The Wire

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

    小次郎网站Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

    Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

    Excerpt:

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

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

18 mins ago

小次郎网站

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey announced on Friday that students will be back in classrooms this fall, but online options will be available for those who want or need them.

Mackey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris unveiled Alabama’s plan for public schools in the fall of 2020 at a press conference.

The Department of Education put together a sheet of information for parents that can be accessed here.

Mackey detailed how many of the direct changes to schedules, activities and other important details would be handled by local boards of education.

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He said the State has invested significant money in making an online option available for all students in the fall and is taking measures like installing wifi on school buses and public libraries to make sure more students have access to that option.

The state superintendent also said that sports like football and basketball along with activities like choir and band “would resume” but warned they will “look different.”

Harris warned that outbreaks will inevitably occur once students are back in the confined indoor space of a classroom. He added that the State’s plan unveiled Friday was “good” and “necessary.”

This news is breaking and will be updated.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email:?henry@yellowhammernews.com?or on Twitter?@HenryThornton95

4 hours ago

小次郎网站

(YHN)

小次郎网站

  • In a video released by the University of Alabama that features Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and many football players voicing their support for equality, Saban says “we can’t be silent.” Some have complained that he didn’t say “Black Lives Matter.”
  • In the video, Saban is also seen saying, “We must speak up for our brothers and sisters, for our sons and daughters.” Quarterback Mac Jones adds, “All lives can’t matter until black lives matter.”

6. NASCAR takes another swing at the “noose”

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  • After a noose was found in the garage for Bubba Wallace’s car at the Talladega Superspeedway, an FBI and Department of Justice investigation took place and determined that the knot in question had been in the garage since at least October 2019, so it didn’t add up to being a hate crime against Wallace.??
  • Now, NASCAR has released an image of said noose. NASCAR President Steve Phelps said “the noose was real.” Based on the image, the door pull very clearly looks like a noose but the mere existence of the noose doesn’t make it a hateful act.?

5. Ivey admits mistake on shutdowns

  • While speaking to the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Governor Kay Ivey talked about how 2020 hasn’t gone how anyone expected with a year that started with a 2.9% unemployment rate before revisiting her “Stay at Home” order and the labeling of businesses as non-essential.
  • Ivey said, “I never wanted to create the belief that my administration viewed certain businesses as more important than others. All jobs and all businesses are essential and important to our state.” She went on to say it was unclear if another “Stay at Home” order was possible with increasing infections of COVID-19 in the state.

4. Byrne wants to see bipartisan legislation passed

  • As it becomes increasingly clear there will be no substantial police reform, U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) spoke on the House floor in favor of passing bipartisan legislation on police reform, like the JUSTICE Act that Byrne co-sponsored but was voted down by Democrats on Wednesday.
  • Byrne remarked that he felt “compelled” to speak out against racism “under the present regrettable circumstance.” He went on to say that we’re all “created in the image of God and are of equal and inestimable moral worth.” Byrne also detailed how long black people have been fighting for equality and what they’ve endured along the way, emphasizing that the House has to “work together, not in parallel partisan efforts.”

3. Unemployment is still climbing

  • The Alabama Department of Labor has reported the most recent unemployment numbers, showing that from June 14-20 there were 18,671 new claims, 11,311 of which were directly related to the coronavirus. The week before saw 18,367 claims.?
  • Unemployment claims have decreased slowly since the initial shutdown caused by the pandemic. The claims are still more than 10 times higher than the week before the shutdown, which saw only 1,824 unemployment claims.?

2. More states leaning towards mask mandates

  • As new cases of COVID-19 surge across the nation, local and state mask ordinances, with questionable enforcement plans, are becoming more common with Nevada becoming the 19th state to put one in place. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) stated, “For Nevada to stay open, we must make face coverings a part of our daily lives.”
  • In states without mask ordinances, local governments are starting to get in on the act. While only Birmingham and Montgomery have them in Alabama, Huntsville and other municipalities have been talking about them in recent days.

1. Alabama sees record high coronavirus numbers again

  • Yesterday, Alabama saw the highest number of coronavirus cases in one day that it’s seen throughout the entire pandemic with 1,129 new cases.?
  • More than 90% of Alabama counties are reporting new cases. The positive rate of infection is roughly around 8.6%, which is where it’s stayed since June 14. Cities like Decatur and Mobile have decided to cancel their 4th of July celebrations due to the rise in cases.?
6 hours ago

State of Alabama continues to appeal Obama appointee’s last-minute changes to July 14 election

(Pixabay, J. Merrill/Facebook, YHN)

At least for now, a controversial federal court opinion issued last week will hold regarding Alabama’s voting process for the upcoming July 14 primary runoff election.

As previously reported by Yellowhammer News, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama Abdul K. Kallon issued a memorandum opinion striking down certain absentee balloting requirements for the runoff. Not only did the appointee of then-President Barack Obama strike down the requirements only for certain demographics, but that aspect of the order only affects three of Alabama’s 67 counties: Jefferson, Mobile and Lee. The relevant requirements are viewed by many as safeguards against voter fraud.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, as the chief elections official in the state, was named as the lead defendant in the case. He told Yellowhammer News last week that the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of the State and the rest of the defendants in the case, would appeal Kallon’s order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

The AG’s office did indeed appeal and also asked the 11th Circuit for a stay of Kallon’s order with the runoff quickly approaching.

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On Thursday afternoon, it was announced that a panel of three judges from the 11th Circuit denied the request for a stay. This means that Kallon’s order, as of Thursday, is still in effect. However, the defendants’ appeal is still pending before the 11th Circuit, meaning things could still change before the election.

“Even though our stay was denied, the case is still under review and our appeal is still under consideration by the Eleventh Circuit,” Merrill said in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

“The preliminary injunction entered June 15, 2020 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama is in full force and effect as it relates to the July 14 Primary Runoff Election,” he outlined. “However, this injunction only applies to Jefferson, Lee, and Mobile counties.”

“We are committed to preserving the integrity and credibility of the electoral process and protecting the opportunity for every eligible Alabama voter to participate in our elections in an unobstructed way,” Merrill concluded.

The panel that denied the defendants’ request for a stay was comprised of two Obama appointees (Judges Jill Pryor and Robin Rosenbaum) and one appointee of President Donald Trump (Judge Britt Grant).

While all three judges concurred in the result of denying the petition for a stay, Grant seemed open to the defendants’ position on the appeal itself.

“I have serious concerns about the order under review, which is dramatic both in its disregard for Alabama’s constitutional authority and in its confidence in the court’s own policymaking judgments,” she wrote. “The State has responded to the very real COVID-19 threat by moving its election date, dramatically expanding absentee ballot access through an emergency regulation, and taking other steps to maintain safe polling places. The Supreme Court has emphasized time and time again that federal courts should not jump in to change the rules on the eve of an election.”

