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  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

4 days ago

Birmingham seeks to maintain Confederate monument ruling

(Facebook)

The city of Birmingham is asking a judge to maintain his ruling that overturned a state law protecting Confederate monuments.

In a court filing last week, city attorneys opposed a motion by the state attorney general to stay the decision while Alabama appeals.

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A judge last month ruled a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments violates the free speech rights of local communities.

The state argued that staying the order would prevent cities from removing monuments while the state appeals.

Birmingham lawyers said the city has made no suggestion that a Confederate monument would be removed during the appeal.

Alabama sued the city of Birmingham in 2017 after officials erected a wooden box that obscured the view of a 52-foot-tall obelisk honoring Confederate veterans.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 days ago

i-Ready could help reinvigorate Alabama’s public education system

(S.Ross/YHN)

BOAZ — Boaz City Schools produced Alabama’s current lieutenant governor. And now, thanks to the system’s participation in a cutting-edge program, Boaz could be paving the way for not just the next generation of students in Marshall County, but young Alabamians statewide.

While the Yellowhammer State boasts the nation’s best state-run pre-k program, surging workforce development programs through AIDT and public-private partnerships and world-class universities, it is no secret that Alabama has been desperately needing a renaissance in K-12 public education for years.

That awakening might just be on the horizon. Last week, Yellowhammer News attended the annual community appreciation breakfast at Boaz High School. In attendance were Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, state Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) and state Rep. Wes Kitchens (R-Arab), who all got a firsthand look at i-Ready – a program new to the state that might just be one of the missing pieces in Alabama’s public school puzzle.

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i-Ready

A program of Curriculum Associates, i-Ready is a virtual assistant of sorts for teachers, providing a toolkit of resources and delivering differentiated instruction. The online, data-driven program functions in two main ways: diagnostic and instructional.

The first aspect of this is assessment based. Through an initial evaluation to see where a student is academically (identifying both their strengths and weaknesses), i-Ready plots a unique learning pathway just for them. This is where the instructional component comes in, as the program provides online lessons and teaching resources designed to fit that individual student’s pathway.

And, just as importantly as the two aspects themselves, the diagnostics and instruction are intertwined. The online program is keeping track of a student’s progress daily, so teachers can adjust in real time to what is working and not working in the classroom.

In a tour of Corley Elementary School, i-Ready can already be seen making a difference firsthand in second- and third-grade classrooms.

One of the biggest takeaways, after speaking with school system and Curriculum Associates leaders, is that i-Ready is custom designed to help teachers, not supplant them.

A Powerpoint presentation delivered by the school system emphasized, “We know and believe that the classroom teacher is at the center of [success]. The teacher is making instructional decisions based on his/her knowledge of the students.”

i-Ready and the constant individualized data it puts in teachers’ hands only increases their ability to help students succeed.

Still, in schools where some students are at or above grade level while others are varying degrees of playing catch up, teachers cannot possibly reach each individual in the best way for their unique situation just by teaching to the group and going over lessons in front of the class as a whole. This is where differentiated instruction and custom pathways are so important.

“We know realistically that kids are at all different places when they start each grade level,” a school administrator explained. “You have some kids that are accelerated learners that have learned a lot of their grade level skills and standards. And you have some that are grades behind. Well, we can’t sacrifice one for the other. And we understand the importance of choice, we understand the importance of flexibility, and that’s something, in a public school, that typically has not always occurred in the past. We have to learn how to meet the needs of individual students in a setting where you teach multiple students.”

Boaz’s implementation

In practice, at least in the classrooms observed, the teachers would split the class into three groups after introducing the lesson of the day to all of them. The groups would rotate between three stations. The group on the i-Ready station would go online and work their pathway. A second group would work a more traditional assignment or project related to the lesson. And the final group would work with the teacher to add another layer or reinforcement level to the lesson; tactile or visual activities are good examples of this.

Another of the points of emphasis of the program is building skills, as opposed to teaching to a standardized test. Curriculum Associates, through i-Ready and Ready (traditional printed math and reading instruction the company also specializes in), stresses high standards. Yet, the curriculum is flexible and uniquely designed not just for the individual students, but for the differing needs and wants of states and localities, too.

Take Boaz City Schools, for example. The school system has major demographic challenges that Curriculum Associates has helped with. From 2014 to 2018, Boaz City Schools’ percentage of Hispanic students went from 1.57 percent to 32.70 percent. Instead of working around challenges and leaving various subsets of special needs students behind, i-Ready carves out roads to success. In this case, this meant not only English as Second Language (ESL) students, but students who are proficient in English conversationally but still struggle with it academically.

Boaz City Schools, which has approximately 70 percent of its students on free or reduced lunch, began implementation of i-Ready strictly at the Tier III level (at-risk students) in the 2017-2018 school year. Now, they are in the first full year of a two or three-year scale-up of the program to the core level.

The results have already been off the charts.

Last school year, Boaz City Schools achieved 148 percent in math and 162 percent in reading of its targeted growth on average across all students. These remarkable results spanned from kindergarten to eighth grade, which is especially impressive considering it is harder for students to make up lost ground after their first few years of school.

Take the teachers’ perspectives into account.

While on classroom tours, Ainsworth pulled multiple veteran educators aside, who each raved about i-Ready. His conversations left him to conclude, “[T]he proof’s in the pudding.”

One third grade teacher, who had taught various elementary and middle school grades over 14 years, confidently said the program should be implemented statewide.

“As a teacher, it’s the best thing that I’ve seen,” she told Ainsworth.

How can other school districts benefit?

While Boaz City Schools was able to implement i-Ready through an at-risk student grant from the state, Ainsworth said he would like all public school districts to have the funds to use the program if they see fit — and not just for Tier III.

It might take some work in Montgomery to make this possible, but Boaz City Schools Superintendent Dr. Shannon Stanley is such a believer in the program and what it has already done for her district that she is willing to personally travel to the state capital to share the success story with legislators and executive branch leaders.

Currently, Curriculum Associates is working with 15 districts in Alabama between Ready and i-Ready, with some districts running small-scale trials and others enjoying more widespread implementation. Until the time that all districts have the funding option to utilize the program, applying for at-risk grants and being able to show positive results of trial runs seems to be an advisable move for districts across Alabama.

However, this is still not ideal.

“One of the things that I think is kind of a shame is that y’all have to use [i-Ready] through at-risk funds,” Ainsworth told Stanley and other school district leaders. “Because to me, there’s tremendous value and for not just at-risk students… what I’d like to see y’all do is be able to have the money to do this and then use the at-risk money for just at-risk kids.”

Speaking to Curriculum Associates representatives in attendance, Ainsworth reiterated the thing that impressed him most was what the teachers thought of i-Ready.

“Y’all have a product that the people that use it every day [love it]. To me, the value’s not in what I think, it’s the value that the actual teachers think. They love it,” he said.

“You can’t argue with people that are using it, and the fact that it’s actually changing lives. That’s important,” Ainsworth added.

Scofield, speaking to Yellowhammer News after the school tour, emphasized that he is “proud” of the schools in his district, including the Boaz City Schools system.

