1. John Lewis diagnosed with advanced stage cancer
- Congressman John Lewis, D-Georgia, said Sunday he has been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.
- The 79-year-old civil rights icon said he plans to continue serving in Congress as he undergoes treatment.
- “I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,” he said. “I have a fighting chance.”
- Lewis is a Troy, Alabama native who famously formed the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee that led demonstrations against Jim Crow laws throughout the South.
- He, along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was one of the principal organizers of the Selma-to-Montgomery march that marked a turning point in American civil rights history. On “Bloody Sunday,” when state troopers violently confronted demonstrators with tear gas and batons, Lewis was beaten and jailed.
- Words of support and well wishes poured in for Lewis, including from leaders in Alabama.
- Read more about it all HERE.
2. Shooting at Texas church
- A man pulled out a shotgun at a Texas church service and fired on worshippers Sunday, killing two people before he was shot to death by congregants who fired back, police said.
- The shooting happened at Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, a town of about 16,000 outside of Fort Worth.
- In a livestream of the church service, the gunman can be seen getting up from a pew and talking to someone at the back of the church before pulling out a gun and opening fire. Parishioners can then be heard screaming and seen ducking under pews or running as papers fly to the floor.
- Authorities at a Sunday evening news conference praised the two congregants who opened fire as part of a volunteer security team at West Freeway.
- An elder at the church told the New York Times that one of those killed was a security guard who responded to the shooter, calling him a dear friend.
- “He was trying to do what he needed to do to protect the rest of us,” said the elder, Mike Tinius. “It’s extremely upsetting to see anyone committing violence.”
- Read the full story and see the video HERE. [Warning: the video can be disturbing to watch]
A message from AlabamaWorks!
3. Inmate deaths on the rise
- Statistics from the Alabama Department of Corrections show that there were 11 inmate-on-inmate homicides in state prisons during the 2019 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
- That’s more than any recent year, and an uptick of four homicides from 2018. The numbers do not include suicides, drug overdoses, or inmates who died after altercations with officers.
- The rise in inmate homicides comes despite a national spotlight on Alabama prisons and state officials’ promises for improvement. The U.S. Department of Justice this spring threatened to sue the state over its violent prison, and a federal judge ordered the state to add a many as 2,000 corrections officers.
- The DOJ said Alabama has the highest inmate homicide rate in the country.
- All this comes as lawmakers prepare to meet for the 2020 regular session of the Alabama Legislature. Addressing prison overcrowding and understaffing is expected to be among the top issues.
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
4. Taliban agrees to ceasefire
- A time to negotiate an end to America’s longest war could be on the horizon.
- The Taliban’s ruling council agreed Sunday to a temporary cease-fire in Afghanistan, providing a window in which a peace agreement with the United States can be signed, officials from the insurgent group said. They didn’t say when it would begin.
- A cease-fire had been demanded by Washington before any peace agreement could be signed. A peace deal would allow the U.S. to bring home its troops from Afghanistan and end its 18-year military engagement there, America’s longest.
- The White House said it would have no comment.
- The U.S. wants any deal to include a promise from the Taliban that Afghanistan would not be used as a base by terrorist groups. The U.S. currently has an estimated 12,000 troops in Afghanistan.
- Even as the Taliban were talking about ceasing hostilities, insurgents carried out an attack in northern Afghanistan on Sunday that killed at least 17 local militiamen.
- Last week, a U.S. soldier was killed in combat in the northern Kunduz province. The Taliban claimed they were behind a fatal roadside bombing that targeted American and Afghan forces in Kunduz. The U.S. military said the soldier was not killed in an IED attack but died seizing a Taliban weapon’s cache.
- Full story HERE.
5. Top stories of 2019
- The end of the year is always a good time to look back and reflect on the events that shaped us.
- For Alabama, 2019 was quite a year, and not all in a good way.
- While the year saw the state’s economy boom like no other time in history, it also saw its share of tragedy: the Lee County tornado, the horrific high-profile kidnappings, and the murders of law enforcement officers.
- It was a big year politically, with the passage of the new “Rebuild Alabama” gas tax and infrastructure plan, Jeff Sessions returning to run for his old Senate seat, Democratic Party upheaval and the figurative collapse of a plan to build a new bridge in Mobile.
- Kim Chandler writes about the top stories that shaped the state in 2019, and you can read her full story HERE.
- I’m curious what you think were the biggest stories of 2019, perhaps some that got overlooked. Hit reply or email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know your thoughts.
SEC Basketball Preview: Auburn surging while rivals staggering
- It might be college football bowl season, but college basketball is in full swing, too, and the SEC is set to begin conference play in the new year.
- The conference had a good year in 2019, with seven teams making the NCAA Tournament and one making it to the Final Four.
