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Daily News Digest – July 22, 2019

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Here’s your Daily News for Monday, July 22.



1. Opioid deaths decline, but problem still an epidemic.

  • The number of total drug overdose-related deaths in Alabama may have declined recently, but still average more than two deaths per day as multiple state agencies battle an opioid epidemic.
  • “I am encouraged by these numbers and believe they are consistent with other sources of data that we have,” Alabama Health Officer Scott Harris told Alabama Daily News. “Nevertheless, we are aware that some big gaps remain in the information that we collect, and it is likely that all states are undercounting to some degree.”
  • Of the 836 drug-overdose deaths in 2017, 50 percent involved opioids. The number of fentanyl-related deaths are climbing faster than any other illicit drug or prescribed drug, according to a recent ADPH report.
  • Escambia, Etowah and Jefferson counties had the highest opioid overdose rates in 2017.
  • Alabama also remains a highly-prescribed state per-capita. The latest CDC numbers show more prescriptions written in the state than there are people — 107 prescriptions for every 100 residents in 2017. But those numbers, too, seem to be improving.
  • In 2012, Walker County had a prescription rate of 335 per 100 people. By 2017 it was 216. Colbert County had a prescription rate of 186 per 100 residents in 2017, also a decline in recent years.
  • ADN’s Mary Sell and Caroline Beck dove into the numbers, questioned the experts, and reported a great feature story on where Alabama stands with the opioid epidemic.
  • Read it in full HERE.



2. In the Weeds w/ Frank Abagnale, Jr.

  • We’re back with a new episode of the “In the Weeds” podcast.
  • This week is a bit of a palate cleanser. After 15 straight episodes of current and prospective officer holders, we have our first non-politician guest: Frank Abagnale, Jr. of “Catch Me if You Can” movie fame.
  • That film was based off Abagnale’s life – first as a smooth-dealing teenage con man, and later as a security consultant for the FBI.
  • Abagnale has spent the last 43 years working with the FBI. He’s one of the world’s leading data security authorities, parlaying the cunning and guile he learned on the street to help the government and companies stay one step ahead of criminals.
  • On Thursday, he was in Huntsville as part of a special AARP Alabama event offered to help citizens learn how to avoid getting scammed. More than 1,000 people registered to take part in the free event.
  • Evey Owen of AARP Alabama was kind enough to arrange for an introduction and interview, which I hope you’ll find as fascinating as I did.
  • We talked about his work with the FBI, his message to those coming to the Huntsville event, and his extraordinary life as depicted in the Stephen Spielberg film.
  • Read the story and listen to the podcast HERE.
  • Also, if you haven’t yet subscribed to the “In the Weeds” podcast, you can do that via Apple podcasts HERE, via Android Podcasts HERE, and via Google Podcasts HERE. And kindly leave us a rating and review, if you will!


3. Equifax settlement reached.

  • Speaking of identity security, news this morning: Equifax will pay up to $700 million to settle with the federal government and dozens of states over a 2017 data breach that exposed Social Security numbers and other private information of nearly 150 million people.
  • The settlement with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as 48 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, would provide up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers, a $100 million civil money penalty, and other relief.
  • Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said approximately 2.3 million consumers in Alabama were affected and eligible for compensation.
  • “Equifax failed utterly in its responsibility to safeguard the information of consumers with due diligence, with consequences of untold harm by identity thefts that have occurred and may yet occur,” Marshall said.
  • “This settlement provides important steps to compensate consumers and mitigate the damage from Equifax’s careless practices. Perhaps as significant is the message to other businesses that they will be held to account for maintaining a high standard of protection for their customers’ data.”
  • The breach was one of the largest ever to threaten the private information. The consumer reporting agency, based in Atlanta, did not detect the attack for more than six weeks. The compromised data included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver license numbers, credit card numbers and in some cases, data from passports.
  • Affected consumers may be eligible to receive money by filing one or more claims for conditions including money spent purchasing credit monitoring or identity theft protection after the breach and the cost of freezing or unfreezing credit reports at any consumer reporting agency.
  • Read more HERE.


4. Boating deaths are soaring on Alabama’s lakes and rivers.

  • Alabama has already had its deadliest year in two decades for boaters — and the summer isn’t nearly over yet.
  • Boating accidents in the first 6 ½ months of 2019 have killed 25 people, reports.
  • Already, that makes this year the deadliest one since 1998, when 32 people died.
  • The number of deaths so far this year is already higher than year-end totals for the past several years.
  • This July alone, 12 crashes resulted in six deaths.
  • “In my 24 years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Capt. Gary Buchanan, the commander of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol.
  • Investigators can’t definitively pinpoint the cause for this year’s drastic increase, Buchanan said.
  • Read the full story HERE.



