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Daily News Digest – August 14, 2019

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, August 14.


1. Epstein guards, warden suspended.


  • Two guards assigned to watch Jeffrey Epstein when he killed himself in jail have been placed on administrative leave.
  • The Justice Department said Tuesday that the warden at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center has also been temporarily reassigned to an office post pending the outcome of two investigations. Both the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general are investigating Epstein’s death.
  • Attorney General William Barr has expressed outrage that Epstein was able to take his own life Saturday while under the care of the federal Bureau of Prisons while the inmate was facing sex trafficking charges.
  • One source with knowledge of the situation says the guards are suspected of falsifying log entries to show they were checking on inmates in his unit every half hour, when they actually weren’t.
  • A suicide reconstruction team is being sent to the jail to analyze how it all happened.
  • Read more HERE.



2. Weather, trade take toll on farmers.

  • A lack of rain, the intense summer heat, and a trade war with China are taking a toll on Alabama’s farm crops this year.
  • At Circle R Farms along the Alabama River in northern Montgomery County, that toll can be easily seen just by comparing ears of corn. While some of the corn crop gets plenty of water from the massive pivot-style irrigation systems, much of it relies only on rain. A non-irrigated corn husk is about four inches shorter and considerably thinner that an irrigated one, and that means less revenue for farmers selling the crop.
  • Agriculture remains Alabama’s largest industry. Farming and forestry account for 580,00 jobs and generate $70 billion for Alabama’s economy annually, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation.
  • The Federation invited media out to the farm for a “crop outlook tour” showing the state of different crops and allowing producers to explain the various factors that impact their businesses.
  • Alabama isn’t in extreme drought, but it has been dry enough to impact those non-irrigated crops.
  • The ongoing trade war with China is also impacting farmers, particularly cotton and soybean producers.
  • Federation President Jimmy Parnell said that most of his membership supports what President Trump is trying to do in making sure American producers aren’t taken advantage of, but it is “painful” in the short term.
  • Read the full story complete with more photos and videos from the farm HERE.


3. Hunting pause for crane festival.

  • Every winter, North Alabama’s Wheeler National Wildlife Reserve hosts the Festival of Cranes when bird watchers come to see whooping cranes and sandhill cranes during their migration south.
  • So when the state recently announced it was opening up hunting season for sandhill cranes, festival organizers were a little concerned.
  • It sounds like something out of a National Lampoon movie. Observe the majestic crane in flight… POW!
  • But the Department of Conservation worked with event organizers to pause the sandhill crane hunting season for ten days while the festival takes place.
  • “I’m very complimentary of the Department of Conservation for being able to work with the locals,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, who asked Commissioner Chris Blankenship to split the season. “This will hopefully help the festival not be adversely affected.”
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


4. Cannabis commission meets.

  • A bill to legalize and regulate medical marijuana stalled in the Legislature this past session as lawmakers decided instead to set up a commission to study the issue and make recommendations.
  • That process began Tuesday as the Medical Cannabis Study Commission held its first meeting at the State House.
  • Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, was selected as the chair of the commission. He is a doctor by trade and was the sponsor of the medical marijuana bill last year.
  • “The purpose is to discuss and flesh out medical cannabis in a way that we can come up with a bill that can provide medical cannabis to those who need it and keep it out of the hands of those who don’t,” he said at the start of the meeting on Tuesday.
  • The group is charged with reporting its recommendations, including proposed legislation, by December 1. The 2020 legislative session begins February 4.
  • Read more from the Advertiser’s Brian Lyman HERE, from’s Mike Cason HERE, and from WSFA’s Lydia Nusbaum HERE.


5. AP News Briefs.

Rodney Smith invites police to help mow lawns in all 50 states
  • An Alabama man who traveled to all 50 states to mow lawns for free says he’s traveling cross-country again to bring together police officers and the community.
  • Rodney Smith Jr. tweeted Monday to announce his “Mowing with Cops” tour will start Wednesday in Apopka, Florida.
  • Smith says on his website that he wants to mow at least one lawn in each state for the elderly, disabled, single parents or veterans. He invited police officers to mow with him. He had a special police-themed mower made. His website shows it’s painted black and white and has emergency lights.
  • Smith was inspired to begin a free yard mowing service in 2015 after seeing an elderly man cutting his lawn. Individual and corporate donations have helped pay for hotel rooms and other expenses.
  • Story link.
Decatur rejects ‘A little different’ as slogan
  • Decatur, Alabama, is looking for a new slogan, and it won’t be “A little different.”
  • The north Alabama city of 55,000 people is trying to come up with a new branding tagline, and a Birmingham-based consulting firm suggested it use “A little different.”
  • City leaders liked the idea. Council member Kristi Hill says it seemed modern.
  • But the Decatur Daily reports the public reaction was so negative that leaders voted Monday for the company to try again.
  • Hill says the town isn’t ready for something as edgy as “A little different.”
  • Decatur is on the Tennessee River, and it has long been called the “River City.” Council member Chuck Ard says residents need to speak up if they don’t want to lose that identity.
Florence foster parent sentenced to 25 years for child abuse
  • A former foster parent in Alabama was sentenced to 25 years in prison for sexually abusing and torturing 11 children he and his wife adopted or fostered.
  • News outlets report 50-year-old Daniel Spurgeon was sentenced Monday as part of a deal with no option for parole or early release.
  • Lauderdale County Circuit Judge Gil Self told Spurgeon the plea was for the benefit of the victims so they wouldn’t be “re-traumatized” by the trial process.
  • Assistant District Attorney Angie Hamilton read various testimonies from the victims including a statement that said, “Now it’s your turn to be tortured like you did us.”
  • Spurgeon and his wife Janice were charged two years ago in Florida with 700 counts of child abuse and other crimes.
  • Janice Spurgeon’s trial is set for October.
Trump delays tariffs
  • Responding to pressure from businesses and growing fears that a trade war is threatening the U.S. economy, the Trump administration is delaying most of the import taxes it planned to impose on Chinese goods and is dropping others altogether.
  • The announcement Tuesday from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative was greeted with relief on Wall Street and by retailers who have grown fearful that the new tariffs would wreck holiday sales.
  • The administration says it still plans to proceed with 10% tariffs on about $300 billion in Chinese imports — extending its import taxes to just about everything China ships to the United States in a dispute over Beijing’s strong-arm trade policies.
  • But under pressure from retailers and other businesses, President Donald Trump’s trade office said it would delay until Dec. 15 the tariffs on nearly 60% of the imports that had been set to absorb the new taxes starting Sept. 1. Among the products that will benefit from the 3½-month reprieve are such popular consumer goods as cellphones, laptops, video game consoles, some toys, computer monitors, shoes and clothing.
  • The administration is also removing other items from the tariff list entirely, based on what it called “health, safety, national security and other factors.”
  • Full story HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Weather, trade take toll on farmers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Festival of Cranes factored into new hunting season, concerns remain
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump delays tariffs on some Chinese goods until December
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Rodney Smith invites police to help mow lawns in all 50 states
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Former lawmaker, convicted principal shot
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Parts of South and Midwest grapple with dangerous heat wave
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – August 13, 2019
AL.COM  – Poll shows 77% of Mobile, Baldwin voters oppose toll for I-10 project
AL.COM  – Panel considers if medical marijuana is right for Alabama
AL.COM  – Report: NASA’s Marshall center in Alabama gets big role in lunar lander
AL.COM  – Inmates at Holman prison being treated for scabies
AL.COM  – Man allegedly posted about mass shootings, claims he joined Alabama ROTC program
AL.COM  – Auburn is winning the battle for Alabama students
AL.COM  – One in five Alabamians think abortion should be illegal in all cases
AL.COM  – Ball State report card gives Alabama D-minus in human capital