“They’re doing the right things to make sure our students are achieving and coming out workforce-ready. Boaz is on the frontline of that, and I’m very proud of this system and very impressed by this product,” Scofield remarked.

He continued, “I would like to see us really focus on trying to move [i-Ready] beyond the city limits of Boaz. I’d like to see this not only all over my district but statewide. Listening to these teachers – when you have 14-, 15-, 20-year teachers tell you that this is the best thing that they’ve seen, it’s had the biggest impact on their students – that’s what we need to listen to.”

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

4 days ago

7 Things: Trump set to declare national emergency and sign the deal, Mo Brooks urges a veto, Alabama Democratic Party in chaos and more …

(WH, CBP/Flickr)

7. Brilliant politicians in New York cost themselves 25,000 jobs and untold billions of dollars; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) cheers

— Amazon will not be bringing their second headquarters to New York after outrage over the three billion dollars in economic incentives cause the economically illiterate in the city to believe the city was losing money on the deal. Ocasio-Cortez is ecstatic her district will not receive the jobs, tax dollars or infrastructure this deal would have eventually brought.

6. Remington has failed to meet its employment goals and now must repay some of their incentives

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— The deal to bring Remington to North Alabama may officially be a bust at this point. They suffered bankruptcy and only hired about a quarter of the people initially promised. Now, the company has repaid some of the incentives totaling more about one million dollars to Morgan County, Limestone County, Madison County and the city of Athens.

5. Another social justice warrior hoax has been exposed — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is suspected to have made up his attack narrative

According to reports out of Chicago, the police knew Jussie Smollett was not telling the truth from the beginning of this ordeal where the actor said he was attacked by two white Trump supporters for being liberal and gay. It is believed Smollett and the two “persons of interest” perpetrated this hoax because Smollett was about to be written out of the television show.

4. The Alabama Democratic Party has its leadership elections voided; They must redo them within 90 days

— The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) credentials committee has essentially voided the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) leadership elections, meaning they must hold new elections for the top two spots within 90 days. This means very little to most people, but the power struggle in the Alabama Democratic Party is one of many reasons Democrats have almost no power in the state. This decision also forces the state party to change their bylaws, which will limit the ability to party boss Joe Reed to stack the deck. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) called the last elections “a total sham.”

3. The city of Birmingham is still trying to get at their monument to Conferedate soldiers

— Attorneys for the city have asked a judge to keep in place a ruling that would allow Birmingham to remove a Confederate monument, even though the city has not said it will remove the monument while the legal case is ongoing. Another judge ruled last month, 20 minutes before his term ended, that state law barring the modification and removal of these monuments was unconstitutional because it violates the free speech rights of local communities.

2. Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) urged the president to use his veto and have the military to build the wall

— In a fruitless effort to get the president to not sign the latest deal to keep the government open, Brooks said the compromise was a failure by Congress and that “the massive 1,169 page spending bill is a debt junkies’ dream.” Brooks said he will vote no because the bill forces him “to choose between two really bad choices: vote to shut down the government or vote to aid and abet the killing of at least 50 Americans per day who die from illegal alien homicides or from overdoses on poisonous drugs shipped through our porous southern border.”

1. President Donald Trump is set to sign a bipartisan agreement to keep the government open and build some of the wall, also plans an emergency declaration

— The U.S. Senate voted 82-16, with both Alabama senators voting in the affirmative, and all Alabama House Republicans except Martha Roby voted “no” on the compromise to keep the government open and give the president some money for his desires to beef-up border security. Now, to the chagrin of Democrats and shock to Republicans, the president is prepared to make an emergency declaration that he will use to build walls and expand security with monies allocated to other measures. The president will sign the bill and the emergency declaration after the U.S. House votes today.

4 days ago

Roby on New York, Virginia late-term abortion, infanticide trends: ‘I have never been as disturbed as I am now’

(M. Roby)

Thursday on WVNN, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) hammered the alarming efforts by statehouses around the country to lessen abortion restrictions.

Two states, New York and Virginia, are making efforts to move toward the legalization of on-demand abortions allowed in the late stages of the pregnancy, or even after birth.

Roby expressed her astonishment regarding this “unfathomable” trend.

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“[I]’m unapologetically pro-life,” Roby said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “I count it a tremendous privilege to be a voice for the unborn, those that do not have a voice. I want you to know in all the years the people of Alabama have given me the opportunity to represent them in Congress, in all the years that I have been on the floor, pounding my fist and defending the unborn, I have never been as disturbed as I am now that this country requires legal provisions to protect living babies. And the fact that the babies are being born alive as a result of an abortion gone bad, that there are those in our country who are suggesting that they ought not be given every bit of medical attention that a child born live outside of the womb would otherwise have is just unfathomable to me.”

The Montgomery Republican explained to listeners that legislative efforts to curb these practices have been stymied, given the Democrats control the House of Representatives.

“We have been working tirelessly to force a vote,” she said. “Now remember, we’re in the minority. We do not control the actions on the floor, but there are rules in place that we can use to force the majority to take up our legislative priorities. And we have been working and pushing tirelessly to force a vote on the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act. I’m a co-sponsor of this bill, and this bill does advance legal protections for babies that are born alive during a failed abortion and implement criminal penalties for doctors that fail to provide the medical care necessary to care for that living infant.”

@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.

5 days ago

Jones backs challenge resulting in increased DNC ‘supervision’ of Alabama Democratic Party

(D. Jones/Twitter, AlabamaTV/YouTube)

On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) credentials committee voted to call for new elections for chair and vice chair of the Alabama Democratic Party.

According to The Associated Press, the resolution approved by the committee would have the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) hold new elections for the top two spots within 90 days.

The full DNC voting body is expected to approve the recommendation, which would also see the national Democratic Party oversee the re-do elections in Alabama.

The action arose after challenges were filed contesting this past summer’s election of Chairwoman Nancy Worley and Vice Chairman Randy Kelley.

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Allegations have been made that the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) run by the state party’s vice chair for minority affairs, Joe Reed, has stacked the composition of the SDEC so as to control the outcome of the party’s internal elections.

Worley said last year that “there could be a tiny bit of racism” behind the challenges, which were backed by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL). Jones helped lead the charge for the candidate running against Worley in the summer and spoke against her at the DNC credentials committee meeting Thursday.

Jones and other critics of Worley and Reed want less African Americans on the state party’s executive committee.

Worley will remain chair until the re-election is held, however, that decision was barely approved by the credentials committee via a 12-11 vote on an amendment to the main resolution.

Worley said that she disagrees with the decision to hold the re-election. However, she looks “forward to the opportunity to lay any concerns to rest.”

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

5 days ago

Byrne: ‘Anti-semitic’ Dem Rep. Omar ‘should not be allowed to continue serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’

(B. Byrne/Facebook, Omar.House.Gov)

President Donald Trump is not the only one who thinks that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) should face consequences for recent anti-semitic comments and other “absurd” behavior.

Now, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) is joining in on the call for Omar to face real consequences for her actions.

