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4 months ago

Shelby’s Kavanaugh confirmation push, TPUSA’s Owens and Kirk fight against racial politics, liberal academia highlight 2018 ALGOP Summer Dinner

TUSCALOOSA – There was a unified mood at the University of Alabama’s Bryant Conference Center for Friday’s ALGOP Summer Dinner, which was very different from the organization’s last major gathering in Montgomery earlier this year.

The discussion among the attendees at the Alabama Republican Party’s second major event of 2018 did not dwell on the divisions created by the aftermath of the 2017 U.S. senatorial special election. Instead, it was forward-looking, particularly toward November’s 2018 elections, but beyond as well.

With party primaries settled and GOP candidates locked in for their November contests, the theme of the evening was clear: It was about defeating Democrats and pushing back against liberal policies.

That was evident given the message of Friday’s ALGOP dinner speakers, which included ALGOP chairwoman Terry Lathan, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) and featured guests Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens of Turning Point USA.

In very brief remarks to attendees, Shelby emphasized the importance of the U.S. Senate confirming Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“One of the most important things to me facing is in the United States Senate is the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court,” Shelby said to a round of applause from attendees.

“The stakes are high,” he added about the pending confirmation battle. “The stakes are the future of the soul of this country. That’s important here and I’m going to do everything I can to help him get confirmed, starting next week with a hearing before the Judiciary Committee chaired by Sen. [Chuck] Grassley.”

Shelby said Democrats would attempt to thwart the confirmation. However, he urged other Democrats, which includes Shelby’s colleague Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook), to join Republicans in confirming Kavanaugh.

“The Democrats and the left are going to do everything you’ve ever seen to stop that – to slow it first,” Shelby added. “I believe we’re going to get it. We’re asking everybody to vote him, including some of our Democratic friends. I believe some of them will, I hope maybe out of conviction – but better than that, maybe out of fear.”

Race and academia were the focus of the events featured speakers, Owens and Kirk. Owens, who had garnered some national attention when hip-hop artist Kanye West tweeted out praise of her, explained how she came to Turning Point USA, an organization founded by Kirk.

“He asked me one question,” she recounted. “He said, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘I’d like to lead the black revolution against the Democratic Party.’ And he said, ‘You’re hired.’”

Owens recounted the financial hardship, which forced her to drop out of college without earning a degree and coming to the realization that race and political affiliation could be decoupled.

“I would to say that, if you show me a black person in America, I can show you somebody who is conservative, but doesn’t know it,” Owens said. “And the reason we don’t know is our life is so burdened by problems that were brought to us by the Democratic Party, that we don’t have time to get up and get air and realize, ‘Hey wait, where are these problems coming from?'”

Owens went on to add she would unveil an effort she deemed “Blackexit,” which would encourage African-Americans to leave the Democratic Party.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News after the event, party chairwoman Terry Lathan touted the success of Friday’s event, which also happened to be taking place in the city that Alabama Democratic gubernatorial nominee Walt Maddox presides as mayor. She also praised Owens and Kirk for the content of their remarks on the race in politics and liberalism in education.

“Our event here with Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens was sold out a month in advance,” she said. “I haven’t seen that in a very long time. We’re also in Tuscaloosa, home of Walt Maddox. We’re at full capacity. I think that’s not an accident as well. We had a great night. The message that Mr. Kirk and Ms. Owens delivered was spot on – it’s not about your skin color. It’s about your choices that you make. Also, the deep concern that they have, and we have as well – everyone should, Americans – about the very progressive, liberal ways that are moving on our college campuses, even younger, K-12.  And they do they do make a very good point: It does start with who is in charge of your school boards, who decides what textbooks you get, who decides the curriculum. So, I think they hit on many different points tonight that this crowd really liked.”

She added that the loss of 2017 was in the “rear-view mirror” and Alabama Republicans were looking toward the future 2018 midterms.

“Every election, really – you learn, and you grow from it and you move, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” she said. “So, 2017 is in the rear-view mirror for us, for sure. And 2018 is upon us in a few months and we’re really excited. Our teams are working very hard together, and we’re going to bring it.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

41 mins ago

HudsonAlpha scientists link gene to developmental delay

Researchers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville have linked a gene to a set of developmental disabilities that include speech problems and muscular difficulties, clearing the way for better support services and possible treatments for the people affected.

The work, which involved contributions from researchers around the world, shows the promise of such collaboration to solve the genetic mysteries that can leave patients searching for answers, sometimes for decades.

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Scientists in the HudsonAlpha lab of faculty investigator Greg Cooper, Ph.D., led the effort, while international researchers contributed through a tool called GeneMatcher. Six groups independently submitted the gene in question for further examination. Contributions originated from Hawaii to Paris, Huntsville to Prague.

Cooper’s lab worked with the groups and found that variations on a gene called RALA are linked to a specific set of developmental delays and intellectual disabilities. The finding was first published in PLOS Genetics in November.

The patients identified with the RALA variation all showed speech problems. Ten of 11 also suffered from muscular issues, with eight unable to walk. Nine of the 11 had what are called dysmorphic facial features.

“Identifying the impact of RALA variants is important for scientists, clinicians and patients,” Cooper said. “It’s so rewarding when we can help patients and their families find the answers they’ve been searching for — often for a literal lifetime.”

Shawn Levy, Ph.D., who heads HudsonAlpha’s Genomic Services Laboratory that performed the sequencing on a number of the samples, said the work was satisfying. “It’s hard to describe the feeling of contributing to these types of findings. It changes people’s lives,” he said.

Developmental delays and intellectual disabilities affect between 1 and 2 percent of individuals worldwide. However, huge swaths of that population still don’t have answers as to the specific causes of their symptoms.

Once patients get a diagnosis, it becomes easier to find support. Doctors are able to compare notes on treatment, honing in on specific approaches to help patients with their symptoms. An explanation of symptoms can also increase the availability of some treatments for patients, who may need a specific diagnosis to get access.

“Ending the diagnostic odyssey is one of the areas where the type of genomic research we do here at HudsonAlpha truly shines,” Cooper said.

HudsonAlpha President Richard M. Myers, Ph.D., said, “These discoveries show the power of HudsonAlpha’s research, especially when paired with the resources of important collaborators like the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Clinical Sequencing Evidence-Generating Research (CSER) Consortium and the Alabama Genomic Health Initiative. All collaborators helped to provide data and insight, while Cooper’s lab synthesized it all into this new diagnostic information.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Men, women, marriage and earnings

The #metoo movement has brought renewed focus on gender equity questions. Economics examines the pay gap between men and women, and a recent analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis links this gap to marriage, creating a puzzle for economics.

The gender pay gap is large: among workers with at least a high school diploma between ages 45 to 54, men earn almost 50 percent more than women, roughly $75,000 versus $50,000 annually. Is this evidence of discrimination against women we could address through comparable worth pay legislation? Perhaps, but first let’s dig deeper into the issue.

Labor economics explains wages and salaries based on productivity, or the extra output that a worker helps a business produce. Firms can afford to pay workers the value of this product and still make an adequate profit. Competition among firms to attract and retain good workers should drive salaries up to this level. If Alabama underpaid Nick Saban, other universities would happily compensate him fairly.

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Salary differences should then depend on differences in productivity. Economists would want to make more nuanced salary comparisons by gender in narrower job categories before concluding that women are paid less. Education and skills requirements differ way too much across jobs requiring a high school diploma to be conclusively informative.

The St. Louis Fed analysis provides a different perspective: the gender pay gap is really a gap between married men and everyone else. Single men, single women, and married women all make around $50,000 in the prime earning years of 45 to 54; married men make almost $90,000. Interestingly, no pay gap seems to exist between single men and single women.

Can we make sense of this? First off, marriage may not necessarily make men more productive. Men who are more productive – that is, have more education, training, and drive to succeed – may be more likely to be married. We need not believe that reciting the marriage vows increases men’s (but not women’s) productivity.

Marriage could also make men focus seriously on work and a career. We might recognize that at some point we became much more serious about work; for me, this occurred in grad school. Marriage may have this impact on many men. Seriousness and focus could explain higher earnings, and since economists can’t easily measure a person’s seriousness directly, in the data this will look like a marriage effect.

There’s another possible explanation. In many workplaces, bosses have discretion over giving out raises, and an employee might have to ask for a raise. Suppose married and single male employees both ask for raises. The boss might believe that the married man “needs” the raise more – to pay for his kids’ braces, or to help take care of his in-laws. While plausible, salaries based on need violate the labor economics theory.

And it undermines a potential argument against comparable worth pay legislation to narrow the gender pay gap. The argument maintains that businesses must be given the freedom to pay employees based on productivity. But if compensation based on perceived need does not ruin our economy, then raises for women surely won’t cause an economic train wreck.

All the above factors likely contribute to married men’s higher earnings. Businesses can deviate at least some from productivity in setting wages and salaries without going bankrupt. The greater consequence of comparable worth legislation is shifting salary determination ultimately from businesses to bureaucrats. In the long run as politics determines more salaries across the economy, economic performance may decline significantly.

Labor economics seeks to explain salaries across different jobs, but productivity theory is also gender (and color) blind. Although women may indeed not be paid according to their productivity by every employer, competition should prevent pay from getting too far out of line with productivity. Hopefully bosses will reward underpaid women employees, because #metoo has sadly shown that politicians are not always gender blind.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University.

5 hours ago

Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School receives $1M grant to create Thriving Pastors program

Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School has received a grant of $999,966 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the Enhancing the Mission: Beeson Divinity School and Thriving Pastors program.

It is part of Lilly Endowment’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.

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Through the Thriving Pastors program, Beeson will help pastors thrive in congregational leadership by improving the quality of peer and mentoring relationships. The program will seek to fulfill its mission by supporting, resourcing and connecting Beeson alumni who serve in pastoral roles. As the program grows, pastors with no prior affiliation with Beeson or Samford will be welcomed into the project so that they, too, may continue thriving in ministry.

“The mission of Beeson Divinity School is to prepare God-called persons to serve as ministers in the church of Jesus Christ,” said Grant Taylor, Beeson’s associate dean and project director of the Thriving Pastors program. “Through the Thriving Pastors program, we aim to enhance our mission through a deeper commitment to our graduates who serve as pastors of God’s people. We want to support and enrich them by giving them more of Beeson’s personal, face-to-face approach to theological education and ministry. At Beeson, we are working hard to do more, not less, in personal, relational and theological formation for pastoral ministry.”

Since pastors face transitions of various kinds over the course of their ministries, the program will aim to help pastors transition well through at least three phases: the transition from seminary to their first full-time ministry positions, the transition from associate pastoral positions to lead pastoral positions and the involuntary transitions that come when they face acute personal and/or family crises. Activities will include an annual conference for Beeson alumni and other pastors, the development of pastoral peer groups and the enrichment of mentoring relationships between pastors. The program also will enable Beeson faculty to enhance mentoring and peer relationships for divinity students preparing for pastoral ministry.

“This significant initiative of Lilly Endowment fits beautifully with the ongoing mission of Samford’s Beeson Divinity School, and I’m confident that the investment will provide meaningful, helpful support for ministers now and in the years ahead,” said Andrew Westmoreland, president of Samford University. “If we are interested in educating the whole person, as we say we are, that interest continues throughout all phases and transitions of life. I’m grateful for the generosity of our friends with Lilly Endowment and for the work of our Beeson Divinity School faculty and staff.”

Samford University is one of 78 organizations in 29 states receiving grants in the Thriving in Ministry initiative. The organizations reflect diverse Christian traditions: mainline and evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox.

Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grantmaking priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including Enhancing the Mission: Beeson Divinity School and Thriving Pastors program, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

This story originally appeared on Samford University’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 hours ago

Alabama Power crews, APSO help Christian Service Center Food Bank

Alabama Power linemen don’t only restore power.

In times of need, they put their heavy lifting skills to good use for charitable works. That was the case when several line crew personnel from the Valley/Langdale Crew Headquarters recently spent their off-time delivering 750 pounds of food to the Christian Service Center Food Bank.

The crews carried more than 1,000 cans of food and dried goods – gifts from Alabama Power employees and customers of the Valley/Langdale business offices – to the food bank in Valley.

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Food bank Director Cheryl Myers was thrilled to see the Alabama Power line crewmen walk through the doors with their large boxes. She said the gifts came just in time to feed Chambers County families at the holidays.

“To see all those men here helping us, bringing in all that food was wonderful,” said Myers, who has worked at the Christian Service Center for 28 years. “A lot of that food went to families at Thanksgiving and will help more people at Christmas.”

She said the company’s food donation helped 375 adults and 225 children in November, including many elderly in Valley and Lanett.

“We were able to feed about 60 more families in November, more than in most months,” Myers said. “We provided 19,330 pounds of food in November.”

Alabama Power linemen Chris Denney, Joseph Eldred, Clayton Huckaby, Michael Huckaby and Daniel Sides, with utility assistant Anthony Cipriano, delivered the food after they’d completed their workday.

“They not only brought in the food, they had separated much of it,” Myers said. “Then the men put it in the bins. They saved me a lot of work. It was all good.”

She said that volunteers and workers box the food, separate it and place it in bins, moving the food five times from donation to the point it’s donated to families. Through their volunteerism, the Alabama Power linemen saved Myers some leg work.

Alabama Power’s Valley Customer Service representatives Joni Hubbard, Julie Jennings and Lisa Roberts served as co-chairs for the food bank project through the Southeast Chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO).

While working with customers in the Alabama Power’s drive-through lines, CSRs handed out slips suggesting holiday food donations.

“Our customers dropped by cans of food as they visited our business office,” said longtime Southeast APSO member Roberts. “There was a big assortment of food, from canned vegetables to boxed meals, to Hamburger Helper, dried beans and rice. By the end, we had so much food, none of us here could lift the box.”

While visiting her parents in Florida, Alabama Power general clerk Mary Henderson took advantage of that state’s zero sales tax to buy canned goods for donation to the food drive.

“We try to help the Christian Service Center twice a year, with a clothing drive or food drive,” Roberts said. “It’s an organization we know that helps many families in our area.”

Supported by about 40 churches, as well as businesses and individuals, Myers said the Christian Service Center is a community ministry.

“it’s the most unique ministry I’ve ever been affiliated with,” she said. “I am very grateful for the company’s donation and the assistance of the Southeast APSO volunteers.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

AG Marshall: Prosecution of corruption remains a priority after Matt Hart’s departure

On Friday’s episode of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall downplayed the departure of now-former Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart.

Hart formerly led the AG’s Special Prosecutions Division and was perhaps best known for his prosecution of former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.

In the interim, Hart had become somewhat of a media darling, and Marshall’s critics had charged politics was a motivation in Hart’s resignation. Marshall dismissed those claims and touted Hart’s successor, Clark Morris.

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“It’s a very important position and the change in leadership is not a reflection in the change in priorities,” Marshall said. “We appreciate the service that Matt Hart gave to the state. He submitted his resignation and we’ve moved forward. We’ve named Clark Morris, who you know is a 20-plus-year prosecutor and an expert in white-collar crime, and somebody who has been a leader in both the Northern District and Middle District U.S. Attorney’s office. We are very confident in what she’s doing, and we have a core group that’s working in that division that is continuing to work very hard.”

Marshall maintained investigating corruption continued to be a priority despite Hart’s departure.

“Capitol Journal” host Don Dailey went on to ask Marshall if Hart’s resignation was political, to which Marshall denied the charge and pointed to his prosecutorial record.

“It’s anything but,” he replied. “You look at the Mike Hubbard case, for example – my name is on the briefs. My name has been on the pleading as we continue to enforce that conviction in Lee County.”

Marshall, who easily won his general election contest last month, acknowledged there was a lot of focus on the Special Prosecutions Division, but also said there were a lot of other components to what the Alabama AG’s office does.

“I think what they do is maybe more known to people from time to time,” he said. “Let’s also understand there 150-plus dedicated employees in the AG’s office. We’re working a mission that is important for the state of Alabama.”

He went on to say Morris would continue with that Special Prosecutions Division’s focus and pointed to her track record as evidence.

“The priority is not shifting,” he said. “I absolutely challenge anybody to look at Clark Morris’ history and experience and see we made anything other than bringing somebody in that’s an outstanding leader. I look forward to being able to work with her as well as the fine people that work in that division. They are working hard today, as they are working hard tomorrow. We will continue to make sure we have the ability going forward to be that leader in these type of cases.”

The Alabama attorney general explained that Morris’ presence allowed his office to “cement” a partnership with federal prosecutors and federal law enforcement agencies.

“I really don’t care if somebody that has engaged in corruption is prosecuted in federal or state court,” he said. “What I worry about is making sure we have accountability. And so, we’ll work collaboratively with our federal partners. I think you’ll see a better job of that over the coming months and years in a way that we can make a difference in this area.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is an editor at Breitbart News.