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Daily News Digest – January 15, 2021

Good morning and Happy Friday!

Here’s your Daily News for January 15.


1. Washington locks down ahead of inauguration

  • All through downtown Washington, the primary sound for several blocks was the beeping of forklifts unloading more fencing.
  • The U.S. Capitol, which proved such a soft target last week, was visible only through lines of tall, black fence.
  • Two blocks from the White House, a group of uniformed National Guard troops emerged from a tour bus and headed into a hotel as a state of lockdown descended on Washington that will last through the Jan. 20 inauguration.
  • The number of National Guard troops coming to Washington to assist with security has so far grown to about 21,000, Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told Vice President Mike Pence at a briefing Thursday.
  • That includes some 250 Army National Guard soldiers from Alabama. Gov. Kay Ivey activated the Guard at the request of Hokanson, Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said.
  • Officials have said the number could grow as law enforcement agencies review the ongoing threats.
  • The FBI has warned that armed protests could take place in Washington along with all 50 state capitals in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
  • In Montgomery, Mayor Steven Reed issued a statement Thursday saying city police are working with state and federal forces to prepare for any potential events in the Capital City. No specific threats have been detailed by officials.
  • Read more HERE.



2. Leeds man arrested, charged in Capitol riot

  • Joshua Black of Leeds was arrested and charged with entering a restricted building and violent entry or disorderly conduct after taking part in last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol.
  • Black was identified in part from a YouTube video he made in which he spoke of how the crowd became an angry mob, prosecutors say.
  • “We just wanted to get inside the building. I wanted to get inside the building so I could plead the blood of Jesus over it. That was my goal,” Black say on the recording.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler and see the recording for yourself HERE.
  • Meanwhile, we are learning more about the five people who died during the Capitol riot.
  • Two died violently — military veterans who wound up on opposite sides of an insurrection. The others, who suffered medical emergencies, came from different parts of the nation and different backgrounds, but were united in their belief that a presidency on its last legs should be saved.
  • Read more from Jay Reeves HERE.



3. Biden unveils $1.9 trillion COVID plan

  • President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan meant to speed up vaccines and pump out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout.
  • Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal aims to meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and advance his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. On a parallel track, it delivers another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic.
  • Biden proposed $1,400 checks for most Americans, which would be on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill. It would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September.
  • And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children.
  • Read more from Bill Barrow and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar HERE.


4. Mackey, board discuss teacher vaccination plans

  • State Superintendent Eric Mackey said teachers could start getting a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as the end of February with a more extensive rollout likely in March.
  • But, the rate of distribution and the two-doses requirement will likely mean most public school employees won’t be fully vaccinated until the end of the semester, Mackey said.
  • “We won’t have our teachers vaccinated and immunized until through this whole semester, hopefully by summer, but not likely to be done by the end of this school year,” Mackey told state board of education members on Thursday.
  • Alabama is set to start the 1B phase of its vaccination plan next week. It allows Alabamians 75 and older and first responders, like law enforcement and firefighters, to receive available vaccines. Teachers and school employees are also part of the 1B grouping, but are prioritized after the elderly and first responders.
  • Read the full story from Caroline Beck HERE.


5. Gary Smith elected BCA chairman

  • The Business Council of Alabama announced Thursday that PowerSouth CEO Gary Smith will serve as its new chairman of the board.
  • Before being elected chairman, Smith oversaw ProgressPAC, BCA’s political contributing arm, following the traditional path of leadership within the organization. Smith succeeds John Mazyck of Frazier-Lanier, who served as BCA chairman for the last year.
  • “Gary Smith has been a valuable partner of BCA for years and has contributed so much already through his involvement,” BCA CEO Katie Boyd Britt said in a press release. “His strong leadership has positively impacted BCA and ProgressPAC in innumerable ways, and I look forward to working alongside him as he continues to work on behalf of the Alabama business community.”
  • Full story HERE.



News Briefs

Byrne joins Adams and Reese as special counsel

  • Those who were wondering what Bradley Byrne would do after his term in the House of Representatives expired are wondering no more.
  • The former congressman is joining the Mobile-based law firm Adams and Reese, LLP, as a special counsel.
  • Byrne is a member of the firm’s Intersection of Business and Government Practice Group, where he focuses on representing a wide range of clients in government relations and economic development matters, the firm said in a press release this week.
  • “I am excited about returning to private practice with the top-notch team at Adams and Reese, which feels to me like returning home,” Byrne said in a written statement. “As a former leader within the firm’s Mobile office, I have seen how over the past several years, Adams and Reese’s Government Relations practice has grown and become a hallmark practice for the firm.”
  • Read more from Caroline Beck HERE.

