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Daily News Digest – August 12, 2019

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Monday, August 12.

1. Jeffery Epstein’s death: the latest.

  • The apparent suicide of accused sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein shocked the nation over the weekend, and now authorities say they want to get to the bottom of it.
  • The event sparked outrage for two basic reasons: the idea that his victims could be denied justice and the notion that his inability to now testify could save the hides of some high profile clients.
  • Calling for an investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office, Attorney General William Barr said he was “appalled” to learn of Epstein’s death while in federal custody.
  • “Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said.
  • Today we learn that the guards on Epstein’s unit were working extreme overtime shifts to make up for staffing shortages at the prison.
  • A source tells the Associated Press that the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s Special Housing Unit was staffed with one guard working a fifth straight day of overtime and another who was working mandatory overtime.
  • And a report from the New York Times says the jail staff failed to follow the proper protocols when it comes to monitoring an inmate like Epstein.
  • More on all that HERE.
  • Of course, all this has led to a cavalcade of conspiracy theories.
  • Online theorists Saturday quickly offered unsubstantiated speculation — including some retweeted by President Donald Trump — that Epstein’s death wasn’t a suicide, or it was faked.
  • That chatter continued conjecture that resurged after Epstein’s July 6 arrest on allegations that he orchestrated a sex-trafficking ring designed to bring him teenage girls. Some of his accusers have described being sexually abused by the wealthy financier’s friends and acquaintances.
  • The combination created fertile ground for theories and misinformation to breed on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • Members of Congress from both parties are also starting to ask questions.
  • Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote Saturday in a scathing letter to Barr that “heads must roll” after the incident.
  • “Every single person in the Justice Department — from your Main Justice headquarters staff all the way to the night-shift jailer — knew that this man was a suicide risk, and that his dark secrets couldn’t be allowed to die with him,” Sasse wrote.
  • More on all that HERE.



2. Wage index change a boost to struggling hospitals.

  • Earlier this month, Sen. Richard Shelby announced a federal policy change that lots of people have been waiting on for years: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid finalized a rule that adjusts the Medicare wage index to be more equitable to states like Alabama.
  • The problem is that, for most people who are not involved in the issue, reading the above sentence doesn’t really tell you what actually happened and why it matters.
  • Well, that’s what we do here at Alabama Daily News, so Mary Sell looked into it for her feature story this week.
  • The wage index is a complicated formula for Medicare reimbursement that factors a medical center’s location into their labor costs, Mary writes. Hospitals update their wage information each year to reflect the average salaries of their staff.
  • So for the same procedure, Medicare would reimburse a rural California hospital a lot more that it would a rural Alabama hospital. That has exacerbated the problems facing rural hospitals here.
  • Danne Howard of the Alabama Hospital Association said the system made sense on paper when it was implemented in the 1980s. But in practice, and after years of “political manipulations” some states’ hospitals are getting reimbursed up to 300 percent what others are. Alabama has always been on the bottom end of reimbursements.
  • Read the full story about how the change will impact hospitals and what other changes are being sought HERE.


3. Storms and floods ruining infrastructure.

  • Storms and flooding have caused significant damage throughout the U.S. during the first half of 2019.
  • More than $1.2 billion in damage has been caused to the nation’s infrastructure, which includes roads and bridges, utilities, water control facilities, public buildings and equipment, and parks.
  • That total doesn’t even include the estimated $1 billion that will be needed to repair levees in the Missouri River basin.
  • Alabama’s total was $10 million in damage to infrastructure from storms and flooding, or at least that’s what has been submitted to FEMA so far.
  • Read the full list of damage totals state by state HERE.


4. Evaluation sought for Montgomery school shooter.


  • The man that shot at another parent in a suspected road rage incident last week will soon undergo a mental health evaluation.
  • No one was injured in the shooting that happened in the parking lot of Blount Elementary School in Montgomery.
  • Two men got into an argument after a traffic dispute in the parking lot of the school, and one of the men shot at the other.
  • 38-year-old Isaiah Johnson was arrested on charges of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle.
  • Now, prosecutors are seeking a mental evaluation.
  • WSFA’s Jennifer Horton reports that Johnson told a judge Friday that his wife died three weeks ago. Prosecutors wrote in a court filing that a friend of Johnson’s had expressed concern for his mental stability since his wife died.
  • Full story HERE.




5. Matthew Stokes: What’s behind the shootings?

  • Believing sometimes it’s best to take a deep breath before spouting off on an issue, ADN columnist Matthew Stokes is back this week with a take on the recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.
  • Once again it has people talking about what to do, or not to do, policy wise to help stop the violence.
  • Properly identifying the problems and being realistic about possible solutions is a good place to start, Stokes writes.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“I’m not sure I have any answers. What I do know is that we cannot become numb to these occurrences, thinking that we can offer thoughts and prayers and retreat to our ideological corners and point fingers. 
“…it’s worth thinking about why the shootings were such a rare thing before Columbine. Before the internet. Before the proliferation of violent first-person shooter video games. Before the intense breakdown of family and community norms. Before a time when disaffected young men could hunker down in their basements for hours on end with their only contact or connection being with technology that affirms and exploits their discontent.
“While each case is unique, there are some striking similarities among the perpetrators.  The Los Angeles Times studied every mass shooting since 1966, finding four common themes among shooters.” 
  • Read the full column HERE.

AP News Briefs.

Alabama getting $6.3 million to fight opioids
  • The state of Alabama is getting $6.3 million in federal funding to help fight opioid addiction.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced grants last week to help fund community health centers and rural groups combatting the sometimes-deadly painkillers.
  • The money will also be used for schools that are working to expand and improve access to substance abuse treatment and mental health services.
  • Federal health authorities have reported there were more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017, for a rate of 21.7 per 100,000 people. Statistics show the death rate is even higher in some Alabama counties, and the state had more than 5,100 overdoses from 2006 through 2014.
  • The grants are part of a nationwide program to fight what the government calls a crisis.
‘Flora-Bama’ bar sues over MTV’s ‘Floribama’ show
  • A landmark beach bar on the Florida-Alabama state line is suing MTV’s popular “Floribama Shore” show for trademark infringement.
  • Companies that run the Flora-Bama Lounge on Perdido Key filed suit this week in Pensacola, Florida, against Viacom Inc. and producers of the MTV show.
  • The federal lawsuit contends the show’s name is so similar to the bar that it’s confusing.
  • The suit says operators of the 55-year-old bar refused to let the show use its name, so producers adopted a show title that’s just one letter and a hyphen mark off.
  • The complaint says “Floribama Shore” is one of MTV’s most popular shows, and it asks a court to prevent producers from using the name.
  • Viacom hasn’t responded in court, and a spokesman didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.
  • Story link.
Supreme Court rebuffs Alabama officer charged with murder
  • The Alabama Supreme Court refused Friday to intervene on behalf of a Huntsville police officer charged with murder in a 2018 shooting, sending the case back to circuit court for a potential trial.
  • The justices turned away an appeal by officer William “Ben” Darby in a brief ruling without explanation.
  • Darby was on duty when he shot and killed Jeffrey Parker, 49, on April 3, 2018. Darby contended he was acting in self-defense and shouldn’t be prosecuted, but the court refused to overturn a lower court’s refusal.
  • The decision means the case against Darby can continue in Madison County.
  • Parker called authorities threatening to kill himself with a gun, police said. Darby was one of three officers who responded and shot Parker when the man wouldn’t drop his weapon, authorities said.
  • Full story HERE.
State sets season for hunting sandhill cranes
  • Alabama has set its first hunting season for sandhill cranes in more than a century.
  • The state wildlife agency says a limited number of hunters will be allowed to kill the migratory birds over two periods beginning Dec. 3.
  • The state says it last allowed sandhill crane hunting in 1916. It says the species has made enough of a comeback in recent decades to allow hunters to go after them.
  • Kentucky and Tennessee are the only other states east of the Mississippi River to allow hunting of the animals. More than a dozen Western states have crane seasons.
  • The department says it will allow 400 permits for sandhill crane hunters over the season.
  • Some people like eating the big birds.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Struggling Alabama hospitals to benefit from reimbursement change
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Epstein’s guards worked extreme OT shifts morning of death
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Epstein suicide sparks fresh round of conspiracy theories
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama getting $6.3 million to fight opioids
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Matthew Stokes: What’s behind the shootings?
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mental evaluation sought for school traffic shooting suspect
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Storms, floods cause $1.2B damage to public infrastructure
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Flora-Bama’ bar sues over MTV’s ‘Floribama’ show
