The Wire

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


    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


    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


    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.

3 hours ago

UAH’s Baudry Lab part of efforts to target COVID with drug therapies

(Michael Mercier/UAH)

Two different strategies to discover and perfect pharmaceuticals active against the COVID-19 virus have attracted a half million dollars in research funding to support five institutions, including the Baudry Lab at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

The lab, led by Dr. Jerome Baudry (pronounced Bō-dre), a molecular biophysicist and the Mrs. Pei-Ling Chan Chair in the Department of Biological Sciences at UAH, a part of the University of Alabama System, will receive a portion of the funding, which originates from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and from Saint John’s Cancer Institute, a private organization located in Santa Monica, Calif.

“Both awards are the recognition of our hard work and success of the last year, when we used supercomputers to identify natural products that have the potential to prevent infection by the COVID-19 virus or to prevent its replication in our cells,” says Dr. Baudry, who is also a professor of biological science.


“We have had quite an impact, together with our collaborators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the Alabama Supercomputing Authority,” he says. “And it led us to join these two new collaborative projects and apply for these two grants, which were both awarded, which is a pretty unusual and happy outcome, as research grants are usually very difficult to obtain.”

In their segment of the new research, the UAH scientists will continue to work with chemicals found in nature, which are called natural products. Dr. Baudry is joined in the work by Maher Mansur, a senior molecular physics doctoral graduate student, and the pair are training junior scientists to help with the effort.

“Natural products are very interesting chemicals. Sometimes, the natural products can work by themselves and it leads to phytotherapy or to nutraceuticals.” Dr. Baudry says. “Sometimes the natural products are not quite powerful enough, or they can be toxic for humans. In the latter case, medicinal chemists can modify the natural products’ chemicals to become very potent and safe pharmaceuticals.”

He says that could be a likely outcome as the new research progresses.

“We will still use our supercomputers to identify natural products that appear to do well, and we will use this information coming from nature and the expertise of the chemists to ‘chisel’ the natural products to be very efficient against the virus and very safe for our cells,” Dr. Baudry says.

“So far in our research what has usually taken many years has taken a few months, and that’s why we now can go on the offensive against the virus, instead of staying on the defensive.”

There’s a synergy between modern science and ancestral knowledge in natural products that allows advancement, he says.

“Natural products are a fantastic source of chemicals and medicine, and preserving our natural history, including our knowledge about what the plants and fungi do and how they work, is very important.”

Spikes and torpedoes

In the SARS CoV-2 research grant awarded by St. John’s Cancer Institute, Dr. Baudry’s team is working with Dr. Venkata Mahidhar Yenugonda, director of Saint John’s Cancer Institute Experimental Therapeutics Research Program. Dr. Yenugonda is an internationally known medicinal chemist who is leading the project.

“In this first project, we are going to identify molecules that have the potential to bind to the virus’ spike protein,” says Dr. Baudry. “That protein is on the outer surface of the coronavirus, which leads to its crown-like appearance and name, ‘crown’ being ‘corona’ in Latin.”

The virus’ spike protein allows it to attach to the cell, which is the first step in infection.

“Our strategy is to design a molecule that binds to the spike protein, preventing the virus from attaching to cells, and therefore preventing infection,” says Dr. Baudry.

In the other, NIH-funded project, the Baudry Lab is working with Dr. Jennifer Golden, the project’s lead principal investigator, who is an assistant professor and the associate director of the Medicinal Chemistry Center at The University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dr. Jeremy Smith, the Governor’s Chair Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville and director of the UT/ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics; and Dr. Colleen Jonsson, director of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Regional Biocontainment Laboratory in Memphis.

The project uses promising compounds that might attack COVID-19’s polymerase inhibitors.

“These potential drugs torpedo some proteins that the virus forces the infected cell to make,” Dr Baudry says. “These proteins are indispensable for the virus to re-assemble itself in the infected cell and then to leave to infect new cells. If we can block that process, the virus cannot infect new cells in the body and it is doomed.”

Essential research

UAH has mobilized resources for research vital to establishing a strategy in the fight against COVID-19 and other, new viruses that may appear down the road, Dr. Baudry says.

“I have worked on COVID-19 with senior scientists and graduate students in my UAH lab, and it has established us on the research map, and UAH was present to help in many ways,” he says. “UAH students should know that if they do research here, they can be in the spotlight, that we do work at the very top level in the nation.”

The Alabama Supercomputer Facility, a state resource located in Huntsville, has been a valuable partner.

“I think it is important for the region, and indeed for all Alabamians, to know that their support of science, of research and development, and of universities pays dividends and goes a long way,” he says.

Discovering therapeutic pharmaceuticals is essential to helping COVID patients as the pandemic evolves, Dr. Baudry says.

“The vaccines are here and they are, literally, life savers,” he says.

“Now there are new variants coming all the time, in particular with mutations of the spike proteins we are going after, and we all have started to hear about variants such as Delta, which is more contagious than the original strains, or Epsilon, which may be partially resistant in some cases to vaccines.”

New vaccines probably can be created relatively quickly to address variants, he says.

“But there is still an immense need for pharmaceuticals, not vaccines, because pharmaceuticals could be used to fight new strains of the virus while new vaccines are being developed against new strains,” Dr. Baudry says.

“The nation’s effort has been supporting vaccines, with a remarkable success, and we are now kind of switching gears to augment our arsenal with pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals and vaccines are not duplicating each other, they complement each other.”

The ultimate goal is to achieve a protocol much like exists for the flu, where vaccines help keep the disease in check but antivirals like Tamiflu are available to treat vaccinated patients with breakthrough infections or the unvaccinated who get ill. Tamiflu has as its starting material shikimic acid, which is present in the pods of star anise.

“The situation with COVID-19 can very well be similar: a vaccine that overall works very well and medications to help those who still get sick,” Dr. Baudry says. “And what we learn in this work against COVID-19 will also be a very important source of knowledge in case a new, different virus appears down the road.”

(Courtesy of UAH)

5 hours ago

Summer attendance booming at Alabama Power Preserves

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

The summer months are the perfect time of year to get out and appreciate the beauty of Alabama’s lakes and rivers. With 65 public-use spaces across 12 reservoirs, Alabama Power’s Preserves offer the chance for everyone to enjoy a day in the great outdoors.

The Preserves are protected lands around Alabama Power lakes created to enhance natural resources and allow the public to enjoy the rich, ecological diversity of the state. Sites have a variety of amenities, including boat launches, picnic tables, grilling areas, fishing piers, weigh stations, hiking trails and swimming areas.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, Flat Rock Park on Lake Harris, which features hiking, fishing, swimming and picnicking areas, had more than 4,000 visitors. D.A.R.E. Power Park on Lake Martin, which has similar amenities, was visited by more than 1,500 people.


Explore The Preserves by Alabama Power along Alabama lakes from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“Attendance numbers at our parks have been higher this year than we’ve seen in the past, especially over the holidays,” said Sheila Smith, Alabama Power land supervisor. “Visitors are telling us that they’re looking for outdoor activities closer to home and day trips they can enjoy with the entire family, so we are extremely pleased to provide these facilities for our communities. We’re even seeing visitors traveling to our parks from other states and areas over 100 miles away.”

To learn more or find a Preserve near you, visit

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 hours ago

Dr. Daniel Sutter: Shower freedom goes down the drain

(Pixabay, YHN)

The 1992 Energy Policy Act authorized imposition of energy and water efficiency standards on household and commercial products. Consumers have not been thrilled with the new products. As Jeffrey Tucker puts it, “Anything in your home that involves water has been made pathetic, thanks to government controls.”

President Trump repealed regulations on showers, but the Biden administration proposes to reinstate them.

Dozens of products now use significantly less water and energy. For example, showers cannot use more than 2.5 gallons per minute and toilets are limited to 1.6 gallons per flush. While described as efficient, efficiency here is used in an engineering and not economic sense.


