British government resignations signal problems


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BRITISH GOVERNMENT RESIGNATIONS SIGNAL PROBLEMS

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, World Magazine is reporting that British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who served as the key campaigner for Brexit, Britain’s departure from the European Union, resigned last Monday. His resignation is the latest move threatening Prime Minister Theresa May’s government and comes after Brexit secretary David Davis resigned on Sunday night. Steve Baker, a minister in Britain’s Brexit Department followed with his resignation almost immediately.

Harry, it was about two years ago that the citizens of Great Britain voted to leave the EU. It appears that Theresa May might be slow-walking that process and she’s running into some roadblocks.

DR. REEDER: Yeah, it’s really been interesting to watch this implementation of the popular vote in Britain to exit the European Union, the EU, and to watch its implementation under the administration of Prime Minister Theresa May.
And, of course, the sideshow — and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way — has also been the relationship between Prime Minister Theresa May and our own President Trump, which all coincides, by the way, because while all of this is happening, President Trump is on his way to Britain and the reports were that Prime Minister May — it may have contributed to this — had given strict directives that he was not to meet with Brexit supporters, even those that reside within her administration.

PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY SEEMS TO BE SLOW-WALKING BREXIT

As you and I were considering this and I was doing some research, it seems to be pretty undeniable, for whatever reason, that the prime minister is not fully supportive of the vote of the British people to exit the European Union. On the one hand, she’s tapping the brakes — she’s pumping the brakes — to slow everything down as much as possible and perhaps, in a year to two years, maybe see if a movement to reverse the vote could take place. Now within her own administration are those who campaigned for and are supportive of Brexit and they’re calling attention to it by their resignation, which has put her entire government in a precarious position and a possible vote of no confidence may just be right around the corner.

Let’s look at the overall issue of Brexit — that is, Britain exiting the European Union — and why. Tom, as you know, in the last century, we had two world wars that originated in Europe and originated out of national conflict so there were a couple of efforts to try to put in place an organization that would forestall any future conflict — a way to settle issues without the entire world being embroiled in a way.

IS EXITING THE EUROPEAN UNIT A GOOD IDEA?

First was the League of Nations after World War I and it didn’t work. Then came the United Nations and, while it’s not been as effective as many would like and has become an instrument in which people are using it to advance their own national interest instead of being a place to settle national issues, the greater fear always is that it becomes a world government and, by so becoming a world government, then national sovereignty is lost.

That looming specter out of the United Nations has an even compelling emotional response in Europe because what has developed in the last 25 years is the European Union and, what was meant to be an alliance of cooperation, well, it has become almost a settled fact that the European Union and its directives supersede national directives. And that’s what happened in Britain — “We don’t want the European Union telling us what kind of light bulbs we can use, how we recycle our trash,” all of the things that the European Union was now giving directives to nations, and they said, “No, we want our national sovereignty back,” which is understandable.

NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY IS IMPORTANT AS LONG AS IT DOESN’T TURN INTO NATIONALISM

Now, here is where, from a Christian world and life view, we recognize that God has ordained the ethos — that is, the nations of the world — and, as these nations exist, should their sovereignty be superseded by imperial movements of one nation or by imperial structures that dominate the nations and I think that’s what the pushback was in Britain.

As I listened to the debate in England, it seemed as if everyone was saying, “We’re fine with defense alliances and trade alliances such as NATO. We are not fine with losing our national sovereignty to the European Union.”

What readily raises its head in a fallen world are two dynamics concerning nations. One is nationalism. As you know, the populist presidency that we are now under in President Trump has tapped into this notion of “America First.” Now, President Trump has said, “I am not saying America First and only. What I am saying is what I think every nation should do — whenever you make a decision, it’s not in disregard to other nations, but it is in regard to we’ve got to do what’s best for our own nation. I was elected to be president of this nation and then the well-being of this nation will position us to be of benefit to other nations.”

CARE AND PRECEDENCE OF ONE’S OWN NATION IS BIBLICAL

I compare it to that emotionally jarring moment where, every time I get on an airplane and come those words, “In the unlikely event of an emergency, your oxygen mask will come down. Please secure your own mask before you assist someone else.” Well, you know, in my heart, that jars me emotionally because what I want to do is assist the other person in the virtue of sacrifice and helping them but, when you stop and think about it, that kind of emergency where you’re losing oxygen, you can’t help the other person without having oxygen.

That’s why, in the law of God, it says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In light of God’s love for you and your love for the Lord, you need to secure that intimacy with the Lord and that’s what enables you to love your neighbor thoughtfully, Biblically and effectively.

You understand, in a true approach to this, we have to handle our nation’s well-being first but you can’t let it slip into nationalism because, if you have nationalism, then you’re going to have imperialism, which is the robbing and domination of other nations in order to take from them what is theirs and add to your own coffers. National sovereignty cannot become an occasion for nationalism. On the other hand, national sovereignty is crucial for nations to be in position to rightly help other nations.

THERE IS HOPE FOR ENGLAND TO REBOUND WITH GOOD LEADERSHIP AND A GOSPEL AWAKENING

From a Christian world and life view, my ancestry comes from there — I’m one-fourth Scot, one-fourth Irish, one-fourth Scots-Irish, and one-fourth English — so I look to that nation with some interest and I would hope and pray, for the well-being of England politically and economically, that she would carry out the vote of the people and do it in such a way that nationalism doesn’t come to the forefront which would lead to another imperialistic movement or to an isolationist position. Nations, like people, need to hear the commandment of the Lord — we want to be in the world but not of the world.

