The Wire

  • Decatur doctor accused of sexual assault responds to lawsuit

    Excerpt from WHNT:

    A Decatur doctor accused of sexually assaulting several of his patients is disputing all claims of wrongdoing. Dr. Michael Dick of Alabama Medicine and Rheumatology Clinic responded to a lawsuit filed on behalf of six women who claim to be his former patients. The doctor also filed a protective order asking a judge to stop the victims from sharing their stories with the media.

    A Birmingham-based attorney responded on behalf of Dr. Dick saying there is “no basis to contend he preys on female patients as alleged in the complaint.” The lawsuit filed against Dr. Dick says female members of the nursing staff were present with him. He says no misconduct took place, as alleged in the lawsuit. The response also says employees who work at the medical practice deny any misconduct.

  • Bobby Bright says ‘D.C. powerbrokers’ pushed Trump to endorse Martha Roby

    Excerpt from AL.com:

    Bobby Bright says ‘D.C. powerbrokers’ pushed Trump to endorse Martha Roby in Alabama’s District 2 race.

    “I understand politics and how Washington works. It appears the D.C. powerbrokers have gotten to the President on this issue. It’s truly a swamp of insiders controlled by big money special interests, the same crowd who’s bankrolling Martha Roby’s campaign to the tune of over $1 million just this year,” Bright said in a statement. “It’s a place where loyalty doesn’t exist. When you take that much money from D.C., New York and California, you lose sight of Alabama.”

    Incumbent Roby will face Bobby Bright — a former congressman she defeated in 2010 — in a runoff next month. Bright served one term in Congress as a Democrat, but switched parties to run against Roby in this year’s Republican primary.

  • Man accused of trying to run over police officer, charged with attempted murder

    Excerpt from ABC 33/40:

    A man accused of trying to run over a police officer was charged with attempted murder Friday, Shelby County authorities confirm.

    Chief Assistant District Attorney Roger Hepburn says Issai Serrano is the suspect connected with a Wednesday afternoon shooting involving an Alabaster Police officer. The shooting occurred at Morgan Road and South Shades Crest Road, said Hoover Police officers, who were the first to respond to the scene.

19 hours ago

These are the services that are wasting Medicare dollars

(YHN/Pixabay)

Three services categorized as “low-value care” or “care that has little or no clinical benefit” drained hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare from 2011-2016, according to a report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).

The three services highlighted in the report are: early dialysis for people with functional kidneys, proton beam centers, and H.P. Acthar Gel.

Medicare spent from $500 million to $1.4 billion in 2016 alone on early-stage kidney dialysis that “is not associated with improved outcomes.”

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During that same year, Medicare spent $115 million on proton beam therapy, an external, targeted cancer treatment, that has “a lack of evidence that it offers a clinical advantage over alternative treatments” despite being “substantially” more expensive.

Medicare spending on Acthar went from $49 million to $504 million between 2011 to 2015. Acthar gel, which can be used to treat Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, has “weak evidence” of being an effective treatment. In addition to questions about its efficacy, 71 percent of physicians received payments from the manufacturer not related to research.

The report suggests tying effectiveness to coverage and payment under Medicare. Currently, “Medicare’s coverage process considers, but does not require, comparative clinical effectiveness evidence” when deciding which treatments to cover.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

21 hours ago

Military awards Alabama’s GeneCapture $1 million contract to develop portable disease detector

(GeneCapture)

The Department of Defense has awarded Huntsville’s GeneCapture a $1 million, two-year contract to develop a portable device that war fighters can use to identify disease-causing germs.

The Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) contract is from the DOD’s Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense.

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GeneCapture, a resident associate company at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, has developed a “gene signature matching platform” that screens for hundreds of pathogens in less than one hour. The multi-pathogen test is conducted using a small, inexpensive disposable cartridge and can be used to test samples from humans and animals. The technique is being evaluated as a possible solution for a portable infection diagnostic device for use in forward deployed military operations.

GeneCapture is collaborating on this contract with Birmingham’s Southern Research, which will provide its expertise in infectious diseases, purifying genetic material for testing and designing clinical trials for the Food and Drug Administration.

“It has been a dream of mine to bring this technology to market so that critical diagnostic decisions can be made quickly, which will save lives,” said Krishnan Chittur, chemical engineering professor emeritus at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and co-founder of GeneCapture. The original discovery was patented by UAH and exclusively licensed to GeneCapture.

Chittur said the technology uses genetic probes to capture the “signature” of germs. An optical scan identifies which germ is present and produces a result in about 45 minutes.

“It’s a completely new technique that would have been impossible without the advances in genetics and genomics discoveries of the last decade,” he said. “That is one of the reasons we are located at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology – the research that’s happening here is cutting-edge.”