Omar came under “justified criticism” over the weekend after a tweet that has widely been condemned as anti-semitic, including by members of her own party. Trump called on the freshman congresswoman to resign, and Vice President Mike Pence called her remarks “a disgrace.”

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Omar received further criticism for claiming to “unequivocally apologize” while continuing to equivocate in the same statement, with her second paragraph beginning, “At the same time…”

To make matters worse, Omar used her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday to berate a Jewish-American, well-respected diplomat.

Byrne said he is “outraged” by Omar’s “absurd comments.”

“I am outraged by the continued absurd comments from Rep. Omar, as I think most Alabamians are,” Byrne told Yellowhammer News. “Frankly, they show just how radical the Democrat Party has become.”

He concluded, “Given her anti-semitic views, she most certainly should not be allowed to continue serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”

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

5 days ago

Mo Brooks: Dems prioritizing illegal immigrants ‘the worst betrayal of America in history,’ ‘9/11 deaths pale in comparison’

(Rep. Brooks/YouTube)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) Thursday delivered a powerful speech on the U.S. House floor urgently calling on President Donald Trump to “declare a national emergency, and to use every other statutory and Constitutional power he possesses to direct the military to secure our southern border, build the wall and protect and save American lives.”

The congressman from north Alabama explained that over 2,000 illegal immigrants were arrested for homicides on American soil the last fiscal year alone. Additionally, Brooks said, “[O]ver 70,000 Americans are killed each year by poisonous drugs, much of which is shipped illegally into America across our porous southern border by illegal aliens, MS-13 and other drug cartels.”

As critical a threat as Brooks views the issue of border security, he lamented that Congress is not currently in a position to solve it.

“[A]n extraordinarily weak and conflicted Congress is of no help. Worse yet, this Congress is a hindrance,” he summarized.

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He called “Socialist Democrats” elevating illegal immigrants over American citizens “the worst betrayal of America in history.”

“Inasmuch as socialist Democrats refuse to protect American lives from illegal alien homicides, drug deaths, and America’s porous southern border, I urge President Trump to secure our borders and build the wall under existing law and presidential powers,” Brooks stated.

He then outlined the president’s legal authority to order the military to assist in this “fight,” warning that “a minimum of 50 Americans die each day we delay securing our southern border.”

Brooks added, “While 9/11 was horrible, 9/11 deaths pale in comparison to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dead, or will die, over the years because of illegal alien homicides and overdoses caused by deadly drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border.”

Full text of Brooks’ speech as follows:

Mr. Speaker, in Fiscal Year 2018, more than 2,000 illegal aliens were apprehended by federal agents for homicides committed on American soil.

In addition, over 70,000 Americans are killed each year by poisonous drugs, much of which is shipped illegally into America across our porous southern border by illegal aliens, MS-13 and other drug cartels!

Stronger border security, which must include wall construction, will save thousands of American lives every year.

Unfortunately, in the worst betrayal of America in history, Socialist Democrats, motivated by a lust for political power, selfishly elevate illegal aliens over American citizens because illegal alien families overwhelming rely on welfare, thus making them highly reliable Democrat voters who elect Socialist Democrat politicians by diluting the votes of American citizens.

Inasmuch as Socialist Democrats refuse to protect American lives from illegal alien homicides, drug deaths, and America’s porous southern border, I urge President Trump to secure our borders and build the wall under existing law and presidential powers.

For example, Title 10, Section 284 of the United States Code empowers presidents to order America’s military to assist federal drug and law enforcement agencies in the fight against drug and transnational organized crime.

Pursuant to this law, the president may deploy active military and National Guard troops to:

• Establish and operate bases of operations;
• Detect and monitor surface traffic in Mexico and in the United States within 25 miles of the southern border;
• Construct roads, fences, barriers and lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across the southern border; and
• Use aerial and ground reconnaissance.

For emphasis, this federal law empowers President Trump to order America’s military to construct walls and barriers to block drug smuggling corridors, with the side benefit of stopping illegal aliens.

Mr. Speaker, another example of existing presidential authority is the power to declare a national emergency and divert Congressionally appropriated money to border security and wall construction.

America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan based on 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed roughly 3,000 people. In response, America spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of lives in military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While 9/11 was horrible, 9/11 deaths pale in comparison to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dead, or will die, over the years because of illegal alien homicides and overdoses caused by deadly drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border.

For emphasis, a minimum of 50 Americans die each day we delay securing our southern border! That is a minimum of 15,000 dead Americans each year!

That death rate easily justifies a presidential declaration of a national emergency. In fact, not one of the 58 national emergencies declared by a president since 1979 is supported by a worse death rate or threat to America and American lives!

Mr. Speaker, an extraordinarily weak and conflicted Congress is of no help. Worse yet, this Congress is a hindrance.

As such, I urge President Trump, as America’s commander in chief, to invoke Title 10, United States Code Section 284, to declare a national emergency, and to use every other statutory and Constitutional power he possesses to direct the military to secure our southern border, build the wall, and protect and save American lives!

America’s military protects the borders of, and lives in, South Korea, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Europe, and many other countries.

America, and Americans, deserve no less protection!

Update:

After Brooks’ speech, the White House on Thursday afternoon announced that Trump will indeed declare a national emergency and “take other executive action” to help secure the border. The president also will sign the border security and funding deal negotiated largely by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL).

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

5 days ago

Forbes magazine editor-in-chief sees strong economy leading to Trump’s re-election

(WH, G. Skidmore/Flickr)

In an interview with Huntsville’s WVNN, Steve Forbes touted his new TV special on PBS and the strengthening economy.

Forbes said Thursday on “The Dale Jackson Show” that he believes President Donald Trump will be re-elected, saying the president “will win re-nomination from Republicans, and he will beat the Democrats” because of a multitude of factors, including a new trade deal with China and the massive tax cuts.

He dismissed fears of a slowing economy or even what some economists call an “overheating” economy and praised the economy as the president’s strongest asset.

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Forbes also explained that the Democrats’ lurch leftward and their focus on liberal policy dreams like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and 70 percent tax rates will doom their chances of regaining the presidency in 2020.

When asked about how Republicans should handle these extreme policy proposals, Forbes laid out a plan for Republicans in Congress to fight these proposals that include humor and grim reality.

He praised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) plan to “put it up for a vote and let them squirm.”

Forbes suggested highlighting the absurdity of these views by asking the Democrats, “[W]hat do you have against cows?”

He also hit the real world danger of their implementation.

“You’re not going to get the healthcare you need any more. You think you have problems now, wait until you just can’t get it for months or years on end,” Forbes stated.

My takeaway:

The former Republican Presidential candidate is clearly optimistic about his party’s future and re-election chances of Donald Trump, both because the economy is doing and because the Democratic Party has adopted the policies of its most extreme members.

Listen:

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

5 days ago

Hillary Clinton to receive ‘International Unity Award’ at annual Selma march

(Hillary for America/Flickr)

Hillary Rodham Clinton is headed to Alabama in the coming weeks, with activists set to honor the former secretary of state, senator and first lady, in Selma.

