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Daily News Digest – January 1, 2020

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Good morning and Happy New Year!
Settle in with your green tea, coffee or other beverage of necessity and get caught up on what’s happening.
Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, January 1, 2020.



1. Trump deploys more troops to Mideast after US embassy attack

  • Charging that Iran was “fully responsible” for an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, President Donald Trump ordered about 750 U.S. soldiers deployed to the Middle East as about 3,000 more prepared for possible deployment in the next several days.
  • No U.S. casualties or evacuations were reported after the attack Tuesday by dozens of Iran-supported militiamen. U.S. Marines were sent from Kuwait to reinforce the compound.
  • By early evening Tuesday, the mob had retreated from the compound but set up several tents outside for an intended sit-in. Dozens of yellow flags belonging to Iran-backed Shiite militias fluttered atop the reception area and were plastered along the embassy’s concrete wall along with anti-U.S. graffiti.
  • American Apache helicopters (pictured above) flew overhead and dropped flares over the area in what the U.S. military called a “show of force.” The U.S. also sent 100 or more additional Marines to the embassy compound to support its defenses.
  • The attack was a demonstration that Iran still holds considerable influence in Iraq and could further retaliate against Trump’s economic pressure campaign against the Iranian regime by striking American interests.
  • “They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!” Trump tweeted Tuesday. He also thanked top Iraqi government leaders for their “rapid response upon request.”
  • Full story HERE.



2. Jones discusses impeachment ahead of Senate trial

  • While Republican and Democratic leaders have not yet come to an agreement on the process, the impeachment of President Donald Trump will eventually move to the U.S. Senate for a trial.
  • One of the most-watched votes will be that of Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones.
  • Republicans’ control of the U.S. Senate makes the ultimate outcome all but predetermined. It would take a two-thirds majority to convict Trump on impeachment charges, meaning all 47 Democrats and at least 20 Republicans would need to vote yes.
  • That makes Jones’ vote of little consequence to the actual outcome. However, vote will have significant political impact, both for Jones and his party.
  • On one hand, a vote to convict the president would surely anger Trump supporters in a state where the president enjoys overwhelming voter support, impacting Jones’ re-election prospects later this year. On the other hand, a vote to acquit could damage national Democrats’ message by showing disunity and anger his base of supporters back home.
  • Jones says what matters for now isn’t the politics, but the still nebulous process and procedure.
  • “This is not about parties,” Jones said in a recent interview. “It’s about the future of the presidency, it’s about the future of Congress, and it’s about national security.”
  • In an op-ed contributed to The Washington Post this week, Jones laid out a more detailed explanation of how he is approaching the impeachment question.
  • He says he wants a “full, fair and complete trial with all relevant evidence regarding the president’s conduct.” That would include key witnesses – at least four of them – from the Trump administration, as well as documents relating to the impeachment charges.
  • In all likelihood, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t agree to a trial that meets all of Jones’ requirements. That begins to beg the question of whether an unsatisfactory process can justify a vote to convict for Jones.
  • Read my full story on the matter HERE.








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3. Market finishes strong in banner year

  • Wall Street closed the books Tuesday on a blockbuster 2019, with the broader market delivering its best returns in six years.
  • The S&P 500 finished with a gain of 28.9% for the year, or a total return of 31.5%, including dividends. The Nasdaq composite rose 35.3%. For both indexes it was the best annual performance since 2013. Technology stocks helped power those gains by vaulting 48%.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 22.3%, led by Apple.
  • Along the way, the three major indexes set more record highs than in 2018 and kept the longest bull market for stocks going.
  • “We had a remarkable year of returns in the stock market,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at Globalt Investments. “Things are much different going into 2020 than they were going into 2019.”
  • A truce in the 17-month U.S.-China trade war helped keep investors in a buying mood through the end of the year. Washington and Beijing announced in December they reached an agreement over a “Phase 1” trade deal that calls for the U.S. to reduce tariffs and China to buy larger quantities of U.S. farm products.
  • Full story HERE.



4. Birmingham firefighter sues over mold, asbestos-filled station

  • A firefighter says asbestos, mold and toxic fumes inside a fire station in Alabama’s largest city have sickened him and other firefighters.
  • Birmingham firefighter Gary Michael Horsley Jr. says in a newly filed federal complaint that Fire Station 27 is continuing to put firefighters and visitors at risk.
  • The city temporarily closed the station during the summer while an environmental company inspected it.
  • “Fire Station 27 is currently a hazard to the health of anyone working or visiting there,” Horsley’s lawsuit states.
  • A representative of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday. The mayor in June ordered it temporarily closed, and firefighters were relocated while testing took place.
  • Full story from Jeff Martin HERE.



