2 weeks ago

Huntsville will not be painting political slogans on the street even though other cities in Alabama allow it

Cities around the country have acquiesced to mobs that want to spread the message of “Black Lives Matter.” In addition to peaceful protests, we have also seen marches, encampments and even riots.

Additionally, some cities have decided to allow the local community activists to have access to public streets to put murals on the road declaring that “Black Lives Matter.”

While black lives clearly do matter, the political sloganeering and the local officials who allow it open the door to others who would like to get their political messaging out to the masses and not doubt would appreciate the tacit endorsement of the local government that their message is valid.

In fact, a former Alabama state senator was arrested this week for trying to put “Good Trouble” and “Expand Medicaid” outside of the Alabama State House.

Clearly, this is a development that could, and should, lead to an arms race that sees groups seek places to put their message.

If “Black Lives Matter” is given the space, why not “Taxed Enough Already,” “Back the Blue” or even offensive messages like “White Power?”

The law is pretty clear here, which is why you see Ku Klux Klan rallies in public places. The cities cannot pick and choose what messages it allows. It either shuts this stuff down or everything is fair game.

In Huntsville, there were competing fundraisers for murals for “Black Lives Matter” and “Back The Blue.” (FULL DISCLOSURE: I started the second one and raised over $2,500)

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle doesn’t want any part of this.

He said Thursday on Huntsville WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson show, “[W]hen you open that Pandora’s Box, there’s no telling what’s going to end up on the streets.”

Battle also acknowledged once it starts, it never stops.

“[I]f you let one go, then you have a second or third or fourth, and then you get into freedom of speech rights and everything else,” he added.

My takeaway:

I was obviously glad to hear this. The point of my fundraiser was to kill all of this before it got out of hand in the city in which I live.

The goal was clear, as I wrote:

I am a taxpayer in the city, I care about black lives, and I back the blue, but I also don’t want this divisive nonsense in my streets because all it does is create problems.

Obviously, “Black Lives Matter,” but how about “Back the Blue?” Neither statement cancels out the other. But if the city is going to let public space be used for political statements, my political statement should be allowed as well.

Hopefully, the city rejects this silly idea.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

So as soon as Mayor Battle said this wasn’t going to happen, I shut down my fundraiser and started the process of refunding the money.

Listen:

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

6 mins ago

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing to boost Alabama investment by $830 million

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM), the joint venture between automakers Mazda Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., plans to make an additional $830 million investment in Alabama to incorporate new cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to its production lines and provide enhanced training to its workforce of up to 4,000 employees.

“Toyota’s presence in Alabama continues to build excitement about future opportunities that lie ahead, both for our economy and for the residents of our great state,” Governor Kay Ivey said.

“Mazda and Toyota’s increased commitment to the development of this manufacturing plant reiterates their belief in the future of manufacturing in America and the potential for the state of Alabama to be an economic leader in the wake of unprecedented economic change.”

The additional investment brings the total figure in the state-of-the-art facility in Huntsville to $2.311 billion, up from the $1.6 billion originally announced in 2018.

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The investment reaffirms Mazda and Toyota’s commitment to produce the highest-quality products at all of their production facilities.

The investment also accommodates production line modifications to enhance manufacturing processes supporting the Mazda vehicle and design changes to the yet-to-be-announced Toyota SUV that will be both produced at the Alabama plant.

The new facility will have the capacity to produce up to 150,000 units of a future Mazda crossover model and up to 150,000 units of the Toyota SUV each year.

HIRING PLANS

MTM continues to plan for up to 4,000 new jobs and has hired approximately 600 employees to date, with plans to resume accepting applications for production positions later in 2020. Initial hiring began in January.

“Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is proud to call Alabama home. Through strong support from our state and local partners, we have been able to further incorporate cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, provide world-class training for team members and develop the highest quality production processes,” said Mark Brazeal, vice president of administration at MTM.

“As we prepare for the start of production next year, we look forward to developing our future workforce and serving as a hometown company for many years to come,” he added.

Full-scale construction of the Alabama plant continues, with 75 to 100 percent completion on roofing, siding, floor slabs, ductwork, fire protection and electrical.Construction began in early 2019.

“This newest investment by our partners at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing shows the company’s continued confidence in the ability of our community to provide a strong, skilled workforce to meet the demands for quality and reliability,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said.

“We look forward to the day when the first vehicles roll off the line,” he added.

“We are excited to learn of this additional investment being made by Mazda Toyota Manufacturing,” Limestone County Commission Chairman Colin Daly said.

“We continue to be grateful to MTM for their belief in our community and look forward to our partnership with them for many years to come.”

MAGNIFYING IMPACT

Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said MTM’s new investment will magnify the economic impact of a project that is poised to transform the North Alabama region.

“With this enhanced investment, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA is adding new technology and capabilities to a manufacturing facility that was already designed to be one of the most efficient factories in the automotive industry,” Canfield said.

“We’re confident that the groundbreaking collaboration between Mazda and Toyota will drive growth not only for the companies but also for North Alabama for generations.”

(Courtesy of Made In Alabama)

2 hours ago

Alabama coronavirus update: Hospitalizations begin to decrease, new cases falling

There is good news in Alabama’s fight against the coronavirus this week, with a number of key metrics including hospitalizations showing the state making progress while the disease remains highly active.

Hospitals across the state admitted an average of 108 COVID-19 patients per day over the last week — a number that is far higher than preferred by healthcare professionals — but also the first time the rate has declined on a week to week basis since the beginning of the pandemic.

Previously, the seven-day average of hospitalizations had hovered between 160 and 200 since July 17.

Yellowhammer News used numbers from the coronavirus information hubs BamaTracker and Johns Hopkins University for the data in this article.

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There was an average of 1,156 new coronavirus cases confirmed in the Yellowhammer State over the last seven days. That is is down from an average of 1,415 for the week concluding on August 6, a roughly 18% decline.

(BamaTracker)

Notably, Alabama’s total number of coronavirus cases since the virus reached the state exceeded 100,000 this week and reached a total of 101,491 as of Thursday morning.

Another good sign for the state is that seven counties reported no new cases on Thursday. For virtually all of July and early August, only one or two counties each day did not report a case.

Especially encouraging to infectious disease experts is the decline in the percentage of tests for COVID-19 that are coming back positive.

According to the data, 13% of the tests given each of the last seven days in Alabama have come back positive, and though that is well above the national average of 7.8%, it is a welcomed decline from a statewide high of over 20% that happened over the week ending August 2.

BamaTracker says the ideal range of tests coming back positive is 1%-5%.

On average, 24 people with coronavirus died each day for the last week in Alabama, one of the highest rates from throughout the pandemic.

(BamaTracker)

The state’s death toll now stands at 1,821 with another 69 people who are presumed to have perished with COVID-19 but have not yet been confirmed by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

According to experts, a surge in new cases follows the occurrence where the virus was spread by about seven to 14 days. A corresponding increase in hospitalizations occurs around two weeks after the surge in new cases, and the concluding uptick in deaths comes two to four weeks after the increase in hospitalizations.

Those expert findings would indicate Alabama’s increase in deaths stems from behavior occurring around the weekend of July 4, though figures like State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris are quick to point out that something as complex as the fluctuations of a pandemic are never attributable to one single factor.

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

3 hours ago

Black Alabama Sons of Confederate Veterans member opposes monument, flag removal

Daniel Sims, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, has added a unique perspective to the debate over removing Confederate monuments and flags from public display.

Sims, who is black, interviewed with Huntsville-area WHNT about the subject this week.

Wearing both a hat and shirt depicting the Confederate flag, while also holding a full-size Confederate flag on a staff, Sims told WHNT, “Regardless [of] how the next person feels, I’m not going to take my flag down.”

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“If I’ve got anything to do with it, ain’t no monument going to come down,” he added.

Sims was reportedly adopted as a child and now holds his adopted family’s heritage as his own.

“My whole family’s white,” Sims explained. “[I] went to an all-white school, grew up in an all-white neighborhood. My grandfather was white, and he was the main one who fought in this war here (the Civil War). And he’s taught me everything I know.”

WHNT reported that the interview took place in Albertville, which is located in Marshall County. According to the most recent data published by the Census Bureau, the county’s population is 79.8% white, 14.7% Hispanic or Latino and 3.2% black.

About the push to take down a confederate monument and flag specifically outside the Albertville courthouse, Sims added, “It may make my blood boil if they just come up here and feel like they could just tear it down. I don’t see me still living if they do that right there. That monument ain’t hurting nobody. That monument ain’t killing a soul. It ain’t talking bad to nobody. It ain’t even racist.”

Watch:

The clip has gone viral, garnering about 400,000 views in 12 hours. The WHNT reporter who conducted the interview noted in a tweet that Sims has reminded some viewers of an old “Chapelle Show” character, Clayton Bigsby.

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

4 hours ago

Byrne thanks Trump admin for ‘continuing to put American workers first’ by holding off on adding component parts to Airbus tariffs

U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) praised the Trump administration’s decision this week to hold off on implementing new tariffs on component parts used in Airbus’ Mobile assembly plant.

