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Weekend Digest – January 3, 2021

Good afternoon and a happy new year!
Here’s your Daily News for Sunday, January 3, 2021.


1. COVID-19: Alabama seeing bulge in cases, hospitalizations

  • Alabama notched almost a third of its coronavirus cases in December, an alarming bulge that echoed the warnings of medical experts who said the state would see some dark days before the widespread availability of a vaccine to fight the pandemic.
  • Alabama saw 109,000 of its 361,226 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases reported in December. The surge came after the Thanksgiving holiday, and health officials said they are concerned caseloads will continue to grow in January from the fallout of Christmas and New Years gatherings.
  • “We are being overwhelmed right now,” State Health Officer Scott Harris said. “I believe, unfortunately, we are going to see even worse numbers than we have now, and the ones we have now are pretty bad.”
  • The cumulative number of confirmed and probable cases was 251,787 on Nov. 30 and rose to 361,226 cases on Dec. 31. While there were some backlogged cases recorded in December, almost all of the reported cases were from December.
  • Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, the director of the Infectious Disease Division at the University of Alabama Hospital, said the amount of travel that took place over Christmas will likely trigger another rise in cases.
  • “This is probably going to portend a spike on top of a surge on top of a spike,” Marrazzo said.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler and see the latest Bama Tracker charts HERE.



2. Tuberville joins effort to reject election results from certain states

  • A growing number of Republican lawmakers are joining President Donald Trump’s extraordinary effort to overturn the election, pledging to reject the results when Congress meets next week to count the Electoral College votes and certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Saturday announced a coalition of 11 senators and senators-elect who have been enlisted for Trump’s effort to subvert the will of American voters.
  • That list included Alabama’s new Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who confirmed his decision to join the group in a press release saying he would vote to reject the election results from “disputed” states until an “Electoral Commission” conducts a review.
  • “I am excited to support Senator Cruz’s call for an Electoral Commission with full investigative authority to determine the truth and the facts. The purpose is to protect the democratic process, and to ensure Americans have faith that the process is fair and secure in the long run.”
  • Trump, the first president to lose a reelection bid in almost 30 years, has attributed his defeat to widespread voter fraud, despite the consensus of nonpartisan election officials and even Trump’s attorney general that there was none. Of the roughly 50 lawsuits the president and his allies have filed challenging election results, nearly all have been dismissed or dropped. He’s also lost twice at the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Read more HERE.



3. Congress ends one session with veto override, begins new one with election challenge

  • The 116th Congress officially came to a close today, with its last act being to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act.
  • In an extraordinary New Year’s Day session, the Republican-controlled Senate easily turned aside the veto, dismissing Trump’s objections to the $740 billion bill and handing him a stinging rebuke just weeks before he leaves the White House.
  • Trump lashed out on Twitter, saying the Senate missed an opportunity to eliminate protections for social media platforms that he said give “unlimited power to Big Tech companies. Pathetic!!!” 
  • Trump also slammed lawmakers for rejecting his call to increase COVID-19 relief payments to $2,000: “Not fair, or smart!”
  • The 81-13 vote in the Senate on the widely popular defense bill followed an earlier 322-87 override vote in the House. The bill affirms a 3% pay raise for U.S. troops and guides defense policy, cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, personnel policy and other military goals.
  • Read more on that HERE.

  • Meanwhile, the 117th Congress began meeting today, swearing in lawmakers in a tumultuous period.
  • The House and Senate opened at noon, as required by law, with strict COVID protocols. Elbow bumps replaced handshakes as senators took the oath of office. Fewer family members than usual joined lawmakers at the Capitol.
  • “To say the new Congress convenes at a challenging time would be an understatement,” McConnell said as the chamber opened.
  • Democrat Nancy Pelosi was set to be reelected as House speaker by her party, which retains the majority in the House but with the slimmest margin in 20 years after a November election wipeout.
  • It’s often said that divided government can be a time for legislative compromises, but lawmakers are charging into the 117th Congress with the nation more torn than ever, disputing even basic facts including that Biden won the presidential election.
  • Read more HERE.



