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Daily News Digest – December 14, 2021

Presented by the

University of South Alabama Health System

Good morning!
Today is Caroline Beck’s last day at Alabama Daily News. We are so sad to see her go, but also super excited for her future beyond Alabama. Thank you, Caroline, for your fearless coverage of Alabama government and politics!
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, December 14.



1. Education: What does the 452 ‘cut score’ mean for 3rd grade readers?

  • The Alabama State Board of Education in November approved a scoring system to determine which third graders will get promoted to fourth grade based on standardized reading tests under the Alabama Literacy Act.
  • That system included a “cut score” of 452, the lowest score students can make to avoid getting held back.
  • But what does that number actually mean? How is it calculated and what does it represent for third graders’ reading abilities?
  • State Superintendent Eric Mackey explained that the score is the product of expert reading teachers tasked with determining what best indicates whether or not a student can read on grade level.
  • “There’s 96% confidence that each child that scored below 452 truly is below grade level,” Mackey told Alabama Daily News.
  • Read the full feature story from Caroline Beck HERE.



2. New poll: Competition tightening between Brooks, Britt

  • A new poll shows U.S. Senate candidate and current Congressman Mo Brooks with a narrow lead in the four-person GOP field. But in head-to-head competition, Katie Britt had a slight lead over Brooks.
  • The poll of 500 Republican primary voters taken last week by McLaughlin & Associates shows Brooks, of Huntsville, with 31.1% of the potential votes and 26.2% for Britt in a four-way race. Mike Durant, the newest candidate to enter the race, had 16.6% and Jessica Taylor 4%.
  • When asked to choose between the top two candidates if the May 24 primary were today, 38.8% supported Britt, the former leader of the Business Council of Alabama and chief of staff to retiring U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, compared to 36.6% for Brooks. A full 24% remained undecided.
  • “This race is going to be fun to watch,” said Jim McLaughlin, president of the survey and research firm which is not supporting any candidate in the race. “While Mo Brooks has a little bit of a head start, Katie Britt is nipping at his heels as more than one of five voters remain undecided. Grab your pop corn, this is going to be a good one.”
  • Read more and see the full poll results HERE.



A message from the

University of South Alabama Health System

  • Here, we combine knowledge, skill and technology with a patient-centered, team-based approach to care.
  • We’re committed to providing each patient with a personalized treatment plan in a nurturing environment, conducive to healing.
  • In partnership with the USA College of Medicine, we combine the latest in cancer therapies with comprehensive support for the emotional, social and physical challenges that a cancer diagnosis can bring.




3. Alabama Appleseed featured in new NFL commercial

  • If you tuned into Sunday Night Football’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, you may have noticed something different in the commercial breaks: an advertisement featuring familiar landmarks and discussing criminal justice issues close to home.
  • The Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice is partnering with the National Football League for a series of December advertisements highlighting their joint work to free victims of wrongful punishment from Alabama jails.
  • Narrated by linebacker Trey Flowers of the Detroit Lions, the commercial features Motis Wright, who was originally sentenced to die in prison under Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act for a 1994 robbery conviction and was released in May of 2021 after Appleseed took him on as a client.
  • “I was sentenced to die for a $28 robbery,” Wright says into the camera in his hometown of Selma. “But change is coming.”
  • Read more and see the ad HERE.



4. Alabama prison staffing numbers fell over 12 months

  • The Alabama prison system, already understaffed and facing a federal court order to boost employment numbers, saw the number of correctional staff decline 4% during the pandemic.
  • The Alabama Department of Corrections had 1,914 officers and supervisors in the quarter that ended June 30, 2020 — a 50% vacancy rate. But that fell to 1,837 at the end of June 30, 2021, boosting the vacancy rate to 52%. The numbers were listed in the most recent staffing reports the system is required to file with the federal court.
  • While staff shortages have long been a problem for corrections agencies, the pandemic brought new challenges for systems across the country. In Alabama, that comes as the state faces the dual pressure of a Department of Justice civil lawsuit and a separate court order out of a mental health care lawsuit to boost staffing.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.



5. Air Force discharges 27 for refusal to get COVID vaccine

  • The Air Force has discharged 27 people for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, making them what officials believe are the first service members to be removed for disobeying the mandate to get the shots.
  • The Air Force gave its forces until Nov. 2 to get the vaccine, and thousands have either refused or sought an exemption. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Monday that these are the first airmen to be administratively discharged for reasons involving the vaccine.
  • She said all of them were in their first term of enlistment, so they were younger, lower-ranking personnel. And while the Air Force does not disclose what type of discharge a service member gets, legislation working its way through Congress limits the military to giving troops in vaccine refusal cases an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions.
  • The Pentagon earlier this year required the vaccine for all members of the military, including active duty, National Guard and the Reserves. Each of the services set its own deadlines and procedures for the mandate, and the Air Force set the earliest deadline. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said the vaccine is critical to maintaining the health of the force and its ability to respond to a national security crisis.
  • Read more HERE.




