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Daily News Digest – March 15, 2019

Presented by

The Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure

Good morning! A soothsayer bids you beware the Ides of March.
Here’s your Daily News for Friday, March 15.

1. Toyota expands.

  • Toyota Motor Corp. is investing an additional $750 million at five U.S. plants that will bring nearly 600 new jobs, including the production of two hybrid vehicles.
  • It marks yet another expansion of the Japanese automaker’s U.S. presence, bringing to nearly $13 billion the amount it will spend by 2021.
  • The announcement also includes $288 million to increase annual engine capacity at Toyota’s Huntsville, Alabama, facility. The plant will add 450 jobs to accommodate new four-cylinder and V6 engine production lines. Last year Toyota and Mazda announced plans to build a $1.6 billion joint-venture plant in Huntsville that will eventually employ about 4,000 people.
  • President Donald Trump congratulated Toyota on Twitter tied the announcement to his efforts on trade.
  • Referring to an agreement with Canada and Mexico that would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump said: “BIG NEWS for U.S. Auto Workers! The USMCA is already fixing the broken NAFTA deal.”
  • The revised version of NAFTA negotiated by the Trump administration has not yet been approved by Congress.
  • Read more HERE.


2. Morris Dees out.

  • The Southern Poverty Law Center has fired co-founder Morris Dees.
  • A statement by Richard Cohen, the president of the law center, said Dees’ employment had been terminated, but it did not give a specific reason.
  • “As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world. When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action,” it said.
  • Dees told Kim Chandler the matter involved a personnel issue but did not elaborate. He said he wished the center well.
  • “I think the Southern Poverty Law Center is a very fine group and I devoted nearly 50 years of my life to it and I’m proud of its work,” Dees said.
  • “About being fired, all I can say is it wasn’t my decision and I wish the center the best.”
  • Dees, 82, co-founded the Montgomery-based law center with a partner in 1971 as a watchdog for minorities and the underprivileged. A decade later he won a $7 million judgment against the United Klans of America on behalf of Beulah Mae Donald, whose son was murdered by KKK members in Mobile.
  • Read Kim’s full story HERE.
  • Also read Melissa Brown’s report in the Montgomery Advertiser HERE.



A message from

the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure


THANK YOU to Governor Kay Ivey and members of the Alabama House and Senate for supporting more jobs and increased safety on our roads by passing the Rebuild Alabama Act .
Rebuild Alabama provides much-needed infrastructure funding for our state, while incorporating strong accountability and oversight of the new funds.
Thanks to your courageous vote, the road to Alabama’s future will be paved!

3. Trump to issue first vetoes.

The Capitol iat sunset after the Senate rejected competing Democratic and Republican proposals for ending the partial government shutdown, which is the longest in the nation’s history, in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • In a stunning rebuke, a dozen defecting Republicans joined Senate Democrats to block the national emergency that President Donald Trump declared so he could build his border wall with Mexico. The rejection capped a week of confrontation with the White House as both parties in Congress strained to exert their power in new ways.
  • The 59-41 tally Thursday, following the Senate’s vote a day earlier to end U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen, promised to force Trump into the first vetoes of his presidency.
  • Trump had warned against both actions. Moments after Thursday’s vote, the president tweeted a single word of warning: “VETO!”
  • Twelve GOP senators, including the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney of Utah, joined the dissent over the emergency declaration order that would enable the president to seize for the wall billions of dollars Congress intended elsewhere.
  • Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby was not one of those going along with the Trump rebuke. He voted against the measure.
  • “I believe the President’s actions are consistent with the law, and they are necessary to address the obvious crisis at the border and defend the homeland. That is why I continue to stand with him,” Shelby said.
  • Sen. Doug Jones did vote for the resolution. He had previously questioned whether the border situation rose to the level of a national emergency.
  • Read more HERE.


4. More prison trouble.

  • The Alabama Department of Corrections said Thursday that it is investigating the apparent suicide of one inmate and the stabbing death of another.
  • The deaths occurred days apart at separate prisons, but both come after advocacy groups raised concern about the suicide and homicide rates in state prisons.
  • Prison officials found 24-year-old Rashaud Dederic Morrissette unresponsive Friday in the housing area of Fountain Correctional Facility in Atmore, a department news release said. Medical staff were unable to revive him. His death has been ruled a suicide.
  • The department said it is not releasing further details amid the ongoing investigation and an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
  • Morrissette was serving a three-year sentence for a burglary conviction in Mobile County.
  • The prison system says another inmate, 27-year-old Quinton Ashaad Few, was stabbed to death after being assaulted by another inmate Tuesday at Bibb County Correctional Facility in Brent. Few was serving a 20-year-sentence for a robbery conviction in Clay County.
  • The prison system says 31-year-old Terrence Griffin, an inmate serving a life sentence, is a suspect in Few’s death.
  • The department said the incident remains under investigation.
  • Full story HERE.


5. Wishing Skip well.

  • If you’ve been missing your Skip Tucker column, there’s a good reason why.
  • Skip ended up in the hospital this past week after complications arose from one of those so-called simple procedures.
  • All is well now, but it was a scary ordeal to be sure.
  • He’ll be back to writing his pithy commentary before long, but I implored him to get some rest.
  • I hope you’ll join me in wishing Skip the best, and if you want to send him a note of encouragement, you can do that HERE.


*Programing Note.

  • Alabama Daily News runs on sponsorships and promotions, and now is the perfect time for your organization to take advantage of this next-generation advertising tool.
  • There are still weeks available during the legislative session, but spots are filling up.
  • If you’d like to discuss packages, just shoot me a note at [email protected].