Grant added that “a dangerous virus does not give the federal courts unbridled authority to second-guess and interfere with a State’s election rules.”

“No one in this litigation disagrees that the COVID-19 pandemic poses a grave threat. Alabama took serious steps to ensure that its citizens could safely vote—more than some States, less than others. But the district court’s order uses the State’s legislative and administrative grace against it, concluding that because the State has made some changes, it is constitutionally obligated to make others,” the judge concluded.

The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) are involved in the case on behalf of the plaintiffs: People First of Alabama, Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama NAACP.

A Thursday release from the SPLC celebrated the denial of the stay as a “huge win.”

“This is an important win for Alabama voters at-risk for COVID-19,” stated Caren Short, senior SPLC staff attorney. “As cases continue to surge across the state — disproportionately impacting Black Alabamians — it is critical that those most at-risk from COVID-19 can vote safely.”

RELATED: John Merrill questions SPLC’s election COVID-19 risk concerns

Merrill’s office advised that a different 11th Circuit panel will hear the appeal than the panel that denied the stay.

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

6 hours ago

Ivey forms broadband working group to advise on spending CARES Act funds

(YHN/Pixabay)

Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday announced the formation of a broadband working group to gather input and guidance on the State’s allocation of up to $300 million in federal funds.

A release from the governor’s office advised that the group, to be facilitated by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), will meet for the first time virtually on Friday.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) appropriated $1.9 billion to Alabama as COVID-19 relief funding. An executive amendment tacked on by Governor Ivey to the state’s Fiscal Year 2021 General Fund budget package divided these federal funds into 10 categories and charged up to $300 million to be spent to expand broadband across the Yellowhammer State.?Leaders in the legislature such as Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) had wanted to spend up to $800 million of the Alabama CARES Act total for broadband expansion.

Marsh this week in a statement said “a?stunning lack of rural broadband investment” will be on the agenda for the legislature next session.

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RELATED: Senate Majority Leader Reed deems broadband expansion ‘a top five issue for Alabama’s future’

In a statement announcing the working group’s formation, Ivey said, “Our state has serious gaps in broadband coverage, and we must do everything possible to ensure as many of our residents and businesses have access to a service that has become a vital part of today’s world whether through education, business, healthcare or dozens of other vital areas.”

“I am proud to establish this group of esteemed individuals to help us lay the groundwork moving forward,” she concluded.

Members of the working group are as follows:

Kenneth Boswell, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs
Michelle Roth, Alabama Cable & Broadband Association
Marcus Campbell, Alabama County Commission Association
Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller, Alabama League of Municipalities
Jason Davis, Alabama Power
Cedric Hudson, Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition & Perry County Commissioner
Sean Strickler, Alabama Rural Electric Association
Trip Horne, ALFA
Wayne Hutchens, AT&T
Dr. R. Mark Nelms, Auburn University
Katie Boyd Britt, Business Council of Alabama
Kelly Butler, Alabama Department of Finance
Fred Johnson, Farmers Teleco
Lindsay Rane Carter, Great Southern Wood
Abe Harper, Harper Technologies
Taylor Williams, PowerSouth
Jeremy Fisher, TVA
Dr. Eric Wallace, UAB
Andy Newton, Uniti Fiber
Dr. Curt Carver, University of Alabama
Bob Davis, Verizon

ADECA is also requesting voluntary information on broadband internet access and speed from residents and businesses. Alabamians are encouraged to take the speed survey here to help locate gaps in broadband service that can be addressed by expansion projects.

RELATED: Ivey awards 14 broadband grants — ‘COVID-19 pandemic compounded just how necessary these services are’

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

20 hours ago

UAB doctor shares her experience treating coronavirus patients in New York

(Gretchen Winter/Contributed, YHN)

As the coronavirus continues to sweep the country, New York City remains one of the areas most affected. A surge of patients left many hospitals understaffed and overwhelmed. One doctor at the?University of Alabama at Birmingham?saw this as an opportunity to answer the call to help.

Gretchen Winter, M.D., an assistant professor with UAB’s?Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, says her training in critical care and her current position during this time was a perfect combination to allow her to help in New York.

“I felt that I was put in my position with certain skills at this certain time, and I had to believe that was to fulfill the purpose of helping however I could,” Winter said. “I saw the physicians and patients in New York City struggling, and I knew I was able to help, so there wasn’t much of a question. There was a need I could fill, so that’s what I wanted to do.”

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Winter began her journey five weeks ago and has been treating patients at New York-Presbyterian?Weill?Cornell?Medical Center.

Winter says a typical day consists of walking a couple of blocks from her hotel to the hospital to be there at 7 a.m. She then spends her morning reviewing patients’ labs and examining patients, then completing rounds with a team of residents, physician assistants and a critical care fellow.

“We discuss each patient in detail and make plans for their treatment,” Winter said.?“The rest of the day is spent making those changes we discussed, adjusting ventilator settings to keep patients comfortable and to optimize their breathing, and putting out fires as they arise. I walk back to the hotel at 7 p.m. Once in my hotel room, I remove my shoes just inside the door and put all clothes and belongings on a ‘COVID’ shelf away from other things. Then I take a shower and wash my hair before venturing into the rest of the room. I normally eat dinner and do a little yoga then go to bed and repeat.”

The combined stress of treating sick patients, being away from home and dealing with the unknown is something that was hard to deal with at times, Winter says. But there were some bright moments.

“The best highs were extubating patients — removing them from the ventilator — and transferring them out of the ICU when they were stable,” Winter said. “And sometimes it was little things, like a patient who opened their eyes when I talked to them after weeks of being unresponsive. I was encouraged seeing people band together to help others, even when it wasn’t their typical role.”

Unfortunately, there was a lot of loss as well.

“Loss of life, loss of abilities, loss of time with loved ones,” said. “That was hard to watch and deal with day after day. It was also difficult being alone and isolated. When I wasn’t working, I was alone in a hotel room. I didn’t have my exercise equipment or my kitchen, so my personal health definitely struggled. I really missed my pets, and several of them were sick while I was gone and had to be taken to the vet and the hospital. It was hard not being there for them when they needed me. I know I was also needed here, but I felt like an inadequate ‘pet mom’ to not be with them when they were hurting.”

As a health care provider on the frontlines, Winter says there are a few things she wishes the public knew about COVID-19 that are not necessarily seen in the headlines.

“I hear people say that only the elderly and sick die from this disease,” she said. “They are incorrect. Yes, many of those who are dying are older or sicker; but I’ve had many young and previously healthy patients fighting for their lives on ventilators and maximal life support.”

After five weeks of treating patients in New York, Winter says she learned a lot during her time there.

“I definitely feel more equipped to treat patients with COVID-19,” Winter said. “I worked with so many people banding together to serve others, and that made me so hopeful. I worked with fellows from other specialties who came back to work as residents, and child life specialists who brought us snacks to lighten our mood, and nurses and physicians from different departments and locations all coming together to serve where needed. Seeing so many people pitch in however they were able was inspiring.”

But, there are also some things that will be hard to get past.

“I also left with a broken heart,” she said. “I am devastated for these patients and their loved ones. I am emotionally and physically exhausted after five weeks of long hours and repetitive loss. I am disheartened to see people gathered socially and refusing to wear masks. After seeing the havoc wrecked by this virus, it is hard for me to balance my hope from so many people helping with my anger at so many people who refuse to follow this guidance. I can only hope that these people will listen and learn. I’m happy to be coming home to help my patients in Alabama. We just really need people to do their part to help keep those patients and each other safe.”

Winter says she is honored to have had the opportunity to serve in New York, but does not want anyone to think she is a hero.

“The doctors and nurses and other hospital staff who have been working week after week long before I came deserve all the praise and the recognition,” Winter said. “These people fought tirelessly to save lives, not because there was publicity or recognition, but because it was the right thing to do. I am blessed to have served alongside them for a few weeks, and I am leaving a better person because I knew them.”

For more coronavirus information, visit?uab.edu/coronavirus.

(Courtesy of UAB)

20 hours ago

Dale Jackson: Palmer touts Trump’s COVID-19 response, but what now?

(Pixabay, White House/Flickr, YHN)

America is in the middle of a global pandemic right now.

Depending on who you ask, we are either in a resurgence, a second wave, or the first wave never ended.

Maybe it is more testing, maybe it is fewer people wearing a mask, and maybe there is nothing we can do.

There are a million thoughts flying around about COVID-19, where we are currently in the crisis, and where we are heading.

What is unquestionably true is that the American economy has taken an absolute beating and President Donald Trump was going to attempt to ride a booming economy, great job numbers and a strong stock market into a second term.

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The coronavirus pandemic changed that. Trump and his allies can now hardly point to 47.2 million unemployed claims in the last 14 weeks and claim success.

They can point to the pandemic and lay credible blame on that as the reason for the economic slide and hope for a rebound to push him over former Vice President Joe Biden, who barely has to leave his basement to jump in the polls.

When people talk about the pandemic damaging the economy, they are right, but then the argument jumps to “What did President Trump do to end the pandemic, blunt the impact of it, and help the nation recover?”

U.S. Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) was asked about this Thursday on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” and said the answer was “easy” to see.

According to Palmer, President Trump “shut down all travel between the U.S. and China, and then immediately after that shut it down between the U.S. and Europe,” and the people angry at him now criticized him for doing that early on.

Palmer is right.

Palmer emphasized, “The models were showing in March that we could have 1 million to 2 million, 2.2 million, people die from this.”

“The objective of the task force was to flatten the curve,” he said, adding that it was a “fantastic success.”

Palmer is right.

But what about now?

Now we are seeing record numbers in cases — not deaths — but cases. Deaths are dropping steadily due to better methods and the “flattening of the curve.”

Alabama saw multiple record days this week alone.

It almost appears that most Americans and the president himself are beyond this pandemic as if it is over. It’s not.

Hopefully, the number of deaths continues to decline, but if the cases continue to grow, it will be hard for the president to claim he has handled this issue effectively. This will cost him dearly in November.

It may be time for the president to reverse himself on the mask issue and declare the mask to be an essential part of both fighting this and getting him reelected.

Yes, on March 3 the authorities were wrong and lied (that is what it was) when they said masks don’t work to slow the spread because they didn’t want to see a run on masks.

That bad information persists to this day, and it could be deadly.

The latest estimate says that 30,000 people could be saved if we move towards more masks. A complacent society is not going to do that on its own.

President Trump could lead the way on this issue, and he should. It would be the best thing for the country and his reelection.

Listen:

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

20 hours ago

Alabama reports record-high one-day COVID-19 case number; Cities cancel more events

(Made in Alabama, Southern Research/Twitter, YHN)

The State of Alabama reported a record 1,129 new coronavirus cases on Thursday morning as many cities cancel events they had planned for the summer.

The record count reported Thursday by coronavirus database Bama Tracker represents the third straight day of increasing cases. The cases are widespread, too, with over 90% of Alabama’s counties reporting a new person infected.

Additionally, the cumulative percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive in Alabama has hovered around 8.6% since June 14, a number especially troubling to experts and much higher than the national average of 5.5%.

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The state has averaged somewhere between 6,200 and 6,900 tests per day during the same time period.

Dr. Scott Harris, head of the Alabama Department of Public Health, told MyNBC15 that the number of increased cases is not just because of increased testing.

The Cities of Mobile and Fairhope canceled their planned 4th of July fireworks celebrations on Thursday, citing a desire to avoid creating crowds of people.

The City of Decatur, which had previously canceled the local favorite Spirit of America celebration during the July 4 weekend, announced that Riverfest, the city’s barbecue festival, will be canceled as well; it had been scheduled for September.

Dozens of cities and locations around Alabama had canceled or altered their 4th of July celebrations before the most recent uptick in coronavirus cases.

(Bama Tracker/Screenshot)

According to the Bama Tracker, 880 Alabamians have died of COVID-19. Deaths often lag an increase in caseload by weeks or even months, according to experts. They are also reported irregularly to the central database, as they must be confirmed by the State first.

(Bama Tracker/Screenshot)

Alabama currently has 656 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Harris has said it is possible that “people protesting may have increased the risk of disease transmission.” He also believes some of the increased cases are due to people not taking proper precautions with regards to social distancing and hand washing.

A number of studies done recently have found that the most effective tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is wearing a face mask; a behavior encouraged by Dr. Harris, Governor Kay Ivey, Coaches Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn; and every doctor at Alabama’s hospitals.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email:?henry@yellowhammernews.com?or on Twitter?@HenryThornton95

21 hours ago

Red Cross performing free COVID-19 antibody test for Alabama blood donors

(Pixabay, YHN)

As part of a nationwide initiative, the Red Cross is performing a free COVID-19 antibody test for all blood donors in Alabama that give blood in upcoming weeks.

Antibody tests tell an individual if they had the coronavirus at some point in the past. Since June 15, all Red Cross donors who have given blood have received antibody results.

Experts say it is likely, but not certain, that those who have recovered from COVID-19 are immune to catching the virus again for some undetermined period.

The Red Cross says the free antibody test results will be available to donors “throughout the summer months.”

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State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and medical director of Transfusion Services at UAB Dr. Marisa Marques have both said that donating blood is a necessary service amid the pandemic and urged Alabamians who can to do so.

An average blood donation takes less than an hour from entering to leaving the facility.

The antibody tests are not limited to blood donors. A person giving platelets or plasma will be tested as well.

Results from the antibody tests are available with the Red Cross Blood Donor app or on RedCrossBlood.org about a week after the donation is completed.

The free antibody tests are being offered in all 50 states.

The Red Cross says that there is currently an “urgent need” for life-saving blood and platelet donations.

Locations where someone can donate blood are available in most cities across Alabama.

Those interested can find a local donation center here.

The Red Cross has assembled a webpage of information about its antibody testing program.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email:?henry@yellowhammernews.com?or on Twitter?@HenryThornton95

21 hours ago

Mo Brooks praises NASA renaming headquarters after ‘Hidden Figure’ Mary Jackson

(Congressman Mo Brooks/Facebook, NASA/Contributed, YHN)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) is a fan of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s decision to name the agency’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C., after Mary W. Jackson.

Jackson was NASA’s first African-American female engineer and a subject of the famed book and then movie, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.”

Bridenstine announced the renaming of NASA HQ on Wednesday. Brooks, whose district includes NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, applauded the move on Thursday in a statement.

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“Mary Jackson’s NASA career began in the segregated West Area Computing Unit where she and other African American women worked as ‘human computers’ and did calculations that contributed to NASA’s human space flight successes,” he outlined. “Later in her career, Jackson, the first African American female engineer at NASA, lead programs influencing the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers.”

The congressman noted that Jackson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal last year. The portion of E Street SW in front of NASA Headquarters was also renamed “Hidden Figures Way” in 2019.

Brooks concluded, “I love the Hidden Figures movie and book. They remind us of historical wrongs America must never revisit. Thank you NASA, and my friend NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, for recognizing Mary Jackson, a splendid example of American determination, intellect and patriotism!”

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

21 hours ago

USDA invests over $20M in rural broadband to help three towns in Alabama

(Pixabay, YHN)

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Thursday that $20,337,000 will be invested in rural broadband in the North Alabama area.

The money is coming in the form of a loan to Ardmore Telephone Company, which will install 435 miles of Fiber optic cable that will provide improved internet service in five rural towns.

The new infrastructure provided for by the loan will be split between Ardmore, New Market and Elkmont, AL.; and Minor Hill and McBurg, TN.

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(Google Maps/Screenshot)

The network installed by Ardmore Telephone Company will be a Fiber-to-the-Premises setup, meaning that consumers will have to see to the connection between their home and the newly installed fiber network on the street, a task which can usually be accomplished in communication with the internet provider.

All three towns are in U.S. Representative Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) district; two are in Limestone County and one is in Madison County.

“COVID19 highlights the need for more broadband access in America. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 31 percent of rural Americans do not have broadband access at home. During the pandemic, school children without broadband access have been unable to attend classes digitally or complete online homework assignments. Adults have been similarly hamstrung in an increasingly digital economy. I’m pleased the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping bring broadband to the Tennessee Valley. While it is only a little at a time, every improvement is progress that makes America stronger,” Brooks told Yellowhammer News.

USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand said in a release that her department “is committed to using all available tools and resources to increase e-Connectivity across rural America because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

One of Alabama’s most vocal advocates for rural broadband, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), commented, “I’m pleased to see that the USDA, under Secretary Perdue‘s leadership, continues to expand rural broadband across our state and our country. Connecting all of America to reliable, high speed internet has been a driving mission of mine and it is more important now than ever before.”

The $20 million coming to the North Alabama area is part of a nearly $87 million package that will benefit rural Americans in eight states.

U.S. Rep Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) called the announcement “Great news for the state of Alabama!” in a tweet on Thursday.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email:?henry@yellowhammernews.com?or on Twitter?@HenryThornton95

22 hours ago

Saban, Alabama football players film racial justice PSA — ‘All lives can’t matter until black lives matter’

(Alabama Football/Twitter)

The University of Alabama football program on Thursday afternoon released a video featuring several players and head coach Nick Saban voicing their support for racial equality and justice.

Written by Alex Leatherwood, the Crimson Tide’s All-American offensive guard, the video is just over two minutes long.

Players and Saban speak directly into the camera throughout, each person shown in an individual frame but often finishing someone else’s sentence.

Quarterback Mac Jones, wide receiver Devonta Smith, linebacker Dylan Moses and wide receiver/returner Jaylen Waddle are included in the group of players featured in the video.

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“In this moment in history, we can’t be silent,” Saban says near the middle of the video. “We must speak up for our brothers and sisters, for our sons and daughters.”

The famed coach and players in the video take a vocal stand against racism, brutality and violence while advocating for justice, understanding and unity.

Multiple players, including Jones, conclude the video by emphasizing, “All lives can’t matter until black lives matter.”

Watch:

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

24 hours ago

Byrne: ‘All of us are created in the image of God’

(Rep. Byrne/YouTube)

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) on Thursday took to the floor of the United States House of Representatives regarding the state of race relations and the justice system in America.

In his powerful remarks, Byrne called upon Congress to pass meaningful and bipartisan law enforcement reform legislation. The Republican congressman from Southwest Alabama is an original cosponsor of the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act originally introduced by U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC).

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked consideration of the JUSTICE Act. U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) joined two of his Democratic Caucus colleagues in voting with Republicans to invoke cloture on the bill.

In addition to Byrne, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and U.S. Reps. Martha Roby (AL-02), Mike Rogers (AL-03), Robert Aderholt (AL-04) and Gary Palmer (AL-06) have cosponsored the JUSTICE Act.

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Watch Byrne’s Thursday floor speech:

Byrne’s remarks as follows:

I’ve spoken out against racism from this floor before, but under the present regrettable circumstances I feel compelled to do so again.

All of us are created in the image of God and are of equal and inestimable moral worth. All of us. There are no exceptions. Both St. Peter and St. Paul spoke out against prejudice. Our Declaration of Independence states plainly that we are all created equal. Our laws require equality of treatment and opportunity.

It is a fact that we betrayed this ideal when our country was founded when we tolerated slavery, an immoral human practice which in this country was carried out by whites against blacks. It took nearly 90 years after our founding to erase this blot when we passed the 13th Amendment. It also took a civil war which cost 600,000 lives.

Even then we didn’t grant black people true equality. For the next 100 years they endured Jim Crow laws in the South, de facto segregation in the rest of the country, violence, and inequality in everything from schools to jobs. They had to win equality for themselves by bravely marching, protesting, and using every peaceful method they could find in the Civil Rights Movement. They gradually won key court cases. And, finally, this House and the Senate passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and in 1965 the Voting Rights Act.

But laws don’t change hearts, and we are still walking the path toward ridding this nation of the scourge of racism. As I have watched COVID work its will in my district I have been distraught to see its disproportionate effect on the health and lives of the 1/3 of my constituents who are black, on black workers and business owners who suddenly and through no fault of their own lost their jobs and businesses, and on black children who lost months of their education which they badly need.

The Chief of Police in Mobile, the urban center of my district, is Lawrence Battiste, a 27-year veteran of law enforcement, and yes, a black man. We had a Sunday afternoon of protests a few weeks ago and I watched as he, and the officers under his direction, carried out their duties with professionalism and character. Character. I use that word because it’s so important right now, and because I have long admired Dr. King’s statement that we shouldn’t be judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character.

I’m proud of Chief Battiste and his officers, but they aren’t the only professionals performing their duties under extraordinarily difficult circumstances and with character. There are many, many law enforcement officers around this country who are truly public servants, and they deserve our respect and our support.

We in this House can disagree on the appropriate policies to pursue to achieve justice and right the wrong of continuing inequality. But, there is no disagreement that racism is wrong, is morally repugnant. And there is also no disagreement that doing nothing in the face of continuing racism isn’t acceptable.

We in this House need to work together, not in parallel partisan efforts. This House came together to pass the CARES Act earlier this year. Surely, we can come together to pass meaningful and bipartisan law enforcement reform legislation that will actually go to the President and become law. I wish we would address more funding for community health centers so that poor people, and especially people of color, would have better access to primary care which should help equalize health outcomes. I also wish we would take up education choice legislation so that minority children have the same opportunities for quality education as their peers from families with the means to pay for better schools.

We’re capable of so much more in this country but only if we remember that one of the stated purposes of our Constitution is to “create a more perfect union.” That’s not a one and done thing, it’s a generation after generation thing. It’s time to unite in this body and do the hard work of this generation. Let’s do it for the Lawrence Battistes out there. Let’s do it for our children and grandchildren. And let’s do it because that will reveal the content of our national character, which is far more important than the color of our skins.

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

1 day ago

Alabama initial unemployment claims continue to mount at steady pace

(Pixabay, YHN)

The Alabama Department of Labor on Thursday released the latest weekly data on initial unemployment claims filed in the state.

Covering last week, June 14 — 20, the data showed that 18,671 initial claims were filed during the period. According to the Department of Labor, 11,311 of those claims are COVID-19 related.

This was a marginal uptick from the week prior, which saw 18,367 total initial claims filed.

While the rate of initial claims has generally tracked downwards since peaking the week ending April 4, last week’s number of initial claims still equals more than 10x the amount of initial claims filed in Alabama the week ending March 14, before the pandemic ravaged the state’s then-booming economy.

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Historical table of weekly initial claims as follows:

3/14/2020 — 1,824
3/21/2020 — 10,982
3/28/2020 — 80,984
4/4/2020 — 106,739
4/11/2020 — 77,515
4/18/2020 — 66,432
4/25/2020 — 74,966
5/2/2020 — 28,985
5/9/2020 — 26,666
5/16/2020 — 25,150
5/23/2020 — 27,920
5/30/2020 — 21,335
6/6/2020 — 19,950
6/13/2020 — 18,367
6/20/2020 — 18,671

For the week ending June 20, Jefferson County had the largest number of initial claims (2,815), followed by Mobile (2,058), Montgomery (1,439) and Madison (1,140) Counties. You can view a county-by-county breakdown here.

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

Alabama red snapper season to end early

(D. Rainer/Contributed)

The State of Alabama announced this week that the 2020 red snapper season will close for private anglers on July 3, which is 16 days earlier than planned.

The decision to close early was made by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), which has calculated that the state will catch its limit on snapper earlier than expected.

Scott Bannon, director of ADCNR’s Marine Resources Division, said the state develops the dates for the season based on “historical weather information and fishing effort.”

He added that because Alabama has experienced “almost ideal fishing conditions” every weekend this year except during Tropical Storm Cristobal, the quota is being met earlier than planned.

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“The number of vessel trips during the past two seasons averaged 527 trips per day. So far during the 2020 season, the average has been 822 vessel trips per day. When there are more people fishing we reach the quota sooner,” explained Bannon.

Information provided by the department shows that Alabama anglers had pulled in 842,000 of the 1.1 million pound red snapper quota as of June 22.

“I am disappointed that we will not be able to harvest red snapper during the full Fourth of July weekend or during the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. Like many, my family had plans to do both,” lamented ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship.

The federal charter season for red snapper is unaffected by the recently announced change in Alabama. Federally licensed charter vessels may continue to fish for red snapper out of Alabama waters, which extend nine miles from Alabama’s coast.

Blankenship added, “[T]he red snapper management plan sets the red snapper quota allocated to Alabama, as well as the other Gulf states. We are required under the management plan to adjust to changes in the recreational fishery to ensure we do not exceed our quota.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email:?henry@yellowhammernews.com?or on Twitter?@HenryThornton95

1 day ago

7 Things: Obama and Biden targeted Flynn, Alabama Dems want to repeal Memorial Preservation Act, Senate Dems don’t want to discuss police reform and more …

(YHN)

7. Oh no, please, let me go to New York

  • Alabama has officially made the list of states (along with Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas) that three Northeastern governors have declared must quarantine for 14 days if they are going to travel to their states.
  • New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have banded together to block these citizens, even though this move is completely unenforceable and leaves out a current hot spot like California.

6. More Republican politicians are coming around on masks

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  • As COVID-19 cases continue to grow throughout the country, Republican officials across the country are finding themselves calling for masks to be worn, although not required.?
  • U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) says, “Everyone should just wear the damn mask.” Last week, Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has reversed his position blocking cities from implementing mask bans. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) also wants GOP convention-goers to wear masks when the Republican National Convention comes to Jacksonville.

5. Secretary of State Merrill says Democrats are inflaming racial tensions

  • Recently, the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State released an ad that reinforces the idea that requiring a photo ID and other ballot laws are “rooted in white supremacy,” but Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is pushing back against this narrative.?
  • With Merrill as chair of the Republican Secretaries of State Committee, the record number of voters registered throughout the state while he’s been in office is being used as an example against this narrative. Merrill said, “Democrats are spreading lies and inflaming racial tensions at a time when our country most needs unity, Republicans are leading by example and giving citizens a voice and an opportunity to exercise their right to vote.”

4. Democrats oppose police reform

  • The police reform bill that was led by Republicans failed in the U.S. Senate when it was voted down by Democrats. The vote to start a debate was 55-45, with only three Democrats, including U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), voting with Republicans.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said “our Democratic colleagues are poised to turn this routine step into a partisan impasse,” but the main differences between the Republican and Democrat bills were that Democrats want to outright ban chokeholds, while Republicans want a ban unless an officer’s life is being threatened. Also, Democrats want to end qualified immunity.?

3. State Rep. Hall demands monument everyone agrees should be removed must be removed

  • State Representative Laura Hall (D-Huntsville) went to the Madison County Courthouse to advocate for the removal of the Confederate monument that stands outside, and as it’s up to the Madison County Commission, Hall voiced concern “about the commission’s commitment to move forward.”
  • The commission has decided to request permission to remove the monument, but since it’s over 40 years old it’s illegal to remove due to the 2017 Memorial Preservation Act and removal would result in a $25,000 fine. While Hall has called this law “unjust,” Commissioner JesHenry Malone is asking for people to be patient as they work through the legalities of having the state moved.

2. Repeal the Memorial Preservation Act?

  • House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) has previously spoken out against the state funding of the Confederate Memorial Park, and now he’s called on the state to remove the Confederate flag from State Trooper uniforms and repeal the 2017 Memorial Preservation Act.?
  • Daniels explained that he supports “fully repealing the 2017 preservation act” and very plainly explained that “it would make me feel good to remove the Confederate statues or any semblance of Confederacy in general.” He also said there needs to be more comprehension of what the Civil War was all about, and questioned how do we change “the hearts and minds of the people that are governing this state.”

1. Flynn case dismissed, Obama/Biden implicated

  • After being requested by the Justice Department and a ruling from a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has been dismissed by a lower court on the same day it was revealed that former President Barack Obama and his Vice President Joe Biden pushed for his investigation even after disgraced former FBI Director James Comey told them that the Flynn call with the Russians was “legit.”
  • The direct order was for “Flynn’s petition for a writ of mandamus be granted in part; the District Court is directed to grant the government’s … motion to dismiss; and the District Court’s order appointing an amicus is hereby vacated as moot, in accordance with the opinion of the court filed herein this date.” President Donald Trump has called this decision “Great!” but the judge still seems unlikely to make a move.
2 days ago

Dothan mayor among string of endorsements for Jeff Coleman’s campaign for Congress

(Jeff Coleman for Congress, Mayor Mark Saliba/Facebook, YHN)

Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba endorsed businessman Jeff Coleman’s campaign for Congress on Tuesday. The Circle City mayor is the most high-profile in a string of endorsements received by the Coleman campaign in recent days.

In a statement provided by the campaign announcing the endorsement, Saliba called Coleman “a community leader, successful businessman, father, and husband,” adding he is “a proven and prudent leader who will get results.”

Mayor Ed Beasley of Luverne announced his support of the businessman on Monday, and the state Automobile Dealers Association followed in kind on Wednesday.

Coleman is currently in a Republican primary runoff against former State Representative Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) to be the party’s nominee for Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

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Saliba was first elected in 2017 and was a familiar name in the city before that. He runs the prominent construction firm Alfred Saliba Corporation, which was started by his father. Saliba’s father also served as Dothan’s mayor from 1989-1997.

Coleman commented on the endorsement, saying, “I am honored to have the endorsement of my hometown mayor, Mayor Mark Saliba. He has been a tremendous leader for our city, and I am excited to work with him to continue the great progress.”

Dothan is the largest city in Alabama’s Wiregrass region, with a population of just under 70,000 individuals. It is the largest municipality with the entirety of its city limits in the Second Congressional District.

Beasley said Coleman “is a strong candidate for Congress.”

He added, “I know that he will represent our district and ensure that our voice is heard in Washington.”

“I want to thank Mayor Ed Beasley for his endorsement of my candidacy to become your next Congressman,” responded Coleman, adding that believes Beasley is a “great public servant.”

Luverne is the county seat of Crenshaw County and has a population just shy of 3,000.

President of the Automobile Dealers Association of Alabama Tom Dart remarked, “Jeff Coleman will be a strong pro-business leader that Congress needs,” and continued on to say that he believes “Auto dealers across the district and Alabama as a whole will benefit from [Coleman’s] leadership.”

“It is a true honor to have the support from auto dealers across our great district,” replied Coleman to the endorsement.

Coleman will face Barry Moore at the ballot box on July 14.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email:?henry@yellowhammernews.com?or on Twitter?@HenryThornton95

2 days ago

AL-01 candidates allege Club for Growth asked them to oppose bills benefitting their district

(Jerry Carl for Congress, Bill Hightower for Alabama, Pringle for Congress, Wes Lambert for Alabama/Facebook, YHN)

A potential flashpoint emerged on Wednesday in the Republican primary runoff in Alabama’s First Congressional District.

Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl is facing former State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) in the highly competitive race.

Hightower has been endorsed by the Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth’s political arm in the contest. As of last week, Club had already spent more than $1 million this cycle in support of Hightower’s bid; additionally, Club’s donor network has directly given hundreds of thousands more to Hightower’s campaign, per FEC filings.

On Wednesday, Carl posted on his personal Facebook page sharing his experience speaking with Club for Growth officials.

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“Months ago, Club for Growth interviewed all the candidates in this congressional election, and they asked all of us if they could count on us to vote against Austal’s Littoral Combat Ship contract,” Carl said. “That’s right – we were asked to promise them we would vote against the 4000 jobs at Austal shipyard! I told them I’m not their guy, and I walked out of the interview. I’m not sure what my opponent told them, but there’s no way I could vote against 4000 jobs and the families they support here in the 1st District. No election win is that important to me.”

In an interview with FM Talk 1065’s Sean Sullivan later that day, Hightower said Club representatives have never asked him about voting against Austal.

Sullivan brought up the notion that Club had a “litmus test” in gauging who they would support that included opposition to Austal, as well as items such as the Farm Bill.

“That’s a lie,” Hightower responded. “That’s, that’s not, I don’t know where that’s come from.”

“When I was there, and I was interviewed and Mr. Carl was interviewed, I was asked nothing about Austal at all,” he continued. “I’ve been a firm supporter of Austal. I was with them on the phone today talking about how I’m going to help them when I get in the U.S. Congress. I’ve helped them before on their dredge projects. I’ve been an avid supporter of Austal along the way.”

Hightower further called the assertion by Carl regarding Club’s vetting process “a distraction.”