A message from the

Stacy Financial Group

  • Investment opportunities abound in today’s market, but finding the right financial partner can be a challenge.
  • Our job is to listen to our clients’ needs and goals, and to provide solutions that complement both risk tolerance and expectations.
  • Learn more from Chad Stacy and the Stacy Financial Group HERE.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – What does the 452 ‘cut score’ mean for 3rd grade readers?


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Poll: Competition tightening between Brooks, Britt


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Appleseed featured in new NFL commercial


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama prison staffing numbers fell over 12 months


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Air Force discharges 27 for refusal to get COVID vaccine


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Labor: More than 389,000 cases of potential unemployment fraud pending investigation


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Higher ed requesting $2.01B in 2023


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Inflation is painfully high, but some relief may be coming


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New inflation number, CBO score feed angst about Democrats’ $2T bill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Auburn quarterback Bo Nix announces plans to transfer


AL.COM – Poor scores, discipline issues, low morale: How can Alabama schools improve their culture?


AL.COM – New poll shows close Alabama Senate race between Mo Brooks, Katie Britt


AL.COM – Shelby: It was a ‘mistake’ for Republicans to give in to Democrats on debt reconciliation


AL.COM – Report: Half of Alabama school staff, teachers are thinking about leaving jobs as shortages worsen


AL.COM – Alabama Power, Mercedes-Benz collaborating on solar power project


AL.COM – Mark Meadows wrote National Guard would ‘protect pro Trump people’ on Jan. 6, committee finds


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery woman charged with murder after death of another woman


Montgomery Advertiser – A Texas-style abortion bill was filed in the Alabama House of Representatives


Montgomery Advertiser – Leadership Development Course hosts Valor Workout honoring fallen


DECATUR DAILY – Ivey touts road projects during Decatur stop, but mayor wants money for US 31


Times Daily – Wind gusts fell trees, damage buildings


Times Daily – Harrison spreads cheer with each ring of the bell


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – FEMA: 8 dead, all others accounted for from Mayfield candle factory


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – How to make sure you are not donating to a charity scam


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Man accidentally released from jail after pleading guilty to kidnapping Birmingham businessman


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa Animal Shelter seeks public’s help in competition for $25,000 grant


Tuscaloosa News – A Texas-style abortion bill was filed in the Alabama House of Representatives


Tuscaloosa News – Man dies after house fire in Cottondale, Tuscaloosa firefighters say


YellowHammer News – State Reps. Chip Brown, Shane Stringer receive Center for Security Policy’s ‘Defender of Freedom’ award


YellowHammer News – Navy veteran Chad Robertson launches bid for Alabama House of Representatives District 40


YellowHammer News – U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks announces launch of House Hypersonics Caucus; Congressman to co-lead efforts


Gadsden Times – A Texas-style abortion bill was filed in the Alabama House of Representatives


Gadsden Times – Albertville Schools: Social media threat discovered, neutralized


Dothan Eagle – Tornado-slammed parts of Kentucky face long recovery


Dothan Eagle – ‘Return of Jedi,’ ‘Selena’ added to National Film Registry


Dothan Eagle – Omicron stalks UK jobs market after previous fears allayed


Opelika-Auburn News – Biden admin reveals 60 finalists for $1B in economic grants


Opelika-Auburn News – Biden aims to cut bureaucratic runaround for gov’t services


Opelika-Auburn News – EU ministers debate ways to shield Ukraine from Russia


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama couple celebrates 74th wedding anniversary


WSFA Montgomery – Labor shortages, supply chain issues affecting retailers


WSFA Montgomery – Shoplifting suspect flees Alabama Walmart via Uber, police say


WAFF Huntsville – Students competing in Governor Ivey’s App Challege


WAFF Huntsville – Madison Baptist Association gathering volunteers to help with Kentucky disaster relief


WAFF Huntsville – North Alabama lawmakers preview legislative session


WKRG Mobile – Europe, US frustrated with Iranian stance in nuclear talks


WKRG Mobile – Chile sees migrant crossings rise ahead of presidential vote


WKRG Mobile – Pfizer jabs protect 70% against hospitalization from omicron


WTVY Dothan – Early County Schools opens school-based clinic


WTVY Dothan – Early County High School hosts Christmas Spirit Week


WTVY Dothan – Pedestrian killed on busy Dothan highway


WASHINGTON POST – House Jan. 6 committee votes to hold Meadows in contempt, details texts from Trump allies who wanted him to call off rioters


WASHINGTON POST – Fox News hosts urged Meadows to have Trump stop Jan. 6 violence, texts show


WASHINGTON POST – Documents link Huawei to China’s surveillance programs


NEW YORK TIMES – Omicron Is a Dress Rehearsal for the Next Pandemic


NEW YORK TIMES – Jan. 6 Committee Recommends Contempt Charge for Meadows


NEW YORK TIMES – Live Updates: The Dozens Killed in Tornadoes Are Mourned


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Fed Meets for First Time Since Powell Signaled Policy Shift


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Pfizer Says Its Covid-19 Pill Likely Works Against Omicron


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Kroger to End Some Covid-19 Benefits for Unvaccinated Workers



Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)








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