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Daily News Digest – January 7, 2020

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, January 7.



1. New unemployment law triggers benefit change

  • Recently unemployed Alabamians will see a slight increase in their weekly unemployment compensation checks, but the number of weeks they are able to receive them has decreased since a new law went into effect this year.
  • Senate Bill 193, approved in the 2019 legislative session, now ties the number of weeks people receive jobless benefits to the state’s unemployment rate, going from 26 weeks to a variable 14 to 20 weeks.
  • When unemployment is at or below 6.5%, people will receive 14 weeks of benefits. If unemployment is above 6.5%, an additional week will be added for each .5% increase in the rate with a maximum of 20 weeks of benefits.
  • Alabama’s latest unemployment rate is 2.7%, a record low for the state.
  • Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, who sponsored the legislation in the House, said the system needed to be updated to meet existing workforce realities.
  • “In the current environment where employers are desperate for employees, it doesn’t really make sense to have a six-month period where someone can draw on unemployment,” Garrett told ADN. “The best thing for someone in that situation is to get back into the job market. It’s better for the individual and it’s better for the state economy.”
  • Those who enroll in a state-approved training program can also receive five extra weeks of compensation.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.


2. Investigator: Teen admitted shooting sheriff

Investigator: teen admitted he shot Alabama sheriff

  • A teenager admitted to fatally shooting an Alabama sheriff who was attempting to disperse loiterers at a gas station, a state investigator testified Monday.
  • Lt. Shawn Loughridge of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation testified in a preliminary hearing that 18-year-old William Chase Johnson admitted after being arrested that he shot Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams Sr.
  • Johnson is charged with capital murder in the sheriff’s death.
  • Store security video showed the sheriff arriving at a gas station and attempting to disperse a noisy crowd that was blocking gas pumps, the investigator said. He said witnesses indicated Johnson first approached Williams in an “aggressive” manner, and that the sheriff told him to return to his vehicle. The sheriff was shot after approaching Johnson’s black Silverado truck, Loughridge testified.
  • “You see the sheriff fall to the ground,” he testified.
  • Williams was shot once in face, with the bullet entering between his lip and chin, the investigator said.
  • Read the full story from Kim Chandler HERE.



3. Coleman gets coveted Alfa nod

  • Alabama 2nd District Congressional candidate Jeff Coleman received a big endorsement on Monday when FarmPAC, the political arm of the Alabama Farmers Federation, threw its support behind the Dothan businessman.
  • The Federation, commonly referred to as Alfa, is the state’s largest farm organization with more than 330,000 member families. Its influence is key throughout the state, but especially in the agriculture-heavy 2nd District, which stretches from Central Alabama to the Georgia and Florida state lines. The group is known for its ability to organize and turnout members to vote for endorsed candidates.
  • In Congress, the Alabama Farmers Federation lobbies for agriculture policies friendly to producers in Alabama and depends on the state’s delegation in Washington to influence bills that impact the industry. In particular, the organization closely watches the Farm Bill, which sets agriculture policies like the crop insurance program and trade agreements that affect farmers’ ability to export products.
  • The agriculture industry this year is losing one of its staunchest advocates in Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, who is not running for re-election after five terms in Congress. During her tenure, Roby has served on both the House Agriculture Committee and the House Appropriations Committee, and used both positions to influence Farm Bill authorization and spending.
  • Full story from Mary Sell and me HERE.



4. Esper: No American pullout from Iraq

  • U.S. officials are bracing for Iran to respond to the killing of its most powerful general, noting heightened military readiness in the country and preparing for a possible “tit-for-tat” attempt on the life of an American military commander.
  • They warned ships across Mideast waterways crucial to global energy supplies about the “possibility of Iranian action” against U.S. maritime interests in the region.
  • While officials say American intelligence isn’t clear on whether Iran’s latest military moves are designed to bolster Tehran’s defenses or prepare for an offensive strike, the U.S. is continuing to reinforce its own positions in the region, including repositioning some forces. One official said the U.S. anticipated a “major” attack of some type within the next day or two.
  • On Monday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said no decision had been made about withdrawing troops from Iraq. Pro-Iranian factions in the Iraqi Parliament have pushed to oust American troops following Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s killing on Iraqi soil. Esper spoke to reporters after a letter from a U.S. Marine general circulated that seemed to suggest a withdrawal had been ordered in response to a vote by the Iraqi Parliament over the weekend.
  • “There’s been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq,” Esper said.
  • Full story HERE.


5. Bolton says he’ll testify

  • Former White House national security adviser John Bolton said he is “prepared to testify” if he is subpoenaed by the Senate in its impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, a surprise statement that bolstered Democrats in their push for new witnesses.
  • Bolton, who left the White House in September, said Monday that he has weighed the issues of executive privilege and after “careful consideration and study” decided that he would comply with any Senate subpoena.
  • “If the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” he said.
  • The announcement seemed to give new life to House and Senate Democrats who are eager to see Bolton and others testify in an impeachment trial.
  • However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has the votes to quash demands to require additional testimony, meaning the Senate could move to quickly dismiss the impeachment charges.
  • Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, had publicly questioned McConnell’s stance on the impeachment process. But now both say they support an approach similar to one taken for former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, in which House managers testified before a vote was taken on calling additional witnesses.
  • That could take away any previously perceived leverage from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to demand certain testimonies before the Senate takes up the articles of impeachment.
  • Read more HERE.



News Briefs


Police arrest one, search for suspect in double slaying

  • OZARK, Ala. (AP) — Authorities in Alabama have arrested one man and are searching for another in connection with the shooting deaths of two people.
  • Xavier R. Newsome, 24, of Daleville, was arrested Saturday and charged with two counts of capital murder during a robbery and other offenses, news outlets reported.
  • Ozark police said they are searching for another suspect, Natavious Jamal Antwan Vaughn, 23, of Daleville who also faces capital murder charges.
  • Police Chief Marlos Walker said Newsome and Vaughn are being charged with the murders of Kristhian Canales, 49, of Kissimmee, Florida and Anthony L. Rodriguez, 30, of Lakeland, Florida.
  • On Friday, police responded to a call reporting two men found unresponsive on County Road 123 in Ozark. Walker said both men had been shot and were dead at the scene.
  • Walker said investigators believe the killings are drug-related.
  • Vaughn is considered armed and dangerous, Walker said.
  • It’s unclear whether Vaughn or Newsome have attorneys who can comment on their behalf.

Sheriff: Alabama deputies apparently justified in shooting

  • ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — Alabama deputies appeared to have been justified in fatally shooting a man who brandished a shotgun at officers responding to a domestic violence call, the sheriff said Monday.
  • Sheriff Mike Blakely told a news conference that two deputies were involved in the killing of George Dison, 57, and neither was being placed on administrative leave since there was no indication either officer did anything wrong.
  • “It’s pretty obvious as to what happened. I’m kind of the old school that if you get thrown off a horse the quicker you can get back on the better off you are,” said Blakely.
  • The shooting by Limestone County deputies happened after 5 p.m. Sunday at a home in a rural area of Elkmont, sheriff’s office spokesman Stephen Young told news outlets.
  • Dison had walked out of the woods near the scene and approached deputies with a shotgun, Young said. Dison ignored orders to drop the weapon, then pointed it at the deputies, Young added. The deputies fatally shot Dison and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
  • The shooting happened as officers were sent to the home on a domestic violence call for the second time in about six hours.
  • “It’s not uncommon for us to have multiple calls at an address during the same day, and you obviously have to take that into consideration as a deputy and you have to rely on your training but you have to understand that there could be an additional level of danger,” said Young.
  • Court records show Dison had multiple arrests for offenses including menacing, domestic violence and assault over the last two decades and Blakely said he knew both the man and his family.
  • “They’re good people,” he said. “It’s unfortunate something like this had to happen.”
  • An autopsy will be performed at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, Limestone County Coroner Mike West said.
  • The state Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the shooting. Officers were wearing body cameras, the sheriff said, and the state will review any video they captured.

