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.

2 days ago

OIG report: ‘Serious issues,’ possible misuse of taxpayer dollars at Alabama Women’s Business Center locations

(PIxabay, YHN)

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released a report identifying “serious” material deficiencies with Women’s Business Center, Inc., an Alabama-based recipient of the SBA’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) grant program.

Women’s Business Center, Inc. is responsible for operating two WBCs, located in Mobile and Brewton.

In the course of the OIG’s audit of SBA’s oversight of the nationwide WBC program, Women’s Business Center, Inc. denied OIG auditors access to both coastal Alabama center’s offices and records.

After issuing an administrative subpoena, the SBA OIG uncovered that both WBCs had actually been permanently closed since the fall of 2018 yet were still collecting federal government funds.

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Further violations uncovered by the OIG included inadequately staffing centers, late and unpaid payroll, a major potential conflict of interest and failure to maintain an adequate financial management system and audited financial statements.

The OIG’s report concluded:

We determined that the Recipient has materially violated federal statutes, regulations, and the terms and conditions of its cooperative agreements. Its lack of required financial systems, records, and policies, and inability to pay its obligations, maintain open and available facilities and service hours, and staff its WBCs with full-time program directors indicates serious issues in the Recipient’s ability to operate and fulfill the WBC program requirements. We have deemed the documentation the Recipient has provided to us to be insufficient and incomplete. The Recipient denied access to OIG, an independent, authorized oversight entity, and disregarded governing federal regulations and terms and conditions of its cooperative agreements.

These findings impel SBA to take prompt corrective action to protect taxpayers’ dollars and help to ensure the integrity of the WBC program. SBA should pursue actions including, but not limited to, suspension, termination, and nonrenewal of the Recipient’s cooperative agreements, as well as suspension and debarment of the Recipient and its personnel.

In a statement reacting to the OIG report, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said, “The gross lack of oversight uncovered in the SBA OIG’s most recent management advisory is incredibly troubling.”

“SBA must take action to remedy the numerous deficiencies identified and enact the Office of Inspector General’s recommendations immediately,” he added. “I appreciate the Office of the Inspector General’s diligence in this matter and look forward to its swift resolution.”

Read the OIG report here.

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

2 days ago

Ivey back in Montgomery after outpatient procedure ‘went well and as planned’

(YHN, Gov. Kay Ivey/Flickr)

Governor Kay Ivey on Friday underwent an initial outpatient procedure at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for early-stage lung cancer.

This followed her Thursday announcement that disclosed the next day’s procedure and radiation treatments to follow.

In a statement, Ivey’s press secretary, Gina Maiola, said, “The governor’s outpatient procedure today at UAB went well and as planned.”

“She is back in Montgomery and looks forward to returning to her regular schedule next week,” Maiola concluded.

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2 days ago

‘Breaking record after record’: Alabama shattering employment milestones monthly

(Gov. Ivey/Flickr)

Alabama continues to set new jobs-related records and now boasts the largest over-the-year unemployment rate drop in the United States.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington on Friday announced that the Yellowhammer State has yet again set a new record low unemployment rate, along with four additional milestones.

The state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted August unemployment rate was 3.1%, down from July’s then-historic rate of 3.3%, and well below August 2018’s rate of 3.9%.

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August’s rate represented 2,184,511 employed persons, also a new record high, measuring 68,033 more than last year’s count and 12,757 more than last month’s count.

In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey said, “Not only can we be proud of the fact that Alabama is breaking record after record; but we can also be proud that more of our good men and women are gaining employment.”

The Yellowhammer State has now matched or surpassed the national annual job growth rate for the past seven months.

“Alabama has made significant progress regarding our economy,” Ivey added. “Not only are we putting people to work, but their earnings are increasing, and our industries are growing. Even with all this headway, we realize we must continue exhausting our efforts to make sure that all Alabamians who want a job have a job, and we won’t stop until we achieve that goal.”

August’s historic numbers came after Alabama broke four records the month previous and five in June.

“Along with this brand-new record low unemployment rate, Alabama continues to break other records as well,” said Washington.

“More people are working in Alabama than ever before, a record we’ve broken every single month this year,” he continued. “More than 68,000 Alabamians are working today that weren’t last year, and that’s great news. Fewer people are unemployed in Alabama than ever before, and our workforce is larger than it’s ever been, with consecutive growth for the past eight months.”

August’s unemployment rate represents 70,652 unemployed persons, a new record low, down from 75,101 in July and down from 86,212 in 2018.

The civilian labor force increased in August to a record high 2,255,163, up 8,308 from July’s count and up 52,473 from August 2018.

“Additionally, our jobs count reached a record high for the fourth time this year, gaining more than 37,000 jobs over the year, representing a job growth percentage of 1.8%, which, yet again, surpassed the nation’s job growth – all while Alabamians are also seeing growth in their earnings,” concluded Washington.

Year over year, wage and salary employment grew by 37,300, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+9,900); the leisure and hospitality sector (+6,600); and the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+5,200), among others.

Wage and salary employment grew in August by 5,900. Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+5,300); the professional and business services sector (+3,000); and the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+1,900), among others.

Average weekly earnings increased $27.05 since August 2018 and $8.97 since July.

The rising tide is lifting boats across Alabama, too.

All 67 counties saw their unemployment rates decrease over the year, and 66 of 67 counties saw their rates decrease or remain the same over the month.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in August were Shelby County at 2.1%; Marshall and Madison Counties at 2.3%; and Morgan, Limestone and Elmore Counties at 2.4%.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox County at 6.9%, Clarke County at 5.9% and Greene County at 5.8%.

While still the highest, Wilcox County’s unemployment rate is down 3.1% over-the-year.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were Vestavia Hills at 1.8%; Northport and Homewood at 1.9%; and Alabaster and Hoover at 2.0%.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were Selma at 6.5%, Prichard at 5.5% and Anniston at 4.1%.

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

2 days ago

Shelby warns military priorities ‘could be undermined’ by Senate Democrats

(Sen. Richard Shelby)

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the powerful chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, on Thursday warned that vital military and national security priorities “could be undermined” after Senate Democrats blocked consideration of the Fiscal Year 2020 defense appropriations bill the day prior.

Shelby’s remarks came during the committee’s markup of the FY 2020 bills for the appropriations subcommittees on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD); Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; and Financial Services and General Government.