5. Bowl game day!

  • It has been a month since Auburn and Alabama played football. Kinda weird.
  • But that ends today as both teams lace it up in sunny Florida to play their New Year’s Day bowl games.
  • The matchups against Big Ten teams are similar, the locations are 75 miles away, the kickoff times are the same (noon), and even the point spreads are identical. And, remember, Auburn and Alabama are tied for 9th in the AP poll. Again, weird.
  • In the Citrus Bowl, the Alabama Crimson Tide faces a Michigan Wolverines team that is underachieving, but hungry. It will actually be the first time Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh have coached against each other, even though they’ve traded barbs through the media for years. Read more about the game, including the Saban-Harbaugh press conference, in Tim Reynold’s preview story HERE.
  • In the Outback Bowl, Gus Malzhan’s Auburn Tigers take on a Minnesota team with one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the country. The only problem for the Golden Gophers is they’ll be without their offensive coordinator, who got hired by Penn State a week ago. Auburn will be wearing special helmets to honor program legend Pat Sullivan, and if you haven’t seen that video, it’s worth a watch. See it and read more about the game in Fred Goodall’s preview story HERE.




News Briefs

Vigil held to pray for return of missing Alabama woman

  • TRUSSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Dozens of people gathered at an Alabama church to pray for the safe return of a 29-year-old woman who disappeared in December.
  • Relatives and friends of Paighton Laine Houston gathered Monday night with worshipers at the Clearbranch United Methodist Church in Trussville, the Trussville Tribune reported. Parishioners were given candles and black bracelets that had a yellow bead “to remind you that every time you see this bracelet it just takes one little light to overcome the whole darkness,” said Vaughn Stafford, the church’s lead pastor.
  • Authorities have said Houston was last seen on Dec. 20 leaving a Birmingham bar with two men. It was reported that she left willingly, Birmingham police Sgt. Johnny Williams told She reportedly texted a friend later that night saying she didn’t know who she was with and she felt like she was in trouble.
  • Authorities still are reviewing surveillance video, and it’s unclear if foul play was involved in Houston’s disappearance, Williams said.
  • “We’re pretty much in the same place that we were when we first reported her missing,” he said. “We don’t have any other leads. We’ve exhausted the ones we’ve had to this point, but we’ll continue to investigate and try to develop new leads.”
  • Gov. Kay Ivey has offered a cash reward in the case. That’s in addition to a $5,000 reward offered by Crime Stoppers.
  • “Unfortunately, another female is missing in the state of Alabama,” Ivey said. She referenced the disappearances of Aniah Blanchard and Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney, both later found dead.
  • Ivey said the $5,000 reward is “to help encourage anyone with credible information to contact the appropriate authorities and help make that happen.”

Decatur reports 800K-gallon sewage spill into waterways

  • DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — More than 800,000 gallons of untreated sewage spilled from an Alabama city’s utility plant and eventually reached the Tennessee River during two days of heavy rains, documents filed by Decatur Utilities show.
  • Disclosures filed with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management reveal that about 8 million gallons of raw sewage have escaped the Decatur Utilities sanitary sewer system this year in 81 overflows, The Decatur Daily reported. The largest discharge happened last week when rain overwhelmed old pipes and sewage began pouring from a manhole near the utility’s headquarters. It took the city-owned company more than 40 hours to stop the overflow.
  • Decatur Utilities told the Environmental Department the heavy rains caused the problem, though the newspaper says similar companies in neighboring communities reported few to no sewer overflows during the same period. Officials were out for the holidays and didn’t respond to questions last week, Decatur Utilities spokesman Joe Holmes told the newspaper.
  • Water Resources Manager Tom Cleveland has said the company reports a high number of overflows because crews proactively look for them. The company has replaced aging infrastructure over the past six years in an effort to reduce overflows, he added.
  • In May, the state Attorney General’s Office and the Environmental Management Department sued Decatur Utilities, arguing it’s liable to the state for up to $25,000 per overflow. The complaint alleges the spills have contributed to high E. coli levels in the Tennessee River.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Jones discusses impeachment vote ahead of Senate trial


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump deploys more troops to Mideast after US embassy attack


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Stocks close out best year since 2013; S&P 500 soars 28.9%


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawsuit: Asbestos, mold, fumes make fire station hazardous


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Skip Tucker: A man defined


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Saban vs. Harbaugh in the Citrus Bowl, with much at stake


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Minnesota tests progress against Auburn in Outback Bowl


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Greer to bring back church ‘stand your ground’ bill in 2020


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Firearms instructor took out gunman at Texas church service


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – 2020 Watch: Messy primary finally meets election year


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pompeo to visit Ukraine as Senate weighs impeachment trial


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Newseum hailed free press, but got beaten by free museums


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 31, 2019


AL.COM  – Mobile public safety director defends officers in viral ‘homeless quilt’ photo


AL.COM  – Montgomery agencies owe $541,000 in back wages to disabled workers


AL.COM  – 4 Alabama breweries teaming up for new brewpub


AL.COM  – HUD awards grants aimed at reducing dependence on subsidies


AL.COM  – Obama, Trump tie in Gallup poll of ‘most admired man’


AL.COM  – The top Alabama environmental stories of 2019


AL.COM  – A decade after decline, Alabama’s automakers are booming


Montgomery Advertiser – AUM upgrades on-campus internet to 10GB


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery’s brick versus asphalt war: Ever wonder why part of Scott Street is brick-paved?