Paula Koelle, chief scientist at GeneCapture and principal investigator for the STTR Phase II contract, will lead the effort to produce the disposable cartridges and desktop analyzer for a set of pathogens selected by the DOD that present potential biological threats to the war fighter.

The resulting technology could have uses beyond the battlefield.

The portable platform could enable civilian applications, such as rapid infection diagnosis in schools, urgent care clinics, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, veterinary clinics, cruise ships and airports.

Southern Research’s proven track record supporting new platforms for detecting and preventing newly emerged and highly dangerous and infectious disease pathogens made the nonprofit the perfect partner on the project.

“The opportunity to work closely with GeneCapture is a perfect match for Southern Research,” said Art Tipton, Southern Research president and CEO. “We have a history of reaching out to the life sciences community, which benefits both our state economy and the global healthcare industry. Our infectious disease scientists will produce reference tests and accelerate the clinical testing of GeneCapture’s new platform.”

Working for the DOD drives home the sense of urgency when it comes to disease-causing germs around the world.

“GeneCapture is focused on reducing the risk we all have of being infected from emerging pathogens and global pandemics – the clock is ticking,” said GeneCapture CEO and co-founder Peggy Sammon. “The GeneCapture team is working diligently to bring an affordable, portable solution to this critical problem by connecting with disease experts around the world to incorporate their needs into this product.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

23 hours ago

SCIENTISTS: 30 years of data show the ‘godfather’ of global warming was wrong

(Wikicommons)

Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Ryan Maue compared Hansen’s temperature predictions to real-world observations and found his supposedly “highly unlikely” forecast with the least amount of warming was the most accurate.

“Global surface temperature has not increased significantly since 2000, discounting the larger-than-usual El Niño of 2015-16,” Michaels and Maue wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

“Assessed by Mr. Hansen’s model, surface temperatures are behaving as if we had capped 18 years ago the carbon-dioxide emissions responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect,” the two scientists wrote. “But we didn’t. And it isn’t just Mr. Hansen who got it wrong.”

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“Models devised by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have, on average, predicted about twice as much warming as has been observed since global satellite temperature monitoring began 40 years ago,” they wrote.

Climate model accuracy has become a major source of debate as scientists realized predictions diverged greatly from observations over the last 15 years or so. Governments often rely on climate models to justify climate policies or regulations, meaning inaccurate models can yield bad policies.

Hansen laid out three global warming scenarios in 1988 at an iconic congressional hearing: a high-end one where the world warms about 1 degree Celsius by 2018, a middle-range of 0.7 degrees of warming and a low-end estimate with only a few tenths of a degree of warming. The hearing was held on a hot summer day and was organized by none other than former Democratic Rep. Al Gore of Tennessee.

Hansen wished he hadn’t been so accurate in predicting future warming, contradicting Michaels and Maue, he told the Associated Press on Monday. AP claimed Hansen’s predictions had “pretty much come true so far, more or less.”

“I don’t want to be right in that sense,” Hansen said, adding he wished “that the warning be heeded and actions be taken.”

Many other scientists the AP spoke with raved about Hansen’s predictions. Berkeley climate scientist Zeke Hausfather tweeted: “Hansen’s 1988 projections have largely been borne out.”

Hansen’s 1988 projections have largely been borne out, though he predicted modestly higher climate forcings and warming in Scenario B than what occurred. His model’s climate sensitivity (4.2C/doubling of CO2) is also on the high end of current estimates. https://t.co/gtYoK0X2f5 pic.twitter.com/a693ikoy2P

— Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) June 18, 2018

However, Michaels and Maue said Hansen’s predictions only look correct because of the strong El Nino effect, a naturally occurring warming event, that began in 2015. Global temperatures have actually come down quite a bit since El Nino subsided.

“The problem with Mr. Hansen’s models — and the U.N.’s — is that they don’t consider more-precise measures of how aerosol emissions counter warming caused by greenhouse gases,” Michaels and Maue wrote.

“Several newer climate models account for this trend and routinely project about half the warming predicted by U.N. models, placing their numbers much closer to observed temperatures,” the two wrote. “The most recent of these was published in April by Nic Lewis and Judith Curry in the Journal of Climate, a reliably mainstream journal.”

The two Cato scientists also took on Hansen’s other failed predictions, including those about the Greenland ice melt, temperatures in the U.S. Midwest, hurricanes and tornadoes.

“The list of what didn’t happen is long and tedious,” Michaels and Maue wrote.

“These corrected climate predictions raise a crucial question: Why should people world-wide pay drastic costs to cut emissions when the global temperature is acting as if those cuts have already been made?” they wrote.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

1 day ago

Amazon to create 1,500 jobs at Alabama fulfillment center

(Amazon)

Internet retail giant Amazon confirmed plans Friday to open a fulfillment center in Jefferson County with 1,500 full-time employees working alongside advanced robotics technology.

