5 months ago

7 Things: Alabama House Democrats walk away on bill banning abortion, Mueller expressed concern over AG Barr’s initial letter, Biden’s lead is real and more …

7. Alabama food stamp rolls are down

— Last year, people receiving food stamps in Alabama decreased by 38,000 recipients and more than 100,000 have dropped off since 2016. Alabama’s figures mirror the national figures since all food stamp beneficiaries have seen a drop in recipients. The drop is attributed to the growing and improving the economy, as well as the restriction that requires SNAP recipients to work. The national number of recipients decreased by almost 2 million last year.

6. The Democrats are still pushing for their investigations of President Donald Trump’s finances

— The House Intelligence Committee hired Patrick Fallon, an FBI veteran, to help further efforts of digging into Trump’s financial past. The Democrats are currently preparing to go to court to enforce their subpoenas. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, “Deutsche Bank is willing to cooperate, but apparently Mr. Trump and others around him are concerned about what those bank records would show. We are going to have to fight this vigorously as necessary to make sure that we validate our ability to oversee the administration.” This just continues the narrative that Democrats have been pushing that someone is clearly hiding something just because they don’t want their privacy forcefully violated. Trump has already vowed to fight the subpoenas put forth by Democrats.

5. A Netflix show is being blamed for an increase in teen suicides

— The American media glamorizes suicide and deifies those who commit suicide, so it should come as no surprise that a high-profile Netflix series that was made for teens would lead to teens attempting to take their lives. Newly published research shows a 28.9 percent increase in suicides among American kids aged 10 to 17 which was a 19-year high. The number of suicides in this period were the most of any single month over the five-year period studied. Additionally, there were 195 more suicides among this age group than researchers expected with historical trends. Study co-author Lisa Horowitz says, “The results of this study should raise awareness that young people are particularly vulnerable to the media,” which is a no-brainer.

4. Russia, Cuba and Colombia are involved in the increasing violence in Venezuela

— Secretary of State Mike Pompeo relayed to the Amerian media that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was ready to leave the country yesterday and was on the tarmac ready to head to Cuba when Russia convinced him to stay. This is all happening as Venezuela erupts in chaos and violence, news channels feeds are cut and footage of military vehicles running over citizens make international rounds. President Trump’s response was that he would impose a “full and complete embargo” and sanctions on Cuba if they did not end their operations in Venezuela. National Security adviser John Bolton has claimed that Cuban troops are keeping Maduro in power, and he’s said that it’s a very delicate moment, but all options remain on the table. The White House administration has remained in support of the ongoing Venezuelan opposition effort, which is led by Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez. The goal of Guaido and Lopez has been to spark a military uprising against President Maduro.

3. Additional polling backs CNN’s poll showing Biden bouncing to a sizeable lead in the Democratic primary for president

— A CNN poll released yesterday was good news for the former vice president as it placed him far out front with 39 percent of respondents choosing him. It only got better from there, as Biden also surged to 38 percent in a Quinnipiac poll after his announcement. The other candidates are bunched together with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 12 percent, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at 11 percent, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 10 percent, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 8 percent, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) at 5 percent and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) at 2 percent. Lastly, a Morning Consult poll shows Biden with 36 percent support and Sanders at 22 percent.

2. Reports indicate special counsel Robert Mueller wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr complaining about his interpretation of his report

— With Barr prepared to testify before Congress, a new letter has been released from the DOJ showing frustration with the four-page summary Barr released prior to the full release of the Mueller report. While the full letter has not been released, it expressed that Barr “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the Mueller report. Mueller also wanted the 448-page report’s introductions and executive summaries released, and he suggested some redactions. A Justice Department spokesperson said, “He expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the special counsel’s obstruction analysis.” But it is important to note a line that many seem to be ignoring from the Washington Post report which read, “When Barr pressed Mueller on whether he thought Barr’s memo to Congress was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not but felt that the media coverage of it was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said.”

1. A bill banning almost all abortions passes the Alabama House 

— Almost all Democrats “took a walk” and the most restrictive abortion bill attempted in Alabama in recent history passed. Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) received a standing ovation after the bill passed. The bill criminalizes doctors performing an abortion, makes an abortion a Class A felony and makes attempting an abortion a Class C felony, but would not go into effect until Roe v. Wade is overturned. This bill is by no means a slamdunk in the Alabama State Senate, and some changes will be attempted to address the lack of exemptions for rape and incest. Alabama Democrats are not taking this well, Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) uttered one of the more absurd comments ever made in American politics, saying, “[S]ome children are just unwanted. You either kill them now or you kill them later in the electric chair.” He followed that up with, “I may bring a bill to force all men to have vasectomies. That would end this whole debate. There would be no more abortions and eventually no more voters.”

30 mins ago

Canfield elected chair of Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence, Waggoner vice-chair

The Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Associated Technologies recently held its inaugural meeting, at which commission members elected Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield as chairman and State Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) as vice-chairman.

