The Wire

  • Fairhope firefighter facing new child sex crime allegations

    Excerpt from WKRG:

    A volunteer Fairhope firefighter, already facing child sex crime charges in Northwest Florida, is now also facing charges in Baldwin County

    Aaron Timony Green — seen smiling in his latest booking photo — was booked into the Baldwin County Corrections Center Tuesday morning on charges of child sex abuse and sodomy.

    According to Daphne Police, Green was arrested Monday, and the alleged abuse happened in November 2017.

    Police say the alleged victim was under 12.

  • Birmingham council passes $436 million budget

    Excerpt from AL.com:

    The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the $436 million fiscal year 2019 operating budget.

    The budget is $8 million larger than last year’s budget, due to increased revenue from use and occupational taxes. According to the mayor’s office, 133 vacant jobs were cut from the budget, saving the city $4.7 million.

    Despite the larger budget, Mayor Randall Woodfin said there still wasn’t enough money for street paving or additional funding for Birmingham City Schools.

  • Martha Roby Honors Montgomery Native in 10th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game Tomorrow

    Excerpt from a Rep. Martha Roby news release:

    U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) will play in the 10th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game tomorrow, June 20, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

    This beloved tradition began in 2009 after Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was diagnosed with breast cancer. Each year, female members of Congress face members of the Washington, D.C., press corps to raise funds and awareness for the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), an organization that addresses a variety of issues unique to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Each year, the players honor real women who are battling cancer. This year, Representative Roby will be playing for Courtney Pruitt, a Montgomery native and recent Alabama Christian Academy graduate who is currently undergoing intense treatment to fight leukemia. Courtney is the daughter of Representative Roby’s dear friend and Montgomery City Councilman Glen Pruitt.

    “This year marks the tenth consecutive year female members from both sides of the aisle have come together for the Congressional Women’s Softball Game to support young women battling cancer,” Representative Roby said. “I’m proud to be involved in this great event again this year, and I truly believe it demonstrates what we can accomplish when we put our differences aside to rally for a worthy cause. I am honored to play for my dear friend’s daughter Courtney as she continues to courageously battle this disease.”

2 years ago

Dozens of Alabama HS football players became Christians after hearing this man’s story

Inky Johnson speaks at First Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo: Facebook)

The morning of Sept. 9, 2006, Inky Johnson was a sure-fire first round NFL draft pick playing safety for the University of Tennessee. By the time that same day was coming to a close, he had stepped on the football field as a player for the last time, and he was fighting for his life.

During Tennessee’s matchup against Air Force, Johnson made a seemingly routine tackle that changed his path forever. The collision caused nerve damage in his right shoulder and seriously damaged his blood vessels.

But while his football career was over — along with his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL — Inky didn’t quit on life.

“You know why people quit? People don’t have pride in what they do,” he says now. “You know why people stop? They’re selfish and it’s just about them. But when you have a bigger purpose to why you’re doing what you’re doing, and you want to honor the sacrifices that others have made for you, it’s nothing to keep going when you hit adversity. If every decision and choice that you make is just about you, at a certain point you’re going to hit something that’ s a lot tougher than you and it’s going to make you quit, because you don’t have a driving force for why you do what you do.”

Inky’s driving force today is inspiring everyone with whom he comes in contact, and on nights like this past weekend in Montgomery, it’s all about leading young people to have a relationship Jesus.

Inky was the keynote speaker at First Baptist Church of Montgomery’s “Team Night.”

“Bring your team and wear your jersey or favorite school colors for this free, back-to-school event featuring a powerful testimony by Inky Johnson,” the church said in promotion of the event.

Multiple high school teams participated in the event, each showing up wearing their colors.

Christian Smitherman, a Montgomery-based video producer, captured what happened next.

“God told me to take my camera,” said Smitherman. “I didn’t know why, but now I do”

At the conclusion of Inky’s testimony, players from every school flocked to the front of the sanctuary to respond — so many, in fact, that the entire front of the large auditorium was completely full. It was the culmination of what one of the event’s organizers said was three years of prayer.

“All the glory to God,” Inky said after the service. “I’m just honored to play a small part in something so great. Because you know it had nothing to do with me. It was all God. I’m just honored to be here to witness it.”

For a glimpse of what happened in Montgomery, check out #Grow334’s video above.

And for a taste of Inky’s incredible ability as a motivational speaker, check out the video below.

1
2 years ago

While Kaepernick takes a knee, former Bama star helps military hold flag during Anthem

Former University of Alabama star and current San Francisco 49ers star helps military hold flag during the National Anthem. (Photo: Twitter/Lindsey Thiry)
Former University of Alabama star and current San Francisco 49ers star helps military hold flag during the National Anthem. (Photo: Twitter/Lindsey Thiry)
Former University of Alabama star and current San Francisco 49er Quinton Dial helps military hold flag during the National Anthem. (Photo: Twitter/Lindsey Thiry)

While San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick continued his protest of the American flag by kneeling during the National Anthem on Monday night, his teammate and former University of Alabama star Quinton Dial stood shoulder to shoulder with members of the armed forces and helped to hold a giant American flag while the Anthem played.

Dial is a native of Andalusia, Alabama and played his high school ball for Clay-Chalkville in Pinson. His first two years in college he played at East Mississippi Community College, now the subject of the popular Netflix series “Last Chance U,” before playing his final two years at the University of Alabama.

Dial finished his career at UA with 46 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two National Championships. His most famous moment in Crimson came when Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray threw an interception and then forget the sage advice passed down from generation to generation of football players: keep your head on a swivel.

murray-dial

 

Dial was selected by the 49ers in the 2013 NFL draft, and earlier this year signed a three-year contract extension. On Monday night, members of the national media quickly took note of Dial’s decision to help hold the flag prior to the 49ers game against the Los Angeles Rams.

“While Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid take a knee,” tweeted NFL network reporter Andrew Siciliano, “Quinton Dial does his part and helps hold the flag.”

“49ers defensive lineman Quinton Dial joined military members holding the flag for the anthem,” added Lindsey Thiry of the L.A. Times.

Both tweets quickly spread online.

1
2 years ago

Controversial gay conservative banned from Twitter to speak at University of Alabama

Milo Yiannopoulos is seen in this photo posted on his official Facebook page, July 14, 2016.


(Video above: Milo Yiannopoulos contends that “black lives don’t matter to Black Lives Matter.”)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Milo Yiannopoulos, the senior editor of Breitbart News who was permanently banned from Twitter for “participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals,” will deliver remarks to students at the University of Alabama October 12th in support of free speech.

Yiannopoulos, an openly gay conservative provocateur who has dubbed himself “the supervillain of the internet,” has called his Twitter ban “cowardly,” and continues to gain notoriety online for his aggressive style of journalism and commentary.

“Twitter is holding me responsible for the actions of fans and trolls using the special pretzel logic of the left,” he said. “Like all acts of the totalitarian regressive left, this will blow up in their faces, netting me more adoring fans. We’re winning the culture war, and Twitter just shot themselves in the foot. This is the end for Twitter. Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message: you’re not welcome on Twitter.”

Yiannopoulos’s speaking tour, which will hit 26 college campuses beginning today, is named “The Dangerous Faggot Tour.”

When the tour stopped in at DePaul University earlier this year, two Black Lives Matter activists “stormed the stage, forcibly seized the microphone, and threatened to assault” Yiannopoulos, according to Breitbart News. He was later banned from ever returning to the campus. At Rutgers University, feminists and Black Lives Matter supporters “smeared themselves with fake blood and tried to shut down the event in protest.”

A video (see below) promoting the upcoming fall tour is titled “The Faggot Returns” and features clips from the incidents mentioned above.

Yiannopoulos’s impending visit to Tuscaloosa comes at a time when a national debate is raging over freedom of speech on college campuses.

Some universities have saw fit to create “safe spaces” where students can be protected from “micro aggressions” and have also encouraged professors and speakers to issue “trigger warnings” to students before discussing controversial topics.

