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Weekend Digest- March 17, 2019

Top of the Morning to you and Happy Saint Patrick’s day.
Here is the news for March 17, 2019

1. Death Count Rises to 50

  • The world was struck silent when a gunman walked into two mosques in New Zealand killing 50 people who were at prayer.
  • As of now, the death count has risen to 50 victims, but another 34 victims remain at the hospital and 12 are said to be in critical condition.
  • This is the worst terrorist attack New Zealand has ever seen in it’s modern history – and what has made this mass shooting even more disturbing is that it was being livestreamed by the shooter for 17 min.
  • Google, Facebook and Twitter scrambled to try to get the video taken down everywhere but the footage was available for many hours at that point.
  • Brenton Tarrant is the gunman who was charged on Saturday with multiple counts of murder and published a 74-page so-called manifesto after the attacks that is filled with white supremacist and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
  • It is still unclear if he acted alone in this attack but he has been the only one charged so far.
  • The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern said she is considering putting a ban on semi-automatic weapons, which was one of the weapons Tarrant used in his attack.
  • Ardern has been seen consoling the families of the victims and also announced that since a large number of those who were killed were the breadwinners in their family, the government would help with a compensation system to help those families with at least their lost incomes.
  • You can read more about the attack HERE.

2. Locals: more gas tax revenue is a start

  • Now that all the legislative debate over the 10-cent gas tax raise is over and the bill has been signed, now the work begins of fixing Alabama’s roads.
  • The state’s gas tax will go up 6 cents on Sept. 1, then 2 cents more in 2020 and another 2 cents in 2021, which estimates say will increase the revenue to about $194 million by next year and about $323 million when fully implemented.
  • As Brian Lyman writes in this morning’s Advertiser, the new road money is “a start” helping fix road projects, it isn’t enough in some areas to start a regular schedule of road construction.
  • In places like Elmore and Autauga Counties, the first order of business is catching up on long-deferred maintenance of county roads and bridges.
  • You can read more HERE.
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3. Inmate Stabbed to Death

  • A state inmate has been stabbed to death, making it the second fatal assault at an Alabama prison within one week.
  • The Alabama Department of Corrections saidthat 56-year-old Ray Anthony Little was killed after being assaulted at the Bibb County Correctional Facility in Brent.
  • Authorities said that 30-year-old Devarrieo Montez Shepherd has been identified as a suspect in the stabbing.
  • Twenty-seven-year-old Quinton Ashaad Few was fatally stabbed at the prison Tuesday. Authorities say an inmate faces a capital murder charge for Few’s death.
  • Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn in January told legislators that state prisons have “unacceptably high” levels of violence and asked for funds to hire additional correctional officers.
  • Read more about it HERE.

4. Person to plead guilty

  • While there is a lot of news circulating this week about scandals involving higher education and wealthy families, a former Auburn University assistant basketball coach is expected to plead guilty as part of a different scandal.
  • Chuck Person is planning on pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge in a scandal that involved bribes paid to families of NBA-bound young athletes to steer them to top schools and favored money managers and agents.
  • In the criminal case announced in September 2017, Person was charged with accepting about $91,500 in bribes from a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser to steer clients to him when they reached the NBA.
  • Some payments were alleged to have been arranged by a former NBA referee turned high-end clothier.
  • Person was quoted by prosecutors as telling one player: “The most important part is that you … don’t say nothing to anybody … don’t share with your sisters, don’t share with any of the teammates, that’s very important ’cause this is a violation … of rules. But this is how the NBA players get it done.”
  • Person, former associate head coach at Auburn, was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1986 and played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons.
  • You can read more about the charges HERE.