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In the Weeds: How the gas tax passed, what’s next in the Legislature, and Congresswoman Terri Sewell
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Toyota investing $750M at 5 US plants, creating 600 jobs
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – SPLC announces dismissal of founder
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate votes against Trump border emergency
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Prison system investigating suicide, homicide of 2 inmates
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – March 14, 2019
AL.COM  – Southern Poverty Law Center fires founder Morris Dees
AL.COM  – Damage reported in central Alabama counties amid tornado, thunderstorm warnings
AL.COM  – HudsonAlpha scientists link gene to developmental delay
AL.COM  – Who is Morris Dees? Southern Poverty Law Center fires high-profile founder, civil rights attorney
AL.COM  – Anti abortion advocates sue city of Huntsville for violating free speech
AL.COM  – Rep. Sewell sponsors bill to increase number of doctors
AL.COM  – 1 Alabama prison inmate killed in stabbing, another takes his own life in separate incident
AL.COM  – Graduation rate inflated due to coding error, state officials say
AL.COM  – 11 million tons of Alabama met coal shipped in 2018
AL.COM  – Toyota adds 450 new jobs at Huntsville motor plant
Montgomery Advertiser – Possible tornado damage reported in Autauga, Elmore counties
Montgomery Advertiser – Southern Poverty Law Center fires co-founder Morris Dees
Montgomery Advertiser – Woman charged after allegedly spending nearly $375 from victim’s bank account, stealing over $1,000 from restaurant
Montgomery Advertiser  – Ainsworth contribution total for 2019 reaches nearly $400,000
YellowHammer News – Doug Jones votes to terminate Trump’s border emergency declaration
YellowHammer News – The responses to Congressman Byrne’s comments on illegal aliens, ‘Beto’ O’Rourke’s candidacy show you the true Democratic Party
YellowHammer News – Birmingham Business Alliance names Fred McCallum interim president, CEO
Dothan Eagle – After decades without them, Dothan radio station retakes iconic WDIG call letters
Dothan Eagle – Dothan chef Kelsey Barnard Clark wins ‘Top Chef’
Tuscaloosa News – Jury returns guilty verdict in death penalty case
Tuscaloosa News – Body of teen missing in February flooding located
Decatur Daily – Bail revoked then reinstated for restaurant owner charged with murder
Decatur Daily – Valley escapes severe weather threat
Decatur Daily – Some Decatur City, Morgan students get virtual day April 24
Times Daily – Study: Incubator’s annual impact is $170M
Times Daily – Keller Festival committee nixes alcohol sales at kickoff event
Gadsden Times – City and county reach jail agreement
Gadsden Times – Lane closures planned for railroad pavement replacement in front of Goodyear
Gadsden Times – Girlfriend Gala’s goal: Getting books to pre-schoolers
Anniston Star – Oxford approves mall redevelopment plan, work to start by summer
Anniston Star – Oxford approves mall redevelopment plan, work to start by summer
Anniston Star – Judge hears requests to dismiss defendant in murder of National Guard soldier
Troy Messenger – A NEW LIGHT: Poes put finishing touches on ‘House of Hope’
Andalusia Star News – AMVETS plans annual veterans lunch
Andalusia Star News – Traffic stop leads to drug arrest
Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security to host DHS Secretary
Daily Mountain Eagle – Carbon Hill talks about repair needs
Daily Mountain Eagle – Nearly $100K granted for free spay, neuter surgery
Trussville Tribune – Chamber of Commerce hosting job fair
Trussville Tribune – Missing person alert in Birmingham
Trussville Tribune – Storm damage reported in St. Clair County
Athens News Courier – Habitat theft case to be tried before end of year
Athens News Courier – North Alabama at risk for severe storms today
Athens News Courier – Waterlogged: Drainage project will alleviate 1st Avenue area flooding
Sand Mountain Reporter – Albertville man charged with possession of a controlled substance
WSFA Montgomery – Mass shootings at New Zealand mosques kill 49; 1 man charged
WSFA Montgomery – Sex offender ruling could mean less information for police
WSFA Montgomery – Paroled inmate accused in February shooting appears in court
Fox 6 Birmingham – Letter from Lee County tornado victim found in debris
Fox 6 Birmingham – Mobile home park one of hardest hit areas in Blount Co. during severe weather
Fox 6 Birmingham – More businesses coming to Crossplex, city councilor says
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville City Council approves new Marriott hotel next to VBC
WAFF Huntsville – Bare hands, rodent droppings and lots of low scores in this week’s Kitchen Cops report
WAFF Huntsville – ‘I was just doing my job’: Parishioners frustrated over bounty hunter arrest at Huntsville church
WKRG Mobile – TRAFFIC ALERT: Overturned 18-wheeler at entrance of Wallace Tunnel on I-10 East
WKRG Mobile – Santa Rosa County deputy struck, suspects captured after chase
WKRG Mobile – Tornado warnings in North Central Alabama
WTVY Dothan – Latest crew arrives at International Space Station
WTVY Dothan – Coffee County Sheriff’s Office announce arrest in Co Rd 663 murder
WTVY Dothan – Business booming after Dothan chef competes on Top Chef
WASHINGTON POST  – North Korea threatens to suspend denuclearization talks with the United States
WASHINGTON POST  – Trump tried to make the GOP border emergency fight about him. He lost anyway
WASHINGTON POST  – Most states have the death penalty. Few actually carry out executions.
WASHINGTON POST  – Trump pledges support for health programs but his budget takes ‘legs out from underneath the system’.
NEW YORK TIMES  – Sandy Hook Massacre: Remington and Other Gun Companies Lose Major Ruling Over Liability
NEW YORK TIMES  – Congress Has a Breaking Point. This Week, Trump Might Have Found It.



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