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Daily News Digest – August 20, 2019

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, August 20.


1. Ainsworth comes out swinging against tolls.

  • Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth came out strongly against a proposed toll on a planned $2.1 billion bridge in Mobile on Monday.
  • “The state that built rockets that sent man to the moon should be able to build a bridge without extorting the citizens that it seeks to serve,” Ainsworth said in a video posted to his Twitter account.
  • He’s a member of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority. Gov. Kay Ivey has set a meeting of the authority for Oct. 7.
  • Ainsworth said the proposed $90-month-toll would cost a working couple about $2,200 a year, money they could spend on food, their children or their mortgage.
  • The Alabama Department of Transportation has said without a toll, the bridge, which has been in discussion for more than 20 years, won’t happen.
  • A spokeswoman for Ivey said the governor welcomes plans for an alternative funding solution to help get this project to the point where it can finally move forward.
  • “Thus far, we have heard concerns about tolls; now, we need to hear reasonable solutions,” Press Secretary Gina Maiola said. “The Oct. 7 meeting will be the time to discuss all options, which could include an additional funding source to lower or eliminate the toll proposal.”
  • ADN’s Mary Sell also spoke with other members of the Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority for their reactions. Her full story HERE.


2. Prisons chief removed after Epstien death.

  • Attorney General William Barr removed the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons from his position Monday, more than a week after millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein took his own life while in federal custody.
  • Hugh Hurwitz’s reassignment comes amid mounting evidence that guards at the chronically understaffed Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York abdicated their responsibility to keep the 66-year-old Epstein from killing himself while he awaited trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls. The FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general are investigating his death.
  • The bureau has come under intense scrutiny since Epstein’s death, with lawmakers and Barr demanding answers about how Epstein was left unsupervised and able to take his own life on Aug. 10 while held at one of the most secure federal jails in America.
  • A statement from Barr gave no specific reason for the reassignment. But Barr said last week that officials had uncovered “serious irregularities” and was angry that staff members at the jail had failed to “adequately secure this prisoner.”
  • He ordered the bureau last Tuesday to temporarily reassign the warden, Lamine N’Diaye, to a regional office and the two guards who were supposed to be watching Epstein were placed on administrative leave.
  • “This is a good start, but it’s not the end,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Attorney General Barr did the right thing by removing the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and he ought to make every effort to prosecute every one of Epstein’s co-conspirators to the fullest extent of the law.”
  • Full story HERE.



3. The revolution will be tweeted?

  • Twitter says it has suspended more than 200,000 accounts that it believes were part of a Chinese government influence campaign targeting the protest movement in Hong Kong.
  • The company also said it will ban ads from state-backed media companies, expanding a prohibition it first applied in 2017 to two Russian entities.
  • Both measures are part of what a senior company official portrayed in an interview as a broader effort to curb malicious political activity on a popular platform that has been criticized for enabling election interference around the world and for accepting money for ads that amount to propaganda by state-run media organizations.
  • After being notified by Twitter and conducting its own investigation, Facebook said Monday that it has also removed seven pages, three groups and five accounts, including some portraying protesters as cockroaches and terrorists.
  • Facebook, which is more widely used in Hong Kong, does not release data on such state-backed influence operations. Neither does it ban ads from state-owned media companies.
  • “We continue to look at our policies as they relate to state-owned media,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to the AP. “We’re also taking a closer look at ads that have been raised to us to determine if they violate our policies.”
  • Read more HERE.


4. Trump backs away from background checks.

  • President Donald Trump seems to be backing away from a push for stricter background checks on firearm purchases.
  • The Washington Post reports that White House aides and congressional leaders say Trump now believes existing background checks are “very strong” and that his back channel conversations with some gun control advocates, including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have gone cold.
  • In the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio earlier this month, Trump had expressed an interest in pursuing stricter background checks for gun purchases, saying there was a “great appetite” for such policies.
  • Now, according to those sources, the president wants to focus on reforms that keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
  • Full story from Josh Dawsey HERE.



