The Wire

  • Deadline to register to vote in Alabama runoffs is July 2

    Excerpt from AL.com:

    The deadline to register to vote in Alabama’s July 17 party primary runoffs is Monday, July 2.

    State law sets the deadline to register as the 15th day before an election.

    Voters can register online through the Alabama Secretary of State’s office. Or they can download a registration form and mail it to their county Board of Registrars.

  • Poverty rates still high in Shoals

    Excerpt from Times Daily:

    Alabama ranks as the sixth poorest state in the U.S. with 17.2 percent of its residents living below the federal poverty line. That’s 3 percent above the national average.

    Other states rounding out the top five are West Virginia, Kentucky, New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi. Arkansas tied with Alabama for sixth place.

    Lauderdale and Colbert counties fall just below the state figure, hardly a bragging point, officials say.

    In the Shoals, Franklin County has the highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line at 20.1 percent.

  • Half-naked man violently attacks woman inside Mississippi Target

    Excerpt from WHNT:

    A woman was left bloodied after witnesses say a man entered a Mississippi Target and beat her with a piece of metal before taking off his pants and underwear in what appears to be a random attack.

    Michael Jerome German of Memphis is charged with aggravated assault and is being held in the DeSoto County Jail without bond. Police found him walking in the Horn Lake Target parking lot partially nude and took him into custody without incident.

Key Mobile and Baldwin counties public officials endorse Will Ainsworth for Lieutenant Governor

(Ainsworth Campaign)

Key public officials from Mobile and Baldwin counties joined with State Rep. Will Ainsworth (R – Guntersville) on Thursday evening as they endorsed his candidacy for lieutenant governor in the July 17 Republican runoff election.

Among those announcing their public support for Ainsworth during a news conference at the USS Alabama battleship were Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran; Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack; State Representative David Sessions of Grand Bay, who chairs the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee; and State Rep. Jack Williams of Wilmer, who is also the senator-elect for Senate District 34.

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“I’m humbled by the confidence each of these public officials has placed in me by putting their names and reputations beside mine,” Ainsworth said. “During my time in the House, I supported the Gulf Coast 100% of the time, and I voted to keep the BP settlement funds where they rightly belonged. South Alabama will continue to have my support as lieutenant governor.”

The officials offered the following comments at the news conference, which may be viewed here.

“I look forward to Will being successful in his bid for lieutenant governor. It was a pleasure to serve with Will on the House Agriculture Committee. I know two things about Will Ainsworth – he is a good family man, and he believes in doing what is right.” – State Rep. David Sessions (R – Grand Bay)

“Will’s State House office is right next to mine, and I know he supported us all the way through with the BP funding and helped us get what we got.” State Rep. Jack Williams (R – Wilmer)

“I’m proud to stand here with my friend, Will Ainsworth. I’ve worked with him in the Legislature, and I know he is a strong supporter of law enforcement. He’s an honest man, and I know he will continue to support us in Mobile County and Baldwin County.” – Sheriff Sam Cochran

“When the Alabama Sheriffs’ Association met in January, Will walked in the room and said, ‘I’m here to not only ask for your vote but to offer my support to the sheriffs of Alabama,’ and that means a lot to the 67 sheriffs in our state. Since that time, I’ve come to know him as a committed Christian conservative, and I am excited he is in the runoff.” Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack

Paid for by Friends of Will Ainsworth, 7520 Browns Valley Road, Guntersville, AL 35976

46 mins ago

Alabama airman killed in WWII to be buried in Florida this week

(DPAA)

An Alabama man who was killed during World War II is being buried in Florida after his remains were identified decades following his death.

The Pentagon says a funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Pensacola for Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Percy C. Mathews of Andalusia.

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Mathew was 25 and serving on a B-17 bomber when it was struck by enemy fire while attacking a German submarine base in France on May 29, 1943. Mathews went down with the aircraft.

A statement from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says a set of unidentified remains were determined to be those of Mathews thanks to genetic testing and the work of a French researcher, Daniel Dahiot.

Mathews was a member of the 422nd Bombardment Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group, 8th U.S. Air Force.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 hours ago

Ex-NFL, Alabama player Keith McCants arrested on drug charge

(Mobile Metro Jail)

A former defensive end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the University of Alabama has been arrested on drug charges in Florida.

Pinellas County Jail records show 50-year-old Keith McCants was arrested early Monday near St. Petersburg.

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He’s charged with a felony count of possession of crack cocaine and driving with a revoked or suspended license.

He bonded out of jail, but records don’t list a lawyer.

Jail records show multiple arrests since 2010. His most recent arrest was in January, for driving with a suspended license.

Court records show he faces a July 10 court date.

McCants made the All-America Team at Alabama and was selected fourth overall by the Buccaneers in the 1990 NFL Draft.

His career ended in 1995. He also played for the Oilers and Cardinals.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 hours ago

Former news production building in Birmingham sells for $1.5 million

(Google Maps)

The former Birmingham News production building has been sold for $1.5 million.

Al.com reports the buyer is looking to transform the 97,000-square-foot building into a self-storage facility.

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The Birmingham Design Review Committee approved the concept in February.

“As a Birmingham native we are excited to be a part of the continued revitalization of downtown Birmingham.

We look forward to providing first class service in this self-storage project for the business community and the growing residential population in the city center,” Brent Fields, one of the owners of News Properties LCC, said in a statement.

The former news production building was built in 1982 on 1.60 acres.

Alabama Media Group moved the printing of the Birmingham News to Atlanta last year.

Eddie Greenhalgh, first vice president of investments, for Marcus & Millichap’s Birmingham office, says the conversion of the building to self-storage represents a wider revitalization of Birmingham’s downtown area.

Birchfield Penuel & Associates is the architect.

Christy Roddy and William Ledbetter of Cushman & Wakefield-EGS Commercial Real Estate represented the seller, Advance Local Media, the parent company of Alabama Media Group. Greenhalgh also represented the seller.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Bill ‘Bubba’ Bussey receives heart stent, shares special moment with nurse

(Bussey/Instagram)

Bill “Bubba” Bussey, beloved radio co-host of the Birmingham-based and wildly popular “Rick and Bubba Show,” said his Friday morning procedure went well and was all smiles in an Instagram photo he shared after a successful heart stent placement.

“We are out! All good, now just a lot of recover time and being very very still. Your prayers have been heard and felt!!!” he wrote on Instagram.

Bussey is in his early fifties and was on his feet Friday, writing on Instagram that “Bubba seems to be feeling better,” sharing a playful moment with an “unnamed nurse” he helped with her “volley.”

