10 months ago

Roby: We can all help fight human trafficking

The state of Alabama reached several significant milestones and experienced many successes in 2019. We commemorated the 200th anniversary of Alabama’s statehood, saw a record low unemployment rate and witnessed new economic growth and development taking place across the state.

When there are so many positives to celebrate, it can be simple to overlook the unwanted storylines hiding in the shadows. While it was a year full of monumental moments and exciting celebration in Alabama, there are still serious issues across the state and country that are desperate for our intention: one major problem being human trafficking.

The White House recently issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring January 2020 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This proclamation also highlights the 20-year anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). With the enactment of TVPA, the United States took significant steps in the fight against human trafficking and related offenses by making them a federal crime attached with severe penalties. I have pushed efforts, along with my colleagues in Congress, and working with the Administration to prevent human trafficking by passing and signing several pieces of legislation into law, including the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act and Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Rest assured that we will continue our best efforts in this fight as 2020 progresses.

Human trafficking, unfortunately, affects millions across the world. Many times, unseen problems are the most dangerous of them all. It may seem easy to write off human trafficking as an action that only takes place in Third World countries, but it happens in our very own Alabama communities and around the United States every single day. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise and one of the fastest-growing illegal industries in the world, and it is growing at an extremely alarming rate. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are nearly 25 million victims worldwide. The underground nature and secrecy of these operations make it difficult for authorities to accurately estimate the total number of victims across the United States. Until we beat this horrific problem altogether, there is much work to be done.

Human trafficking can take many forms, and it is hard to know the full scale of its impact. Even though it is a larger issue that is faced no matter the country you live in, there are ways in which we can take responsibility to tackle trafficking head-on. It is crucial to be aware of what is going on around you in your community. If at any point you have information on a potential trafficking case or believe you have witnessed something questionable, act fast and immediately contact the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation at (334) 242-1142 or visit their website to file a report at https://www.alea.gov/sbi. Hotlines and helplines are also critical components of human trafficking prevention, and they can be powerful tools. You can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1 (888) 373-7888 or texting 233733.

Even if you are unsure of your suspicions, it is always best to contact someone about what you may have seen. Your efforts can help raise awareness and even potentially save lives. Let’s all do the absolute best we can to look out for one another in our communities. We must continue to make it evident that this terrible form of modern-day slavery has no place in our country and that we will remain committed to fighting it every step of the way.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

35 seconds ago

Alabama can help stop Democrats’ radical immigration agenda

The Democrats’ radical immigration agenda poses an existential threat to the United States.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris support amnesty, citizenship, and public benefits for illegal aliens. They want a big increase in the number of green card allotments for the relatives of naturalized citizens and current green card holders. They want to keep the so-called diversity visa lottery, which favors low-skilled foreigners, and they want more visas for non-agricultural guest-workers. On top of all that they want to increase the number of refugee admissions by fivefold.

If President Trump loses in November, the U.S. Senate will become the only check on these catastrophic ideas. Just that should be a compelling reason for Alabamians to vote for Republican Tommy Tuberville over Democrat Doug Jones.

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Some folks see “illegal” immigration as the problem and leave it at that. Many people on the conservative side see the need to control our borders and believe we should send those here illegally home, but the immigration problem is bigger than that.

Liberal pieties to the contrary notwithstanding, and conservative efforts to sound “understanding and welcoming” also not withstanding, a library of research shows that excessive legal immigration has harmful economic and social consequences. Excessive immigration pushes down wages and puts a strain on social services. Excessive immigration does not allow sufficient time or pressure to bring about assimilation into American culture.

Consider just a few examples.

Wages and job opportunities for citizens decline when large numbers of foreign workers move into an area. The toll on low-skilled workers is particularly heavy. An analysis published in American Affairs on employer labor preferences found that businesses have a strong bias for immigrants when filling low-skilled positions. Regardless of the reasons for that bias, American citizens deserves those opportunities to be employed and flourish.

Meanwhile, a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research found that younger, lower-skilled native workers suffer significant income loss as immigrants enter the workforce — so much so they often have to leave friends and family behind to find work.

A paper published in the journal, Labour Economics, concluded that immigrants depress employment levels and wages for native-born citizens, especially in states like Alabama where the wages are sometimes relatively low.