Father, daughter killed in Alabama plane crash

  • VINEMONT, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man who died with his daughter when their small airplane crashed during takeoff was an experienced pilot, officials said Monday.
  • Ben Harrison, general manager at Cullman Regional Airport, told a news conference that Tyler Wesley Walker, 40, often flew out of the airport and was well-known in the area.
  • Walker and his 10-year-old daughter, Brooklyn Walker of Vinemont, died when a small airplane went down just off a runway on Sunday, said Cullman County Coroner Jeremy Kilpatrick.
  • The two-seat aircraft, a Vans RV-6, was based at the airport, Harrison said. Federal officials are investigating the crash and no cause has been released.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New unemployment compensation law now in effect


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Investigator: teen admitted he shot Alabama sheriff


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Coleman gets coveted FarmPAC nod in 2nd District race


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Pentagon prepares for possible Iranian reprisal after drone strike


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bolton willing to testify in impeachment trial if subpoenaed


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Debate over police jurisdictions coming back to State House


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New Byrne ad targets Kaepernick, ‘squad’ for questioning military actions


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump doubles down on striking cultural sites in Iran; Pelosi announces resolution limiting war powers


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Recycling companies must pay disabled workers back wages


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Small cracks have appeared in GOP unity on impeachment trial process


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Daily News Digest – January 6, 2019


AL.COM – Farmers Federation endorses Coleman in Alabama 2nd District congressional race


AL.COM – ACLU says steep drop in paroles will worsen Alabama prison crisis


AL.COM – Sessions praises FBI construction ongoing in Huntsville


AL.COM – Frontier Airlines suspending flights from Mobile’s downtown airport


AL.COM – Bradley Byrne invokes brother’s memory in latest campaign ad; attacks ‘The Squad’ and Colin Kaepernick


AL.COM – Contributor John Meredith: Who should Alabama Republicans choose for Senate?


Montgomery Advertiser – Work in Montgomery? Occupational tax proposal would hit your paycheck


Montgomery Advertiser – MPD launches first homicide investigation of 2020 after teen found with gunshot wound


Montgomery Advertiser – Man charged in November assault with glass ashtray


YellowHammer News – Alabama-stationed soldier killed in Kenyan terrorist attack


YellowHammer News – Jessica Taylor: ‘Not surprised’ that Ilhan Omar spouting ‘frankly un-American’ things again


YellowHammer News – Jeff Coleman scores important Alabama Farmers Federation endorsement in AL-02


Decatur Daily – AG Marshall: Alabama already has gun, stand your ground laws for churches


Decatur Daily – Limestone sheriff: Man with shotgun who had threatened family fatally shot by deputies


Decatur Daily – Census estimates show increase in Alabama’s population; House seat still at risk


Times Daily – AG Marshall: Existing stand your ground law covers churches


Times Daily – Sheffield residents charged with murder, first-degree robbery


Times Daily – Debate over police jurisdictions coming back to State House


Dothan Eagle – Updated: Dr. Press Thornton of the Future Masters golf tournament dies


Dothan Eagle – Answer Man: Did the building on the southeast corner of Main Street and Cherokee Avenue used to be a grocery store?