Montgomery Advertiser – Man sentenced to serve 317 years after robbing, kidnapping and nearly setting woman on fire
Montgomery Advertiser – Most mayoral candidates to attend forum Wednesday at Davis Theatre
Montgomery Advertiser – Oppressive heat to break, but it’s still August in Alabama
YellowHammer News – Former Alabama legislator wounded in shooting
YellowHammer News – Lockheed Martin’s Huntsville operations given big boost
YellowHammer News – Black Belt Adventures founder honored as Conservationist of the Year by Alabama Wildlife Federation
Dothan Eagle – Judge issues order granting McCraney’s motion for discovery
Dothan Eagle – Abbeville man charged with murder could receive lesser charge
Dothan Eagle – State seeks to revoke bond for Dothan father charged with manslaughter in son’s death
Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa City Council considers plan to fund new Fire Station 5
Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa City Council action from Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Tuscaloosa News – Grant will help Tuscaloosa Children’s Center expand, relocate
Decatur Daily – Group wants Morgan to end Bible class negotiations
Decatur Daily – Proposed branding rejected, city to try again
Decatur Daily – Athens authorizes effort to expose brick on Market Street
Times Daily – Flurry of suits emerge as NY opens door to old abuse claims
Times Daily – Thai court acquits Red Shirts of terrorism for 2010 protests
Times Daily – Alleged Christchurch gunman sends letter from prison cell
Gadsden Times – Home invasion reported in Hokes Bluff
Gadsden Times – Etowah Commission asked to partner in Chamber project
Gadsden Times – Yates Road to close for bridge replacement
Anniston Star – Jacksonville approves liquor licenses for several businesses
Anniston Star – Overdose deaths drop in Calhoun County
Anniston Star – Deputies investigating sexual extortion, domestic violence claims
Troy Messenger – County reveals which roads will be resurfaced in $5.4 million plan
Troy Messenger – ‘Bright headlights’ a factor in fatal wreck
Troy Messenger – GOOD VIBES: Holmes transforms blank wall into beach paradise
Andalusia Star News – Ivey signs bill to properly fund Alzheimer’s education
Andalusia Star News – Local Realtors report better numbers
Andalusia Star News – Alabama to receive $6.3 million to combat opioids
Opelika-Auburn News – Dadeville police seize nearly 30 animals, four charged with animal cruelty
Opelika-Auburn News – Lee County Commission authorizes loans for park projects
Opelika-Auburn News – Lee County under heat advisory through Tuesday night
Daily Mountain Eagle – Mobile grocery store coming to City of Lights
Daily Mountain Eagle – Sanders Aviation a partner in Drone Academy
Daily Mountain Eagle – Mobile home catches on fire
Trussville Tribune – City of Trussville hires Director of Personnel, approves speed humps and councilman apologizes for statement made
Trussville Tribune – Teen killed in crash on Hwy 431 near Gadsden
Trussville Tribune – Wild California freeway shootout leaves officer, gunman dead
Athens News Courier – BRICK STREETS: Athens City Council OKs asphalt removal on Market Street
Athens News Courier – Dreadful heat, humidity to invade South as misery continues
Athens News Courier – Former Alabama legislator wounded in Selma shooting
Sand Mountain Reporter – Facing the heat | Schools work to keep students cool during heat warnings
WSFA Montgomery – Man who robbed, kidnapped Montgomery woman sentenced to 317 years
WSFA Montgomery – Enterprise citizens vote ‘yes’ to Sunday alcohol sales referendum
WSFA Montgomery – Roads in downtown Montgomery closing over the weekend
Fox 6 Birmingham – Stranger stands under sign to honor murdered vet
Fox 6 Birmingham – Helena Elementary adds Sensory Path to help children deal with emotions
Fox 6 Birmingham – Shelby Co. investigators make meth bust at the Promenade
WAFF Huntsville – Fire in North Huntsville impacts impacts two homes
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville police investigating body found on Frances Amelia Drive
WAFF Huntsville – Still hot but humidity dropping through the day
WKRG Mobile – Woman killed in head-on Orange Beach crash identified
WKRG Mobile – Heat Advisory, Some strong thunderstorms
WKRG Mobile – Baldwin County begins school year with new schools in Orange Beach
WTVY Dothan – People in Kinsey voice concerns over possible garbage transfer station
WTVY Dothan – Inmate escapes from Elba Work Release Center
WTVY Dothan – Prosecutors want man charged in son’s hot car death back in jail
WASHINGTON POST  – After El Paso, the ‘send her back’ chant echoes to some as a prelude to murder
WASHINGTON POST  – ‘People are fed up’: After El Paso and Dayton shootings, gun-control groups seize momentum.
WASHINGTON POST  – Citizens line up for Mississippi jobs but fear the impact of ICE raids
NEW YORK TIMES  – Screen All Adult Patients for Drug Abuse, National Panel Urges
NEW YORK TIMES  – ‘Juul-alikes’ Are Filling Shelves With Sweet, Teen-Friendly Nicotine Flavors

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