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Daily News Digest – January 3, 2019

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Good morning and Happy Friday!
Here’s your Daily News for January 3, 2020.




1. Strike kills Iranian military leader, Iraqi militia commander

  • The United States killed Iran’s top general and the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport Friday.
  • Gen. Qassem Soleimani was the head of the elite Quds Force and led Iran’s exportation of terrorism and paramilitary attacks in places like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
  • The drone strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense said it targeted Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” It also accused Soleimani of approving the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week and the mid-December attacks that killed one American contractor and wounded several service members.
  • Soleimani has been described by American intelligence officials as “the single most powerful operative in the Middle East,” and his killing threatens to dramatically ratchet up tensions in the region.
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S. and called for three days of public mourning for the general’s death.
  • It was just Wednesday that Khamenei taunted President Donald Trump on Twitter saying “You can’t do anything” in response to Trump’s threat that Iran would be “held responsible” for the embassy attacks.
  • Domestically, the reaction was predictably partisan, with many congressional Republicans praising Trump’s action and their Democratic counterparts questioning the broader strategy and warning that the attack could lead to war.
  • All agree that the killing of Soleimani is a big, big deal. It is being widely compared to the offing of al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The big difference is those two were leaders of organizations declining in influence, while Soleimani is a proxy for a nation state, albeit one reeling from economic sanctions.
  • Again, this is a big deal that we’re going to be talking about for a while one way or another. I encourage deep breaths and a lot of non-reactionary reading on the subject from people who know their stuff.
  • Read more about the basics of the attack and the reactions from Associated Press reporters in Baghdad, Washington and Tehran HERE (includes a helpful thread from former BBC Middle East reporter Kim Ghattas).
  • Read the definitive, if dated, profile of Soleimani from Dexter Flinkins in The New Yorker HERE.
  • Read a more recent Cliff’s Notes explanation of how the attack fits into the larger Middle East picture and changes the state of play from Matthew Continetti in the Free Beacon HERE.



2. Census estimate shows population bump, but House seat still at risk

  • Alabama’s population increased by more than 123,000 from 2010 to 2019, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • That’s good news for the worrisome prospect of losing a congressional seat, right? Well, maybe not.
  • For one thing, the updated estimates are just that: estimates, not the actual headcount mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
  • And, even if the count was accurate, a new model produced by the firm Election Data Services shows that Alabama would be the odd state out in the “musical chairs” of reapportionment. Those numbers show we could lose a seat by as small a margin as 10,000 citizens and come in 436 out of the 435-seat hand count. Brutal.
  • Of course, this is why you’re going to be hearing so much about the importance of participation in the census over the next several months. With that slim a margin, it really could matter.
  • For instance, if Alabama blows out its head count participation wise and another state close to the margin underperforms significantly, we could save the seat. The state’s we’d be looking at there are Florida and Montana.
  • The state is spending up to $3 million on an advertising and marketing campaign to make people aware of the importance of the census. Separately, Gov. Kay Ivey last month announced $1 million in Legislature-funded grants to 34 agencies and organizations to promote and encourage participation in the count.
  • Read the full story, including the fascinating EDS reapportionment model, from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.
  • Also, John Sharp of had a good story this week going deeper into what all the state is doing to boost participation. Read that HERE.






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3. AL-2: Coleman launches new ad blitz; Taylor gets pro-life endorsement

  • Congressional candidate Jeff Coleman is up with a new ad blitz in the race for Alabama’s 2nd District, this time showcasing his hardline stance against illegal immigration.
  • In the ad, the Dothan businessman tells voters he wants to “help President Trump end illegal immigration and finally build that wall.” Coleman, who owns and operates a large moving company, suggests his trucks could be used to deport those illegally in the U.S. back across the southern border.
  • This is the Coleman campaign’s third ad of the race so far, and it is spending $98,000 to push it out via broadcast and cable television, plus radio and digital. For a two-week buy in the Montgomery and Dothan markets, that will pretty much achieve saturation.
  • Such a significant and sustained ad blitz demonstrates Coleman’s distinct financial advantage in the race to replace outgoing Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery. Coleman amassed an impressive $1 million in 3rd quarter fundraising last year, half raised from donors and half self contributed. Campaign finance reports for the 4th quarter are not yet due.
  • Read more and see the ad HERE.
  • Also in the AL-2 race, Prattville business woman Jessica Taylor scored the endorsement of the Susan B. Anthony List, a prominent pro-life political group.
  • Such endorsements are sometimes rare in GOP primaries when all the candidates are pro-life. However, SBA List seems to be making a point to get behind female candidates who are outspoken on the abortion issue.
  • In its first endorsements of the 2020 cycle, SBA List included Taylor in a group of eight conservative women it is backing.
  • “With a special calling to promote women who will protect the unborn, SBA List stands behind this first group of endorsed candidates,” said former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgraves of SBA List.
  • Read more from YellowHammer’s Sean Ross HERE.




