New York City votes to fine Biblical counselors for gender dysphoria therapy


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NEW YORK BANS AND FINES CONVERSION THERAPY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I’d like to take you to a headline out of World Magazine: “New York City Votes to Ban Conversion Therapy.” Conversion therapy, Harry, would be a counselor or a pastor sitting down with a client to help them change their sexual orientation to conform with their gender recorded at birth.

New York City says such counseling would subject the counselor to a $1,000.00 fine for the first offense, $5,000.00 for the second offense and $10,000.00 for each subsequent offense.

WHAT ARE THEY BANNING?

DR. REEDER: Tom, this requires a little bit of closer analysis. What they are responding to, “conversion therapy,” actually, among Christians, has met with much criticism. Conversion therapy is a certain therapeutic method that many believers believe is unbiblical and is inhumane in its methods. It includes all kinds of things – wrapping people up in blankets and then putting you back in the womb – but they have taken a questionable therapeutic method and they have gone to a counseling axiom – a counseling principle – and that principle that they have said is inhumane is not the therapeutic method, but the therapeutic objective.

WHAT DOES BIBLICAL THERAPY LOOK LIKE?

That objective is not conversion of the person, but the realization of sanity that you cannot unconvert what is actually in your DNA so, when someone comes to a counselor and says, “Well, I believe I’m a man,” but they were born a woman, “I believe I’m a woman,” but they were born a man, now this conversion therapy that has come under scrutiny has been used as a mechanism to tell counselors, “You can’t tell people you are what you are at your birth.”

They even go so far in their rationale as to say that this has no scientific validity. Again, if you’re talking about a therapeutic method, let’s discuss it, but they have taken a therapeutic method, which can be analyzed, and they have made a declaration of a therapy objective and that it is unscientific to tell a person, who is male who is self-identifying as a female, that they are wrong – that, in reality, they are what they are biologically at birth and what their DNA says that they are. In other words, the scientific evidence is you are what you are at birth, but they’re saying it’s unscientific to tell someone that you are what you are at birth.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR BIBLICAL COUNSELORS

That’s the upside down world that sin and rebellion brings us to. This means that, if you want to be a Biblical counselor – now, right now, there is some provision for pastors and priests and rabbis, etc. but that’ll disappear like the mist on a summer morning after a couple of legal challenges – so what they’re telling counselors, “If your counseling includes telling someone who was born a man that they can be a man when they say they want to be a woman, then you will now be fined.” That’s basically what they’re saying.

And the second time you do it, you’re going to be fined more – five times as much – and, the next time you do it, you’re going to be fined two times the five times as much. In other words, “We’re going to bring the power of the state backed by the power of the sword – the power of penalties and fees – we are going to make you abandon A.) free speech, B.) free practice of religion and C.) rationality. Now we’re going to call the insane sane and the sane insane. In other words, we’re going to tell people that they can actually self-identify whatever they want to be and that’s what they actually are and, if you tell somebody that they are what they are and not what they self-identify as if it is opposite of what they are, you can’t tell people that that is irrational when, in fact, it is irrational and all of science stands behind it.”

FINES AHEAD

What are you going to do now if you live in the State of New York if you’re a believer – what are you going to do now if you’ve signed onto a company and the company says, “You cannot refer to people as ‘he’ or ‘she’”? In fact, they are inventing whole new pronouns and they are now bringing regulations of fines upon people – if you look at a man who identifies as a woman and you don’t call him by what he says he wants you to call him, then you will now be fined – if you do not participate in this fabrication of self-identification.

Let me be very clear: We need to spend time with people carefully who are going through this gender dysphoria, but what we also are dealing with here is society descending into insanity and imbecility.

CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITIES TO UPHOLD TRUTH

Here are the three things I would suggest:

1.) I cannot violate the Ninth Commandment. The Ninth Commandment says I can’t bear a false witness. I’m not going to tell someone who is a man, “You’re a woman.” I’m not going to tell someone who’s a woman, “You are a man.” I cannot violate the Ninth Commandment as a false witness. In other words, I can’t be in a courtroom and someone says to me, “Do you see that man over there?” and it’s actually a woman and I would say, “Yes.” No, I can’t do that. I’ve got to tell the truth.

2.) I’ve got to tell the truth in love. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be careful and sensitive in communicating the truth, but I’m going to tell the truth and I’m going to tell the truth in love. Part of loving is to speak the truth. Part of speaking the truth is to speak the truth compassionately and courageously and clearly and convincingly.

3.) I am going to be faithful to God’s Word with a Christian world and life view. I will not embrace the insanity of abandoning a Biblical world and life view simply because you say you’re going to fine me, or I’m going to lose my job or I’m going to have to walk away from my profession in your state. I can’t be a Biblical counselor in your state.

TITLE VII AND SUPREME COURT IMPLICATIONS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, another issue that’s going to come up in 2018 is the federal government, aka the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, deciding what Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Acts means. Now, the term that is under discussion is “you cannot discriminate because of someone’s sex.” Well, the EOEC, on their own, has decided that must mean sexual identity.

DR. REEDER: And, “sexual orientation” – that we are now giving civil rights to gender dysphoria and to sexual behavior. That’s got to be challenged. It’s got to make its way into the court system. I think it’s got to make its way into the Supreme Court. It is there that you hope some amount of sanity is in place.

Our founding documents give us the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. By the way, notice it did not give the right to happiness – it gave the right to the pursuit of happiness. You have the right of life, you have the right of liberty and you have the right to the pursuit of happiness. That should not be discriminated against because you’re a male or a female or because of your ethnicity or because of your religion. That is precisely right.

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION?

What we’re about to find out is will all of the major religions be discriminated against because all of the major religions affirm male and female at creation – that we are men and women, the binary world and life view of sex and gender at birth.

Will we now discriminate against the free speech and the free practice of religion by the invention of a civil right for those who would self-identify, even though scientifically, biologically, logically and legally, they are what they are at birth?

Clearly, that invention of this civil right for sexual behavior and gender dysphoria is about to arrive on the doorstep of the Supreme Court. Let us pray that sanity for the sake of cultural sanity will prevail when that course arrives.

BELIEVERS MUST STAND FIRM AGAINST CHAOS

Believers, you have to learn how to hold faithfully to Biblical truth in love and you have to learn how to practice that in the context of these increasing regulations, threats and fines in a society that would have us not speak the truth in love but, in the name of love, abandon truth and speak falsehood to someone when we would call them something that they say they are when, in reality, that’s not what they are.

The sanity of God’s creation must be affirmed, lest the insanity of our mythological creation of self-identity leads us into the abyss of chaos.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

30 mins ago

State business leaders expecting economic growth

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In the latest quarterly survey by researchers at The University of Alabama, business leaders in the state are feeling more encouraged about the economy than they have since the global pandemic began.

The UA Center for Business and Economic Research’s most recent Alabama Business Confidence Index shows that local business leaders have strong expectations for economic growth in the second quarter of 2021. The statewide business confidence index was 64.3, up more than eight points from the survey of the first quarter of 2021.

It’s one of the highest indexes ever and the most confident business leaders have been in the economy since the second quarter of 2019. It continues a steady recovery of confidence since the early days of the pandemic in the second quarter of 2020, when the ABCI decreased to 50.5 and business leaders were uncertain of what the coming quarter would hold for the economy.

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An index over 50 indicates a positive forecast compared to the previous quarter, and the higher the number, the more confident the forecast. The statewide and national forecasts, along with industry-specific components like sales, profits, hiring and capital expenditures comprise the six indexes that combine to make the ABCI total.

“This outlook suggests that business leaders in Alabama are ‘shaking off the pandemic,’” said Susannah Robichaux, a socioeconomic analyst for the center. “When there is a higher ABCI, it signals that business leaders are feeling optimistic about the coming quarter, which is absolutely informing their own decisions about their businesses.”

Business leaders expect to see an increase in sales, profits, hiring and expenditures in the second quarter, according to the survey.

Firms of all sizes reported especially strong confidence in growth compared to last quarter, though small firms with fewer than 20 employees had the most confidence.

In a telling sign from the survey, business leaders feel strongly they will increase hiring in the second quarter compared to the first. Only 6.5% of respondents expected to decrease hiring, and the healthcare and social assistance industry is the only one of nine industry categories that expects to possibly decrease in hiring, hinting at expectations of a possible contraction after a year of industry expansion.

Overall, business leaders are more confident in the state economy than the national outlook, but confidence in both increased from the first quarter of 2021.

The breakdown of all the industry forecasts by sector can be seen in the statewide ABCI report on CBER’s website.

In addition to the statewide ABCI report, CBER also collects ABCI data to write individual reports for Alabama’s five major metro areas. These metro reports offer insight into the forecasts for each specific region.

(Courtesy of the University of Alabama)

2 hours ago

Great Red Snapper Count may have little impact on 2021 season

Last week’s meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council (Gulf Council) Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) yielded mixed results for red snapper anglers.

The SSC voted to partially incorporate the Great Red Snapper Count, which estimated the red snapper population in the Gulf is three times higher than previous estimates, into the Gulf Council management process. However, that action may have little impact on the 2021 red snapper season.

“The Scientific and Statistical Committee is the science advisory panel for the Gulf Council,” said Scott Bannon, Director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division. “The purpose of the meeting was to review the Great Red Snapper Count, provide feedback and decide if it should be used in the interim analysis for red snapper this year and how it should be applied. The committee reviewed the Great Red Snapper Count and showed some areas that needed improvement. The researchers are going to go back and make some minor adjustments, but it won’t make a big change in the overall number. It just improves the report they have.”

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The Great Red Snapper Count estimated the abundance of red snapper in the Gulf at 110 million fish. Previous assessments from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries estimated the number of red snapper at 36 million fish.

“The committee voted on whether that data was the best science available for setting the overfishing limit,” Bannon said. “They voted that in. The number they chose for the overfishing limit was 25.6 million pounds. The Magnuson-Stevens Act states that you cannot exceed that overfishing limit or immediate changes will have to be implemented to prevent overfishing.”

Bannon said the previous overfishing limit was set at 15.5 million pounds, so the new recommended overfishing limit is a 10.1 million-pound increase. The committee then recommended that the acceptable biological catch (ABC) be set at 15.4 million pounds, which Bannon vigorously questioned.

“That’s a 10 million-pound difference from the overfishing limit,” he said. “That’s a 44-percent buffer, which I’m disappointed in. That is relatively unheard of in fisheries management. I am pleased with the recommended increase in the overfishing limit. I’m not pleased with the ABC.”

The SSC report will go to the Gulf Council and will be discussed at the next council meeting, set for April 12-15 via webinar. The Gulf Council will then set the annual catch limit (ACL) for allocations among the five Gulf states for the 2021 season.

“With only 300,000 new pounds available, that’s a negligible increase,” Bannon said. “That increase would potentially be applied to all of the sectors – commercial, charter and private anglers.”

Another hurdle for private anglers is NOAA Fisheries is pushing that the catch data from the Marine Recreation Information Program (MRIP) survey and state reporting systems be “calibrated,” which could significantly impact Alabama’s quota and reduce the number of fishing days for private recreational anglers.

“Our goal is to avoid calibration,” Bannon said. “With calibration, Alabama and Mississippi allocations would be cut in half.”

Under calibration alternatives, Alabama’s quota for red snapper could go from 1.12 million pounds in 2020 to 547,298 pounds in 2021.