Leaders with the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee and the Selma-to-Montgomery March Foundation held a press conference in the Statehouse Thursday, confirming that Clinton will be “headlining” the 2019 jubilee, which runs January 28 – March 4.

While in Selma, she will also announce her support for the national initiative “Lift Our Vote 2020.” Several candidates running to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020 will also be in attendance during the annual event.

A press release outlined that Clinton will receive the “International Unity Award” and be inducted into the National Voting Rights Museum Women’s Hall of Fame while in Selma. She is also scheduled to speak at the Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast on the Wallace Community College Selma campus the morning of March 3.

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Clinton, who has previously participated in the annual Bloody Sunday March, will do so again and also speak at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church.

Recently retired State Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma), who was at the center of racially charged controversy this past election cycle in Alabama while spearheading the “Vote or Die” campaign, said that Clinton’s attendance could result in “one of the best” jubilees ever.

“This will be a great Jubilee with Secretary Hillary Clinton, the kickoff of the national Lift Our Vote 2020 initiative, a number of presidential candidates coming to speak, and various other powerful speakers and so many events,” Sanders remarked. “It could be one of the best of many great Jubilees.”

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

5 days ago

Man charged in Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter’s murder

(Birmingham PD)

A suspect was arrested and charged Thursday in the January shooting death of Birmingham Police Department Sgt. Wytasha Carter.

Jeremy Owens, 31, is charged with one count of capital murder, one count of murder of a police officer and two counts of attempted murder.

He has been under guard while receiving medical treatment since the shooting. He was taken into custody at Spain Rehabilitation Center Thursday morning, with officers using Carter’s handcuffs to take the alleged murderer to Jefferson County Jail.

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This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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

Powerful Alabama-based legislative tracking platform, Dragonfly, offers digital workspaces for governmental affairs staffers in the Yellowhammer State

(YHN)

With the 2019 Alabama legislative session set to begin on March 5th you can be sure governmental affairs staffers and consultants across the state are rushing to prepare for a busy season. Fortunately for these politicos, Dragonfly, an innovative and affordable legislative tracking platform, is prepared up to make life in the state house a breeze.

Dragonfly is the digital component of BillStatus, the legislative tracking service established in Alabama in the mid-’90s. Initially known as the Alabama Legislative Reading and Research Service, the software was created as a response to the need for organized information coming from the Alabama Legislature.

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With Dragonfly you can quickly and easily produce detailed custom reports and critical legislative updates for your stakeholders. Whether you need a play-by-play of the action as it unfolds on the floor or a 10,000-foot view of politics in Montgomery, this platform will keep you informed with constant alerts and notifications.

According to Dragonfly owner Stephen Morris, the platform is best described as a “one-stop shop” for all legislative tracking and research needs.

Clients can immediately access all the information needed from the platform’s dashboard. In addition to receiving information, Dragonfly allows clients to save time and energy by enabling them to email custom reports to stakeholders directly from the platform.

Say goodbye to missing important votes, hearings and committee meetings with the powerful digital platform available right at your fingertips. All the information you need can be accessed on a mobile device, freeing you to travel freely without the extra weight of a laptop.

For anyone working in a group, Dragonfly’s Team Workspace feature takes the stress out of coordinating with your team. Bill amendments and daily to-dos can be seamlessly shared with your colleagues.

“No matter what the person’s role, every tool is there – track bills, create and email reports and bills, notifications, it’s all there,” Morris said.

With 25 years’ experience in Alabama legislative tracking as BillStatus, Dragonfly’s staff knows exactly what you need, when you need it. Whether it’s a special-order calendar, a bill’s status, committee schedules, or automatic reporting, Dragonfly will keep you up-to-date, all in one powerful platform.

Find out how Dragonfly can simplify your legislative life and take the platform for a test drive at www.billstatus.com/tracking.

Have questions? Email (trackbills@billstatus.com) Dragonfly or call and speak to a member of their staff at 844-50-TRACK.

5 days ago

Fairfield mayor removed from office by city council

(WVTM 13 News/YouTube)

A Birmingham-area mayor has been removed from office for failing to attend city meetings.

AL.com reports that members of the Fairfield City Council voted to remove Ed May II as mayor.

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City Council President Eddie Penny says the vote follows a law that says a mayor can be removed if absent from council meetings for 90 days.

Penny says May has missed at least 135 days.

May posted a video on Facebook claiming opponents have been conspiring to remove him from office. He says the decision will wind up in court.

May was elected mayor in 2016.

The council voted last year to hire a manager to run the financially plagued city of about 10,600 people.

May vetoed the decision, but council members did not recognize his decision.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 days ago

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers on 2016 election: ‘Undisputed’ that no evidence exists of tampering, hacking election machines that would have changed votes

Rep. Mike Rogers (C-Span.org)

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) explained what has inspired the House Democrats’ push for HR1, a bill that he described as a Democrat “wish list” on voting so that “Republicans can’t win.”

Rogers is the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, which held hearings this week on the legislation and included testimony from Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

According to Rogers, much of what Democrats are doing regarding H.R. 1 comes out of the 2016 election defeat of Hillary Clinton. However, Rogers contended as far as the actual elections are concerned, so-called Russian hacking did not result in a single vote being altered after it was cast.

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“That’s exactly what started Democrats talking about it,” Rogers said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “They’re still in denial that Donald Trump won the election and they’re pushing this theory, ‘but for Russian interference, he could not have won.’ But the fact is, and that is undisputed testimony in our hearing today, both the [Department of Justice], … and [Department of Homeland Security], I think, have studied the election systems in the 2016 and 2018 election, and there is zero evidence of any tampering with or hacking into the election machines that would change a single vote.”

“What there is evidence of, and it is undisputed, is evidence that Russia placed ads on social media – about $20 million – trying to spread disinformation,” he said. “But as I made the point in today’s hearing, there’s nothing new about that. Russia has been meddling disinformation in our elections for decades. They’ve been doing it all over the world, whether you’re in the Middle East or Western Europe or Eastern Europe. They’re very aggressive in Eastern Europe in spreading disinformation. There’s nothing new about that, and I expect that’s going to continue.”

The Calhoun County Republican argued for vigilance regarding entities hostile to the United States infiltrating social media platforms to influence election outcomes, in addition to guaranteeing the “mechanics of voting” are protected.

“What we have to make sure of is when there is disinformation being spread on social media that we pointed out it being what it is – we’re getting help from the social media platforms to do that – after 2016, but we’ve still got work to do on that front,” Rogers outlined. “We have to make sure when it comes to actually the mechanics of voting that there is no doubt when those elections take place, the accuracy of the count is confirmed as being valid.”

@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.

5 days ago

7 Things: Trump hasn’t seen the deal and is looking for ‘land mines,’ Manafort is screwed, Merrill talks voting issues and more …

(WH/Flickr)

7. Birmingham’s mayor wants to name a municipal facility after a convicted felon who used his office to enrich himself

— Mayor Randall Woodfin wants to honor the late Larry Langford by naming the CrossPlex after the corrupt politicians because “it’s fitting for all the work he did.” The pious government watchdog at AL.com who excoriated Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R) for a completely legal event at Topgolf in Birmingham and convicted former Speaker Mike Hubbard for his legal issues, is fine with a guy who received guilty convictions on 60 of 101 corruption charges being lauded.