For engineers, efficiency involves using the least water or energy to accomplish a task. Department of Energy (DOE) engineers define showering, flushing waste or cleaning dishes, determine the minimum amount of water or energy needed for this, and only allow products meeting this standard to be sold.

Economists define efficiency in terms of consumer preferences. Consumer sovereignty is the basis on which we judge the economy’s performance. With the economic freedom and competition, manufacturers must cater to consumers. We get the showers and toilets we like.

The Energy Policy Act shifted control over product design from consumers to the DOE. All products have numerous dimensions of performance. Consumers choose products based on their personal tastes. Quality is also balanced against the cost because higher quality costs more; we do not always buy the best product on the market. DOE standards prioritize one dimension – energy or water use – over others.

Not surprisingly then, many consumers view the “efficient” products as worse. President Trump picked up on this during his 2016 campaign: “You have sinks where the water doesn’t come out. … You have showers where I can’t wash my hair properly, it’s a disaster!”

The government of a free country serves the citizens. The restriction of consumer choice can only be justified if it makes consumers better off in some way. Saving water is a bogus rationale.

For starters, households account for only a small fraction of water use. Furthermore, water-saving products do not always use less water: people end up repeatedly flushing low-flush toilets. But most significantly, water does not disappear when it runs down the drain. Property-treated wastewater can be safely discharged into a river or lake and remains part of the natural cycle.

“Saving water” amounts to reducing the demand on water and sewer systems. Delivering clean water to households requires the use of resources, and the cost is higher when water must be shipped great distances like in western states. Government supplies most water to Americans: cities operate water and sewer systems with the Federal government building large scale water delivery projects and funding most wastewater treatment plants.

Cities, however, generally supply water to households at an artificially low price. And Uncle Sam does not charge users the full cost of water delivered from large projects. Consequently, increased water use strains municipal water and sewer systems.

Elected officials are terrible at building, maintaining, and upgrading infrastructure. Replacing water mains is not an exciting way to spend tax dollars. Efficient household appliances provide a back-door way to avoid investing in water and sewer infrastructure.

Alternatively, suppose cities charged for water based on the full cost and used the proceeds exclusively for maintaining and expanding capacity. Americans wanting a surround shower delivering walls of water would pay a sizable bill every month, but the payments would cover the cost of providing extra water. Americans could enjoy shower freedom.

Although President Trump often spoke about regulations on consumer products, the shower rule was only repealed last December. Deregulation in 2017 would have given Americans time to upgrade their bathrooms, rendering the reimposition less relevant.

Reimposition of the shower rule is not official yet. Like with all proposed regulations, the DOE must accept public comments on the rule. I try to avoid prognostication, but I suspect that public comments will have little impact on the final decision.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

7 hours ago

USA College of Nursing receives $1.9 million grant to boost nursing diversity

(USA Contributed)

Increasing the diversity of the nursing workforce is a key focus of the University of South Alabama College of Nursing, which recently received a $1.9 million federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to support the advancement of diversity in the nursing field.

The grant will fund a new initiative known as the EMPOWER project, which will serve two purposes. First, it will advance USA’s goal of educating a more diverse nursing workforce. Second, it will reduce health disparities in underserved communities.

EMPOWER will concentrate on recruiting, retaining and graduating bachelor of science in nursing students of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. This is the first time USA’s College of Nursing has received the HRSA workforce diversity grant, which focuses on educating and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.


The College of Nursing EMPOWER Project Director, Dr. Shanda Scott, assistant professor and director of diversity, equity and inclusion, and Co-Project Director Dr. Christina Thompson, assistant professor of maternal child care, partnered to apply for the HRSA grant. Additional College of Nursing faculty members supporting this grant initiative are Dr. Nerkissa Dixon, assistant professor of adult health nursing, Dr. Loretta Jones, assistant professor of adult health nursing, and Dr. Dedra Reed, assistant professor of community mental health nursing.

“We are very excited to receive this significant funding to start the EMPOWER project,” Scott noted. “We plan to recruit, retain and graduate undergraduate nursing students from underrepresented backgrounds that will one day serve rural and underserved populations. We are striving to increase the number of minority students entering the nursing workforce. Understanding the needs of diverse student populations is critical for student retention through graduation.”

Research shows that to advance health equity, there’s a need to improve diversity in the nursing profession, Scott said.

“We understand that a more diverse healthcare workforce can reduce health disparities,” Scott explained. “Research has shown that by strengthening the skills and diversity of the nursing workforce, patients receive better healthcare.”

USA is one of 32 institutions of higher education nationally to be funded through this HRSA four-year award.

“I am proud of USA’s College of Nursing faculty who are leading this project to increase opportunities in nursing education for students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities,” said Dr. Heather Hall, dean of the College of Nursing. “The program will be developed to include recruitment, retention, and graduation goals that will provide a pathway for students of backgrounds underrepresented in nursing. It is vital for the nursing profession to include a more diverse nursing workforce to strengthen the understanding and awareness of the needs for individual patients.”

Under the EMPOWER project, 10 traditional BSN students will be in the first cohort. The grant funding will aid a total of 100 students over the four-year period. All grant recipients will receive a scholarship for tuition, books and fees, and a monthly stipend for personal expenses like food and gas.

“The scholarship will be paid annually, and students will receive additional funds each month from the stipend with a goal to alleviate some of their financial burden,” Scott said. “Our students must drive to attend their mandatory 8-12-hour clinical rotations located at various hospitals. Through the stipend, we are addressing these basic needs.”

It was determined by the EMPOWER project team that, in order to be successful, the initiative needs to include mentoring, peer tutoring, career, faculty and professional mentorship for each of the students in the cohort.

“As students navigate through the nursing program, they will participate in a clinical immersion experience at the USA Simulation Lab and through the community health partner, Franklin Primary Health,” Scott said. “We would like students to engage in learning experiences to enhance their knowledge regarding the care of culturally diverse and underserved patients. The students will also participate in academic success workshops to include test taking, resilience and mindfulness sessions”

The funding allows the South’s College of Nursing to receive holistic review training and a faculty mentorship plan to help with the recruiting and retention of minority faculty members.

“Increasing diversity of both students and faculty in the USA College of Nursing will prepare graduates to meet the important workforce needs,” Scott said. “The initiative’s goals align with the mission of the University’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.”

For more information about EMPOWER, send an email to

8 hours ago

Is the American alligator population in Tuscaloosa increasing?

(Dr. Scott Jones/Contributed)

In May, an alligator was struck by a train on Kauloosa Avenue in Tuscaloosa, and in June another gator was hit by a car on the same road.

In the past few years, there have been several reported gator sightings at Lake Tuscaloosa and at Van de Graaff Park.

Should alligators now be expected as a common part of the Tuscaloosa wildlife experience? And are their numbers growing?

Scott Jones, a University of Alabama New College LifeTrack instructor who specializes in herpetology, zoology and conservation biology, said Tuscaloosa has always been firmly within the natural territory range for the American alligator.


He said Tuscaloosa is not generally considered well-known for alligators because their populations aren’t as dense in T-Town as they are in Florida and south Alabama.

“The American alligator’s range goes all the way up to North Carolina,” Jones said. “So seeing them here isn’t that unusual. In fact, seeing them here is a success story.”

In the 1970s, the American alligator was put on the endangered species list because they were hunted to near extinction. But in the past 50 years, their population in Alabama has grown to the point where hundreds of annual complaints about them are reported. In 2006, alligator hunting season in Alabama was reinstated by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Do increased sightings of alligators in Tuscaloosa mean their numbers are on the rise in the city?

Jones said not necessarily.

“They’re more active in the summer because it’s breeding season, so that’s one of the main reasons someone may spot one,” he said. “In addition, there’s been a lot of major rain events here. Heavy rain and flooding will wash them out of their typical habitats and into areas where they’re swimming on the street, like with the sightings on Kauloosa Avenue.

“I can’t say for sure that their population is experiencing a boom in growth here, but I can say that their population here is stable and slowly increasing, and that American alligator population in the South, in general, is growing.”