The University of Chicago’s dean of students recently made headlines by sending a letter to every member of their incoming freshman class blasting the culture of political correctness that he believes is spreading.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” John Ellison, dean of students, wrote.

An Auburn University professor even used his fall semester syllabus to poke fun at trigger warnings.

“TRIGGER WARNING,” Prof. Peter Schwartz wrote in bold red letters atop his fall semester syllabus, before alerting his students that they should expect his class to include “physics, trigonometry, sine, cosine, tangent, vector, force, work, energy, stress, quiz, grade.”

Prof. Schwartz later told Yellowhammer he believes “this PC business is making American universities, and their faculties and administrators, the laughingstocks of Western Civilization. But, since the proponents of this stuff think Western Civ is corrupt anyhow, they don’t seem to notice that the rest of the world thinks they’re fools.”

Yiannopoulos promises to push the limits of even the most ardent free speech supporters.

For more information on his visit to Alabama, visit his Eventbrite page.

1
2 years ago

Alabama Medal of Honor recipient endorses Trump. Here’s his legendary story.

Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins participating in a press conference just after receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House, Sept. 15, 2014. (Photo: Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)
Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins participating in a press conference just after receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House, Sept. 15, 2014. (Photo: Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)

NEW YORK — Fourteen Medal of Honor recipients endorsed Donald J. Trump for president on Monday, the campaign announced, including Alabama’s own US Army Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Bennie Adkins.

“It is a tremendous honor to have the support of these fourteen heroes who bravely fought to defend America and rid the world of tyranny,” said Mr. Trump. “These soldiers are the personification of courage under fire; they are the best of us all. Their honorable service to our country is an inspiration to every one of us and is a reminder that America has been the world’s most indispensable nation because of the great character of our people. I thank each of these Medal of Honor recipients for their faith in me to serve as our next president and commander-in-chief.”

In 1966, 32-year-old Sergeant First Class Bennie G. Adkins of the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group was already being recognized for his exemplary service during his second tour of combat. On March 9 of that year, a large North Vietnamese and Viet Cong force attacked his camp.

Over the next 48 hours, Adkins went from being a well-known and highly respected leader in his unit, to the kind of soldier that generations of U.S. Army Special Forces talk about any time that stories of extreme valor come up in conversation.

According to an official citation, “During the thirty-eight hour battle and forty-eight hours of escape and evasion, fighting with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades, it was estimated that Adkins killed between 135 and 175 of the enemy while sustaining eighteen different wounds to his body.” (Read the full, incredible story here)

On Sept. 15, 2014, Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins was awarded the Medal of Honor, almost half a century after returning from the jungles of Vietnam to the political and social upheaval of late 1960s America.

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins in a ceremony at the White House Sept. 15, 2014 (Photo: Cliff Sims)
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins in a ceremony at the White House Sept. 15, 2014 (Photo: Cliff Sims)

Medal of Honor recommendations usually must be made within two years of the act of heroism and must be presented within three years.

So why did it take so long for Adkins to be recognized?

“In 2009 Command Sergeant Major Adkins’ family contacted my office and told us that they were going to try to get this wrong righted,” U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL3), Adkins’ Congressman, told Yellowhammer.

From that moment forward, Rogers made it his personal mission to make sure Adkins received the honor he was due.

Rogers immediately moved for there to be a review of Adkins’ records. Fortunately, all of the documentation the Army compiled after Adkins’ heroic efforts — including first-hand accounts from American soldiers who are still alive — had been preserved by the Pentagon.

According to the documentation, Mr. Adkins was nominated for the Medal of Honor shortly after the battle by his chain of command. In doing that, his commanding officer, who was in the battle with him, wrote a five-page narrative detailing what had happened. The Army then took statements from every soldier who was with him and documented all of the communications that took place during the battle.

But as the recommendation worked its way up the chain of command to the general officer level, they inexplicably decided Adkins’ actions merited the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military honor, rather than the Medal of Honor.

When Congressman Rogers’ office started pushing for the Army to revisit Adkins’ story, there was a treasure trove of original battlefield information still intact.

“You’ve got to get the documentation that supports the review,” Rogers said, explaining the process. “Then the Secretary of Defense has to review it and decide that he would like to see it recommended to the president. After that happened, we had to go back and get an exception to the law, which says that the Medal of Honor must be awarded within three years of the event. So we had to get Congress to pass a law to say this deserves an exception.”

Rogers lobbied his colleagues incessantly.

“There was a lot of resistance, surprisingly,” he said. “But one thing that really helped was that Secretary (of Defense) Hagel was asking for this. He had reviewed it and felt like it was an injustice that needed to be remedied. It finally got passed, but it took several months.”

In addition to lobbying Congress, Rogers also had to make his case to the White House, who would not normally be receptive to the requests of a Republican congressman from Alabama.

“We spent several months pestering the president’s office,” Rogers laughed. “Fortunately they did the right thing.”

“Sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the fog of war or the passage of time,” President Obama said. “When new evidence comes to light, certain actions can be reconsidered for this honor, and it is entirely right and proper that we have done so.”

As for the reason why Adkins and other deserving soldiers were not properly honored initially upon their return, Rogers said he was not exactly sure, but believes it could have been a combination of the post-war political climate, as well as prejudice.

“There were clearly some prejudices involved when you look at who was and wasn’t recognized after Vietnam,” he said. “Some folks were of a different race, some folks were a certain religion, and some folks were from the South. So there was some of that involved. It may have been because Bennie was a southern boy. You never know.”

In September of 2014, in the East Room of the White House, all of the efforts of Adkins’ family and Rogers’ office came to fruition. Four of the five living men whose lives were saved by Adkins between March 9 and March 12, 1966 joined him at the White House in a scene that had been a half-century in the making.

Adkins, who is now 82-years-old and walks with a cane, rose unassisted and stood at attention as the President of the United States bestowed upon him his nation’s highest military honor. Adkins’ chin quivered ever so slightly as President Obama placed the medal around his neck. His wife of 59 years, Mary, beamed with pride on the front row, smiling as she wiped tears from her eyes.

Adkins snapped off a perfectly formed salute to the crowd before exiting the stage.

“This Medal of Honor belongs to the other 16 Special Forces soldiers with me,” he would later say with genuine humility.

And as the Army Chaplain led the audience in a closing prayer, Bennie G. Adkins of Opelika, Ala., stood once more to honor the One who had always been with him, from the jungles of Vietnam to the East Room of the White House and everywhere in between.

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins in a ceremony at the White House Sept. 15, 2014 (Photo: Cliff Sims)
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins in a ceremony at the White House Sept. 15, 2014 (Photo: Cliff Sims)
1
2 years ago

Alabama congressman on Clinton’s health: ‘If lying were a disease, she’d be terminal’

Republican Gary Palmer speaks during the Alabama 6th Congressional District debate at Regions Field Thursday, June 19, 2014. (Photo: JeffCO GOP)
Republican Gary Palmer speaks during the Alabama 6th Congressional District debate at Regions Field Thursday, June 19, 2014. (Photo: JeffCO GOP)

WASHINGTON — Alabama congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL6) on Monday expressed “serious doubts” about the Clinton campaign’s truthfulness regarding the former secretary of state’s health.

During a 9/11 memorial service on Sunday, Mrs. Clinton felt ill and was escorted out of the event by the Secret Service. However, before she could step into her van, her knees buckled and she appeared to faint as she was drug into the van by her security detail.

After refusing to allow members of her traveling press corp to leave with her, Mrs. Clinton re-emerged hours later, briefly waving to a crowd outside of her daughter’s apartment and saying she felt “great.”

The campaign ultimately claimed she had been diagnosed with pneumonia. Rep. Palmer isn’t so sure.