5. Week in Good News

Care Packages for Children affected by Tornadoes
  • After the terrible Tornado that took 23 people’s lives in Beuregard last week, many are trying to repair the physical damage done to those communities, but it’s also important to think of the mental affects that kind of trauma can do, especially to children.
  • That is why Dallas Rabig, a state coordinator for infant and early childhood mental health with the Department of Early Childhood Education is putting together therapeutic comforts kits for children.
  • The kits contain things like a bottle of bubbles, a book, stuffed animals, some crayons and a jar of Play-Doh.
  • Not only will these toys give solace to children who may have lost many of their toys in the storm, but is also a way to soothe their anxieties and worries.
  • Read more about their great work from the Montgomery Advertiser HERE.
Bridge Game Columnist writes 10,000th byline
  • This story may only appeal to other journalists out there, but I think it is nonetheless a very cute story.
  • While we hear all the time about journalists loosing their jobs left and right, one man in Fayette, AL has been able to hold on to his job of a column writing about bridge for 10,000 columns.
  • That’s right, about bridge. Not the things you drive over with your car, but about the card game bridge.
  • Frank Stewart is the man who’s 10,000th byline ran in the Tuscaloosa News on Friday, as well as more than 100 other newspapers across the country like The Washington Post, The Los Angeles times and the Boston Globe.
  • Stewart is innovative with his writing and likes to educate the public on the game while also creating a whole world including fictional characters in his columns.
  • All I can say is I hope I have as long of a career as Stewart has had with only one topic to write about.
  • Read Stewart’s story HERE from the Tuscaloosa News.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – High-profile firing adds to troubles for watchdog group

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ex-Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person to plead guilty
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Black editor resigns from newspaper that urged KKK revival
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New Zealand digs graves as mosque massacre toll rises to 50
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama inmate stabbed to death
AL.COM – Black editor steps down from Alabama newspaper that called for KKK to ‘ride again’.
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: An Alabama fraud story: The many faces of Donald Watkins.
AL.COM – Update: 12 tornadoes confirmed so far from Thursday’s severe weather.
AL.COM – Alabama lawmakers urge FAA to elevate safety, oversight duties of Boeing.
AL.COM – Bibb County prison has 2nd inmate murder in 3 days.
AL.COM – Remembering Nat King Cole on his 100th birthday.
AL.COM – Huntsville CEOs get ‘unnerving’ update on China cyber threat.
AL.COM – Contributor Mark Dixon: Now it’s time for Alabama to refocus on education, pre-K program a model.
AL.COM – Contributor Frances Coleman: Is the idea of meritocracy just a bunch of baloney?
AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: Privilege exposed, yet again, alas, by college admission scandal.
AL.COM – Contributor former State Sen. Hank Sanders: Sen. Hank Sanders: Selma has given so much; We all must give back.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – GOP: Without new money to fund it, Medicaid expansion unlikely.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Seamless transition the goal for partnership.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – The Times Daily: State’s growing auto industry bodes well for future.
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Groups across US take in dogs, cats after Alabama tornado.
GADSDEN TIMES – The Gadsden Times: College bribery scandal goes beyond popular culture.
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: The visceral hate of white supremacy.
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: A restoration of the Voting Rights Act.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – ‘Civil rights’ movement television evangelist’: Dees weathered criticism for decades amidst SPLC’s groundbreaking legal work.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Gas tax revenues will help ‘chip away’ at road needs, say officials.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Several Wiregrass school boards call for AAA’s repeal; say districts are losing out on millions.
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: Time change is folly.
WASHINGTON POST – U.S. and Boeing have long had a special relationship.
WASHINGTON POST – Trump once again bashes John McCain over health-care vote.
WASHINGTON POST – As the Democratic field grows, Stacey Abrams weighs a presidential race.
WASHINGTON POST – HBCUs seeing resurgent appeal amid rising racial tensions.
WASHINGTON POST – Mental health problems rise significantly among young Americans.
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Khaled Diab: White supremacists and radical Islamists sound exactly alike.
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Edward O’Donnell: When Irish immigrants were America’s most-feared terrorist group.
NEW YORK TIMES – #MAGA Church: The Doomsday Prophet Who Says the Bible Predicted Trump
NEW YORK TIMES – As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling
NEW YORK TIMES – The New York Times: Trump Wants to Eliminate H.I.V. But Some of His Policies Do the Opposite.

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