5. AP News Briefs.

Police dog injured after sniffing drugs during prison search
  • A prison search dog has been injured after finding synthetic marijuana during a dormitory sweep.
  • The Department of Corrections said the dog named Jake is expected to make a full recovery after being treated by prison medical staff and veterinarians.
  • The prison system said the dog’s injury happened Thursday after three emergency response teams were sent to Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore to search a housing dorm for contraband.
  • Jake became unresponsive after alerting on a powdery substance that turned out to be synthetic marijuana.
  • Prison nurses performed CPR on Jake, who was later treated by veterinarians at a local clinic and at Auburn University.
  • Jake’s handler, Sgt. Quinton Jones, said the quick action by prison medical staff saved Jake’s life.
  • Story link.
Birmingham adds biometric screening service
  • Alabama’s busiest airport is partnering with a company that can identify passengers through eye scans and fingerprints.
  • Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport recently added kiosks offering the technology for a fee, reported.
  • The CLEAR service is available for a $15 per month membership, paid annually, with various discounts for family members.
  • The scan then serves as the passenger’s ticket and reservation, reported .
  • After the biometric identification, CLEAR members move to the front of physical security screening without having to remove their shoes.
  • The technology is available at more than 60 airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. It was used earlier this month at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Cleveland. The service has about 3.8 million members, the company said.
  • In Birmingham, the service should improve the experience of airport travelers, said Ronald Mathieu, president and CEO of the Birmingham Airport Authority.
  • “Our goal at BHM is to provide passengers an easy and convenient travel experience,” he said.
  • The service employs about 25 people at the airport, Howard Kass, the company’s executive vice president for corporate affairs, said.
Neil Armstrong biographer working on new book
  • The Alabama college professor who wrote Neil Armstrong’s authorized biography is working on another book dealing with the first person to walk on the moon.
  • A release from Auburn University says professor emeritus James Hansen is finishing a book that will include letters written to the Apollo 11 astronaut. The title is “Dear Neil Armstrong: Letters to the First Man from All Mankind.”
  • Hansen previously wrote “First Man,” which was made into a Hollywood movie of the same name released last year. Hansen wrote the book with Armstrong’s cooperation after developing a relationship with the famously private astronaut, who died in 2012.
  • Interest in Apollo 11 is high around its 50th anniversary, and Hansen says Armstrong got letters about his role for the rest of his life.
Administration pauses enforcement of abortion restriction
  • The Trump administration is giving taxpayer-funded family planning clinics more time to comply with its new rule that says they no longer can refer women for abortions.
  • But the clinics reacted warily to the administration’s enforcement pause, and the widening rift could eventually affect basic health services for many low-income women.
  • A notice sent Saturday night to representatives of the clinics by the Department of Health and Human Services said the government “does not intend to bring enforcement actions” against clinics that are making “good-faith efforts to comply.” A copy of the notice, which includes a new timetable for the clinics, was provided to The Associated Press.
  • The department had said last Monday that it would require immediate compliance. That caught clinics off guard and led Planned Parenthood and other providers to say they would defy the order.
  • Read more HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In the Weeds w/ Frank Abagnale, Jr.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Opioid deaths decline, but problem is still epidemic
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Boating deaths are soaring on Alabama’s lakes and rivers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Equifax to pay up to $700M in data breach settlement
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Police dog injured after sniffing drugs during prison search
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump Administration pauses enforcement of abortion restriction
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Health insurance provider changes approved by State Employees’ Insurance Board
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Opponents hit back at toll plans for new Mobile bridge
AL.COM  – Rural charter school stokes religious fears, roils community in Alabama
AL.COM  – Columnist Roy Johnson: Atlanta ’96 shows how to make World Games succeed
AL.COM  – Biden, Booker: Trump using George Wallace playbook
AL.COM  – Toll alternatives keep emerging as anti-toll movement forges on