6. You may hear that your taxes are going up — it’s not true; 69 percent of Americans are optimistic about their economic future

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— There is a disingenuous storyline, that even the IRS has debunked, that tells people their taxes are going to go up because of the Trump tax cut. Even with that silly narrative floating around, Gallup found that over two-thirds of Americans expect their financial outlook to improve this year. That is a 16-year high.

5. The media was totally wrong when they relentlessly smeared the Covington Catholic school kids

— When the video of a confrontation between a “Native American elder” and some MAGA hat-wearing Catholic school kids went viral, they were vilified by the media, liberal celebrities and their own church. As usual, this narrative has been busted. An investigation found “no evidence of offensive statements by the kids, no evidence that of a ‘Build the Wall’ chant and the elder in the middle of this lied about his military service, his actions that day and refused to participate with the investigation into this incident.”

4. Alabama legislator continue to demand failing school districts be able to hold students hostage

— State Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) has brought back a bill that would make it harder for smaller communities to break away from failing school district to start their own. This is just another effort by Democrats in Alabama to control students and keep them in failing situations for the benefit of the failing status quo.

3. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill testified on voting issues to a Congressional committee

— Secretary Merrill told the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee that there are a lot of problems with a proposed “vote by mail” legislation being pushed by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham). He specifically mentioned problems with holding people accountable for voter fraud, usually done by mail, saying, “[W]e have a number of prosecutors in our state that are not really interested in advancing investigations into voter fraud because they think the penalties are too stiff.” Merill also told the hearing that he doesn’t believe we need a national standard for voting, which is something that could be gaining steam for fear of irregularities and foreign bad actors.

2. A judge has now voided a plea deal from former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

— After cold water was thrown onto the collusion narrative over the last few days, news that Manafort has had his plea deal voided for “intentionally” lying tossed fuel on the fire for the advocates of that storyline. The issue he lied about includes “$125,000 he received for the legal bills, about another unnamed Justice Department criminal investigation and about his interactions with his longtime Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik while he was campaign chairman and later,” according to CNN.

1. President Donald Trump has still not officially agreed to sign on to the deal to avoid a shutdown he praised “hard working” U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) for putting together

— All signs point to the president signing the compromise deal, but the White House still hasn’t said he will sign it. The bill has the support of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), but there are many members raising concerns about the deal. The White House had not seen the deal as of last night, and Trump said, “[W]e’ll be looking for “land mines.” Soldiers are heading to the border as part of a plan to send 3,750 troops to do surveillance and build wire barriers.

5 days ago

Roby: ‘I call born-alive abortion what it is: Infanticide’

(Martha Roby/Facebook)

Rep. Martha Roby (AL-2) Thursday spoke on the House floor to voice her staunch opposition to the recent pro-abortion efforts in New York and Virginia and to express her unwavering support for the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” a bill she is cosponsoring to protect infants who are born alive during failed abortion procedures.

Roby emphasized that she was stunned to hear boisterous cheering upon the New York state legislature’s passage of a bill that would significantly loosen restrictions on late-term abortions. She also forcefully denounced the comments recently made by Virginia’s Democrat governor, calling them a “horrific defense of born-alive abortions.”

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“I call ‘born-alive abortion’ what it is: Infanticide. No matter how our stances on abortion might vary, I hope we can all agree that if an abortion fails and a child is born alive, the child must be given the same medical care that any other living, breathing infant would otherwise be given,” Roby said in a statement.

She added, “I cannot express how strongly I support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill I cosponsor that would protect babies who are born alive during botched abortion procedures. I cannot fathom how any person would oppose it, but every single member of Congress should be forced to vote either for or against infanticide. The American people deserve to know where each of us stands on this humanitarian issue.”

The full text of Roby’s remarks, as prepared, follows:

Good evening. I’d first like to thank you, Congresswoman Walorski, for leading this Special-Order tonight. This topic is critically important, especially in light of the heartbreaking news that has come out of New York and Virginia in recent weeks.

Truly, I was stunned to hear the boisterous cheering upon the New York state legislature’s passage of a bill that would significantly loosen restrictions on late-term abortions.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, the Democratic Governor recently threw his support behind similar legislation and made comments that served as a horrific defense of born-alive abortions. For the purpose of tonight’s discussion, I’ll call “born-alive abortion” what it is: Infanticide.

Here in Congress, part of our job is to debate the issues. Our dialogue surrounding legislation is a critically important component of the democratic process in this country. Still, no matter how our stances on abortion might vary, I hope we can all agree that if an abortion fails and a child is born alive, the child must be given the same medical care that any other living, breathing infant would otherwise be given.

I want to take this opportunity to reassure the people I represent in Alabama that I remain unapologetically pro-life. I believe life begins at conception and am opposed to abortion at any stage. I understand that not everyone shares my views, but still, I am severely disturbed that this country now requires written legal provisions to protect living babies.

But sadly, in the aftermath of the news coming out of New York and Virginia, it is clear that this step is immediately necessary.

That’s why I am proud that House Republicans have wasted no time in acting. I especially appreciate my colleagues Mr. Scalise and Mrs. Wagner who have been working tirelessly to force a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill I cosponsor that would protect babies who are born alive during botched abortion procedures.

I cannot express how strongly I support this measure, and I cannot fathom how any person would oppose it. Every single member of Congress should be forced to vote either for or against infanticide. The American people deserve to know where each of us stands on this humanitarian issue.

Thank you.

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

5 days ago

State Sen. Elliott: Consider reopening empty 700-bed Riley-era facility in Perry County before spending $900 million on prisons

(Contributed/State Sen. Chris Elliott)

Earlier this week, Gov. Kay Ivey unveiled her plan to address the problems facing the state’s prison system, which has been threatened with a takeover by the federal government after a federal judge made a ruling mandating the state make improvements.

Ivey’s plan could cost $900 million according to some estimates and require the construction of three new men’s prisons to replace existing facilities.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday to promote his proposal to do away with municipality police and planning jurisdictions, State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Fairhope) suggested the state take a look at reviving an existing prison facility in Perry County built during Gov. Bob Riley’s administration and is currently vacant.

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“The Riley administration did something similar to this, and there is a 700-bed facility in Perry County right now sitting empty,” Elliott said. “I’m not sure the governor is wrong on this. I haven’t seen the details of the plans. It was just announced yesterday. But I would think the first step might be using existing facilities that we have in this state to do just that prior to entering into an agreement like this.”

Another alternative the Baldwin County Republican lawmaker suggested was to house some inmates at county jails and compensate the sheriffs of those respective counties for the housing.

“And I’ll also submit, and I am a former county commissioner – sometimes I go back to these roots – but I also say that we have a lot of empty jail beds in this state, hundred of empty jail beds in this state right now,” he added. “And they are located in our county jails. If the Department of Corrections were willing to pay the sheriffs a minimum daily rate of $30 a day to house a prisoner, I think a lot of our county jails would be willing to take those prisoners on and say, ‘You can put 50 of them here. You can park them here for a couple of months.'”