Montgomery Advertiser – Online church: Ministries use VR, apps to deliver digital services and virtual baptisms


YellowHammer News – Vigil held to pray for return of missing Trussville woman


YellowHammer News – High-speed rail in North Alabama ‘will happen 20 years, 25 years from now,’ says Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle


YellowHammer News – Who’s next in Bama’s line of succession?


Dothan Eagle – Candlelight vigil & balloon release honors Geneva accident victims


Dothan Eagle – 2019 Year in Review: Positive components highlight economic growth


Dothan Eagle – Following fatal Geneva wreck, ALEA reminds parents about Alabama’s Graduated Driver’s License Law


Tuscaloosa News – Vigil held to pray for return of missing Alabama woman


Tuscaloosa News – Here’s to the new year: CHOM party


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama, Michigan square off for just fifth time


Decatur Daily – 810,075 gallons of untreated Decatur sewage released last week



Decatur Daily – Gunmen attack Greek tanker off west Africa, abduct 8 crewmen


Decatur Daily – Long life for Lucky: Once-mistreated dog still beloved years after being found in dumpster


Times Daily – 1 dies, 2 rescued during Lauderdale flash flooding


Times Daily – Greer to refile church ‘stand your ground’ bill


Times Daily – Flooding of Colbert roadways receded quickly


Gadsden Times – City Council discusses Los Arcos ahead of public hearing


Gadsden Times – Etowah County’s top stories of 2019


Gadsden Times – Trump suggests some flavored vapes may be pulled from market


Anniston Star – Ben Nunnally: A peek behind the curtain of a telemarketing scam


Anniston Star – Kitty Stone students climb into safe, healthy activities


Anniston Star – A year’s work: Stories we told in 2019


Troy Messenger – OLD CHRISTMAS: Pike County tradition tells wise men’s story


Troy Messenger – Flu having significant impact in Pike County


Troy Messenger – City of Troy contracts services from community organizations


Opelika-Auburn News – New Year’s planner: New Year’s Eve events in Auburn-Opelika


Opelika-Auburn News – EAMC enacts additional flu restrictions


Opelika-Auburn News – State troopers out in force today


Daily Mountain Eagle – U.S. Census hiring workers for Walker County


Trussville Tribune – Lawsuit: Asbestos, mold, fumes make Birmingham fire station hazardous


Trussville Tribune – Vigil held to pray for return of Paighton Laine Houston


Sand Mountain Reporter – Body found at Lake Guntersville Sailing Club identified


Sand Mountain Reporter – Year’s honorable mentions


Sand Mountain Reporter – Traynor to run for Marshall County school board


WSFA Montgomery – Father, son attempt to elude Elmore County deputy by jumping off bridge


WSFA Montgomery – Top Ala. political stories of 2019


WSFA Montgomery – UPDATE: Bodycam video of reported kidnapping Sunday in Brookside


Fox 6 Birmingham – Registration fees are going up for electric and plug-in hybrids


Fox 6 Birmingham – Brookside Police credit God, witness in kidnapping case


Fox 6 Birmingham – Auburn debuts alternate helmets for bowl game


WAFF Huntsville – Flu cases rising in north Alabama


WAFF Huntsville – Local lawmakers push bill to allow worship service security to fire weapon if threatened


WAFF Huntsville – Authorities identify body found in Lake Guntersville


WKRG Mobile – MoonPie Drop closes out 2019


WKRG Mobile – Mobile Fire-Rescue responds to house fire on Gorgas Street


WKRG Mobile – Troopers arrest two for human trafficking in Escambia County, FL


WTVY Dothan  – Fourth Annual Downtown Countdown reigns in the New Year in Dothan


WTVY Dothan – Need a ride New Year’s Eve? Plenty of safe ways to get home


WTVY Dothan – Kisses, cheers, fireworks welcome 2020 in Times Square


WASHINGTON POST  – Trump threatens Iran after embassy attack, but remains reluctant to get more involved in region


WASHINGTON POST – Democrats sharpen their differences as Iowa caucuses loom


WASHINGTON POST  – Trump accuses Democrats of avoiding Senate trial to protect Bidens


NEW YORK TIMES  – Hospitals and Schools Are Being Bombed in Syria. Take a closer look.


NEW YORK TIMES – Elizabeth Warren Isn’t Talking Much About ‘Medicare for All’ Anymore


NEW YORK TIMES  – 2nd Senate Republican Questions Impartiality of Impeachment Trial


NEW YORK TIMES  – Why Abolishing Bail for Some Crimes Has Law Enforcement on Edge




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