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Weekend Digest- February 10, 2019

Here is your Daily News for February 10, 2019.

1. AL Prison Suicide Crisis

  • Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to announce a proposal soon to replace state prisons, possibly leasing facilities built by private firms.
  • But the Southern Poverty Law Center, locked in a court battle with the state over prison mental health deficiencies, is not waiting to hear it.
  • SPLC called out Alabama officials for failing to address the raising suicide rates and a lawsuit has now been filled arguing that state officials have done “precious little” to address the growing number of suicides.
  • SPLC said Alabama prisons have witnessed 13 suicides within the last 14 months.
  •  The Alabama Department of Corrections says the “recent spike in suicides within ADOC is an ongoing concern and will be addressed by the ADOC.”
  • According to ADOC monthly reports, there were four suicides in 2017, six in 2018 and now there have been three suicides within four weeks from December to January of this year.
  • “People are killing themselves in our prisons because conditions are horrendous,” Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen said at a news conference with the families of inmates.
  • While the SPLC contended the prison system has failed to deliver on its promises to the court, the department said the recent spike “calls into question the long-term effectiveness of the suicide prevention measures proposed by the SPLC” during the litigation.
  • You can read more from AP’s Kim Chandler HERE.

2.National Defense and AL’s space industry

  • Blue Origin and Aerojet Rocketdyne are tapping into Huntsville’s main technology market: national defense.
  • The firms are expanding because Huntsville-based government space programs could soon have billions of new dollars to spend for defense and telecommunications, Lee Roop reports.
  • Of course, Huntsville is also home to major missile defense facilities from Boeing, Lockheed, and Raytheon.
  • It includes an array of initiatives such as communications satellites, possibly armed satellites, and even satellite clusters that may one day become home to the internet.
  • During President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech he mentioned the development of a state-of-the-art missile defense system.
  • Much of that work would likely be managed by the Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville and performed by contractors with a presence in the region.
  • “On the national security side, the idea of space resilience — everybody protecting the contested assets — is going to lead to other systems coming out,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith told “We’re going to have to protect not only our national security assets but also commercial assets.”
  • You can read more about it HERE.

3. Five days and counting

  • As negotiations over a border security hit a snag, the White House on Sunday would not rule out another federal government shutdown even as it signaled a willingness to obtain funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall by other means.
  • On Friday, it will mark the end of the temporary pause in the government shutdown and could possibly mean the start of another shutdown if an agreement isn’t reached about border wall funding.
  • Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, in appearances on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and “Fox News Sunday,” said “you absolutely cannot” eliminate the possibility of another shutdown on Friday if a deal is not reached over the wall.
  • A congressional deal seemed to stall even after Mulvaney convened a bipartisan group of lawmakers at Camp David on Friday.
  • While the two sides seemed close to clinching a deal late last week, significant gaps remained and momentum appears to have slowed.
  • The White House and many Republicans want to push the amount that would be spent for building physical barriers to $2 billion or higher. Democrats have said they will keep that figure below $2 billion, with some saying they support perhaps half that.
  • Mulvaney did say though that declaring a national emergency is still an option, even though many in the administration have cooled on the prospect.
  • You can read more about the situation HERE.

4. Gathering of descendants from last slave ship

  • Africatown, the coastal Alabama community that was established when the last boatload of Africans who were abducted into slavery and then shipped to the U.S. just before the civil war, has seen better days.
  • Industrial development choked off access to the Mobile River and Chickasaw Creek, where generations caught crabs and fish. Factories now occupy land that once held modest homes surrounded by gardens, fruit trees and clucking chickens.
  • The population has plummeted; many of the remaining homes are boarded up and rotting.
  • But now, descendants of those freed slaves are trying to create new ties to Africatown and hopefully rebuild a community that’s in danger of fading away.
  • Relatives of the 110 people who were kidnapped in West Africa, shipped to the U.S. on a bet and sold into slavery are organizing a get-together called the “Spirit of Our Ancestors” festival, set for Feb. 9.
  • Five families were involved in the initial planning, and organizer Joycelyn Davis said interest mushroomed once word got out.
  • She said people who once were ashamed to say their ancestors were sold into slavery are finding new pride in their heritage that could breathe new life into Africatown.
  • Jay Reeves has the full story, which is worth your time this morning. You can read it HERE.