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Early this morning, Bussey said in an Instagram post with the St. Vincent’s East location stamp that he shared a special moment with a retiring nurse:

“So many people to thank for the great care I got this weekend… but this lady ‘Miss Sandra’ was retiring after 30 plus years of nursing. I was her last patient, of her last shift!! She checked my pulse on the way out the door! Happy retirement Sandra! Thanks for letting me be a part of this special moment.”

From all of us at Yellowhammer News, get well soon, Bubba!

4 hours ago

Alabama college ending aquaculture program after 27 years

(Gadsden State)

An Alabama college is citing declining enrollment for a decision to ends its aquaculture program after 27 years.

Gadsden State Community College says it will discontinue the courses next spring.

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School spokeswoman Jackie Edmondson tells The Gadsden Times the program was one of the few of its kind in the nation.

The program teaches students to care for aquatic life in natural and captive environments.

Enrollees work with fresh- and saltwater fish and plants in tanks and ponds.

But the program can’t support itself any longer because enrollment is down.

Statistics show 27 students have completed the program in the last five years, or slightly more than five per year.

The teacher, Hugh Hammer, says only one of the last 10 graduates is employed in the area.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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18 hours ago

In new book, Alabama’s Victoria Hallman reminisces about time as Hee Haw Honey

(Photo Courtesy Victoria Hallman)

Victoria Hallman and Diana Goodman were in attorney Bruce Phillips’ office one day reminiscing – Goodman about her time dating Elvis Presley, Hallman about her relationship with Buck Owens, both about their time as Hee Haw Honeys on the long-running television variety show “Hee Haw.”

“We sat in his office and talked it up and started telling stories,” recalls Hallman, an Alabama native and longtime fixture on the Birmingham music scene before she headed to Hollywood. “Bruce said, ‘You two sound just like this show my wife watches, “Sex and the City,” except yours is true.’ We thought about it and decided we should write a book.”

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That was 2010, and this week, “Hollywood Lights, Nashville Nights: Two Hee Haw Honeys Dish Life, Love, Elvis, Buck & Good Times in the Kornfield” was published.

The book includes both women’s stories, both written by Hallman, who has done freelance writing for Flower magazine and her own blog.

“I wrote as Diana, and I wrote as Victoria,” Hallman says. “I called her every Monday night, and we did about an hour’s worth of conversation each time. The next day, I would sit down and write as Diana, using her words as much as possible.”

It’s almost two books in one, with sections labeled “Diana” and “Victoria.”

“I told Diana her life is so interesting, many of the Elvis fans will probably just skip over my part and go to her part, and my fans may skip to my parts,” Hallman says. “It was purposefully written to be like that.”

Hallman’s early years in Birmingham included stints with bands like the Ramblers, Bob Cain the Cain Breakers and the Bachelors. She was a big draw during the 1970s at the popular Bachelor’s Showboat on Morris Avenue in downtown Birmingham.

Eventually, Hallman went to Hollywood to work with Bob Hope, whom she met when she was an opening act for him at a Homecoming performance at the University of Alabama.

Hallman’s section of the new book begins with her meeting Owens, one of country’s biggest stars, while she was performing with Hope. She began performing on the road with Owens and his Buckaroos, and a relationship developed.

“There’s just a magic about creating music that’s … very intimate,” Hallman says of the romantic relationship developing. “There’s a creative process that ‘s very sexy. We were together for awhile. It wasn’t a secret.”

In 1979, Hallman joined the cast of “Hee Haw,” the TV series Owens had hosted for a decade with Roy Clark. The show featured some of country’s biggest stars performing their music, as well as comedy segments with the cast, including Minnie Pearl and young women known as the Hee Haw Honeys. Many of the comedy bits took place in the “Kornfield.”

The Hee Haw Honeys included Hallman, Goodman, Linda Thompson (who would marry Bruce Jenner), Gunilla Hutton, Barbi Benton, Misty Rowe and Lulu Roman, among others.

Hallman has fond memories of her time on “Hee Haw,” which lasted until 1990. In the book, she talks about working with guest stars such as Ed McMahon, Kathy Mattea, Naomi Judd, Ray Charles and others. In addition, she talks about the camaraderie among the Hee Haw Honeys.

“We’re still great pals,” she says. “Misty Rowe and Lulu and I and Barbie sometimes have been performing in a Hee Haw Honey reunion stage show. We stay in constant contact. We were members of a sisterhood that has stayed intact all these years.”

Although there was a downside to her long run as a Hee Haw Honey, Hallman wouldn’t trade it for anything.

“’Hee Haw Honey’ kind of eclipsed everything else, and it was hard to be taken as a serious actress or singer, but it was apparently the way my career was supposed to happen,” she says. “George Lindsey would tell you that happened with him and Goober, but he finally came to terms with it, and so have I. It’s great. I have to be glad of it.”

“Hollywood Lights, Nashville Nights,” which is available on Amazon, details Hallman’s first marriage to (and divorce from) Jim Halper. She has been married to Franklin Traver for 25 years, and they live in Nashville.

Hallman still has family in Alabama and has returned to Birmingham to perform from time to time, including at the final City Stages music festival and, in 2012, when she was inducted into the Birmingham Record Collectors Hall of Fame.

“No town has ever held my heart like Birmingham,” she says. “Any success I’ve had is because of Birmingham. The more I’m in Birmingham, the happier I am.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

20 hours ago

Alabama mom opens up about breastfeeding and her tearful first month of motherhood

(Pixabay)

I love being a mom! It is more wonderful than I could have ever dreamed, but my first month of motherhood is one that I will never forget. It’s hard to say this, but it was one of the hardest times of my life. I felt so alone, confused, and ashamed for feeling sad when I should’ve felt so happy. That’s why I’m sharing my story with you. You see, nothing about my story is really all that unique. I wasn’t alone in my struggle, but I just hadn’t heard it talked about before. So, here goes…

I felt as prepared as I could have been to have a baby. I knew it would be hard. There would be labor and delivery, followed by long sleepless nights, but I had a plan to get through those and expected it to mainly be cute squishy baby cuddles filled with sweet memories and picture-perfect moments. I really think for some people it is that way, but obviously that wasn’t my experience.

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My son, Graham, was born at Brookwood at 41 weeks after a long labor and weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces. He was taken to the NICU for low oxygen levels, where he remained for 5 days. Our NICU stay was actually a really good experience. Those amazing nurses gave me confidence in showing me how to breastfeed, bathe, and change my new baby boy. Graham was a happy baby in the NICU and because of his IV fluids, bottle feeds, and nursing sessions, he left weighing over nine pounds!

The nurses had him on a feeding schedule of every three hours. Once we got home, I started nursing him every two hours because he immediately seemed to be hungrier.

