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Daily News Digest – December 15, 2020

Good morning!

Okay campers, rise and shine — and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooooold out there today.

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, December 15.

1. Vaccine arrives

  • The initial nearly 41,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine began arriving at three sites in Alabama on Monday and more will be delivered today.
  • The Pfizer vaccine, which received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration late last week, is being shipped directly to 15 pre-identified Alabama hospitals which have capacity for ultra cold storage, the Alabama Department of Public Health said Monday.
  • UAB said its hospital would receive 10,725 initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will be administered to health care staff, other Jefferson County hospitals and EMS providers on its campuses “as soon as logistically possible.”
  • The first batches of the vaccine are being prioritized for health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
  • Read more about the vaccine roll out in Alabama HERE.
  • Meanwhile, it looks like the vaccine may be arriving just in time to help hospitals with depleting medical staff.
  • Regulators on Monday loosened rules to make it easier for out-of-state doctors to work in Alabama as the coronavirus pandemic both fills hospital beds and strains medical staff by sickening doctors and nurses.
  • With an average of more than 2,100 people hospitalized daily over the last week with the illness caused by the virus, COVID-19, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners and the Medical Licensure Commission decided to let qualified physicians from other states and Canada seek temporary emergency licenses to work in the state.
  • The Alabama Hospital Association has reported staffing shortages caused by both an inadequate number of beds in places and a lack of staff to treat patients, partly because medical workers are among the ill.
  • Dr. Mark LeQuire, Chairman of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, in a statement said hospitals are dealing with a doctor shortage as the number of COVID-19 patients increases.
  • “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and we will continue to take all necessary action to ensure Alabamians suffering from COVID-19 have access to the care they need,” he said.
  • That full story from Jay Reeves HERE.



2. Electors meet; Biden addresses divided nation

  • With patriotic music and a face mask-wearing Uncle Sam, Alabama’s members of the Electoral College cast their nine votes for Republican President Donald Trump at the state Capitol on Monday.
  • Held in the Old House Chamber of the State Capitol, the ceremony solidified Trump’s overwhelming victory in the Republican-controlled state over Democrat Joe Biden last month.
  • Nationally, however, it was a different story. As the Electoral College met state by state, Biden officially secured 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
  • Interestingly, that was the same margin by which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
  • The results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which Vice President Mike Pence will preside.
  • Biden addressed the nation as president-elect late Monday, attempting to turn the page to a presidential transition after more than a month of election challenges and protests.
  • “Once again in America, the rule of law, our Constitution, and the will of the people have prevailed. Our democracy — pushed, tested, threatened — proved to be resilient, true, and strong,” Biden said.
  • There was, of course, no concession from Trump.
  • A presidential wish for a fierce administration defense led to TV appearances by Stephen Miller to try to downplay the importance of the Electoral College vote and suggest that Trump’s legal challenges would continue all the way to Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.
  • Read more and watch the speech HERE.


3. Group advocates for lottery revenue to go toward scholarships

  • With 50 days to go until the Alabama Legislature’s 2021 Regular Session, it was only a matter of time before we started talking about gambling.
  • It’s a perennial issue in Alabama politics, even when proposals have no chance of passing.
  • One thing that makes this year significantly different: Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to release the findings of her “study group” on gambling any day now.
  • One group went ahead and released its own findings Monday, specifically on the potential uses of lottery revenue.
  • The University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center on Monday released a new report saying scholarships would improve post-secondary education enrollment and completion and in turn improve the state’s workforce and economic development.
  • “In order to continue to grow our state’s economy and future, it’s essential to have a state education system that encourages workers and students to enroll in college, which will further develop their employable skills,” Jonathan Bowen, a research associate and co-author of the EPC report.
  • State Rep. Steve Clouse floated a lottery bill in this past session that would have split revenue between college scholarships and the state’s First Class Pre-K program. Other proposals have sought to direct at least some of the money to the General Fund, which has traditionally faced larger shortfalls than the Education Trust Fund.
  • In any case, the EPC report is sure to generate plenty of conversation back on the potential benefits of sending more of the state’s high school graduates to college on scholarship, which is where much of the lottery debate started 30 years ago.
  • Read the full story from Caroline Beck, including the EPC report itself, HERE.


