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Daily News Digest – September 11, 2020

Good morning.

Here’s your Daily News for Friday, September 11.

1. US remembers 9/11 as pandemic changes tribute traditions

  • Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions.
  • In New York, a dispute over coronavirus-safety precautions is leading to split-screen remembrances Friday, one at the Sept. 11 memorial plaza at the World Trade Center and another on a nearby corner. The Pentagon’s observance will be so restricted that not even victims’ families can attend, though small groups can visit the memorial there later in the day.
  • President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are both headed — at different times — to the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  • Trump is speaking at the morning ceremony, the White House said. Biden plans to pay respects there in the afternoon after attending the observance at the 9/11 memorial in New York.
  • Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is also due at ground zero — and then at the other ceremony a few blocks away.
  • In short, the anniversary of 9/11 is a complicated occasion in a maelstrom of a year.
  • Still, it’s important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the trade center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.
  • “I know that the heart of America beats on 9/11 and, of course, thinks about that tragic day. I don’t think that people forget,” says Anthoula Katsimatides, who lost her brother John and is now on the board of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum.
  • Read more HERE.



2. More details on CARES money shifts, tax increase on employers

  • Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday officially announced a transfer of $300 million in CARES Act funding to the state’s rapidly shrinking unemployment benefits fund, a move designed to spare businesses a major tax hike.
  • A smaller tax increase on employers is still expected and some state and business leaders are hopeful more CARES Act money will be put toward unemployment in the future.
  • “Since the $1.9 billion in CARES Act funds were allocated to Alabama, I have worked to get those funds into the hands of those Alabamians who need it,” Ivey said. “My administration anticipated shifting in the allocation of this money, and we will continue evaluating our options as we move forward.”
  • ADN’s Mary Sell first reported Wednesday that changes were planned for the $1.9 billion in federal funds lawmakers and Ivey allocated to various agencies and groups in May.
  • Without the $300 million infusion, unemployment insurance tax rates for employers would increase by 508%, Ivey’s office said. With the transfer, that increase will be more like 200%.
  • A business with 20 employees and quarterly taxable payroll of $160,000 now pays about $1,040 in unemployment tax. With the transfer, they’ll pay $3,120. Without the transfer, they could have paid $6,320.
  • Read more, including where the $300 million is coming from, HERE.



3. State will publish K-12 school COVID-19 cases soon

  • Alabama will soon start publishing data on new cases of COVID-19 in K-12 public schools, State Superintendent Eric Mackey said Thursday.
  • Mackey did not say exactly when that data will be published, but said once it’s available it would be updated weekly.
  • “Even though we’ve had very few students who have had serious complications or even symptoms, we feel like we need to let parents know when and if a certain part of the state or a certain school system (has) positive cases,” Mackey said.
  • Mackey said so far he has not heard reports of a large number of teachers testing positive for COVID-19 in the state and has asked schools to report if large outbreaks do appear.
  • According to a recent survey by the Alabama State Department of Education and the University of Alabama’s College of Education, 65% of parents said they planned to send their children back to school, while 35% said they did not plan to send their children back to in-person classes. The main reason listed for why parents wouldn’t send their child back to school was COVID-19 and related health issues.
  • Eighty-one percent of respondents said they had high-speed internet access where they lived compared to 15% who said they did not. Smart phones were the most frequent personal device listed by respondents as being present in their homes, followed by laptops and tablets.
  • Only 33% of parents said their children were learning at home as well as if they were still attending school.
  • Full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



4. Absentee voting underway

  • Absentee voting began across Alabama on Wednesday with phones ringing constantly and a steady stream of voters at some county offices as the state predicted an absentee turnout that could far outpace past elections because of the pandemic.
  • In populous Mobile, workers in the absentee office barely had time to hang up on one call before the next one came in. “I can tell you how it is: crazy,” said a worker who declined to give her name.
  • Numerous people already had completed the absentee paperwork and cast ballots in Montgomery by lunchtime, walking out with “I voted” stickers about eight weeks before the election.
  • Gina Ishman, the absentee voting manager in Montgomery County, said the first-day crowd was far larger than normal.
  • “At 8 a.m. this morning I had my first two voters and we’ve been consistent since then. There’s been a steady flow. The word is out,” she said.
  • Read more HERE.



5. Senate Dems block GOP aid package

  • Senate Democrats scuttled a scaled-back GOP coronavirus rescue package on Thursday as the parties argued to a standstill over the size and scope of the aid, likely ending hopes for coronavirus relief before the November election.
  • The mostly party-line vote capped weeks of wrangling that gave way to election-season political combat and name-calling over a fifth relief bill that all sides say they want but are unable to deliver. The bipartisan spirit that powered earlier aid measures is all but gone.
  • Democrats said the measure shortchanged too many pressing needs. Republicans argued it was targeted to areas of widespread agreement, but the 52-47 vote fell well short of what was needed to overcome a filibuster.
  • All the present Democrats opposed it, including Alabama’s U.S. Sen. Doug Jones. Conservative Rand Paul, R-Ky., cast the only GOP “nay” vote. The Democratic vice presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, was campaigning in Miami and missed the vote.
  • “It’s a sort of a dead end street, and very unfortunate,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. “But it is what it is.”
  • Read more HERE.