Biden taps former FDA chief Kessler to lead vaccine science

  • WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has picked a former Food and Drug commissioner to lead vaccine science in his drive to put 100 million shots into the arms of Americans in his administration’s first 100 days and stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Dr. David Kessler, who will have the title of chief science officer of COVID response, headed the Food and Drug Administration in the 1990s under presidents of both political parties. He has been acting as a top pandemic adviser to Biden and his appointment was announced Friday by the presidential transition office.
  • Kessler will work out of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, assuming responsibility for the scientific side of Operation Warp Speed, an effort launched under the Trump administration to rapidly develop vaccines and treatments. The drive has already produced two highly effective vaccines, and more are on the way.
  • Nonetheless, the nation’s vaccination campaign has gotten off to a slow start, and most of the vaccine being delivered to states by the federal government is not being used right away.
  • A person advising the Biden transition team said Kessler will take on the role now being carried out by Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a prominent vaccine scientist and innovator who has been serving as chief advisor to Operation Warp Speed. Several vaccine candidates in the pipeline are in final clinical trials, and one company is expected to soon apply for FDA emergency approval for its formulation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
  • Kessler will coordinate vaccine review and approval, as well as the logistics of manufacturing millions more doses. Experts say the U.S. will need to vaccinate upwards of 250 million people to approach the goal of “herd immunity,” where there is widespread resistance to the virus allowing for a return to normal life. So far fewer than 12 million doses have been administered.

Whitt, Pearce join Alabama Black Belt Adventures board

  • The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association this week announced that former Auburn University Coach Joe Whitt and Selma advocate Fran Pearce have been added to its board of trustees.
  • The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association is a non profit organization dedicated to promoting outdoor recreation and tourism in Alabama’s 23-county Black Belt region. According to the group, such activities bring the state about $1 billion in economic impact each year.
  • ALBBAA Founder and board President Thomas Harris said Whitt and Pearce will bring value to advance the organization’s mission.
  • “We are extremely pleased that these two Black Belt enthusiasts are joining the board,” Harris said in a press release. “I have no doubt that the addition of Coach Joe Whitt and Mrs. Fran Pearce will enhance our ability to promote the incredible recreational opportunities as well as the thriving arts scene that can both be found all across the region.”’
  • Read more HERE.

3 campus police officers fired following stop of Black teen

  • HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Three police officers from the University of Alabama at Huntsville were fired following a review of a traffic stop where a Black teen was asked if he had drugs or a dead prostitute in his car, officials said.
  • Interim Police Chief Steven Anderson said a review of the October incident led to the termination of the former police chief, a captain and the officer involved in the traffic stop, the school announced this week.
  • Anderson was appointed interim chief Oct. 22, news outlets reported.
  • The teen’s mother, Chanda Crutcher, posted her concerns about the incident on social media.
  • Crutcher said her 17-year-old son was traveling home from work on the evening of Oct. 3 when he was stopped by the officers for what was said to be a cracked tail light. Crutcher, who said she watched body camera video of the traffic stop, wrote that her son’s vehicle was then searched.
  • Her post said one officer referred to her son as “brother” and asked him several times if he had drugs “or a dead prostitute” in his car.
  • School President Darren Dawson apologized two days after the post, stating the “words and actions” of campus police during the traffic stop “do not represent who we are as an institution.”
  • On Tuesday, the school echoed the sentiment, adding that officers have received extra training in “identifying implicit and explicit bias, de-escalation techniques (and) community policing.”
  • The officers’ names were not immediately released.





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ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden unveils $1.9T plan to stem COVID-19 and steady economy


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – National Guard troops flooding in as Washington locks down


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Leeds man arrested for Capitol riot: ‘Crowd became mob’


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Veterans on each side of the divide among Capitol mob dead


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Teacher COVID vaccination could start late February


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Gary Smith elected BCA chairman


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Byrne joins Adams and Reese as special counsel


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Whitt, Pearce join Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association board


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump impeached after Capitol riot


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Breaking: U.S. Space Command to locate at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – COVID-19 liability protection bill filed in Legislature


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama working to fix overwhelmed vaccination hotline


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – January 14, 2021


AL.COM – 3,588 new COVID cases in Alabama


AL.COM – Alabama cities, counties object to transfer of $72 million in CARES Act funds


AL.COM – How an Alabama man went from Obama supporter to dying in the Capitol insurrection


AL.COM – Jeff Sessions was ‘driving force’ behind family separations, DOJ finds


AL.COM – Former Alabama fullback Martin Houston announces bid for Tuscaloosa mayor