All three bills were subsequently reported favorably out of the committee via unanimous votes, with Shelby declaring that “these bills prioritize the needs of the people of Alabama and the nation.”

However, that came after Shelby used his lofty perch to stand up for American military interests, including the brave men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Shelby is also the chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee.

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“Yesterday on the floor, we tried to bring up the first package of appropriations bills sent over by the House,” he explained, per prepared remarks. “Unfortunately, our Democratic colleagues would not allow us to do so.”

“Because we were not allowed to proceed, our military’s efforts to plan deliberately in countering Russian and Chinese influence could be undermined,” Shelby warned. “Because we were not allowed to proceed, our plans to provide soldiers with the largest pay increase in a decade will be delayed.”

He emphasized, “Funding our military in a timely manner should not just be a Republican priority; it should be an American priority.”

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

2 days ago

More milestones for Alabama-managed SLS — ‘Backbone for deep space transportation’

(NASA/Steven Seipel)

The Space Launch System (SLS), set to be the world’s most powerful rocket ever, has achieved more major assembly milestones in recent days.

On Thursday, NASA engineers at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, along with Boeing technicians, connected the last of the five sections of the SLS rocket core stage. This marked the finalization of assembling and joining the rocket’s main structural components.

On SLS’s first flight, the core stage will produce 2 million pounds of thrust to send Artemis I and NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon.

The historically powerful SLS is managed at Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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In a statement, NASA SLS stages manager Julie Bassler said, “NASA has achieved a historic first milestone by completing the final join of the core stage structure for NASA’s Space Launch System, the world’s most powerful rocket.”

“Now, to complete the stage, NASA will add the four RS-25 engines and complete the final integrated avionics and propulsion functional tests. This is an exciting time as we finish the first-time production of the complex core stage that will provide the power to send the Artemis I mission to the Moon,” she advised.

Artemis will take man back to the Moon and the first woman to the surface of the Moon. The program is currently on schedule for a 2024 lunar mission and hopes to set the stage for future human travel to Mars.

SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon in a single mission.

This fall, NASA will work with core stage lead contractor, Boeing, and the RS-25 engine lead contractor, Aerojet Rocketdyne, to attach the four RS-25 engines and connect them to the main propulsion systems inside the engine section, which was the last section of the core stage to be attached.

“Boeing expects to complete final assembly of the Artemis I core stage in December,” explained Jennifer Boland-Masterson, Boeing operations direct at Michoud.

The SLS team also achieved another recent milestone by completing structural testing for the stage’s liquid hydrogen tank. The testing confirmed that the structural design for the tank on the rocket’s initial configuration, called Block 1, can withstand extreme conditions during launch and flight.

Teams at Marshall Space Flight Center put a test version of the tank through the paces during 37 separate test cases that exceeded what engineers expect the SLS rocket to experience. The final test used 80,000 gallons of liquid nitrogen to simulate the cryogenic conditions, or extreme cold, that the liquid hydrogen tank will experience in flight, according to NASA.

Testing will continue later this year to show the tank’s structural design is adequate for future designs of the vehicle as it evolves to a Block IB configuration and missions with even greater forces.

In addition to providing propellant and power to get the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft to space, the core stage houses the flight computers and avionics components that control the first 8 minutes of flight.

The avionics system, including the flight computers, completed integrated system level qualification testing showing the components all work together to control the rocket in the Software Integration and Test Facility (SITF) at Marshall. The next step is to test the flight software with all the ground system software, Orion and launch control in the Systems Integration Laboratory at Marshall.

“NASA and our contractor teams are making tremendous progress on every aspect of manufacturing, assembling and testing the complex systems needed to land American astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024,” Bassler concluded. “I am confident this hard work will result in a rocket that can provide the backbone for deep space transportation to the Moon and ultimately to Mars.”

Read more here.

North Alabama also will play a leading role in other components of Artemis, including with the lunar Gateway and the new Human Landing System. Historic contributions to America’s space prowess are being made by several private sector partners in the Yellowhammer State, such as United Launch Alliance (ULA), Boeing and Dynetics.

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

3 days ago

Support pours in after Ivey announces cancer diagnosis — ‘No step too high for a high-stepper’

(Gov. Kay Ivey/Flickr)

Reaction poured in from around Alabama on Thursday afternoon after Governor Kay Ivey announced that she will undergo an outpatient procedure on Friday, soon to be followed by radiation treatments, after the early discovery of lung cancer.

Elected officials and politicians from across the Yellowhammer State — and the nation — offered heartfelt words of support and prayer for Ivey.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) tweeted, “Throughout her career, Kay Ivey has proven herself to be a strong and determined woman who will confront any obstacle placed in her path. The courage and tenacity she has shown in the past will serve her well in the challenge that lies ahead.”

“Throughout her treatment, Gov. Ivey will carry with her the prayers, thoughts, and well-wishes of millions of Alabamians, and those of my family and I will certainly be among them,” he concluded.

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Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R-AL) stated, “My family and I are praying for Governor Ivey to beat this cancer. She is a strong, resilient leader who I know will take that same approach to her recovery.”

Secretary of State John Merrill (R-AL) said in a tweet, “Cindy and I would like to express our concern and offer our thoughts and prayers to Gov. Ivey as she prepares to battle cancer! She is a true leader and a proven winner who has been successful in many fights before! I’m confident that she will prevail in this one as well!”

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) tweeted, “Please join me in praying for [Governor Ivey]’s speedy recovery. Her leadership is unparalleled and I look forward to continuing to work with her for the people of Alabama.”

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) tweeted to Ivey, “Riley, Margaret, George, & I will be praying for you during this time. I’m thankful to call you a friend & grateful for your leadership.”

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R-AL) stated, “As a cancer survivor myself from 2001, I know that early detection, treatment, and prayer can work. I am confident Gov. Ivey will have the best treatment available, and we have wonderful cancer programs in Alabama. Kay Ivey is one tough lady, and I am confident that the cancer will be the loser in this fight.”

Thursday’s news certainly transcended politics.

“Sending well wishes to [Governor Ivey] for a speedy and full recovery!” U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) tweeted.

State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) even invoked a classic Ivey line to express his support for the governor and optimism for her full recovery.

Former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also extended to Ivey, “Prayers for strength and healing.”