“That’s fine,” Elliott continued. “If you need to move, if this is at the end of their sentence, and you want to put them back in Madison County, or put them in the Limestone facility, or put them in Etowah County, as they assimilated back into their daily life, closer to their families for the last year of the sentence, or something like that. I think there are some nice, easy ways to solving that problem as opposed to riding into an $800-to-900-million plan.”

@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.

5 days ago

State Sen. Waggoner: Bed tax to finance Medicaid expansion ‘a rumor,’ ‘May be a possibility’

Sen. Jabo Waggoner, Chairman, Senate Rules Committee

Over the last week and a half, State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) has spoken out about the possibility of the state of Alabama expanding Medicaid rolls, which is an idea up until this point that most Republican lawmakers have vehemently opposed.

In remarks to ABC 33/40 earlier this month, Waggoner said the legislature was going to take a “closer look” at the issue this year.  In an appearance on Alabama Public Television last Friday, Waggoner clarified his remarks by saying that was not an endorsement of the policy.

In an appearance Wednesday on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Waggoner acknowledged a bed tax had been mentioned as a means to help finance Medicaid expansion, a move that could mean federal dollars coming into the state to prop up the state’s ailing hospitals.

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“That’s a rumor in Montgomery,” Waggoner said on “The Dale Jackson Show.” “That may be a possibility. That’s part of the research and the study that I’m talking about. I’ve never ever waffled on my opinion about Medicaid. I’m just saying let’s sit down like grown men and women and look at it and see if we can prevent these rural hospitals from closing.”

The Vestavia Hills Republican said he was not sure whether or not it was an actual possibility.

“I don’t know if it is a possibility – that’s part of the studying we sought out from day one,” he said. “It’s just something we need to look at. I don’t know if that’s a good option or not.”

“All I’m saying is grown men and women need to sit down and look at it and see what we can do to prevent the closing of rural hospitals,” he added. “All sick people in Alabama do not live close to a hospital. And I don’t feel like they need to travel to Mobile or Huntsville or Tuscaloosa. We need to keep some of these rural hospitals open.”

Host Dale Jackson pressed Waggoner on other options, to which Waggoner replied there might be no other options but that it was something for policymakers to explore.

“It may be the only option,” Waggoner replied. “It’s not probably a good option. We’re going to rely primarily on Medicaid. It may not be a good option. Medicaid is eating up our general fund the way it is now. It may not be a good option. My comments are let’s see if there is any other options.”

“[I] don’t know if a bed tax is an option or not,” he added.

@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.

6 days ago

Merrill in Capitol Hill testimony: Alabama absentee voting fraud happens ‘frequently,’ prosecutors letting it slide

(House Homeland Security Committee/YouTube)

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill testified in front of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday, warning against “federal overreach” and advising that absentee voting fraud occurs in the state “frequently” but is seldom prosecuted in local jurisdictions.

Merrill was invited by committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers (AL-3) to lend his expertise on an election security panel and advise on the merits of H.R 1. This legislation championed by the leftwing of the national Democratic Party, entitled the “For the People Act,” proposes a massive overhaul of the federal election and campaign finance systems. H.R. 1 has the support of Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7) in the Yellowhammer State.

In his opening statement, Merrill warned that the Democrat-backed legislation is an attempt at “federal overreach” on the rights of states and localities to administer their own elections.

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“[T]here are some serious concerns and issues with H.R. 1 in our opinion,” he cautioned.

Merrill outlined, “Number one: significant federal overreach has been indicated through the introduction of this legislation. And it appears to provide certain things that need to be done but the lack of resources in order to be able to do those effectively. There’s strictly underfunded or unfunded mandates. Number two: there are many prescriptive requirements that have been indicated that states that would accept these funds would face significant difficulty in enacting those new programs without the resources necessary to do that… Number three: the amount of time that the states have to meet the requirements is not something that is going to be able to be met…”

He added that H.R. 1, if it was to pass against all odds, would not be able to be adhered to on the timeline mandated by the legislation because the federal government and most state agencies across the nation “move at the speed of government.”

In his first question during this panel hearing, Rogers asked Merrill if there is anything in H.R. 1 that he would find helpful to securing elections in Alabama.

“No, congressman,” Merrill answered.

The Alabama secretary of state recommended that Congress alter the bill to allocate election security funding to the states that included guidelines but not mandates so states and localities could decide how to best utilize their resources in their unique situations.

Responding to a later question by a Democrat on the committee, Merrill warned that election laws can only help so much when local prosecutors are not willing to charge violators.

Merrill said that since he became secretary of state four years and 25 days ago, 874 unique instances of alleged voter fraud have been reported to his office.

Out of the 870 of these cases that have been investigated fully already, six have resulted in convictions, with three elections being overturned, according to Merrill. However, this does not mean that only six of 870 cases were found to have violated the law.

“I think it’s important to know that we have a number of prosecutors in our state that are not really interested in advancing investigations into voter fraud because they think the penalties are too stiff,” he advised.

In a follow-up, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) asked Merrill if he was suggesting that there has been “much more voter fraud” in Alabama than has been prosecuted.

“Yes, sir,” the secretary of state responded. “We have some – I actually have two instances that I can share with you just briefly: one, 119 absentee ballot applications were mailed to one location and nobody lives in that home. In another jurisdiction, 109 absentee ballot applications were mailed to the mayoral candidate’s mother’s home. And neither one of those have been prosecuted yet.”

Cleaver asked, “Were there many more such cases?”

“Oh, yes, sir. Yes, sir, we have them frequently,” Merrill emphasized. “And they’re not just related to certain parts of our state, either.”

He added, “The main instances we see are in the area of absentee balloting, not in walk-up, in-person voting.”

Watch:

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

6 days ago

California Senator Dianne Feinstein joins the fray against Alabama aerospace companies

(D. Feinstein, M. Rogers/Facebook)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has joined Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) in objecting to the competitive bid process that resulted in pioneering opportunities for two Alabama aerospace companies.

In a letter dated February 4 and addressed to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Feinstein and a colleague called for modifications to a process which resulted in major contracts for United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Alabama’s newest aerospace company, Blue Origin.

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The letter contends that the requirements included in the process have prevented other companies from qualifying as launch providers.

Rogers cited many of the same concerns in a similar letter to Secretary Wilson in November 2018.

Feinstein’s objection was reportedly on behalf of a California-based launch company.

These calls for revisions in the process could create obstacles for future participation by the Alabama companies.

The U.S. Air Force awarded the contracts in October 2018 for the development of new space vehicles for use on American national security missions.

The contract award resulted in ULA receiving the go-ahead to begin manufacturing the Vulcan Centaur rocket at its Decatur plant.

Blue Origin broke ground this year on a massive new facility in Huntsville that will represent a $200 million investment by the company in the state and create more than 300 jobs.

The company plans to manufacture engines capable of powering ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) previously praised the award as “great news” for Alabama.