Amazon will build the 855,000-square-foot facility center on 133 acres of property being purchased from U.S. Steel off Powder Plant Road in Bessemer, located just minutes away from Birmingham. Total investment in the project is $325 million.

The Seattle, Washington-based company confirmed its plans for the Alabama facility in an announcement that said the project is moving forward, following a series of public meetings with local governments.

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“We are thrilled to bring our first fulfillment center to the state of Alabama, creating 1,500 full-time jobs,” said Mark Stewart, Amazon’s vice president of North America customer fulfillment. “Alabama has a talented workforce and we look forward to making a positive economic impact in a state where we are committed to providing great job opportunities and an exceptional customer experience.”

Employees at the Bessemer facility will work with technology created by Amazon Robotics to pick, pack and ship items to the company’s customers.

“Amazon is one of the world’s most dynamic companies, and we couldn’t be more proud to see the company select Alabama for one of its high-tech fulfillment centers,” Governor Kay Ivey said.

“This facility represents good jobs for our citizens and the beginning of a long partnership that I believe will see Amazon expand and grow in Alabama in the future.”

SIGNIFICANT IMPACT

An analysis projects that the Amazon fulfillment center will generate a significant economic impact on Jefferson County and AlabamaThe center will contribute $203 million to the county’s economic output annually, while adding $123 million to the county’s GDP, according to the study prepared by the Center for Business and Economic Research in the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse School of Business.

The facility will contribute $232 million to Alabama’s economic output each year and add $137 million to the state’s GDP, the study says.

Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley said the Amazon project represents the largest single private investment in the city’s 131-year history. As an added bonus, the company has pledged to create a tuition-assistance program for its workforce.

“Amazon is bringing jobs and opportunity to our residents and students. I am particularly proud of the educational incentives Amazon will offer our young people: get your high school diploma, work one year and receive $3,000 the next four years toward furthering your education,” he said.

GROWING TECH JOBS

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said Amazon’s project perfectly aligns with a strategic emphasis to facilitate the growth of tech jobs across the state.

“Amazon’s new fulfillment center in Bessemer will create a large number of high-quality jobs and feature cutting-edge automation and technological innovation,” Secretary Canfield said. “We’ve made recruiting technology-focused jobs a priority, and Amazon’s presence in the state will help us advance toward our goal.”

This is Amazon’s second project in Alabama. In June 2017, the company announced plans for a $30 million “sortation center” in Mobile to accelerate delivery of online purchases. The facility will have 1,000 part-time workers during peak periods.

Lee Smith, chairman of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said the successful recruitment of Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer stemmed from a team effort that included a number of economic development agencies, utilities, transportation departments, and others.

“Amazon’s investment in our community is a big win for the Birmingham region,” Smith said. “This state-of-the-art facility will be able to accommodate an expanding workforce and a changing economy as Amazon continues to prepare for its future.”

Amazon said full-time employees receive competitive hourly wages and a comprehensive benefits package, including health care, 401(k) and company stock awards starting on day one. Amazon also offers generous maternity and parental leave benefits and access to innovative programs like Career Choice, where it will pre-pay up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

Since the program’s launch, more than 16,000 employees have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, to name a few.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

2 days ago

Alabama AG race latest: Troy King calls Steve Marshall ‘missing in action,’ Marshall hits back

(Steve Marshall, Troy King for Attorney General / Facebook)

Republican candidate for attorney general of Alabama Troy King lashed out at his GOP competitor on Friday, saying Marshall is not adequately tending to his duties as the state’s top law enforcement officer.

“Last week, we gathered in Montgomery to look for Attorney General Steve Marshall,” King said at a press conference this morning at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. “We went to the place where you would most expect that we would find the attorney general of Alabama, at his office. Of course, we learned that he was not there.”

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“We come to the airport today, a place that we are most likely to find Steve Marshall, because these weren’t isolated events,” King said, with revving jet engines as background noise.

King began to argue that Marshall has spent too much time away from his post, such as at a recent meeting of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RACA) in Kiawah, South Carolina, where King said attendees – state attorneys general and their lobbyist friends – were “bought and paid for” while they did yoga on the beach and went on dolphin tours.

King referred to this report published by CBS News on Tuesday, which lays out the agenda of RACA’s retreat meeting.

“This idea that someone’s bought and paid for is rich coming from Troy King,” Marshall told Yellowhammer News, citing King’s relation to the gambling industry.

Marshall said that King attended the same RACA meetings when he served as attorney general. He also challenged King’s characterization of the business interests in attendance, saying the notion that their interests are wholly other than the interests of Alabamians is misguided.