After a couple of days, my happy baby wasn’t quite as happy anymore. He started crying a lot. I started nursing him more often. After we had been home from the hospital for one week, he cried almost constantly. I knew that babies cried a lot, but was it normal for a baby to cry until he passed out from exhaustion?

Graham would nurse for only a minute or two on each side and then begin to scream again. All my efforts to help him continue to nurse longer only made him more and more frustrated. I suspected a low milk supply, so I started pumping after each feed. While I rocked screaming Graham in the bouncer with one foot, I pumped, and pumped, and pumped some more, but only to produce drops.

I did research, called nursing clinics, leagues, and hotlines. All responses were the same.

“You are a woman. You are a mom. You were made for this! Every woman can breastfeed if you try hard enough. Keep going! You are doing great!”

I took all the advice I was given. I ate certain foods to increase my supply and took recommended supplements. I started triple feeding and power pumping and despite all my efforts, I never produced more than a tablespoon of milk in a five-hour period.

Not only did Graham cry scream constantly, now I was crying too. Everyday. For the next 4 weeks.

My happy, chunky baby was not so happy and not so chunky anymore.

As I prayed that God would give me wisdom on how to take care of my child, I remembered a new mom I had met at church before Graham was born. She told me, “The first month was so much harder than I had thought it would be.” Remembering her comment, I messaged her on Facebook and in our conversation she recommended the Brookwood Breastfeeding support groups.

There are four support groups in Birmingham and I went the next day to the one closest to me. I walked into the church room where this support group met, and there were several moms sitting together nursing and talking. I met the Brookwood Lactation specialists who run the groups and they helped me get started. First, they weighed Graham to get a starting point. I was shocked to find out that at five weeks old, he weighed 8 pounds and 10 ounces. Despite nursing around the clock, he had lost 7 ounces in the last four weeks. (I have a feeling the 2 bottles of gripe water we went through were really the only thing keeping him from losing more during that time.)

After weighing him, the specialists examined our nursing routine. They were confident that his latch was good and that everything looked normal. After nursing one side they weighed him again and there was no change in weight. They let me know that wasn’t normal. I nursed the other side and we weighed the baby again. This time, the scale moved less than half an ounce.

The next few minutes are moments I will never forget. The head of the lactation team sat me down and gave me a sweet hug and said, “Honey, you are doing a great job, because your intuition was correct. This isn’t enough to sustain life for your son. We don’t tell people this often, but you need to supplement with formula. You are not a failure. It isn’t true what they say. Not every woman can breastfeed. I know that’s not fair, but it is true. You have been brave.”

I finally had answers for my child, and I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Although my baby was screaming through the store from hunger, I was embarrassed for a minute to be buying formula. I felt like a failure and that everyone was looking at me and thinking I was giving up right there in Target.

I took one look at my precious, helpless baby and pushed aside all my foolishness to make the best purchase I had ever made. I sat down and immediately fed my crying baby. And just like that, he stopped crying, he drank his bottle, and then he looked up at me and smiled for the first time. That moment melted my heart forever. The beautiful moment continued when he fell asleep in my arms, full, and fully content.

Everything changed! I was feeding my baby. Not the way I had planned or hoped, but he was fed and he was happy and so was I. And there was sleep! Sleep for everyone!

Since that time I’ve shared my experiences with other moms, and there have been many well-meaning people tell me all the things I should have done differently or how I should have pushed through longer. Maybe. I just let it all roll off my back because I have a happy, healthy, and smart little three-year-old boy. I truly feel that his life was saved by that sweet lactation nurse and the formula that was worth its weight in gold to me. I would gladly let my pride die over and over so my child could live. With each child I have I will attempt to nurse again, but in the end, fed is best for us.

If you are a struggling new mom reading this blog post, you are not alone! You are a good mommy. You were made for this, but caring for your baby may look just a little different than you had planned. Be flexible. Be patient. Forgive yourself when you need to, and move on.

A wise mom once told me, “Don’t measure your success as a mother by your first month of motherhood.”

Man, was she right!

(Courtesy Birmingham Moms Blog)

Rebekah McKee is a stay-at-home mother in Calera and a contributing writer at Birmingham Moms Blog

20 hours ago

VIDEO: Trump caves to media pressure — ‘Moderate’ Doug Jones — Internet sales tax could mean more Alabama taxes, and more on Guerrilla Politics!

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

— Why did President Donald Trump cave on immigration and what do Democrats really want?

— How can Doug Jones keep his “moderate” label while co-sponsoring liberal bills on immigration?

— Will Alabama politicians make a play for Internet sales tax dollars?

Dr. Deidra Willis joins Jackson and Burke to discuss her runoff for State Senate, Internet sales taxes and gambling.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at folks who want open borders but don’t have the guts to say so.

Posted by Dale Jackson on Sunday, June 24, 2018

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22 hours ago

U.S. median age hits all-time high of 38; record 86,248 are 100 or older

(U.S. Census Bureau/FB)

The median age of the U.S. population hit an all-time high of 38.0 in 2017, according to data released by the Census Bureau on Thursday.

The number of people in the United States who were 100 years old or older also hit a record in 2017, according to the Census Bureau data, climbing to 86,248.

The Census Bureau each year publishes estimates of the median age and year-by-year ages of the U.S. population as of July 1 of the previous year.

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“The nation as a whole experienced a median age increase from 37.2 years to 38.0 years during the period from 2010 to 2017,” the Census Bureau said in a press release.

In each of the last five years on record, the median age in the United States ticked up by one-tenth of a year in each year. As of July 1, 2012, it was 37.5. In 2013, it was 37.6. In 2014, it was 37.7. In 2015, it was 37.8. In 2016, it was 37.9. Then, in 2017, it was 38.0.

However, historically, the median age has not invariably risen from year to year in the United States.

In the period from 1950 to 1970, the median age dropped from 30.2 to 28.1, according to the Census Bureau.

In the first half of the 20th Century, however, the median age had been on the rise. In 1900, it was 22.9. By 1940, it had risen to 29.

The number of people 100 years or older in the United States has risen significantly in the last eight years, according to the estimates published by the Census. As of July 1, 2010, it was 54,413. By 2015, it had risen to 76,941. Then, in 2017, it hit 86,248.

The 86,248 people in the United States as of July 1, 2017, who were 100 years old or older were not evenly divided by sex, according to the Census Bureau. Of the 86,248 centenarians, 68,354 were women and only 17,894 were men.

Similarly, the median age for women in the United States in 2017 was 39.4. For men, it was 36.8.

In 2002, the Census Bureau published a report on “Demographic Trends in the 20th Century” in the United States.

“At the beginning of the century, half of the U.S. population was less than 22.9 years old,” said the report. “At the century’s end, half of the population was more than 35.3 years old, the country’s highest median age ever.”