4. Congress resumes talks on COVID relief, appropriations

  • Top Washington negotiators continued to reach for a long-delayed agreement on COVID-19 relief on Monday, but rank-and-file Democrats appeared increasingly resigned to having to drop, for now, a scaled-back demand for fiscal relief for states and local governments whose budgets have been thrown out of balance by the pandemic.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by phone Monday evening and continues to press for help for struggling states and localities.
  • Pelosi has insisted for months that state and local aid would be in any final bill, but as time is running out, Democrats appear unwilling to hold the rest of the package hostage over the demand. Several Democrats appeared at the bipartisan news conference endorsing the $748 billion package.
  • “I found it interesting that they separated out the state and local and liability provisions. Senator McConnell had suggested that earlier,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “Seems to me that we’re making some progress on it.”
  • Two bills were introduced by the bi-partisan groups: One is a $748 billion aid package containing money for struggling businesses, the unemployed, schools and vaccine distribution. There is also $45 billion for transportation and transit assistance, funding for rural internet service and help for the Postal Service, among other provisions. The other bill proposes a $160 billion aid package for state and local governments and a modified liability shield that is backed by Republicans and Democratic moderate Joe Manchin of West Virginia, but it is probably too politically freighted to advance.
  • Read more HERE.



5. AG Barr resigning

  • Attorney General Bill Barr is resigning his post as the nation’s top law enforcement official and will be gone by Christmas, according to President Donald Trump.
  • Barr went Monday to the White House, where Trump said the attorney general submitted his letter of resignation. “As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family,” Trump tweeted.
  • Barr’s resignation comes after two major incidents that were known to anger the president…
  • First, Barr said earlier this month that the Justice Department had found no widespread fraud that would change the outcome of the election.
  • Second, after last week’s confirmation that the FBI has been investigating Hunter Biden for months, it became clear that Barr’s Justice Department did not publicize or leak that information in an effort to help Trump win the election.
  • Trump said on Fox News over the weekend that he was disappointed that the Hunter Biden investigation had not been disclosed.
  • “Bill Barr should have stepped up,” Trump said.
  • Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, whom Trump has labeled “an outstanding person,” will become acting attorney general.
  • Read more HERE.





A message from

Auburn University

Auburn alumnus, trustee selected to be next Secretary of Defense

Auburn celebrates a lifetime of achievement by Gen. Lloyd Austin, who provides immeasurable support to our university.

We are grateful for his leadership in defending our freedoms and know his best days in serving our nation are still ahead.

Congratulations and thank you!

See the full story here.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – First COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama loosens licensing rules for doctors as virus rages


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Electors meet; Biden addresses divided nation


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Group: Possible lottery revenue should be used for college scholarship fund


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Democrats squeezed as COVID-19 relief talks continue


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump says Barr resigning, will leave before Christmas


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Higher education requesting 3.47% funding increase in 2022


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama may resume to-go alcohol sales as virus surges


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS -Auburn fires football coach Gus Malzahn after 8 seasons


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US agencies hacked in global cyberspying campaign


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 15, 2020


AL.COM – 2,264 new COVID cases in Alabama; hospitalizations up to 2,248


AL.COM – Mo Brooks’ election challenge has reached ‘end of the road,’ political scientist says.


AL.COM – Alabama oyster harvest on track to double last year’s haul


AL.COM – Alabama’s 9 Electoral College members cast votes for President Trump


AL.COM – Virtual Africatown festival to celebrate female Clotilda survivors


AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey orders flags at half-staff in honor of Medal of Honor winner Bennie Adkins


AL.COM – Alabama ABC votes to let businesses to resume ‘to go’ alcohol sales; here’s what’s changed


AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Alabama prisons stonewalled a data request. Here’s what that data showed.


AL.COM – Columnist Dana McCain: The least of these and mental health


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama OKs emergency doctor rules as COVID-19 spike threatens health care system


Montgomery Advertiser – Man in stolen vehicle leads Prattville police on 20-mile chase


Montgomery Advertiser – Autauga schools to go virtual only this week after ‘alarming’ spike in COVID-19 cases


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – The Birmingham VA Health Care System expecting over 900 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – State talks vaccine security and secrecy about locations


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham Police release new smartphone app that lets you make complaints, submit tips


Tuscaloosa News – City seeks candidates for Tuscaloosa Planning and Zoning Commission vacancy


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama OKs emergency doctor rules as COVID-19 spike threatens health care system


Tuscaloosa News – PARA adds second historic bridge to Van De Graaf park in Northport


Decatur Daily – Schools expect relief from revised state quarantine requirements


Decatur Daily – Housing Authority board to interview director candidates


Decatur Daily – Police chief investigating store more before making alcohol license recommendation


Times Daily – Muscle Shoals budget includes retention pond upgrades


Times Daily – UNA unveils spring COVID plans


Times Daily – Festival of Lights celebrations go virtual


Anniston Star – For rural counties, details of vaccination campaign still unclear


Anniston Star – Higher education requesting 3.47% funding increase in 2022


Anniston Star – Anniston man charged in July burglary


YellowHammer News – Alabama officially casts its nine electoral votes for President Trump


YellowHammer News – First coronavirus vaccine doses arrive at three Alabama hospitals on Monday, 12 more on Tuesday


YellowHammer News – Mercedes-Benz to begin Tuscaloosa production of two electric-powered SUVs in 2022


Gadsden Times – Birmingham man charged with theft from Etowah County residence


Gadsden Times – Alabama OKs emergency doctor rules as COVID-19 spike threatens health care system


Gadsden Times – Boaz woman charged with felony domestic violence


Dothan Eagle – Houston School Board approves $145,000 annual salary for new superintendent Brandy White


Dothan Eagle – Houston commissioners table policy limiting recording in county buildings


Dothan Eagle – It’s finally here. Southeast Health to begin administering COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday


Opelika-Auburn News – EAMC slated to receive COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday


Opelika-Auburn News – Noun describing social distancing is Dutch word of the year


Opelika-Auburn News – Australian PM says China coal ban would breach WTO rules


WSFA Montgomery – Construction underway on Pike Road retail center


WSFA Montgomery – Man charged in weekend Montgomery shooting


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama ABC Board approves curbside liquor sales in smaller amounts


WAFF Huntsville – Athens Police Sergeant surprised with Hero’s Award


WAFF Huntsville – Virtual auction to help benefit Shoals Community Theatre


WAFF Huntsville – DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office warns public about counterfeit money around town


WKRG Mobile – Milton pastor arrested for child pornography


WKRG Mobile – President-elect Biden addresses nation after Electoral College affirms win


WKRG Mobile – 1 injured, 1 arrested in Earle St. stabbing in Mobile


WTVY Dothan – Houston County commissioners could violate constitutional rights but maybe not


WTVY Dothan – The Trawick Lights busier than ever


WTVY Dothan – Enterprise High School upgrades JROTC rifle range system


WASHINGTON POST – Electoral college affirms Biden’s victory on a relatively calm day of a chaotic election


WASHINGTON POST – ‘This is the reality’: Newsmax and One America grapple uneasily with Biden’s electoral college victory


WASHINGTON POST – Joe Biden’s speech to America: ‘It is time to turn the page’


NEW YORK TIMES – Electoral College Vote Officially Affirms Biden’s Victory


NEW YORK TIMES – Michigan Republican leaders affirm state’s electoral votes and reprimand lawmaker who suggested there might be violence.


NEW YORK TIMES – U.S. Starts Vaccine Rollout as High-Risk Health Care Workers Go First


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine Is Next in Line for Authorization


WALL STREET JOURNAL – William Barr to Resign as Attorney General


WALL STREET JOURNAL – FedEx, UPS Are Managing Surge in Packages With Strict Limits on Shippers


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



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