What should be done if a person encounters an alligator?

Jones said people need to be aware of their surroundings at all times when outdoors, particularly near bodies of water. Alligators like to sunbathe well away from populated areas, but if someone is out fishing early in the morning or late at night, their chances of seeing one will increase.

“They look a good bit like logs,” he said. “If you see a log all of a sudden emerge from the water, that might be a good sign that it’s actually an alligator. If you’re out at night and you see a pink eye shine on the water, it’s a good sign that it could be an alligator.”

Jones said they’re not generally a threat to people, especially on land. They primarily attack when on land if they’re harassed, so the best thing people can do if they see one is to leave it alone.

“They tend to be shy, so just give them space. Obviously, if you’re driving and one is in the way there’s nothing you can do if it crosses your path, but that’s rare. They’re generally content to stay in the water or around the water.”

However, alligators pose a threat to pets, Jones said.

“If you’re in an area where they’re known to be, don’t let your pet spend time by the water’s edge.”

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

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

8 hours ago

Orr: Birmingham-Southern $500 fee on unvaccinated could be a ‘constructive denial’ — ‘I’ve been in touch with those in law enforcement’


On Thursday, reports surfaced that Birmingham-Southern College students were told that if they were not vaccinated, they could be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

Some argued the $500 requirement was in defiance of a so-called vaccine passport ban passed by the Alabama Legislature and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey earlier this year, which prohibits the requirement of proof of vaccination as a condition of attendance at both private and public colleges, according to guidance issued by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall earlier this week.

State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), the architect of Alabama’s vaccine passport ban, called the Birmingham-Southern fee a “constructive barrier,” which if so could be in violation of the new law. He explained his position during an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Friday and added that he had notified “those in law enforcement.”


“I think the $500 limit gets into a zone where you can say that is a constructive barrier against those who may be unvaccinated,” he explained. “By throwing up such a barrier, you would have to say they are constructively denying students admission because what if you don’t have $500? The bill doesn’t prohibit any type of restrictions based on if you make one group wear masks and the vaccinated no masks, things like that. The bill says you cannot refuse services or education services, in this case, and even private school — it does apply explicitly to private schools, as well, like Birmingham-Southern. So this is something that does apply to the school. And again, the argument can certainly be made that charging the $500 is a constructive denial.”

“I’ve been in touch with those in law enforcement,” Orr added. “They’re aware of it.  This is not the end of the story here. I think this will continue to play out.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

9 hours ago

Tuberville: Federal government will have to intervene in ‘name, image and likeness’ issue — ‘NCAA can’t seem to get the job done’

(Sen. Tommy Tuberville/YouTube)

Earlier this summer, NCAA rules changes and state laws went into effect that changed college athletes’ ability to sell the rights to their names, images and likenesses.

However, different states have different rules, which could inevitably create problems for the NCAA’s ability to maintain some semblance of a level playing field for college athletics.

During an appearance on the nationally syndicated “Clay & Buck” radio show, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn), formerly a head football coach at the University of Mississippi, Auburn University, Texas Tech University and the University of Cincinnati, reluctantly acknowledged Congress would have to intervene to create balance on this issue.


“I wish we would stay out of it, but it looks like the federal government and the Commerce Committee is going to have to do something to make sure we balance this thing up,” he said. “The NCAA can’t seem to get the job done, can’t seem to do their job and get everybody just to agree to one thing. But I’ve talked to the Commerce Committee. Of course, I’ve been in the business for 40 years and know a little bit about it. I’ve talked to the ranking member and the chairman — madam chair — of the committee, and we’ve worked a little bit on it together. But what we have to have, Clay, is we have to have equality in terms of everybody doing it the same way. If you don’t have a rule, and you don’t compete for championships, everybody has to go by the same rules, and this is a rule that scares me.”

“I think it’s more of an experiment than anything,” Tuberville continued. “I think they’re looking at this. And I was a coach for years, and I wanted to give as much money to every player, man and woman, in every sport we possibly could. But it’s almost impossible. I mean, there might be a half a dozen to a dozen teams that can really afford the things that’s coming down the pike. But there’s a lot of teams that can’t. We can’t ruin athletics in this country, especially high school and college. If we do that… That’s one of the true things we’re holding on to, where people learn discipline, they learn values, they learn how to work together. And we’ve got to be able to hold on to that. And when we get politics involved, things start to disintegrate a little bit.”

“But when you look at this going?” he added. “My goodness. This is just an opportunity to do things that we couldn’t do. We couldn’t even come close to doing some of these things that they’re allowed to do now.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

23 hours ago

State Sen. Elliott: COVID protocol, vaccines raise questions about sacrificing personal liberty to feel safer

(Special to Yellowhammer News)

Front and center, both as a political matter and as a policy matter, is what approach should government at all levels take to combat the reported rise in coronavirus cases because of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.

In Alabama, measures have been instituted to protect a laissez-faire system that leaves much of the decision-making up to the individual, and others have been proposed to decentralize the power within the executive branch during a crisis.

State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) cautions against the historical precedent of being willing to cede individual liberty to the government in the name of personal safety. During an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5 on Friday, Elliott emphasized the need for principled leaders.


“[I] was very much in favor of that legislation and it moving forward,” he said, speaking about efforts to roll back executive authority granted under certain emergency situations. “I just don’t know that the will will be there unless something that is terribly offensive in the mind of legislators — some overstep, some recent overstep by the executive branch. If you look at erosions of liberty around the world over time, they have been in response, and they have been because the electorate was in fear. And that is something that is terribly important to remember. Take a comparative politics look at it, look at erosions of liberty. It is fear that allowed that to happen. And that is what concerns me now — is that folks are willing to sacrifice personal liberty to feel safer. That is a scary thing from a principles standpoint and why I think it is so important to have principled leaders who are willing to stand up for individual freedoms and individual rights.”

“Folks are very concerned about that, and they’re very concerned about being told what to do from a health care standpoint,” Elliott added. “They don’t like that coming from insurance companies. They don’t like that coming from their government. They want to make their own decisions with their doctor. That is something the government needs to be respectful of. And I will say this: People need to talk to their doctor. They need to talk to their primary care physician about whether or not a vaccine is appropriate for them.  Each and every person is different and they need to make that decision with their doctor, in consultation with their doctor and without the government telling them what to do.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

1 day ago

Flowers: Governor Kay Ivey second governor from Wilcox County

(Hal Yeager/Governor's Office, Alabama Archives/Contributed, YHN)

Kay Ivey is doing a good job as governor. She is a strong and decisive leader, who has done more than steady the ship of state. She is getting things done. She is making her mark as a good governor.

She did a good day’s work when she got Jo Bonner to be her chief of staff. They make quite a team. This duo from Wilcox County were cut out to be leaders.

Kay Ivey is only the second governor to hail from Wilcox County. Benjamin M. Miller was the first. The Black Belt region of Alabama has spawned an inordinate number of governors and legislative giants.

The Bonner family has deep roots of leadership in Wilcox County. Bonner served in Congress with distinction for over a decade. His sister, Judy, was president of the University of Alabama. His father was Probate Judge of Wilcox County. He was related to the late, great State Senator, Roland Cooper, who was referred to as the “Wiley Fox from Wilcox.” Bonner’s grandfather practiced law with Governor Benjamin Miller, and they were related by marriage.


Benjamin M. Miller was probably one of the most conservative men to ever be Governor of Alabama. Miller served as governor during the worst years of the Great Depression (1931-1935). He was a large, bespectacled, dignified man who had a long legal career before and after his term as governor.