Airbus, headquartered in Europe, has been in the middle of a trade dispute between the United States and the European Union since 2004.

The company has an assembly plant in Mobile that employs 1,100 people, and business groups in the area have long sought to keep the imported component parts that are fashioned into aircraft at the plant from being added to the list of products subject to a tariff by the U.S. government.

“I thank the Trump Administration for this decision and continuing to put American workers first,” Byrne said in a statement on Thursday after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer decided against placing tariffs on the component parts.

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The United States kept in place tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of goods from several European countries as part of the ongoing dispute. Many of the goods remaining under tariff are consumer products like food and beverage products.

The ongoing dispute was heightened in October 2019 after the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a ruling in the United States’ favor, saying that many European nations had never ended their improper subsidies for Airbus that have long been at the heart of the issue.

The Trump administration first decided not to impose tariffs on the imported components shortly after the October decision by the WTO, a choice met at the time by the City of Mobile with “a great sense of relief and gratitude.”

In further praise of the extension of that decision, Byrne said on Thursday, “I have no doubt we will see the fruits of this decision as Mobile continues on the path to being a worldwide center of aviation excellence.”

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

7 hours ago

7 Things: Alabama passes a grim coronavirus milestone, Biden and Harris make their debut, Doug Jones raising money off Harris and more …

7. No surprise: People are losing faith in elections

  • After years of the media and their Democrats declaring the current President of the United States a treasonous fraud and fake calls of voter suppression and attempts at creating vote-by-mail requirement because they cannot get over the fact that Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton, a majority of the American people now lack confidence in the presidential election process.
  • When voters were asked, “How confident are you that the November election will be conducted in a fair and equal way?” 56% responded that they were “not too confident” or “not at all confident.” The promises of delayed and contested results around the country should only make this worse.

6. Small business outlook not optimistic

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  • The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) conducted a study that shows small businesses have seen a 14% month over month drop in expecting the economy to improve, but while there’s been a drop in optimism with small businesses, there are still jobs available.
  • According to the survey, 27% of businesses are still looking for skilled workers and have been unable to fill those positions, but in Alabama, there have been improvements with NFIB State of Alabama director Rosemary Elebash saying unemployment was down “to 7.5 percent in June, a big improvement from April’s high of 13.8 percent.” She added that in July, “tax revenues grew by 4.27 percent after two months of declines.”

5. America’s confidence in police officers has fallen

  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 48% of American’s have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police, compared to last year at 53%. This poll was taken not long after George Floyd died in police custody.
  • This year, 19% of black respondents to the survey said they had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police, but 56% of white people had the same confidence. This is the largest gap seen between these groups since Gallup has been conducting this annual poll.

4. Cases are appearing at universities and high schools

  • At Troy University, a student living in the dorms has tested positive for the coronavirus and there are three other students who are quarantined that live in the same suite. All three students already have plans to be tested and the university is encouraging all “students to take advantage of free COVID-19 testing available to all college students in Alabama through the GuideSafe program” and to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing.
  • A Georgia high school that did not require masks has gone to virtual learning after 14 coronavirus cases with 15 other tests have been done and now has over 1,100 students and staff in quarantine.

3. Doug Jones is fundraising off Kamala Harris

  • In a recent email sent out to all of U.S. Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) supporters, Jones again voices his support for his “friend” U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), advocating for the “unity” that former Vice President Joe Biden and Harris bring as running mates.
  • Jones continues on in the email to say that the current “election is going to come down to the contrast between unity and division” and that “we also have to energize traditionally underrepresented communities like Black and Latinx voters, and makes sure to add a fundraising link at the end of the message.”

2. Biden and Harris have made their debut with lies

  • Together in Delaware, former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) took the stage together for the first time to debut as running mates on the 2020 Democratic ticket, with Biden saying there is “no doubt I picked the right person to join me as the next vice president of the United States of America.” He then lied about President Donald Trump’s record on Charlottesville, social security and national security.
  • Harris wasted no time to take shots at Trump, saying, “America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him.” She also took time to compare the handling of the coronavirus to the way President Barack Obama handled the Ebola crisis, saying that Obama and Biden “did their job.”

1. Alabama surpasses 100,000 coronavirus cases

  • The spread of the coronavirus definitely appears to be slowing in the state of Alabama and around the country with two straight days of sub-1,000 cases in the state. The retransmission rate is below the number that shows exponential growth, and it will now take 51 days for the new case number to double.
  • While Alabama’s mask mandate may or may not be responsible for the slowing numbers, states like Illinois are so concerned about the lack of masks they are now actively fining businesses and have made assaulting a retail employee over masks a felony.