5. AP News Briefs.


Bentley opens new office
  • A former Alabama governor who resigned amid a sex scandal has opened a new dermatology office.
  • The Tuscaloosa News reports former Gov. Robert Bentley’s new location opened Friday in Tuscaloosa. He previously practiced in another site.
  • Bentley is a longtime dermatologist who entered politics.
  • He resigned from office in 2017 as part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor campaign-finance violations, agreed to never hold public office, and had to forfeit about $36,000 from his campaign account.
  • Bentley was accused of having an extramarital affair with a key staffer and using public resources to cover it up.
  • An Alabama House Judiciary Committee report says Bentley texted heart-eye emojis to Rebekah Caldwell Mason using his ex-wife’s iPad and threatened the first lady’s staff to keep the affair secret.
  • Read more from Ken Roberts HERE.
Storm damage leaves thousands without power
  • Strong storms that knocked down trees and limbs left thousands without power in north Alabama.
  • Decatur Utilities says service was restored by early Tuesday to most of the 8,600 homes and businesses that were left in the dark after storms moved through late Monday.
  • Some traffic lights still aren’t working, and crews still have to remove damaged trees.
  • The Decatur Daily quotes a weather service meteorologist as saying the damage was caused by a strong thunderstorm rather than a large weather system.
  • Northwest Alabama is under a heat advisory on Tuesday, with the combination of temperatures in the 90s and humidity forecast to make it feel like it’s around 105 degrees.
Authorities search for missing inmate
  • Authorities are looking for an inmate who escaped from an Elmore County prison facility.
  • A notice from the Department of Corrections says 49-year-old Kevin Bradley Nelson escaped from Staton Correctional Facility on Monday afternoon.
  • He was wearing a white prison uniform.
  • Nelson is serving a two-year sentence for receiving stolen property.
Bond revoked for Alabama man charged in son’s hot car death
  • An Alabama man charged with manslaughter in the death of his 2-year-old son has had his bond revoked following a different arrest.
  • News outlets report 36-year-old Robert Patrick King was arrested this month for public intoxication, violating his bond agreement. King was sent back to jail Monday and ordered to have a substance abuse evaluation and assessment for treatment.
  • Robert and Melinda King were charged in July with manslaughter and marijuana possession in the death of Castiel King, who was found unresponsive inside a hot car in the driveway.
  • Dothan Police Capt. Will Benny said Castiel King slipped out of the home while Robert and Melinda King were asleep under the influence of marijuana. King says the toddler managed to get himself into the car but couldn’t get out.
Lake search resumes or woman missing since July 4
  • Teams are resuming the search for a woman who’s been missing on an Alabama lake since a boating crash on July 4.
  • The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says crews specializing in deep-water searches are part of the renewed effort to locate the body of 26-year-old Kelsey Nicole Starling.
  • The woman has not been seen since a boating crash that occurred in a deep section of Smith Lake north of Birmingham.
  • Search and recovery work has been hampered by an underwater forest of trees that weren’t cut down when the lake was created more than 50 years ago.
  • Five people were injured in a collision of two boats, and the driver of the boat carrying Starling was charged with boating under the influence.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In the Weeds w/ Rep. Martha Roby
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Twitter shuts Chinese accounts targeting Hong Kong protests
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US prisons chief removed from position after Epstein’s death
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New Alabama law severs rapists’ parental rights to any child
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – $700M rebuilding of Birmingham interstate on schedule
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Matthew Stokes: The Vitality Index
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Matching pets with owners designed to ‘clear the shelters’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – August 19, 2019
AL.COM  – Could the I-10 toll project be ‘killed’ this week?
AL.COM  – UAH honored for landmark superconductor discovery
AL.COM  – Colonial Pipeline sues Alabama contractor over massive gasoline spill
AL.COM  – Ainsworth says I-10 toll plan ‘violates every conservative belief and principle that I hold’
AL.COM  – Florida attorney suspended for working Alabama murder appeal
AL.COM  – Alabama’s top general fires 3-star underling for ‘loss of confidence’
AL.COM  – 3 Alabama school districts among top 100 in the country
AL.COM  – Alabama’s new marriage law: How to apply for a certificate