The commission plans to schedule additional meetings over the next seven months, with all meetings being open to the public.

The members will deliver a report in May to Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, recommending strategies and policies on how AI and other emerging technologies will be of benefit to the Yellowhammer State’s economy.

In a statement on Thursday, Canfield explained the importance of the commission’s work.

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“Artificial intelligence is a powerful, disruptive technology that has the potential to forever change the way we live our lives and how businesses across Alabama operate,” he emphasized.

“It’s critical that we understand how AI will bring about these sweeping changes, and this Commission will help us develop insights into what the future has in store for Alabama’s citizens and businesses,” Canfield concluded.

Waggoner spearheaded the legislative resolution that formed the commission. His leadership has been, and continues to be instrumental, in this process. The powerful chair of the Senate Rules Committee identified the goal of Alabama being on the cutting edge of AI research and job creation in the technology sector.

“We want Alabama to be a leader in AI research, innovation, technology start-ups, and technology jobs,” Waggoner stated. We believe that we are competitive with other states.”

He continued, “The Commission will look at how Alabama is positioned and ready for the opportunities of tomorrow. Those are some of the issues and questions this Commission is going to answer. We will meet with key business groups and different industry sectors to understand the impact of AI and automation on their industries.”

According to Waggoner, the commission will also examine how schools and universities can develop AI-educational programs, and investigate what privacy safeguards might be needed to protect consumers.

“We want Alabama’s education system in a place where we can equip students with AI-relevant skills through engineering and technology classes and apprenticeship programs,” he added. “As we promote innovation and educational readiness, we must also protect the privacy rights of citizens, and examine whether existing state laws are effective in regulating these emerging technologies. There’s a lot of work ahead.”

The commission will be divided up into five sub-committees, focused on the following:

  • state regulations, government oversight, and potential legislative action;
  • education and workforce development;
  • healthcare and medical services;
  • future and evolving industries, economic development, and research;
  • ethics, privacy and security.

The subcommittees will begin their work in mid-October.

State Senator Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) was appointed to the commission by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). Roberts came away from the body’s initial meeting impressed at the experience and expertise of its membership.

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning are very complex subjects. Thankfully, I think we have some of the finest minds in our state working on this project. The sub committees that have been established will allow every person on the commission to hone in on their particular areas of expertise,” Roberts outlined.

The 25 members of the commission are as follows:

Greg Canfield – Secretary of Commerce (chairman)

Marty Redden – Acting secretary of the Alabama Office of Information Technology

Ivey’s appointees:

1. Dr. Hari Narayanan— Auburn

2. Dr. Gerry Dozier— Auburn

3. Dr. Jeff Carver – UA (Tuscaloosa)

4. Dr. Curt Carver – UAB

5. Dr. Alec Yasinac – USA

6. Dr. John Beck – UAH

7. Dr. James Cimino – UAB

8. Melvin Evans – Hand Arendall

9. Jim McLane – NaphCare

10. Jacob Kosoff – Regions Bank

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s appointees:

Joshua Jones – StrategyWise

Dr. Vicki Karolewics – Wallace State Community College

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon’s appointees:

Rep. Kirk Hatcher

Rep. Craig Lipscomb

Marsh’ appointees:

Sen. Jabo Waggoner (Vice-chair)

Sen. Dan Roberts

Non-Voting members appointed by the governor:

J. Michael Hardin – Provost & vice president at Samford University

John Brandt – Southern Company

Leonard Tillman – Balch & Bingham

Mike Rowell – Senior VP & CIO at ALFA Insurance

James Mizell – Senior account executive at Microsoft

Jason Asbury – NXTsoft

Dr. Syed Raza – Jefferson State Community College

An Alabama CEO, also a commission member, said artificial intelligence is on the cusp of transforming every industry.

“Artificial intelligence is rapidly changing every industry, and it is incredibly important for us as a state to think strategically about what that means to our economy,” advised Joshua Jones, CEO of Birmingham-based StrategyWise, an AI and data science consulting firm.

He concluded, “I applaud Senator Waggoner and Secretary Canfield for leading Alabama to be one of the first states to really address these opportunities and changing dynamics systematically. It sends a message to the rest of the U.S. that Alabama is serious about investing in our future, and we’re growing our tech-based ecosystem. For companies that want to leverage all that AI has to offer, we’re going to be prepared with a trained workforce, accommodating public policy, and a strong tech infrastructure.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling open to Tennessee River toll bridge — If that moves freight, freight companies, truckers ‘would just be thrilled to do it’

For decades, traffic headed west from Huntsville and other points toward the Shoals has relied upon the Captain William J. Hudson “Steamboat Bill” Memorial Bridges to cross the Tennessee River into Decatur. Once traffic crosses that bridge, it either heads south on U.S. Highway 31 toward Hartselle and Cullman, or it makes a hard-right 90-degree turn on to U.S. Highway Alternate 72 and heads toward Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia and Sheffield.

