6 months ago

Dr. Michele Kong is a 2019 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

Dr. Michele Kong has dedicated her life to serving others.

In her own words, “Service is the foundation of our life, our people, our community.  Ultimately everything is about service. Service is what connects you to the next person. Service should be at the core of everything we do.”

She is an associate professor in Pediatric Critical Care at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and Children’s of Alabama.

In 2015, she was selected the junior faculty recipient of the Dean’s Excellence Award for Service, which recognizes contributions made by faculty across the UAB School of Medicine. This honor was due to her service to the autistic community with the nonprofit she and her husband co-founded, KultureCity.

Kong and her husband’s passion for autism acceptance began when their son, Abram, was diagnosed with autism at age four. Recognizing the needs of families impacted by autism, they felt the challenges that so many experience and immediately began working to create permanent inclusive spaces.

KultureCity is an impact-driven nonprofit founded in 2013 in Birmingham with the mission to create a world where all individuals with autism and their families can be accepted and treated equally. KultureCity fundamentally believes that these children are not limited by their diagnosis and deserve a future without limits. The programs reflect the mission which is “to change the culture on how autism is viewed in our world today.”

To accomplish KultureCity’s mission of awareness and acceptance, Kong’s relationships and partnerships have been key. These include local organizations like the Birmingham Zoo, the McWane Center and the Alys Stephens Center, as well as national groups like the NBA and NFL.

The impact of the organization can be seen well beyond Alabama. In 2019, KultureCity was ranked fourth on Fast Company’s list of the most innovative companies in the world.

The recognition is well deserved, considering the scope and impact of the solutions the organization offers to families affected by autism.  Solutions such as lifeBoks, technology-centered products designed to prevent wandering and wandering-related accidents. Or, the Sensory Inclusive certification program and app that partners with major events and venues across the country to create experiences that can be enjoyed by all.

Each year the organization hosts The KultureBall, a fundraising gala that draws hundreds of attendees, including professional athletes such as Dwight Howard, Tiki Barker and Tracy Johnson.

Kong credits her parents and her humble upbringing for her incredible work ethic and passion. She was exposed to great poverty in her home country of Malaysia. Her mother was a school teacher and her father started vocational training schools which required a great deal of travel.  Kong said, “Traveling so much exposed me to the diversity that exists in our world.”

Not unfamiliar with defying the odds as well as valuing education, Kong did her pre-medical studies in Australia and worked hard to receive a scholarship to attend medical school at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

As fate would have it, she met her husband Julian Maha, also a physician, on a flight from Malaysia to Calgary.  They were both attending medical school there but had never met before that flight. Following a residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, she came to Birmingham in 2005 for a critical care fellowship and was recruited by UAB.

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Dr. Michele Kong a 2019 Woman of Impact.

The 2nd Annual Women of Impact Awards will celebrate the honorees on April 29, 2019, in Birmingham. Event details can be found here.

3 hours ago

Ryan Blaney wins Talladega Superspeedway’s 1000Bulbs(dot)com 500 in photo finish

It took 27 hours to get from the green flag to the checkered flag, but when it was all said and done, Ryan Blaney, the driver of Team Penske’s No. 12 Ford Mustang, earned the win on Monday afternoon in the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Blaney edged out veteran NASCAR driver Ryan Newman by a margin of .007 seconds, which is reportedly only the sixth-closest Talladega margin of victory ever.

The win advances Blaney in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff to determine the 2019 champion.

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“We got together a little coming through the trioval,” Blaney said of his run for the start-finish line with Newman. “He pushed me below the yellow line, but I wasn’t going below there after what happened in the truck race.”

Blaney was referring to Saturday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series at Talladega, when Johnny Sauter lost the win after being ruled out of bounds by NASCAR and demoted from first to the last truck on the lead lap.

“Now we don’t have to worry about next week,” Blaney explained, given that he advances in the championship hunt by virtue of his race win. “We can go and fight for another win.”

The race did not end without the traditional “big one” crash. Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 Chevrolet launched into the air during the escapade.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

4 hours ago

Rick Karle: Saban has a point about ‘rat poison’; Let’s start calling Bama players mediocre

There’s no need to tell you that the Alabama Crimson Tide are playing great football — and one of the best ways to tell that coach Nick Saban knows it as well?

He uttered those two familiar words: “Rat poison.”

It was two years ago when these words went viral, as Saban attempted to squelch the rave reviews about his players that were coming from the media.

His message?

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If his players kept hearing that they were great, they’d believe it — and those words could act as rat poison to his team.