At the Blue Origin groundbreaking, Governor Kay Ivey paid tribute to the leading role Alabama and companies like Blue Origin and ULA will play in shedding the nation’s dependence on foreign rocket components.

The competitive bid process at the center of the controversy had been put in place as a response to a congressional mandate to move away from foreign-made rocket engines.

“We built the rocket that took man to the moon and returned him safely,” Ivey said. “And now it’s going to be Alabama that takes men and women into deep space and returns them safely. The United States will no longer be dependent on other countries. Now we will be leading space exploration and it will start right here in Sweet Home Alabama.”

She also highlighted the partnership between Blue Origin and ULA as an example of Alabama’s manufacturing success.

“Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, they represent what we are all about in Alabama: growing opportunities for our people, being innovative and finding success when we work together,” Ivey concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

6 days ago

Brooks: Climate scientists should admit humanity doesn’t know nearly as much about climate change as it claims

(AL Legislature)

Representative Mo Brooks (AL-05) on Wednesday argued that climate scientists should admit humanity does not know nearly as much about climate change as it claims to know, pointing to sea levels rising at a lower rate now than they have over the past 21,000 years.

During the Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing on climate change Wednesday, Dr. Robert Kopp, a climate change “expert,” was called on by Democrats as a witness. Throughout the questioning, Dr. Kopp admitted that sea levels are rising at rates less than one-third the average of the past 21,000 years and that human beings did not cause global warming and the rise of sea levels that has taken place since the last glacial maximum.

“The one thing every climate scientist should admit is that humanity does not know nearly as much about climate change as some like to claim they know. The only certainty is that the Earth’s climate is always changing, either cooling or warming. Rarely is the Earth’s climate constant. Earth climate data suggests Earth was once ‘planet snowball,’ where all or almost all of Earth was covered by ice, and, in other periods, has been far warmer than it is today,” Brooks said in a statement.

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He added, “Today’s SST Committee hearing on climate change was just the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ The truth is that the Earth’s sea levels have averaged rising two feet per century over the past 21,000 years. That average long-term sea level rise rate is three times greater than the eight-inch sea level rise the Earth has seen over the past 120 years. Not surprisingly, climate change alarmists, aiding and abetted by a partisan media, never share this historical scientific data with the public!”

Brooks also made it clear that he opposes the increase in gasoline costs.

“Most importantly, despite the uncertainty and inadequacy of our climate change knowledge, Socialist Democrats insist on raising gasoline costs to at least $8.70 per gallon,” Brooks said. “Perhaps I am in the minority, but I adamantly oppose raising gasoline prices to an exorbitant $8.70 per gallon that erodes the ability of Americans to pay for their families’ food, clothing, health care, home and education costs.”

Full exchange between Congressman Brooks and Dr. Kopp as follows:

BROOKS: Dr. Kopp, I’m looking at your written testimony as opposed to your oral testimony. On page three, you state, “Climate change is real. It is here now, and humans are responsible for it.” Is that an accurate statement of your quote?

KOPP: Yes, it is.

BROOKS: And, on page five of your written testimony, you state, “Global average sea level has risen by about eight inches since 1900” citing the Climate Science Special Report Earth National Climate Assessment. Is that an accurate reading of that quote?

KOPP: Yes, it is.

BROOKS: Are you familiar with the Earth’s last glacial maximum roughly 21,000 years ago?

KOPP: Yes, I am.

BROOKS: And, is it fair to say that sea levels during the last glacial maximum were roughly 400 feet lower than they are today?

KOPP: Yes, it is.

BROOKS: And, would it also be fair to say then that sea levels over the last 21,000 years— 400 divided by 21,000 or 210 centuries— sea levels have risen on average over that 21,000 year period of time at roughly two feet per century?

KOPP: Well, it was concentrated in the first half of that time, but yes.

BROOKS: From the 21,000 to the 7,000 years ago period is the concentration, then it still increased, sea levels did, but at a much lower rate during the last 7,000 years?

Kopp: When they stopped rising is a scientific uncertainty but certainly by 7,000 years ago the giant ice sheet that was sitting in North America was gone and so the contribution to sea level that came from that ice sheet ended.

BROOKS: So apparently somewhere between 21,000 and 7,000 years ago we had a very significant rise in sea levels much more than the two feet per century average of the overall 21,000 year period. Did humans cause that?

KOPP: No, they did not.

BROOKS: They did not. So there are other causes to sea level rises other than humans, and at least in this instance, over the last 21,000 years, we’re looking at an average sea level rise of two feet per century on average — 210 centuries a little over 400 feet total. What was the cause of that?

KOPP: Well, if you go back 21,000 years ago, my home state was sitting at its northern edges under about a mile of ice, and that ice sheet which we call the Laurentide ice sheet had a whole lot of water locked up in it so as that ice melted sea levels rose. We’re now in a very different world where there’s the ice on the planet is almost exclusively in Antarctica and Greenland and so what we’re concerned about now…

BROOKS: OK, I’m not asking what we’re concerned about now, I’m asking what caused the 400 feet in sea level rise over the last 21,000 years. Would it be fair to say that it was global warming?

KOPP: Yes, it would be.

Brooks: And what is it that caused that global warming that began roughly 18,000 to 21,000 years ago?

KOPP: So, we were in an ice age roughly 18,0000 years ago and the differences between the ice ages and the periods like we’re in now, which are called the interglacials because we’re not in a glacial period, are paced by changes in Earth orbit and amplified by changes in carbon dioxide.

BROOKS: OK, so there have been fluctuations in orbit, perhaps changes in carbon dioxide, and perhaps also some change in the actual tilt?

KOPP: When I talk about changes in orbit on that frequency we’re talking about where Earth is pointing, what we call a precession.

BROOKS: OK, and during the last glacial maximum, is it fair to say that almost all of Canada was uninhabitable along with New England, New York, everything north of the Ohio River was, in effect, uninhabitable?

KOPP: Certainly on the East side of the country, yes.

BROOKS: And would it also be fair to say that, certainly, at least in that instance, global warming was a desirable thing if you’re a Canadian?

KOPP: Well, there weren’t many Canadians, but yes.

BROOKS: Well there weren’t any back then.

KOPP: Over in the West there were, but yea.

BROOKS: Now, let’s talk about the remedy for a second. You may recall that in 2008 Dr. Steven Chu, who later became President Obama’s secretary of energy, stated that to combat climate change, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” which was about $8.70 cents per gallon. Do you agree with Steven Chu that that is a remedy that the United States should implement?

KOPP: Well, there’s lots of policy solutions…

BROOKS: I’m asking about this one. Yes or no?

KOPP: We are dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. One way of dealing with the problem would be to put a price on carbon that reflects the cost of that carbon dioxide is imposing on the world.

BROOKS: Is that a yes or a no?

KOPP: I’m going to give you the scientific answer and say it depends. It is one of the solutions that would work.

BROOKS: Alright, thank you madam chairman. Appreciate the time. 

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

6 days ago

Woodfin wants to rename Birmingham’s CrossPlex after convicted felon Larry Langford

(Birmingham Crossplex/Facebook, A. Natta/Flickr)

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin is pushing to rename the CrossPlex after the late Larry Langford, who was convicted on 60 federal counts in 2009.