B.M. Miller epitomized the governors of that era. From 1901 through 1946, Alabama’s governors were wealthy men. They were rich Birmingham corporate lawyers or businessmen, or Black Belt planter lawyers like Miller. Some would say that the Big Mules of Birmingham and the Black Belt planters would meet in a board room in Birmingham at either a big bank or U.S. Steel’s offices and get together and decide who they were going to back for governor. They would select someone at that meeting and pool their money and pay for their man’s race. Many times, the man selected was so wealthy that he could self-finance their own race. In some cases, they would buy off some rabble rouser who wanted to run against their anointed candidate. They would pay him to get out of the race. It would actually save them money to practice this theory. They were wise, smart, prudent businessmen.

Two of the Bourbon Governors of this era, Braxton Bragg Comer (1907-1911), and Charles Henderson (1915-1919), were concurrently also the richest men in the state while they were governor. Comer owned most of the textile mills in the state and Henderson owned a good many corporations, banks and a utility.

Most of these governors as well as Miller were anti-Ku Klux Klanners. Miller’s opposition to the Klan like that of other wealthy white supremacists had very little to do with racial liberalism, but more to do with maintaining political power. This planter-industrialist coalition of which Miller belonged rejected the Klan because it represented a threat to their power over poorer whites who were members of the Klan. These Bourbon planter-industrialists governors were vehemently anti-union, as might be expected.

Governor B.M. Miller was also similar to wealthy men of that era. They were very frugal even miserly as some would say, and they felt the state government should be frugal like them. Miller would actually campaign on his personal frugality as a virtue. He was not embarrassed at all when it became known that he still used oil lamps to save money instead of electricity on his Wilcox County plantation.

Governor Miller’s parsimony became one of the hallmark aspects of his administration. His inaugural parade featured only two automobiles in order to conserve gasoline, and he brought his favorite cow to the Capitol from Wilcox County to provide the governor’s mansion with milk and butter.

Since he was governor during the Great Depression, he accordingly cut state government spending dramatically. Miller eliminated hundreds of state jobs, as well as the use of state automobiles. Governor Miller was indeed a very conservative, Bourbon, Black Belt governor.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at

Children’s Harbor a safe port in the storm for chronically ill children and their families

(Alabama Power Foundation/Contributed)

In 2020, while the world battled a pandemic, Children’s Harbor continued to do the important work it has done for 31 years: lightening the burden on families who have a child facing a chronic illness or disability.

That work is ongoing at its on-site Family Center at the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children in Birmingham, which provides a place for families to take a break, as well as receive counseling and other services, all at no charge. And it continues to be reinforced at the organization’s Lake Martin location, where camps and retreats give children and their families recreation and respite.

Nationally, there’s been a steady increase in the number of children struggling with mental health issues, and COVID-19 amplified it. When the hospital alerted Children’s Harbor to its growing demand for mental health services, the nonprofit stepped up.


Children’s Harbor shines a beacon for kids with chronic illness, disabilities from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Expanding support

Children’s Harbor created its Pediatric Behavioral Health Family Support Program. In November 2020, the program received its first referral.

“Our goal is to reach the parents and the siblings and help them understand what is happening to their child or their sibling and how they can best cope with it. This is in keeping with what we do but also very different,” said Children’s Harbor CEO Cat Outzen.

“The Pediatric Behavioral Health Family Support Program is here to work with the family to help them process their fear, grief and anger, so they can deal with what their child is going through and then better serve and support their child,” Outzen said.

The need for this care is unquestionable, as Audrey Lampkin, Family Center director, explained. “The No. 1 reason families are referred to this program is their kids are exhibiting explosive, disruptive behavior,” she said. This can lead to hospital admission, but when children go home, parents are often ill-equipped to handle the emotions and stress – their child’s and their own – which can result in more inpatient stays. “We really want to reduce re-admission for these kids, and we can do that by supporting the families.

“We’re helping parents identify their own needs and arming them with strategies to face and meet them,” Lampkin said. “They need to learn the right coping skills so they can self-care and be there and ready and whole for their ill child and their other children.”

What the Children’s Harbor team learns while implementing the program benefits the organization’s other programs, Outzen said. “I think we’ll find ways we can do better across the board, and we are always looking to do better.”

Holding fast

It’s all part of the Children’s Harbor commitment to families it serves. It began in 1989 when founders Ben and Luanne Russell realized a long-held dream of opening Children’s Harbor on the shores of Lake Martin. It’s a special place, giving families a chance for fun and relaxation amid natural beauty.

In 2001, Children’s Harbor expanded its mission to more directly meet needs through the opening of the Family Center, where children and families have access to multiple layers of support. It ranges from offering something as simple as a place to play together in the game room to professional counseling.

Jaime Demick recalls watching her daughter Anya and son Nicasio reveling in the safe, label-free space at the Family Center. “They have one of those machines where you operate a metal claw to grab a toy or prize, and they have it set up so the kid can always get something,” she said. “You’d be surprised how much cheer it provides to ‘win’ a stuffed animal. They loved it.”

Anya’s legs had to be amputated when she was 4, and her brother also dealt with health issues. They found a needed escape in the Family Center as well as at the Children’s Harbor Lake Martin camp. “It’s such a peaceful setting and great place for kids like Anya to gather,” Demick said. “We get a lot of looks, a lot of questions, when we’re out in the world, so it’s nice to go to a place where not only is everyone used to the differences, but we can celebrate them.”

Mary Kathryn Fletcher was introduced to Children’s Harbor in 2007 when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 14. It was benign, but she still spent 70 days in Children’s Hospital, and the Family Center became an essential element of her recovery. “I can remember playing pingpong with my parents and brother,” she said. “I could just be a kid again; there are no doctors or nurses – or needles – in there, so you can get beyond whatever health issue you’re battling for a bit and feel normal. I don’t know what my family would have done without it.”

Eventually, Fletcher and her family no longer needed Children’s Harbor services. But during a college internship, she found herself back involved with the organization when she helped with a family camp at the Children’s Harbor lake facilities.

“I was so impressed with how families were served there, getting that break they needed, and that I got at the Family Center,” Fletcher said. The experience motivated her to answer, “100 times yes!” when asked to serve on the Children’s Harbor junior board.

“I’m so happy to help spread the word and help further the mission,” she said. “It’s so important for these families to see they are not alone.”

The connection to other families facing challenges is therapeutic. But the dedication of the Children’s Harbor team is a healing balm, too, even when it’s something as simple as making check-in phone calls to a family.

“And perhaps that’s our biggest contribution,” Lampkin said. “What we’re really giving them is an embrace.”

This story is part of a series about nonprofits aided by the Alabama Power Foundation, based on the foundation’s 2020 Annual Report, “At the Point of Change.” Read stories about The King’s CanvasRed Door KitchenCORE and ¡HICA!

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

Take a friend fishing and enter the Black Belt Best Fish Photo Contest

(Alabama Black Belt Adventures/Facebook, YHN)

MONTGOMERY — Set the hook and snap a pic to enter the Alabama Black Belt Adventure Association’s (ALBBAA) 2021 Best Fish Photo Contest.

New this year, participants in the contest must take a first-timer or beginner angler along for their adventure. Participants are encouraged to help mentor these new anglers and share their experiences of including these young people or adults during their outing.

The contest, which opens Wednesday, July 28 and runs to Thursday, September 30, is eligible for any type of fish caught in the Black Belt during 2021 only. Participants should visit to enter their catch and to vote for their favorite entry. Visitors to the contest webpage may vote once per day, per entry, per IP address.

“Over the last year we’ve seen many first timers hit the woods and water in search of adventure,” said ALBBAA Director Pam Swanner. “Our fishing photo contest this year is designed to continue that trend by encouraging folks to take along someone new to experience the thrill of reeling in the big catch or simply enjoy the beauty of being in the great outdoors. There are great public access points to fantastic fisheries all across our region from Lake Eufaula to Miller’s Ferry and to our region’s west, the Tombigbee. Many of the lodges across the Black Belt offer trophy bass fishing with full amenities as well.”


The prize package includes one-day of fishing for two people on one of the five trophy-managed lakes at Triple D Ranch near Emelle, AL in Sumter County. One-night’s lodging is also included. Please note that Triple D is a bring your own boat destination, and the winner and their guest must fish in the same boat.