In a statement, Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said, “Governor Ivey’s announcement that she will be undergoing outpatient radiation for a malignant spot on her lung is met with great concern, but we are confident that the Steel Magnolia of Alabama will recuperate quickly.”

“We hope it is a great comfort to her that millions of Alabamians will lift her name up to the Lord’s ear during this time. We also should take this opportunity to be reminded of so many who have walked this challenging path. We believe Governor Ivey will tackle this moment with the tenacity, faith and grace she does with everything,” she concluded.

State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) tweeted, “My whole family and I are going to add her to our prayers immediately, but Governor Ivey is made of equal parts grit and grace. This small malignancy her doctor found will be no match for her.”

Governor Phil Bryant (R-MS) tweeted, “Deborah and I offer our prayers of support for [Governor Ivey]. Kay is a dear friend and one of the finest leaders in America. Her strength and faith will bring her through this challenge. Godspeed Kay.”

Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) said in a tweet, “When it comes to fighting for what matters, Governor Ivey has proven time and time again that she is a tenacious warrior, and that same steely will and determination will be in full evidence as she begins her radiation treatments.”

“I know that all of the members of the Alabama House join me in asking for God’s healing hands to embrace our governor throughout her treatment and recovery,” he added.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) said in a statement, “Louise and I want to join all Alabamians in offering our prayers and support for Governor Ivey and her loved ones during this difficult time. We know she is in good hands with the world-class physicians at UAB.”

This article may be updated as more reaction comes in.

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

3 days ago

Ivey to undergo outpatient procedure with ‘very high rate of success’ after cancer discovered early

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday announced that she will undergo an outpatient procedure at UAB on Friday after a recent routine exam revealed she had a spot on her lung.

After more testing, “a tiny, isolated malignancy” was confirmed, meaning the spot was indicative of cancer.

The procedure and subsequent radiation treatments are not expected to interfere with her duties as governor, Ivey said in a statement.

Ivey said “this was discovered early, and it is very treatable.”

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She added that the procedure “has a very high rate of success” and expressed great confidence in Alabama being “home to some of the world’s leading physicians.”

The governor welcomes prayers and support from around the state.

Ivey’s full statement as follows: 

Throughout my life, I am constantly reminded that I have so much for which to be thankful; God has been incredibly gracious to me.

One of the highest honors you have given me is serving as your governor.

Because I always shoot straight with you, I want to share a recent challenge that has been placed in front of me.

Within the past few weeks, during a routine exam, my longtime family physician discovered a spot on my lung that was unusual. Additional tests confirmed that this was, indeed, a tiny, isolated malignancy.

The good news is I am one of the fortunate ones where this was discovered early, and it is very treatable.

The better news is Alabama is home to some of the world’s leading physicians. My team of doctors have assured me this treatment has a very high rate of success and will have a minimal impact on my schedule.

Tomorrow morning, I will travel to UAB for an outpatient procedure, which will allow me to soon begin a series of specialized radiation treatments. None of this will prevent me from continuing to serve as your governor and doing the work you elected me to do.

Naturally, I welcome your prayers and your support. Just as so many others who have been affected by cancer, I am confident of God’s plan and purpose for my life and feel extremely fortunate this was caught so early.

May God continue to bless each of you and the great state of Alabama.

Update 2:30 p.m.:

The governor also released a video message to the public.

Update 2:58 p.m.:

Dr. William P. Saliski, Jr. D.O. with the Montgomery Pulmonary Consultants provided Yellowhammer News with the following statement regarding Ivey:

“Governor Kay Ivey was referred to me to review an abnormal spot on her lung. A biopsy was performed and pathology results revealed a small, isolated malignancy. Upon consultation with our cancer team and reviewing all options available, Governor Ivey determined that these minimal radiation treatments are her preference. Governor Ivey has opted for the least invasive treatment which has an excellent cure rate. I expect her to make a full recovery.”

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

3 days ago

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

(Alabama Department of Commerce, J. Waggoner/Facebook, YHN)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The subcommittees will begin their work in mid-October.

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

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

The 25 members of the commission are as follows:

Greg Canfield – Secretary of Commerce (chairman)

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

Ivey’s appointees:

1. Dr. Hari Narayanan— Auburn

2. Dr. Gerry Dozier— Auburn

3. Dr. Jeff Carver – UA (Tuscaloosa)

4. Dr. Curt Carver – UAB

5. Dr. Alec Yasinac – USA

6. Dr. John Beck – UAH

7. Dr. James Cimino – UAB

8. Melvin Evans – Hand Arendall

9. Jim McLane – NaphCare

10. Jacob Kosoff – Regions Bank

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s appointees:

Joshua Jones – StrategyWise

Dr. Vicki Karolewics – Wallace State Community College

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon’s appointees:

Rep. Kirk Hatcher

Rep. Craig Lipscomb

Marsh’ appointees:

Sen. Jabo Waggoner (Vice-chair)

Sen. Dan Roberts

Non-Voting members appointed by the governor:

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

John Brandt – Southern Company

Leonard Tillman – Balch & Bingham

Mike Rowell – Senior VP & CIO at ALFA Insurance

James Mizell – Senior account executive at Microsoft

Jason Asbury – NXTsoft

Dr. Syed Raza – Jefferson State Community College

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

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

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

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

3 days ago

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

(Mitch Mendler/YouTube)

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 days ago

History made at Montgomery Zoo after pygmy hippo gives birth to twins

(Montgomery Zoo/Contributed)

The Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum on Wednesday announced the extremely rare birth of twin pygmy hippopotamus calves on August 4.

Both female, the calves were born to first-time parents Asali and Mikey.

The calves were the third and fourth birth of pygmy hippos in the last four years at the zoo in Alabama’s capital city.

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Sadly, one of the newborn calves only lived for two days due to a condition called brachygnathism, which made it impossible for the calf to nurse.

However, the survival of one of the twin calves is a historic milestone to celebrate, as the birth of twins is a major anomaly for the species.

According to a release from the Montgomery Zoo, there were only 11 confirmed cases of twin hippo births from 1903-2015 throughout the world. Of those 11 births, there were only four cases in which one of the calves survived and only one case in which both calves lived.

In fact, with the high infant mortality rate of pygmy hippos, until about one month after birth, having a set of twins where one survived is significant to research and conservation of the species.