“One of the things we attempt to do, on behalf of not only the people of Alabama but on matters of constitutional importance is to make sure that we are upholding the rule of law,” Marshall said.

According to Marshall, among the issues that RACA set off to address at their April conference were the leftovers of President Obama’s regulatory environment, health care and campus free speech.

King also accused Marshall of wasting time on a trip to Africa last year, which was sponsored by the Conference of Western Attorneys General, saying Marshall was “missing in action.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Marshall’s campaign challenged King’s claims.

“Steve was on a short trip last year to the Republic of South Africa to participate in a legal seminar with his counterparts there,” the statement said. “This trip was not a vacation of any kind and was focused on fighting human trafficking, a hallmark of Steve’s platform.”

The primary runoff election is July 17.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 days ago

Graying Alabama — the median age is higher than national average in all but 10 counties

(Pixabay)

As the massive baby boom generation slips into retirement, America continues to get older.

According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau this week, the median age in America last year was 38, up nearly a full year from 2010. Alabama experienced less of an increase — from 39.1 to 40.5 — but it remains well above the national average.

The South and the Midwest have the highest number of counties where the median age is dropping, but Alabama bucks that trend. The median age is higher than the national mark in 57 of the state’s 67 counties.

Alabama’s “oldest” county is Coosa, where the median age in 2017 was 48.5, meaning half of the population was younger and half was older. That compares with a median age of 30.9 in Pike County, the lowest figure in Alabama.

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The counties that counter the national trend tend to be those with an influx of younger immigrants and Americans moving from other parts of the country. Of the 531 counties where the median age has dropped since the last census, more than half are in the Midwest and 32.4 percent are in the South.

“Nationally, almost 17 percent of counties saw a decrease in median age from April 2010 to July 2017,” Census Bureau demographer Molly Cromwell said in a statement.

The aging population is most profound in the West and especially in the Northeast, where the median age increased in all but 2.1 percent of counties.

Longer life spans and fewer babies are the main drivers, according to Cromwell.

“Baby boomers, and millennials alike, are responsible for this trend in increased aging,” she stated. “Boomers continue to age and are slowly outnumbering children as the birth rate has declined steadily over the last decade.”

The long-term trend has profound public policy implications. A higher percentage of retirees strains Social Security and Medicare, among other challenges. On the local level, counties with smaller numbers of young people sap the economy of workers needed to grow the economy.

In Alabama, the young counties generally are those with big universities or vibrant economies that draw in younger adults.

For instance Lee County (median age, 21.9) and Tuscaloosa County (32.8), have the second-and third-youngest populations in Alabama. It is not difficult to guess why. Auburn University in Lee and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa dominate those counties with thousands of students and large numbers of recent graduates. But even those counties have a higher median age than at the start of the decade.

Three of the four most populous Alabama counties, Montgomery, Mobile and Jefferson, all have median ages under the national average. The other big county, Madison, stands just above the national median at 38.5.

On the flip side, the Alabama counties where the median age is high are dominated by rural areas that have been hemorrhaging population for years or are growing slowly. When younger people leave it not only raises the median income, it also results in fewer babies. And that has a long-term impact.

Conecuh County has lost population four of the last six decades and has declined again so far this decade. Tallapoosa County has lost 2.2 percent of its population so far this decade and has seen a basically flat growth rate since 1980. Marion County has roughly the same population as it did in 1980, while Choctaw, Clay and Lamar counties have lost residents since then.

All of those counties are among the 10 with the highest median ages in Alabama.

To be sure, there are outliers. Cherokee and Henry counties have seen steady, if not spectacular growth over the past several decades, yet have median ages that are among the highest in the state.

And having a “young” population is no guarantee of growth. Sumter County, for instance, had the state’s fourth-lowest median age at 36.3 in 2017. Yet, it has experienced a population decline every census year since 1950.

@BrendanKKirby is a senior political reporter at LifeZette and author of “Wicked Mobile.”

2 days ago

Amazon to locate $325M distribution center near Birmingham

(Amazon)

Amazon says it’s building a distribution center near Birmingham that will employ 1,500 people.

A company statement issued Friday says the 855,000-square foot facility will be located west of Alabama’s largest city in Bessemer.

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Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens tells news outlets the operation could eventually employ as many as 3,000 people.

Local officials say the project is worth about $325 million.

Employees will receive full benefits and an average hourly wage of $14.65.

Birmingham is one of the last U.S. cities its size without an Amazon facility to fulfill orders.

The region previously submitted a proposal for Amazon’s new headquarters but wasn’t selected.

Amazon already has a sorting center on the Gulf Coast at Mobile.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Alabama’s BCA seeking new CEO after controversial departures

(BCA/Facebook)

This article was updated at 11:30 a.m.  