News Briefs


EPA removes Montgomery site from Superfund list

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — After years of work, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will not put a polluted area in downtown Montgomery on its list of the most contaminated Superfund sites in the country, a state agency announced Wednesday.
  • The Alabama Department of Environmental Management announced the decision in a news release. It credited years of work to monitor and clean up contaminated groundwater and soil in a 50-block area of downtown Montgomery known as the Capital City Plume Superfund.
  • ADEM said the site will not be included on the EPA’s proposed National Priorities List. The NPL is a list of the most serious sites identified for long term cleanup.
  •  “It couldn’t have happened without all the parties deciding we needed a plan to tackle the problem and agreeing to work together to carry it out. Now, this area of downtown Montgomery that has already seen significant redevelopment and reuse can blossom even more, ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said in a news release.
  • The contamination was discovered in 1993. A chemical wholesaler, auto repair shops and dry cleaners were identified as possible sources, according to the agency. The site was proposed for listing on the National Priorities List in 2000.
  • ADEM said that cleanup actions have included emergency soil excavation, groundwater monitoring, abandonment of all affected public water supply wells and closing all private wells in the area, planting trees that help remove contaminants and the use of vapor barriers in some buildings.
  • “This announcement charts a path forward for our community and is essential to our vision for a stronger, more vibrant downtown core,” Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said

Hackers disrupt charter commission Zoom meeting with porn, antics

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Public Charter Commission’s virtual meeting was shut down on Thursday after hackers displayed pornographic images, wrote profanity and made references to Hitler.
  • The incident happened nearly 20 minutes after the Zoom meeting began, reported. Hackers also played music and showed images of Shrek, the animated character.
  • A new link was then sent to commissioners so they could resume the meeting.
  • Students from a Birmingham school, who were participating in a presentation, were in the meeting before the incident happened. The newspaper reports those students had left the meeting by the time hackers started showing the images.
  • The commission, an independent state agency that authorizes public charter schools, was set to vote on four charter school applications at the meeting.

Alabama college students sanctioned for COVID violations

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — More than 600 students at the University of Alabama have been sanctioned — including 33 who were effectively suspended — for violating rules intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 cases on campus, a school spokesman said Thursday.
  • The university had issued 639 individual student sanctions as of Tuesday as the university tries to clamp down on gatherings that could spread the virus, spokesman Shane Dorrill said. Thirty-three students have been suspended from campus while their cases proceed, he said.
  • The university did not provide examples of behavior that led to the disciplinary action, but said student suspensions could range in length depending on the severity of the conduct. Suspension is pending for one student organization, while three others have received COVID-related sanctions, Dorrill said.
  • More than 2,000 students tested positive for the coronavirus since classes resumed last month on the Tuscaloosa campus, which has more than 30,000 students. The outbreak led university officials to issue a moratorium on in-person student events through Sunday. The university also has banned visitors from dorms and fraternity and sorority houses.
  • Public health officials are worried about an uptick in cases in Alabama that began after public schools, colleges and high school football games all resumed last month.
  • More than 135,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state, and more than 2,200 have died.
  • State Health Officer Scott Harris said officials are working on a database for K-12 schools to report cases and make the information available to the public. He did not give a timetable for when that would be available.
  • “Generally speaking, there has not been a spike in pediatric cases to this point since schools started,” Harris said, but he added that many of the largest school systems have been meeting virtually instead of in person.

Trial set for ex-judge charged with ethics violations

  • ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — A former Alabama judge indicted on charges of using his office for personal gain will go on trial Nov. 16, a court ruled.
  • In setting a trial date for former Limestone County Judge Douglas Lee Patterson, Judge Steven Haddock said the calendar was “firm” and no other jury trials would be scheduled for the same time, the Athens News-Courier reported.
  • Patterson resigned in July but said his departure wasn’t an admission of guilt.
  • Patterson was indicted last year on ethics charges of using his position for personal gain, financial exploitation of the elderly and third-degree theft. He was accused of using his position as a district judge to steal $47,000 from a juvenile court fund.
  • While working as an attorney before he became a judge, the 38-year-old Patterson is accused of stealing thousands from an incapacitated veteran and a client who died.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US remembers 9/11 as pandemic changes tribute traditions


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – More details on CARES money shifts, tax increase on employers


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State will publish K-12 school COVID-19 cases soon


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate Dems block GOP aid bill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Phones, offices busy as absentee balloting starts in Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – EPA removes Montgomery site from Superfund list


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama college students sanctioned for COVID violations


