2 weeks ago

Dem Rep. John Rogers announces primary challenge to Doug Jones

MONTGOMERY — State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) delivered a House floor speech on Tuesday asserting that he is running for the United States Senate against Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020.

“I am now a candidate for United States Senate,” he declared, opening his remarks at the microphone. “I’ve already, I’ve got – I’m running for real. I’m not backing down. I’m a candidate. I’ve already – I asked them to give me $1,000,000 [in campaign pledges to be able to run] and already $500,000 have come in already. And so if I get $500,000 [more], I’ll be an official candidate. I’m telling you right now.”

He again apologized for using the word “retarded” but doubled down on his other previous remarks.

Rogers claimed the morning-after pill is “the same thing” as any abortion. He also called a miscarriage “a natural abortion” and said there is no difference between a miscarriage and an intentional abortion.

Rogers said, “When you drive to back alleys, you start using that coat hanger and start using that medication — they can’t afford to get a regular abortion. If you got the money, you can pay somewhere else to get an abortion. If you’ve got enough money, you can fly to New York or Amsterdam to get an abortion. But if you’re a poor person, you can’t get that. So you [have] to use that coat hanger… you’re damaging that fetus. That fetus is damaged, and then you’re forced to have that child? I just read the other day that they had five kids locked in a basement, five kids. Emaciated kids, kids that were tied up in chains in a basement. Why would you want to force a child on that family?”

He then added that sonograms are intended to be used for a mother to “track” a baby “all the way through birth [to make a decision] whether or not that child will be a child they want.”

The longtime state representative also reiterated his anger at Jones allegedly calling him to “chastise” him last week.

“Don’t nobody call me on the phone to tell me to be quiet. I don’t care if you’re the president or you[‘re] the senator … the last person that ever chastised me was my mother and my father. And they both passed,” Rogers said, adding he told Jones “to go where the sun [doesn’t] shine.”

This came a week exactly after Rogers’ initial remarks on HB 314, comments that went viral a day later.

Jones has established himself as an automatic pro-choice vote in the U.S. Senate. He has previously voted against banning using federal funds for abortions and even voted against banning late-term abortions.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News on Tuesday, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) reacted to Rogers sharing that Jones called him last week and said Rogers was “right” about his abortion remarks. Jones has not denied the allegation, saying, “I’m disappointed he made our private conversation public.”

“Doug Jones has a track record of saying one thing publicly while showing his true ultra-liberal colors behind closed doors,” Byrne said. “We already knew he is a pro-abortion Democrat, but I would have hoped he didn’t truly believe in these horrific comments. As a Christian with a 100% pro-life record, I am ready for the fight to defeat Doug Jones and make sure Alabama has a pro-life Senator.”

Update 3:50 p.m.:

A National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) spokesman released a statement on Yellowhammer News’ reporting.

“Doug Jones and John Rogers share the same views on abortion, but Rogers is at least honest about it,” NRSC spokesperson Nathan Brand said. “Even Alabama Democrats are taking note of how dishonest Doug Jones is.”

Update 5:30 p.m.:

Rogers, in an interview with Yellowhammer News outside of the House chamber, said there is an audio recording of the “heated” phone call in which Jones allegedly “chastised” him.

He advised Frank Matthews, a well known social justice and political activist in Birmingham, has that recording.

Matthews was not immediately available for comment.

Rogers also confirmed to Yellowhammer News his intent to run for the Senate, saying he would file his FEC paperwork once he secures at least $1,000,000 in pledged campaign contributions. Rogers said he wants to ensure the necessary money is there before jumping in because he is serious about the endeavor and not doing it for show.

“I don’t want to run a campaign just to run. I want to run to win,” Rogers said. “And I’m going to be a competitive candidate.”

Rogers reiterated that besides how Jones talked to him on the phone, he did not like how the senator said one thing in private but another publicly.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

20 mins ago

Rocket sendoff a reminder of Alabama’s critical role in human space flight

A rocket booster built at United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Decatur plant was loaded on a boat bound for Cape Canaveral on Thursday. The booster will help power a historic mission to the International Space Station, the first manned commercial space flight since 2011.

The occasion also served as a reminder of just how critical Alabama has been to the nation’s human space flight program.

452

Rick Navarro, Boeing director of launch operations, stood in front of the massive rocket booster inside ULA’s factory to deliver remarks for the event. As part of the mission partnership with ULA, Boeing’s Starliner capsule will carry American astronauts into space.

Navarro recalled his first trip to north Alabama in 1986 and how the area’s importance has been bringing him back ever since.

“The entire area has actually contributed to human spaceflight,” he explained. “You cannot tell the story of human space flight without telling the story of northern Alabama. Of Decatur. Of Huntsville.”