Description of the species via the Montgomery Zoo:

The pygmy hippopotamus is a large mammal native to the forests and swamps of western Africa. A cousin of the much larger common hippopotamus, the pygmy hippo is semi-aquatic and relies on proximity to water to maintain moisturized skin and a cool body temperature. Reclusive and nocturnal, it is a difficult animal to study in the wild. However, pygmy hippos have a history of breeding well in captivity. The World Conservation Union estimates that less than 3,000 pygmy hippos remain in the wild.

Though pygmy hippos share the same general form as the hippopotamus, they grow to approximately half the height and one quarter of the weight of their larger cousins. Full grown, the pygmy hippo typically reaches 30-32 inches in height, 59-70 inches in length, and 400-600 lbs. in weight. It is estimated that pygmy hippos can grow to ten times their birth weight by the age of five months.

The other calves born at the zoo in recent years (Monty in 2016 and Levi in 2018) are now continuing to mature and thrive at the Greater Richmond Zoo in Virginia.

The public is invited to join the Montgomery Zoo on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to celebrate the surviving newborn calf’s introduction to the public.

Mom (Asali) and baby will be housed in a temporary habitat located in the South America realm of the zoo, near the flamingos, until the calf is approximately a year old.

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

3 days ago

Nick Saban named to Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame 2020 induction class

(Univ. of Alabama Football/Twitter)

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame next year.

The announcement was made in a release this week.

Saban is being inducted as the former head football coach at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he won 75% of his games and the 2003 national championship in five seasons with the Tigers.

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The class of 2020 will be enshrined June 27 in Natchitoches, LA.

A 35-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the inductees. The panel considered a record 150 nominees from 31 different sport categories on a 33-page ballot, explained Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland.

Here is what the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame wrote about Saban:

Saban went 48-16 from 2000-04 at LSU before jumping to the NFL for two seasons as head coach in Miami, then returning to college football at Alabama, where he has captured five more national championships since 2009. His Tigers won Southeastern Conference championships in 2001 and 2003, reigning as SEC West Division champs from 2001-03, and he won his first national and SEC coach of the year awards while guiding LSU to the 2003 BCS national crown. He is the first sitting college coach elected to the Hall since Grambling’s Eddie Robinson (1985).

Saban carved his prominent place in state sports history with the 2003 BCS national title win by his LSU squad over Oklahoma in the Superdome. His Tigers compiled a 48-16 (28-12 SEC) record in Baton Rouge, part of his 232-63-1 mark as a college head coach entering 2019.

Saban is the first coach to win a national title with two different FBS schools since the inception of the Associated Press rankings in 1936. Saban and Bear Bryant are the only coaches to win SEC crowns at different schools. His collection of national championships equals the record set by Bryant.

Among Saban’s coaching tree, former LSU assistants Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart are current SEC head coaches and Derek Dooley was coach at Tennessee. He is a 2013 inductee in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Saban’s Crimson Tide have beaten LSU eight consecutive times, with the Tigers last winning on November 5, 2011.

UA’s football program celebrated Saban’s coming induction in a tweet on Wednesday.

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

3 days ago

‘Clean Home Alabama’ initiative launched to help maintain ‘Alabama the Beautiful’

Governor Kay Ivey signs Clean Home Alabama proclamation. (Alabama Community College System/Contributed)

By signing an official proclamation this week, Governor Kay Ivey launched the Alabama Community College System’s (ACCS) “Clean Home Alabama” initiative.

Alabama’s community colleges will partner with residents and community organizations in every county of the Yellowhammer State for this college-led effort to help beautify the state’s natural landscapes, growing infrastructure and expanding communities.

Clean Home Alabama will take place November 1-11 this year.

The initiative was established by ACCS Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker, with the mission of continuing to serve communities both inside and outside of campus walls.

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“Community is so much a part of what our colleges do each day that it’s even in our name,” Baker said in a statement.

“Alabama’s community colleges are located within every region of the state, which means we are perfectly positioned to organize and execute an effort of this magnitude to help maintain ‘Alabama the Beautiful’ during our state’s bicentennial year,” he added.

Community college students, faculty and staff will serve alongside residents and members of several community organizations on Clean Home Alabama days for a number of beautification and litter pickup projects. Several community organizations have already committed to projects.

One partner, Alabama People Against a Littered State (ALPALS), donated 150 trash bags to each community college and is assisting colleges and groups with the process for obtaining official road markers in their honor for the ALPALS Adopt-A-Mile, Adopt-An-Area and Adopt-A-Stream programs.

Projects for Clean Home Alabama can range from picking up litter along a roadway or helping to beautify entrances and exits into local parks, cities or facilities.

Learn more here.

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

4 days ago

Gone but not forgotten: Bryant-Denny Stadium goes blue for slain Tuscaloosa PD officer

(Kent Gidley/Univ. of Alabama)

Tuscaloosa Police Department Investigator Dornell Cousette was remembered in a special way on Wednesday night, when the University of Alabama used Bryant-Denny Stadium to honor the fallen hero‘s life and show that they back the blue.

UA lit the iconic stadium blue from 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Former TPD Lt. Andy Norris shared stunning pictures of the scene on his Facebook page.

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Video taken inside the blue stadium showed a surreal scene.

On social media, UA Athletics said, “Tonight we honored the memory of Tuscaloosa Police Investigator, Dornell Cousette. Officer Cousette was a true hero. Thank you for your selflessness to serve our community. We will always remember you.”

You can view numerous high-quality photos of the night honoring Cousette courtesy of UA Athletics here.

(Jeff Hanson/Univ. of Alabama)

Additionally, Cousette’s police car will be parked outside the stadium at the Walk of Champions until approximately noon on Friday. This is intended to be a way for the community and public to come show their support for the officer, along with his family and fellow law enforcement officers.

(Ashley Gooden/Twitter)

Read about more ways to honor Cousette, including visitation and funeral services, here.

RELATED: ‘Will never be forgotten’: Ivey ordering flags to half-staff for Tuscaloosa PD’s Dornell Cousette

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

4 days ago

‘A stark reminder’: Lee County resident arrested on federal terrorism charges, supports ISIS

(FBI/Facebook)

The Associated Press on Wednesday reported that Nayef Qashou is being held in a detention facility in Montgomery after being arrested in regards to a substantial terrorism probe.

During this multi-year probe, the FBI said Qashou told agents he would execute an American soldier if ordered to do so by the Islamic State (ISIS). The Lee County resident was taken into custody on Monday. He is reportedly charged with lying to the FBI and destroying records.

In a newly unsealed affidavit, the FBI explained that Qashou arrived in the country in 2015 with plans to study nursing at Southern Union State Community College’s Opelika campus. He is a dual Jordanian and American citizen who grew up in Saudi Arabia, authorities noted.

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The FBI has interviewed him over 12 times since then. Agents also searched his home in Auburn, telling a judge they were looking for computer equipment and computer storage devices.

Per The Associated Press, the FBI advised that Qashou used encrypted phone apps to communicate with suspected terrorists who told him he should carry out an attack in the United States.

The encrypted communications included the discussion of attacks against U.S. forces, among other things, according to the affidavit.

“Qashou would not tell interviewers exactly how he responded to the suggestion to conduct a U.S. attack,” FBI Special Agent Scott Sullivan wrote in the affidavit. “He stated he essentially responded by saying the only way he could justify an attack is for it to be against U.S. Armed Forces personnel on U.S. soil.”

Qashou also claimed to FBI agents that he does not believe in violence.

However, he also said he would help ISIS and “drive fuel trucks, feed troops, and use a gun to defend against U.S.-led attacks against ISIS,” the affidavit outlined.

The man consented to numerous interviews at the FBI’s Auburn field office, where he allegedly voluntarily shared some eyebrow raising information, including his desire to join fighters in Syria.

The affidavit additionally stated that Qashou tried to minimize his support of “radical Islamic ideology.”

“Qashou stated he believed ISIS is fighting a humanitarian war that will benefit all Muslims in the Middle East,” the document explained.

He reportedly ended one of the interviews by saying he felt “it was his duty as a Muslim to inform the interviewing agents that he thinks the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is innocent and the FBI should reopen the case to examine all the evidence.”

This comes the week after the 18th anniversary of 9/11. Last week, Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03), who represents Lee County, spoke about the serious dangers of domestic terrorism. Rogers is the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

He reacted to the news of Qashou’s arrest on Wednesday in a statement.

“Today’s arrest is a stark reminder that terrorism remains a threat in our own backyard,” Roger said.

“According to the FBI, Qashou used encrypted phone apps to discuss attacks on U.S. forces on American soil. I applaud the diligent work of law enforcement for their continued vigilance and preventing any potential violence before it could occur,” he concluded.

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

5 days ago

‘Will never be forgotten’: Ivey ordering flags to half-staff for Tuscaloosa PD’s Dornell Cousette

(City of Tuscaloosa/Facebook, PIxabay, YHN)

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday declared that flags shall fly at half-staff on the day of Tuscaloosa Police Department Investigator Dornell Cousette’s interment to honor the slain hero.

Cousette, a 13-year veteran of the department and U.S. Army veteran, was shot and killed in the line of duty on Monday evening.

In a statement, Ivey said she was “devastated to learn of the news that Alabama lost our fourth law enforcement officer to a senseless act of violence this year.”

“Two beautiful children lost their father. A soon-to-be bride lost her fiancé. The Tuscaloosa community lost a protector and 13-year veteran to the force. Truly, Alabama has lost one of her heroes, Dornell Cousette,” the governor lamented.

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“We cannot take for granted the tremendous sacrifices our men and women in law enforcement make each and every day in order to keep us safe,” she emphasized.

“Because of Officer Cousette’s brave call to action, the felon he pursued now remains in custody. Officer Cousette laid down his life in service to the people of Tuscaloosa,” Ivey continued.

The governor concluded, “Our deepest prayers remain with Officer Cousette’s two children, his fiancé, the Tuscaloosa Police Department, the city of Tuscaloosa and all of our brave men and women who put their lives on the line to ensure the protection of our communities. The ultimate sacrifice of Officer Dornell Cousette will never be forgotten.”

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

5 days ago

Tuscaloosa PD officer, Army veteran, shot and killed in line of duty — ‘He was a hero’

(CBS 42/Twitter)

Tuscaloosa Police Department Investigator Dornell Cousette was shot and killed in the line of duty on Monday evening. The suspected gunman is in custody.

According to WBRC, Cousette, 40, is a 13-year veteran of the department.

He was reportedly shot in the western part of Tuscaloosa while responding to the suspected location of a wanted individual.

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After arriving at the residential location, Cousette identified that individual, who fled into the house.

Gunshots were exchanged inside the house, with Cousette and the suspect both reportedly being wounded.

The officer was in critical condition leaving the scene and subsequently passed away at a local hospital from his injuries.

Tuscaloosa assistant police chief Mitt Tubbs said, “He was a great officer, everyone loved him. You could tell by the number of people that arrived at the hospital. He was well thought of throughout the department. He was a hero.”

Cousette’s passing brought words of mourning and solidarity from around the Yellowhammer State, including Attorney General Steve Marshall and other police departments.

As of press time, no details about the suspected gunman had been released, except that he was in custody and had previously been wanted on felony charges.

Cousette, a veteran of the U.S. Army, is survived by two daughters and a fiancée.

You can view a Monday night press conference featuring Tubbs and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox here.

“We often take the heroes around us for granted,” Maddox said. “We believe them to be invincible. We believe that the safety we enjoy comes without sacrifice. Tonight let us give thanks for the heroes of the Tuscaloosa Police Department. Let us give thanks for Investigator Cousette.”

Read more from WBRC and The Tuscaloosa News.

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

5 days ago

Dismukes pledges to join House Freedom Caucus if elected in AL-02

(Dismukes for Congress/Contributed)

State Representative Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) on Monday pledged that he will join the U.S. House Freedom Caucus if he wins election to Alabama’s 2nd congressional district in 2020.

The Freedom Caucus is generally considered the furthest-right caucus within the ranks of House Republicans. Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) was the organization’s first chair, and Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) is currently in the process of turning over leadership of the caucus to Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ).

There are approximately 30 members of the caucus. From Alabama, Congressmen Mo Brooks (AL-05) and Gary Palmer (AL-06) are Freedom Caucus members.

These are the types of colleagues Dismukes hopes to emulate if voters send him from Goat Hill to Capitol Hill.

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“I believe that the members of the Freedom Caucus are the strongest conservatives in Washington, and if that is true then that is where I belong,” Dismukes said in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

Dismukes currently represents District 88 in the Alabama House of Representatives. This includes portions of Autauga and Elmore counties.

“Freedom Caucus members like Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and Alabama’s own Mo Brooks are the kind of representatives I want to emulate in Congress,” he stressed.

“The Freedom Caucus stands strong for limited government and reducing wasteful spending,” Dismukes continued. “They understand that the fight we’re having in this country right now over socialism is nothing less than a fight for the soul of this nation. The Freedom Caucus is on the right side of that fight, and I look forward to joining their ranks.”

He concluded, “I care more about standing up for conservative principles than I do currying favor with lobbyists and other DC interests. I think I will have that in common with the other members of the caucus. I am thrilled to see where new chairman Rep. Andy Biggs takes the group. He is a strong representative who I look forward to befriending.”

Alabama’s Second Congressional District seat is being vacated by the retirement of Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL).

Wiregrass business titan Jeff Coleman, former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and former Attorney General Troy King are among the candidates in this 2020 Republican primary, along with Dismukes.

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

6 days ago

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Brad Mendheim for state Supreme Court

(Office of Governor Kay Ivey)

The Alabama Forestry Association (AFA) on Monday announced its endorsement of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Brad Mendheim in the Republican primary for place two on the court.

Mendheim was first appointed to the state’s highest court by Governor Kay Ivey in 2018. He lost election to a full term to that office in the 2018 election cycle but was appointed to a different vacancy, place two, on the Supreme Court by Ivey earlier this year.

In a statement, AFA executive vice president Chris Isaacson said, “We are proud to support Justice Mendheim in his race for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court.”

“His conservative judicial philosophy along with a proven track record earned over 20 years make him the right person for the job,” he concluded.

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Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court by Ivey, Mendheim was a circuit judge for Houston and Henry counties from 2009- 2018.

Before his election to that office, he served as district judge of Houston County from 2001-2008 and as an assistant district attorney, making him uniquely qualified as a former prosecutor and trial judge.

“I am honored to receive the support of Forest PAC, a group which has a long reputation of supporting conservative leaders in the state of Alabama,” Mendheim emphasized.

He advised, “My judicial philosophy is simple: to follow the Constitution and rule with impartiality, and I pledge to continue that as long as I am privileged to serve. It is not our role on the Alabama Supreme Court to bring a political agenda to work, and I strongly believe that groups such as the Forestry Association recognize that all who come before our court deserve two things: a fair review of the facts and ultimately, for the rule of law to be upheld.”

During his judicial career, Mendheim has presided over more than 300 jury trials.

He graduated with a BA from Auburn University and went on to receive his JD from Cumberland School of Law. Mendheim and his wife, Michelle, have been married for over 24 years. They are the proud parents of three sons: Connor, Ryan and Carson. They are long time members of First Baptist Church of Dothan, where Brad is a Sunday school teacher and deacon.

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

6 days ago

Alabama’s Tony Cochran launches new initiative to help grow small businesses

(Team Delta3/Contributed, YHN)

After 40 years of business advising, Alabama-based businessman Tony Cochran is excited to announce the creation of Team Delta3, LLC.

Team Delta3 will essentially offer a premier business boot camp, taking on the task of educating business owners on best practices for success with a focus on the three key ways to grow their businesses.

In a statement, Cochran explained, “For over four decades I have watched business owners who are very good at their respective craft, struggle to be successful.”

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He is the president of CK Business Solutions, PC, a consulting and accounting firm headquartered in Albertville.

Roughly 20 years ago, Cochran changed his focus from delivering traditional business, tax and accounting advice to one of helping business owners find solutions to everyday problems. His passion for helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses, develop repeatable processes and face the modern-day challenges in an increasingly competitive world has led him to be a part of an elite group of business advisors.

“Many universities, small business incubators and consultants have tried various ways to help businesses grow,” Cochran outlined. “Our approach at Team Delta3 is to take proven techniques and present them in a concentrated, focused ‘Boot Camp’ style environment so that each participant leaves with the tangible game plan needed to grow their business into a thriving enterprise.”

Beyond his own successful advisory businesses, Cochran has been recognized by a number of organizations for his leadership and civic contributions.

He is a board member of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and previously served on its executive committee. Currently, Cochran is a member of the 30th (XXX) class of Leadership Alabama, chairman of the board of the Albertville Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the board of his church, founding chairman of the Albertville City Schools Foundation, board member of the North Central Alabama Girl Scouts and in 2002 received the Citizen of the Year Award the highest award given for community service in his hometown. He also holds the designations of CPA and CMGA.

However, the impressive involvement does not end at the Alabama state line for Cochran.

Later this month, he will be a VIP at the Living Legends event in New York City.

Living Legends brings together the top business consultants in the United States to exchange ideas and develop a nationwide network of renowned consultants in marketing, internet sales, branding, growth and general business. These include people such as Martha Stewart, Michael Gerber and Clint Arthur.

As a VIP, Cochran will be internationally recognized for his skills and contribution to business clients throughout the course of his career.

“For someone who calls Sand Mountain home, having the opportunity to be a part of an event as large in scope as Living Legends is an incredible honor. I look forward to integrating concepts and collaborators from Living Legends into the new venture of Team Delta3 and our BootCamp experience,” Cochran concluded.

“BootCamp” participants can expect intensive training during the course of the three-day event. Concepts related to market growth, key performance indicators and applied metrics will be developed for each business. These indicators will be the drivers that provide owners measurable results.

Find out more here.

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

6 days ago

Tuberville: Alabamians ‘trust football coaches a heck of a lot more than they trust politicians’

(Varney & Co./Twitter)

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a 2020 Republican U.S. Senate candidate in the Yellowhammer State, on Monday appeared on Fox Business’ “Varney & Co.” to discuss his support of President Donald Trump and the state of the race to unseat Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

Tuberville reiterated his belief that “President Trump has saved this country.”

He said he was unsure who the president will support in Alabama’s GOP senatorial primary, if anyone, but emphasized Trump’s support “goes a long way in the state.”

Tuberville also reaffirmed that he will not take his salary if elected to the U.S. Senate.

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“[W]e’ve got to get away from the career politicians,” Tuberville remarked. “I’m not an establishment [candidate], I don’t owe anybody anything. I’m not taking a salary. I want to do it for the right reasons.”