ALBBAA promotes and encourages ethical hunting and fishing practices. Photos contests were created to further educate the public on the abundance of natural resources found across Alabama’s Black Belt region.

The Black Belt includes the following counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox.

The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association is committed to promoting and enhancing outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities in the Black Belt in a manner that provides economic and ecological benefits to the region and its citizens. For information, go to

1 day ago

Birmingham Squadron selected as team name for New Orleans Pelicans G League affiliate

(Birmingham Squadron/Contributed)

The New Orleans Pelicans and the NBA G League announced Birmingham Squadron as the official name of the club’s new G League affiliate. The Squadron is set to begin playing its inaugural 2021-22 season in November and will play home games in the newly renovated Legacy Arena in downtown Birmingham.

“As we deliberated the name for our G League team, it was important to us that its name would be closely tied to the Pelicans brand, while uniting us with the foundation of the Birmingham community,” said Dennis Lauscha, president of the New Orleans Pelicans. “After careful deliberation and input from fans, we knew the name Squadron was the perfect fit.”

At its roots, the word squadron – also synonymous with a flock of pelicans – is defined as a group that works together with a shared mission, representing the franchise’s mission to develop NBA talent and bring championships to Birmingham and New Orleans.

“The Birmingham Squadron is more than just a team name; it is a brand and identity rooted in the passionate pursuit of bringing sustained success to the Pelicans,” said David Lane, Squadron general manager of business operations. “The name Squadron is just one of the many ways our organization is aligned with the brand and vision in New Orleans, as the team will play such a vital role in training and developing NBA talent for the Pelicans.”


Squadron can also be defined as a military unit – a theme that can be seen throughout the team’s brand.

“From the 99th Pursuit Squadron – the first all-Black flying squadron in the Air Force – to the city of Birmingham’s production of planes during WWII, the state of Alabama has played a significant role in our nation’s military history, and we felt it was important to highlight that in the Birmingham Squadron brand,” Lane said.

The Squadron will bring an NBA team to Birmingham for the first time in the city’s history and professional basketball to Alabama for the first time in more than 15 years.

“Bringing our G League team closer to home and to such a deserving city like Birmingham was of the utmost importance in deciding where to launch our new G League franchise,” said Gayle Benson, Pelicans governor. “Our organization’s vision is to grow the game of basketball in the Gulf South and we couldn’t be more excited to bring the NBA to the amazing people of Birmingham. We look forward to being a part of the community for many years to come.”

The Birmingham Squadron will serve as a development ground for NBA talent as the Pelicans’ one-on-one affiliate in the NBA G League. Led by David Griffin, executive vice president of basketball operations, and General Manager Trajan Langdon, the Pelicans will have full control of the Squadron roster and have the ability to move players between Pelicans and Squadron rosters when needed.

“The Squadron will provide us with an invaluable opportunity to develop players close to home,” Griffin said. “It gives us the ability to get our younger guys important in-game reps and gives us access to a full roster of players with knowledge of our system to pull from when we need to.”

“We’ll be able to get guys in a car in the morning or the next day to be able to participate in a game or a practice, and it will get more reps for our younger players, which is incredibly important,” Langdon said. “If we are full strength in New Orleans, we can get a guy back to Birmingham for a game that night. It’s super exciting.”

Legacy Arena is undergoing a $123 million renovation that will be completed in December.

“After the renovations are complete, Legacy Arena will be a premiere destination for events in the region,” Lane said. “We’re looking forward to the arena being the best in the G League and even rivaling some NBA arenas. We couldn’t ask for a better venue for our fans, and we can’t wait to bring the experience of live professional basketball to the people of Birmingham like they’ve never seen before.”

To stay up to date on all Birmingham Squadron news, follow the team on Twitter and Instagram @GLeagueSquadron, or visit the website at

Season tickets and group tickets are on sale. For more information on how to lock in a spot for the inaugural season, fans are encouraged to visit or speak to Squadron sales representatives in the Birmingham office at 205-719-0850 or via email at

For premium suites and sponsorship inquiries, contact Philicia Douglas at 205-719-0834 or via email at

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 day ago

Alabama’s business climate scores near top in new rankings

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

Business Facilities, a national economic development publication, ranked Alabama’s business climate among the top states in an analysis evaluating key economic categories.

Alabama earned the No. 5 spot in the magazine’s flagship business climate ranking, while also earning high marks for workforce training, manufacturing employment and output, and the horsepower of the state’s auto industry.

“High-performing companies from around the globe are discovering that Alabama provides a favorable business environment, motivated workers, and a support system that helps foster success,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“These rankings reflect all the hard work that has gone into positioning Alabama for sustainable economic growth,” he added.


Business Facilities published its 17th Annual Ranking Report online today. Besides the high ranking for business climate, Alabama also earned these rankings:

  • Customized training — No. 3
  • Manufacturing employment (percentage of workforce) — No. 6
  • Automotive manufacturing — No. 6
  • Manufacturing output (percentage of GDP) — No. 8

The publication singled out AIDT for its long-standing accomplishments and its evolving approaches to workforce training. Since 1971, AIDT has assisted companies with recruiting, assessing and training more than 970,000 job seekers.

“For nearly 50 years, AIDT has stayed at the forefront of workforce development through its innovative approaches to common issues, and its ability to partner with education and industry leaders, as well as other state agencies,” it notes.

“This includes the continuous evolution of training techniques such as e-learning through modules and webinars, virtual reality training and more traditional hands-on learning.”

Alabama consistently ranks high in the “Business Facilities” report, including a No. 3 finish for business climate in 2019. Alabama claimed magazine’s “State of the Year” Award in 2015.

Business Facilities also singled out several Alabama metro areas in its new report.

  • Huntsville — No. 4 Millennial Magnet
  • Mobile — No. 5 Best Business Climate (population below 200,000)
  • Birmingham-Hoover — No. 5 Health Care Hubs
  • Huntsville — No. 6 Tech Hubs (growth potential)
  • Decatur — No. 7 Manufacturing Hubs


The rankings follow a strong year for Alabama’s economic development team, which overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to attract projects with close to $5 billion in new capital investment.

The projects will create an anticipated 10,000 jobs across the state and inject economic vitality into many communities, according to an analysis prepared by the Alabama Department of Commerce.

In June, Area Development magazine selected Alabama for its Gold Shovel Award for economic development success in manufacturing during 2020. Alabama was one of just three states to claim the award.

Alabama’s ability to overcome the complex economic development challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic also recently earned the state a Top 10 ranking in Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cups analysis.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

1 day ago

Why are there seasons and catch limits for Alabama fish?

(Chris Head/Outdoor Alabama)

The waters of Alabama and the Gulf of Mexico are teeming with fish of all shapes and sizes. The amazing colors in God’s palette lend themselves to adorn the beautiful fish we all love to reel in and admire — and eat!

There’s a catch when it comes to your catches though: If it’s not in season or within the size limit, you’ll have to throw it back.

It can be tempting to keep a tasty red snapper in the spring or stock up on big momma speckled trout, but Alabama’s fishing rules and regulations are more than just arbitrary restrictions. Every time you throw back a fish that is not in season or not the right size, you’re helping Alabama’s natural populations sustain and replenish themselves.

This may seem like an obvious responsibility — to do our part to help our diverse ecosystems flourish — but without strict oversight of our local fisheries, we’d be at risk of overfishing. In fact, overfishing isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Both in our nation and worldwide, many examples come to mind of fisheries that, unchecked, become imperiled very quickly. The reef fisheries around Puerto Rico were in almost total collapse a few years ago but are rebuilding now, thanks to new limits, and you can ask Maryland and Virginia why Alabama processors ship lots of our blue crab up their way.


Thankfully for us and our neighbors, the good work of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) biologists and enforcement officers is keeping the fish and seafood stocks in our waters trending in the right direction.