AL.COM – Alabama has lowest COVID vaccine rate in the nation, CDC says


AL.COM – American Airlines resuming nonstop Birmingham to Washington, DC flights


AL.COM – Senator Richard Shelby on impeachment: Wait and hear evidence


AL.COM – Why Alabama landed the national headquarters for Space Command


Montgomery Advertiser – Investigators: Alabama man says he joined Capitol riot to ‘plead the blood of Jesus’


Montgomery Advertiser – Marche Johnson announces bid for District 3 Montgomery City Council seat


Montgomery Advertiser – Joe Biden unveils COVID-19 rescue plan. What we know about $1,400 checks and more


Tuscaloosa News – Investigators: Alabama man says he joined Capitol riot to ‘plead the blood of Jesus’


Tuscaloosa News – Former Alabama football player Martin Houston joins Walt Maddox in Tuscaloosa mayor race


Tuscaloosa News – Northport home searched with warrant, 18 year old charged with possessing child pornography


Decatur Daily – US Space Command coming to Huntsville


Decatur Daily – Lawmaker: Local school boards need say in extended school closures


Decatur Daily – As local deaths mount, state tries to fix overwhelmed vaccination hotline


Times Daily – Judge dismisses suit against ag authority


Times Daily – Sheffield ABC liquor store closing temporarily after Saturday


Times Daily – Parole hearing delayed for convicted murderer


Anniston Star – Ed Whatley, retired educator in local school systems, dies of COVID at 73


Anniston Star – COVID-19 liability protection bill filed in Legislature


Anniston Star – U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers doesn’t speak in impeachment debate


YellowHammer News – Ivey fulfills request to send Alabama National Guardsmen to D.C. for security of Biden inauguration


YellowHammer News – SAIL awards nearly $1 million to summer learning programs in Alabama


YellowHammer News – PowerSouth’s Gary Smith elected as chairman of Business Council of Alabama


Gadsden Times – Alabama Power hydro generation benefits from lots of 2020 rainfall


Gadsden Times – Annual Gadsden Kiwanis Pancake Day pushed back to Aug. 28


Gadsden Times – Investigators: Alabama man says he joined Capitol riot to ‘plead the blood of Jesus’


Dothan Eagle – Women introduced to welding as a career through free workshop


Dothan Eagle – United Way Wednesday results in huge success


Dothan Eagle – Tennessee State working with Propel Center global campus


Opelika-Auburn News – Rare conviction of South Sudan soldiers for rape raises hope


Opelika-Auburn News – New York City bus left dangling from overpass after crash


Opelika-Auburn News – Xi asks Starbucks’ Schultz to help repair US-China ties


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – JCCEO resuming applications for people needing help paying rent and utilities


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – ADPH: COVID-19 Percent positive rate down slightly in Alabama


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – UAB researcher develops at home COVID-19 antibody testing kit


WSFA Montgomery – UAB researcher develops at home COVID-19 antibody testing kit


WSFA Montgomery – Man injured in shooting in Montgomery Thursday evening


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery native may have future with new U.S. Space Command center in Huntsville


WAFF Huntsville – Impeachment expert weighs in on proceedings


WAFF Huntsville – Protesters use makeshift body bags to share a message


WAFF Huntsville – Alabamians frustrated with vaccine sign up hotline; health dept. making improvements


WKRG Mobile – Pensacola attorneys hold town hall to discuss lawsuit over bridge closure


WKRG Mobile – President Donald Trump impeached by House for 2nd time: What’s next?


WKRG Mobile – Mobile Civic Center to be used as a drive-thru vaccination site


WTVY Dothan – Dothan mayor hopes more relief funds will come with fewer regulations


WTVY Dothan – Enterprise photographer receiving national recognition


WTVY Dothan – Biden proposes another $1400 per person in stimulus payments


WASHINGTON POST – Biden unveils $1.9 trillion economic and health-care relief package


WASHINGTON POST – Experts warn of vaccine stumbles ‘out of the gate’ because Trump officials refused to consult with Biden team


WASHINGTON POST – Experts warn of vaccine stumbles ‘out of the gate’ because Trump officials refused to consult with Biden team


NEW YORK TIMES – Biden Outlines $1.9 Trillion Spending Package to Combat Virus and Downturn


NEW YORK TIMES – Senate Plans Trial for Trump as G.O.P. Weighs Risks of Convicting


NEW YORK TIMES – Abandon Trump? Deep in the G.O.P. Ranks, the MAGA Mind-Set Prevails


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Biden Proposes $1.9 Trillion Covid-19 Relief Package


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Democrats in Senate to Juggle Trump Impeachment Trial, Biden Agenda


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Extremists in Capitol Riot Had Histories of Violent Rhetoric and Threats



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