The Business Council of Alabama says it’s looking for a new chief executive following a wave of high-profile departures.

The Montgomery-based nonprofit issued a statement Thursday saying it will have a new leader to replace president and CEO Billy Canary no later than Jan. 1.

The move comes after several of the state’s largest companies quit the organization, with some openly questioning its leadership.

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Alabama Power Co., Regions Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative all left the organization in recent days.

Yellowhammer News has also confirmed that Progress Rail of Albertville and Parker Towing of Tuscaloosa have also withdrawn citing concerns of direction, leadership and effectiveness.

In addition to business members, two long-time senior officials have also resigned from the organization. Next in line as chairmen of the board and current chairman of ProgressPAC, Mike Kemp, president and CEO of Kemp Management Solutions LLC in Birmingham withdrew Wednesday evening. BCA general counsel Fournier “Boots” Gale, senior vice president and general counsel for Regions Financial, resigned on Tuesday.

Officials with the organization say they wanted an orderly transition to replace Canary, who’s run the business group since 2003. Exiting companies say they have expressed concerns about the leadership and effectiveness of the organization since August 2017 with no meaningful response.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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2 days ago

Trump lets bygones be bygones as he backs Roby in Alabama

(WH, Roby/Facebook)

President Donald Trump is letting bygones be bygones as he endorses embattled Alabama Republican Rep. Martha Roby for re-election.

Trump tweeted on Friday: “Congresswoman Martha Roby of Alabama has been a consistent and reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda.”

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Roby had publicly withdrawn her endorsement of Trump in the final days of the 2016 election after the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape.

Roby had said that the tape made Trump “unacceptable” as a candidate for president.

Roby was forced earlier this month into a runoff with Democrat-turned-Republican Bobby Bright.

Bright, a former congressman, has embraced the president and charged Roby with being insufficiently supportive of Trump.

Trump is rejecting Bright as “a recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat” ahead of the July 17 runoff.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Prattville woman accused of stealing from city’s youth baseball program

(Autauga County Sheriff)

Police say a board member of an Alabama city’s youth baseball program is accused of stealing $15,000 to $20,000 from the program.

Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson tells The Montgomery Advertiser that 38-year-old Lindsey Leigh Martin turned herself in on a theft of property charge on Tuesday.

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She was released after posting a $10,000 bond.

Courthouse records show the Prattville woman is accused of stealing $15,000 to $20,000 from the Dixie Youth baseball program.

Court records show that she doesn’t have an attorney.

The newspaper could not reach board members of the Dixie Youth organization for comment.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Southern Alabama county placing police in all schools

(Pixabay)

One of Alabama’s most populous counties has a plan to put armed police officers in each of its public schools.

Officials in coastal Baldwin County say agencies are partnering to provide permanent school resource officers at each of its 46 campuses beginning this August.

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Currently, only some county schools have officers on duty constantly.

Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack says Baldwin already has 30 school resource officers, meaning 16 more are needed.

The sheriff’s office and city police departments will have to fill those positions.

Officials haven’t provided details on how all the new jobs will be funded, but they say new taxes aren’t needed.

School board members will consider the plan during a meeting Thursday.

Baldwin County has more than 200,000 residents, and it’s located across Mobile Bay from Mobile.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

2 Alabama men sentenced in sex trafficking scheme

(Prattville PD)

A federal judge has sentenced two men to prison in what prosecutors describe as a sex-trafficking scheme in central Alabama.

A statement from prosecutors says 25-year-old Michael Graham Lowe of Prattville was sentenced to more than 18 years in prison during a hearing Thursday.

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Thirty-year-old Joshua David Rose of Prattville got almost 17 years in prison.

Authorities say Rose used an internet site to advertise a girl as being available for sex acts, and Lowe helped.

Authorities say the men then stood guard outside a motel room while the young victim engaged in sex for money.

Rose pleaded guilty last year, and jurors convicted Lowe earlier this year.

Both men must spend 15 years on probation after prison, and U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler ordered each to pay restitution.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Severe storms could strike parts of central, southern US

(Pixabay)

Forecasters say much of the central and southeast U.S. will be at risk of severe storms as the weekend approaches.

The national Storm Prediction Center says two regions will be at most risk of strong to severe thunderstorms Friday.

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They include an area that encompasses parts of western Oklahoma, western Kansas and eastern Colorado.

Also Friday, storms could be severe in the Deep South, especially in parts of southern Arkansas; northern Louisiana; northern Mississippi, northern Alabama; and parts of Tennessee.

Forecasters say high winds and hail will be the primary threats, though some tornadoes will also be possible.

