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Daily News Digest – December 27, 2019

Presented by

the Alabama Accountability Act Coalition

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Friday, December 27.



1. Tobacco law now in effect

  • What started out as a correction has turned into breaking news.
  • The nation’s new law raising the legal age for buying tobacco products won’t go into effect on Jan. 1, as I wrote yesterday.
  • It’s in effect now.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that, “It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21.”
  • The now-enacted law actually gave the FDA flexibility in how and when it wanted to go about enforcement, and the agency said it will be working to produce more details later.
  • The biggest issue might be for retailers who don’t want to run afoul of the law. On its website, the FDA has guidance for retailers with an update at the top of the page noting the change.
  • But, yeah, it’s now against the law to buy tobacco products if you’re under 21.
  • So, tough luck for the 19-year-old who was waiting until the weekend to buy that next can of long cut, I guess.
  • Mary Sell had it right all along, and she has a new story to reflect the FDA’s announcement. Read that HERE.



2. Police shootings bring gun issue into focus

  • Six Alabama law enforcement officers were shot and killed in 2019, the highest number in more than three decades, according to state statistics.
  • Only three states — Texas, New York and California — had more deaths than Alabama.
  • The attorney general’s office provided statistics dating back to 1987 on officers that were feloniously killed in the line of duty.
  • “This has been a horrific year for law enforcement as it relates to what we have faced,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said.
  • Another chilling statistic: Five of the six slain officers were killed with stolen guns, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
  • Expect that to be talked about more as officials on the lawmaking and enforcement side search for answers in light of this disturbing trend.
  • Read more HERE.







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3. ‘Widow’s tax’ repeal long sought

  • Amid all the sound and fury of last week’s impeachment and appropriations extravaganza in Washington, somewhat overlooked was the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets spending levels and policy for the Department of Defense.
  • Included in this year’s NDAA was a provision long-sought by military family advocates: the repeal of the so-called “Military Widow’s Tax.”
  • There are two types of survivor payouts for military families: the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) fund, which awards about $15,000 a year to families of those killed of service-related causes; and the Survivor Benefit Plan, which is a life insurance policy of sorts that pays families up to 55 percent of a veteran’s retirement benefits after they die.
  • Previously, military widows and widowers who qualify for the DIC were required to take a dollar-for-dollar offset from the SBP, even though their retired spouses elected to pay into the program. That could cost families as much as $11,000 a year.
  • Changing the law was a big win for Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, who sponsored the bill along with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
  • Read more about the change and what it means from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



4. States on front line of election security

  • It’s no secret that foreign governments have tried to infiltrate American election systems, including in 2016. Though the Russians were apparently unsuccessful in hacking state election systems the last go around, there are some who are concerned that they came way too close.
  • That’s why state election managers from around the country are training their teams to be on the lookout for hacking attempts and to defend American democracy by ensuring fair elections.
  • The federal government will be on high alert, gathering intelligence and scanning systems for suspicious cyber activity as they look to defend the nation’s elections.
  • Meanwhile, it will be the state and county officials who will be on the ground charged with identifying and dealing with any hostile acts. And they’ve developed a playbook.
  • Read more HERE.



5. RIP Dan Ireland

  • Sad news to report today: Dr. D.L. “Dan” Ireland has died at the age of 89.
  • Alabama politicos knew Dr. Ireland for his longtime work for the Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP), which pooled the resources of state churches and religious organizations to advocate on issues important to them.
  • Even when working on extremely divisive issues, Ireland had a kind and gentlemanly demeanor that earned him respect in the halls of state government.
  • Joe Godfrey, who now runs ALCAP, remembered Ireland a “a great mentor and friend to me personally. His work at ALCAP for 30 years and then assisting me for another 9 years as a volunteer made a lasting impact on the state of Alabama and, especially, the churches of this state.”
  • Read more in the Alabama Baptist HERE.




News Briefs

3 teens killed in Christmas night crash in Geneva

  • GENEVA, Ala. (AP) — Three 16-year-olds were killed and a fourth was seriously injured when a vehicle left a road and ran into trees on Christmas night in south Alabama, authorities said Thursday.
  • The dead were all cheerleaders at Geneva High School, said Geneva County Coroner Donny Adkinson.
  • The police chief posted on social media asking for prayers, and a church opened its sanctuary to the grieving community.
  • “It’s just awful,” said Adkinson.
  • Geneva, a town of about 4,400 people, is located near the Florida line more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Montgomery.
  • Adkinson said Addyson Martin, Emilee Fain, Cassidy Dunn and two other friends had been together for Christmas at someone’s home and were headed elsewhere in small sport-utility vehicle that left a road and crashed into trees.
  • Full story HERE.

Man held in Christmas Eve slaying of parents

  • ADDISON, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man was arrested in his parents’ deaths after phoning authorities on Christmas Eve to report he had killed them, police said Thursday.
  • Allen Privett, 30, was being held in the Winston County jail in the killings of Frank Privett, 71, and Rita Privett, 63, said Chief Deputy Bryan Kirkpatrick.
  • The exact charges weren’t immediately available, and it wasn’t clear whether Privett had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
  • Addison Police Chief Mitchell Woodard told his department received a call at 6:10 p.m. Tuesday from a sheriff’s office dispatcher who said a caller was on the line claiming to have killed his parents.
  • Two officers arrived to find Allen Privett standing in the front yard, still on the call with the dispatcher. Officers found both victims dead inside the house.
  • “We took him into custody without incident,” the chief said.
  • The son told officers a fight with his parent led to a shooting.

Judge orders Alabama city to pay legal fees in school fight

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A mostly white Alabama city that tried to form its own school system must pay nearly $850,000 to attorneys representing black people who successfully fought the move, a federal judge ruled.
  • U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Haikala ruled Monday that the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and attorney U.W. Clemon were due legal fees and expenses from Gardendale, which she said “acted in bad faith” when it attempted the split, reported.
  • Located north of Birmingham, Gardendale had not filed a response to the decision by Thursday, and an attorney for the city’s school board did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
  • With about 14,000 residents, Gardendale is more than 80% white. It is located in Jefferson County, which is about 50% white.
  • The city formed its own school board and hired a superintendent in 2014 in an attempt to break away from Jefferson County’s school system. The Legal Defense Fund and Clemon, a former federal judge, claimed the move was an illegal attempt to preserve a white majority in the city’s schools.
  • Gardendale denied that race was a factor, but Haikala and the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals disagreed. Haikala also ruled that Gardendale demonstrated bad faith when it tried to end federal court oversight of Jefferson County schools under a 1971 desegregation agreement.
  • Haikala ordered the city to pay nearly $740,000 in legal fees to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Clemon and another $106,400 in expenses.
  • Story link.