Navarro noted that the Boeing design center in Huntsville provided all the structural design for the Starliner capsule. Additionally, the Boeing division called Phantom Works, which has an operation in Huntsville, provided what he called “revolutionary power systems” for the capsule.

“Very few people forget on the day of the launch how much work was done early on in the mission to get you there,” he said. “Some of that hard work has always been in this area.”

The Atlas V rocket that will power the Boeing capsule was assembled and manufactured within ULA’s 1.6 million square foot Decatur plant. The fabrication of the booster shipped on Thursday began in July 2017 as a piece of flat aluminum material. The Atlas V has flown 79 successful missions.

Jeremy Nails, president and CEO of the Morgan County Economic Development Association, knows this effort places his area in a unique position.

“Not many communities can say they build rockets that take not only commercial but national security satellites into space,” he stated after the event. “That helps keep our country safe. It helps with our every day life, with cell phones and our GPS. Without a reliable launch provider, and they have had 100% mission success, where would we be as a country without that? Everything they help with — whether that is the military missions or things that help us in our personal lives — that’s done here in Decatur, Alabama.”

Nails also sees ULA as an example of how Alabama’s commitment to the aerospace industry fuels its growth.

“Their presence helps us recruit other companies here because what they do is technical work,” he said. “Their presence allows us to say, ‘If our workforce can make rockets, then it can also do what you’re wanting to do.’”

With the booster as his backdrop, Boeing’s Navarro put the day in perspective.

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of the hardware behind me,” he said. “It will be what returns American astronauts launched from American soil to space — something we haven’t done since 2011.”

The booster’s journey from Decatur to Florida’s east coast covers 2,000 miles and takes eight to 10 days.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

13 hours ago

Bill to abolish marriage licenses passes Alabama House, heads to Ivey’s desk

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday passed SB 69, State Sen. Greg Albritton’s (R-Atmore) bill that would end marriage licenses in the Yellowhammer State.

The bill previously passed the House on a 67-26 vote. The legislation previously passed the Senate 26-0.

237

After Obergefell v. Hodges essentially created a protected legal right to marriage, judges in some Alabama counties decided to stop issuing marriage licenses altogether so they would not have to approve licenses for gay couples.

Instead of the local probate office issuing marriage licenses in each county, the new system proposed by SB 69 would simply provide for affidavits of marriage to be filed with the probate office. So, instead of needing a probate judge’s approval for marriage, spouses would only have to register with the probate judge’s office.

This means judges who have religious objections to gay marriage will no longer have to issue marriage licenses in violation of their religious beliefs. Proponents of the bill said SB 69 will ensure federal law is being followed in the state while taking away the burden of approval or rejection of marriages from individual probate judges.

Opponents of the legislation have said the bill was born out of prejudice.

State Rep. Neil Rafferty (D-Birmingham), the only openly gay member in the Alabama House, told reporters the bill itself is not prejudiced but that it originated from “homophobia.”

However, no members of the House debated SB 69 on the floor, making for a surprisingly quick final passage. State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) handled the bill in the chamber.

The bill now heads to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Byrne, Shelby file bill to ensure terrorists like the ‘American Taliban’ are never again released early

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) on Thursday introduced the No Leniency for Terrorists Act that would prevent convicted terrorists from being released from federal prison early for good behavior.

Yellowhammer News was the first to report on this legislation when it was imminent on Wednesday.

The legislation being filed comes the day John Walker Lindh, known as the “American Taliban,” was released years early on his original 20-year sentence.

“A convicted terrorist walking free before his sentence is completed should never happen again,” Byrne said in a statement.

381

After being captured in Afghanistan in 2001, Lindh pled guilty to serving as a soldier of the Taliban. He was held responsible for the death of Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann, a Winfield native and Auburn University alumnus who was the first American known to be killed in “The War on Terror” in Afghanistan after 9/11.

“The Spann family asked me to address this injustice, and I want to make sure no other family has to go through what the they have been through,” Byrne concluded. “The No Leniency for Terrorists Act will prevent terrorists from taking advantage of our laws to avoid paying their debt to society. We must ensure that terrorists will remain behind bars where they belong.”

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Congressman Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) joined Shelby and Byrne in introducing the legislation.

“The early release of convicted terrorists sends the wrong message to those who have fought against terrorism and those who want to cause us harm,” Shelby remarked. “This legislation will help us prioritize the safety and security of our nation above all else. Today’s early release of John Walker Lindh is disheartening and unacceptable, and I am proud we are taking this step to make terrorists ineligible for early release.”

Under existing federal law, any federal prisoner can be released early for “exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary regulations.”

There are no exceptions to this law, including those who have been convicted of terrorism charges, and there are 108 other terrorist offenders who are scheduled to complete their sentences and be released from U.S. federal prison over the next few years. The No Leniency for Terrorists Act amends federal law to say those currently serving or those convicted of crimes related to terrorism in the future cannot be released early for good time served.