Montgomery Advertiser – Prattville veterinarian dies in Michigan
Montgomery Advertiser – Man recovering from gunshot wounds, another charged with assault
YellowHammer News – ULA’s Alabama-built Vulcan Centaur rocket chosen for 2021 Moon mission
YellowHammer News – Alabama CEO signs major national policy statement affirming importance of free-market, supporting the American worker
YellowHammer News – ‘Operation Yellowhammer’: Codename of UK’s Brexit ‘no-deal’ prep familiar to Alabamians
Dothan Eagle – Study: Wireless carrier throttling of online video is pervasive, ‘all the time, 24/7’
Dothan Eagle – Holmes County, Florida, teenagers sought on grand theft charges
Dothan Eagle – Dothan man arrested on fraud charges
Tuscaloosa News – Super honor: Mike Daria, Walter Davie receive Thomas J. Joiner award
Tuscaloosa News – Let the good Tides roll: Tidechella welcomes Alabama students
Tuscaloosa News – Authorities search for missing inmate
Decatur Daily – Morgan public school cautious in budgeting online sales tax revenue
Decatur Daily – City officials contemplate the Terry era and postscript
Decatur Daily – Council to vote Monday on controversial ambulance service ordinance
Times Daily – ‘Lions Lend a Hand’ service event faces changes this year
Times Daily – Renewable energy symposium set for September
Times Daily – 1 year later, mother, police seek answers to hit and run
Gadsden Times – Gadsden man hit by vehicle identified
Gadsden Times – Former Courtyard Cafe turned into lounge at Hardin Center
Gadsden Times – State’s new road rage bill takes effect Sept. 1
Anniston Star – Hobson City gets $30k federal grant for water surveys
Anniston Star – Court starts jury selection for man charged with killing teacher
Anniston Star – ‘Veteran’ journalist, professor Jerry Chandler dies at 71
Troy Messenger – Greeks support CAC fundraiser
Troy Messenger – Roundabout construction frustrates students, slows campus traffic
Troy Messenger – CGI evacuated, cleared after bomb threat
Andalusia Star News – SES fifth graders use Tiger TV as hands on learning project
Andalusia Star News – Alabama medical marijuana commission holds first meeting
Andalusia Star News – Cook has 42nd first day back to school
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika native’s ‘legacy lives on in other children and other students’
Opelika-Auburn News – Pop-up shops to compete for retail space in local mall
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn Public Library presents Read Alabama 200 Fall Author Series
Daily Mountain Eagle – Work continues to address student mental health
Daily Mountain Eagle – Williams: Judges can still order community service
Daily Mountain Eagle – SRO McConico a role model for Sumiton youth
Trussville Tribune – Man dies after motorcycle crash in Cullman County
Trussville Tribune – Neighborhood Bridges to benefit children in Trussville
Trussville Tribune – Civil Air Patrol in Springville to host open house
Athens News Courier – 1 killed in Athens wreck
Athens News Courier – Kathleen Blanco, Louisiana’s governor during Katrina, dies
Athens News Courier – Sanders’ criminal justice plan aims to cut prison population
Sand Mountain Reporter – Snead State student begins aviation career
Sand Mountain Reporter – Peoples Independent Bank introduces mobile app
Sand Mountain Reporter – Alabama sets new record low unemployment rate, breaks 3 additional employment records in July
WSFA Montgomery – Cloverdale residents gather after shooting
WSFA Montgomery – More than $1.5 million bond set for drug trafficking suspect
WSFA Montgomery – Ala. farmer: Tariffs are a ‘battle that will hopefully help us win the war’
Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham making plans on how to spend new gas tax revenue
Fox 6 Birmingham – New farmer’s market on the way to downtown Birmingham
Fox 6 Birmingham – New prices and reduced routes expected for MAX buses
WAFF Huntsville – 1 injured in suspected shootout in NW Huntsville
WAFF Huntsville – Decatur alcohol sale times starting earlier on Sundays
WAFF Huntsville – New details in 2015 Marshall County double murder shared at trial
WKRG Mobile – Scattered thunderstorms and seasonable heat
WKRG Mobile – Rabies report on Daphne fox expected today
WKRG Mobile – Train crashes into truck in Escambia County, FL
WTVY Dothan – Lake search resumes or woman missing since July 4
WTVY Dothan – Southeast Health Campaign
WTVY Dothan – Ala. farmer: Tariffs are a ‘battle that will hopefully help us win the war’
WASHINGTON POST  – Trump again appears to back away from gun background checks
WASHINGTON POST  – White House officials eyeing payroll tax cut in effort to reverse weakening economy
WASHINGTON POST  – Group of top CEOs says maximizing shareholder profits no longer can be the primary goal of corporations
NEW YORK TIMES  – Planned Parenthood Refuses Federal Funds Over Abortion Restrictions
NEW YORK TIMES  – What the Reactionary Politics of 2019 Owe to the Politics of Slavery



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