signed a letter to President Trump asking him to veto any funding bill that weakens pro-life protections and any bill that weakens federal policy on abortion.

RELATED: Roby: ‘I won’t stop fighting until our laws and policies protect life at every stage’

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

2 days ago

How Jalen Hurts helped teach one young Bama fan sportsmanship

(C. Travis, Alabama Football/Twitter

He might have been tripped up by the word “resemble” in finishing second in his school spelling bee, but one eight-year-old University of Alabama football fan followed the example of the school’s former quarterback Jalen Hurts to still act like a champion.

As Fox Sports Radio’s Clay Travis shared on Twitter, his son came up just short of winning the competition. However, it was what the boy did after losing that really created a special moment.

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Following the conclusion of the spelling bee, Travis’ son “immediately congratulated the kid who won.”

Then, Travis advised, “I told him I was proud of the sportsmanship and asked him where he had learned that lesson.”

His son responded, “That’s what [Jalen Hurts] would have done dad.”

The tweet has gained a lot of attention from the Crimson Tide faithful, posted the day after Hurts announced his decision to transfer to the University of Oklahoma for his final year of eligibility.

“So props to [Jalen Hurts] on example [sic] he’s set for a ton of young kids all over the country he’ll never meet and good luck at Oklahoma,” Travis added.

While Travis was clearly proud of his son’s actions, it would seem that this “powerful” moment touched Hurts, too. The star player took to Twitter to share his reaction.

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

2 days ago

7 Things: Report claims Trump told Michael Cohen to lie, Trump and Pelosi fight, Alabama lawmakers want the State of the Union to go on and more …

(Fox News, CNBC/YouTube)

7. Both sides of the aisle prefer their side dig in and give little on the government shutdown

— Republicans now favor a wall by 16 points more than they did May of 2016, while 63 percent think it is unacceptable to end the shutdown without some wall funding.

— Democrats remain opposed to a wall with only six percent in favor, while 84 percent oppose ending the shutdown by funding the wall.

6. The Treasury secretary is floating the idea that it is time to kill some or all tariffs

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— Secretary Steven Mnuchin wants to scale back the tariffs on Chinese imports to pull China back to the negotiating table and give a boost to markets rattled by trade tariffs.

— If Mnuchin is successful in ending tariffs, Wall Street is expected to react positively to the development because the market jumped on the speculation.

5. Voter fraud is real — an Alabama mayor did it and is now going to jail 

— The mayor of Gordon, Alabama, was convicted Wednesday of unlawfully falsifying ballots when he was elected in 2016, an election he won by 16 votes.

— Elbert Melton was arrested for absentee ballot fraud. He also was charged with stealing $1,700 that belonged to the town.

4. President Donald Trump unveils new defensive missile defenseDemocrats don’t like it 

— During a speech at the Pentagon, Trump said the U.S. would have an unrivaled missile defense system to protect against increasingly harder to detect missiles. He outlined, “Our goal is simple: to ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States — anywhere, anytime, anyplace.”

— Despite fears that Trump is a Russian asset, or otherwise compromised, Democrats like Rep. Adam Smith  (D-WA) were “gravely concerned” that Trump was preparing to create the program that would antagonize Russia.

3. Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) push back on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s State of the Union gambit 

— After calling Pelosi out for what he called a “hyper-partisan and shameless” move, Brooks implored Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to invite him to deliver it in the Senate chamber.

— Pelosi asked the president to delay the SOTU, and Jones made it clear this was a petty and silly move by calling it a “sideshow.” He added, “We have to go ahead and go forward with those things that we can go forward with.”

2. Trump and Pelosi flex their muscles at each other on day 28 of the partial government shutdown

— After Pelosi went after the SOTU, President Trump waited until she was headed towards a fueled and prepped 757 for a Congressional junket and he pulled the plug, forcing the delegation to exit their busses and head home.

— Trump handwrote Pelosi a letter that included, “Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed.” He concluded, “Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.”

1. Bombshell report claims President Donald Trump instructed his “fixer” to lie to Congress, which would be a crime

— The allegation is the first real “evidence” that the president himself attempted to obstruct justice and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election by instructing Michael Cohen to lie.

— The story claims there is evidence that this happened including, multiple witnesses from the Trump organization, internal e-mails. text messages and “cache of other documents.”