A few days ago, Saban brought up the words again, this time after his team beat the Aggies 47-28.

What does this all mean? Allow me to explain as I’m coming in hot, giving you my take!

Watch:

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

5 hours ago

Ivey announces ID Plastics to open manufacturing operation in Auburn, creating 50 jobs

Governor Kay Ivey announced Monday that ID Plastics LP, a manufacturer of a variety of technical plastic products, is set to open its first operation in Auburn, investing $9.8 million.

“Our continued efforts and partnerships with local communities have led to another great manufacturer coming to Alabama,” Ivey said. “ID Plastics’ decision to select Alabama will create 50 jobs for families in East Alabama over the next three years.”

At first, the company will produce the ID PACK sleeve, a foldable, returnable transportation container system used in various industries.

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A press release noted, “Brothers Martin and Andreas Hartl formed the Alabama-based business operation with the plan to bring various products of their companies, DUROtherm Plastics, a thermoforming specialist, and the Infinex Group, an extrusion specialist, to a production center in the U.S. The two companies are headquartered in the Black Forest in Southwest Germany and have approximately 600 employees.”

“Transport containers have always had downsides of one kind or another,” Martin Hartl said. “We responded with an innovative collapsing container system that eliminates these problems. The ID PACK is a truly problem-free sleeve pack system.”

Andreas Hart also discussed his vision for the company as it relates to the parts and manufacturing required.

“German technology made in the U.S.A. with state-of-the-art, customer-oriented manufacturing — that’s the perfect combination, the way we see it,” Hart said. “This was the foundation for the ID PACK collapsible container system and the big advantages it offers in a wide range of logistics applications.”

Auburn Mayor Ron Anders expressed his support for the German operation in a statement.

“We are grateful to be the U.S. headquarters and manufacturing location for ID Plastics,” Anders said. “Through our partnership with Auburn University, Southern Union Community College and our existing industries, the City of Auburn has created an excellent environment for technology-based, value-added manufacturing operations like ID Plastics. We welcome Andreas and Martin to the Auburn family.”

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, released a statement on the project and reflected on the strong economic ties between Alabama and the German industry.

“German companies have directed around $10 billion in new capital investment to Alabama in the past two decades because these companies have learned they can find success in our state,” Canfield said. “We welcome ID Plastics and look forward to helping another German business enterprise prosper in Alabama.”

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

5 hours ago

Mondays for Moms: Confessions of a fluorescent mac-n-cheese lover

What happened to the days when we could saunter down the aisles of the grocery store without being bombarded with 500 options for each item in the store?

Organic. Non-dairy. GMO-free. No artificial flavors. Lite. Fat-free. Gluten-free. Taste-free.

My head is spinning.

Retailers should start labeling packages with the following disclaimer: “Will need nutritionist to assist with purchase.”

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Instead of greeters, could nutritionists begin to welcome us at the entrance of the grocery store and offer to accompany us down the aisles?

And while we’re on this topic, could someone for the love of Jesus and all the goodness in the world explain to me what the heck GMOs are? Are they kin to UFOs? Is it a military operative slogan? Are they little cancer pellets hidden away in every bite of my Cheetos? I’m getting worried over here. If you can provide some useful information, could you shoot me a quick message at HelpErinUnderstandGMOs@gmail.com? This is real; send help. Thanks in advance.

Seriously, why can’t we go in the store and throw two boxes of Cheerios, a couple gallons of milk and a box of the latest flavor of Oreos in our carts without enduring relentless stares from other shoppers? Rather than accosting the produce stocker about the origination and growth habits of Hass avocados, you will find me filling my cart with items that do not require such intense, interrogative research. You know items we’ve all been existing on since the beginning of time.

Confession: I’m the momma that occasionally serves up hot dogs and dinosaur-shaped chicken tenders. You know why? Because my kids love them.

I’m going to be real with you guys for a second. My momma, bless her sweet soul, fed me Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, M&M’s and orange soda. And guess what? I’m still alive! With the exception of the obligatory seasonal cold, I’m kickin’ it just fine, folks.

Pre high-fructose-corn-syrup-hysteria, our world was such a wonderful place. We reveled in our blissful ignorance and we survived. We made it. The corn syrup centaurs didn’t come devour us in our sleep, people!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I haven’t seen a scientifically backed theory indicating that occasional hot dog consumption leads directly to immediate death. But please send that report in if I’m missin’ it.