“I’ve got serious doubts as to whether or not it’s pneumonia,” he said on Birmingham’s Talk 99.5. “But I can’t say. I mean, if it, in my opinion, just my observation, if it were pneumonia, I would’ve thought they would’ve come out and said that very early on. You know, she’s disappeared for a few days and if I’d been her adviser, I would’ve said, ‘You need to get out there and let people know what’s wrong with you, get treatment, get a few days’ rest, get back on your feet.’”

Rep. Palmer also referenced Mrs. Clinton’s recent coughing fits, which he does not believe have been fully explained.

“They’ve tried to attribute the cough to bronchitis, they’ve tried to attribute it to pneumonia, but I sat in the Benghazi hearing for three hours,” Palmer said. “And she sat there and coughed her way through that. You know, again, you just look at the pattern and it just begs the question, are we being lied to again?”

Rep. Palmer said he hopes Mrs. Clinton will make a speedy recover, but continued to express skepticism about her campaign’s transparency.

“We need to separate our political views from the woman’s health,” he said. “I think it’s pretty serious. Whatever it is, it’s pretty serious. I don’t wish her ill. I want her to lose the election obviously, but I think we need to be careful, but I do think there is a tremendous amount of disinformation out there. I think we were being lied to. And in some respects, if lying were a disease, she’d be terminal.”

(h/t Buzzfeed)

1
2 years ago

DEMORALIZED: Alabama doctors are spending two-thirds of their time doing paperwork

(Connor Tarter)
A new study shows doctors are spending as much as two-thirds of their time doing paperwork. (Photo: Connor Tarter)
A new study shows doctors are spending as much as two-thirds of their time doing paperwork. (Photo: Connor Tarter)

Medical students push through a seemingly never-ending wave of classes in anatomy, biology, immunology, biochemistry and more, in hopes of graduating and having an opportunity to help people. But according to a new report, if medical school was more like the actual job of being a physician, students would be taking classes like “Advanced Form-filling,” “Intro to Government Mandates,” and “Patience 101,” in hopes of being able to endure the daily grind that includes very little time with patients.

A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that “for every hour physicians were seeing patients, they were spending nearly two additional hours on paperwork.” The same study in 2005 found that paperwork only consumed one-third of a physician’s time. So, in short, the amount of time it takes for doctors to complete all of their required paperwork has basically doubled in the time President Obama has been in office.

Forbes compared it to “telling LeBron James to spend the majority of his time manning the Cleveland Cavaliers ticket windows and phone lines.”

So where is all of this paperwork coming from?

First of all, according to Forbes, “administrators, lawyers, insurance companies, etc.,” are all asking for an increasing amount of paperwork to meet their own more stringent requirements–most of which come from the government. Secondly, “doctors are not designing much of the paperwork. Therefore, whoever is designing and requiring the paperwork has little clue on how to make doctors’ lives easier.” And third, “many doctors are not getting any help to do the paperwork. Hospitals and clinics do not seem to be investing in clerical and administrative support for doctors.”

Dr. Beverly Jordan, a family doctor based in Enterprise, Alabama, told Yellowhammer that increased filing requirements mandated by The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ObamaCare) of 2010 are crushing doctors under an avalanche of paperwork.

“These government regulations create tons of paperwork for minimal purpose, when a quick note would provide the same info,” she explained. “The regulations were not written to make sure Electronic Medical Records would ‘talk to each other,’ so tons of time is spent searching for data that should be easy to find, which is the single most clinically useful part of having Electronic Medical Records to begin with.

“As a younger physician, I don’t remember the days when a quick one-line note would suffice, but I do remember when a half page was just fine,” she continued. “Now my average daily note on a patient is five pages, and I am no exception to the rule.”

The increasing paperwork burden on physicians is have a significant impact on their business.

“Anybody with a drop of business sense would be appalled at the redundancy and chaos of the paperwork physicians deal with,” said Dr. Jordan. “I have three staff members who do nothing but fill out forms, but most of it is mandated for the physician to complete, eliminating any chance for help. So I still spend easily two-thirds of my day completing paperwork.”

Even worse, evidence suggests that some physicians are becoming so disillusioned with the reporting requirements — particularly the Electronic Medical Records mandates — that they are leaving the field all together. A column in the Washington Post last year titled “Why doctors quit” accused the reporting mandates of “degrading medicine,” not so much because of the financial hit doctors have taken, but because the job itself has become that of a glorified clerical secretary.

“At this point there is way too much meaningless government regulation in healthcare that does nothing but get in between me and my patient,” Dr. Jordan said. “It does not provide for safer care, more cost effective care, or more efficient care. It does exactly the opposite.

“All of this paperwork takes time away from my patients and family,” she concluded.

Dr. Jordan probably could have gone into even more detail, but she needed to get some rest before getting up at 5 a.m. the following morning for — surprise, surprise — a training session on “the latest method of completing a certain paperwork in my office.”

“Then I’ll start seeing patients after that.”

1
2 years ago

‘Treason!’ Alabama Rep. unloads after court blocks proof-of-citizenship voting requirement

Alabama State Rep. Jim Patterson (R-Meridianville)
Alabama State Rep. Jim Patterson (R-Meridianville)
Alabama State Rep. Jim Patterson (R-Meridianville)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal appeals court has ruled that would-be voters in Alabama will not be required to show proof of U.S. citizenship when using a federal voter registration form. Upon hearing news of the ruling, one state lawmaker had some harsh words for the judges responsible for the decision.

“The two judges that overruled the states should be arrested for treason!” State Rep. Jim Patterson exclaimed in a Facebook post. “They have no clue about the Constitution! This is not about voter rights, it’s about people voting that are not qualified!”

The legal battle over whether would-be voters should be required to show proof of citizenship began when Brian D. Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, granted a request to update the federal voter registration form to include the state’s new photo voter ID requirement.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon denied the first legal challenge to the change, but on Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overruled him, granting a preliminary injunction against the proof-of-citizenship requirement because it could cause “irreparable harm” to some would-be voters trying to register prior to the upcoming presidential election.

The Washington Post called the decision a “victory for civil rights groups, Democratic lawyers and the Obama administration” in “their ongoing battle with conservative lawyers and Republican lawmakers over who will be eligible to vote in this year’s presidential contest.”

Rep. Patterson accused opponents of the proof-of-citizenship and voter ID requirements of trying to “steal elections.”

“It’s time for a convention of the states to bring back our Constitution,” he concluded.

RELATED: Scalia’s successor on Supreme Court could decide whether Alabama’s voter ID law survives

In spite of the proof-of-citizenship ruling, Alabama’s photo voter ID law remains in effect, although Democrats across the country continue decrying it as “racist” and “hateful”.

In an October 2015 visit to Hoover, Hillary Clinton slammed Alabama Republicans for requiring proof of citizenship to vote and for shuttering driver’s license offices in the wake of state budget cuts. The Democratic presidential nominee insisted that both issues were examples of Republicans trying to return Alabama to its Jim Crow past.

RELATED: Bentley and Clinton spar over whether Alabama Republicans are racists

“We have to defend the most fundamental right in our democracy, the right to vote,” she said. “No one in this state, no one, should ever forget the history that enabled generations of people left out and left behind to finally be able to vote.”

Before that, Vice President Joe Biden chided supporters of voter ID laws in light of liberal defeat in the Supreme Court case of Shelby County v. Holder which stemmed from a legal challenge in Alabama. “These guys never go away,” Biden said. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

RELATED: Biden: There’s ‘hatred’ behind Alabama’s photo voter ID law

Since 2008, Republican-controlled legislatures in 17 states have adopted new voting-related laws. Among those are Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, which passed laws requiring a photo ID to vote. (h/t The Daily Beast)

Conservatives have long argued it is reasonable to require photo voter ID in order to protect the sanctity of elections, particularly because photo ID is also required for any number of other activities, from buying alcohol and opening a bank account, to getting on an airplane and renting a car.

But several lower courts have in recent months agreed with Democrats’ assertion that such laws are discriminatory.

There are currently at least 10 different types of ID that are acceptable to use at the polls (including a driver’s license) and the Secretary of State’s office also offers free Alabama photo voter ID cards and free non-driver IDs for purposes of voting.

1
2 years ago

Team sings National Anthem themselves after finding out it wouldn’t be played before game

The Lapeer High School freshman football team sings the National Anthem. (Photo: Michelle Byrnes)
The Lapeer High School freshman football team sings the National Anthem. (Photo: Michelle Byrnes)
The Lapeer High School freshman football team sings the National Anthem. (Photo: Michelle Byrnes)

The Lapeer High School freshman football team is off to a fast start this year, going 3-0 with an average margin if victory just shy of 30 points. But the team’s best showing of the year may have come off the field — or at least outside the lines.

Prior to their second game of the year, in which they ultimately blew out Carman-Ainsworth High School’s freshman squad 34-7, the teams were informed that the National Anthem would not be played before the game.

While it’s unclear if the decision was a technical snafu or a purposeful snub, it came at a time when a national debate was raging over the Anthem and flag. Perhaps most notably, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem in protest of what he described as unjust treatment of minorities in the United States. Other players have joined in the protest since then.

RELATED: Liberals using Kaepernick protest as ‘flash point’ to eradicate ‘racist’ National Anthem

So how did the Lapeer Lightning respond to the news that the National Anthem would not be played?

They lined up, faced the flag, placed their hands over their hearts, and sang the Anthem themselves — a cappella.

Here’s how one of the player’s mom described the scene in a Facebook post that is spreading quickly on social media:

Amazing class demonstrated by Lapeer Lightning Freshmen football team!!! After we were told per the Carman-Ainsworth announcer they won’t be playing the pre-game national anthem, our team stood proud, saluted the flag and sung it themselves, our crowd stood with them for every note! Very proud to be a Lightning Mom tonight!!

1
2 years ago

NEVER FORGET: Alabama leaders recall where they were on 9/11/2001

9.11 slider

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, I was sitting in my high school U.S. government class when a school administrator burst through the classroom door, startling everyone and imploring the teacher to turn on the television immediately. “Everyone pay attention,” she said. “You’ll never forget this.”

She had no idea how right she’d be.

From Saddam’s ouster to the 9/11 attack in Benghazi; from the Patriot Act to the NSA scandal; from “The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon” to “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda” — every significant crisis or achievement my generation has experienced has been viewed through the lens of 9/11.

Everyone has their own personal 9/11 story. We reached out to some of Alabama’s leaders to hear theirs.

 

Sen. Richard Shelby

 

I was walking into my office Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, when I learned that the first tower had been hit. Right away I remember thinking that it was no accident. A few minutes later, the second tower was hit. We had to evacuate the Senate office buildings immediately. They were concerned that the Capitol would be the next target. We learned after the second tower was attacked that they had also crashed into the Pentagon. Then I knew this was a serious, coordinated attack. At that time, I was Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, so I was getting all types of calls from various national security officials that morning.

It was a very sad, sobering day. I knew it was the beginning of a lot more to come. [Fifteen] years later, we’ve come a long way in our fight against terrorism, but it isn’t over. I am always concerned about another attack. We must remain vigilant.

 

Sen. Jeff Sessions

 

None of us will ever forget where we were on that day the world changed forever. I was at the Supreme Court when the Pentagon was hit. The Chief Justice received notes from staff and reluctantly, it appeared, adjourned the meeting. I walked back to my office with the Capitol building to my left. Aircraft were flying over the Capitol. Soon the Senate office buildings were evacuated.

It was one of America’s darkest hours. But in the depths of that darkness we witnessed the strength and resolve of a nation that refused to yield or bend in the face of terror.

 

Rep. Martha Roby

 

I remember turning on the television and seeing the horror unfold. I went to college in New York (NYU), and what I saw on television was just too real. I had friends who still lived in the city who I immediately called to make sure they were safe.

But I also remember how the American people responded with unity and determination to defend this land, and defend one another. How we were truly one people rallying around each other and not letting our differences get in the way of what we had to do. [Fifteen] years and two wars later, we are a weary, divided nation. But I hope one day soon we can get back to that uniquely American spirit of unity and togetherness that throughout history has helped make us the exceptional nation.

 

Sen. Luther Strange

 

I will never forget the morning of September 11, 2001. I was in Washington in a meeting on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol. The Pentagon had just been hit when I joined the evacuation of the city.

 

State Sen. Clay Scofield

 

I had just begun my junior year at Auburn University when 9/11 happened. I got in my truck after class and heard that a plane had hit one of the twin towers in New York. I rushed home and turned on the television just before the second plane hit. I couldn’t believe it.

What I remember most about that day was when the first tower collapsed and Dan Rather couldn’t say a word, he just sat in silence. I think that’s how every American felt at that exact moment — utterly speechless. I personally was in disbelief that this was happening. I still remember the instant deep sadness that I felt for the victims and their families and the intense anger that I felt toward whoever had carried out that horrendous act on my fellow Americans. Over the next few days I remember being very proud of the intense patriotism that my fellow students showed and the resolve that they had in their hearts for justice.

 

State Sen. Cam Ward

 

I was flying on a US Air Flight into Washington DC during the entire attack. We were escorted by fighter jets to Parkersberg, WV. We landed and I could hear all of the cell phones in the overhead compartment start beeping with messages from our families back home. We had no idea what had happened until the captain came back in the cabin to tell us terrorists had attacked the US and we were grounded. I ended up finding one of two rental cars in the airport and driving back to Alabaster that night.

1
2 years ago

WEEK 2: Comprehensive college football TV guide

Consider this our weekly public service.

For a printable PDF version, click-here. Pro tip: Save the image below to your phone for quick and easy access all day.

(Note: All times are Central)

week-2-college-football-schedule

1
2 years ago

Alabama in the running for ‘the military’s most cutting-edge war machine’

F-35 Lightning II (Photo: Lockheed Martin)
F-35 Lightning II (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

WASHINGTON — The United States Air Force is currently discussing where to assign the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and one Alabama congressman is touting the 187th Fighter Wing at Alabama’s Dannelly Field is an ideal home.

“The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the Air Force’s long-anticipated stealth fighter that will eventually replace many Cold War-era aircraft, including the F-16 Falcons currently flown by the 187th,” explained Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2). “The F-35’s next-generation capabilities will give American fighter pilots unquestioned supremacy in air combat situations anywhere on the globe. Air Force officials recently announced that the F-35A was initially capable of combat operations, meaning it can now be deployed to theaters of battle if needed.”

Roby had breakfast with Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein at an Air Force Caucus meeting in Washington earlier this week and took the opportunity to make the case for her home state.

“I believe the 187th Fighter Wing is a great candidate for the F-35 program,” said Roby. “This is the military’s most cutting-edge war machine, so certainly the Air Force has a lot of specifications. As the selection process continues, I am eager to help make the case for why the 187th at Dannelly could be an ideal fit.”

Among the reasons Dannelly is a perfect home for the F-35, Roby said, are its “impressive combat track record in recent conflicts and a uniquely proud history as the legacy unit of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.” The unit’s aircraft still fly with special red markings to carry on the proud tradition of the “Red Tails” from World War II.

“The 187th Fighter Wing has served with distinction during numerous deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Roby. “Most recently, the unit became the first Air National Guard wing to conduct a stand-alone six-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I was fortunate enough to see the 187th in-theater during one of my trips to Afghanistan, and I can tell you that their reputation in military circles is sterling. It is difficult to describe the sense of pride I felt seeing the distinctive ‘Red Tails’ on the tarmac in Afghanistan and knowing this special Alabama unit was engaged in critical military missions.”

Eighteen Air National Guard units nationwide currently under consideration to field the new F-35 aircraft. That list is expected to be culled to just six next week, and two National Guard units will ultimately be selected later this year.

“Fielding state-of-the-art F-35 aircraft would no doubt be a feather in the cap for the 187th Fighter Wing, the Montgomery area and our state as a whole,” Roby concluded. “As the Air Force moves through its evaluation and selection process, I will continue to advocate for the 187th, and I appreciate the support and partnership of my fellow Alabama Congressional Delegation colleagues in this effort.”

1
2 years ago

Federal audit alleges Alabama owes DHS $100M+ for Medicaid mismanagement

File photo of former Gov. Robert Bentley (Photo: Jamie Martin)
Governor Robert Bentley takes questions from reporters. (Photo: Governor's Office, Jamie Martin)
Governor Robert Bentley takes questions from reporters. (Photo: Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Federal audits of Alabama’s Medicaid Agency assert the state overcharged the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHS) to the tune of roughly $100 million and must repay the funds, a revelation that some state government officials believe threatens to plunge the state’s already-strained Medicaid Agency into deeper financial straits.

The Bentley administration contests some of the findings in the Federal audit reports, but Gov. Robert Bentley concedes the state will at some point have to repay a large sum of money to DHS.

“We have owed money back to Medicaid since 2004, 2005,” Gov. Bentley told reporters. “It may be as much as $150 million or $200 million that we owe. And yes, we are going to have to pay it back.”

The governor said he plans to negotiate with the Feds in an effort to reduce the total amount owed.

“Part of the money we’re going to have to pay back, we’re not going to have any choice,” he concluded.

Alabama’s Medicaid funding shortfall, roughly $85 million in the coming Fiscal Year, was the primary reason the governor called lawmakers into a Special Legislative Session. After failing to pass a lottery proposal, the legislature turned to BP Oil Spill settlement money as a last resort, sparking a fierce debate over diverting the money away from coastal communities that were hardest hit by the oil spill.

Earlier this week, legislators passed a compromise plan to use the BP money to pay down $400 million in debt, send $120 million to Medicaid to cover the agency’s budget shortfall, and funnel $120 million to south Alabama to fund road projects in areas hardest hit by the BP Oil Spill.

But State Auditor Jim Zeigler, a frequent Bentley critic and south Alabama resident, warned his coastal area constituents that the latest revelations about Medicaid’s mistakes could threaten to derail the road projects before they even get started.

“I found out about this on the final day of the Special Session,” said Zeigler, whose office is not tasked with auditing the Medicaid program. “$101 million of the $120 million that should have come to Baldwin and Mobile County is going to go to Washington to repay the Feds for accounting irregularities and mistakes made in the past five years of the Bentley administration. So our BP Oil Spill money is going to Washington to make up for mistakes.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Bentley told Yellowhammer Friday morning that Mr. Zeigler’s assertion is not true.

“This is a payment that will likely come in the future,” said Bentley communications director Yasamie August. “But it will not impact the BP money.”

August also reiterated Gov. Bentley’s comment that the state will negotiate with the federal government over certain points in the audit and that whatever repayment the state has to make will not happen in the near term.

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has not yet requested payment from the state,” she said. “The state Medicaid Agency will have an opportunity to negotiate and dispute some of the findings.”

A spokesperson for the State Medicaid Agency told the Anniston Star “vigorously” contest the Federal audit’s findings.

1
2 years ago

Taylor Swift stuns grieving family of Alabama student killed in crash: ‘I am thinking of you’

(Photo screen captured from Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" Music Video)
(Photo screen captured from Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" Music Video)
(Photo screen captured from Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” Music Video)

Katie Beth Carter, a freshman at Jacksonville State University, was tragically killed in a car crash earlier this week as she made her way back to school after spending Labor Day weekend with her family in Ringgold, Georgia.

Katie Beth was a Marching Ballerina in Jacksonville State’s band and had just performed at her first JSU football game against the University of North Alabama. Band director Ken Bodiford recalled that she was “beaming with pride as she came off of the field.”

Mr. Bodiford was among the first to find out that she had died after a crash with a semi on an Alabama highway.

“There are no words to describe the pain that we all feel or the sadness we share with her family,” he said. “Our Southerners family was blessed to have her in our midst and we will think of her as we enter the field for every performance.”

A GoFundMe page was set up in Katie Beth’s honor to help her family “cover medical expenses and the cost of her arrangements.”

Donations began pouring in for a young girl who had clearly had a profound impact on the people with whom she came in contact.

“Katie Beth Carter was loved by all who knew her,” wrote one of her friends. “She was a shining star who touched so many lives. She was one of the most beautiful souls among us.”

Hundreds of people made donations, ranging from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars.

And then suddenly a $5,000 donation came in.

The name attached to it: Taylor Swift.

“Kimi, no words could express how sorry I am for your loss,” the pop megastar wrote to Katie Beth’s sister. “I know that you will keep Katie’s memory alive. Please know how much I am thinking of you and saying a prayer for your family. All my love, Taylor.”

The family was stunned, as they had no personal connection to Swift, although they were fans of her music.

Kimi Carter, an aspiring songwriter, first read the message while standing in her sister’s visitation.

“THIS THIS THIS MEANS MORE THAN ANYONE CAN KNOW,” she wrote in all caps on her Twitter. “AT MY SISTERS VISITATION & HAD TO WALK OUT BC WOWOW.”

“Oh my word,” she added later on her Facebook. “I am speechless. My role model just made my sad, sad heart so, so joyful.”

Swift is known to surprise her fans occasionally by commenting on their social media posts, making them care packages or sending them Christmas presents.

This time she delivered a gift the Carter family won’t ever forget.

1
2 years ago

Alabama congressman to Speaker Paul Ryan: Bring Fair Tax to a vote

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL5) speaking on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. (Photo: Screenshot)


(Video above: Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL5) speaks in favor of the Fair Tax)

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL5) on Thursday urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring a “Fair Tax” bill to the floor of the House for a vote. His remarks can be viewed in the video above, or read in the transcript below:

“Mr. Speaker, America’s tax code is so complex as to border on impossible for any one person to understand.

According to the National Taxpayers Union, in 2016, American taxpayers suffered an economic loss of $234 billion from the 1.9 billion hours of time spent trying to figure out and pay their taxes. [source]

Making matters worse, from 1986, when President Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act into law, to today, the tax code has grown from 30,000 to 70,000 pages – more than doubling in size. [source]

Further, the corporate tax rate has skyrocketed to 39.1%, easily claiming the highest rate in the industrialized world.[source]

I cannot emphasize enough the detrimental impact America’s complicated tax code has on our economy, and the burden it creates for taxpayers and job creators alike.

As such, I strongly support Representative Rob Woodall’s FairTax Act, to abolish the federal income tax, employment tax, and estate and gift tax, and replace them with a national sales tax and “prebate” that eliminates the effect of sales taxes on low income families.

Businesses and families know how to best spend their hard-earned money – we need a system that puts power back into the hands of the taxpayer, not government bureaucrats.

The FairTax proposal makes this possible. In particular, it eliminates the income tax and stops the federal government snooping into American citizens’ incomes, savings, and bank accounts, while still producing the revenue needed to fund the federal government.

The FairTax is simpler, thereby saving taxpayers billions of hours and hundreds of billions of dollars in trying to determine tax liability.

In addition, the FairTax dramatically stimulates America’s economy by eliminating costly income tax and compliance costs for America’s employers, thus cutting the cost of producing American goods and services by roughly 15-20% . . . a huge competitive advantage in an increasingly tough international marketplace. This competitive advantage for American job creators means more jobs and higher incomes for American workers.

Mr. Speaker, I urge you to bring the FairTax legislation to the House floor for a vote to simplify the tax code, return American individual freedom, and grow the economy.”

1
2 years ago

Shelby sounds alarm: Obama could cede control of Internet to ‘authoritarian countries’

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) on Thursday sounded the alarm that the Obama administration is quietly maneuvering to relinquish the United States’ oversight of the global internet infrastructure in favor of what one of his Republican colleagues called “an international body akin to the United Nations.”

The Obama administration has been laying to groundwork for ceding U.S. authority over The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN “plays a unique role in the infrastructure of the internet,” essentially managing the domain name system.

Under the United States’ watch, the internet has flourished into a bastion of free speech and free enterprise, even in many authoritarian countries.

Sen. Shelby told Yellowhammer Thursday that relinquishing that role could open could create a vacuum that will be filled by oppressive regimes.

“I have serious concerns with the Obama Administration’s plan to unilaterally relinquish any oversight of the Internet, especially without input from Congress,” he said. “My colleagues have raised several questions about what this transition could mean for our freedom of speech and if it could present an opportunity for authoritarian countries like Russia and China to make online power grabs.”

Among those colleagues is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), who has launched a website counting down the days “until Obama gives away the internet.”

“Today our country faces a threat to the internet as we know it. In 22 short days, if Congress fails to act, the Obama administration intends to give away the internet to an international body akin to the United Nations,” Cruz said during a speech on the Senate floor. “I rise today to discuss the significant, irreparable damage this proposed internet giveaway could wreak not only on our nation but on free speech across the world.”

Republicans have been able to head off the Obama administration’s previous attempts to cede control of ICANN by passing legislation.

“I have included a provision in my Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations funding bills in recent years that has temporarily halted this transition until Congress can weigh in,” said Sen. Shelby. “Unfortunately, President Obama has made it clear that he has no reservations with making an end-run around Congress.”

Some Republican aides believe the transition could be stalled because of issues with the Obama administration’s proposal, but House Republicans are also considering possible legislative action as part of the upcoming appropriations bill.

1
2 years ago

Scalia’s successor on Supreme Court could decide whether Alabama’s voter ID law survives

(S. Masker/Flickr)
Justice Antonin Scalia (Photo: Wiki Commons)
Justice Antonin Scalia (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Iconic conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death earlier this year has left the High Court split 4-4 on many contentious issues, increasing the stakes of this year’s presidential election because it could decide the balance of the Court for decades to come.

Among the issues that could ultimately be decided by Scalia’s successor is photo voter ID.

During the 2011 Regular Legislative Session Governor Robert Bentley (R-Ala.) signed a voter ID law that went into full effect for the 2014 primary elections. Act 2011-673 requires an Alabama voter to have a specific type of photo identification at the polls in order to vote. Since that time, Democrats across the country have decried the law as “racist” and “hateful”.

In an October 2015 visit to Hoover, Hillary Clinton slammed Alabama Republicans for requiring proof of citizenship to vote and for shuttering driver’s license offices in the wake of state budget cuts. The Democratic presidential nominee insisted that both issues were examples of Republicans trying to return Alabama to its Jim Crow past.

RELATED: Bentley and Clinton spar over whether Alabama Republicans are racists

“We have to defend the most fundamental right in our democracy, the right to vote,” she said. “No one in this state, no one, should ever forget the history that enabled generations of people left out and left behind to finally be able to vote.”

Before that, Vice President Joe Biden chided supporters of voter ID laws in light of liberal defeat in the Supreme Court case of Shelby County v. Holder which stemmed from a legal challenge in Alabama. “These guys never go away,” Biden said. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

RELATED: Biden: There’s ‘hatred’ behind Alabama’s photo voter ID law

Since 2008, Republican-controlled legislatures in 17 states have adopted new voting-related laws. Among those are Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, which passed laws requiring a photo ID to vote. (h/t The Daily Beast)

Conservatives have long argued it is reasonable to require photo voter ID in order to protect the sanctity of elections, particularly because photo ID is also required for any number of other activities, from buying alcohol and opening a bank account, to getting on an airplane and renting a car.

But several lower courts have in recent months agreed with Democrats’ assertion that such laws are discriminatory.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in July that North Carolina’s 2013 voting law was implemented with “discriminatory intent.” The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled in July that Texas’ photo voter ID law violates that Voting Rights Act.

Marc E. Elias, an attorney representing some of the groups challenging the photo voter ID laws, told the Washington Post this week that they plan to engage in “hand-to-hand combat” in the legal system. And because a tie vote in the U.S. Supreme Court results in the lower court ruling standing, Scalia’s absence on the bench is allowing Mr. Elias in his allies to rack up victories in the short term.

If a Democrat is elected president, Mr. Scalia’s successor could lock in such victories for the longterm.

RELATED: Democrats call Alabama’s voter ID law ‘racist’ but require DNC delegates to show ID to vote

For the time being, Alabama’s photo voter ID law is an effect, and recent voting suggests it has not suppressed turnout.

There are currently at least 10 different types of ID that are acceptable to use at the polls (including a driver’s license) and the Secretary of State’s office also offers free Alabama photo voter ID cards and free non-driver IDs for purposes of voting.

1
2 years ago

After Bentley’s failed lottery push, legislature taps BP Oil Spill money as short-term funding fix

Alabama State House (Photo: Creative Commons/Jay Williams)
Alabama State House (Photo: Creative Commons/Jay Williams)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama legislature concluded a whirlwind special session on Wednesday after the House and Senate finally reached an agreement on a plan to pay down debt, cover the shortfall in Medicaid, and fund infrastructure projects on the Gulf coast.

Gov. Robert Bentley’s lottery push met its demise two weeks ago, resulting in state lawmakers wrestling with how to scrounge up roughly $85 million to fund the state’s embattled Medicaid program, in which roughly 1 million of the state’s residents participate.

Partisanship quickly took a backseat to regional politics, with south Alabama lawmakers banding together to fight the rest of the state over how the legislature would allocate the remaining BP Oil Spill settlement money.

After a contentious two days, cooler heads prevailed and legislators passed a plan to use $400 million to pay down debt, $120 million to Medicaid, and funnel $120 million to south Alabama to fund road projects in areas hardest hit by the BP Oil Spill.

The bill will now go across S. Union St. to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Senators shook hands and hugged as they adjourned for the year, but not everyone was happy with the final deal.

“Legislators patting themselves on the back for good work,” tweeted Sen. Paul Sanford (R-Madison). “They just voted to give away $200mm to fill a $85mm shortfall. Good work, NOT!”

With a roughly five-month break until lawmakers reconvene for the 2017 legislative session, attention will turn to GOP-led efforts to identify longterm solutions for the state’s seemingly never-ending short-term funding crises.

“This effort will be my number one priority moving forward,” McCutcheon tweeted.

1
2 years ago

Auburn Prof: Political correctness making colleges ‘laughingstock of Western Civilization’

Auburn University's Samford Hall
Auburn University’s Samford Hall

AUBURN, Ala. — An Auburn University professor used his fall semester syllabus to poke fun at “trigger warnings,” a growing part of the culture of political correctness that seems to be sweeping college campuses around the country.

A trigger warning is defined as “a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc., alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material.”

Such warnings have become standard fare on many college campuses–so much so, in fact, that Auburn engineering professor Peter Schwartz saw it as an opportunity to make a joke to his incoming students.

“TRIGGER WARNING,” Prof. Schwartz wrote in bold red letters atop his fall semester syllabus, before alerting his students that they should expect his class to include “physics, trigonometry, sine, cosine, tangent, vector, force, work, energy, stress, quiz, grade.”

Prof. Schwartz gave Yellowhammer some background on what prompted his tongue-in-cheek statement.

“During the summer I was reading (yet another) tedious article about some place (I don’t remember where) instituting trigger warnings and their geographical equivalent, safe spaces, and, on a lark, I decided to see what one might look like for my engineering mechanics course,” he explained. “It was sufficiently ludicrous that I decided to keep it on the syllabus as a tongue-in-cheek statement. I didn’t think anyone but Auburn engineering students in my class would see it and, being engineers, would shrug it off for the joke it was. Who knew?”

Asked if he is concerned about the culture of political correctness growing on college campuses, Prof. Schwartz said, “Yes, I think this PC business is making American universities, and their faculties and administrators, the laughingstocks of Western Civilization. But, since the proponents of this stuff think Western Civ is corrupt anyhow, they don’t seem to notice that the rest of the world thinks they’re fools.”

Schwartz is the latest academic to take issue with political correctness on campus.

The University of Chicago’s dean of students recently made headlines by sending a letter to every member of their incoming freshman class, asserting the school’s commitment to “academic freedom” and aversion to “trigger warnings,” “safe zones,” and other hallmarks of the campus PC movement.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” John Ellison, dean of students, wrote.

The conservative The Heritage Foundation posted the letter on its Facebook page, commenting that it “will make you stand up and cheer.”

Most Auburn students probably feel the same way.

The Princeton Review named Auburn’s student body “the most conservative in the nation” in 2013, and it has ranked high on the list in subsequent years.

1
2 years ago

Trump’s military buildup plan includes big news for Alabama’s Navy shipbuilding operation

Littoral Combat Ship, built for the U.S. Navy in Mobile, Ala. (Photo: Austal)
Littoral Combat Ship, built for the U.S. Navy in Mobile, Ala. (Photo: Austal)

NEW YORK — Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump on Wednesday released specifics on his oft-mentioned plan to buildup the U.S. military, and it includes major news for Alabama’s Navy shipbuilding operation.

Roughly 4,000 Alabamians in Austal USA’s Mobile facility are involved in building the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a class of vessels used in operations close to shore (the littoral zone). They have been compared to corvettes, built to swiftly move in fights with other vessels, as well as to hunt and destroy enemy submarines and mines.

During a hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus testified that the his branch of the armed services still requires 52 littoral combat ships, a number determined by an assessment performed in 2014.

But the Obama administration and Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) have frequently pushed to to scale back the program.

Senator McCain has decried the LCS program as “shameful” on the Senate floor and has constantly fought for the Pentagon to cut it, in spite of Navy leadership insisting they need it. McCain was pleased late last year when the Obama administration’s efforts to shrink the military hit the LCS program.

RELATED:
1. John McCain really hates Alabama, but his attempts to screw the state keep failing
2. Alabama-built warship subject of ‘open war’ breaking out inside the Pentagon

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter directed the US Navy to slash its previous order of ships by twelve and reduce its annual orders by tho-thirds. The Navy had previously planned to annually purchase three LCS over the next four years, and ultimately purchase 52 ships total, the number that Secretary Mabus testified that the Navy still needs.

The Navy’s stated goal for years has been to build up its capacity to 308 ships. There are currently 272 ships in the fleet, and Navy advocates on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon argue that cutting the LCS procurement would make the Navy’s capacity goal impossible to achieve.

In a campaign announcement released Wednesday, Mr. Trump signaled that the LCS program — and other shipbuilding operations — would be significantly bolstered if he is elected president.

“Mr. Trump will build a Navy approaching 350 surface ships and submarines, as recommended by the bipartisan National Defense Panel,” the campaign said in a statement providing the first specific details on his promise to “rebuild” the U.S. military.

That is big news for Austal, its 4,000 employees, and Alabama’s economy as a whole.

The rest of Mr. Trump’s “military readiness plan” can be found below.

• Immediately after taking office, Mr. Trump will ask the generals to present a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy ISIS.

• Mr. Trump will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military as soon as he assumes office.

• Mr. Trump will build an active Army of around 540,000, as the Army’s chief of staff has said he needs.

• Mr. Trump will build a Marine Corps based on 36 battalions, which the Heritage Foundation notes is the minimum needed to deal with major contingencies.

• Mr. Trump will build a Navy approaching 350 surface ships and submarines, as recommended by the bipartisan National Defense Panel.

• Mr. Trump will build an Air Force of at least 1,200 fighter aircraft, which the Heritage Foundation has shown to be needed to execute current missions.

• Mr. Trump will seek to develop a state of the art missile defense system.

• Mr. Trump will modernize our nation’s naval cruisers to provide Ballistic Missile Defense capabilities.

• Mr. Trump will enforce all classification rules, and enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.

• One of Mr. Trump’s first commands after taking office will be asking the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all relevant federal departments, to conduct a thorough review of United States cyber defenses and identify all vulnerabilities – in our power grid, our communications systems, and all vital infrastructure.

1
2 years ago

Alabama school’s band room graffitied for the best possible reason


(Video above: #Grow334 highlights Amon Robinson, band director at Southlawn Middle School)

Amon Robinson is not your average middle school band director.

He is just 26 years old and a graduate of the famed Berklee College of Music.

Former Berklee students include Quincy Jones, arguably the most successful music producer in history (28 Grammys), John Mayer (7 Grammys and 3 Billboard No. 1 albums) and Steve Vai (the 10th “greatest guitarist” ever, according to Guitar World magazine), just to name a few.

He’s a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer who’s recorded his own music.

But what sets him apart the most is not his credentials, it’s his infectious desire to inspire his students at Montgomery’s Southlawn Middle School, even if that means sometimes taking a bit of an unorthodox approach.

Case in point, Mr. Robinson teamed up with artist Z Thealien Boswell to cover the school’s entire band room with graffiti, to the surprise of both the students and staff.

“That’s what graffiti is about — not asking,” laughs Mr. Boswell.

Mr. Robinson said he’s confident the new look will set the tone for the new school year.

“I feel like once they come in the room, they’re not going to want to leave,” he says, smiling. “I think they’re going to love it. It’s going to inspire kids to give me a chance on what I have to offer them.”

Mr. Robinson and his older brother paid for the paint out of their own pockets, the kind of expenditure that many classroom teachers have grown accustomed to, especially music teachers, whose budgets — or entire programs — are often the first to get cut when schools face funding shortages.

But they believe it will all be worth it.

“I look up to him,” says his older brother, Quan. “He’s probably never heard me say that, but he inspires me to be great.”

Asked what he thinks the school’s administration will think of their ask-forgiveness-rather-than-permission approach, Mr. Robinson says he’s optimistic they’ll appreciate his effort.

“I don’t think they’ll fire me if they don’t like it,” he laughs. “We can always just paint over it.”

Check out Grow 334’s feature on Mr. Robinson in the video above.

1
2 years ago

South Alabama lawmakers fight rest of state over remaining BP Oil Spill money

A worker cleans up an Alabama beach in the wake of the BP Deewater Horizon Oil Spill.
A worker cleans up an Alabama beach in the wake of the BP Deewater Horizon Oil Spill.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Partisanship has taken a backseat to regional politics in the Alabama State House, with south Alabama lawmakers banding together to fight the rest of the state over the remaining BP Oil Spill money.

With Medicaid facing a perpetual funding shortfall, the House almost two weeks ago passed a bill that would use BP money to pay back $448.5 million in state debt, immediately free up about $35 million for Medicaid, and send the rest of the money — about $191 million — to the coast for road projects.

The bill sat on the legislative back-burner as the House and Senate wrestled with numerous lottery proposals, but re-emerged Tuesday as lawmakers faced the possibility of adjourning the Special Session without addressing the Medicaid issue.

The Senate passed a bill that would send $300 million of the BP money to Medicaid over the next three years — presumably buying the legislature time to work out a longer-term plan — then send the rest of the funds toward paying down debt, completely stripping out all funding for south Alabama road projects.

The House unanimously voted against the Senate plan, prompting legislative leaders to create a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two chambers. The conference committee will consist of three House members and three Senate members, who will seek to come to an agreement that can pass both chambers.

It will be a tall order.

Sens. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose), Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) will be joined on the conference committee by Reps. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) and John Knight (D-Montgomery).

One lobbyist Yellowhammer spoke with Tuesday evening put the odds of a stalemate at about 50 percent, with the House dug in on earmarking money for coastal infrastructure projects and the Senate opposed.

Senator Slade Blackwell (R-Mountain Brook) seemed to sum up the perspective of many non-South Alabama legislators when he told ABC 33/40 he believes it’s “more important to help disable children verse sending more money to Mobile and Baldwin county after they have already received over $2.1 billion is BP settlement money.”