4. ‘We need your help:’ Birmingham asks for help fighting gun violence

  • The Birmingham mayor and police chief are asking the public for help after the city saw more than 100 homicides in 2020 with more than half of those remaining unsolved.
  • Mayor Randall Woodfin and Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith made the appeal in a news conference Wednesday. They asked for people to come forward with information about unsolved cases and the community’s assistance in helping young people understand ways to resolve conflict without picking up a gun.
  • In addition to coronavirus pandemic, the mayor said the city also had a crisis of gun violence in 2020. The mayor said the city had 105 homicides that were classified as murders this year, up from 93 in 2019.
  • “Our hearts go out to the families. But the truth is the families deserve more than our heart and prayers. They deserve justice,” Woodfin said.
  • Read more HERE.



5. Small-town Alabama resident transformed to protest leader

  • During her final year at Albertville High School in 2015, teachers gave Unique Morgan Dunston a citizenship award and fellow seniors voted her the class clown. Today, she’s the target of death threats and jeers on Main Street.
  • The change is because of what Dunston does now, not who she was years ago. A Black woman transformed by leaving a virtually all-white Alabama hometown where new ideas about race and justice run up against Old South traditions, Dunston has led regular protests since August against a Confederate monument on the court lawn.
  • Dunston and a small band of compatriots regularly chant anti-racist slogans, hold signs and use chalk to mark up the street with unrelenting demands to take down the monument, which has an image of a rebel soldier holding a Confederate battle flag. It was installed on public property by the Sons of Confederate Veterans more than two decades ago with the county’s permission.
  • “My hope and my desire is that as we continue, more people from the community will start coming out, that they will realize that this wasn’t a phase, that, ‘They are serious and they need our help,’” she said. “Because we do.”
  • Read more from Jay Reeves HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dark days of pandemic: Alabama has bulge of December cases
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tuberville, other GOP lawmakers enlist in Trump effort to undo Biden win
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘We need your help:’ Birmingham asks for help fighting gun violence
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – In a first, Congress overrides Trump veto of defense bill
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Congress opening new session as virus, Biden’s win dominate
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Small-town Alabama resident transformed to protest leader
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 6 years later, Alabama and Ohio state go at it again
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – January 1, 2021
AL.COM – 3,711 new COVID cases in Alabama, 1,000-plus from 2 counties
AL.COM – Tommy Tuberville joining senators challenging Biden Electoral College victory
AL.COM – Senators fighting Biden win evoke precedent that gave birth to Jim Crow
AL.COM – Rep. Louie Gohmert: ‘Violence in the streets’ might be needed to keep Biden out of White House
AL.COM – Legislators face decisions on lottery, casinos after Alabama gambling report
AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: May we embrace 2021 with the ‘faith’ and ‘hope’ that sustain amputee through immeasurable loss
AL.COM – Columnist Frances Coleman: Father Time’s parting advice to the New Year’s baby
THE HILL – 11 Senate Republicans say they will oppose Electoral College results Wednesday
DECATUR DAILY – Decatur homeless numbers swell during pandemic
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: New year brings promise of new health advances
TIMES DAILY – Shoals governments see sales tax revenue rise during pandemic
TIMES DAILY – Steelworkers, Constellium hold discussions with mediator on Friday
TIMES DAILY – The Times Daily: Electoral vote challenge is another lost cause
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Growing hope: Autauga County man built new life as a medicinal hemp farmer to help his mom
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Collins Pettaway III: Alabama’s leadership could sweep the nation by changing name of Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – ‘We don’t need a Taj Mahal’: Architect State Rep. Lipscomb discusses new statehouse possibilities as legislature prepares to meet during pandemic
OPELIKA AUBURN NEWS – Remembrance project works bring to light Lee County’s history of racial violence
WASHINGTON POST – Early vaccination in prisons, a public health priority, proves politically charged
WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post: The U.S. needs a democracy overhaul. Here’s what Biden’s first step should be
NEW YORK TIMES – Columnist Nicholas Kristof: Starving Children Don’t Cry
NEW YORK TIMES – States Are Shutting Down Prisons as Guards are Crippled By Covid-19
NEW YORK TIMES – As Some Deficit Hawks Turn Dove, the New Politics of Debt Are on Display

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