The Wire

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

    Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

    Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

    Excerpt:

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

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

4 days ago

Guest: A threat to all Americans — the crucifixion of conscience

(Anthony Garand/Unsplash)

What is a conscience? It can be tough to use words to define something that we all know and in our hearts, understand. However, right now, here in the United States, it’s important that we talk about conscience.

Our conscience is the inner voice that tells us if something is right or wrong. It allows us to judge whether we should or should not do something or say something. It actually does more than allows us to decide right versus wrong, it compels us to do so for the good of ourselves and our community. For a person of faith, conscience is the product of their faith and religious practice.

Exercising our conscience and allowing it to guide our actions, both public and private, is an essential part of practicing and living our religion. As the compass that guides us it cannot, it must not, be subject to force and coercion. This is an absolute and is especially true if that force and coercion comes from the government. This absolute is so important that in 1993 by a unanimous vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and near-unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was passed and then signed into law by President Clinton.

The law “ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected” and that “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion…” Men and women who are guided by a conscience formed by deeply held religious beliefs and who stand firm against violating these beliefs have been protected by RFRA. However, more and more an aggressive, leftist, secular agenda seeks to force men and women of faith to act and speak in ways that directly contradict their conscience. With the recent passing of the Equality Act by the House of Representatives and with a president who is committed to a radical agenda, the threat to religious conscience and the free practice of religion has increased dramatically. This growing threat is a threat to all Americans.

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Freedom of conscience has been most at risk in the medical field. Doctors and nurses, pharmacists and therapists, have been protected from violating their deeply held beliefs of conscience. For many health care providers, directly or even indirectly participating in the ending of human life prior to natural death is in direct violation of their conscience, and respect for these conflicts of conscience has been the norm. It is wrong to force one of these caregivers to participate in the termination of a pregnancy or assist in a suicide.

Similarly, for doctors or nurses whose faith teaches that a person’s gender is not something that can be changed, forcing them to participate in so-called gender reassignment surgery and hormone manipulation would sacrifice their conscience. The Equality Act adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes to the Civil Rights Act. It also expressly forbids use of RFRA as a protection against violating your conscience and compromising your religious beliefs. If Democrats succeed in passing the Equality Act into law freedom of conscience protections regarding gender reassignment would be destroyed. The Equality Act also includes a ban on “pregnancy discrimination”. That sounds like a good thing until you realize that when the Equality Act says you cannot refuse a pregnant woman “treatment,” it includes pregnancy termination. Men and women of faith would be forced to participate; that’s the end of medical conscience protection. Faith-based hospitals would be forced to allow assisted suicide, termination and sex-change surgery.

The attack on our conscience is not limited to doctors, nurses and hospitals. All Americans are in danger. You, the American taxpayer, will also be forced to participate in sex-change surgeries: “gender reassignment” surgery for inmates in federal prisons and for transgender persons who receive health insurance through the Affordable Care Act will be paid for by your taxes. Adoption agencies that are guided by deeply held beliefs that children should be raised by a married couple that consists of a man and woman would be forced to comply and cater to same-sex couples or close. These attacks on faith-based adoption and foster care agencies have already begun and will increase; make no mistake, children who need adoption and foster care will be harmed.

Christian elementary and high schools that teach that people are either male or female, and that marriage consists of one of each would feel the heavy hand of a secular, wrathful government. Christian universities that teach the divine law of Genesis 1:27 and protect women’s sports by not permitting biological males to compete on women’s teams would lose federal student aid. A pastor’s counseling to a member of his congregation who is struggling with same-sex attraction or gender confusion could be considered hate speech if that counseling affirms time-honored Judeo-Christian understanding of gender and male/female sexual compatibility.

If you are not convinced that threats to religious conscience protections are coming right at you, your family and your community, then consider that the Equality Act, in its own words, applies to any establishment that provides a service “… including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services.” I suppose veterinary clinics are exempt, but who knows? Houses of worship are not specifically mentioned in the Equality Act. However, we should fully expect that it is only a matter of time before a suit is brought by a same-sex couple or a couple which includes a gender reassigned person who wants to be married in Mobile’s or Birmingham’s Catholic Cathedral, or on one of the Church of the Highlands’ campuses, or an Orthodox synagogue and is refused based on the beliefs, theology and precepts of that religious community. The gutting and destruction of religious conscience protection will give support to such legal action.

Discrimination based on race, gender or orientation is wrong. Our Republic fought a bloody civil war to end the ultimate form of discrimination, and we are better off for it. However, if discrimination is directed at religious practices and beliefs that have been held and adhered to for thousands of years it is just as wrong. The Equality Act is the single greatest threat to freedom of conscience and to the free practice of religion our nation has faced. It must be resisted. It must be defeated. It must be seen for what it is: a crucifixion of conscience.

Dr. Christine is a urologic surgeon practicing in Birmingham, AL

1 month ago

Rationing of health care: In single-payer systems the government decides who will suffer and die

(Pixabay)

It is common for liberals and other supporters of a total government takeover of America’s health care system to praise the effectiveness, lower expenditures and “fairness” of other countries’ health care delivery. Most often, they heap praise on Canada’s health care system and point to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service as models that we should not only emulate but import wholesale into the United States. “Medicare for All!” is the demand.