On Saturday, there’s a threat of severe storms in parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas that includes the cities of Oklahoma City; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Springfield, Missouri.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Port of Mobile welcomes home a Harley-Davidson used during World War I

(Alabama State Port Authority)

A true piece of history arrived at the Port of Mobile yesterday.

The 1918 Harley-Davidson Model J motorcycle was brought over from France to drive on American soil for the first time since it was manufactured some 100 years ago.

Its current stage of life began about 10 years ago when a wealthy Frenchman named Christophe de Goulaine, of the notorious Château de Goulaine in Nantes, purchased the Model J and had it refurbished, with the intentions of bringing it home to its land of birth.

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Last month, the Harley was put on a ship docked at Port Saint-Nazaire in France and sailed to Alabama’s Port City.

Until Monday, the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum in Mobile will be displaying the Model J for visitors to see though on Saturday morning, those who want to see it will have to visit the Mobile Bay Harley-Davidson.

“We thought it was a rare opportunity for us to showcase a piece of military history that transited seaports 100 years ago, assisted the war effort, and found its way back home through the Port of Mobile,” Brent Beall, Interim Executive Director for the museum, said in a press release.

After that, de Goulaine and the bike’s restorer, Pierre Lauvergeat, will drive it all around the country: first stop, Jacksonville, Florida.

The two also intend to stop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the Harley-Davidson Headquarters.

“In all, we plan to complete 9000 kilometers (5600 miles) on a 1918 motorcycle without any special technical assistance,” de Goulaine said.

3 days ago

Birmingham doesn’t make the cut for 2020 DNC Convention

(Pixabay)

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says Houston, Milwaukee and the Miami area are the finalists to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

The mayor says Denver also made the party’s short list but has withdrawn its bid.

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A Denver city spokeswoman, Amber Miller, tells the Houston Chronicle that scheduling conflicts forced Denver to bow out.

Turner, a Democrat, told City Council members Wednesday the trimmed field makes Houston’s chances for hosting Democrats “exponentially better.”

The city last hosted a Democratic National Convention in 1928. Republicans gathered in Houston in 1992.

Toyota Center, home to pro basketball’s Houston Rockets, would be the main convention site.

Atlanta, New York City, San Francisco and Birmingham, Alabama, also were seeking the convention.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Huntsville man sentenced to 15 years for Islamic State-inspired plot

(Madison County Jail)

A judge has sentenced an Alabama man to 15 years in federal prison for plotting to carry out Islamic State-inspired attacks in the United States.

Prosecutors say 23-year-old Aziz Ihab Sayyed of Huntsville must spend the rest of his life on probation following his release.

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Sayyed pleaded guilty in March to attempting to provide material support for the Islamic State terrorist group.

He admitted buying bomb components last year with plans to attack police stations and Redstone Arsenal.

Authorities say he also tried to form a group to carry out domestic attacks.

Prosecutors say Sayeed made the plans after watching videos by the Islamic State.

U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon sentenced the North Carolina native during a hearing Wednesday.

Sayeed was attending college in Alabama at the time of his arrest.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Whodunnit? Mysterious poll tests negative messages against both state Senate candidates in Baldwin County

(Elliott, Northcutt Campaigns)

At first, the survey of voters in Baldwin County sounds like a classic “push poll,” which masquerades as a poll but actually is a sort of attack ad by delivering negative information about one of the candidates.

But the pollster calling voters recently provided negative information about both candidates running for a state Senate seat in District 32 — Baldwin County Commissioner Chris Elliott and dentist David Northcutt.

A representative from Davis Research, a California-based firm that conducted the poll, declined to comment.

Strategists for both camps said the survey appears to be not a push poll but a legitimate effort to find out how certain lines of attack are playing. But neither is taking credit for it.

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“They are message testing to see just how bad that is for them,” said Jonathan Gray, who is running the commissioner’s campaign.

He said a typical push poll changes its negative messages and keeps hammering away.

“It just keeps going. It doesn’t stop,” he said. “This is message testing. That’s not us. And that only leaves one player.”

But Chris Brown, who is running Northcutt’s campaign, said, “I don’t know who Davis Research is.”

Elliott and Northcutt will face each other July 17 in a runoff for the Republican nomination after they emerged as the top two finishers in this month’s primary. They are vying for the seat currently held by Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose), who is leaving office after serving two terms.

The district includes a majority of fast-growing Baldwin county and is reliably Republican, although next month’s winner will face Democrat Jason Fisher in the fall.

The race has been testy at times, and the Davis Research questions reflect that. After asking voters which candidate they prefer, the pollster then offers negative information and asks residents if that changes their view. About Northcutt, the pollster claims the candidate is not able to build coalitions and that a fellow dentist has criticized him for prioritizing making money over patient care.