“The citizens of Mobile and Baldwin County suffered from that oil spill,” Sen. Vivian Davis Figure (D-Mobile) said on the other side. “They did the suffering.”

The conference committee will meet Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., with both chambers reconvening an hour later.

1
2 years ago

Estimated 12M Dems voted in GOP primary, renewing calls for Alabama to close primary

Alabama Republicans believe a large number of Democrats have voted in their primaries in recent years. (Photo: Yellowhammer)
Alabama Republicans believe a large number of Democrats have voted in their primaries in recent years. (Photo: Yellowhammer)

A conservative activist’s research estimates 12 million Democrats crossed over to vote in the 2016 Republican primary, accounting for roughly 38 percent of the total votes cast. That revelation, published on conservative blog RedState.com, has renewed calls for Alabama to close its primaries.

Alabama is one of 20 states around the country with “open primaries” for congressional and state races, and one of 16 states with open presidential primaries. This means that while voters have to choose which primary they will vote in when they arrive at their polling precinct, they do not have to register with one party or the other ahead of time.

Critics of open primaries argue that such a system can become particularly problematic in states like Alabama where one party is dominant.

During the 2014 election cycle, for example, liberal groups sought to take advantage of Alabama’s open system by working to get traditionally Democratic voting blocs to the polls to vote not for Democrats, but for their chosen Republicans.

Some Republicans also blame the open primary system for the election of current GOP Gov. Robert Bentley, who was heavily aided by the traditionally Democratic-leaning teachers union.

RELATED: Robert Bentley is running the same administration his Democratic opponent would have

Alabama Republican Party chairwoman Terry Lathan told Alabama sports website and liberal political blog al.com that the current system is analogous to Alabama football coaches being able to pick the players on Auburn’s team, or vice versa.

“We do not want people from another party picking our team and I’m sure they wouldn’t want us picking their team,” she said. “It’s pretty much that simple.”

The Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee, a large panel of party activists from around the state who set party policy, seem to agree with Mrs. Lathan. Seventy-six percent of them voted for closed primaries earlier this year.

That cannot be done, however, without a vote of the legislature. Sen. Tom Whatley sponsored a bill to close Alabama’s primaries, but it failed to pass.

Meanwhile, some Republicans have criticized efforts to close the state’s primaries, saying such a move would send the wrong message and hurt the party’s ability to attract new voters, particularly minorities.

A record 11 black Republicans sought elective office in Alabama during the 2014 cycle, compared to just one in both 2010 and 2012.

One of those candidates, Darius Foster, has voiced concerns that closing Alabama’s primaries could be a shortsighted move.

“Dispelling the myths about minority conservatives will take years to accomplish,” he said.

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2 years ago

Environmentalists return to Alabama with expensive solar power push

Installing solar panels on a house. (Photo: Edmund Tse/flickr)
Installing solar panels on a house. (Photo: Edmund Tse/flickr)
Installing solar panels on a house. (Photo: Edmund Tse/flickr)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After a period of relative quiet, Alabama’s energy wars could be gearing up for another round of battles, as one well-funded environmental group launches its latest PR campaign.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has announced its “Stories of Solar” video series, which targets lawmakers with messages about the supposed benefits of using solar power over more traditional energy sources, like coal and natural gas.

The first video in the series features Chuck Jay, a solar panel installer from Northport, Alabama, who previously worked as a coal miner.

“Right now Alabama is ranked 44th in the country in terms of solar,” said the SELC’s Christina Andreen. “The latest figure on solar jobs in the state is 287 jobs. Solar power… is abundant in the South and so we should be harnessing the sun to provide us with electricity.”

Longtime political observers in Alabama will likely remember the SELC’s participation in a coordinated push by numerous environmental groups aimed at the Yellowhammer State’s coal industry.

Financial disclosures released in 2013 by the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation revealed that millions of dollars had been funneled to local Alabama environmental groups with the stated purpose of shutting down coal-fired power plants. $1.8 million was sent to the SELC, including $60,000 earmarked “to accelerate retirement of coal-fired power plants in the Southeast.”

In 2014, email records obtained through open records requests revealed that government employees shared privileged information with the SELC in an attempt to aid their efforts to halt progress on The Northern Beltline, claiming the 52-mile highway in Jefferson County will hurt wildlife in the area. The SELC filed suit on behalf of Black Warrior Riverkeeper Inc. seeking to block construction. A judge ultimately ruled against them, calling their requests “useless and redundant” and concluding that they were not seeking a compromise solution to the project, but were instead working to squash the development all together.

After the 2014 election cycle produced little positive results for the SELC and their allies, the groups were relatively quiet until announcing their latest campaign this week.

The Alabama Free Market Alliance (AFMA), a conservative advocacy group and frequent critic of the SELC’s efforts, quickly responded to the campaign.

“Subsidies for solar hurt taxpayers and kill jobs,” the group tweeted. “Note to legislators: Don’t fall for this lib agenda.”

AFMA previously named SELC to their “Watch List” of the most active liberal advocacy organizations in Alabama, citing their penchant for using the court system to advance their agenda.

The SELC’s website says that “For over 25 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has leveraged the power of the law to protect the environment of the Southeast.” As that suggests, lawsuits are this radical environmental group’s weapon of choice. The support they receive from liberal donors around the country allows them to spend millions of dollars trying to implement their economy-crushing environmental agenda.

Google’s “Solar Energy Savings Estimator” reveals solar energy’s biggest challenge in gaining momentum around the country, especially in Alabama: basic economics.

According to the estimator, placing solar panels on Yellowhammer News headquarters, for instance, would cost $38,000 up front and produce $0 in savings over a 20-year period.

To plug in your address, click here.

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2 years ago

Alabamian shares suicide survival story: ‘For those of you that see no hope, it gets better’

Brandon Jeter (Photo: Facebook)
Brandon Jeter (Photo: Facebook)
Brandon Jeter (Photo: Facebook)

With Monday marking the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week, one Alabamian took to Facebook to share his suicide survival story in hopes that it will encourage others struggling with depression to get help and remember that “it gets better.”

Brandon Jeter is a 26-year-old Auburn graduate who is now eight years removed from his darkest day when he tried to take his own life.

“8 years ago I made the choice to end my life,” he wrote on his Facebook page Sunday evening. “I didn’t write a letter, because I felt no one would read it or even miss me. I was a lonely, depressed, sad, and angry high school kid. I took 30 lithium pills and cut my wrists. At that point, I was at my lowest, saddest, and most helpless, but I’m glad my mom found me before I died that June night. Because my life got better. I left my small town and made friends, real friends. I went to the college I dreamed of attending and found people who have become family to me…

“Depression didn’t win that night in 2008,” he continued. “So during National Suicide Prevention week, I just want to encourage those of you stuck in horrible homes…It gets better. For those of you stuck in financial hardships, it gets better. For those of you bullied everyday at work or school, it gets better. For those of you that see no hope, it gets better.”

Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Roughly 43,000 Americans die by suicide each year, an average of 117 every day. And for every one suicide death, there are 25 more attempted suicides.

Dr. David L. Conroy, author of “Out of the Nightmare: Recovery from Depression and Suicidal Pain,” says convincing individuals suffering from suicidal thoughts that it is okay to ask for help is one of the biggest challenges.

“Social stigma and prejudice are our enemies,” he explains. “Every human being is taught from childhood that suicidal people are shameful, sinful, weak, selfish, manipulative–taught that we are contagious, that we want to harm others. None of these ideas are true.”

Brandon Jeter is living proof getting help is worth it.

“I found people who love me and encourage me” he says now. “I’ve healed wounds, and taped bridges back together. I’ve forgiven many and have done things that most people could only dream of. I’m thankful I’m here to witness it all.”

If you are feeling vulnerable or suicidal or are worried about someone call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

For more information, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health’s suicide prevention page.

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