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Daily News Digest – December 24, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, December 24.




1. Trump vetoes NDAA

  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual military policy bill that Congress has passed for 59 consecutive years without incident.
  • Trump followed through on threats to veto the measure that has broad bipartisan support in Congress and potentially setting up the first override vote of his presidency.
  • The bill affirms 3% pay raises for U.S. troops and authorizes more than $740 billion in military programs and construction.
  • Long before issuing the veto, Trump offered a series of rationales for rejecting it. He has called for lawmakers to include limits on social media companies he claimed are biased against him and to strip out language that allows for the renaming of military bases such as Fort Benning, Fort Hood and Fort Rucker that honor Confederate leaders.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the veto “an act of staggering recklessness that harms our troops, endangers our security and undermines the will of the bipartisan Congress.”
  • Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, avoided any criticism of Trump, but called the NDAA “absolutely vital to our national security and our troops. … Our men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform shouldn’t be denied what they need — ever.”
  • Both the House and Senate passed the measure by margins large enough to override a veto from the president. Trump has vetoed eight bills previously, but those vetoes were sustained because supporters did not gain the two-thirds vote needed in each chamber for the bill to become law without Trump’s signature.
  • Read more HERE.



2. COVID veto threat tests GOP loyalty to Trump

  • Threatening to tank Congress’ massive COVID relief and government funding package, President Donald Trump’s demand for bigger aid checks for Americans is forcing Republicans traditionally wary of such spending into an uncomfortable test of allegiance.
  • Today, House Democrats who also favor $2,000 checks will all but dare Republicans to break with Trump, calling up his proposal for a Christmas Eve vote. The president’s last-minute objection could derail critical legislation amid a raging pandemic and deep economic uncertainty. It also risks a federal government shutdown by early next week.
  • Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have resisted $2,000 checks as too costly. House Republicans are expected to block the vote, but Democrats may try again Monday.
  • The president’s last-minute objections are setting up a defining showdown with his own Republican Party in his final days in office.
  • Rather than take the victory of the sweeping aid package, among the biggest in history, Trump is lashing out at GOP leaders over the presidential election — for acknowledging Joe Biden as president-elect and rebuffing his campaign to dispute the Electoral College results when they are tallied in Congress on Jan. 6.
  • The president’s push to increase direct payments for most Americans from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples splits the party with a politically painful loyalty test, including for GOP senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, fighting to retain their seats in the Jan. 5 special election in Georgia.
  • Read more from Lisa Mascaro and Andrew Taylor HERE.



3. Bill would amend parole and probation violation sentencing, ease county jail crowding

  • Proposed legislation would reduce the amount of time parole violators serve in county jails and compensate selected jails more for holding the state inmates.
  • Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, is the sponsor of the bill to amend the state’s “dips and dunks” process for parole or probation violators to hopefully ease crowding and financial strains on county jails.
  • “With children, you have sleepovers sometimes and you don’t mind watching someone else’s young’n for a day or two but after a day or two, it gets old,” Albritton said during the Association of County Commissions of Alabama’s legislative priorities meeting earlier this month.
  • “Dips” are when recently released state inmates have a technical violation of their parole and are sent to the county jail for a two-or three-day stay. “Dunks” are when they have six or more “dips” and are transferred to state prison for a 45-day stay. Three “dunks” could result in probation being revoked and the offender being sentenced back to prison.
  • Approved in a 2015 prison reform effort, some have said the dips and dunks have resulted in an unfunded mandate on county jails. Dunks appear to be a significant problem because of lag time in transferring inmates from county jails to state prisons.
  • The new bill reduces the amount of “dips” to no more than six days per month, instead of the current nine days. The bill also shortens the amount of “dips” from no more than nine total days per violator instead of the current 18 days before the inmate is to be transferred back to prison or one of several jails willing to take them. Those parole violators serving for “dunks” are now held in county jails before moving to prisons and county officials have said it takes too long to get them back in state custody.
  • Full story from Caroline Beck HERE.



4. Pfizer to supply additional 100M doses of vaccine

  • Pfizer said Wednesday it will supply the U.S. government with an additional 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine under a new agreement between the pharmaceutical giant and the Trump administration.
  • Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said that will bring their total current commitment to 200 million doses for the U.S. That should be enough to vaccinate 100 million people with the two-shot regimen. The government also has an option to purchase an additional 400 million doses.
  • “This new federal purchase can give Americans even more confidence that we will have enough supply to vaccinate every American who wants it by June 2021,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a statement. The cost to taxpayers: $1.95 billion for the additional 100 million doses.
  • Separately, HHS announced it has joined forces with another big pharma company — Merck— to support the large-scale manufacture of a promising treatment for patients suffering from severe COVID-19 illness.
  • The treatment, still under investigation and not yet approved by the FDA, is known as MK-7110. It has the potential to minimize the damaging effects of an overactive immune response to COVID-19. This immune overdrive unleashes a cascade of effects on the human body, complicating the life-saving efforts of doctors and nurses.
  • Full story HERE.


5. Christmas in the ICU

  • A Christmas tree stands outside the intensive care room where a man stricken by COVID-19 lies unconscious, a machine breathing for him. A few feet away, a plastic snowman adorns the door of another patient whose face is barely visible behind ventilator tubes.
  • The decorations are “a way to let family members know that we’re trying, and we love these patients and we want them to feel like it’s Christmas as much as we can,” nurse Carla Fallin said, standing just outside one of the rooms at East Alabama Medical Center.
  • While parades, shopping and Christmas tree lightings go on around them, nurses and doctors who’ve spent agonizing months caring for the ill are doing what they can to get through the holiday season, which many fear will only spread the disease and add to the U.S. death toll that has surpassed 300,000.
  • The red-brick hospital is near Auburn University in the old railroad town of Opelika, a city of 30,000 that decorated its streetlights and overpasses with green garlands and red ribbons for the season.
  • Amid so much suffering and after so many tears, any ray of brightness helps, even if it’s just a candy cane sticker on a ICU window, said Dr. Meshia Wallace, a pulmonary physician who works in critical care.
  • “Families come in, and all they’re getting for the most part is bad news: ‘Your family member is sick, they’ve moved down from the seventh floor to the ICU,’” she said. “A little bit of Christmas cheer is not going to hurt. It can only help.”
  • Read the full story from Jay Reeves with photos from Julie Bennett HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump vetoes defense bill, setting up possible override vote


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Veto threat tests loyalty of GOP


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would amend parole and probation violation sentencing, ease county jail crowding


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pfizer to supply US with additional 100M doses of vaccine


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Christmas in the ICU: Decorations, lights and many tears


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Vaccine recipient with history of allergies has severe reaction to injection


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New federal relief bill gives state more time to spend millions


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would allow businesses, places of worship remain open in emergencies


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Consumer relief: bill to end ‘surprise’ medical bills


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Auburn hires Boise State’s Harsin to lead football program


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 23, 2020


AL.COM – Another 4,758 COVID cases added in Alabama


AL.COM – 52 COVID-19 positive Alabama inmates dead this year after state reports 2 more deaths


AL.COM – Feds investigate link between University of Alabama, China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology


AL.COM – Alabama patient recovering after allergic reaction to COVID vaccine


AL.COM – Rebecca Luker, Broadway actress from Alabama, dies at 59


AL.COM – Boutwell will open as warming center for cold Christmas


AL.COM – Alabama could get another year to spend $1.8 billion from CARES Act


AL.COM – Jackson County Commission chairman resigns during courthouse surveillance investigation


AL.COM – Alabama may avoid losing seat in Congress, Census estimates suggest


Montgomery Advertiser – Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine recipient with history of allergies has severe reaction to injection


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery council to vote on shutting down Yu Bar after brawl, shooting


Montgomery Advertiser – Find European-themed architecture in east Montgomery’s Hampstead


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ADPH explains COVID-19 vaccine allergy is rare