4. AG: Use of deadly force already protected in churches

  • Attorney General Steve Marshall said Thursday that Alabama law already allows individuals to defend themselves and others by using deadly force in churches.
  • Earlier this week, Alabama Daily News reported that State Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, plans to again sponsor legislation to specifically clarify that members of a church can use deadly force if threatened. The story was in response to the recent church shooting in Texas, in which two churchgoers were killed and a volunteer security guard stopped further deaths by shooting and killing the attacker.
  • But according to Marshall’s legal guidance issued Thursday, citizens are already “protected” from prosecution in such situations.
  • “Texas law was recently updated to ensure that individuals like Mr. Wilson do not have to fear the threat of prosecution for carrying a firearm in a church that allows it. Fortunately, Alabama can proudly say that it already offers this same protection.”
  • The rub, it seems, is whether a church allows firearms on its premises. Alabama law, like Texas, allows churches to prohibit carrying handguns on their property, including those with concealed carry permits. Alabama’s law isn’t specific to churches. All private property owners have the right to forbid firearms.
  • Marshall also encouraged churches and other places of worship to adopt security plans to ensure safety of their members.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.



5. AlaDems lawsuit sent back to lower court

  • The Alabama Supreme Court has denied a request to intervene in the dispute between factions of the Alabama Democratic Party and sent the case back down to a local Montgomery judge.
  • The Democratic National Committee recognizes state Rep. Chris England as the new state party leader after members of the state executive committee elected him this fall. However, longtime party Chairwoman Nancy Worley contends the election was illegitimate and filed a lawsuit to try to block England from taking control.
  • England petitioned the state’s high court to intervene in the case and dismiss Worley’s suit. Thursday’s filings show the court declined that request, and so the case goes back to Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin.
  • Now it is Griffin who will decide on the original motion to dismiss.
  • Full story HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US kills Iran’s most powerful general in Baghdad airstrike
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Census estimates show increase in Alabama’s population; House seat still at risk
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Coleman launches new ad blitz in AL-2
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AG Marshall: Alabama already has gun, stand your ground laws for churches
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Democratic Party lawsuit back before judge
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Budget hearings preview: Students’ mental health a priority in 2020 session
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Jones discusses impeachment ahead of Senate trial
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Golden eagles fly south to Alabama, other Southeastern states
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump says he’ll sign first-step China trade deal on Jan. 15
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Feds seek review of state DMV laws on immigration enforcement
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump suggests some flavored vapes may be pulled from market
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In a 24/7 food culture, periodic fasting gains followers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – January 1, 2020
AL.COM  – Judge to rule on Alabama Secretary of State’s blocking of Twitter users
AL.COM  – Alabama lawmakers ask Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade
AL.COM  – Islamic group condemns Mobile police officers after insensitive image goes viral
AL.COM  – Mobile to bring ‘firepower’ to Trump’s tariff talks involving Airbus
AL.COM  – ‘Alabama Counts’: How one Republican state bucks national trends and boosts Census awareness
AL.COM  – Supreme Court sends Democratic Party dispute back to Montgomery court
AL.COM  – Study: Birmingham offers nation’s least crowded flights
AL.COM  – Guns in church? Legislator plans to renew push for security bill
AL.COM  – Industrial/tech conference coming to Birmingham in April
Montgomery Advertiser – If you use tobacco and are younger than 21, you can no longer legally purchase it in Alabama