The question we must ask, as a state and as a country, is what is the true cost of Washington, D.C.-controlled and directed health care? The true cost of Medicare for All is the price paid not in dollars but longer wait times to be treated for routine and life-threatening conditions alike, underfunding of all medical facilities and medical training programs, and most concerningly government panels deciding who will and who will not receive lifesaving treatments. The truth that Democrats will not publicly admit is that single-payer, government-controlled health care systems ration care.

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The rationing of health care comes about in many ways. In Canada, providers of health care receive a strict, set number of dollars for a given year. These budgets are determined by government officials, and they lead directly to rationing of medical care by forcing providers to limit admissions to hospitals, limit the hours of public clinics, and disincentivizing Canadian doctors and nurses to see patients. To stay under budget, care is rationed; because of this rationing, Canadians face some of the longest wait times among industrialized nations. At any one time, more than 1 million Canadians are waiting for medical care. Recent data shows that, on average, the time from referral by a primary care doctor to treatment by a specialist is over 21 weeks. That’s more than five months. This five-month delay is on top of the time it takes to be seen by the primary care provider. Contrast that with the United States where about 80% of patients are treated within four weeks of referral.

Long wait times are also a reality in the United Kingdom, home of the other health care system political liberals would like us Americans to adopt. A recent report shows that about 250,000 Britons have been waiting more than six months for care, some waiting over nine months. Long wait times kill, especially when it is cancer that needs treating. Last year in England, nearly 25% of cancer patients did not start treatment within the time its healthcare system itself deems acceptable. Women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer have lower survival rates in the U.K. than in the United States.

In Canada and in England, the governments control cost by underinvesting in medically necessary equipment. CAT scanners, ultrasound machines, and MRI machines are few and far between when compared to the United States and averaged by population. The lack of adequate access to medical imaging in Canada and the U.K. has been shown to add weeks to already long wait times; the longer it takes to receive these tests the longer it takes to diagnose and treat a medical condition. Access to advanced medical technology saves lives and reduces suffering. In socialized medicine, the government chooses to ration this care.

A stark example of how government-rationed care can take the lives of its citizens has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Failure to adequately fund health care infrastructure in government-controlled systems has resulted in a shortage of ICU beds at a time when they have been most needed. In the United States, there are 35 ICU beds per 100,000 population. In Canada, there are 13.5 ICU beds per 100,000 — in the U.K., there are 6.5 per 100,000.

In the United Kingdom, over half of the men and women who have died of COVID-19 have been over the age of 80 years, but less than 3% of these patients received intensive care treatment because there were not enough ICU beds available. Lifesaving care was rationed to the elderly in the U.K. and Canada, and the elderly died. Along the same lines, Charlie Gard was an 11-month-old boy with a severe brain condition, and his British doctors felt care should be withdrawn. President Trump and Pope Francis offered to transport Charlie and render potentially lifesaving care, but even this was denied to him and to his parents. Government-controlled health care wielded its heavy hand and rationed care to this baby. His parents’ words are sobering: “Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn’t save you. We had the chance but we weren’t allowed to give you that chance. Sweet dreams baby. Sleep tight our beautiful little boy.”

Withholding life-saving care is routine in socialized, government-controlled and funded health care systems, but quality of life-improving care readily available to Americans is also rationed. Cataract surgery, an outpatient procedure that can and does prevent blindness is rationed in England. Government panels that decide which treatments will be funded and by how much, have decided that cataract surgery is of “limited clinical value” and have rationed this surgery. Preventing blindness would seem a worthy goal for a “fair” health care system, but when the government makes the decisions someone has to lose. If you need knee replacement or hip surgery be glad you do not live in Canada or the United Kingdom unless you want to suffer your pain longer than patients in the United States; wait times for surgery are significantly longer. But, if you are from outside these two countries, you can travel to Canada or the U.K., pay cash, jump right ahead of tax-paying Canadians and British and get your treatment while they hobble in long waiting lines.

Rationing of health care in systems where the government controls funding, distribution of care, and decides “who” receives “what” is an absolute reality. Canada’s and the United Kingdom’s health systems, far from being models that America should move towards, are warnings. We will not improve U.S. health care by adopting a socialized, single-payer system. Smart, free-market-driven reform is a better way forward. When the federal government increases its power over health care, rationing occurs; when rationing of health care occurs, all, especially the elderly and most vulnerable, pay the price. Democrats continue to aggressively push and legislate for a single-payer health care system in the United States controlled by Washington. Medicare for All plans before the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate will force single-payer care upon us; Joe Biden’s proposed expansion of a Public Option is simply a Trojan horse that carries the same goal, single-payer, socialized medicine for the United States. Call it what you want, Medicare for All or a Public Option, but recognize it for what it brings: rationed care where no one benefits.

Dr. Christine is a urologic surgeon practicing in Birmingham, AL