- Many of those teams have struggled a bit to begin the new season, all except Auburn, which went 12-0 in non-conference play.
- Steve Megargee has a new story about what to expect this year in SEC hoops, which you can read HERE.
Police: Ozark officer shot in head now speaking, walking
- OZARK, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama police officer who was shot repeatedly earlier this month has improved so much he is now walking and speaking, authorities said.
- A statement released Thursday by the Ozark Police Department said officer Samuel Yoh still has a long road ahead of him. But Yoh has full movement and was able to read a book, it said, and he recognizes family and friends and is speaking fluently.
- Yoh’s improvement is a reminder of “God’s almighty power,” the police statement said.
- The officer was shot on Dec. 12 while answering a call in the southeast Alabama town and remains hospitalized. A suspect identified as Bradley Cutchens, 23, was shot to death by officers.
- Yoh was shot six times, authorities said, and three shots hit him in the head. Doctors removed at least one bullet from his head in an operation before Christmas.
- Ozark, home of the Army’s Fort Rucker helicopter training base, is about 90 miles south of Montgomery.
Woman attacked in van rescued after standoff; man charged
- BROOKSIDE, Ala. (AP) — A California man accused of kidnapping a woman held the victim at knifepoint in a van equipped with a cage and doors chained shut, an Alabama police chief confirmed.
- Brookside police responded to a call of a kidnapping in progress on Sunday afternoon, Chief Mike Jones said. When officers located the suspect, Sean E. Sanders, he rammed into a bystander’s car and escaped, the official said. Officers blocked Sanders on a nearby road, and spotted the woman being forced to the floor of the white van and bleeding from her head.
- Sanders later rammed a police car, tried to run over an officer and held a knife to the woman while demanding officers kill him, Jones added. Negotiators from a tactical unit were able to arrest him.
- The woman was taken to a hospital in stable condition. She didn’t know Sanders, the police chief confirmed. He faces felony charges including kidnapping, assault, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, attempted murder and attempting to elude, news outlets reported. Sanders had also been arrested for kidnapping in the past, records showed.
Shelby County man charged with abusing baby who had 22 broken ribs
- WILSONVILLE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man has been charged with aggravated child abuse after his 3-month-old daughter was found to have a broken arm, broken leg and 22 broken ribs.
- News outlets report Dashun Montae Bush, a 19-year-old from Wilsonville, was arrested last week. He has since posted bail and been released from custody.
- Calera police say the girl’s mother took the baby to a hospital early this month when it became apparent that something was wrong. The injuries were in different stages of healing and had been caused at different times, according to court records.
- The girl has since been placed in state custody. It’s unclear if Bush has a lawyer. He’s been prohibited from having contact with the girl.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Congressman John Lewis says cancer is his latest battle
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – AP top stories of 2019
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama inmate deaths rise despite national attention
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Taliban council agrees to cease-fire in Afghanistan
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – SEC Basketball: Auburn surging while rivals are staggering
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama shows largest unemployment drop in the nation
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – States charge more for electric cars as new laws take effect
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 5 stabbed at rabbi’s house on Hanukkah; suspect arrested
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Rewards offered in case of missing Trussville woman
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New $100M wood pellet factory planned in west Alabama
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – FDA: New tobacco law in effect
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Weekend Digest – December 27, 2019
AL.COM – Planes, trains, automobiles and slave ship: Will Mobile’s hot issues of 2019 resonate in 2020?
AL.COM – Rural healthcare isn’t easy. Here’s how one Alabama woman bridges gaps in the Black Belt
AL.COM – Notable new companies, expansions and jobs announced in Huntsville in 2019
AL.COM – Legal battle rages over Golden Flake queen’s competency, ability to make decisions on fortune
AL.COM – Jefferson, Madison counties buoy Alabama economy this decade
AL.COM – Alabama’s population: 1800 to the modern era
AL.COM – From last place in math to more charter schools, the top Alabama education stories in 2019
Montgomery Advertiser – Rep. John Lewis diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer
Montgomery Advertiser – Maxwell Retiree Appreciation Day 2019
Montgomery Advertiser – Former Montgomery City Jail inmate gives hope to those behind bars around the holidays
YellowHammer News – Alabama native, civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer
YellowHammer News – VIDEO: Pelosi drags out impeachment, Senator Doug Jones tries to find a way forward, medical marijuana and more on Guerrilla Politics
YellowHammer News – A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club is an Alabama Bright Light shining the way for youths
Dothan Eagle – 2019 Year In Review: Dothan sees growth in tent cities, leaders discuss solutions
Dothan Eagle – Answer Man: What can you tell us about Shamrock Drive In Restaurant?