The guest host then asked the former college football coach if his ties to Auburn might dissuade some Crimson Tide fans from voting for him.

“You know, before I decided to run, I did my due diligence,” Tuberville responded. “I went across the state talking to people about this.”

“And you know, at the end of the day, the people of Alabama — they trust football coaches a heck of a lot more than they trust politicians,” he continued. “So, I’m going to get as many (University of) Alabama votes. I’m going to get Auburn votes.”

“We need something strong, you know. We need people who make decisions for the right reasons. And they trust football coaches in this state, I promise you that,” Tuberville concluded.

Watch:

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

6 days ago

Jones called ‘faithful soldier for Chuck Schumer’ after opening door to Kavanaugh impeachment

(PBSNewsHour, Washington Post/YouTube)

This weekend, the New York Times published unsubstantiated accusations of sexual assault regarding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, only later admitting in an editor’s note that the alleged accuser does not actually recall the incident and would not even speak on record about it.

Facts aside, the New York Times and other coastal media outlets ran with the narrative that there are more “credible” allegations against Kavanaugh than what was investigated during his confirmation process in the U.S. Senate last year.

National Democrats, such as presidential candidates like Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have used the new “reporting” to call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment, ignoring the Times having to issue a correction.

This has drawn the ire of many Americans, including President Donald Trump.

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“DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT THESE HORRIBLE PEOPLE WILL DO OR SAY,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “They are looking to destroy, and influence his opinions – but played the game badly. They should be sued!”

In a statement, National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) communications director Jesse Hunt commented, “This shameful attack – aided by a few members of the media – is nothing more than a blatant attempt to undermine the Supreme Court and the will of the people who voted for a conservative judiciary.”

“Every Democratic Senate candidate who sits in silence will be held accountable by voters in their respective states,” he added.

In Alabama, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has actually already gone on record about the latest supposed accusation, seemingly once again jumping at the chance to attack Kavanaugh. Jones opposed his confirmation in 2018, saying representing the majority of Alabamians is not “the be all to end all.”

Appearing Sunday on MSNBC, Jones said Kavanaugh “can be impeached.”

He also bragged that the movement for impeachment was always “inevitable” following the heated confirmation battle.

Jones previously emphasized he would endorse the eventual Democratic nominee, including either Warren or Harris, over Trump, no matter how radical that Democrat is.

Senate Leadership Fund communications director Jack Panel commented, “Doug Jones’ irrational hatred of President Trump has caused him to abandon all pretense and back this liberal media smear to impeach Justice Kavanaugh.”

“A lawyer should know better than to advance an argument without facts – but this demonstrates Jones is merely a faithful soldier for Chuck Schumer and national Democrats, not a Senator for the people of Alabama,” Pandol concluded.

Trump also stressed that this latest spectacle is merely another political maneuver ahead of 2020.

“This is all about the LameStream Media working with their partner, the Dems,” Trump tweeted.

RELATED: Watch: Doug Jones vows to oppose hypothetical future Trump Supreme Court nominee

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

6 days ago

Dominique Wilkins to speak at Alabama Economic Growth Summit

(The Dominant Group/Contributed, AEGS/Contributed, YHN)

Telegraph Creative on Monday announced that NBA legend, entrepreneur and philanthropist Dominique Wilkins will be one of the keynote speakers at the Alabama Economic Growth Summit, which is set to take place October 24-25 at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa.

The most celebrated player to ever put on an Atlanta Hawks uniform and represented in front of State Farm Arena by an 18,500-pound bronze statue, Wilkins is currently the Hawks’ vice president of basketball and special advisor to the CEO. He works in various management functions within the organization’s basketball and business areas. He is also the team’s analyst for the Hawks broadcasts on FOX Sports Southeast.

Additionally, Wilkins has embarked on an impressive entrepreneurial career.

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In what Barron’s called a “full court press for tech,” Wilkins has partnered with consulting powerhouse 3Ci to “connect software developers and coders from underserved communities with start-ups.” Some of his other entrepreneurial endeavors include a collaboration with a craft brewing company and a high-end cigar line.

“I am passionate about creating economic opportunities in underserved communities and doing everything I can to make sure people who are willing to put in the work have a chance to succeed,” Wilkins said in a statement. “It’s great to see Alabamians coming together for this Summit around that very idea. I look forward to sharing my experiences and views with the people taking a leading role in pushing Alabama forward.”

Wilkins is also extremely active with local and national charity endeavors.

He has done work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association and American Lung Association.

In July 2007, Wilkins launched “Nique and Newt’s Full-Court Press on Diabetes” with former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich. In March 2010, Wilkins was honored by the Georgia state legislature as they presented a resolution naming him the diabetes ambassador for the State of Georgia. He is also a diabetes ambassador for Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care.

Cliff Sims, president of Telegraph Creative, expressed his enthusiasm at having Wilkins involved in the summit, which is being organized by Telegraph.

“Dominique is known for being world-class on the basketball court and in the boardroom, but he’s also a world-class person,” said Sims.

“Growth Summit attendees are going to get a ton of value out of hearing his perspective and insights into what it takes to succeed at the highest level,” he concluded.

Tickets and sponsorship packages for the Alabama Economic Growth Summit are currently available at ALGrowthSummit.com.

More details on the event:

Alabama Power is the title sponsor for the summit, which will bring together a diverse group of powerful and influential leaders in pursuit of four overall objectives:

1. Celebrate Alabama’s economic development successes,
2. Rally the state’s major economic development stakeholders around our common goals of job creation and increased prosperity,
3. Facilitate dialogue on the most important issues facing our economy,
4. Drive massive media coverage around Alabama’s commitment to attracting companies and creating an overall environment that’s conducive to growth.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard A. Grenell, Deputy U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and numerous members of Alabama’s congressional delegation will be among the senior federal government officials participating in the program, along with numerous high-ranking state-level officials from both the legislative and executive branches.

From the private sector, CEOs, venture capitalists, site selectors and economic developers from around the state and nation will be among the speakers and panelists.

Arthur C. Brooks, former president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), has already been announced as a featured speaker.

A major highlight of the summit will be national media personalities in attendance covering the event and guiding panel discussions. This will include Axios executive editor Mike Allen and Tuscaloosa native Elaina Plott, now White House correspondent for The Atlantic.