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Kay Ivey: For Mobile Bayway Project, The Cost of Doing Nothing is Too High
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Teacher recruitment, retirement will be legislative issue in 2020
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey taps William Filmore for top legislative post
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – August 9, 2019
AL.COM  – Alabama getting $6.3 million to fight opioids
AL.COM  – Group advocates for gun safety after violent weekend
AL.COM  – Medical advances still haven’t stopped HIV epidemic in Alabama
AL.COM  – Columnist Dana McCain: Evil, guns, and mental health
AL.COM  – Alabama humanitarians to be honored in Birmingham
AL.COM  – Filmmakers plan movie about Birmingham priest killed by Klansman 98 years ago
AL.COM  – Tolls not just ‘an Alabama problem’
AL.COM  – Columnist John Archibald: Could we be … racists?
Montgomery Advertiser – House District 74 runoff: Charlotte Meadows looks to education in GOP run
Montgomery Advertiser – Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, awaiting sex trafficking charges, dead of apparent suicide
Montgomery Advertiser – Annadelle’s story: How one Alabama girl is fighting rare childhood disease
YellowHammer News – Birmingham’s Bronze Valley wins federal grant to support entrepreneurial development
YellowHammer News – Nursing instructor’s wristband research recognized
YellowHammer News – Tuberville touts ‘outsider’ bona fides during Vestavia appearance — Says political system ‘made for people on the inside’
Dothan Eagle – T-bone collision reported at West Main and North Cherokee
Dothan Eagle – Answer Man: Can I bring my child to Dothan’s municipal court?
Dothan Eagle – Driver from Dothan charged in three-vehicle crash
Tuscaloosa News – Study: Alabama is 2019′s state with the 8th most underprivileged children
Tuscaloosa News – Northport sex offender charged with child porn possession
Tuscaloosa News – Study: Alabama is 2019′s state with the 8th most underprivileged children
Decatur Daily – Foundation director: Morgan animal shelter should adopt out more animals
Decatur Daily – Morgan’s Bible class proposal getting pushback
Decatur Daily – Former Delphi buildings being transformed by other companies
Times Daily – Shoals Renewable Energy Symposium set for Sept. 5
Times Daily – Shoals Transportation Improvement Program can be viewed Tuesday
Times Daily – Park was packed for Killen Founder’s Day celebration
Gadsden Times – UA and Tuscaloosa continue shared goal of growing businesses
Gadsden Times – Hokes Bluff Huddle House gives parents a night off
Gadsden Times – Mass shootings have Latinos worried about being targets
Anniston Star – Phillip Tutor: Seeking a spokesperson for Anniston’s Ward 4
Anniston Star – Deannexation could threaten police and fire pension plans
Anniston Star – Man arrested after two-county car chase
Troy Messenger – PRCAC hosting luau to raise funds for exam room
Troy Messenger – Jackson praises hometown at Troy Women’s Club
Troy Messenger – Criminal trials set for gun, drug charges
Andalusia Star News – SES plans on another A+ year
Andalusia Star News – Weekend heat indexes to reach 112 degrees
Andalusia Star News – Red Level couple donates school supplies to RLES
Opelika-Auburn News – ‘A racecar of a house’; Holland Homes unveils Auburn’s first smart neighborhood
Opelika-Auburn News – Lee County authorities investigating Friday night Phenix City homicide
Opelika-Auburn News – Jeffrey Epstein, financier accused of running child sex trafficking ring, found dead in jail
Daily Mountain Eagle – Smith requests two external reviews of jail
Daily Mountain Eagle – Walker County Sports HOF adds 14 inductees
Daily Mountain Eagle – Coal is large segment of Port of Mobile business
Trussville Tribune – 2 women robbed, carjacked in Center Point
Trussville Tribune – Trussville girl attends Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center
Trussville Tribune – Ivey taps William Filmore for top legislative post
Athens News Courier – Man pleads innocent to ’99 cold case slayings
Athens News Courier – Kayaking group offers ‘Monday therapy’ on Dog River
Athens News Courier – Epstein: How he died and what it means for his accusers
WSFA Montgomery – Man seriously wounded after Saturday shooting
WSFA Montgomery – Lee County organization holding art auction to help tornado victims
WSFA Montgomery – Gov. Ivey to host ceremonial bill signing
Fox 6 Birmingham – Homewood Police Dept. stepping up patrols for back-to-school traffic
Fox 6 Birmingham – Authorities searching for escaped inmate from Mobile
Fox 6 Birmingham – Utah woman died after pharmacy gave her wrong medication, lawsuit states
WAFF Huntsville – Tennessee Valley pastors trying to prevent hate
WAFF Huntsville – Dehydrated hikers rescued on Monte Sano Mountain
WAFF Huntsville – Nurse practitioner warns about wasp, yellow jacket season
WKRG Mobile – Inmate escapes Mobile Work Release Center
WKRG Mobile – Fraud Fighters: Medicare card scams
WKRG Mobile – Faith Time: Beyond being a spectator in Church
WTVY Dothan – Deadly nightclub shooting remembererd seven years later
WTVY Dothan – Locals help feed homeless in the Dothan area
WTVY Dothan – 2019 High School Season Preview: G.W. Long Rebels
WASHINGTON POST  – Angry and fearful, Americans struggle to talk about guns and race
WASHINGTON POST  – Columnist George Will: ‘National conservative’ policies are full of oxymorons
WASHINGTON POST  – The brand label that stokes Trump’s fury: ‘Racist, racist, racist.’
NEW YORK TIMES  – They Died Shielding Their Baby in El Paso. Their Family’s Anguish Was Only Beginning

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