5. Week In Good News

Fundraiser for Wetumpka
  • Even though its been a little over three weeks since a tornado blew through sections of Wetumpka, rebuilding and financing the recovery process is still on going project.
  • That is why a fundraiser has been put in place to help rebuild homes and certain historical structures in Wetumpka that were ruined in the storm.
  • So far, some $70,000 has been raised for the Elmore County Disaster Relief Fund, said Elmore County District Judge Glenn Goggans.
  • “People receiving help must file out an application and they are screened. This is just a way to make sure help gets to the right people. We want to make sure no one falls through the cracks,” Goggans said.
  • You can find out more info on how to donate HERE.
Alabama First Grader Stunned by seeing her idol
  • Alabama’s own Kirk Jay, who finished third on this season’s competition of “The Voice” decided to surprise one of his super-fans this past week.
  • He stunned first-grader McKenzie Ogletree at Forest Avenue Elementary School and also stuck around to give an inspiring pep talk to the other students as well.
  • It’s a very cute story and comes along with really cute photos as well. Give it a read HERE.
It Started with One Painting….
  • …that then ended up having 20 different versions, from all over the world.
  • After one woman painted a picture that she was proud of, her teenage son decides to post a picture of it on Reddit where an artist from Sweden then decides to do a painting of that picture.
  • Then someone else did a painting of that picture and then there was another painting and another and another until it started making some very interesting paintings, to say the least.
  • This is a story that could have only happened because the internet is such a unique and strange place, so check out the story HERE.  


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump’s Year 3 aims for dramatic sequels to rival originals
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Gun-seizure laws grow in popularity since Parkland shooting
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Black Virginia voters feel betrayed, left in no-win scenario
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – National defense goals could boost Alabama’s space industry
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Advocacy group: Alabama has prison suicide crisis
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Descendants from last US slave ship gathering in Alabama
AL.COM – Rep. Mo Brooks takes up poster battle over immigration.
AL.COM – Buc-ee’s pricing dispute places Alabama fuel law in spotlight.
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: Don’t grieve for killer, but … what if?
AL.COM – Contributor Fitzgerald Washington: Alabama set records with 2018 jobs data.
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Don’t say you didn’t know what blackface was all about.
AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: Why is Steve Marshall scared to meet EJ Bradford Jr.’s family?
FACING SOUTH – Green New Deal could help close the South’s energy efficiency gap.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – The Times Daily: 2 good guys with guns is tragic.
ANNISTON STAR – Monday is closing day for Salvation Army shelter: Anniston-area nonprofits to meet on solutions.
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: Alabama’s latest mistake in the execution chamber.
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: Immigration debate needs compassion — in Alabama, too.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Jim Carnes: It’s time for Alabama to go big and expand Medicaid.
DOTHAN EAGLE – New state Rep. Jeff Sorrells turns to others for advice as he begins his first term.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Foreign Trade Zone designation allows area companies to save on tariffs.
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: Execution raises uncomfortable constitutional questions.
WASHINGTON POST – Congressional negotiators are optimistic about a border deal to avoid shutdown, Hoyer says.
WASHINGTON POST – ‘Flesh and blood robots for Amazon’: They raid clearance aisles and resell it all online for a profit.
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Rhae Lynn Barnes: Yes, politicians wore blackface. It used to be all-American ‘fun.’
WASHINGTON POST – Beto O’Rourke to join anti-wall march in El Paso as Trump holds a rally for it a mile away.
WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post: By ruling against a Muslim on death row, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority alienated some of its supporters.
WASHINGTON POST – Warren kicks off presidential bid by seeking to turn focus back to her economic message.
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Kim Kelly: Prisoners are among the most vulnerable people in the U.S.
NEW YORK TIMES – Contributor Katha Pollitt: Day Care for All: The progressive to-do list is missing a very important idea.
NEW YORK TIMES – The New York Times: Is Religious Freedom for Christians Only? Domineque Hakim Marcelle Ray wanted an imam by his side when he was executed. The Supreme Court said no.
NEW YORK TIMES – Beyond College Campuses and Public Scandals, a Racist Tradition Lingers
NATIONAL REVIEW – Columnist David French: The Supreme Court Upholds a Grave Violation of the First Amendment
LOS ANGELES TIMES – Editor Jon Healey: If you’re a non-Christian facing execution in Alabama, God help you. Because the Supreme Court won’t.

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