“Naturally we didn’t agree with that,” Bannon said. “NOAA Fisheries said that was going to be required because the fishery may have met the overfishing limit in 2019. The catch for 2019 barely exceeded the 15.5 million-pound limit by 150,000 pounds. That is Gulf-wide in all sectors, including private anglers, for-hire and commercial, but with the new Great Red Snapper Count data, whether there was overfishing at all in 2019 is in question. Our goal at the upcoming Gulf Council meeting is to postpone any calibration until the Great Red Snapper Count is fully integrated into the stock assessment so that Alabama and Mississippi would fish at the same level we’ve fished for the previous couple of years under the EFP (Exempted Fishing Permit) and state management, which is around a million pounds.”

The MRIP surveys have considerably overestimated red snapper catches compared to Alabama’s Red Snapper Reporting System, known as Snapper Check.

“We say we landed about a million pounds, but the MRIP survey says we landed about 2.5 million pounds,” Bannon said. “We have a monitoring program that we feel is accurate, and we are harvesting at a sustainable level. The Great Red Snapper Count says there are 10 million red snapper off the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi. We’re not getting the access to those fish that we would like. Across the Gulf, the count says there are 110 million fish, so no state is really getting the access to the fish we think they should.”

For those not familiar with the Great Red Snapper Count, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby sponsored legislation to provide $10 million for an independent survey of the red snapper population in the Gulf. More than 20 scientists across the Gulf from the academic world participated in the survey.

“It was designed to look objectively at the red snapper abundance in the Gulf,” Bannon said. “It counted fish that are two years and older. The scientists developed a plan that utilized cameras, acoustic arrays and a robust tagging program. They actually identify fish. They see them, count them and get size estimates with lasers on the camera equipment.”

The scientists surveyed natural bottom, artificial reefs and uncharacterized bottom. The uncharacterized bottom had no structures or vertical relief. Surprisingly, the surveys found far more fish on uncharacterized bottom than expected.

At the upcoming Gulf Council meeting, Bannon said any Council recommendations could be overruled by NOAA Fisheries, but he plans to make the argument that the alternative plan of no action on calibration is the proper choice.

“We are not in fear of overfishing,” he said. “The overfishing limit is now 10 million pounds higher, so if we sustain the level we’re fishing, we’re not going to get anywhere near the overfishing limit. I am disappointed in some of the decisions made by the SSC. We have an objective assessment done by more than 20 experts in the field that says there are conservatively three times the number of red snapper, but we’re not seeing the benefit of that. The SSC decisions only apply to 2021. This will give the scientists more time to review the Great Red Snapper Count in depth, make some minor changes, and hopefully it will be incorporated into the next red snapper assessment that will conclude in 2023.”

Bannon also reminds anglers or concerned citizens that the Gulf Council meetings always allocate a time for public comment on Wednesdays, which will be from 1-4:30 p.m. on April 14 for the next meeting.

“I always encourage people to voice their opinions and concerns about the decisions being made,” he said. “The Gulf Council does consider public comment. They listen, sometimes ask questions and consider it in their decision making. I will assure the anglers of Alabama that we’re not trying to take away any fish from other states or any sector, but we’re going to try to ensure that private anglers have the access that they should to this abundant resource.”

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

15 hours ago

Alabama’s congressional leaders bash Biden’s proposed defense budget — ‘Talk is cheap, but defending our country is not’

President Joe Biden on Friday released his proposed fiscal year 2022 budget, and the leaders in Alabama’s congressional delegation are especially sounding alarm bells about Biden’s defense spending plans.

Fortunately, while the White House proposes a budget, it is up to Congress to annually fund the government, so there is still time for lawmakers to improve upon the Biden administration’s proposal. However, many legislative Democrats want a significantly smaller defense budget — potentially one that is cut by 10% year-over-year.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, will be perhaps the most powerful person in America this year when it comes to standing in the gap against gutting critical defense spending. Shelby is also the top Republican on Appropriations’ Defense subcommittee.

