Daily News Digest – December 17, 2018

Daily News Digest – December 17, 2018

Good morning! Here’s your Daily News for Monday, December 17.


1. Speaker announces House committee leadership.

  • House Speaker Mac McCutcheon has chosen the leadership of the 25 standing House committees for the new term of the Alabama Legislature.
  • Full committee rosters won’t be announced until the organizational session, which begins January 8. And of course, that’s when McCutcheon himself is expected to be officially reelected by the full 105-member House.
  • But the Speaker said announcing chairmanships ahead of the organizational session will allow House staff more time to organize the clerk assignments and prepare for legislative work.
  • So, who got what?
  • Some stayed the same, especially at the top. Rep. Steve Clouse continues to chair Ways & Means General Fund, Rep. Bill Poole continues to chair Ways & Means Education, and Rep. Mike Jones continues to chair Rules.
  • But there are some members who are ascending to leadership positions, whether that means by being named chairman or vice chairman.
  • Three committees are chaired by women, a stat that would make the U.S. Congress blush.
  • See the full list of House Committee Chairmen and Vice Chairmen HERE.


2. New Shelby Chief: Dayne Cutrell.

  • Sen. Richard Shelby has tapped Dayne Cutrell as his new Chief of Staff.
  • Shelby selected Cutrell to take over as chief for Katie Britt, who is leaving to become the new president of the Business Council of Alabama.
  • Cutrell is from Mobile and has been working as Staff Director for the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee.
  • A staff director is basically like a chief of staff on the committee level. And Shelby has been very involved in CJS Appropriations for a while. It’s where the money for NASA, the FBI and NOAA (Red Snapper) is all controlled.
  • Cutrell has been working for Shelby since 2015 and was also his Legislative Director before moving to Approps.
  • Congrats, Dayne!
  • Congrats as well to other key Shelby-staffers on their promotions:
  • Legislative Counsel Clay Armentrout has been named General Counsel, and;
  • Deputy Press Secretary Alyssa Pettus has been named Press Secretary.
  • Full story on all of that HERE.


3. Border wall brinksmanship.

  • We’re not much closer to having a funding deal to avoid a partial government shutdown.
  • The White House doubled down on demanding a full $5 billion for the border wall, and leading Democrats did the same on their commitment to blocking any such measure.
  • “We’re going to do whatever is necessary to build the border wall to stop this ongoing crisis of illegal immigration,” said White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, looking all Wooly Willy in a “Face the Nation” appearance.
  • Does that mean a government shutdown?
  • “If it comes to it, absolutely,” Miller said.
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi have said they’ll allow no more than $1.6 billion for border “fencing upgrades.”
  • So, at the end of the day, they aren’t arguing over a lot of money. $3.4 billion is a rounding error in the federal government.
  • Instead, it’s about principle, saving face, and who blinks first.
  • The deadline is Friday. That’s when funding for the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Agriculture, State, Justice, and Interior all lapse.
  • One thing working for Trump/Republicans: That’s only a fourth of the government, and not all that dramatic as government shutdowns go.
  • One thing working for Schumer/Pelosi: Democrats take over the House in a month, meaning they can run out the clock if they want.
  • Read more and watch interviews with Miller and Schumer HERE.


4. The kids are vaping.

  • Hey, good news: American high schoolers are using less alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin, and opioid pills. Marijuana is about the same.
  • That’s according to a University of Michigan study on teen drug use that’s been going on since 1975.
  • How about that! Way to go, youths!
  • The problem vexing researchers is that vaping – or using non-tobacco nicotine inhalers – continues to rise at an alarming rate.
  • Twice as many high school students used nicotine-tinged electronic cigarettes this year compared with last year.
  • That’s an unprecedented jump, far surpassing a mid-1970s surge in marijuana smoking.
  • The causes seem to be the same: looking cool, acting rebellious, etc.
  • And remember, these aren’t cigarettes. They are cigarette alternatives for goodness sakes.
  • They can, however, increase dependency on an incredibly addictive drug: nicotine.
  • They can also condition users to a delivery mechanism for other, harder drugs later.
  • Read the full story HERE.


5. NASA moving big LH2 tank to Marshall.

  • NASA is moving a massive liquid hydrogen tank to Huntsville, for testing as part of its plans to eventually return to the moon.
  • The 149-foot-long, 100,000-pound tank is part of the Space Launch System.
  • The version moved Friday from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans is a test model, meaning it won’t actually be launched into space.
  • It was moved — slowly and horizontally on its side — out of the factory where it was constructed to a barge called the Pegasus. From there it will travel up river to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, where it will undergo strenuous testing designed to mimic the conditions of traveling into space.
  • The testing is intended to make sure that the tank design can withstand the worst-case conditions, said Sam Stephens, test manager for the Space Launch System’s core stage. NASA also runs computer models to simulate all the conditions the tank might encounter, Stephens said.
  • “We will test it until it fails, until it cracks,” said Stephens. “We are going to subject it to stuff we never want the flight vehicle to see.”
  • Read more HERE.

News Briefs.

Getting real on the Horn of Africa
  • The U.S. military says it has carried out six airstrikes in the Gandarshe area of Somalia which killed a total of 62 al-Shabab extremist rebels.
  • AFRICOM says it carried out four strikes on Saturday in which 34 people were killed and two more on Sunday which killed 28. All the air attacks were in the Gandarshe coastal area south of Mogadishu.
  • No civilians were injured or killed in the attacks, it said.
  • All six strikes were carried out in close coordination with Somalia’s government, it said. The airstrikes were “conducted to prevent al-Shabab from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks,” it said.
  • Read more HERE.
Train crash
  • Authorities say two people are dead after a train crashed into a passenger vehicle on its tracks in Alabama.
  • News outlets report a vehicle was attempting to cross the tracks in Birmingham at about 6 p.m. Saturday when it was struck by an Amtrak passenger train.
  • Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service Capt. Harold Watson said the impact ejected two people from the passenger vehicle. Watson says both were pronounced dead at the scene.
  • Read more HERE.
Decatur students
  • High school students in Decatur are being introduced to a new tool for learning: Rock-and-roll.
  • The city school board in Decatur has approved a $70,000 contract for a program meant to let students gain real-world skills by planning and promoting a rock concert.
  • The Decatur Daily reports the contract is with the nonprofit Reach and Teach, which was started by a Colbert County teacher and Cameron Flener, the lead singer of The Velcro Pygmies rock band.
  • You read that right. The Velcro Pigmies. 21-year old me says we’ll see you at the Supper Club.
  • Decatur has career academies, and students from its various components will work on different aspects of staging a rock concert.
  • Read more HERE.
More discovery in Mobile
  • Demolition work near a south Alabama jail is giving archaeologists an opportunity to learn more about Mobile’s past.
  • Work near the Mobile County Metro Jail is being done in preparation for the proposed Interstate 10 bridge, and archaeologists want to learn more about what’s at the site
  • It includes a cluster of nine buildings, most of which appear to have been bail bond offices.
  • Read more from AL.com’s Lawrence Speckler.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Shelby taps Dayne Cutrell for Chief of Staff
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Speaker announces House committee leadership
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – White House digs in on border wall demand, risking shutdown
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Scientists search for relics of Mobile’s past at work site
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 2 dead after train crashes into vehicle on tracks in Alabama
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US conducts 6 airstrikes against Somalia extremists, 62 dead
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Teen drug use is down, but officials fret vaping boom
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – December 16, 2018
AL.COM – Farm bill boosts Alabama rural health care, but real showdown awaits in Montgomery
AL.COM – Alabama’s iconic civil rights town now the fastest shrinking city in the state
AL.COM – Miss Universe 2018: The best in photos as pageant crowns winner
AL.COM – Birmingham’s stadium is the perfect venue for Biz Buzz
AL.COM – GOP senator: ‘I see nothing wrong’ with Republican challenge to Trump in 2020
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald:  How Alabama laid groundwork for its own wrongdoing
AL.COM – Columnist Shellly Haskins: Alabama’s Wallace wins Harper Lee Award
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Hurts honored among Alabama football’s 15 graduates Saturday