Not only does unrestricted legal immigration have dire economic effects for native-born citizens, it also strains the social fabric: A study by researchers at the University of Oslo found that immigration from low-income regions stifles social mobility, which in turn can leave native-born workers poor and demoralized. It is difficult to climb the ladder of success if a young person can’t get on the first step because the jobs are taken by people who just recently entered the country.

As for assimilation to their new environment, an article in the American Economic Journal notes that descendants of immigrants tend to remain in economically depressed and culturally isolated enclaves for generations, effectively outside the American mainstream. The United States has pushed the pause button on legal immigration before in order for the ingredients of the melting pot to meld together. It is not a new or harsh idea. It is the smart thing to do for the nation’s health.

There is no issue more critical to a country’s identity and security than sovereignty. Border security and rigorous immigration standards are foundational to national sovereignty. Under the Trump administration, we have finally regained some control over the unrestricted flow of immigrants, both illegal and legal, into the United States. Let’s not turn back the clock.

Tommy Tuberville has stated his support for President Trump’s immigration policies, while Doug Jones seems to care more about the interest of foreign nationals than he does about our fellow Alabamians. Doug Jones is against building a border wall. Doug Jones wants to declare the clear and ongoing emergency on the southern border over, and he wants to expand visa quotas when so many Americans are still unemployed.

The difference between these two positions is profound, and the correct choice for Alabamans is obvious. Alabamans must work to elect Tommy Tuberville and keep the Senate red. The patriots living in less conservative states and the country as a whole are depending on us.

Scott Beason is a former Alabama state senator and representative. He hosts the Scott Beason Show on FM 92.5, AM 1260, FM 95.3 and online at ScottBeason.com.

13 hours ago

Lt. Gov. Ainsworth back to work and channeling Trump on the coronavirus — ‘Don’t live in fear’

The last few weeks have been very interesting for Alabama Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth.

During a church gathering, he contracted the coronavirus and then passed it to his wife. Although he was not entirely asymptomatic, he did not require any medical treatment. He is now headed back to work and ready to do the people’s business.

This mirrors the recovery of President Donald Trump, who was back to work long before many expected he would be.

Wednesday morning, Ainsworth appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” to speak about his experiences with this illness and how Alabama Democrats attempted to use the diagnosis to raise money for their party, a move Ainsworth said was “typical” of the behavior of their members. Ainsworth even noted that some in the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party contacted him to check up on him before the fundraising email went out.

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For Ainsworth, the bigger issue was how they misrepresented his positions by claiming that he opposed masks and science. Neither position is true, he said.

Ainsworth advised that while he opposes the mandate, he doesn’t oppose mitigation efforts like masks and social distancing

“I’ve been wearing masks when I go to events. I practice social distancing, I use proper sanitation. I still got it,” he outlined.

His issue, as it is with many people, is the top down mandate.

“I do not think it’s the government’s role to mandate whether or not we should wear masks. I just don’t believe that,” he advised. “I believe in personal responsibility.”

Ainsworth believes that the fundraising email got sent because Alabama Democrats are in trouble, and they know U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is going to lose. Ainsworth believes the message Democrats are selling just doesn’t work.

He stated, “They’re desperate, they’re grasping at straws, and I think Dems know in Alabama that their policies and positions don’t resonate with people so what do they do, they try spin stuff and lie.”

While Ainsworth mostly shrugged off the Democrats’ tactics, he also warned that people should take the coronavirus seriously and not weaponize for political gain as some in Alabama and on the national level are doing.

Like President Donald Trump, Ainsworth thinks America has to get back to work but it has to do it safely. He noted that “New York has ruined their economy” with shutdowns and restrictions yet they continue to have issues with the coronavirus.

His advice to Alabamians is simple: “[D]on’t live in fear. Continue to live your life but do it safely.”

Listen:

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

14 hours ago

Alabama AG Steve Marshall slams ‘Big Tech’ as greatest threat to free, fair elections in America

Attorney General Steve Marshall (R-AL) is continuing his leadership in calling on Congress to regulate tech monopolies’ control over the flow of information and political discourse in America.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Marshall commented on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s testimony that day to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. This comes after Twitter blocked the distribution of bombshell reports, beginning with the New York Post, regarding the Biden family’s foreign business dealings. The New York Post’s Twitter account has been locked for two weeks and counting.

In calling for change to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Marshall remarked, “Twitter is not the Ministry of Truth. It should concern us all when a platform that holds such tremendous power over information uses that power in contradiction of the principles of free speech and freedom of the press.”