The report noted that the aging of the Baby Boom generation would continue to impact both the “age and sex structure of the United States” for several decades into this century.

“In 1900, the U.S. population had an age and sex composition similar to many of today’s developing countries,” said the report. “That is, the country was characterized by its ‘youngness.’ The median age (half of the population younger and half older) was about 23 years. Although the U.S. population aged during the century, with a median age of about 35 years in 2000, the extended length of the baby-boom period (1946 to 1964), plus the continued infusion of migrants kept the country’s age structure younger than that of most developed countries of the world.

“Although the population in each 5-year age group increased numerically, younger age groups fell as a proportion of the total population, while the proportion in older age groups rose,” said the Census report.

“Apart from these general trends, changes in age and sex structure varied from one decade to the next,” said the report. “Past U.S. fertility trends exerted the strongest influence on age composition. Low fertility from the late 1920s through the early 1940s, the post-World War II baby boom, and a subsequent return to low fertility altered the composition of the U.S. population by age. The effect of the baby boom on the age and sex structure of the United States will extend several decades into the 21st century as the baby boomers age through the life cycle.”

(Courtesy of CNSNews.com)

TRAGEDY: Pause and pray for Alabama AG Steve Marshall — wife confirmed dead

Steve Marshall with wife Bridgette and daughter Faith (Bridgette Marshall / Facebook)

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s wife, Bridgette Gentry Marshall was confirmed dead Sunday, following “a long struggle with mental illness,” according to a statement from Marshall’s office.

When untimely death strikes, our natural tendency is to immediately want to know what happened and be tempted to listen to and spread gossip.

But Steve Marshall and his family don’t deserve gossip right now. They deserve grace, and space, and that’s what Alabamians should give our attorney general.

Today, the how and why shouldn’t matter, at least not right now.

What matters is that a husband, a father, a man – a good and decent man – is devastated beyond comprehension. Everything we say and do from this point forward should be about helping Steve and his family, not adding to their grief by posting mean social media comments or spreading unconfirmed rumors.

Troy King, his opponent in the GOP primary runoff, said in a Facebook post that he is pausing his campaign and stopping his advertisements, as he should.

Take a moment today to pause and pray for Steve Marshall and his family.

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AG Steve Marshall fights Obama-era bureaucrats to keep illegal immigrants out of census count

(House Judiciary Committee)

Last week, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall was invited to testify before Congress regarding the 2020 census and the resulting loss of representation that Alabama will face.

Marshall and Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) filed a lawsuit last month challenging the Census Bureau’s unlawful decision to include illegal aliens in the census. If illegal immigrants are counted for purposes of apportionment, Alabama will lose both a seat in Congress and a vote in the electoral college. The result? An unlawful distribution of congressional representation where states with more illegal immigrants hold more political power. Marshall knows the people of Alabama deserve better and was pleased to make his case to Congress.

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“Alabama is set to lose one of its seven congressional seats and one of its nine electoral votes – a seat and a vote it would not lose if illegal aliens were excluded from the apportionment base. Not only would this skewed result rob the State of Alabama and its legal residents of their rightful share of representation, but it plainly undermines the rule of law. If an individual’s presence in our country is in violation of federal law, why should the states in which they reside benefit from their illegal status?”

“The irony, of course, is that illegal aliens cannot vote; therefore, they are not the ones who gain from being included in the apportionment base. In a state in which a large share of the population cannot vote, those who do vote count more than those who live in states where a larger share of population is made up of American citizens.”

While Marshall’s suit has been praised by conservative analysts, the liberal media is in hysterics over Marshall’s efforts to exclude illegal aliens from the census. Even failed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is involved in trying to stop him from succeeding.

Rest assured, Steve Marshall is committed to protecting Alabama’s citizens and their representation on Capitol Hill. He will continue his fight against federal overreach on every front and ensure that Alabama’s voice is not stifled in Washington.

(Paid for by Steve Marshall for Alabama, P.O. Box 3537, Montgomery, AL 36109)

1 day ago

Explainer: How the refugee and asylum process works in the U.S.

(Pixabay)

Yesterday was World Refugee Day, an annual observance created by the United Nations to “commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees.” Here is what you should know about refugee and asylum policy in the United States.

What is a refugee?

The U.S. government defines “refugee” as any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

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What is asylum?

Asylum is government-sanctioned protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the legal definition of a “refugee.” As a signatory to the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, and through U.S. immigration law, the U.S. has legal obligations to provide protection to those who qualify as refugees.

How do refugees apply for asylum in the U.S.?

The Refugee Act of 1980 allows for two paths to obtain refugee status—either from abroad as a resettled refugee or in the U.S. as an asylum seeker.

If done abroad, a refugee must receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for consideration as a refugee. If they receive a referral, they refugee will receive help filling out their application and then be interviewed abroad by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer who will determine whether they are eligible for refugee resettlement.

Asylum seekers who are already in the country (such as on a travel visa) or who have arrived at a U.S. port of entry must file the application with an immigration judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in the Department of Justice. Almost all refugee applicants who fail to apply for asylum within one year of entering the U.S. are barred from receiving asylum.

What happens if a refugee shows up a port of entry or crosses the border unlawfully?

Whether they are caught at the border crossing illegally or present themselves to immigration officials at a port of entry, refugee candidates are subject to “expedited removal,” a policy that allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deport an undocumented person without giving them a chance to defend against deportation in immigration court.

To prevent immediate deportation, asylum seekers who are placed in an expedited removal process must tell a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official they fear persecution, torture, or returning to their country, or that they wish to apply for asylum. If an U.S. asylum officer determines asylum seeker has a “credible fear” of persecution or torture, they can proceed with the asylum application process.

If a person has re-entered the U.S. unlawfully after a prior deportation order or is a noncitizen convicted of certain crimes, they are subject to a different expedited removal process called “reinstatement of removal.” Asylum seekers in this process must meet the “reasonable fear” standard in an interview with an asylum officer. To demonstrate a reasonable fear, the asylum seeker must meet the definition of refugee and show there is a “reasonable possibility” they will be persecuted or tortured in the country of removal.

All asylum seekers have the burden of proving that they meet the definition of a refugee

How many people are currently seeking asylum and how many are approved?

In 2016, the last year for which complete data is available, 20,455 people were granted asylum. In fiscal year 2018, there are 714,067 pending asylum cases in the U.S. (If the 2016 rate holds in 2018, then only about 3 percent of current asylum seekers will be granted asylum.)

How long must a refugee wait before asylum is granted?

In fiscal year 2018, the average asylum seeker will wait 721 days for their case to be resolved.

Can refugees and asylum seekers work in the U.S. while they are waiting adjudication?

Yes. Both refugees and asylum seekers who are allowed to await adjudication in the U.S. are authorized and entitled to work.