As of a 2017 Foreign Policy article, Lindh still intended to spread terrorist ideology upon his release from prison.

His release came only a day after NBC reported that Lindh, in a letter to a producer from Los Angeles-based affiliate KNBC, wrote in 2015 that ISIS is “doing a spectacular job” and “is clearly very sincere and serious about fulfilling the long-neglected religious obligation to establish a caliphate through armed struggle.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Mountain Brook High School band members prepare to perform on the beaches of Normandy

Mountain Brook High School’s marching band is gearing up to participate in the D-Day 75 Normandy Parade, which will commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2019, according to a CBS 42 report.

Expected to leave June 4 and return June 11, the 24 students from Mountain Brook High School taking part in the event will reportedly march on the beaches of Normandy as they are looked upon by cheering crowds.

Band director Jason Smith shared his excitement of the opportunity and said he was “proud” of the kids.

126

“I’m so proud, these kids are the hardest working kids at Mountain Brook High School,” Smith said via CBS 42. “The parents have stepped up to support there travels, and their ability to do something like this is unspeakable.”

D-Day occurred on June 6, 1944, and 160,000 forces, including 70,000 Americans landed on 50 miles of Normandy coast. More than 2,000 Americans lost their lives when they stormed the beach to reach high ground. Over 8,000 others also lost their lives in the days after.

Donations can be made to support the Mountain High School Band by calling 205-414-3810 to speak with Jason Smith or by emailing smithj@mtnbrook.k12.al.us.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

14 hours ago

Montgomery selected by military for major software development project

Alabama’s capital city has been selected by the Air Force for a new software development project that will attract top IT talent to the area, spurring increased new-age economic development in Montgomery.

TechMGM, the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s initiative to connect and leverage the city’s unique technology assets, on Wednesday announced a partnership with the Air Force Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate Program Executive Office to host a new military software development project that will offer private sector collaboration called BESPIN.

Marking a shift in the way the Air Force approaches software development and acquisition, BESPIN (Business and Enterprise Systems Product Innovation), pairs in-house developers with private sector developers and uses an agile development methodology in a collaborative and innovative environment to turn projects into new solutions to support the Department of Defense.

564

The Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate based at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base has been charged by the secretary of the Air Force for acquisition to stand-up a software factory focusing on Business and Enterprise Systems (BES) applications. BES runs the systems that run the Air Force.

The local chamber partnered with BES to provide an initial off-base space at their facility, where work is already underway to create mobile applications for BES with the first focus being logistics systems used on the flight line, including those at Maxwell Air Force Base and the Alabama Air National Guard.

Through BESPIN, previously slow and costly products can now be met with flexible solutions that allow developers to adapt on the fly – and deliver real results more quickly.

By training and encouraging in-house talent to develop software using agile practices, the Air Force is starting to attract top IT talent. Meanwhile, they are also collaborating with digital services market leaders to transform their process and train their workforce.

In April, BES awarded a contract to Fearless, the company responsible for 1). redesigning the SBA.gov site, 2). modernizing Medicare beneficiary API products for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and 3). building software for other federal, nonprofit, city and healthcare clients.

“Fearless is excited to partner with USAF, TechMGM, and the City of Montgomery at large to support in the growth of the local tech ecosystem. The BESPIN and TechMGM visions align well with our mission to build software with a soul, and to see a world where good software powers things that matter,” Delali Dzirasa, president of Fearless, stated.

BES is also a founding member of the national Digital Services Coalition and is passionate about assisting the government in making its technology work better for all residents.

“We’re essentially replicating a structure that has proven successful in the commercial sector and applying it to the Air Force and building upon the foundation set by our peers at Kessel Run. What previously worked just isn’t cutting it anymore – we’ve got to be faster and more efficient,” Richard Aldridge, BES program executive officer, said in a statement.

He outlined, “Launching BESPIN has reimagined our view on software acquisition and the way we solve problems. We’re confident that the brightest minds in the creation of business software and mobile solutions will be attracted to serving our country by solving some of the most pressing issues that the Air Force faces today.”

Not only will BESPIN have significant implications for the Air Force, the connection with TechMGM and Fearless will strengthen the community in several ways.

“Montgomery prioritizes military missions, so we are honored to host this important project for the Air Force to advance their efforts in creating solutions for our nation,” Willie Durham, chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, advised.

Through partnerships with TechMGM and other key area resources within Montgomery’s unique tech ecosystem, BESPIN will aim to support the city’s infrastructure to eventually lead to lasting change in the region.

“The chamber supports any type of partnership that advances the military because it is not only good for our country, but also for our community,” Durham added. “Initiatives like BESPIN allow our region to attract and retain talent, spark new businesses and create a cycle of economic development that will have lasting effects in Montgomery for years to come.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn