Month: February 2018

VIDEO: Human trafficking victim shares heartbreaking AND inspiring story at Alabama Human Trafficking Summit

[caption id="attachment_64665" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Lynne Caffery, Executive Director of Safe Harbor Youth (Yellowhammer News/Youtube)[/caption]   Human trafficking survivor Lynne Caffery said she was “sold and given and resold and given to males and females for merchandise and guns and drugs and raped repeatedly” as a trafficked victim of a biker group and the Mexican cartel before landing in prison and, eventually, finding hope, education and a new life. Caffery told Yellowhammer News her difficult journey led her to her life’s passion -- helping young people as executive director of Safe Harbor Youth, which provides a transitional living program for youth ages 16-22 years old “who have run away from home, are neglected, homeless, living on the streets, or victims of human trafficking,” according to the organization’s website. Alabama Human Trafficking Summit Caffery was one of more than 20 state and national experts spanning church ministry, law enforcement, government, education, non-profit, technology and legal sectors who presented this month at the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force’s fourth annual summit held in Montgomery. WATCH Caffery share her story of hope in this 3-minute video by Chason Smitherman, Sr.: https://youtu.be/k70IlyyTLAI   Link between pornography and human trafficking This year’s summit was the largest-to-date and explored the link between pornography and human trafficking among other focus areas, according to organizers. “Due to [pornography’s] growing role in fueling sex traffickers, we brought Lisa Thompson of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) down from D.C. to present this emerging subject matter,” said David Pinkleton, fundraising…

See where Alabama ranks among most sinful states (you’ll be surprised)

[caption id="attachment_64629" align="aligncenter" width="800"] (Wikicommons)[/caption]     Forget red states vs. blue states. The real battle is between sin states vs. saint states. And Alabama’s halo is looking a bit tarnished, at least according to a compilation by the website WalletHub of the most sinful states in the union. Alabama is ... No. 11. WalletHub compiled its list by collecting and measuring publically available data from 38 different metrics across seven categories: anger and hatred, jealousy, excess and vices, greed, lust, vanity, and laziness. Our neighbor to the south, Florida, was the biggest sinner topping the list with bad marks for jealousy, vanity, lust, and laziness. Georgia was fifth overall, Tennessee sixth and Mississippi was 16th. The biggest saint? No, it wasn’t Utah. It was Vermont, even though it tops the list as having the worst drug problem (that would explain why they keep electing Bernie Sanders ... they’re all high!). Alabama’s ranking within individual "sin" categories: -- Anger and hatred: No. 9 (violent crime statistics, sex offenders, bullying, etc.). -- Jealousy: No. 14 (theft and fraud). -- Excess and vices: No. 9 (obesity levels, excessive drinking, smoking, drug abuse, etc.). -- Greed: No. 33 (charitable donations, casinos per capita, gambling addiction) -- Lust: No. 7 (teenage mothers, pornography use). -- Vanity: No. 33 (beauty salons per capita, Google searches for plastic surgery, money spent on cosmetics) -- Laziness: No. 5 (exercise rate, hours worked, high school graduation rate, etc.) Time to put that smartphone down, y’all, and get back…

Alabama State Senate candidate talks school shootings, #MeToo and the AEA

[caption id="attachment_64517" align="aligncenter" width="800"] (Mary Scott Hunter for State Senate)[/caption]   Yellowhammer News recently sat down with Alabama School Board member and State Senate candidate Mary Scott Hunter to talk about hot-button topics like school shootings, the #MeToo movement, what she thinks of the Alabama Education Association (AEA), and why she prefers to be thought of as a "candidate", not a "female candidate". Hunter is running in the Republican Primary against Sam Givhan to replace retiring State Sen. Paul Sanford, whose North Alabama district includes much of the City of Huntsville and rural parts of Madison County. The primary will be held on June 5. YELLOWHAMMER: What should schools do to protect students from school shootings? Mary Scott Hunter: I think all serious problems that require an “all hands” approach should be attacked internally and externally. Externally, there are lots of ways to make a school safer. You must think in terms of making a school and those within it harder to target for a would-be killer. So, think about things like construction techniques that use a locked atrium system for visitor entry and making classrooms “safe rooms” with locking systems. We should do student and teacher training in “Run, Hide, Fight,” and consider deputizing, training, and arming teachers because this acts as a deterrent to bad guys. Last year I visited a Limestone County school systrem that is currently utilizing a system for teachers who open a box attached to a wall in their classroom in an active shooter…

Hey you Lindsey Vonn haters: Y’all are acting awful

[caption id="attachment_63822" align="aligncenter" width="800"] (NBC Sports/YouTube)[/caption] (Opinion) Last night my wife and I sat in our living room with our children, cheering Lindsey Vonn as she skied down the mountain in what’s probably her last Olympic Games, capturing the Bronze. Talent. Tenacity. Dedication. Pride. It’s times like Vonn’s run that makes my family, and Americans everywhere, love the Olympics. But ... a bunch of trolls tried to ruin everything by acting, well, trollish. While my family was cheering and sharing a great moment in sports history, other Americans were lighting up Twitter with cruel comments about Vonn, wishing she’d lose and even ridiculing her third-place finish. I won’t do their comments any favors by repeating them here (search Twitter or Google if you dare), but they were vicious, childish, and I’ll even say ... un-American. So why all the hate? Vonn said some disparaging things about President Donald Trump earlier in the games. So what? Who cares what she says? I only care about how well she performs and how many additions she adds to our nation’s medal count. Sure, I’d rather our athletes avoid making political statements during the games, especially since they’re overseas. I’d actually rather them avoid making political statements altogether, here or there. But come on, rooting against someone competing under our flag? That crosses a line, brother. I get it. People are sick of hearing these athletes sound off about politics. I am, too. But I’m also sick of hearing everyone else sound off about…

VIDEO: That time Billy Graham held a massive Birmingham revival

[caption id="attachment_63788" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Billy Graham's 1964 revival in Birmingham (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)[/caption]   The beloved American evangelist Billy Graham passed away at his home in North Carolina Wednesday at the age of 99, leaving a life-long legacy of preaching, teaching and evangelism that earned him the nickname "America's Pastor." In 1964, Graham offered to bring his team to Birmingham after the 1963 bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four African-American girls. He made it clear he would not preach a Birmingham crusade if the meetings were segregated, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Graham's revival drew the largest integrated audience in Birmingham's history at that time. WATCH this powerful clip: https://youtu.be/FbXA0It4n8s   Graham returned to preach a crusade at Legion Field in Birmingham in 1972. More than 373,000 attended the week-long event.   [caption id="attachment_63776" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Billy Graham in Birmimgham, 1972 (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)[/caption] (Have you ever been to a Billy Graham crusade? What are your thoughts on Graham's legacy?)

California businessman: ‘Why can’t we be more like Alabama?’

    A businessman in California recently published an op-ed in that state’s Orange County Register telling his fellow residents, “Why California should be more like Alabama — seriously.” Tom Manzo, president of Timely Industries in Pacoima, Calif., and founder of the California Business and Industrial Alliance, was inspired to write the piece after Toyota-Mazda announced their $1.6 billion plant in Huntsville last month. “Alabama beats California,” Manzo wrote. “And no, I’m not talking about college football.” He noted how many in the Golden State would “bristle” at the notion of becoming more like Alabama, but that we’re doing things right in the Heart of Dixie. Key graphs: “Fifteen states were competing for the Toyota-Mazda joint venture; California was not even on the bench. Perhaps Toyota remembers its experience ... in Fremont, Calif., where the United Auto Workers union helped shut down the plant in 2010.” “Today, California is home to just one automaker, Tesla — and yet some of the state’s representatives seem more interested in ... union organizing ... at the plant rather than encouraging the company’s continued success.” “California no longer has a monopoly on ‘cool,’ either ... talented young professionals can find great culture and a great food scene in Birmingham just as well as Berkeley.” “They can also afford to live there: The median home price in Alabama is $126,500, while California it’s just shy of a half-million dollars.” “Alabama has the third most technical workforce in the United States with about 17 percent of…

Conservative Alabamians should read “Up From Slavery” during Black History Month

[caption id="attachment_63241" align="aligncenter" width="800"] “Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington[/caption]   Conservatives in Alabama would do our movement a favor if during Black History Month they read the autobiography of Tuskegee University’s founder and one of the great conservative minds of the 19th century – Booker T. Washington. Washington’s landmark memoir “Up From Slavery” and his contribution to conservatism are enormously underappreciated in modern conservative circles, especially in Alabama. I didn’t read the book until my late 30s, but when I did it had a profound impact on my thinking, reinforcing some beliefs and strongly challenging others. But most of all, it helped me see conservatism as more than just a political philosophy or even a way of life. It helped me see it as a centuries-long movement that could bring people “up from” all sorts of oppression. It’s a must read for all who wish to understand American conservatism. If the Federalist Papers are a guide to our founding document – our constitution – then Washington’s memoir is a guide to its founding sin and ultimate redemption – slavery, its abolition and the struggle to right the wrong through the application of conservative principles. The book tells his life story, from being born a slave to struggling to obtain an education as a newly freed American. "I had no schooling whatsoever while I was a slave, though I remember on several occasions I went as far as the schoolhouse door with one of my young mistresses to carry her…

Is it better to #DoNothing on gun control than #DoSomething that weakens our rights?

[caption id="attachment_19385" align="aligncenter" width="840"] (Mr.TinDC/Flicker)[/caption]   (Opinion) It was a difficult scene to watch. The mother of a student killed in Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida pleaded on television for the president to “please do something” about gun violence. Her anger, her grief, and her heart-felt pleas moved me to tears. Others felt the same, and the #DoSomething hashtag went viral on Twitter, echoing her call for action. But, as persuasive as that mother was, we must remember exactly what the larger anti-gun lobby is trying to “do something” about. It’s not crime. It’s not mental health. It’s the Second Amendment. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Why are gun rights advocates like me so concerned with protecting those 27 brilliantly arranged words? It’s been said that democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch, while liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. That’s the essence of what the amendment means to us.   It’s not hunting, which is so acceptable that our founders never dreamed of having to enshrine its legality in our constitution. It’s not personal protection, which is already a natural right that should be recognized everywhere, and certainly in the “land of the free.” And it’s not the shooting sports, which even subjects in authoritarian states can enjoy. The amendment is about the preservation of our liberty, by and for individual Americans,…

4 things gun control advocates don’t understand about ‘gun nuts’ like me

The left wants to talk about gun control in the wake of Nikolas Cruz’s mass murder of 17 students Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Fine. We need to talk. Something is definitely wrong with our society when this happens with such frequency and intensity. But the left seems intent to begin with non-starters and distractions like blaming the National Rifle Association or calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment. That gets us nowhere, and fast. So before we can have a productive or at least an informative debate, here are a few things gun control advocates should know about the people they call “gun nuts.”  First, the NRA didn’t create us. We created the NRA. Most gun owners probably couldn’t pick NRA president Wayne LaPierre out of a lineup and we certainly don’t base our belief in the Second Amendment on whatever he or others have to say on the matter. The “right of the people to keep and bear arms” isn’t simply written into our constitution where it’s at risk of being misinterpreted or repealed. It’s branded into our hearts as freeborn people, woven into our lives as Americans, and it’s passed to our children as an inheritance. It wasn’t something pulled from thin air, but the recognition of a natural right that has always existed, and always will. The NRA does great work for us, but if it vanished tomorrow, the left would be no closer to taking that birthright than they…

Liberals didn’t write Alabama’s civil asset forfeiture reform bill

  I keep hearing that the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote the bill to reform Alabama’s civil asset forfeiture law. But that’s not accurate. The bill was introduced in the current session of the State Legislature by staunch conservatives State Senator Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and State Representative Arnold Mooney, R-Birmingham. Civil asset forfeiture is a controversial practice that allows law enforcement officers to seize property from people they suspect were involved in illegal activity, but without actually charging them with a crime. One may argue the merits of changing the law, but Orr and Mooney are far from liberal, and further from friendly with the SPLC. The bill was actually drafted with support from these well-known conservative groups: -- Alabama Policy Institute -- Heritage Foundation -- Institute for Justice -- Heartland Institute -- American Conservative Union Foundation -- Freedom Works -- American Legislative Exchange Council -- Charles Koch Institute The SPLC may support the bill because of their civil rights mission, and they published a report condemning civil asset forfeiture last month, but support doesn’t equate to authorship. For more information on the bill, Yellowhammer News has published essays in support of civil asset forfeiture and from those opposed to the practice. But the best I’ve seen on the issue comes from John Oliver (a liberal ... but his bit is pretty darn funny): https://youtu.be/3kEpZWGgJks (Should we reform civil asset forfeiture? Take this article to Facebook and tell your friends why.)