Can a refugee or asylum seeker become a U.S. citizen?

Yes. A refugee or asylee may apply for permanent resident status in the U.S. one year after being admitted as a refugee or being granted asylum status. Refugees are required by law to apply for permanent resident status one year after being admitted to the United States in refugee status. Asylees are not required to apply for permanent resident status after being granted asylum for one year, but it may not be in their best interest to do so as it may affect their benefits they would receive if granted refugee status.

Who is responsible for overseeing the resettlement of refugees in the U.S.?

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is the federal government agency charged with providing benefits and services to assist the resettlement and local integration of refugee populations. Some of the ORR programs include Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medical Assistance (for up to 8 months); Refugee Social Services, such as job and language training (for up to 5 years); and temporary custody and care to unaccompanied refugee children. But according to a recent paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, by the time refugees who entered the U.S. as adults have been here for 20 years, they will have paid, on average, $21,000 more in taxes to all levels of government than they received in benefits over that time span.

(Courtesy of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission)

1 day ago

Bilateral lung transplant gives Montgomery teen chance to graduate, better future

(UAB)

Quintarius Daniels has had a hard road to travel in his 17 years of life, but thanks to University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine surgeons, he now has a bright and less complicated future ahead.

On Oct. 17, 2017, Daniels, a Montgomery, Alabama, native, had a bilateral lung transplant at UAB Hospital after years of battling pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that had ravaged his lungs and compromised their function. On May 18, Daniels walked across the stage at Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School, having earned his high school diploma – not to mention ditching his oxygen tank and being crowned prom king in the past seven months.

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“I’m so excited to be where I am today,” Daniels said. “Before I had my transplant, things were hard, because I couldn’t do things other kids could do.”

Daniels was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis as a child. Pulmonary fibrosis is a scarring of the lung tissue that causes permanent damage to the lungs. As the scar tissue builds up and thickens, it prevents the lungs from transferring oxygen to the blood supply and diminishes the supply of healthy, oxygen-infused blood to the heart, brain and other organs.

The reduced lung function makes it increasingly hard to breathe. While the condition may develop slowly over time, many patients diagnosed die within the first three to four years following diagnosis. There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis, but certain medicines and therapies can help manage the disease.

Lashunda Harris, Daniels’ mom, noticed he was very sick one morning when he was about 2 years old. She quickly rushed him to the hospital, and he was later transferred to Children’s of Alabama, where he was diagnosed. For the past 15 years, Daniels has lived with an oxygen tank, which can hinder a child looking for a normal life.

“He was very limited as a child,” Harris said. “It was hard for him during P.E. at school to be able to do things every other kid could.”

In October 2017, Harris arrived at Brewbaker Tech to pick up Daniels from school. When she arrived, the school nurse brought him to the car in a wheelchair, which was unusual.

“The nurse said he wasn’t feeling good and his chest was hurting,” she said. “We went straight to Children’s.”

After a week’s stay at Children’s, Daniels was transferred to the cardiac intensive care unit at UAB Hospital. It was there they met Charles W. Hoopes, M.D., director of Lung Transplantation in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, who told them that Daniels had been placed on the waiting list to receive a lung transplant.

After more than a week on a temporary mechanical support system to help his other organs rest and recover, and five days of being on the list, Daniels received a double lung, or bilateral, transplant.

“Dr. Hoopes is a wonderful person,” Harris said. “He’s like another parent.”

Daniels says he was excited – and maybe a little scared – for the transplant, but he knew that it would mean things might start to be a little easier for him.

“I was excited and scared because I didn’t know how it would feel to have a new set of lungs,” Daniels said.

After the transplant, Harris says, Daniels is much more of a free spirit. This spring, he was able to run for the first time and often races with his sister. Daniels was also crowned his high school’s prom king, and he’s been able to enjoy time with his friends without having to worry about an oxygen tank.

“I’m very happy that I can live a more normal life as a teenager,” he said. “After the transplant, I’m now able to do more.”

Daniels was thrilled to walk across the stage without the cumbersome oxygen tank to receive his high school diploma. He plans to enroll with the University of Phoenixand later become a video game designer.

“I’ve cried a lot since this transplant,” Harris said. “They’ve been happy tears. We still have a long way to go, but I am so happy he made it through.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 day ago

Tired of Facebook censoring what you read? Here’s how to fix that

(YHN/Pixabay)

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1

U.S. Rep. Rogers: IG report proves Mueller probe needs to be shut down

(M. Rogers/Facebook)

Folks across East Alabama may have recently seen the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) Report findings were released.

The IG report details the mishandling of the FBI investigation involving Hillary Clinton and her private email server.

Anyone that denies that the FBI’s Clinton investigation was rigged in her favor is delusional.

The political bias clearly shown during the investigation and the double standard of justice was rampant and deliberate.

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 This is the same crooked group at the FBI that started the investigation of President Trump that led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

So here is what we know:

Mr. Comey was FBI Director at the time the investigation was started. The IG found his actions at the FBI were insubordinate and he may currently by under investigation for leaking classified material.

Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired and is under investigation for lying to investigators.

Special Agent Peter Strzok has clearly demonstrated his hate and contempt for President Trump through his texts.  He most recently was escorted out of the FBI headquarters.

Congressional investigators now believe FBI documents may have been altered to convict Michael Flynn after the two FBI agents that interviewed him found him to be truthful.

We are also now finding out about FBI spies being planted inside the Trump campaign along with FBI abuse of the FISA warrants.

Enough is enough.

If all of this pans out, which I believe it will, there was no original basis for appointing Robert Mueller.

As I discussed during my Fox Business interview this week, the Mueller witch hunt needs to be shut down immediately.

We cannot continue to let it go on and be a distraction for the American people and Trump Administration.

Our economy is booming, unemployment rates are low and the American Dream is back – but with this nonsense continuing on the side – it is hard to focus on our goals.

The American people deserve better.

Mike Rogers is a Republican congressman from Semmes

Please sign up for my e-Newsletter by visiting my website. To stay up to date, you can also like me on Facebook at Congressman Mike D. Rogers, follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram at RepMikeRogersAL, on Tumblr and you can also subscribe to my YouTube page at MikeRogersAL03. 

2 days ago

These are the services that are wasting Medicare dollars

(YHN/Pixabay)

Three services categorized as “low-value care” or “care that has little or no clinical benefit” drained hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare from 2011-2016, according to a report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).

The three services highlighted in the report are: early dialysis for people with functional kidneys, proton beam centers, and H.P. Acthar Gel.

Medicare spent from $500 million to $1.4 billion in 2016 alone on early-stage kidney dialysis that “is not associated with improved outcomes.”