Get prepared to gasp because I’m not done yet. I’ve also got mac-n-cheese in the ole pantry, too! And, no, not the organic-handmade-by-tiny-food-angels kind. Nope. No way. Not up in here! If you open my cupboard, you are going to find the glorious, fluorescent, glow-in-the-dark orange kind that we all fell in love with in our dorm rooms decades ago. You know, the kind we now crave at 2:00 a.m. after waking up to the baby monitor a few times.

All joking aside, I do think that nutrition is very important. And I completely agree with teaching our kids about the importance of clean eating, healthy food boundaries and coaching them towards a life of fitness.

But I think we walk a fine line. I’m all about providing our babies with the healthiest food options available, but let’s do so without engaging in discussions that result in righteous condemnation.

To the precious mommas who manage to serve pediatric-approved meals on your tables three times a day, you are awesome and superhuman. Could you help a sister out? Show me your ways. And, if any of you wants to write a book summarizing all of these “uber-healthy” options exposing all the superfoods in a graph-like format for ease of reference, that’d be great. (Quick request: provide a dictionary in the back.) I’ll be your first buyer.

Rather than tormenting over the origination of the foods that enter our children’s bodies, let’s spend time focusing on the words they hear, the things they see and the places they go. If we spend more time focusing on that version of input in our child’s lives, we will be doing them and our world a much greater service.

There’s a lesson to be learned here: Consumption is vital. Nutritional, spiritual, emotional, all of it. But I’m afraid we are spending so much time diagramming the sugar content of granola bars, that we are neglecting to measure the growth habits or our children’s patience, kindness and respect for others.

In our final days, it’s not going to matter how many marathons our babies ran or how awesome their homemade compost piles were in their backyards.

What will matter is the lasting legacy they leave and the lives they touched while here on this earth.

So, pardon me if I chunk a few fluorescent mac-n-cheese buckets in my buggy as I saunter through the pasta aisle. No harm. No foul.  Just placing my primary focus on a tad bit different intake at our house.

To receive encouragement and read more about thriving rather than simply surviving in motherhood, check out Erin’s book, Cheers the Diaper Years: 10 Truths for Thriving While Barely Surviving here.

Erin Brown Hollis is Yellowhammer’s lifestyle contributor and host of Yellowhammer Podcast Network’s “Cheers to That” podcast. An author, speaker, lawyer, wife and mother of two, she invites you to grab a cup as she toasts the good in life, love and motherhood. Follow Erin on Instagram ErinBrownHollis or Twitter @ErinBrownHollis

6 hours ago

Mo Brooks: Trump is trying to put an end to endless war

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has a clear approach to the evolving situation in Syria: Leave it alone.

Brooks’ premise is that both Turkey and the Kurds are American allies, so getting involved on either side puts us in conflict with the other.

During a Monday interview on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” Brooks explained that this situation was seemingly inevitable, saying, “I wish that the Turks and the Kurds would get along peacefully, but they have got ill-will harboring and simmering for at least a hundred years.

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He added, “To me, it was inevitable that whenever America reduced its presence in the Middle East, as we should, because we cannot afford to be the police cop on every corner, that violence would break out.”

The congressman acknowledged the role that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy played in the current situation, especially in the creation of ISIS. This is the same argument Trump used in 2016 and the then-candidate promised to end our “endless wars.”

Brooks went on to say that America does not need to involve itself in these issues any longer.

“I support any kind of decision to reduce our presence in these countries that do not appreciate our loss of life, our financial expenditures, in their countries,” he explained.

Brooks acknowledged this could be a situation the United States has to revisit in the future, but warned of a “war caucus that wants to be more aggressive int he Turk/Kurd fight.

“We’ve got a ‘war caucus,’ for lack of a better term, that does believe that the United States of America should be the cop on every corner of the planet, no matter the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, no matter that every penny we spend on these efforts is borrowed money, money we can’t afford to pay back,” he advised.

My takeaway:

Again, Trump made this clear and Brooks appears to agree: We can’t afford to keep doing this forever. Even the most adamant war hawks from the post-9/11 period think we have been at this long enough. Many seem to see little more to gain from new and prolonged conflicts.

The president made it a campaign promise to end these foreign wars, and he is following through on that promise.

Like in everything else, he will be opposed by both sides of the political aisle. No matter what the president does, it has to be wrong — even if nobody else has any better solutions to offer.

But that does not make him wrong.

Do any of the Democratic presidential candidates advocate re-entering Syria if they win? How about sending more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan?

Only time will tell how this decision affects American interests. But unless something drastically changes in the region, we are better off by letting those with regional interests handle the issues in the Middle East.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN