3 years ago

‘Women for Kavanaugh’ bus tour visits Alabama in support of President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee

HOOVER – Concerned Women for America’s eight-state bus tour made a much-anticipated stop in Alabama on Thursday, with citizens from around the state assembling in Hoover to voice their unequivocal support of President Donald Trump’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court — Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Approximately one hundred Alabamians, men and women, were in attendance for this “Women for Kavanaugh” rally organized by Concerned Women for America (CWA), a national Christian women’s organization.

CWA is encouraging Alabama voters, especially females, to reach out to Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and voice support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) voiced his strong support for the nominee’s confirmation after meeting with him recently, but Alabama’s junior senator is still undecided.

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan has repeatedly called on Jones to listen to the majority of his constituents and vote to confirm the nominee, including at a rally in Mobile last week.

Jones recently, talking about efforts to urge him to vote one way or the other, said, “It’s silly. It’s a waste of time.”

Thursday, leaders from CWA and the Birmingham metro area, along with hardworking Alabamians who sacrificed their lunch hour to support Kavanaugh’s confirmation, urged Jones to listen. One Republican elected official summarized their ask best, saying Jones “needs to be in line with the very fiber of this state and vote for Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.”
The rally occurred in front of a bus, which is owned and operated by an Alabamian and emblazoned with the phrase “Another Great Justice.” Former state Rep. Paul DeMarco kicked things off and called on Shelby County Republican Chair Joan Reynolds to open the program with prayer. Following the prayer, Jefferson County District Attorney Mike Anderton led the large crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and a local resident sang a powerful rendition of the National Anthem.

Then, the CWA’s National Field Director, Janae Stracke, got down to the heart of the matter and discussed how pivotal the Supreme Court is to the nation and “generations and generations” to come.

Stracke outlined to the crowd what happened after the late Justice Antonin Scalia – “a true constitutionalist” – passed away in 2016. The CWA immediately called an emergency meeting and got to work, helping Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to ensure that an excellent jurist would fill the “pivotal” vacancy.

This occurred as the 2016 election cycle was in full swing, and Stracke acknowledged that the Supreme Court was the main reason many Americans voted for Donald Trump, citing a statistic that one-in-five “voted because of the Supreme Court.”

Stracke explained that Trump was the only presidential candidate in history to release a list of potential judicial nominees – an action that she praised extensively. She told the crowd that then-candidate Trump “gave people hope and trust of knowing exactly what they were going to get.”

For the CWA, this is exactly what Trump has done. He kept his promise to them first by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace Scalia and now again with Judge Kavanaugh.

“We finally have someone that says, ‘this is what I’m going to do,’ and then does it,” Stracke said.

It is a time of great excitement for conservatives nationwide, with Stracke calling the opportunity to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy with Kavanaugh, “a gift from God, an answer to prayer, and a blessing.”

She also warned Alabamians to beware of contrived opposition to the confirmation, reminding the crowd that liberals were already saying they would oppose President Trump’s nominee even before Kavanaugh was chosen.

“We couldn’t ask for a better nominee,” Stracke emphasized.

She went through a litany of positive traits about Kavanaugh, including his status as a “family man,” intellectual giant and judge who applies the law as written.

After Stracke spoke, state Rep. Jim Carns gave a brief address. Carns was the Trump campaign’s Alabama Co-Chair and on the stage for the famous, early Mobile rally that acted as a springboard to his candidacy.

Carns raved about Trump’s performance since assuming office and listed off some of his accomplishments, including over four percent GDP growth, a “soaring” stock market, record lows in unemployment and ending burdensome, job-killing regulations from the Obama Administration.

“However, I have to give the [Democrats] credit, because they did do one thing,” Carns said, drawing the crowd in.

“They stopped us having plastic straws,” Carns continued, as laughter erupted. “That’s their claim to victory.”

Carns then joined in the mounting calls for Jones to confirm Trump’s nominee, saying the recently-elected Alabama senator “needs to be in line with the very fiber of this state and vote for Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.”

The keynote speech of the day was delivered by Penny Nance, CWA’s CEO and president. She started by thanking DeMarco for helping to put the event together and transitioned into an inspiring speech on the importance of grassroots advocacy.

“Ladies – this is your moment,” Nance said, rallying the dozens of Alabama women in attendance.

She spoke extensively about the importance of women’s voices being heard in modern America, alluding to the fact that the mainstream media does not celebrate Christian women’s perspectives, but instead elevates the Hollywood idea of what a woman should be.

“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I’m a Christian does make me a different kind of woman,” Nance emphasized.

Nance, a prominent national voice who frequently appears on Fox News as a guest, talked about how important confirming Kavanaugh is to the nation’s present and future.

“The question is whether we’ll be the constitutionally driven, proudly patriotic nation that our Founding Fathers fought for … or whether we’ll fade to the left and become more of a European, socialist nation,” Nance warned.

She and Stracke repeatedly expressed that CWA only supports constitutionalist nominees. Nance even added that they want nominees “who want to be judges, not senators.” From their perspective, Kavanaugh is “another great justice,” just like Gorsuch.

“Brett Kavanaugh is a man of character, he is over-qualified … and is recognized for his intellect, his discretion and his judgment and he’s a constitutionalist,” Nance outlined.

She closed with a final rallying call to the attendees and all supporters of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“Go home, call your friends, and make sure they call Doug Jones. Call him, email him, go to his office, go to his town hall meetings – and make sure your voices are heard that he must vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh,” Nance urged.

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

2 hours ago

State Rep. Tracy Estes announces reelection campaign

State Rep. Tracy Estes (R-Winfield) has announced his reelection bid to the Alabama House of Representatives, serving District 17.

Estes, a first-term lawmaker, serves on the Education Policy, Public and Homeland Security, and Children and Senior Advocacy Committees.

“Serving my district in Montgomery has proven to be one of the greatest honors in my life,’’ said Estes. “More importantly, serving in this capacity has given me the opportunity to represent the people of Northwest Alabama while giving them a voice in state government. With a second term in office, I am committed to honoring the promise I made the residents of Lamar, Marion and Winston counties on the campaign trail in 2018 – to be hard working, transparent and accessible. Without hesitation, I believe I have honored my word.’’

In the earliest stages of the global coronavirus pandemic, Estes said in a release he was at the forefront in efforts to bring “much-needed federal financial assistance” to House District 17.

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The release cited his work with hospitals in Winfield, Hamilton and Haleyville to secure more than $15 million in financial aid. The first-term lawmaker noted the assistance his office provided to his constituents in obtaining jobless benefits.

Estes led the legislative in the lower chamber to pass Aniah’s Law, which if passed through statewide ballot measure, would expand judicial authority to deny bail to those accused of committing violent crimes.

The press release stated that Estes has managed to secure funding for eight highway projects for his district, totaling more than $4 million.

He has been an ardent supporter of public education and has sponsored numerous legislation relating to education since assuming office, earning him recognition from the Alabama Association of School Boards and the School Superintendents of Alabama.

Estes serves as a deacon at Winfield First Baptist Church and sings lead in a Southern gospel quartet.

In closing, Estes offered a direct plea for reelection to voters of House District 17.

“I believe the voters in this district still honor and respect hard work,” said Estes. “I can honestly say I have poured all of my energy into working hard on your behalf over the last few years while also being transparent and accessible to everyone in the district regardless of age, gender, community or economic background. I worked for everyone in this district and have considered it an honor to do so.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News

3 hours ago

Britt: Border crisis ‘a result of the weakness of the Biden administration’

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Katie Britt appeared Thursday on News Talk 93.1’s “Dan Morris Show,” where she was interviewed by guest host Apryl Marie Fogel.

During the interview, she was asked by Fogel whether some of the recent turmoil overseas and at the border was attributable to the transition in the executive branch.

“There is no doubt that this is a result of the weakness of the Biden administration,” Britt outlined. “You mentioned the border — it is a total disaster. If you look at the number of people coming over the border, both in May and June we hit 20-year highs. President Trump placed policies and enacted policies that showed strength and got the border under control. I mean, the first thing that we need to do is seal and secure the border. If you look at the safety and security of our nation, but also the humanitarian crisis that is occurring there. We are seeing so many drugs being trafficked over the border. They said they are catching over 3,000 pounds a day, but Apryl Marie, what China is sending over in fentanyl to Mexico, to then come over our border, they said could kill every American four times over.”

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“And every bit of this, it’s interesting, when Vice President Harris said, ‘Oh, I’m going go to the border to see what the issue is,’ which obviously took her, how many days did it take her? – How many months? It was absurd. But I thought, ‘You don’t need to go down there to see (the problem), just look in the mirror.’ It’s you, it’s your administration, the Biden administration’s policies. It’s the weakness that you’re showing,” Britt concluded. “We’ve got to put back Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. We’ve also got to make sure that, as President Trump did, when people came over the border, they knew that they weren’t going to be placed on our welfare system. Those types of policies, that type of strength, that deters people from coming. Same thing in Cuba. Same thing in Israel. I mean, they see weakness in the Biden Administration, and they see that the Democrats are starting to undermine that relationship, and they are taking advantage of it. Make no mistake: this is why we have to have strength in D.C. and in the White House. We must have strength in the Senate, and we must have strength in the House.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

5 hours ago

A new-look Alabama Crimson Tide, the same old Nick Saban

Nick Saban knows you want to know what he thinks. About the prospect of COVID-19 disrupting another college football season. Name, image and likeness rights for college athletes. The revolving door on the transfer portal thanks to the one-time free transfer rule.

Winning a poll-era record seven national championships, six of the past 12, including the 2020 title, has earned the Alabama football coach a bully pulpit. It’s also earned him the right to admit he knows what he doesn’t know.

“I know there’s a lot of interest in a lot of those things,” Saban said Wednesday at SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel. “I almost feel that anything that I say will probably be wrong because there’s no precedent for the consequences that some of the things that we are creating, whether they’re good opportunities, even if they’re good opportunities, there’s no precedent for the consequences that some of these things are going to create, whether they’re good or bad.”

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Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban talks NIL, vacationing, sustaining success and a past SEC Media Days memory from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The more college football changes, the more Saban and Alabama adapt to those changes and keep winning. They went undefeated to capture the 2020 national championship despite COVID disruptions such as Saban himself missing the Iron Bowl because he tested positive for the virus, and two games being rescheduled.

Saban explained how Alabama has handled the subject of vaccinations for the disease with its players heading into this season. He broke it down into “a personal decision” for each player and “a competitive decision” on how that choice could affect the team.

How has that approach worked to date?

“I think that we’re pretty close to 90 percent maybe of our players who have gotten the vaccine,” Saban said, “and I’m hopeful that more players make that decision – but it is their decision.”

Speaking a day earlier at a Texas high school coaching convention, Saban weighed in on the newest phenomenon affecting college athletics, NIL rights. He dropped a nugget that Alabama’s heir apparent at quarterback, sophomore Bryce Young, has earned almost a million dollars in endorsements. Saban didn’t expound on Young’s earning power Wednesday but applauded the opportunity for players to make money.

He also questioned the impact that a disparity in NIL earnings could have on the roster “because it’s not going to be equal, and everything that we’ve done in college athletics in the past has always been equal. Everybody’s had an equal scholarship, equal opportunity.”

“Now that’s probably not going to be the case. Some positions, some players will have more opportunities than others. And how that’s going to impact your team, our team, the players on the team, I really can’t answer because we don’t have any precedent for it.

“I know that we’re doing the best we can to try to get our players to understand the circumstance they’re in, the opportunity they have, and how those opportunities are not going to be equal for everybody, and it will be important for our team’s success that people are not looking over their shoulder at what somebody else does or doesn’t do.”

What Alabama does in trying to compete for another championship without 10 NFL draft picks from last year’s team, six of whom were selected in the first round, including Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, will reflect the program’s ability to adapt to the new era of college football “free agency.” Tennessee transfer linebacker Henry To’oTo’o, a potential “quarterback-type guy on defense” in Saban’s words, is one of the newcomers expected to make an immediate impact on a team that will start the season in a much different place than last season.

With eight new starters on offense and a new offensive coordinator and play-caller in former NFL head coach Bill O’Brien, the experience this time around is on defense. Just the same, Saban said, after setting school records last season with 48.5 points and 541.6 yards a game, “we’re not changing offenses.”

“We’ve got a good offense,” he said. “We’ve got a good system. We’ve got a good philosophy. Bill has certainly added to that in a positive way, and we’ll probably continue to make some changes. But from a terminology standpoint, from a player standpoint in our building, our offense was very, very productive, and we want to continue to run the same type of offense and feature the players that we have who are playmakers who can make plays, and I think Bill will do a good job of that.”

So as a new season awaits, Saban and Alabama find themselves in a familiar place in a new world, trying to defend a national championship with a new cast of featured players and assistant coaches. Saban called it “the penalty for success.”

“The challenge is you’ve got to rebuild with a lot of new players who will be younger, have new roles, less experience, and how do they respond to these new roles? That’s why rebuilding is a tremendous challenge,” Saban said. “That’s why it’s very difficult to repeat.”

Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban speaks at SEC Media Days 2021 from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Saban, who has won back-to-back national championships just once in 2011 and 2012, is heading into his 15th season at Alabama, his 20th in the SEC, including his five years at LSU. The SEC coach next in line in seniority is Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, who’s entering his ninth year. Eight of the league’s head coaches are in their first or second year.

Someone asked Saban the secret to his longevity.

“I think that’s simple,” he said. “You’ve got to win.”

Mission accomplished. Again and again and again.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 hours ago

In Alabama, conservation is for the birds

Whether it’s the Yellowhammer State or the Cotton State, whatever you call the state of Alabama, an abundance of birds call it home. “Yellowhammer” in fact refers to the common name for the northern flicker woodpecker — which just happens to be the state bird of Alabama.