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Shelby, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Senate Select Committee on Intelligence vice chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senate Budget Committee ranking member Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a lengthy joint statement on Friday in reaction to the Biden budget proposal.

“President Biden recently said, ‘If we don’t get moving, [China] is going to eat our lunch.’ Today’s budget proposal signals to China that they should set the table,” the Republican Senate leaders stated. “While President Biden has prioritized spending trillions on liberal wish list priorities here at home, funding for America’s military is neglected.”

They decried, “China’s military investments match its desire to out-compete America and hold our military forces at risk. President Biden’s defense spending cut doesn’t even keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, the non-defense discretionary budget increases by almost 20 percent in this budget on top of the trillions of dollars in new non-national security programs the administration is intent on spending this year. If President Biden’s support for America’s military matched his zeal for spending at home, China would get nowhere close to overtaking us.”

“Talk is cheap, but defending our country is not,” Shelby and his colleagues concluded. “We can’t afford to fail in our constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense. To keep America strong, we must balance domestic and defense spending priorities. President Biden has said much about reaching across the aisle. Both parties should be able to agree that we must maintain America’s edge over China. We urge President Biden to work with us in a bipartisan manner to ensure that.”

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) expressed similar concerns in a statement to Yellowhammer News. Aderholt is a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations, a member of its Defense subcommittee and the dean of Alabama’s House delegation.

“China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran are all maturing their military capabilities as fast as possible,” Aderholt commented. “Asking our Dept. of Defense to do with less money than last year, and also to engage in expensive green-energy programs, raises serious issues about whether our warfighters will have what they need when a conflict breaks out.”

While Shelby and Aderholt provide Alabama strength on the appropriations side of the equation, the state is well represented when it comes to defense authorization and policy, as well.

This includes Congressman Mike Rogers’ (AL-03) newfound service as the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC).

The East Alabama congressman released a lengthy statement of his own on Friday bashing Biden’s proposed defense budget for FY22.

“The Biden administration has talked a big game towards China. Unfortunately, the release of their skinny budget today indicates it is just talk,” Rogers said.

“During his confirmation hearing, Secretary Austin acknowledged that the gap between the CCP and the United States military has ‘closed significantly’ and that ‘our goal will be to ensure that we expand that gap going forward.’ I’m not sure how that is possible when today’s budget fails to keep pace with inflation and cuts defense spending in terms of real dollars,” he lamented.

Rogers outlined, “The bipartisan, Congressionally mandated National Defense Strategy Commission recommended that ‘Congress increase the base defense budget at an average rate of three to five percent above inflation.’ That target has my full support. It also had Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks’s support when she was a commissioner and the recommendation was submitted to Congress. Unfortunately, the Biden administration is choosing to spend trillions on left wing priorities at the expense of our national defense.”

“This budget will impact our readiness, dampen our efforts to modernize our strategic weapons, limit our naval and projection forces, and prevent the latest innovations and enhancements from getting to our warfighters,” he concluded. “As I have said before, if we do not make the investments our military needs today, then we will not be able to defend our nation or our allies in the future. I hope to work with Congressional Democrats to undo the tremendous damage this budget will cause to our military.”

Another HASC member from Alabama, freshman Congressman Jerry Carl (AL-01), also made his displeasure clear with the Biden budget.

“President Biden has called for a drastic increase in domestic spending, but is putting our defense budget in danger,” stated the Coastal Alabama congressman. “The Biden Administration is all talk and no action when it comes to putting America first and strengthening our defenses. Now is the time to make critical investments in our military and ensure we have the best trained and best equipped fighting forces, rather than cutting defense spending and falling behind other global powers.”

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

16 hours ago

Draper’s Apollo heritage augmenting Dynetics’ modern, sustainable HLS that could land the next humans on the moon

NASA is expected in the coming weeks to select up to two prime contractors to continue competing to build the Human Landing System (HLS) that will eventually land the next man and the first woman on the moon through the Artemis program.