AL.COM  – Tuscaloosa tells hundreds of residents: Fix your houses or go to jail
AL.COM  – Contributor Dr. Jeffrey Kerby: Gun violence epidemic in parts of B’ham: View from UAB Trauma Center
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery’s municipal races are near. Here are some of the upcoming debates and locations.
Montgomery Advertiser – Is Alabama still king? SEC peers reaffirm Tide’s place atop the college football world
Montgomery Advertiser – Road-tripping couple ‘just enjoying life to the full’ found dead on the side of the road
YellowHammer News – Alabama Dem chairwoman Nancy Worley: ‘I oftentimes wonder if maybe the Republicans are paying these folks to challenge us’
YellowHammer News – Alabama based scientists help secure the future of chocolate
YellowHammer News – City of Mobile partners to bring electric vehicle charging stations downtown
Dothan Eagle – Abbeville officials asks judge to toss police chief’s lawsuit
Dothan Eagle – More than 700 pounds of meat that went to restaurants in Alabama, other Southern states recalled
Lance Griffin Jul 20, 2019
Dothan Eagle – FBI: No evidence of systematic drug planting by Dothan PD
Tuscaloosa News – Police dog injured after sniffing drugs during prison search
Tuscaloosa News – Man shot in the head during argument over cows has died
Tuscaloosa News – Probation for Florida officer who shot at autistic man with toy
Decatur Daily – Schools, law enforcement: More SROs on the way
Decatur Daily – Decatur administrators, teachers to present at national conference
Decatur Daily – Search for missing boater at Smith Lake suspended
Times Daily – Red tape slowing Inspiration Landing groundbreaking
Times Daily – ‘Remote Shoals’ has 85 applicants from 12 states
Times Daily – Universal Breakfast Program starts in August in Lauderdale schools
Gadsden Times – Moon back in NASA’s court 50 years after 1st lunar landing
Gadsden Times – Training focuses on single-officer response to shootings
Gadsden Times – See a Sloth and more at Gadsden Mall this weekend
Anniston Star – Friends and family remember Josh Ezell two years after drug relapse death
Anniston Star – State law offers slim support for Little’s argument on City Hall work
Anniston Star – Photos: Josh Ezell Memorial Gathering
Andalusia Star News – Locals use benefits of tax-free holiday
Andalusia Star News – Back to school tax free holiday begins today
Andalusia Star News – Couple opens Mae’s Mutts
Opelika-Auburn News – Valley man charged with murder, freed on bond
Opelika-Auburn News – Southwest planes collide on Nashville airport tarmac
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika’s Jaylen Stinson ready to put do-it-all ability on display
Daily Mountain Eagle – JPD now using laser drug scanner
Daily Mountain Eagle – Tucker: New law mandates more estate reports
Daily Mountain Eagle – Hundreds helped through Back 2 School Bash
Trussville Tribune – POLICE: Suspect took money from homicide victim before leaving scene
Trussville Tribune – Truck stolen from home in Trussville, police asking for information
Athens News Courier – Puerto Rico gov will not seek re-election, leaves his party
Athens News Courier – Heat and humidity grip East Coast as Midwest gets reprieve
Athens News Courier – Calhoun names Morgan business dean
Sand Mountain Reporter – ‘ONE GIANT LEAP’ | Locals reflect on historic moon landing 50 years later
Sand Mountain Reporter – Downtown businesses prepare for 10th annual Albertville MSMF
Sand Mountain Reporter – Big Spring Lake Kindergarten changes name | Evans Elementary School could get different title next year
WSFA Montgomery – Marine police concerned about more deaths on Alabama waters
WSFA Montgomery – Costly changes to Opelika Municipal Court building
WSFA Montgomery – Huntsville’s Apollo 11 press impostor also owns land on the moon
Fox 6 Birmingham – Suspect arrested for murder in Smithfield community
Fox 6 Birmingham – Man shot in Birmingham, injuries life threatening
Fox 6 Birmingham – Police arrest two people for drugs in Brookside
WAFF Huntsville – Storms tonight, then a break from the humidity
WAFF Huntsville – Factory Direct Wholesale folding bed recalled due to fire hazard
WAFF Huntsville – Homebuilders helping make home safe for Florence child battling rare blood disorder
WKRG Mobile – Tracking a tropical disturbance in the Atlantic while our weather remains unsettled
WKRG Mobile – Troopers: Man killed when tree falls on truck while driving
WKRG Mobile – Baldwin Co. missing man last seen at dialysis treatment
WTVY Dothan – Holmes County Sheriff’s Office investigating death
WTVY Dothan – Birmingham officer radios “shots fired” to dispatch; officer being evaluated
WTVY Dothan – Marianna Police set up safety and sobriety check point for “Operation Sober City”
WASHINGTON POST  – Emerging budget deal likely to include few or no actual spending cuts, while lifting debt limit for two years
WASHINGTON POST  – During America’s ‘most segregated hour,’ preachers grapple with Trump’s politics
WASHINGTON POST  – Desperate for relief from student-loan debt? Just don’t fall prey to scammers
NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump Employs an Old Tactic: Using Race for Gain

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