Tuscaloosa News – Season pass prices drop for final days of Holidays on the River


Tuscaloosa News – Investigator says teen admitted he shot Alabama sheriff


Tuscaloosa News – Soldier killed in Kenya attack had been stationed in Alabama


Gadsden Times – DeKalb Sheriff’s Office logs New Year’s arrests


Gadsden Times – Police respond to multiple incidents on Goodyear Avenue


Gadsden Times – Man killed in apparent accident at Guntersville poultry plant


Anniston Star – Cleburne commission to improve the Dallas Lodge, trail fences


Anniston Star – Anniston library now loaning tools, cameras and more


Anniston Star – Eastaboga man charged with kidnapping, domestic violence


Troy Messenger – ‘Uncle Obie’ Russell celebrates 105 years of life


Troy Messenger – WORK FOR IT: Trojans help with chores to raise funds


Troy Messenger – FIREBALLING: Henderson carries on family tradition


Andalusia Star News – 3 arrested in Covington County for attempting to sexually exploit a child


Andalusia Star News – Covington County’s first baby of 2020


Andalusia Star News – Severe weather could hit this weekend


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn native to appear on reality television show “The Bachelor”


Opelika-Auburn News – Blanchard case wakes up students, parents


Opelika-Auburn News – EAMC prepping for possible increase in flu cases


Daily Mountain Eagle – Republic: Pineview Landfill to close in 2025


Daily Mountain Eagle – Tucker, Davis involved in many changes in Probate Office


Daily Mountain Eagle – Agreement provides therapist to serve county schools


Trussville Tribune – Center Point mayor to give State of the City Address at luncheon


Trussville Tribune – TCS Bus Drivers of the Year named


Trussville Tribune – Man flags down deputy after being shot in Center Point


Athens News Courier – LCSO at scene of officer-involved shooting in Elkmont


Athens News Courier – Hearing scheduled for man accused of killing Lowndes County sheriff


Athens News Courier – ROAD ADVISORY: Market Street around Jiffy Food Store closed until lunch


Sand Mountain Reporter – Sims makes bid for District 3 Marshall County Commissioner


Sand Mountain Reporter – Whitmire to run for DeKalb District Judge as independent


Sand Mountain Reporter – Davis joins First Southern State Bank as loan officer


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery councilman to reintroduce occupational tax proposal


WSFA Montgomery – Information sought after church van stolen in Prattville


WSFA Montgomery – 4 arrested during visitation at Elmore Correctional Facility


Fox 6 Birmingham – Bail: The balance between rights and public safety


Fox 6 Birmingham – Pelham offers free self defense class for young ladies


Fox 6 Birmingham – Shelby County says plans for Coosa River Express still very premature


WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville Hospital NICU gets $75K to help premature babies


WAFF Huntsville – Arab police identify homicide victim


WAFF Huntsville – Madison police looking for runaway child


WKRG Mobile – Woman shot on North L Street in Pensacola


WKRG Mobile – Saraland Police investigate shooting on Aba Drive


WKRG Mobile – K-9 finds heroin equipment in woman’s Mary Kay bag during traffic stop


WTVY Dothan – Ark Thrift Store burglarized early Sunday morning


WTVY Dothan – CornDodgers Farm recovering from burglary


WTVY Dothan – Enterprise expects positive impact from future vet home


WASHINGTON POST – Live updates: Deadly stampede killing dozens postpones burial for slain Iranian commander


WASHINGTON POST – After Trump’s threat, administration begins drafting possible sanctions against Iraq


WASHINGTON POST – Bolton’s willingness to testify in Trump’s impeachment trial ramps up pressure on Senate Republicans


WASHINGTON POST – EPA says it will pursue new rule to cut pollution from heavy-duty trucks


WASHINGTON POST – Borden Dairy becomes second major milk producer to file for bankruptcy in two months


WASHINGTON POST – The death row drama ‘Just Mercy’ tells a tale that is shattering, satisfying and true


NEW YORK TIMES – Live Updates: Deadly Stampede at Funeral Procession for Iranian General


NEW YORK TIMES – Pentagon Rules Out Striking Iranian Cultural Sites, Contradicting Trump


NEW YORK TIMES – An Overlooked Danger: School Shootings After Hours


NEW YORK TIMES – For Some Never Trumpers, Killing of Suleimani Was Finally Something to Like




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