The agency last year selected three prime contractors to design a HLS: Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX.

Dynetics, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leidos, is headquartered in Huntsville, and Blue Origin’s work on the program is also being centered in the Rocket City. Of course, Marshall Space Flight Center manages the HLS program for NASA, so the program is about as Huntsville-centric as it gets.

One of the key points Blue Origin has made publicly is the legacy of its team, which the company calls the “National Team” and includes the likes of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper — three storied American defense and aerospace contractors that helped guide the famed Apollo program.

However, an underreported aspect of the competition is that Draper is also a major part of Dynetics’ HLS team.

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One of the major stated benefits of Dynetics’ HLS proposal is the sustainability of the system. The Dynetics HLS has been intentionally designed to contribute to the sustainability of the Artemis program in three main ways: reusability, extensibility and supporting the development of a lunar economy. The company believes these three building blocks are vital to the goal of a long-term, sustainable presence on the moon — as well as future human exploration to deeper space, including Mars.

However, Dynetics’ enhanced public focus on sustainability is not to say that its HLS team does not bring significant flight heritage to the table; Dynetics itself has quickly become a “‘go-to’ propulsion provider for partners in both government and industry,” and Draper’s inclusion on the team especially underscores the diverse experience and expertise of the entire Dynetics team — which is also buoyed by the likes of Sierra Nevada Corporation and Maxar.

Yellowhammer News recently spoke with Kelly Villarreal, Space Systems senior program manager and HLS lead for the Dynetics team at Draper; Pete Paceley, principal director of Civil and Commercial Space Systems at Draper and head of Draper’s Huntsville office; and Kristina Hendrix, director of communications at Dynetics.

The discussion included talks about how Draper’s expertise that first landed humans on the moon through the Apollo program is set to be used in an evolved form for Artemis.

“It’s a thrill to be a part of the Dynetics Human Lander team,” said Paceley, an alumnus of Auburn University. “Going back to the moon is a big deal for Draper.”

He explained that Draper, originally part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was named for the late Charles Stark “Doc” Draper who is known as the father of inertial navigation. He was the founder and director of MIT’s Instrumentation Laboratory, later renamed the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. That lab made the Apollo lunar landings possible through the Apollo Guidance Computer it designed for NASA as the agency’s first prime contractor for the program.

Draper — the company — was spun off a non-profit in the 1970s into the private sector.

“We like to say we’ve already landed on the moon six times — we have a rich heritage there,” advised Paceley in explaining that Draper provided the flight control computer, all of the software, and the guidance, navigation and control systems for Apollo. “And we’ve maintained that legacy… Draper brings a lot to the party.”

The company opened an office in Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park in 2006, essentially right down the street from Dynetics’ base of operations.

“We’ve had a great relationship with Dynetics over the years on various programs,” Paceley noted, adding the companies have “very complementary capabilities.”

Just like it did for Apollo, Draper is bringing world-class navigation, guidance and flight control software and hardware to the Dynetics HLS team.

Villarreal reiterated Draper’s enthusiasm for being on the Dynetics HLS team and functioning as a “major contributor to the overall effort to return to the lunar surface.”

Draper’s Huntsville office, which employs about 20 people, largely works on NASA programs; another contribution Draper is making in the Rocket City is also on the Artemis program through the Marshall-managed Space Launch System (SLS). The company additionally supports the Missile Defense Agency at Redstone Arsenal and other Pentagon-driven national security work in the area.

While Draper has been there before, a major difference between Artemis and Apollo is that NASA wants to land on the lunar South Pole this time around rather than near the equator. This presents a unique and difficult challenge, which Draper is helping to solve.