And then, finally, what I would say for this is I am the beneficiary of a great Gospel awakening in our nation. It didn’t start in our nation; it started in England. I long for the day when, like the Oxford 12 — men like Charles Wesley, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Daniel Rowland, Ronald Sennick, and others — I am praying for God to raise up a Gospel awakening within England. It is in desperate need of the gospel to move forward. The answer is not found in nationalism, the answer is not found in isolationism and the answer is not found in imperialism. The answer is found in the movement of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the population and may the Lord raise up great gospel preachers in England.

I look with interest in this political conundrum that Prime Minister Theresa May faces. I look with interest in how it’s going to affect the NATO summit and the side discussions that she and her government were having with Donald Trump concerning a trade alliance between England and America and how that’s going to affect that discussion.

While I look for all of that, I look to the heavens and pray, God, open the heavens up and pour down a gospel-saturating movement upon England and upon my own nation and may it go to the whole world. I pray may the grace of God cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

Ledbetter: Alabama’s teachers are standing tall with return to classroom instruction

All of the personality traits, values and life lessons that we carry with us as adults were shaped and instilled in us by the people we encountered in childhood. For many, the strongest influences came from our schoolteachers, who opened new worlds of knowledge and taught us skills that remain with us today.

Consider for a moment the music teacher who taught you to play an instrument, the math teacher who led you to a love of numbers, the history teacher who brought to life the stories of our nation’s past, or the English teacher who inspired you to love great literature.

Teaching is one of the few professions whose impact continues to last for decades after the individual who does the job retires.

As many children across Alabama are preparing to return to school even while the coronavirus pandemic continues, teachers have never been more important or vital or deserving of our deepest appreciation.

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Returning to brick-and-mortar school instruction will, hopefully, restore a sense of normalcy to our children’s lives in these decidedly abnormal times.

A return to the classroom and even resuming the online instruction that some are adopting will also help our students maintain their education progress and continue the important social and emotional development that interaction with their peers and instructors allows.

Our English second language learners will receive the communication skills they need in order to better assimilate, and many low-income students will receive the healthy nourishment from the school lunch program that might be denied them at home.

Given the current circumstances and environment, I recognize that some of our public school employees may have a sense of trepidation about returning to school, and that is certainly understandable. Wearing a face mask to do something as simple as shopping for groceries, paying for gas or walking into a restaurant offers all of us a constant reminder that COVID-19 is a very contagious virus.

But our teachers and educators are setting their concerns aside and answering the call to duty.

I know that Gov. Kay Ivey, State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Education took great care in developing the “Roadmap to Reopening Alabama Schools,” and local school boards are being equally diligent in creating and implementing their own safety guidelines.

The importance of sanitization will be stressed more than ever before, and billions of dollars made available to Alabama through the federal CARES Act will help ensure that any resources that are needed to reopen schools safely will be readily available.

As the majority leader of the Alabama House, I can also offer assurances that the legislature stands ready to pass legislation or make appropriations that are necessary to ease the return to classroom instruction once we are in session.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an even deeper appreciation of the frontline heroes who have remained on the job and provided the most essential services throughout the crisis.

Doctors and nurses in our hospitals and health clinics; grocery store and other retail employees; law enforcement officers, emergency workers and firefighters; postal workers; sanitation workers; restaurant personnel; and those in dozens of other professions are among those who continued working even when times were their toughest.

I am proud to say that the teachers, school nurses, administrators and support personnel in Alabama’s schools also rank high upon the list of those who have stood tall, and their already invaluable service to our state is even more important to students and parents in each of our cities, towns and crossroads today.

Helen Keller, one of Alabama’s most inspirational figures, once said, “It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”

As I close by wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy school year, we would all do well to keep Helen Keller’s words in mind.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) serves as majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives

5 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate gave an update Monday afternoon on the spate of seed packets from China that people across Alabama have received in recent weeks despite never having ordered anything.

Pate said that after the state seed labs had performed tests on the packets they had collected from individuals across Alabama, and none of them proved to be dangerous.

“Right at 50% of them proved be some kind of weed flower … 41% were vegetables, and 9% were herbs … we found no noxious compounds, no dangerous compounds,” said Pate at the event.

However, he warned, “They might send out the first seeds that weren’t treated with anything, have a sense of security come about, and then later send something out that could be harmful.”

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The commissioner further urged members of the public to refrain from planting any unsolicited seeds and continue to report them to the Department.

“At the very least something criminal has gone on here,” stated Pate, referencing laws that prevent seeds from being moved across state lines without being inspected by the relevant agencies.

Pate said his department had collected 252 seed samples as of Monday morning.

A total of 385 individuals in all but 11 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received one of the packets, according to information relayed at the press conference. State workers will be collecting the remaining samples soon.

(AL. Dept. of Ag/Contributed)

“Because we’ve got such a good food and drug lab, because we’ve got such a good seed lab, we knew this was inside of our comfort zone,” Pate said of the decision to conduct the seed tests in-house as opposed to shipping them to the federal government.

Andy Tipton, division director of Food Safety and Ag Compliance, said that 25 states had reported similar seed packets showing up at consumers’ doorsteps. He added that the ADAI was turning over all relevant info to the FBI, who were monitoring the situation.

Pate further told Yellowhammer News that one of the prevailing theories remained that the cause was an internet seller running a scam to artificially inflate their customer numbers and create opportunities for fake reviews.

He ended his press conference saying, “We have no idea the reason for this happening, but it doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant.”

Any Alabamian still receiving one of the packets can report it here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

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

6 hours ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

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