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Former Auburn, St. James tight end Jalen Harris will continue career at Colorado
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – The Voice finals: It’s time for Montgomery’s Kirk Kay to truly shine Monday
DOTHAN EAGLE – Lawsuit claims local bar pirated superfight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor
DOTHAN EAGLE – Government Oversight: Era of change coming to Dothan, Houston County
DOTHAN EAGLE – Consolidation of Dothan schools’ JROTC programs expected
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – VIDEO: Michael Cohen’s sentence, Tariffs impact on Alabama, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle in studio and more on Guerrilla Politics …
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama Power honored for diversity efforts at Equal Opportunity Dinner
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Heading for a fiscal cliff?
BIRMINGHAM WATCH – Ready, Set, Action: Birmingham’s Become a Film-Making Destination That Brings Jobs, Millions of Dollars to Economy
LAGNIAPPE – USA student group pushing career preparedness
LAGNIAPPE – Columnist Jeff Poor:  Shelby key to keeping state’s seven congressional seats
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Roads closing this week on University of Alabama campus
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Alabama defeats Northwestern State in 400th career victory for Kristy Curry
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – MICHELLE SINGLETARY: ’Tis the season for proposals. And no, the bride’s parents aren’t obligated to pay for the wedding.
DECATUR DAILY – 60 percent of city of Decatur employees take paychecks elsewhere
DECATUR DAILY – Council wants clarification of debris city will haul off
DECATUR DAILY – 60 percent of city of Decatur employees take paychecks elsewhere
TIMES DAILY – Developer happy with progress on Inspiration Landing
TIMES DAILY – Students recognized for career tech work
TIMES DAILY – Community Action Agency gets $119,822 grant
ANDALUSIA STAR NEWS – SES celebrates Christmas [with gallery]
ANDALUSIA STAR NEWS – Santa, sharks, and elves at AES [with gallery]
ANDALUSIA STAR NEWS – J.R.’s wins state award
THE ANNISTON STAR – Drug epidemic swells rolls of foster children
THE ANNISTON STAR – A few dry days expected for area
TROY MESSENGER – Photos: CHMS Don maestri hardwood hoopfest
TROY MESSENGER – Strong finish: Trojans shoot for 10 wins against Buffalo in Dollar General Bowl
TROY MESSENGER – Would-be burglars ram through wall of Family Firearms
GADSDEN TIMES – Giuliani: ‘Over my dead body’ will Mueller interview Trump
GADSDEN TIMES – Family remembers Reginae Marbury with event for children
GADSDEN TIMES – GSCC student recalls tough path to educational success
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Merger proposed for Chambers County, Lanett high schools
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Local children send letters to Santa via Aubie, airplane
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Auburn University graduates look to create the future
CULLMAN TIMES – (Video) In Cameroon, journalists are being jailed on charges of ‘fake news’
CULLMAN TIMES – Retired police K-9 dumped at animal shelter gets adopted by his old trainer
CULLMAN TIMES – Cullman High cheerleaders claim 6A state championship
SHELBY COUNTY REPORTER – Churches to celebrate with Christmas Eve services
SHELBY COUNTY REPORTER – Walker elected as U.S. Commission Vice Chair
SHELBY COUNTY REPORTER – Man, 70, sentenced for child sex abuse
THE MADISON RECORD – Columbia educators enter St. Jude Memphis Marathon
THE MADISON RECORD – Bob Jones aces top places at UAH’s beEntreprenurial
THE MADISON RECORD – 2018 Ladies Classic To Be Held At James Clemens
DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE – Bevill State to host event for displaced Virginia College students
DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE – Bankhead House hosts holiday event
DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE – Alabama Power to move in Jasper
NEW YORK TIMES – A Shutdown Looms. Can the G.O.P. Get Lawmakers to Show Up to Vote?
NEW YORK TIMES – Elizabeth Warren, Speaking to Black Graduates, Warns ‘the Rules Are Rigged’
NEW YORK TIMES – After Backlash, Democrats in New Jersey Rethink Redistricting Plans
WASHINGTON POST – New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep
WASHINGTON POST – ‘Crisis level’: Republican women sound warning after election losses
WASHINGTON POST – ACA ruling creates a wave of anxieties for consumers and the health-care industry
USA TODAY – North Korea warns US sanctions could ‘block the path to denuclearization forever’
USA TODAY – A federal judge has ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. So now what happens?
USA TODAY – Annual survey: Teen vaping soars as opioid use, drinking decline
POLITICO – Pennsylvania meltdown triggers Republican alarms
POLITICO – Child’s death highlights communication barriers on border
POLITICO – Trump adviser: We will ‘do whatever is necessary to build the border wall



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