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In a statement to Yellowhammer News on Wednesday afternoon, Marshall expounded on the topic in strong terms.

“In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that there is a need to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996,” Alabama’s Republican attorney general advised. “The egregious actions taken two weeks ago by Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook to suppress a news report of significant public interest—along with speech about it—published in one of our country’s oldest and most-widely-read newspapers in the run-up to a presidential election, has only made the need for reform more evident than ever.”

“Big Tech holds tremendous power over information and brazenly wields that power according to its social and political biases,” he continued. “Indeed, social-media platforms oftentimes appear less guided by the principles of American democracy—such as free speech and press—than by the principles of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth: amplify favored voices and viewpoints, censor disfavored voices and viewpoints.”

Marshall noted, “I agree with Justice Thomas’s recent assessment that courts have expanded Section 230 ‘beyond the natural reading of the [statutory] text,’ and support the recent announcement by Chairman Pai that the Federal Communications Commissions will undertake rulemaking to clarify the meaning of Section 230. But there are issues inherent in Section 230 that can only be fully cured by legislative action.”

“At today’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Ted Cruz opined that Facebook, Google, and Twitter ‘collectively pose … the single greatest threat to free speech in America, and the greatest threat we have to free and fair elections.’ I concur and urge Congress to take action,” he concluded.

Marshall also published a must-read op-ed in Real Clear Policy on this same issue, calling Twitter’s and Facebook’s censorship of the New York Post’s reporting “un-American.”

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

15 hours ago

Ivey administration’s allocation of CARES Act funds underscores importance of, support for first responders

Wednesday is National First Responders Day, and the importance of America’s tremendous first responders is even more magnified this year as the nation continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey’s administration recently established the Health Care and Emergency Response Providers grant program. This enabled first responders, including private ambulance and other emergency response service (EMS) providers, to receive federal funds through the state’s share of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The grant program received a total allocation of $35 million, building on the Ivey administration’s total allocation of up to $250 million in CARES Act funds for healthcare-related purposes in Alabama.

This support for first responders and health care providers in general has drawn praise for Ivey and her administration. This includes the Alabama Association of Ambulance Services (AAAS).

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“We applaud Governor Ivey and her administration for recognizing the critical role that EMS and ambulance providers are playing in the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Jason Trammell, president of AAAS. “This funding will support providers across the state, who are working around the clock to serve their communities in a safe and efficient manner while their workers are on the frontlines of the fight against this virus.”

The Health Care & Emergency Response Providers grant program includes cash grants in an amount of up to $15,000 for providers that meet certainly eligibility requirements.

“Our company serves some of Alabama’s largest cities as well as its more rural areas. No matter where our providers are operating, health and safety is paramount to our underlying mission,” advised Brett Jovanovich of Lifeguard Ambulance Service. “With the cold and flu season around the corner, and with the increased potential of another wave of COVID-19, we intend to utilize these funds to fully ensure that our paramedics have the PPE and supplies needed for their safety and for the protection of patients in the communities we serve.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News on Wednesday, Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola said, “Governor Ivey has the highest respect for the many first responders across our state, especially as they have faced unusual obstacles over the last several months.”

“As the governor remains committed to getting this money in the hands of those who need it, she was proud to award $35 million of the CARES Act money to establish the Health Care and Emergency Response Providers grant program. These providers play a critical role in our state’s response to COVID-19, as well as in our day to day lives, and especially as we celebrate National First Responders Day, Governor Ivey applauds them for their invaluable, tough service,” she concluded.

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

17 hours ago

Air superiority then, space superiority now — The Battle of Britain 80 years hence

Eighty years ago this week, hurricane season ended when the Royal Air Force won the Battle of Britain by stopping the Nazi war machine at the edge of the English Channel. Before the summer of 1940, Hitler had derided Great Britain as a nation of shopkeepers. Göring’s seemingly superior Luftwaffe pilots were outdone by the young British RAF, aided by friendly forces — not the least of which was a squadron of Polish pilots. They had shown the world that the Nazi juggernaut could be countered through perseverance, aided by the novel design of quick and lethal airplanes: the spitfire and hurricane.

Churchill named this battle when he declared after Dunkirk that with the conclusion of the Battle of France, the Battle of Britain would begin. Unlike past battles, the critical objective was as amorphous as it was strategic: the achievement of air superiority. It was a testament to the fact that warfare had changed forever, tilting the scales in favor of technology over brute strength.

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Even Hitler and his retinue of yes-men knew that subjugating Britain would require a risky and complex invasion. The English Channel, though relatively narrow at some points, served as a giant moat that required amphibious landings on slow-moving vessels, which would be vulnerable to attack from above. Nazi control of the air would be the key to a successful invasion. With proper preparations for a seaborne invasion many months out, Göring pushed for an air campaign, and Hitler approved.

The Luftwaffe’s first objective was to destroy RAF airfields, but Luftwaffe planes were not designed for this mission, and their pilots — though experienced — were no match for the RAF’s pilots in spitfires and hurricanes. These planes had unmatched maneuverability, and home-field advantage played an equally important role. The British had a superior early warning radar system that enabled them to plot the likely flight path of incoming enemies and to scramble their gassed and fully loaded planes efficiently. Over Britain, each downed German represented not only a lost airplane but also a lost pilot. Maintaining air superiority was a fight for survival, and the British pilots knew that the fate of freedom for their island, and perhaps for civilization, rested on their shoulders. They turned the tide of the war in fighting, as Churchill noted, “undaunted by the odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger.”

While the concept of air superiority was initially academic, the Battle of Britain proved it critical to modern military success. Since then, the need for air superiority has remained unquestioned. A country might not win with air superiority, but failure was guaranteed without it. The use of airpower to master the skies has been the first order of business in every major conflict since World War II. Even today, with the development of defensive missile shields and the capability of intercepting incoming aircraft and missiles, air superiority is and will remain a critical objective in any conflict. But air superiority is starting to give way to space superiority.

As we become more and more dependent on satellites, and as human activity in space becomes less of a novelty, controlling space will be critical not only for commercial and economic success, but also for global stability and the defense of our nation. The nation that controls space will control the destiny of the entire world. To be dominant in space is to be dominant period, and the dominating nation will have the final say over many aspects of our lives.

Those who would object to the militarization of space do not understand, or refuse to see, today’s reality. The activities of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in space are similar to those of the nations who sought to control the sea in the 19th century and the air in the 20th century. At present, these activities are largely unchecked by other nations and international organizations.

There was a time when the United Nations was capable of limiting space to peaceful means. Similar to the control of nuclear weapons, the United Nations provided a means of achieving an international consensus that limiting weapons in space was beneficial for all nations. But, as with any large organization attempting to achieve consensus among diverse groups, the only real agreement among nations became the lowest common denominator. Thus, UN limits on the militarization of space are limited, weak, and ineffective.

This void of international leadership is being filled by a resurgent communist China, intent on achieving world domination — a long-term national goal. With few international limitations, the CCP is seeking space superiority to impose its ideas on the world and thereby supplant civilization’s shared liberal principles. The UN has been aggressively helpless or simply unable to check China’s dreams of space superiority. While the CCP has yet to obtain the domination it seeks, it is clearly on track with covert military missions, like developing its own GPS system that would aid in obtaining space superiority.

The United States cannot let this happen. Students of history know that many of the great and terrible military conflicts could have been prevented or mitigated with proper foresight and preparation. Unless the United States acts soon to check CCP aggression in space, we may have extremely limited choices in the future.

Our new Space Force must explain the seriousness of this threat and develop strategic plans to protect space from the domination of any one country. This grand effort will require allies who not only understand the threat, but who are financially able to join with the United States to dominate space for peaceful purposes. The free world’s shared cultural and civic traditions could form the basis for ensuring that space can never be dominated by one country.

During World War I and in the following decades, Churchill stressed the importance of developing radar, the tank and the airplane. Without these developments, the Battle of Britain would have ended much differently. As we celebrate the 80th anniversary of victory at the Battle of Britain, and as we understand the strategic necessity of air superiority in protecting the island nation from foreign invasion, we should recognize the strategic necessity of space superiority today.

The United States and her friends cannot allow a country that is utterly opposed to freedom to control space and, in turn, Earth. The free world must develop space first and create enforceable laws to allow space to be an extension of the liberty we currently enjoy. In order to do that, we must overhaul our outdated legal regime concerning the development and deployment of space technologies, support the private development of space properly, and remove the bureaucratic barriers hindering important breakthroughs. We must not surrender space to totalitarians who would use it to subjugate free peoples around the globe. If we heed the call to action and engage in this new endeavor, we can ensure that the limitless possibilities of space are secured for future generations.

Will Sellers is an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of Alabama.