However, after Hightower’s radio interview, the third- and fourth-place finishers in the AL-01 GOP primary both responded to Carl’s original Facebook post saying that they had also been asked litmus test type questions by Club for Growth.

Local businessman Wes Lambert wrote, “I met with Club for Growth the last week of July 2019 before the defense budget vote. They asked me how I would vote and I told them I would vote for the bill. Austal is very important to our district and they need to continue to build great ships for our Navy. Club is against military spending so I was not [their] candidate.”

State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) advised that Carl “speaks the truth” on the matter.

“The Club for Growth interviewed me and asked if I would vote against important legislation for South Alabama like the Farm Bill and the National Flood Insurance Bill,” Pringle added. “When I said ‘no’ to both, they told me those were the wrong answers. They don’t care about our district and they are actively working against the best interests of our citizens. We can’t trust this DC big money group or let them dictate who we should elect as our next congressman! They don’t like Jerry because he will do what is right for the district, regardless of what big money special interest groups like Club for Growth think.”

Both Lambert and Pringle endorsed Carl following the March primary election, as did Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) recently.

Byrne also weighed into the Club for Growth controversy on social media on Wednesday.

Sharing Carl’s original post, Byrne wrote, “This is incredibly troubling. Southwest Alabama needs a Congressman who is fighting for us, not doing the bidding of D.C. special interests. We should all be concerned about any D.C. special interest group spending thousands and thousands of dollars to win OUR House seat. I know Jerry Carl won’t let these special interests control him. That’s why I’m voting for Jerry on July 14th!”

Club for Growth heavily opposed Byrne’s run for the U.S. Senate this cycle, targeting him with negative ads ahead of Byrne finishing third behind former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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

2 days ago

Aderholt applauds NASA renaming headquarters after ‘Hidden Figure’ Mary Jackson

(NASA/Contributed, YHN)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Wednesday announced that the agency’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C., will be named after Mary W. Jackson, NASA’s first African-American female engineer and a subject of the famed book and then movie, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.”

Jackson, who passed away in 2005, was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal last year. The portion of E Street SW in front of NASA Headquarters was also renamed “Hidden Figures Way” in 2019.

“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space. Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology,” Bridenstine said in a statement.

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“Today, we proudly announce the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building. It appropriately sits on ‘Hidden Figures Way,’ a reminder that Mary is one of many incredible and talented professionals in NASA’s history who contributed to this agency’s success,” he continued. “Hidden no more, we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have helped construct NASA’s successful history to explore.”

Jackson began her illustrious NASA career in 1951. From 1979-1985, she?served in the Federal Women’s Program at NASA’s Langley Research Center, where she worked hard to address the hiring and promotion of the next generation of female mathematicians, engineers and scientists. This included paving the way for many employees who went on to work at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), a staunch supporter of NASA, STEM education and Alabama’s aerospace industry, told Yellowhammer News in a statement, “One of the great things about a national space program is its ability to inspire and unify us across lines of division. I am happy to see Mary Jackson and the fellow workers she represents receive recognition for their critical work. Support for STEM education is important and is one of the most bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill.”

RELATED: Gary Palmer honors the late NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson on House floor

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

2 days ago

Brooks calls statehood for Washington, D.C. a ‘sham & power grab’

(Congressman Mo Brooks/Facebook)

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) announced he will vote “no” on a measure in favor of statehood for Washington, D.C. this week, and issued a statement expounding on why he thinks it is a bad idea.

“I will NEVER vote to give Washington, D.C. separate statehood status. Washington, D.C. is a CITY, not a state,” began Brooks.

Pushing for statehood has become an increasingly popular topic within the Democratic Party in recent years. Advocates say it would give a population larger than Vermont and Wyoming their own U.S. Senators, which D.C. residents currently lack.

Brooks believes the push for D.C. statehood is instead an attempt by Democrats to increase their power in the capitol, calling it a “sham & power grab” in a news release.

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“Socialist Democrats don’t care one twit about D.C. residents voting on U.S. Senators, rather, their goal is two more guaranteed Socialist Democrat Senators,” commented Brooks on Wednesday.

The North Alabama representative detailed a solution he thought was fair.

“If D.C. residents want to vote on U.S. Senators, fine. That can be done by following historical precedence and giving the residential portion of D.C. back to Maryland, keeping the federal government portion (Capitol, White House, monuments, the Mall, federal buildings, and the like) in D.C.,” offered Brooks.

Presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden came out in favor of statehood for D.C. in February, and it was a plank in the party’s platform during the 2016 election.

The bill on which Brooks voted no, H.R. 51, is scheduled for a vote before the full House of Representatives on Friday, where the Democrat-led chamber is expected to vote in favor.

“I will never vote to give a single, middling-size city the same political power as one of America’s 50 states,” concluded Brooks.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email:?henry@yellowhammernews.com?or on Twitter?@HenryThornton95

2 days ago

Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

(Senator Doug Jones, TVA/Facebook, YHN)

In the nation’s current hyper-partisan atmosphere, one might not expect U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to be fighting on the same side of an issue. However, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has seemingly managed to bridge the divide between political parties, even in a presidential election year.

As reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the TVA earlier this year announced it would outsource one out of every five of its information technology jobs, totaling 120 in-house IT jobs being cut. These cuts went into effect as the coronavirus pandemic slammed the American economy, and corresponding layoffs have continued recently.

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This was the subject of a protest Tuesday in Huntsville attended by some affected employees as well as Matt Biggs, the secretary-treasurer of the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE); Gay Henson, president of IFPTE 1937, the local chapter representing the laid off workers in the Tennessee Valley; and Sessions.

RELATED: Sessions decries TVA efforts to outsource IT jobs amid economic downturn

Jones had a statement read aloud at the event and also sent the same statement out to the media in support of the cause.

“I stand with the Engineering Association today — and every day — as they watch their jobs outsourced to a foreign company in the middle of a pandemic,” Jones stated.

“The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was formed to help grow this country’s middle class and bring the American economy out of the Great Depression,” he continued. “Clearly, the TVA has lost its way. It is unconscionable that they would send American jobs overseas, especially when so many folks are struggling and out of work in the worst public health crisis of our lifetimes. We need to do all we can to protect lives and livelihoods during this difficult time, and the TVA must reconsider this reckless decision.”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

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

2 days ago

Merrill: ‘Democrats are spreading lies and inflaming racial tensions at a time when our country most needs unity’

(John Merrill/Twitter)

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill is pushing back against claims by Democrats that working to prevent voter fraud is “suppressing black voices and votes.”

A video ad released this week by the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State asserted that Republican-backed balloting laws, including voter ID requirements, are “rooted in white supremacy.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, chairman of the national Democratic group, told The Washington Post, “Modern-day voter suppression policies may no longer include poll taxes and literacy tests, but the disproportionate adverse impact of voter-ID laws, purging of voter rolls and felony disenfranchisement on communities of color is no coincidence.”

A Wednesday release from the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) sought to rebut the “false – and frankly, disturbing – narrative” that GOP election officials upholding laws that safeguard the integrity of American elections is an act of racism or voter suppression.

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Merrill is chair of the Republican Secretaries of State Committee (RSSC), a caucus of the RSLC. The release pointed to Merrill’s efforts in Alabama as a prime example of?Republican secretaries of state across the nation helping to break records in voter registration and voter participation, as well as ensuring that every legal vote is counted.

Last week, Merrill’s office announced the State of Alabama has topped 3.6 million registered voters, once again establishing a new record. In visiting all 67 counties annually to register voters and issue free photo IDs, his office has made a concerted effort to promote voter registration and voter participation.

Under Merrill’s leadership, Alabama has now registered 1,536,778 new voters since January 19, 2015, and the state record has risen to 3,602,951 registered voters in total, per information released Wednesday. While having the toughest voter ID law in the nation, which has already withstood significant judicial scrutiny in multiple lawsuits, Merrill’s office has also broken every record for voter participation in the past five Yellowhammer State elections.

“These numbers are unprecedented and unparalleled in the history for any state in the republic during the same period of time, and I am proud of our work to promote participation in the democratic process,” stated Merrill last week.

“Voting is easier than ever before in the state of Alabama, and the numbers alone prove that,” Merrill added in a Wednesday statement. “While Democrats are spreading lies and inflaming racial tensions at a time when our country most needs unity, Republicans are leading by example and giving citizens a voice and an opportunity to exercise their right to vote.”

The RSLC also pointed to Kentucky as another example of Republican leadership overseeing voting milestones. With Secretary of State Michael Adams (R-KY) in office, the state in January?broke its record for total number of registered voters.

RSLC president Austin Chambers stated, “If Democrats want to get to the bottom of voter suppression, they ought to take a long look in the mirror because it’s in the states and communities where they are responsible for administering elections that voters are forced to endure the long lines and confusing, ever-changing rules. The hypocrisy on the left is truly astonishing – and the liberal media’s willingness to obscure the facts is equally as pitiful. Republicans are getting the job done, ensuring that Americans can practice their right to vote with full confidence that the integrity of their elections is never compromised. Democrats may want to sow doubt in our elections – but we sure as hell won’t.”

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

2 days ago

Sessions decries TVA efforts to outsource IT jobs amid economic downturn — ‘Essentially looking to get’ a lower cost of workers

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

HUNTSVILLE — During a press conference on Tuesday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a candidate in the July 14 GOP primary runoff for the party’s U.S. Senate nomination, railed against efforts from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to outsource IT jobs.

According to reports, the TVA announced in January it planned to outsource one out of every five of its information technology jobs, resulting in 120 in-house IT jobs being cut as the economy faced headwinds due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sessions called it a big mistake, adding the prospects for employment for those laid off were “slim” given the economy.

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“I think it is a big mistake, and I think we need to fight back, and I was so proud of the president last night when he canceled some of the work visa programs,” Sessions said. “Let me just say, we admit 1.2 million people every year in this country, permanent legal residents. We have another 4.1 million that are coming not to be permanent residents but to take jobs in this economy. The problem is we don’t have any jobs in this economy. We have 13% unemployment, record unemployment in this country. And the last thing we need to be doing is bringing in white-collar jobs from abroad to deny college graduates, even high school graduates, deny so many people who are actually working these jobs — putting them out of this market.”

“Imagine if you were one of those people being laid off today, what are your job prospects with 13% unemployment?” he continued. “They’re slim. Are they going to be on welfare, food stamps, unemployment compensation? The TVA doesn’t have to worry about that. They are essentially looking to get, as so many of these other companies, a lower cost of workers.”

Sessions also took a shot at his primary runoff opponent, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, who he said based on past statements left much to be desired on this issue.

@Jeff_Poor?is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of?Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s?Lagniappe Weekly?and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m.?on WVNN.

2 days ago

Doug Jones votes against another Trump judicial nominee; Shelby votes to confirm

(Senator Doug Jones, Senator Richard Shelby/Facebook, White House/Flickr, YHN)

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm Cory Wilson to the influential?U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

All Democrats, including U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), voted against this nominee of President Donald J. Trump.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) voted to confirm Wilson, who became the 200th federal judge confirmed during Trump’s presidency.

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The Wednesday confirmation vote came after Republicans voted on Monday to invoke cloture and end debate on the matter. Jones also voted against cloture.

Previously, Jones has voted against other important Trump judicial nominees. This includes Jones “nay” votes on confirming Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh and twice voting against confirming?a fellow Alabamian,?Judge Andrew Brasher. Brasher is now on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

RELATED: Watch: Doug Jones calls question about his opposition to Trump judges ‘dumb’

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

2 days ago

Marshall sends letter to Congress urging leadership to help tone down anti-police language

(Hal Yeager/Governor's Office)

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall wrote a letter to congressional leadership in recent days asking to help put a stop to the anti-police discourse he believes is endangering the lives of law enforcement officers.

Marshall’s letter was signed by 10 additional Republican attorneys general, including those in Texas and Ohio.

He believes that “when myths about the police are not strongly repudiated by our nation’s leaders, law-enforcement officers lose their lives.”

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Marshall begins the letter by acknowledging “[t]he tragic and preventable death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers shined a national spotlight on bad actors within the law-enforcement profession.”

In contrast to where the national discussion has leaned in the weeks since, Marshall argues that the “data simply does not support claims that law enforcement is systemically racist or structurally biased.”

Alabama’s attorney general pointed congressional leadership to a database compiled by the Washington Post that shows 14 unarmed black Americans were killed by police in 2019, down from 38 in 2015, and cites an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that argues in part the number should be lower.

Marshall says that in 2016 the United States saw a similar “national campaign against law enforcement” to what the country is experiencing currently.

He points readers to a study written about at National Public Radio that shows the number of police officers shot and killed in the line of duty rose 56% in 2016 as compared to the year before.

In concluding, Marshall argues, “Individuals, including members of Congress, are dangerously fanning the flames of emotion by tacitly or explicitly supporting the ‘Defund the Police’ (or worse) movement.”

He urges congressional leaders to put a stop to the rhetoric and says he and his fellow attorneys general will always “stand with law enforcement.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email:?henry@yellowhammernews.com?or on Twitter?@HenryThornton95