Sustainable harvest of fish, crabs, oyster, shrimp and other aquatic sea life is part of what makes living on and visiting Alabama’s coast so special and memorable. Simply put, our fisheries must limit harvesting to allow populations to replenish themselves and enforce fishing methods that won’t have a damaging environmental impact, all while complying with state, national and international regulations.

Most minimum size limits of fish are set just above the length where most of the fish of that species reach sexual maturity. This just makes good common sense. For stocks to replenish themselves, we need the fish to spawn at least once before they are harvested. When you catch an 11-inch flounder, throw it back and let it find a female friend and do its thing so they can make a bunch of baby flounder that we can harvest in future years.

While it is important for the fish to spawn at least once before harvest, some fish species have egg production that is exponentially larger as they get bigger. That is why we have some fish with slot sizes where you can only keep one fish over a certain size. This has been the case for red drum for a long time. We added a slot limit for spotted sea trout (speckled trout) a couple of years ago. Speckled trout females over 22 inches produce millions more eggs than fish in the 15- to 16-inch range. We want those big momma fish out there spawning away to produce the amount of fish needed to sustain the fishing pressure increase we have seen over the last decade on speckled trout. And it is working. We have seen populations of flounder and spotted sea trout trending in the right direction just two years after we modified our regulation to provide those two species with more protections.

Some fish don’t have populations that can sustain a year-round season and, therefore, have quotas or overfishing limits that are used to set seasons that keep those stocks healthy or rebuilding. We have specific seasons for red snapper, grouper, triggerfish and amberjack and other species that were at one time each severely overfished and in peril. We can all debate if the current federally set quotas are reasonable or if those seasons are too short, but one thing is for sure: If we had not made changes to limit the harvest to some level when we did in the early 2000s, those stocks would be almost nonexistent today.

Limits for both commercial and recreational harvests are critical to the sustainability of our resources. They are designed to maintain current stock levels or to increase abundance of a stock. Some species just need to have a population sufficient to reproduce annually, but other species need several years to reach maturity. Those that need more time are generally the ones that have experienced overharvesting. We at ADCNR are working to grow all of our stocks.

While it’s our human responsibility to protect and maintain our aquatic ecosystems, sustainability isn’t just an environmental issue. It’s an effort that’s intrinsically tied to our seafood industry as well.

For example, if Alabama anglers and commercial fishermen were to overfish a particular species, our seafood processors eventually would have to limit the amount of that product they could distribute, which would limit that product on restaurant menus. And if this trend were to continue, it could cause that species to disappear from Gulf waters altogether.

Seasons and quotas are not the burden you might think they are on Alabama chefs though.

When a Gulf seafood product is limited to certain seasons or amounts, our Southern chefs get creative. Our waters are home to much, much more than the typical snapper, grouper and flounder you may be used to seeing on the menu. Sustainability allows our restaurants and markets to feature these popular favorites, but chefs also make great entrees of other species previously thought to be “trash fish” that are just as tasty even though they’re less widely known. Sheepshead, drum and Spanish mackerel are a few good examples.

Catch limits may seem like a pain when you’re out fishing, but it is important to remember that those limits are in place to maintain healthy, sustainable stocks so we can all catch and cook those species for many years to come. So while it may be a bummer to throw back some would-be prize fish on your next fishing trip, remember that you’re directly contributing to the sustainability of Alabama’s fisheries.

Chris Blankenship is the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources commissioner

2 days ago

Citing mixed guidance, Ainsworth slams CDC, Fauci; Speaks out against mandates


Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R-AL) on Friday reacted to what he sees as mixed messaging coming from the federal government regarding mask guidance. The state’s second-highest ranking officeholder took aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over what he called “contradictory” guidance.

The outspoken critic of overreaching governmental COVID-19 policy took to social media to air his grievances of President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor and the nation’s public health agency.


The tweet reads, “Getting a vaccine and wearing a mask should be a choice, not a government mandate. The CDC has lost all credibility with its confusing and contradictory guidance, and Fauci continues to be a disaster. I believe people should get the vaccine… but it must not be forced on anyone.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Ainsworth praised the Alabama Senate’s passing of SB 267 earlier this year, which banned vaccine passports in the state.

“I was proud to preside over the Alabama Senate when we unanimously passed the new state law that prohibits businesses, universities, and other entities from discriminating against the non-vaccinated or demanding proof of vaccination,” said the lieutenant governor.

In April, the CDC revised its guidance toward masking, advising that those who had been fully vaccinated would no longer need to wear a mask outdoors unless they were in close proximity to others. Two months later, the CDC assured the American people that fully vaccinated individuals would not need to wear a mask in most situations. The health agency is now issuing guidance recommending that most people who are fully immunized against the virus resume wearing masks indoors.

In recent days, Dr. Fauci stated that bringing back mask mandates is “under active consideration.” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Friday suggested that vaccinated people wear masks outside.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

Tuberville: National defense bill includes big wins for Alabama


“Speak softly, but carry a big stick,” was President Theodore Roosevelt’s motto when it came to our country’s security posture. America’s strong national defense protects our country, its people, and our interests and allies abroad. The strength of our armed forces is my top priority and why I wanted this job. I’ve found there is wide, bipartisan agreement in Congress that our military should wield the biggest and best stick possible.

Each year, Congress starts with a simple enough question: “how much money should we spend on our military and in which, commands, systems, and weapons?” Each year, the armed services committees in the House and Senate come up with the answer. The result is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It is one of the few pieces of legislation that moves through the House and Senate on time, with regularity.

Our military deserves that.

Negotiating the NDAA takes work and a great deal of input from Members of Congress on these committees. In my first year on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I felt privileged to represent the voices of millions of Alabamians in this process.


Alabamians know the value of a strong military, whether wearing the uniform, working for a defense contractor, living near on one of our many bases, or just supporting our brave servicemen and women. Through my work on the NDAA, I never missed an opportunity to highlight Alabama’s pivotal role in our nation’s defense.

The most important aspect of this year’s NDAA is Republicans and Democrats agreed our military needs more support. We authorized an increase in spending for the Department of Defense by 3 percent, after accounting for inflation. America can’t expect her military to keep pace with new threats in an increasingly dangerous world without the resources required to do the job.

China is rapidly advancing its larger army and navy with the clear goal of surpassing the United States as the world’s superpower. The Chinese Communist Party is well on its way and increasingly belligerent. To remain ahead, we must sharpen our competitive advantage by giving our soldiers and sailors the best and most efficient weapons. This is why I prioritized robust funding authorization for high-energy lasers and hypersonic missile development. Alabama leads the nation in many aspects of laser research and is home to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency at Redstone Arsenal. Continued research and development in these cutting-edge technologies will improve both our offensive and defensive capabilities.

China’s fleet now boasts more ships than the U.S. Navy. Our admirals point to our more powerful ships, but without steady, predictable funding, we will lose naval superiority. So, I fought to secure authorization for a new Guided Missile Destroyer and two Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels. The transport vessels will be built along the Gulf Coast, increasing our naval capabilities and providing a major economic benefit to Alabama at the same time.

If Alabama is the tip of the spear when it comes to the military, Huntsville is the cone of the rocket when it comes to space. From the beginning of our nation’s space exploration, Huntsville has led the way. It continues to lead and will soon be the permanent home of U.S. Space Command. Private and public entities – the military, universities, and contractors – across Huntsville focus on growing space operations and cyber defense capabilities. I sought to accelerate our military’s investment in cyber and space. From new satellite systems to authorization for a Space Force reserve component within the National Guard, America’s investment in space security will be on sound footing.

The 187th Fighter Wing, positioned at Dannelly Field in Montgomery, and home of the historic Tuskegee Red Tails, plays an important role in our air defense. As the 187th transitions to the new F-35 fighter plane over the next two years, I secured authorization for funds to upgrade Dannelly’s infrastructure and facilities to support the squadron and maintenance operations.