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama’s absentee voting system doesn’t allow voters to fix disqualified ballots


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Deadly stuff’: Trump’s own words bring focus back to virus


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Technology Network brings in $1.25 billion in economic impact


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – September 10, 2020


AL.COM – 687 new confirmed COVID cases in Alabama; 8,900 since March in ages 5-17


AL.COM – ‘This is hellacious’: Virtual school hits early snags in this Alabama system


AL.COM – Alabama’s LGBTQ charter school denied again by state commission


AL.COM – FreightCar America closing Shoals plant


AL.COM – New scam in Jefferson County has cost some grandparents thousands


AL.COM – Alabama suspends license of doctor for Tuscaloosa abortion clinic


AL.COM – Gov. Ivey earmarks $72.3 million in coronavirus aid for higher education


AL.COM – Alabama charter commission Zoom meeting shut down after hackers flood it with porn, obscenities


AL.COM – Alabama applies $300 million in CARES Act funds to unemployment


Montgomery Advertiser – Rare chance to buy a home in Montgomery’s Mountainview


Montgomery Advertiser – University of Alabama issues hundreds of COVID-19 sanctions against students


Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama board of education may vote on releasing MPS from intervention next month


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – State to release COVID-19 cases in schools


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – FIRST ALERT: Rain is back in the forecast along with thunderstorms


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – More details available on CARES money shifts, tax increase on employers


Tuscaloosa News – University of Alabama issues hundreds of COVID-19 sanctions against students


Tuscaloosa News – Dog thrives in new home, six months after being shot in the face


Decatur Daily – Area schools continue to experience COVID-19 infections, quarantines


Decatur Daily – State to reallocate CARES Act funds to limit business unemployment tax increase


Decatur Daily – State will publish K-12 school COVID-19 cases soon


Times Daily – State will publish K-12 school COVID-19 cases


Times Daily – Parole denied in murder, sex offender cases


Times Daily – Audit firm has no relationship with Tuscumbia mayor


Anniston Star – Jacksonville man charged with choking woman


Anniston Star – Warrants: Oxford woman exposed children to meth


Anniston Star – Space for people and dogs formally opens at Cahulga Creek Park


YellowHammer News – Ivey using $300M of CARES Act money to fund unemployment system to keep taxes from rising


YellowHammer News – UAB set to face Miami in Thursday night battle


YellowHammer News – Natasha McCrary is a 2020 Woman of Impact


Gadsden Times – Changes anticipated in how the city of Gadsden handles non-full time employees


Gadsden Times – Search underway in west Etowah County for missing plane


Gadsden Times – Major road projects: One moving, one waiting, one delayed, others stalled


Dothan Eagle – The Latest: Imperial College expert warns of virus ‘uptick’


Dothan Eagle – Alabama doctor, pharmacist sentenced for health care fraud


Dothan Eagle – Manufacturer Xxentria to relocate facility to New Mexico


Opelika-Auburn News – Alabama doctor, pharmacist sentenced for health care fraud


Opelika-Auburn News – County could require paying for firefighting, garbage pickup


Opelika-Auburn News – US to ASEAN: Reconsider deals with blacklisted China firms


WSFA Montgomery – Lowndes County among ‘very high risk’ counties, leads state in COVID-19 cases per capita


WSFA Montgomery – Alabama giving $300M in CARES Act funds to unemployment


WSFA Montgomery – Ala. plans to make school coronavirus data public


WAFF Huntsville – Mayor Battle proposes new $236 million budget


WAFF Huntsville – Albertville City Schools creates tool to share coronavirus information online


WAFF Huntsville – Cullman student arrested for bringing gun to school


WKRG Mobile – Biloxi PD: Burglary suspect jumps into the Gulf of Mexico to avoid capture


WKRG Mobile – Florida bars can reopen Monday at 50% capacity, state announces


WKRG Mobile – TRACKING THE TROPICS: Two storms and four other disturbances in the Atlantic


WTVY Dothan – Class of 2020 nurses begin careers amidst pandemic


WTVY Dothan – Drive-up COVID-19 testing available in Hartford


WTVY Dothan – DCS student has COVID-19


WASHINGTON POST – Republican worries rise as Trump campaign pulls back from television advertising


WASHINGTON POST – Trump addresses supporters in Michigan; Biden seizes on coronavirus revelations in new book


WASHINGTON POST – Former officers charged in George Floyd killing turn blame on each other


NEW YORK TIMES – False Rumors That Activists Set Wildfires Exasperate Officials


NEW YORK TIMES – States Are in Desperate Search for Help Battling Record Wildfires


NEW YORK TIMES – Hopes Dim for More Stimulus as Democrats Block Narrow G.O.P. Plan


WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Stock Futures Rise, Signaling Firm End to Unsteady Week


WALL STREET JOURNAL – An Economic Bellwether Shows Recovery Losing Steam


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Lumber Poised to Fall With Autumn’s Approach

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