About Elliott, the pollster tells voters that he has supported tax increases; that he has taken money from the Alabama Education Association and supports the Common Core education initiative; and that he pleaded guilty in 2016 for driving under the influence of alcohol and tried to use his influence as a county commissioner to get out of it.

“This race is going to get negative,” Gray said.

Gray said Elliott was forthright about the DUI — which occurred when he was coming home from a charitable fundraising event — from the start of his campaign, apologizing to voters for his lack of judgment.

“If he wanted to get out of it, no one would know about it,” he said. “We did all our polling months ago. I’m very comfortable with it. Chris has atoned for it.”

Gray also said Elliott has never voted for a tax increase. He only voted in favor of a referendum to give Baldwin voters an opportunity to raise property taxes for the school system — a proposal that voters rejected.

To Brown, the explanation rings hollow.

“If you look at David Northcutt’s mailings, he’s against taxes and won’t be beholden to special interests,” Brown said. “That’s all Chris Elliott seems to be advocating.”

The race has featured attack ads run against Northcutt by a north Alabama dentist. “Please DO NOT vote for Dr. David Northcutt for the Senate,” one ad reads.

That dentist, Dugald McMillan III, has suggested that Northcutt has violated privacy laws by sending campaign solicitations to dental clients.

The ads prompted Northcutt to file a complaint with Secretary of State John Merrill’s office, claiming that it is illegal because the dentist did not file a campaign finance report identifying his donors.

Brown said McMillan and others involved in the state dental association are disgruntled because Northcutt tried to change the group’s older practices and shake things up.

“That’s what David’s going to do if he goes to Montgomery,” he said.

@BrendanKKirby is a senior political reporter at LifeZette and author of “Wicked Mobile.”

 

3 days ago

Mobile council asks Alabama governor for Amtrak money

(Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

Members of the Mobile City Council are asking Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to approve funding to help restart passenger train service between New Orleans and the port city.

WALA-TV reports members sent Ivey a letter Wednesday saying renewed Amtrak service would help increase tourism and economic development in Mobile.

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The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi must commit almost $35 million total over three years by Thursday to be eligible for the same amount in federal funds that would let Amtrak trains travel the northern Gulf Coast for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

Officials say Louisiana and Mississippi have committed money, but Alabama is refusing.

Ivey’s office says she supports renewed rail service but isn’t committing money to the project.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Alabama man charged in government-computer scam

(Pixabay)

A federal grand jury has indicted an Alabama man in an alleged 10-year scam involving surplus federal computers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois reported Wednesday that the indictment accuses 50-year-old Steven Mays of defrauding the federal “Computers for Learning” program.

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The General Services Administration program transfers computers and related equipment that the government doesn’t need directly to schools and nonprofit organizations at no cost.

The indictment alleges that Mays obtained $22 million worth of computer equipment and sold it.

He registered in the name of a church school in Dwight and told school officials he would refurbish the equipment he obtained for them.

Mays does not have a listed phone number and it was unclear whether he has an attorney.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Alabama AG Marshall on immigration controversy: ‘Misguided’ to blame Trump or Sessions

(NBC, Fox News/YouTube)

Update: Trump signed an executive order Wednesday afternoon to stop the separation of parents and children when they are detained for illegal entrance into the country.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing increased pressure amid public outcry to change a border practice that separates children from their parents when illegally entering the United States.

However, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said Wednesday morning that leadership shouldn’t decide how to enforce immigration laws based on shifting public opinion or media coverage.

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“It is misguided to blame President Trump or Attorney General Sessions for enforcing the law,” Marshall said in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

“We are a nation built upon the rule of law, and we cannot — and should not — ask the Executive Branch to enforce the law according to the whims of public opinion or the media on any given day.”

Marshall added that only Congress can enact or amend federal immigration law – something he said went undone before Trump became president and Sessions became attorney general.

“Democrats had control of the White House and Congress and took no action,” Marshall said. “Under President Trump’s leadership, I believe Republicans have a real chance to secure our borders and clean up our immigration laws.”

Yellowhammer News reached out to Marshall’s opponent in the GOP primary run-off, former Attorney General Troy King, for his perspective and did not receive a comment at the time of publication.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News

4 days ago

Methodists and prosecutors scold AG Sessions over border policy

(CBS News/YouTube)

More than 600 members of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ church have denounced him over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that has led to children being separated from their parents at the border.

Members of the United Methodist Church from across the country signed a letter Monday accusing Sessions of child abuse, immorality and racial discrimination.

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They also chided Sessions for using biblical scripture to defend the policy, saying it runs counter to the church’s doctrine.

Sessions also was blasted in a separate letter signed by 75 former U.S. attorneys from both parties, who want Sessions to end the family separation policy at the border.