“The angle of light from the Sun is very low,” Paceley outlined. “So you have a lot of shadows and dark spots. Being able to land safely is a big challenge for this program. We have to provide the capabilities to enable the astronauts landing safely, whether that’s particular sensors that we use to navigate with or with some synthetic vision to allow them to see the boulders, the craters, so they they can avoid those as the vehicle lands. The nice thing about where we are today is we did that 50 years ago on Apollo, but technology has come so much farther now in terms of computers and sensors and electronics — the solutions you can apply to that problem.”

Villarreal added, “One of the exciting things we’ve been able to provide to help visualize the tough landing situation is a lunar lander simulator that’s based at Dynetics.”

“What that does is loop in our guidance, navigation, control algorithm tied to hand controllers for users to specifically stand in the simulator and act as though they are landing the descent/ascent lander element while visually seeing a representation of the lunar surface projected up over a dome,” she said. “So it really brings home the challenges of that lighting situation.”

“Astronaut-pilots (during Apollo) like Neil Armstrong could look out the window, control the vehicle and decide where they wanted to land in a safe area,” Paceley remarked. “Now, there’s a lot more emphasis on autonomy. While the astronauts can take over and pilot the vehicle, we are putting in a lot more autonomy so that the vehicle can do much of the landing on its own — and even, if need be, could land on its own if there were not a pilot on board — and do so safely.”

Hendrix told Yellowhammer News that Draper has been great to partner with. Overall, including Draper, Dynetics in assembling its HLS team sought out “the best companies available” of all sizes.

“We’re just glad they’re a part of it,” she concluded.

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

20 hours ago

Blowout in Bessemer: Alabama Amazon team members resoundingly vote against unionizing

In a major blow to President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and others on the national left, thousands of employees at Amazon’s state-of-the-art fulfillment center in Bessemer have overwhelmingly voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

The balloting began in February and wrapped up on March 31. The National Labor Relations Board then conducted a ballot-by-ballot public vote count on Thursday and Friday, which showed a blowout result against unionizing.

The “no” votes crossed the threshold needed to clinch the win at approximately 9:55 a.m. on Friday. At that point and for most of the count, the “no” votes were garnering more than 70% of ballots recorded.

RWDSU, which is based in New York, did not even wait until the vote count was halfway through on Thursday to begin questioning the integrity of the election — and thus seemingly disrespecting the vast majority of the Amazon employees’ choice not to join them. One complaint RWDSU has made revolves around a USPS-installed ballot dropbox outside of the Bessemer Amazon facility; that dropbox made it easier for employees to return their ballots, however, the union opposed its existence. RWDSU had already signaled on Thursday that they would attempt to have the election results overturned and the employees’ votes thrown out.

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Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, on Thursday, claimed, “But make no mistake about it: This still represents an important moment for working people, and their voices will be heard.” This, of course, came as the RWDSU could be set to silence the voices of Amazon workers in Bessemer by challenging the clear-cut election results.

On Friday, after the result was certain, RWDSU confirmed it is formally filing the paperwork with the NLRB to “set aside” the election results, forcing a union on the employees even though they voted against it. Without evidence, the union claimed it was not “a free and fair election,” despite the mail-in process giving Amazon team members months instead of the normal days to participate.

Amazon throughout the unionization push process has stressed that the company’s wages and benefits are already industry-leading; the company’s “Do It Without Dues” campaign spoke to this and the potential high cost of employees having to turn over hard-earned money to union bosses.

On top of Amazon’s $15 minimum wage, the company offers industry-leading benefits to full-time employees, which include comprehensive health care from day one, 401(k) with 50% match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave and Amazon’s innovative Career Choice program, which pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields. Since the program’s launch four years ago, more than 25,000 employees have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, just to name a few.

“Amazon is already about the best-paying job a non-skilled laborer can get in Alabama,” Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, told NBC News.

The quality of job offered by Amazon is especially important in Bessemer, which — per data from the Alabama Department of Labor — has consistently had the third-highest rate of unemployment among the state’s major cities.

One big winner emerging from the union vote results is U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who publicly defended the Amazon employees against mounting public pressure from out-of-state Democratic politicians and left-wing activists.