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – State health officials say vaccine distribution phases may be difficult to enforce


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ‘Slutty Vegan’ announces restaurant location in Woodlawn


Tuscaloosa News – Northport man charged with 15 counts of child pornography possession


Tuscaloosa News – Tony-nominated Broadway star from Helena, Rebecca Luker, dies at age 59


Tuscaloosa News – Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine recipient with history of allergies has severe reaction to injection


Decatur Daily – Nursing home vaccinations to start Monday; hospital receives Moderna doses


Decatur Daily – Allergic reaction to COVID vaccine reported in Decatur


Decatur Daily – Decatur woman retires after teaching art for 54 years


Times Daily – Sheffield receives grant to study flood-prone areas


Times Daily – Reports: Terry Bowden headed to Louisiana-Monroe


Times Daily – Sheffield mayor suggests trash compactors for the household garbage transfer station


Anniston Star – Cider Ridge may get new operations manager, Oxford mayor says


Anniston Star – UPDATED: First COVID vaccines in Calhoun County go to high-risk hospital workers


Anniston Star – Cider Ridge may get new operations manager, Oxford mayor says


YellowHammer News – Birmingham Amazon employees give back to community


YellowHammer News – Trump administration invested more than $1.5B benefiting rural Alabama in 2020


Gadsden Times – Eugenias Advisory Group announces Green as firm’s new vice president


Gadsden Times – Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine recipient with history of allergies has severe reaction to injection


Gadsden Times – CRS provides presents, food for local families in need at Christmas


Dothan Eagle – Dothan churches taking precautions with Christmas services


Dothan Eagle – Forgot a gift? Shop locally for last-minute Christmas gifts


Dothan Eagle – Dothan COVID-19 hospitalizations spike as Flowers acquires Moderna vaccine


Opelika-Auburn News – No Christmas Eve joy for truckers stuck in UK virus gridlock


Opelika-Auburn News – The Latest: Russia counts 29,900 new cases, a daily high


Opelika-Auburn News – Santa’s ‘grandchildren’ spread joy in Italian nursing homes


WSFA Montgomery – Judson College to close unless they raise $500,000 by the end of the year


WSFA Montgomery – Christmas presents may arrive late because of USPS delays


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama could have more time to spend millions in CARES Act money


WAFF Huntsville – Crime of the Week: Stolen items straight form the car


WAFF Huntsville – Leaders with Downtown Rescue Mission prepare to feed the homeless over the holiday


WAFF Huntsville – ADPH leaders announce one person went into anaphylaxis after vaccine


WKRG Mobile – President Trump issues new pardons and sentence commutations for 29 people, including former top campaign officials


WKRG Mobile – US Dept. of Education investigating alleged relationship between the University of Alabama and Wuhan Institute of Virology in China


WKRG Mobile – Which major stores, restaurant chains are open on Christmas Day?


WTVY Dothan – First Baptist Church Geneva Pastor Ed Scott shares ways to cope with holiday grief


WTVY Dothan – SpectraCare Health Systems says stress of pandemic can heighten anxiety and depression


WTVY Dothan – Psychologist explains COVID-19 guilt, advises talking about it


WASHINGTON POST – Trump pardons Charles Kushner, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone in latest wave of clemency grants


WASHINGTON POST – Trump vowed to drain the swamp. Then he granted clemency to three former congressmen convicted of federal crimes.


WASHINGTON POST – Trump’s last-minute outburst throws pandemic relief effort into chaos


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Gives Clemency to More Allies, Including Manafort, Stone and Charles Kushner


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump’s Attack on Coronavirus Relief Divides G.O.P. and Threatens Recovery


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid-19 Latest Updates: When Does Herd Immunity Kick In for the Virus?


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Trump Issues 26 More Pardons, Including to Paul Manafort, Roger Stone


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Alibaba, Ant Face Crackdowns From Chinese Regulators


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Covid-19 Stimulus Package Delivers a Christmas Haul for Loggers


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



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