Their letter, published Monday on Medium, said the policy results in families and children being greeted “with unexpected cruelty at the doorstep of the United States.”

“Traumatizing children by separating them from their parents as a deterrent for adult conduct is, in our view, sufficient reason to halt your policy,” they wrote, adding that the legal work required to prosecute misdemeanor illegal entry cases takes away from more significant offenses like terror-related plots, corruption and human and drug trafficking.

“As former U.S. attorneys, we know that none of these consequences — nor the policy itself — is required by law.

Rather, its implementation and its execution are taking place solely at your direction, and the unfolding tragedy falls squarely on your shoulders.”

The hundreds of United Methodist Church pastors and parishioners said holding thousands of young children in mass incarceration facilities and directing staff members to take children from their parents violates the Methodists’ Book of Discipline.

Addressing “church friends” in a speech last week, Sessions said: “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves.

Consistent, fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

The Rev. David Wright, who spearheaded the complaint against Sessions, told USA Today that he hoped Methodist pastors could get Sessions to see the harm he is doing to immigrant children and persuade him to change his mind.

“My ideal outcome is that his pastors in church leadership who know him will speak with him,” he said, “and that in those conversations he will be challenged to think through the level of harm he is causing and have a change of heart — which is about as Methodist as you can get.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 days ago

Birmingham Musician loses work after anti-immigrant post on Facebook

(Ashley McCain/YouTube)

An Alabama musician who said on social media that he’d like to shoot immigrants attempting to enter the United States says he’s losing work because of the post.

Birmingham guitarist Phillip McCain said on Facebook that he doesn’t have any sympathy for immigrants trying to enter the country, even those seeking asylum.

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In the same post, he called liberalism a “mental disorder.”

The post went viral. McCain tells al.com he has since lost his job with a band, plus $3,000 in future performance fees and three solo shows.

McCain says he was only expressing his opinion that he wants to protect the United States’ borders at any cost.

A Mexican restaurant was one of the venues that canceled a McCain show.

The manager says he’s an immigrant and has a diverse clientele, and he feared McCain’s presence would hurt business.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 days ago

Tennessee adds Alabama graduate transfer Brandon Kennedy

(University of Alabama)

Tennessee has boosted its offensive line by adding Alabama graduate transfer Brandon Kennedy.

Tennessee announced the additions of Kennedy and former Michigan State running back Madre London on Tuesday.

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Because they’re graduate transfers, both are eligible to play for Tennessee this fall. Kennedy has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

London has one season left.

Kennedy tweeted a picture of himself in a Tennessee uniform on Saturday with the message, “A new approach to an old dream.”

London had announced on social media in March that he was transferring to Tennessee.

Kennedy played a total of 10 games for Alabama as a reserve center over the 2016 and 2017 seasons after redshirting in 2015.

Kennedy and London join former Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst as graduate transfers on Tennessee’s roster.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 days ago

Alabama balks at funding for restored coastal Amtrak service

(Pixabay)

Alabama is balking at pledging millions of dollars to help restart passenger train service along the northern Gulf Coast for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi must commit almost $35 million altogether over three years by Thursday to be eligible for the same amount in federal funds that would enable Amtrak trains to run from New Orleans eastward to Mobile, Alabama.

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Louisiana has agreed to supply about $9.5 million, while Mississippi agreed to $3 million and is considering much more, said Knox Ross of the Southern Rail Commission, which is promoting the project.

But Alabama hasn’t promised any money toward the project, he said, and time is running out.

“If we don’t do it we’ve left money on the table, which would be very unfortunate,” said Ross.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s office issued a statement saying she supports efforts to restore passenger rail service on the coast but isn’t committing state funding.

An Alabama representative on the Southern Rail Commission, Jerry Gehman, said Ivey’s words don’t do anything to move the project forward.

“That’s good for the ink and paper it’s written on. But it does nothing … to make it a reality,” said Gehman.

Amtrak suspended service east of New Orleans along the Gulf Coast after Katrina, which heavily damaged rails, crossings and other infrastructure in 2006.
Ross said the current effort is the most serious one yet to revive passenger rail in the region.

Supporters see the New Orleans-to-Mobile proposal as a first step toward expanding Amtrak service elsewhere on the coast, Ross said.

The proposed train would run twice a day each way, stopping at cities on the Mississippi coast, he said.

Mississippi’s costs for the project are higher than those of the other states because “that’s where the tracks are,” he said.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is considering a request for $14.7 million over three years for capital costs, but a spokesman said no decision has been made.

The project can move forward if Alabama doesn’t contribute, Ross said, and actual costs could be less.

The eastbound train would simply stop at Pascagoula, Mississippi, rather than continuing into Alabama, he said.

“If we get Mississippi to commit we can move forward without Alabama,” said Ross.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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