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During that same year, Medicare spent $115 million on proton beam therapy, an external, targeted cancer treatment, that has “a lack of evidence that it offers a clinical advantage over alternative treatments” despite being “substantially” more expensive.

Medicare spending on Acthar went from $49 million to $504 million between 2011 to 2015. Acthar gel, which can be used to treat Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, has “weak evidence” of being an effective treatment. In addition to questions about its efficacy, 71 percent of physicians received payments from the manufacturer not related to research.

The report suggests tying effectiveness to coverage and payment under Medicare. Currently, “Medicare’s coverage process considers, but does not require, comparative clinical effectiveness evidence” when deciding which treatments to cover.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

2 days ago

Military awards Alabama’s GeneCapture $1 million contract to develop portable disease detector

(GeneCapture)

The Department of Defense has awarded Huntsville’s GeneCapture a $1 million, two-year contract to develop a portable device that war fighters can use to identify disease-causing germs.

The Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) contract is from the DOD’s Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense.

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GeneCapture, a resident associate company at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, has developed a “gene signature matching platform” that screens for hundreds of pathogens in less than one hour. The multi-pathogen test is conducted using a small, inexpensive disposable cartridge and can be used to test samples from humans and animals. The technique is being evaluated as a possible solution for a portable infection diagnostic device for use in forward deployed military operations.

GeneCapture is collaborating on this contract with Birmingham’s Southern Research, which will provide its expertise in infectious diseases, purifying genetic material for testing and designing clinical trials for the Food and Drug Administration.

“It has been a dream of mine to bring this technology to market so that critical diagnostic decisions can be made quickly, which will save lives,” said Krishnan Chittur, chemical engineering professor emeritus at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and co-founder of GeneCapture. The original discovery was patented by UAH and exclusively licensed to GeneCapture.

Chittur said the technology uses genetic probes to capture the “signature” of germs. An optical scan identifies which germ is present and produces a result in about 45 minutes.

“It’s a completely new technique that would have been impossible without the advances in genetics and genomics discoveries of the last decade,” he said. “That is one of the reasons we are located at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology – the research that’s happening here is cutting-edge.”

Paula Koelle, chief scientist at GeneCapture and principal investigator for the STTR Phase II contract, will lead the effort to produce the disposable cartridges and desktop analyzer for a set of pathogens selected by the DOD that present potential biological threats to the war fighter.

The resulting technology could have uses beyond the battlefield.

The portable platform could enable civilian applications, such as rapid infection diagnosis in schools, urgent care clinics, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, veterinary clinics, cruise ships and airports.

Southern Research’s proven track record supporting new platforms for detecting and preventing newly emerged and highly dangerous and infectious disease pathogens made the nonprofit the perfect partner on the project.

“The opportunity to work closely with GeneCapture is a perfect match for Southern Research,” said Art Tipton, Southern Research president and CEO. “We have a history of reaching out to the life sciences community, which benefits both our state economy and the global healthcare industry. Our infectious disease scientists will produce reference tests and accelerate the clinical testing of GeneCapture’s new platform.”

Working for the DOD drives home the sense of urgency when it comes to disease-causing germs around the world.

“GeneCapture is focused on reducing the risk we all have of being infected from emerging pathogens and global pandemics – the clock is ticking,” said GeneCapture CEO and co-founder Peggy Sammon. “The GeneCapture team is working diligently to bring an affordable, portable solution to this critical problem by connecting with disease experts around the world to incorporate their needs into this product.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

SCIENTISTS: 30 years of data show the ‘godfather’ of global warming was wrong

(Wikicommons)

Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Ryan Maue compared Hansen’s temperature predictions to real-world observations and found his supposedly “highly unlikely” forecast with the least amount of warming was the most accurate.

“Global surface temperature has not increased significantly since 2000, discounting the larger-than-usual El Niño of 2015-16,” Michaels and Maue wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

“Assessed by Mr. Hansen’s model, surface temperatures are behaving as if we had capped 18 years ago the carbon-dioxide emissions responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect,” the two scientists wrote. “But we didn’t. And it isn’t just Mr. Hansen who got it wrong.”

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“Models devised by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have, on average, predicted about twice as much warming as has been observed since global satellite temperature monitoring began 40 years ago,” they wrote.

Climate model accuracy has become a major source of debate as scientists realized predictions diverged greatly from observations over the last 15 years or so. Governments often rely on climate models to justify climate policies or regulations, meaning inaccurate models can yield bad policies.

Hansen laid out three global warming scenarios in 1988 at an iconic congressional hearing: a high-end one where the world warms about 1 degree Celsius by 2018, a middle-range of 0.7 degrees of warming and a low-end estimate with only a few tenths of a degree of warming. The hearing was held on a hot summer day and was organized by none other than former Democratic Rep. Al Gore of Tennessee.

Hansen wished he hadn’t been so accurate in predicting future warming, contradicting Michaels and Maue, he told the Associated Press on Monday. AP claimed Hansen’s predictions had “pretty much come true so far, more or less.”

“I don’t want to be right in that sense,” Hansen said, adding he wished “that the warning be heeded and actions be taken.”

Many other scientists the AP spoke with raved about Hansen’s predictions. Berkeley climate scientist Zeke Hausfather tweeted: “Hansen’s 1988 projections have largely been borne out.”

Hansen’s 1988 projections have largely been borne out, though he predicted modestly higher climate forcings and warming in Scenario B than what occurred. His model’s climate sensitivity (4.2C/doubling of CO2) is also on the high end of current estimates. https://t.co/gtYoK0X2f5 pic.twitter.com/a693ikoy2P

— Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) June 18, 2018

However, Michaels and Maue said Hansen’s predictions only look correct because of the strong El Nino effect, a naturally occurring warming event, that began in 2015. Global temperatures have actually come down quite a bit since El Nino subsided.

“The problem with Mr. Hansen’s models — and the U.N.’s — is that they don’t consider more-precise measures of how aerosol emissions counter warming caused by greenhouse gases,” Michaels and Maue wrote.

“Several newer climate models account for this trend and routinely project about half the warming predicted by U.N. models, placing their numbers much closer to observed temperatures,” the two wrote. “The most recent of these was published in April by Nic Lewis and Judith Curry in the Journal of Climate, a reliably mainstream journal.”

The two Cato scientists also took on Hansen’s other failed predictions, including those about the Greenland ice melt, temperatures in the U.S. Midwest, hurricanes and tornadoes.

“The list of what didn’t happen is long and tedious,” Michaels and Maue wrote.

“These corrected climate predictions raise a crucial question: Why should people world-wide pay drastic costs to cut emissions when the global temperature is acting as if those cuts have already been made?” they wrote.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

2 days ago

Ray Perkins returns to Tuscaloosa but it’s his daughter working for Nick Saban

(Paul W. Bryant Museum)

Ray Perkins, who caught touchdown passes from Steve Sloan, Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler, is back in Tuscaloosa where his daughter now works for Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

The man who once said he would “walk to Tuscaloosa” to follow Paul “Bear” Bryant as coach of the Crimson Tide told Alabama NewsCenter he has bought a house and moved in.

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Rachel Perkins, who studies at the university on a Bear Bryant scholarship, helps Saban in football as a recruiting student assistant.

Perkins had nice things to say about scholarships that Bryant set up for former players and their sons and daughters.

“Coach Bryant had already made a list of people from Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama and asked them to start raising money to pay for scholarships to the sons and daughters of his players,” Perkins said. “Now who else would have thought to do that?”

Alabama won two national championships and three SEC championships when Perkins played in 1964, ‘65 and ‘66. Freshman were not eligible to play on the varsity then.

Perkins was coach of the NFL’s New York Giants when he left to coach the Crimson Tide.

What does the man who played for and succeeded arguably the best coach of all time think about the coach many believe has surpassed the legend?

“I think he takes advantage of every little thing,” Perkins said of Saban.

“Here’s where I’m coming from: I’ve always been of the opinion that my job as a coach was to help the guys who play the game.”

Perkins, now 76 years old, said he enjoyed his years in football, playing and coaching the game.

He was a team captain and an All-American in 1966 and a draft choice of the Baltimore Colts, where he joined another outstanding quarterback in Johnny Unitas.

Perkins caught a 68-yard touchdown from “Johnny U” in the 1970 American Football Conference championship game as the Colts beat the Oakland Raiders to earn a berth in the Super Bowl.

Perkins had quite a career in the NFL as coach of the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, Raidersand Chargers.

He grew up in Petal, Mississippi, and most recently was head football coach at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi.

Now that he is back in Alabama, Perkins has a house in the town where he is remembered for national championships, touchdown passes and his days playing for the Bear.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

Rep. Bradley Byrne: Fighting the opioid epidemic

(Pixabay)

For too long, a problem of epic proportion has been growing outside of the headlines in the United States: the opioid epidemic. The reality is that we can no longer wait to take action. Drug overdose is now a leading cause of death in the United Sates. One hundred seventy-five Americans are dying every day from this crisis. From big cities to small towns, the opioid epidemic has hit our communities hard.

Unfortunately, Alabama has not been spared. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alabama ranks highest in the nation as having more opioid prescriptions than people. Alabama also ranks number one as the highest prescribing state in the nation for opioid pain reliever prescriptions. These statistics are incredibly alarming.

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An opioid is a type of narcotic derived from the opium poppy, which includes drugs such as morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. While these drugs are often prescribed in response to injuries and body pains, they can be prone to abuse and addiction.

The reality is many of the people who become addicted to opioids first start taking the drugs legally after receiving a prescription from a doctor. For example, I have heard testimony from athletes who suffer a sports-related injury, undergo surgery, and then become addicted to opioids during the recovery process. In many cases, this addiction can escalate, driving individuals to street drugs like heroin.

Almost all of us have a loved one or know somebody who has been affected by this terrible epidemic. The personal stories are what make this nightmare a harsh reality. Right here in Southwest Alabama, I have heard far too many stories about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. The impacts of this crisis reach far beyond the person suffering from addiction to parents, to children, to brothers and sisters. So many have been hurt.

On October 26, 2017, President Trump announced that his administration would declare the opioid crisis a Nationwide Public Health Emergency. On a strongly bipartisan basis alongside President Trump, Congress is also responding.

In March, the House voted to set aside $4 million toward combating the opioid crisis in the government funding bill for Fiscal Year 2018. We kept up the momentum last week when the House passed over 25 targeted bills to help prevent and treat opioid addiction and abuse while also ensuring our nation’s drug laws are working to stop the flow of illegal drugs.

One such bill that passed the House is the THRIVE Act, which creates a program to provide low-income individuals recovering from opioid and other substance use disorders with a clean, safe, and structured environment following rehabilitation.

Additionally, the House passed the STOP Act, which aims to halt opioids like fentanyl from coming into America from other countries through a loophole at the Postal Service. The majority of opioids arrive to America through the mail from other nations, such as China, Mexico and Canada. So, this legislation represents an important step to help solve the problem.

It is clear that our work to end the opioid epidemic is far from over. However, I was pleased to see such strong bipartisan support for many opioid bills this week as we work to make a real difference on behalf of the American people. You can learn more about the legislation we are working on at www.opioidcrisis.gop.

We cannot and will not sit back and allow the opioid crisis to take the lives of the people we love. We must fight back and ensure Americans get the help they need. I look forward to continuing the work with President Trump to end this epidemic once and for all.

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

2 days ago

Amazon to create 1,500 jobs at Alabama fulfillment center

(Amazon)

Internet retail giant Amazon confirmed plans Friday to open a fulfillment center in Jefferson County with 1,500 full-time employees working alongside advanced robotics technology.

Amazon will build the 855,000-square-foot facility center on 133 acres of property being purchased from U.S. Steel off Powder Plant Road in Bessemer, located just minutes away from Birmingham. Total investment in the project is $325 million.

The Seattle, Washington-based company confirmed its plans for the Alabama facility in an announcement that said the project is moving forward, following a series of public meetings with local governments.

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“We are thrilled to bring our first fulfillment center to the state of Alabama, creating 1,500 full-time jobs,” said Mark Stewart, Amazon’s vice president of North America customer fulfillment. “Alabama has a talented workforce and we look forward to making a positive economic impact in a state where we are committed to providing great job opportunities and an exceptional customer experience.”

Employees at the Bessemer facility will work with technology created by Amazon Robotics to pick, pack and ship items to the company’s customers.

“Amazon is one of the world’s most dynamic companies, and we couldn’t be more proud to see the company select Alabama for one of its high-tech fulfillment centers,” Governor Kay Ivey said.

“This facility represents good jobs for our citizens and the beginning of a long partnership that I believe will see Amazon expand and grow in Alabama in the future.”

SIGNIFICANT IMPACT

An analysis projects that the Amazon fulfillment center will generate a significant economic impact on Jefferson County and AlabamaThe center will contribute $203 million to the county’s economic output annually, while adding $123 million to the county’s GDP, according to the study prepared by the Center for Business and Economic Research in the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse School of Business.

The facility will contribute $232 million to Alabama’s economic output each year and add $137 million to the state’s GDP, the study says.

Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley said the Amazon project represents the largest single private investment in the city’s 131-year history. As an added bonus, the company has pledged to create a tuition-assistance program for its workforce.

“Amazon is bringing jobs and opportunity to our residents and students. I am particularly proud of the educational incentives Amazon will offer our young people: get your high school diploma, work one year and receive $3,000 the next four years toward furthering your education,” he said.

GROWING TECH JOBS

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said Amazon’s project perfectly aligns with a strategic emphasis to facilitate the growth of tech jobs across the state.

“Amazon’s new fulfillment center in Bessemer will create a large number of high-quality jobs and feature cutting-edge automation and technological innovation,” Secretary Canfield said. “We’ve made recruiting technology-focused jobs a priority, and Amazon’s presence in the state will help us advance toward our goal.”

This is Amazon’s second project in Alabama. In June 2017, the company announced plans for a $30 million “sortation center” in Mobile to accelerate delivery of online purchases. The facility will have 1,000 part-time workers during peak periods.

Lee Smith, chairman of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said the successful recruitment of Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer stemmed from a team effort that included a number of economic development agencies, utilities, transportation departments, and others.

“Amazon’s investment in our community is a big win for the Birmingham region,” Smith said. “This state-of-the-art facility will be able to accommodate an expanding workforce and a changing economy as Amazon continues to prepare for its future.”

Amazon said full-time employees receive competitive hourly wages and a comprehensive benefits package, including health care, 401(k) and company stock awards starting on day one. Amazon also offers generous maternity and parental leave benefits and access to innovative programs like Career Choice, where it will pre-pay up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

Since the program’s launch, more than 16,000 employees have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, to name a few.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

3 days ago

Alabama AG race latest: Troy King calls Steve Marshall ‘missing in action,’ Marshall hits back

(Steve Marshall, Troy King for Attorney General / Facebook)

Republican candidate for attorney general of Alabama Troy King lashed out at his GOP competitor on Friday, saying Marshall is not adequately tending to his duties as the state’s top law enforcement officer.

“Last week, we gathered in Montgomery to look for Attorney General Steve Marshall,” King said at a press conference this morning at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. “We went to the place where you would most expect that we would find the attorney general of Alabama, at his office. Of course, we learned that he was not there.”

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“We come to the airport today, a place that we are most likely to find Steve Marshall, because these weren’t isolated events,” King said, with revving jet engines as background noise.

King began to argue that Marshall has spent too much time away from his post, such as at a recent meeting of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RACA) in Kiawah, South Carolina, where King said attendees – state attorneys general and their lobbyist friends – were “bought and paid for” while they did yoga on the beach and went on dolphin tours.

King referred to this report published by CBS News on Tuesday, which lays out the agenda of RACA’s retreat meeting.

“This idea that someone’s bought and paid for is rich coming from Troy King,” Marshall told Yellowhammer News, citing King’s relation to the gambling industry.

Marshall said that King attended the same RACA meetings when he served as attorney general. He also challenged King’s characterization of the business interests in attendance, saying the notion that their interests are wholly other than the interests of Alabamians is misguided.

“One of the things we attempt to do, on behalf of not only the people of Alabama but on matters of constitutional importance is to make sure that we are upholding the rule of law,” Marshall said.

According to Marshall, among the issues that RACA set off to address at their April conference were the leftovers of President Obama’s regulatory environment, health care and campus free speech.

King also accused Marshall of wasting time on a trip to Africa last year, which was sponsored by the Conference of Western Attorneys General, saying Marshall was “missing in action.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Marshall’s campaign challenged King’s claims.

“Steve was on a short trip last year to the Republic of South Africa to participate in a legal seminar with his counterparts there,” the statement said. “This trip was not a vacation of any kind and was focused on fighting human trafficking, a hallmark of Steve’s platform.”

The primary runoff election is July 17.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

3 days ago

Graying Alabama — the median age is higher than national average in all but 10 counties

(Pixabay)

As the massive baby boom generation slips into retirement, America continues to get older.

According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau this week, the median age in America last year was 38, up nearly a full year from 2010. Alabama experienced less of an increase — from 39.1 to 40.5 — but it remains well above the national average.

The South and the Midwest have the highest number of counties where the median age is dropping, but Alabama bucks that trend. The median age is higher than the national mark in 57 of the state’s 67 counties.

Alabama’s “oldest” county is Coosa, where the median age in 2017 was 48.5, meaning half of the population was younger and half was older. That compares with a median age of 30.9 in Pike County, the lowest figure in Alabama.

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The counties that counter the national trend tend to be those with an influx of younger immigrants and Americans moving from other parts of the country. Of the 531 counties where the median age has dropped since the last census, more than half are in the Midwest and 32.4 percent are in the South.

“Nationally, almost 17 percent of counties saw a decrease in median age from April 2010 to July 2017,” Census Bureau demographer Molly Cromwell said in a statement.

The aging population is most profound in the West and especially in the Northeast, where the median age increased in all but 2.1 percent of counties.

Longer life spans and fewer babies are the main drivers, according to Cromwell.

“Baby boomers, and millennials alike, are responsible for this trend in increased aging,” she stated. “Boomers continue to age and are slowly outnumbering children as the birth rate has declined steadily over the last decade.”

The long-term trend has profound public policy implications. A higher percentage of retirees strains Social Security and Medicare, among other challenges. On the local level, counties with smaller numbers of young people sap the economy of workers needed to grow the economy.

In Alabama, the young counties generally are those with big universities or vibrant economies that draw in younger adults.

For instance Lee County (median age, 21.9) and Tuscaloosa County (32.8), have the second-and third-youngest populations in Alabama. It is not difficult to guess why. Auburn University in Lee and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa dominate those counties with thousands of students and large numbers of recent graduates. But even those counties have a higher median age than at the start of the decade.

Three of the four most populous Alabama counties, Montgomery, Mobile and Jefferson, all have median ages under the national average. The other big county, Madison, stands just above the national median at 38.5.

On the flip side, the Alabama counties where the median age is high are dominated by rural areas that have been hemorrhaging population for years or are growing slowly. When younger people leave it not only raises the median income, it also results in fewer babies. And that has a long-term impact.

Conecuh County has lost population four of the last six decades and has declined again so far this decade. Tallapoosa County has lost 2.2 percent of its population so far this decade and has seen a basically flat growth rate since 1980. Marion County has roughly the same population as it did in 1980, while Choctaw, Clay and Lamar counties have lost residents since then.

All of those counties are among the 10 with the highest median ages in Alabama.

To be sure, there are outliers. Cherokee and Henry counties have seen steady, if not spectacular growth over the past several decades, yet have median ages that are among the highest in the state.

And having a “young” population is no guarantee of growth. Sumter County, for instance, had the state’s fourth-lowest median age at 36.3 in 2017. Yet, it has experienced a population decline every census year since 1950.

@BrendanKKirby is a senior political reporter at LifeZette and author of “Wicked Mobile.”