The event was first held by Yellowhammer in 2016 when Sims was the company’s CEO. Now president of Telegraph Creative, Sims is bringing the summit back this year.

“When we launched this event in 2016 at Yellowhammer, our goal was to bring together the state’s leaders around our shared goals of more jobs and increased prosperity for all Alabamians,” he explained to Yellowhammer News recently. “We’re going to continue that mission this year.”

“Alabama’s had some big economic development wins in recent years. This Summit is all about building on that momentum, and we’re thrilled to have buy-in from the state’s key leaders in both the public and private sectors,” Sims added.

Sims will be on the event’s host committee, which also includes Yellowhammer Multimedia publisher Allison Ross and a host of public and private sector titans, such as:

Will Ainsworth
Lieutenant governor
State of Alabama

Katie Britt
President
Business Council of Alabama

Stephanie Bryan
Tribal chair and CEO
Poarch Band of Creek Indians

Mark Crosswhite
Chairman, president and CEO
Alabama Power

Deontée Gordon
President
TechBirmingham

Johnny Johns
Executive chairman
Protective Life Corporation

Mike Kemp
President and CEO
Kemp Management Solutions

James K. Lyons
CEO
Alabama State Port Authority

Del Marsh
President pro tem
Alabama Senate

Mac McCutcheon
Speaker of the House
Alabama House of Representatives

Jimmy Parnell
CEO
Alfa

Liz Pharo
Managing partner
Featheringill Capital

Jimmy Rane
President and CEO
Great Southern Wood

Jeana Ross
Secretary
Department of Early Childhood Education

Finis St. John
Chancellor
University of Alabama System

Lee Sentell
Director
Alabama Department of Tourism

Gary Smith
President and CEO
PowerSouth

Fitzgerald Washington
Commissioner
Alabama Department of Labor

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

6 days ago

Boeing ‘increasingly concerned’ about ICBM replacement program; Alabama jobs at stake

(Boeing Defense/Twitter)

Northrop Grumman has rejected Boeing’s offer to partner on building America’s next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system, a proposal which could mean over 1,000 new jobs in the Huntsville area if implemented.

In 2017, Boeing and Northrop became the final two competitors for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program, which will replace the current Minuteman III ICBM. Both companies entered into contracts to develop preliminary designs for the GBSD, with Boeing conducting a portion of this work in Huntsville.

The Air Force at the time announced it would select a winner in 2020 between Boeing and Northrop for the engineering, manufacturing and development phase.

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However, in July, Boeing made the decision to drop out of the program, citing its belief that Northrop’s acquisition of solid-fueled rocket motor manufacturer Orbital ATK, now known as Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, gave the competitor an unfair advantage. This came after the final request for proposal was issued for the final competition stage.

“After numerous attempts to resolve concerns within the procurement process, Boeing has informed the Air Force that it will not bid Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) under the current acquisition approach,” a Boeing statement outlined. “We’ve evaluated these issues extensively, and determined that the current acquisition approach does not provide a level playing field for fair competition.”

Since Boeing dropped out of the competition in July, there have been serious concerns about repercussions for national security and Alabama jobs.

Defense News reported that “external Air Force experts raised concerns that Northrop being the sole bidder on the GBSD could lead to increased costs or delays.”

With Boeing saying it could not hope to compete against Northrop in the given acquisition process, some suggested that the military put together a “national team” and leverage Boeing’s experience on top of Northrop’s monopoly on the building of solid state rockets.

As reported first by Alabama Daily News, this is exactly what Boeing proposed — a partnership between the two defense juggernauts to ensure the crucial GBSD program is as strong, and procured as efficiently, as possible for the American people.

“In our view, the Air Force is best served by putting both us and Northrop Grumman on that project,” said Frank McCall, vice president and program manager of Boeing’s GBSD.

Boeing reportedly explained to the Air Force the significant time and cost savings a team approach between the two companies could result in on the project, cutting the implementation schedule by approximately two years and reducing initial development costs by about 10%.

Despite the apparent benefits to the welfare of the United States, Northrop is seemingly intent on proceeding as the sole competitor.

Last month, the company announced it is beginning work on a new facility in Utah to serve as the headquarters for its GBSD work. The new facility is expected to be completed around the middle of next year and create 2,500 Utah jobs.

And, just on Friday, Northrop Grumman rejected Boeing’s offer of a partnership.

This rejection was lamented by a Boeing spokesperson in a statement.

“In our discussions to date, Northrop Grumman has expressed that they are not interested in partnering with Boeing to form a best-of-industry GBSD team,” he said.

“We are increasingly concerned that the Air Force’s deterrence mission and the nation’s security will be deprived of the best solution – a proven approach that leverages both companies’ technical strengths and decades of ICBM experience,” the Boeing statement concluded.

The GBSD program is expected to cost approximately $85 billion over its lifespan.

The program will handle the land-based element of America’s nuclear triad.

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

1 week ago

Former Alabama resident pleads guilty to charge related to terrorism financing, al Qaeda

(Wikimedia Commons)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday announced that Alaa Mohd Abusaad, the former Alabama resident charged last year in Birmingham with attempting to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda, has pled guilty to a related charge.

A piece of new criminal information was filed on Wednesday — the 18th anniversary of 9/11 — against Abusaad, charging her with concealment of terrorism financing, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2339C and 2.

She pleaded guilty to this charge on Friday, as announced by assistant attorney general for national security John C. Demers, United States Attorney Jay E. Town of the Northern District of Alabama and FBI special agent in charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. of the Birmingham division.

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Investigation of the case was conducted by the FBI, including the FBI office in Birmingham.

As outlined in the previously filed complaint, Abusaad instructed an FBI undercover employee (UCE) about how to send money to the mujahedeen — fighters engaged in jihad.

She told the UCE, “[Money] is always needed.  You can’t have a war without weapons.  You can’t prepare a soldier without equipment.”

Abusaad also advised the UCE on how to send money in a manner that would avoid detection by law enforcement, including by using fake names and addresses when conducting electronic money transfers.

Subsequently, she introduced the UCE to a financial facilitator who could route the UCE’s money to “brothers that work with aq (al Qaeda).”

Al Qaeda is a designated foreign terrorist organization in the United States.

The maximum penalty for concealment of terrorism financing is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as up to a life term of supervised release.

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