And at Fort Rucker, the NDAA includes $6.6 million in funding to improve the dilapidated barracks – one of the U.S. Army’s top unfunded priorities.

While it may sometimes seem like the engine of military modernization is large defense contractors, small businesses lead the charge on developing innovative technologies in the military space – many of them located in Alabama. This year’s NDAA recognizes the contribution of small businesses, and I fought for authorization of a provision to start a public-private pilot program that would reward 100% employee-owned small businesses.

There’s still more work to do. The House Armed Services Committee will work on its version of the NDAA and then both Chambers have to pass the bill. Then there will be a joint conference to reconcile differences before the final version is sent to the President. But it’s my job to make sure Alabama continues to be well represented at every step along the way.

Those who wish to do the United States harm will not rest, so neither should we. But Alabamians can rest assured this year’s NDAA is a win for the United States’ national security, and for the people of Alabama.

Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.

2 days ago

SEC expanding as Oklahoma, Texas officially accept invitation to join conference

(SEC/Facebook, YHN)

College football’s preeminent conference has added two of the nation’s most storied programs to its ranks. The University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma have officially accepted an invitation from the presidents and chancellors of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) to join the league.

The 14-member conference is set to expand to 16 in 2025, when the athletics programs of the Longhorns and Sooners will begin conference play. Rumors began circulating last week when a report surfaced that claimed the Big 12 powerhouse schools had let it be known that they wish to join the SEC. Just days later, the conference had extended an offer to the institutions. On Friday, the two universities made it official.


The deal did not come to fruition without its fair share of controversy, however. The Big 12, feeling as if it had been aggrieved, on Wednesday sent a cease and desist letter to ESPN accusing the network of colluding with the SEC to poach the programs in an alleged attempt to “destabilize” the conference.

The leading sports network responded to the beleaguered conference in a formal letter stating the accusations “are entirely without merit” and further stating that “there is nothing to cease and desist.”

The SEC’s expansion is yet another shakeup in the ever-evolving landscape of college football. Conference realignment began in the early part of last decade, with the SEC gaining then-Big 12 schools Texas A&M University and the University of Missouri. While it is uncertain what steps the Big 12 will take to remain relevant as a conference, the SEC’s claim to being college football’s supreme conference just got that much stronger.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, arguably one of the most powerful figures in college athletics, lauded the expansion.

“This is an important moment for the long-term future of the Southeastern Conference and our member universities,” said Sankey. “Oklahoma and Texas are outstanding academic institutions with two strong athletics programs, which will add to the SEC’s national prominence. Their additions will further enhance the already rich academic, athletic and cultural legacies that have been cultivated throughout the years by our existing 14 members. We look forward to the Sooners and Longhorns competing in our Conference starting in the 2025-26 academic year.”

Auburn University and Tigers Athletics Director Allen Greene welcomed the Sooners and Longhorns, saying the addition will “[elevate] the experience of Auburn student-athletes and fans.”

University of Alabama President Dr. Stuart Bell and Athletics Director Greg Byrne also applauded the announcement, stating that it will prove to enhance the quality of the conference.

Many college sports pundits believe this is just the beginning of a revived conference realignment trend. Some have begun to speculate that the SEC isn’t quite yet finished. Will the SEC look to bring in additional schools to what is already classified as an embarrassment of riches? The answer to that question presently remains unclear. What is clear, however, is that the SEC intends to maintain its status as the premier conference in college athletics.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

2 days ago

Birmingham pediatric infectious disease expert claims state is ‘facing a catastrophe’ in Delta variant

(Medical Association of the State of Alabama Facebook/Screenshot)

In a pandemic-centered discussion on Thursday hosted by the Alabama Medical Association, UAB pediatric infectious disease expert Dr. David Kimberlin sounded the alarm about the state’s upcoming battle with the COVID-19 Delta variant, saying he believes Alabama is “facing a catastrophe.”

Kimberlin was accompanied in the livestreamed conversation by State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris in discussing virus mitigation efforts as it relates to children returning to school this fall. The state’s top medical chief warned of the recent increase in new cases, which he said began early this month.

Harris described the state’s current situation as “unprecedented,” referencing the rate at which hospitalizations are increasing.


“Starting around the first part of July is when we started seeing numbers creep up,” said Harris. “We’ve actually had well over 1,000 cases a day for the past eight or nine days, in fact, greater than 2,500 cases a day over the last three days. That’s really concerning to us. Those numbers have accelerated so quickly – that’s been reflected now in the number of patients we see in Alabama hospitals. I will tell you that we’ve always seen this indicator of having case numbers go up, and then a week or two later we see hospitalizations go up, and then sad to say a week or two later we see the number of deaths go up.”

Kimberlin, in response to Harris’s assessment of the recent case spike, struck a distressing tone toward the state’s outlook concerning the variant.

“We are really at a different place in this pandemic than we’ve been before and it’s not a good place,” said Dr. Kimberlin. “We’re seeing it some in children and I’m really, really – I’m scared. I was uncomfortable last year, I am scared right now for what lies in front of us in respect to our children. We are facing, as they say, an ‘unprecedented’ period of this pandemic.”

The pediatric infectious disease specialist expressed his concern over the state’s low vaccination numbers, as he took a critical posture toward those who have declined the shot and urged Alabamians to take the virus seriously.

“Now, the good news is that we have knowledge and we have tools to be able to get our way through this,” said Kimberlin. “The tool is vaccination. We need to get more people vaccinated. I think Dr. Harris was humble in the way he said it [but] I’m going to be a little more critical. I think the product is out there for a whole lot of Alabamians, and yet some folks, a majority of Alabamians, are not getting it.”

In making an appeal to Alabama’s dense religious population, Kimberlin invoked the Golden Rule as a reason to become vaccinated for the safety of others.

He added, “That’s not the way Alabama likes to treat our neighbors. You know, we are a faith-focused state and it’s a wonderful state to live in, and much of what is sort of the guiding principle is the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'”

Kimberlin went on to advise that masks should be mandatory in schools. He made an impassioned plea for parents to demand such, and made the assertion that some who are opposed to mask mandates are “misinformed.”

“Call your superintendent and call your school principal and tell them how uncomfortable you are, and tell them that you want everyone masked,” he stated. “There’s a lot of people out there that have true misinformation on what masking does. People say that it suffocates people – it does not suffocate anybody. They’re out there spreading it and they’re loud and they’re mad. And so the superintendent and the principals and the teachers, they hear those loud mad voices. We need to present loving concerned voices. We are the majority and I am convinced of that.”

In concluding his remarks, Kimberlin noted, “I am doom and gloom, and I think we’re facing a catastrophe.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

2 days ago

Alabama Supreme Court candidate Greg Cook lands Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee endorsement

(Greg Cook Campaign/Contributed)

Greg Cook, a Republican candidate for the Alabama Supreme Court, has been endorsed by the Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee (ACJRC). Cook is a Birmingham attorney and is seeking election an open seat on the state’s high court.

In announcing the endorsement, the organization praised Cook’s decades-long experience in the legal profession.

“We are indeed fortunate to have such an outstanding candidate with 30 plus years of experience willing to serve the people of Alabama. He shares our conservative values, a conviction to be fair while upholding the law and a willingness to serve. His credentials and legal experience are unmatched,” said ACJRC chairman Tom Dart.

Cook shared his belief that justices should not partake in activism, saying they should simply interpret the law.


“I’m excited to have the support of ACJRC,” said Cook. “As I have always said, judges should be like neutral umpires – just calling the balls and strikes – not favoring one side over another. We need justices who will follow the law and fairly rule on the cases before the Alabama Supreme Court. That is what I will do.”

Cook concluded, “I’m a conservative grounded in principle, who believes a judge is there to apply the law as written. I think that is what the citizens of Alabama want from their judges and why our campaign is gaining momentum.”

ACJRC is an organization of state business trade associations and corporations created in 1985 to fight lawsuit abuse and promote a fair judicial system in Alabama. The organization has led efforts by the business community in passing tort reform bills in the Alabama Legislature. Earlier this year, ACJRC said it played a major role in persuading the legislature to enact legal protection for businesses, non-profits, schools and others from unreasonable litigation involving COVID-19.

Cook is widely known among the state’s legal profession and has held numerous positions with the American Bar Association (ABA), Alabama and Birmingham Bar. He serves on the Alabama Supreme Court’s Civil Rules Committee and has authored a two-volume treatise, Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure Annotated and two books for the ABA.

Earlier this year, Cook launched his candidacy for the position of associate justice after current officeholder Mike Bolin announced that he would not seek another term.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

North Alabama is among the top 10 most affordable places to retire

(@Gustavo Fring/Pexels, YHN)

Of all the things to do, places to see and experiences to look forward to upon retirement, the one thing you don’t want to worry about is actually affording it. After all, you’ve worked hard your entire life to enjoy this moment.

Many Americans have to continue working to afford their lifestyle but in North Alabama, retirees relocate from all over the country to start a new adventure that requires no work and all play.

The 16 counties that make up North Alabama have become home to many retirees searching for “the good life” on a budget. This is because of the areas’ affordability and consistent quality of life statistics.


Depending on where you are coming from, some people may find they get an upgraded lifestyle after relocation. Because the cost of living is significantly lower than places like Atlanta, those relocating from larger Southern cities can expect a 35% decrease in housing costs as well as drops in healthcare and groceries. Overall lending itself to a more budget-friendly lifestyle that allows for enjoying the beauty of Alabama Mountain Lakes, actively participating in the outdoors, and making time for authentic cultural experiences.

Of the 16 counties, there are a few highlights. Those with an interest in arts and culture will want to lean towards Colbert County. There you can experience a lively music scene and vibrant downtown with lots of restaurants and coffee shops to keep you busy.

For a slower pace and scenic views, Cherokee County is home to the frequently visited Weiss Lake, Little River Canyon National Preserve, and Cherokee Rock Village. Ever dreamed of living on the water? Its manageable size offers low taxes on lakefront property with the convenience of a short drive to major cities like Huntsville, Chattanooga, or Atlanta.

If you find yourself a little restless and in need of staying busy, you can always settle down inside Madison County, the fastest-growing city in Alabama. The cost of living is still below the national average but offers many amenities specifically for retired military members and their families.

At the end of the day, or at the end of your career, whether you’re trying to play more golf, take more hikes, read more books or eat more food, North Alabama is a place where you can do it all.

You spent your life making sacrifices to get where you are, now it’s time you don’t have to pick and choose. Yes, retiring to North Alabama is affordable, but most of all it’s a place where you can breathe, enjoy yourself, find community and make lasting memories. Visit the link below and download their helpful Retire & Relocation Guide to learn more.

(Learn more at Alabama Mountain Lakes)

2 days ago

7 Things: Mandates galore, doctors warn that hospitalizations could top the previous peak, Birmingham-Southern becomes the first school to test Alabama law and more …

7. Pelosi wants to arrest those who won’t wear a mask

  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is demanding the mostly-vaccinated members of the U.S. House of Representatives to wear masks in the U.S. Capitol. Additionally, those who visit the U.S. House side of the Capitol complex could be arrested for not wearing a mask, per a new memo that was ordered by U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger which U.S. Representative Kat Cammack (R-FL) released publicly.
  • Visitors and staff are the only ones who may be subject to arrest, though, since House members who do not comply with the mask mandate will instead be fined starting at $500. House members will also be reported to the House sergeant-at-arms for noncompliance.

6. Brooks gives the exact reason for wearing body armor


  • Recently, U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has been criticized for wearing body armor during his speech at a rally for President Donald Trump on January 6, just before the riot at the U.S. Capitol. There have even been some who suggested that Brooks wore body armor because he knew something potentially dangerous was going to happen.
  • Brooks has explained, though, why he decided to wear body armor on that day. Brooks has recalled how he was targeted with other Republicans while attending a GOP softball practice in 2017, and Brooks said, “I take these threats seriously.” U.S. Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) was shot at the practice, and Brooks gave aid to a legislative aide Zack Barth who was shot in the calf.

5. Birmingham and Redstone have brought back their mask mandate

  • In Birmingham, the mask mandate is back for all city employees and those visiting municipal buildings. The city announced the mandate through social media accounts saying it “applied to but is not limited to City Hall, police precincts, libraries, rec centers, venues, etc.”
  • In Huntsville, a mask mandate has also been revived at the Redstone Arsenal. While most people who work on base at Redstone are still working from home, they are bringing back “full masking requirements for all employees and guests on the installation regardless of vaccination status.”

4. Kamala Harris is not good at her job

  • Vice President Kamala Harris is watching her polling numbers plummet as she fades into the background after being given multiple tasks and accomplishing very little. One of her highest-profile tasks was solving the crisis at the border, and she has finally unveiled her plan. The plan is lacking any real solutions.
  • Harris’ plan for the border is not focused on enforcement or stopping the current record stream of illegal aliens crossing the border. It instead focuses on remaking Central America somehow. This includes economic insecurity,  inequality, combating democratic corruption, promoting respect for human rights, combating gangs and (for some reason) making it easier to come to the United States.

3. Unvaccinated students will be fined at BSC

  • At Birmingham-Southern College, students who do not get vaccinated will be fined $500 going into the upcoming school year. The school has said this fee is “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”
  • Students “will receive an immediate $500 rebate” if they are vaccinated before the fall semester starts. There will be separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students in the fall. The College Republican Federation of Alabama has condemned “this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated.”

2. Hospitalizations could double what they were at the peak

  • UAB is predicting that hospitalizations in Alabama could surpass where they were at the peak of coronavirus infections over the winter surge. This increase could be seen within about a month, and the estimation is made with the idea that the Delta variant spreads faster.
  • UAB’s Dr. Suzanne Judd said the situation is “very scary if we stay on the path we’re on.” The projection shows that there could be 5,500 deaths from the coronavirus by October and about 8,000 hospitalizations in August.

1. Federal vaccine mandate announced

  • As was expected, President Joe Biden has announced the vaccine requirement for all federal workers. If workers decide to not get vaccinated, they “will be required to mask no matter where they work and test 1-2 times a week, socially distance, and will generally not be allowed to travel for work.” 
  • Biden did clarify that the vaccine mandate applies to federal contractors, as well, and Biden has pushed for the Pentagon to consider adding the coronavirus vaccine to the required vaccination list. It’s also been released that this mandate will apply to about 4 million people. He also decided to quote the questionable, but too good to be checked, story of an Alabama doctor who was telling her dying patients and their families they should have gotten the vaccine.

2 days ago

State Sen. Whatley predicts Auburn, Alabama football ‘will go on as originally planned’ despite COVID-19 spike


With 37 days to go until Auburn and Alabama both kick off the 2021 football season, COVID-19 is creeping back into the picture of everyday American life.

However, State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn), whose district includes Auburn University and an economy that relies in some part on the annual football season, said he was not expecting any disruptions resulting from COVID-19.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, Whatley said he expected all of Alabama’s Division I colleges to play as planned and touted the vaccine passport ban passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey earlier this year.


“Back to Senator Orr’s bill that I supported, I think that one puts it into perspective — you know, you can’t do that,” he said. “You can’t require a vaccine passport. And I think that the football will go on as originally planned. Auburn and Alabama said they are both planning on full open tailgating and full open football season. I’m looking forward to that and I’m looking forward to that economic boost that will hit Lee County, hit East Alabama, hit the whole state of Alabama once you pour in all the colleges and universities that play Division I football.”

Whatley also predicted it was a “foregone conclusion” Auburn would go 12-0, play for the SEC Championship and play in the college football playoff on the way to winning the national championship under new head football coach Bryan Harsin.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

3 days ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

(Pixabay, YHN)

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”


The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

3 days ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

(Roy Moore for Senate/YouTube, YHN)

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.


The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.