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ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – FDA: New tobacco law in effect
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Military widow’s tax repealed with passage of defense bill
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama police deaths rise; 5 of 6 killed with stolen guns
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 3 teens killed in Christmas night crash
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – States are on front lines of 2020 election-security efforts
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Judge orders Alabama city to pay legal fees in school fight
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Deadline approaching for Birmingham bridge project
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama ups deer checks as disease spreads in neighboring states
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Democrats test whether voters will shrug off impeachment
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – On the Money: Tips to make the best of post-holiday shopping
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – American economic growth and consumer spending show resilience
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 26, 2019
AL.COM  – Some Alabamians to get unexpected mail about forgiven medical debts
AL.COM  – Jefferson County judge considers how witness reward affected death row case
AL.COM  – Alabama researchers help drill for ancient ice
AL.COM  – 7 things I learned from spending a year reporting on mothers in Alabama
Montgomery Advertiser – Two pedestrians struck by SUV in Millbrook, one flown with serious injuries
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery police investigating Christmas night shooting, one injured
Montgomery Advertiser – Hairdresser for Coretta Scott King “honored” to help create Rosa Parks statue
YellowHammer News – Gary Palmer: Pelosi won’t send articles of impeachment to Senate ‘until she is sure there is a rigged process’
YellowHammer News – Alabama increases checks for Chronic Wasting Disease after multiple instances found in Mississippi, Tennessee
YellowHammer News – University of Alabama in Huntsville grad among historic graduating class of astronaut candidates
Dothan Eagle – UPDATE: Geneva PD probing Christmas car crash that killed 3 cheerleaders; airlifted teen stable
Dothan Eagle – UPDATE: One killed, two seriously injured in Holmes County crash
Dothan Eagle – Ozark police officer who was shot in head making ‘significant improvements’ after bullet removal
Tuscaloosa News – Number of police deaths in Alabama rise in 2019
Tuscaloosa News – Lower level tickets nearly sold out at Citrus Bowl
Tuscaloosa News – Five construction workers hospitalized after floor collapse
Decatur Daily – Good Deeds Person of the Year: Jerry Shumake
Decatur Daily – 2 years of college, about $60,000 already raised for tornado victims
Decatur Daily – Depositions delayed in online sales tax lawsuit
Times Daily – Some jobs can’t stop for holidays, even Christmas
Times Daily – Authorities want real-time social media updates
Times Daily – Lauderdale County, Muscle Shoals add additional recycling bins
Gadsden Times – Alabama police deaths rise; 5 of 6 killed with stolen guns
Gadsden Times – Glencoe police give more than tickets for Christmas
Gadsden Times – Fort Payne police officer’s family face Christmas Eve fire
Anniston Star – Police eyeing new tech for next year
Anniston Star – Georgia motorcyclist dies in Golden Springs wreck
Anniston Star – Marker project’s goal: ‘Bring some patriotism back to Piedmont’
Troy Messenger – 2020 Census jobs open, applications now available
Troy Messenger – Downtown sidewalk replacement begins January
Troy Messenger – Johnson Center highlights January exhibits
Andalusia Star News – ADAA Chaplain reflects on year of tragedies
Andalusia Star News – Deadline to pay property taxes without penalty is ticking down
Andalusia Star News – Walking for a reason: Idaho local walks through Andalusia on cross-country journey
Opelika-Auburn News – Christmas trees still useful after holidays
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn’s opponent Minnesota shuffles without offensive coordinator as teams arrive to Tampa
Opelika-Auburn News – North Carolina couple call 911 on vacuum thought to be intruder
Daily Mountain Eagle – ‘I’ve had an interesting life’
Daily Mountain Eagle – APSO gives back in Walker County
Daily Mountain Eagle – ‘Men in blue’ make holiday donations to Maddox
Trussville Tribune – New scholarship to benefit Hewitt-Trussville grads based on character
Trussville Tribune – Woman killed in single-vehicle wreck near Chalkville Mountain Road identified
Trussville Tribune – Gardendale must pay opponents’ legal fees after failed attempt to form new school district was found to be tinged with racial motives
Athens News Courier – CITY COUNCIL: Westgate residents make case for sewer; property purchased for project
Athens News Courier – 2 men shot outside Athens grocery
Athens News Courier – Alabama police deaths rise; 5 of 6 killed with stolen guns
Sand Mountain Reporter – Crossville FD has third busiest year of decade
Sand Mountain Reporter – Albertville man to publish autobiography
Sand Mountain Reporter – NACC hosts Santa’s Workshop
WSFA Montgomery – Homicide investigation underway after body found near B’ham airport
WSFA Montgomery – Geneva mourns teenagers killed in car accident with grief counseling
WSFA Montgomery – Man arrested in stabbing at Huntsville nightclub
Fox 6 Birmingham – Another deadly year for law enforcement nationally and in Alabama
Fox 6 Birmingham – Homicide investigation underway after body found near B’ham airport
Fox 6 Birmingham – Legal fees could hurt Gardendale schools
WAFF Huntsville – Limestone business owner scares off shop intruder, says he doesn’t want to press charges
WAFF Huntsville – Falkville family seeking help after fire destroys home
WAFF Huntsville – Son charged in parents’ deaths in Winston Co.
WKRG Mobile – Santa Rosa County K-9 hit by car attempting to take down suspect
WKRG Mobile – Pensacola woman sets up donation tree for homeless; downtown cleaners take down sign
WKRG Mobile – News 5 watches video involving Spanish Fort Mayor and alleged victim
WTVY Dothan – Pilot dies as air ambulance crashes on Christmas
WTVY Dothan – Funeral arrangements for victims in Geneva High School student crash
WTVY Dothan – Enterprise man killed trying to pass in no-passing zone
WASHINGTON POST – How Ukraine put Trump and Biden on a collision course
WASHINGTON POST – Why millions of Americans — including men — will get a separate bill for abortion coverage starting in June
WASHINGTON POST  – Hispanic voters are growing in power. Why are Democratic presidential candidates ignoring them?
NEW YORK TIMES  – Anguish and Anger From the Navy SEALS Who Turned In Edward Gallagher
NEW YORK TIMES  – With U.S. Help No Longer Assured, Saudis Try a New Strategy: Talks
NEW YORK TIMES  – The F.A.A. Wants to Start Tracking Drones’ Locations
NEW YORK TIMES  – Crisis Looms in Antibiotics as Drug Makers Go Bankrupt

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