Dothan Eagle – 2019 Year In Review: Fallen Navy officer hailed as a hero
Tuscaloosa News – NTSB: Poor condition of wreckage will slow Louisiana plane crash probe
Tuscaloosa News – One, done: Browns fire Kitchens after disappointing season
Tuscaloosa News – US Rep John Lewis of Georgia battling pancreatic cancer
Decatur Daily – 810,075 gallons of untreated Decatur sewage released last week
Decatur Daily – 2019 Newsmaker of the Year: Developer Jeff Parker putting stamp on city
Decatur Daily – Deadly tornado, abortion ban among top stories of 2019
Times Daily – The Times Daily: Clearing the air on teen tobacco purchases
Times Daily – Northwest-Shoals registration help available Jan. 4
Times Daily – 810,075 gallons of untreated Decatur sewage released last week
Times Daily – Parks group accepting donations to fund tornado cleanup
Gadsden Times – Police: Parishioners kill man who fatally shoots 2 at church
Gadsden Times – Jewish leaders urge action after another ‘senseless’ attack
Gadsden Times – Authorities: Small plane bound for Peach Bowl crashes in Louisiana, killing 5
Anniston Star – Fireworks sellers prepare for business boom
Anniston Star – Heflin Industrial Park faces challenges as officials try to market its space
Anniston Star – Phillip Tutor: Surveying Annistonians’ downtown desires
Troy Messenger – Mental health a focus for school system
Troy Messenger – TAC bringing something ‘Artrageous’ to Troy
Troy Messenger – YEAR OF GROWTH: Troy continues to recruit jobs, retail in 2019
Andalusia Star News – Remember When: Shehan, Wingard carol sing
Andalusia Star News – Stories our readers loved in the 2010s
Andalusia Star News – Florala eyes continued success in ‘20
Opelika-Auburn News – Clinic provides dental care to students
Opelika-Auburn News – A year in review: Top news headlines from 2019
Opelika-Auburn News – AU museum preserves organic history
Daily Mountain Eagle – AARP’s Tax-Aide to offer free tax prep
Daily Mountain Eagle – New Year’s closings, garbage routes listed
Daily Mountain Eagle – Sheriff’s office arrests, interviews persons of interest in Mayberry case
Trussville Tribune – Trussville woman wanted on felony warrant for drug trafficking
Trussville Tribune – CRIME STOPPERS: 2 wanted by Trussville PD on identity theft charges
Trussville Tribune – Hazardous weather outlook for Jefferson, St. Clair counties
Sand Mountain Reporter – NACC to offer Google IT Support Professional certificate
Sand Mountain Reporter – Mt. Vernon Baptist Church to host ‘Overcoming Obstacles’ through January
Sand Mountain Reporter – Neu announces campaign for Marshall County District 2 Commissioner
WSFA Montgomery – Civil rights icon, Ga. representative John Lewis diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer
WSFA Montgomery – 2 injured in Sunday afternoon shooting
WSFA Montgomery – Cashier injured during armed robbery at Tuskegee business
Fox 6 Birmingham – Civil rights icon, Ga. representative John Lewis diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer
Fox 6 Birmingham – Woman kidnapped and held hostage at knifepoint, police chase leads to suspect arrest
Fox 6 Birmingham – Family pleads to community for answers after two loved ones perish due to gun violence
WAFF Huntsville – What to know about Alabama’s graduated drivers license law
WAFF Huntsville – Police investigating shooting in west Huntsville
WAFF Huntsville – WAFF 48 reporter Allen Stroud passes away following fight with cancer
WKRG Mobile – UPDATE: 16-year-old shot in Theodore
WKRG Mobile – 6 new cruise ships will begin sailing from Florida in 2020
WKRG Mobile – Mobile native AJ McCarron starting quarterback for Texans today
WTVY Dothan – Funerals begin for Geneva teens killed in Christmas night car crash
WTVY Dothan – Push to arm teachers met with backlash from some in education community
WTVY Dothan – City of Geneva mourns loss of three teenagers with memorial and black bows
WASHINGTON POST – Paul Kane: A bipartisan committee has ideas to make Congress more bipartisan — and lawmakers are listening
WASHINGTON POST – U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria target Iran-backed militia, Pentagon says
WASHINGTON POST – With Trump’s farm bailout came surprising profits, but little help for the neediest
NEW YORK TIMES – Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion
NEW YORK TIMES – Biden Rebounds, Warren Slows: What We Know About the 2020 Money Race Today
NEW YORK TIMES – Dismayed by nation’s politics, fans of ‘the West Wing’ return to find solace
NEW YORK TIMES – How Big Companies Won New Tax Breaks From the Trump Administration