As the manufacturing base in northern Alabama expands, freight traffic is expected to increase at that intersection and make the turn west even more precarious for commuters and commercial traffic.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling discussed that spot and possible solutions for the future, which could include a tolling component.

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“If you were to go now and sit in the Doubletree Hotel, which is where you’re talking about there where you make that turn to go to the Shoals, and just look at the amount of freight that comes in out of Memphis — Memphis is the distribution hub for America,” Bowling said on Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show.” “And that freight that comes out of Memphis, straight down [U.S. Highway Alternate] 72, and then it makes its way across our bridge and goes various routes from there — into Huntsville, Madison, Athens, gets on [Interstate] 65, has different directions it can go from there. But whenever we start producing a thousand cars a day, we have 4,000 employees plus the tiered suppliers who will be there. The amount of freight that will come in to take care of that I believe is going to double.”

Bowling noted the situation at the Hyundai facility near Montgomery as a sign of what is to come and commended Gov. Kay Ivey for the commitment to widen the existing Interstate 565 that connects Decatur and Huntsville.

“We visited the Hyundai facility manufacturing a thousand cars a day just south of Montgomery — just-in-time deliveries: batteries, tires, things of that nature — they receive a truck a minute,” he continued. “You think widening [Interstate] 565 is important? Heck yeah, it’s important. We’re thankful Gov. Ivey is going to get that done for us in the Spring of 2020.”

The Decatur mayor said the completion of a nearby overpass for Alabama Highway 20 remains his current top priority.  Once that is completed, Bowling said exploring the possibility of an alternate route over the Tennessee River would be appropriate.

“We’re working on an overpass on [Alabama] Highway 20 where Apple Lane Farms is,” he said. “That’s Decatur, and that’s a build grant that we received for $14 million from the Federal Highway Department. We’re very thankful for that. A lot of people made that happen. Once that project gets going, then we’ll start working on the other. But we want to be sure we do everything to make sure that project gets going first.”

As for the possibility of using tolls to finance a new bridge, Bowling said he expected that those moving freight would be “thrilled” if it expedited transit and that if it would improve commuter traffic on existing structures, it could be a possibility.

“If that moves freight, I would believe that the freight companies, the truckers would just be thrilled to do it,” Bowling explained. “If we were to take the trucks off of the [U.S.] Highway 31 bridges, I believe that our commuter traffic — it would be a lot easier to make that commute. And so, we’ll see what we can do. We’ll come up with a traffic plan. We’ll do traffic counts. Things to prove it out.”

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

2 hours ago

Patriot Flag to be displayed in Mobile on Thursday to honor fallen American heroes

The Patriot Flag will be displayed at the USS Alabama in Mobile on Thursday, September 19.

According to WALA Fox 10, the flag is currently on a national tour intended to honor and thank fallen American men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedom and safety.

Measuring 28 by 60.5 feet and weighing 50 pounds, the Patriot Flag’s nationwide journey began on the 15th Anniversary of 9/11 when the flag was displayed at all three locations that were attacked by radical Islamic terrorists. The tour will end in 2021, on the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

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On Thursday, the flag will be unfurled at 3:00 p.m. at Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile Fire-Rescue firefighters will assist.

You can read more about the tour and see photos from previous stops here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Byrne applauds Trump administration for rescinding WOTUS rule; Says Mobile Baykeeper ‘absolutely wrong’ about environmental threat

Last week, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule, which broadened the scope of “waters” protected by the Clean Water Act.

The rule faced numerous legal challenges and was decried by farmers as an overreach.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2020, applauded the Trump administration’s decision.

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“There was a power grab by the Obama administration,” Byrne said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “They wanted to take the traditional understanding about what is the water under the Clean Water Act that the EPA can regulate it and expand it to the point where if a farmer has two or three inches of standing water in their fields, all of a sudden the EPA tells them they can or can’t plant. That’s nonsense.”

“We actually had some legislation previously on it, but the Trump administration has just rescinded that rule,” he continued. “So we have gone back to a more common-sense understanding. I mean, a small pond in your yard is not something that should be regulated by the EPA. Some standing water in a big field is not something that should be regulated by the EPA.”

Byrne cited an AL(dot)com story quoting Mobile Baykeeper’s Casi Callaway decrying the move by the Trump administration and warning the impact that revoking the rule could have on the environment.

“Casi is a friend, but she is absolutely wrong about that,” Byrne remarked. “This is just a common-sense change going back to the way it has been for decades. It has worked fine for decades. I really appreciate the Trump administration making this change. And I understand why farmers and other people in other rural parts of Alabama felt so strongly about it.”

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

Celebrate the Seventh Amendment at Jefferson County Courthouse

The Alabama Association of Justice and their members invite all courthouse employees and judicial staff to celebrate 230 years of the Seventh Amendment guaranteeing the right to a civil jury trial.  Join the fun: Monday, September 23, 10:00 am to 10:30 am at the Jefferson County Courthouse, 716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N #251, Birmingham, AL.  For more information contact jsmith@alabamajustice.org.

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