Montgomery Advertiser – More than keys: Jim Geiger becomes one man band for shows
Montgomery Advertiser – 3 killed, 1 hurt when car wrecks near Wetumpka
YellowHammer News – History in the making: Alabama-managed SLS rocket for Artemis I on the move
YellowHammer News – AL-02 candidate Jeff Coleman calls for sending criminal illegal aliens back over the border — ‘I’m in the moving business’
YellowHammer News – Jessica Taylor scores major pro-life endorsement in AL-02
Dothan Eagle – Police: Preliminary investigation shows speed a factor in fatal Geneva wreck killing 3 students
Dothan Eagle – As more women run for office, child care remains a hurdle
Dothan Eagle – End of the reel: Continental Drive-in abruptly announces closing on New Years’ Eve
Tuscaloosa News – More rain, colder temps in store for Tuscaloosa area
Tuscaloosa News – Couple welcomes Tuscaloosa County’s first baby born this decade
Tuscaloosa News – Alabama sheriff identifies body of missing man found in lake
Decatur Daily – New businesses, fire station to change Danville Road area
Decatur Daily – Election officials: Record number of Alabama voters likely in 2020
Decatur Daily – Budget hearings preview: Students’ mental health a priority in 2020 session
Times Daily – Weather experts urge caution with flooding conditions still imminent
Times Daily – Large clothes donation will help homeless residents
Times Daily – Sheffield shooting suspect captured; one remains at large
Gadsden Times – Poll: White evangelicals distinct on abortion, LGBT policy
Gadsden Times – Some flee, others restock before Australian wildfires worsen
Gadsden Times – State: Bowen tried to contact victim(s) after sentencing
Anniston Star – Thursday rainfall tops forecast for Northeast Alabama
Anniston Star – Man charged with assault in shooting at Anniston bar
Anniston Star – Ayers campus to start spring semester with new classrooms
Troy Messenger – Absentee ballot applications to be available next week
Troy Messenger – ‘Plaid PALS’ organized at Noble Manor
Troy Messenger – PAVING THE WAY: County focused on jail, roads in 2019
Andalusia Star News – Sowell launches group to keep women, elderly safe
Andalusia Star News – Opp to host World Food Championship Alabama State Qualifier
Opelika-Auburn News – Chambers County sting targets underage alcohol sales
Opelika-Auburn News – Amid tensions, US kills Iran general at Iraq’s main airport on Trump’s order
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelka’s Gibson-Pitts joins national board
Daily Mountain Eagle – Amendment 1 to decide on appointed school board
Daily Mountain Eagle – Empire preacher gets Bachelors after 41 years
Trussville Tribune – Developing Story: Trussville Police Department joins multi-agency investigation in Hueytown
Trussville Tribune – Family of missing woman, Paighton Houston, to meet with volunteers Saturday
Trussville Tribune – Center Point man is wanted on charges of capital murder, slew of other felonies
Athens News Courier – Ardmore man charged with torture/willful abuse of child
Athens News Courier – Smokers, do not apply: U-Haul won’t hire nicotine users in some states
WSFA Montgomery – Explore your why: Expert gives tips for staying motivated to lose weight
WSFA Montgomery – As parts of Alabama deal with flooding, now is the time to prepare
Fox 6 Birmingham – Tuscaloosa area first baby of the year born New Year’s morning
Fox 6 Birmingham – Cottondale woman hit by bullet fired during New Year’s gunfire
Fox 6 Birmingham – Person killed in awful wreck near Elmwood Cemetery
WAFF Huntsville – Cold case: Death of Lt. Col. Alonzo McGhee remains unsolved after 7 years
WAFF Huntsville – Decatur expecting sewage overflows during flooding; drinking water not affected
WKRG Mobile – Search underway for shooting suspect in Escambia County, FL
WKRG Mobile – More than 80 arrested in Northwest Florida during DUI enforcement campaign
WKRG Mobile – ECSO deputies search for Publix liquor store robbery suspect
WTVY Dothan – Traffickers marking cars is “urban legend” say Dothan Police
WTVY Dothan – Wiregrass reacts to ban nationwide ban on tobacco
WTVY Dothan – Gov. Ivey praises Alabama’s success in New Year’s message
WASHINGTON POST  – Iran vows revenge after U.S. drone strike kills elite force commander
WASHINGTON POST – As Iran and the U.S. face off, Iraq is stuck in the middle
WASHINGTON POST  – Minimum wage increases fueling faster wage growth for those at the bottom
NEW YORK TIMES  – Oil Prices Jump After U.S. Air Strike Kills Iranian Military Leader
NEW YORK TIMES – U.S. Strike in Iraq Kills Qassim Suleimani, Commander of Iranian Forces
NEW YORK TIMES  – Michael Doran: Trump’s ground game against Iran

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