As reported by The Birmingham Times, Woodfin said “it’s fitting for all the work he did” that Langford be honored in a major, permanent way by the city.

Langford, a Democrat, served as both mayor of Birmingham and Fairfield, as well as a Jefferson County commissioner. It was through his role on the county commission that he was indicted on 101 federal counts in 2008. The next year, he was convicted on 60 charges, including bribery and fraud, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He passed away in January shortly after receiving a compassionate release.

Now, a push has begun to rename the CrossPlex as “The Larry P. Langford Birmingham CrossPlex.” The facility is a world-class multi-purpose athletic and meeting space located near downtown Birmingham.

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Woodfin said, “[Langford] made many contributions to our city and we feel …  those contributions today where it has an amazing, positive ripple and benefit not just for our city but for all of our residents and our guests who come to our city.”

The mayor said he plans to present an official recommendation to the city council “to change the name, because we believe it’s fitting for all the work he did and for bringing this to life in our community and for the benefits it’s had.”

City Councilman Steven Hoyt is already on board, reportedly explaining, “[A]ll of us got some issues one way or the other.”

Alabama Media Group columnist and Topgolf enthusiast Kyle Whitmire has tweeted his support for the renaming, too.

“I’ve got no problem with this,” he stated.

In contrast, Whitmire has publicly complained that buildings and a street that were named for former Republican Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard before his conviction have not been renamed.

“In Alabama, there are two classes of white-collar criminal — those who are in the establishment and those who aren’t. The latter get erased from history. The former still has his freakin’ name on buildings and a boulevard in Auburn,” Whitmire tweeted in December.

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

6 days ago

Diner alert: Worker at a Panera restaurant in Montgomery had hepatitis A

(M. Mozart/Flickr, YHN)

An employee at a Panera Bread restaurant in Alabama has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, and people who ate food from that outlet from Jan. 24 through Feb. 5 may have been exposed to the disease, state authorities said.

No other case has been reported, either among the food-handler’s co-workers at 2998 Carter Hill Road in Montgomery or people who bought food there between the dates in question, Dr. Karen Landers, a physician with the Alabama Department of Public Health, said Tuesday.

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She said the restaurant has not reported how many meals the restaurant sold over the 15-day period, but it is expected to do so.

“The number does not change what we do,” Landers said in a telephone interview from Sheffield, Alabama.

The risk of exposure from a restaurant food-handler is much less than that from someone within one’s own household, Landers noted.

Nevertheless, she said, people who ate at the restaurant or ate a carry-out or delivery meal from it during the period in question should be watchful for symptoms.

Those whose meal was also within the past two weeks should get a hepatitis A vaccination, she said.

To be effective, the vaccine must be administered either before or within two weeks after exposure.

It is available through private physicians, pharmacies and the health department in Montgomery County, according to news releases sent Friday and Monday.

Because the vaccine has been recommended since 1996, children under 18 may already have been vaccinated, and others may have been vaccinated before traveling abroad, the release noted.

Symptoms of hepatitis A can include fever, headache, fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, dark urine or jaundice.

They can show up 15 to 50 days after exposure, with an average of 28 days.

No one needs to be tested for hepatitis A unless they have symptoms of the disease.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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6 days ago

7 Things: Trump mulling signing a deal or declaring national emergency, Senate Democrats say no collusion, $900 million prison deal and more …

(WH/Flickr)

7. Oakland Raiders (Alazona Raiders?) to Birmingham seems unlikely 

— The city of Birmingham could be the home of the Oakland Raiders, at least part-time for one year, if a deal with the team and the city of Tucson, Arizona, comes to fruition. The Raiders’ lease with the Oakland Coliseum is expired and they don’t start in Las Vegas until 2020, and their current attempts to find a home for a year have stalled.

6. One of the Virginia lieutenant governor’s accusers has released old Facebook messages where she mentions her alleged rape

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— Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax has denied assaulting anyone, but messages given to Fox News indicate that one of the accusers has been telling people of the assault for years. Meredith Watson told a friend about her knowledge of the rape during Fairfax’s campaign in 2017, saying, “This is absolutely disgusting! This dude raped me.”

5. As more Democrats enter the 2020 field, former Vice President Joe Biden leads

— In an already large field, that is poised to keep growing, the old guard is still leading the way while new upstarts are languishing in single digits. Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are polling at 29 percent and 22 percent, respectively. The only other candidate with over 10 percent is Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

4. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is going to make Democrats vote on their silly Green New Deal

— McConnell wants to make Democrats do more than offer lip-service to a bill that embarrassed many Democrats and had to be pulled off sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s website after being mocked. McConnell slyly stated, “I’ve noted with great interest the Green New Deal. And we’re going to be voting on that in the Senate. Give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal.

3. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey will attempt to build three massive prisons at a cost of $900 million dollars

— Ivey may use a bond measure or a build-lease plan to get the prisons built. The latter will be more appealing to politicians as it does not require legislators to give money to prisoners. Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) said, “Getting it out of our hands is the only way you’re going to get this done.” The plan would build two prisons for up to 3,500 prisoners and the third will host “special needs” prisoners, including those battling mental health issues. Alabama has recently come under fire for being “deliberately indifferent” to the needs of mentally ill prisoners.

2. No collusion between Trump campaign and Russians found by Senate investigators 

— In what appears to be a trend, more people associated with the investigation into Russian collusion are declaring there is no collusion. Senate Democrats now agree with Republican Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) who said the same thing last week. A Democrat aide accepted this but, seemed dejected in telling NBC News, “We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude.'”

1. President Donald Trump has not been clear about whether he will sign off on the latest border/budget deal

— The president said he is “not happy” with the deal that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and other negotiators have come up with that doesn’t fully fund his border wall, but added, “I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown.” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called on the president to hold off on signing the bill, but suggested he may declare a national emergency to get to the $5.7 billion he’s wanted for the wall.

7 days ago

Trump praises ‘hard working’ Shelby over border security deal

(Sen. R. Shelby/Twitter)

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is being praised by President Donald Trump for his leadership in securing an “agreement in principle” between Congressional Republicans and Democrats on a border security and government funding package.

The president took to Twitter Tuesday evening to applaud Shelby as “hard working.”

Shelby, as the vice-chair of the bicameral conference committee tasked with reaching a border security compromise and through his historic service as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, played a vital role in ending the stalemate and possibly avoiding another partial government shutdown.

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Trump also took time to highlight that the deal was made knowing that “lots of money from other sources” will supplement the money for a border wall – or physical “barrier” – appropriated by Congress.

Additionally, the overall amount of funding approved for border security measures in general – including increased staffing, monitoring and technology upgrades – was impressive.

“Will be getting almost $23 BILLION for Border Security,” Trump emphasized.

Trump has hinted at declaring a national emergency over border security previously, and he could still do so after the deal is passed by Congress in order to use emergency funds to supplement the amount of money available to build the wall on the nation’s southern border.

The president’s comments on Twitter came shortly after he and Shelby spoke on the phone Tuesday.

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