Specifically, coastal Alabama is home to a treasure trove of avian species that nest on the beach and use the area for stopover on their migratory journeys around the world. Coastal Alabama is a particularly vulnerable area, as well as the other four Gulf state coasts. The Gulf’s coast is subject to battering from hurricanes and storm surge, land loss from a lack of sediment transfers, and increased development — making coastal restoration projects all that more important.

The incredible amount of bird habitat in the Yellowhammer State is good news for outdoors enthusiasts. Birding trails and hunting opportunities are prevalent, and per Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, birding as a sector of tourism is huge. Roughly $17.3 billion is spent on wildlife-watching trips and related expenses, with an estimated 20 million Americans traveling for birding.

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“While our 32-mile stretch of sugar-white sand beaches is what draws people to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for their vacations, the broader nature and outdoors are part of our core marketing focus, especially in the last year with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Beth Gendler, Chief Operating Officer of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. “The Tourism Office learned during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill just how vital it is that we protect our special environment for residents and visitors to enjoy and appreciate in the future. Birding and bird conservation efforts are a key component of this because our area is part of the winter and spring migration routes.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Gulf Restoration Office is working to implement projects ensuring these opportunities continue to exist far into the future. Within these efforts, some Service biologists are focused on land restoration, while others are looking to the sky — literally — as they track birds’ migration patterns.

Dauphin Island’s West End

Amid settlement negotiations and cleanup efforts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which occurred in April 2010, one spit of land remained in focus for some Service biologists. Roughly 840 acres of coastal habitat, which until recently was privately owned, is known as the West End of Dauphin Island. Located near the mouth of Mobile Bay, Dauphin Island is a 15-mile long barrier island. The U.S. Census Bureau has designated the area as 166-square-miles, which includes about 96% open water. It offers invaluable habitat for coastal bird populations.

A major milestone on the path to restoring the Gulf of Mexico was marked recently as the state of Alabama acquired the West End of Dauphin Island. The acquisition conserves habitat for coastal bird populations that are dependent on the area. The Dauphin Island West End Acquisition project was approved as part of the Alabama Restoration Plan III and Environmental Assessment in December 2019. The 840 acres is a diverse coastal habitat made up of dunes, marshes, and beaches. Sea turtle and several bird species use these habitats for nesting. Migratory birds use the area as a prime resting spot during migrations. The Service’s team will work in close coordination with the State of Alabama and Mobile County to restore this valuable property.

“Public ownership of the West End of Dauphin Island will allow for the protection and management of its habitats,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “Through the collaborative work of the Alabama Trustee Implementation Group, and the local stakeholders, the acquisition of this land will have a tremendous benefit for coastal and water birds injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”

Among the bird species present at the West End are the piping plover and red knot. These two shorebirds are a threatened species within their Alabama range, and are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Piping plovers frequent Alabama’s quiet shoreline throughout fall, winter and spring. Red knots are known for their more than 9,300-mile annual migration, one of the longest-distance migrants in the animal kingdom. Conserving this parcel of land will ensure that the sensitive coastal habitat is protected for years to come.

Tracking birds on the go

Conserving bird habitat is vital for species conservation, but so is knowing where Alabama’s coastal birds are going and staying. A project to track seasonal movements and habitat use of two species of colonial wading birds is providing valuable information for future planning to restore wading bird species in Alabama still recovering from the Deepwater Horizon spill. The project relies on the use of electronic transmitters attached to captured birds.

The Colonial Nesting Wading Bird Tracking and Habitat Use Assessment project has been underway since last July. Biologists will use the information to better understand important colonial wading bird foraging, resting and nesting areas in coastal Alabama which will allow for more efficient and effective restoration.

“This project gives us an important way to understand the many impacts that affect colonial nesting wading bird populations, including human disturbances such as the Deepwater Horizon spill. The data provided through this project will help us to more effectively restore bird species injured by the spill,” said Kate Healy, a Service biologist who works in the Gulf restoration office.

18 hours ago

WBRC’s James-Paul Dice signing off after 26-year career in television

One of the most familiar faces on Alabama television is signing off the air tonight.

WBRC-TV’s James-Paul Dice has been the chief meteorologist at the Birmingham TV powerhouse for 13 of his 26-year career in television.

The beloved weatherman is starting a new career as a corporate pilot, flying Gulfstream IV business jets for Birmingham-based Drummond Company.

Dice will deliver his final weather forecast Friday night at 10 p.m. on WBRC TV Fox-6.

In a tweet, WBRC thanked Dice and wished him well on his new journey.

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