“Alabama is a right-to-work state, which is why we have a growing economy that attracts great companies to our state. But importantly, right-to-work laws protect workers and give them the choice to form a union or not,” Tuberville previously said. “These employees in Alabama don’t need Hollywood elites or the federal government telling Alabama workers what to do.”

This rout of Sanders is akin to his humiliating defeat in last year’s Democratic presidential primary; it is also yet another public instance of the senator’s rhetoric not reaping results. Likewise, this loss for Biden is even worse than the thumping he took in the state’s 2020 general election.

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.

Amazon has released a statement regarding the union election in Bessemer.

The full statement reads as follows:

Thank you to employees at our BHM1 fulfillment center in Alabama for participating in the election. There’s been a lot of noise over the past few months, and we’re glad that your collective voices were finally heard. In the end, less than 16% of the employees at BHM1 voted to join the RWDSU union.

It’s easy to predict the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true. Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us. And Amazon didn’t win—our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union. Our employees are the heart and soul of Amazon, and we’ve always worked hard to listen to them, take their feedback, make continuous improvements, and invest heavily to offer great pay and benefits in a safe and inclusive workplace. We’re not perfect, but we’re proud of our team and what we offer, and will keep working to get better every day.

We hope that with this election now over, there’s an opportunity to move from talk to action across the country. While our team is more than a million people around the world and we’ve created 500,000 new jobs since Covid began, we’re still a tiny fraction of the workforce. There are 40 million Americans who make less than the starting wage at Amazon, and many more who don’t get health care through their employers, and we think that should be fixed. We welcome the opportunity to sit down and share ideas with any policymaker who wants to pass laws ensuring that all workers in the U.S. are guaranteed at least $15 an hour, health care from day one, and other strong benefits. Our employees have seen tremendous benefit from what we offer and we think every American family deserves the same. We believe that we can work better together instead of against each other to pass those important laws, and we hope that’s what will happen in the months and years ahead.

In the meantime, for anyone who’s interested in meeting some members of our team and seeing what it’s like to work inside one of our buildings, we encourage you to sign up for a tour at www.amazonfctours.com. It’s an incredible operation, supported by a world-class team, and we’d love for you to see for yourself.

UPDATE 12:50 p.m.

Senator Tuberville released a statement, saying, “The folks at Amazon’s Bessemer facility made the decision they felt is best for them, their families, and their community. But the important thing is that they had the choice.”

“Alabama’s Right to Work law gives workers a choice in whether they want to unionize or not,” he continued. “It’s unfortunate to see President Biden and Democrats in Washington trying to override state laws and make forced unionization the national norm. As workers across the country and now in Bessemer have demonstrated, they value their Right to Work protections, and I’ll continue to be a strong voice for their rights in the Senate.”

UPDATE 1:00 p.m.

Katie Britt, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, released a statement.

“The workers at the Amazon facility in Bessemer have spoken,” she said. “Their vote is a testimony to the partnership between Alabama’s business community, and the working people of our state. It is the quality of our workforce that brings major international companies like Amazon to Alabama. Alabama is a Right to Work state and that status has helped attract companies that recognize that what is good for Alabama workers and their families, is also good for business.

UPDATE: 2:05 p.m.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield released a statement on the vote.

Canfield’s statement as follows:

It’s not surprising Amazon employees in Alabama voted overwhelmingly against unionization, as the company provides world-class benefits and a safe, quality work environment. We’re proud that Amazon chose Alabama, and we are proud to be a Right-To-Work state. Alabama has an unwavering support for its workforce, just as it supports the growth of business and economic development so vital for our citizens and communities.

We respect the decision of each and every employee at Amazon’s Bessemer operation and look forward to working with Amazon to facilitate its future growth plans in Alabama. Alabama remains a very favorable destination for investment, offering high-performing companies from around the world a business-friendly, low-cost environment with a highly motived workforce, among other advantages.

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