2 days ago

Doug Jones votes against banning federal funding of abortions, Shelby votes to ban

(Sen. Richard Shelby/Facebook)

On Thursday, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) joined his Democratic colleagues in blocking the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act,” and then potential Republican challengers to Jones’ reelection in 2020 slammed his pro-abortion vote.

The bill, which would permanently stop federal funding for abortions, was brought to the floor by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on the day before the annual March for Life was set to take place in Washington, D.C. A vote to open debate on the bill failed 48-47, with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) breaking with their party to vote against the measure while Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted with Republicans.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is a cosponsor of the bill and voted “yes” on advancing to debate.

In a tweet, Shelby said he was “[p]roud to support” the bill.

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“Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to fund abortions & this bill would permanently prohibit that. Let’s work together to pass legislation that protects & defends life,” Shelby added.

On the other hand, Jones voted with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), continuing his pro-abortion voting record in the Senate. With a tough reelection battle coming up, Jones was immediately faced with criticism over his latest move.

In a press release, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) said, “Today, Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion. I was especially disappointed that one of the votes against the pro-life bill came from Doug Jones, one of Alabama’s senators. Standing up for the unborn and opposing abortion is a core Alabama value, and today’s vote shows the urgent need for more pro-life Senators.”

“This vote was especially notable as thousands of people from across the country, including hundreds from Alabama, will march in the streets of Washington, D.C. tomorrow in support of life,” Byrne added. “As long as I am able to represent the people of Alabama, I will always fight for those who can’t fight for themselves and be a leader for pro-life policies.”

State Auditor Jim Zeigler released a statement saying that “the abortion vote shows again that Doug Jones does not represent the people of Alabama. Jones is for abortion up to the moment of birth. Alabama people are pro-life.”

The bill also would have banned Obamacare subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion and addressed subsidies to groups like Planned Parenthood indirectly supporting their abortion practices.

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

2 days ago

Gordon mayor convicted of voter fraud, removed from office

(Houston County Sheriff)

The mayor of Gordon, Alabama, has been convicted of voter fraud and removed from office.

News outlets report Elbert Melton was convicted Wednesday of unlawfully falsifying ballots when he was elected in 2016.

He defeated challenger Priscilla Wilson by a 16-vote margin.

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This conviction strips him of his office. The Gordon Town Council will appoint an interim mayor to serve until an election is held.

Melton was charged in September with absentee ballot fraud and second-degree theft of property.

Arrest warrants say he knowingly obtained or exerted unauthorized control over $1,700 that belonged to the town.

Prosecutor Mark Johnson says the judge has released Melton on bond. Melton is set to be sentenced next month on the fraud charge.

He still is facing the theft charge.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Newly installed Alabama chief justice names a director of courts

(R. Hobson)

Alabama’s chief justice on Wednesday announced that Rich Hobson will serve as his administrative director of courts, a position he held twice under former Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Hobson last year unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Martha Roby in the Republican congressional primary.

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He also managed Moore’s unsuccessful 2017 campaign for U.S. Senate, a race Moore lost after being accused of sexual misconduct — allegations he denied.

Chief Justice Tom Parker also worked for Moore before being elected to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2004 as an associate justice.

The director assists the chief justice, who oversees the state court system.

Parker was sworn in last week as the state’s new chief justice after winning the November election.

In a statement announcing the appointment, Parker praised Hobson both as an innovator and someone who will help keep “leftist influences” out of the state court system.

“There is no one in Alabama who knows and understands the court system better than Rich Hobson. He is an effective, efficient, and competent administrator who has hit the ground running,” Parker said.

“Like me, Rich is a strong constitutional conservative who shares my philosophy and will help me keep leftist influences out of our court system,” Parker said.

Hobson has three decades of experience in the court system.

He held a variety of jobs before becoming the director of the court system, including court referral officer and managing the judicial volunteer program and the family preservation court improvement project.

Moore twice named Hobson as his administrative director of courts.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

State Sen. Shay Shelnutt: ‘Maxine Waters needs to leave Alabama banks alone’

(M. Waters/Twitter, 60 Minutes/YouTube, S. Shelnutt/Facebook, Pixabay)

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have taken over the House Financial Services Committee, and one Alabama state senator is already pushing back on their agenda.

Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) is the incoming chairman of the Alabama Senate’s Banking and Insurance Committee, and he told Yellowhammer News that he fears the approach Waters and Ocasio-Cortez take could end up harming the Alabama banking community and the consumers who depend on it.

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“Maxine Waters and Ocasio-Cortez have no idea what it takes to build a business and take care of customers day in and day out,” said Shelnutt. “They are going to try to take sound bites that sound good to their liberal base and turn that into policy. The only thing that will end up doing is hurting our hometown banks and the families and small businesses that depend on them.”

Shelnutt sees the measures taken by President Donald Trump to loosen burdensome regulations as a good thing for Alabama’s economy.

“Our banks and small businesses finally got some relief from Trump when he got in there and cut a lot of the red tape Obama left behind,” he continued. “Now the Democrats in Congress are taking over, and they want to put the Obama restrictions back in place and maybe even worse.”

As a first-year chairman of his chamber’s banking committee, Shelnutt thinks his committee can play an important role in maintaining a sound environment for Alabama businesses.

“We have an outstanding group of senators on Banking and Insurance,” noted Shelnutt. “I feel confident we can do some things, from a policy-making standpoint, that will really help our state. We’re committed to helping consumers and small businesses, and we can do that by making sure we have healthy financial institutions.”

Shelnutt thinks there is a lot at stake and said he will continue to closely monitor what happens in Washington.

“There are banks in small communities all across Alabama that are depending on us,” he added. “I hope this is nothing more than posturing by Washington politicians. Bottom line: Maxine Waters needs to leave Alabama banks alone.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

3 days ago

Brooks is right — Trump could do the State of the Union in the Senate chamber, but there’s a better location

(White House, CBP/Flickr)

Shutdown politics are far uglier than normal Washington politics. We have seen veterans locked out of memorials by President Barack Obama, we have seen workers miss paychecks and now we have Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi revoking the president of the United States’ invitation to give his State of the Union address in the House chamber.

None of these were necessary, but President Donald Trump has options to circumvent her ploy to embarrass him. He can’t let her do that.

Her goal is obvious: keep the American people from hearing him speak, remove his ability to take his message directly to the people without her allies in the media filtering it. He has to give a speech.

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Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has suggested the president deliver the address on the floor of the United States Senate. This is all well and good as it would send the appropriate message and would show the president will not be cowed by San Francisco’s congresswoman, but it doesn’t go far enough.

If Trump wants to push back against this “hyper-partisan and shameless” move, as Brooks called it, he should deliver this speech from the United States border.

He should not be in an arena with cheering and chanting fans, he should not be wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and he should not be playing to a raucous crowd with insults and barbs. He should stand at a podium at the Texas desert border wall, with an audience of families who lost loves ones to illegal immigration, border patrol agents and federal employees.

Trump should make a speech laying out the dangers of illegal immigration and explain how Democrats will not negotiate to reopen the border.

He should give a speech that the fact-checkers cannot debunk and the tone-police cannot destroy.

Polling indicates that Americans mostly blame President Trump and Republicans for the shutdown, and after all of the media’s coverage of the shutdown, no one is surprised by this.

More worrisome to the president — a recent poll indicates that only 30 percent of respondents would “definitely” vote for him while 57 percent “definitely would not” vote for him.

Granted it is early 2019, but this has to turn around for him to be re-elected. A “presidential” presidential address during a crisis could start that turn.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

3 days ago

Rogers: Missile Defense Review ‘vital’ to national defense

(M. Rogers/Facebook)

After President Donald Trump announced the release of the Missile Defense Review (MDR) from the Pentagon Thursday, Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-3) released a statement saying the MDR “lays out smart and strategic policies” vital to national defense.

“Missile defense is vital to securing our homeland, our forces abroad and our allies, and will continue to be for the for seeable future,” Rogers said. “This Missile Defense Review lays out smart and strategic policies that will guide our missile defenses and posture to counter our adversaries through an increased focus on advanced technology.”

“I am also pleased to see it builds on many of the policies we have supported in the Strategic Forces Subcommittee for the last several years and look forward to continue working with President Trump to implement these policies,” he concluded.

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Rogers served as chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee the past two Congresses. Now, in the 116th Congress, he serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

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