Daily News Digest – November 21, 2019

Daily News Digest – November 21, 2019

Presented by

The Boeing Company

 

 

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, November 21.

 

1. Last witnesses today

  • The House Intelligence Committee today will hear from the last of its scheduled witnesses during Day Five of impeachment inquiry hearings.
  • David Holmes, a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, says he was having lunch with Ambassador Gordon Sondland this summer when he heard President Trump on the phone asking the envoy about the investigations he wanted from the Ukraine president.
  • Former White House adviser on Russia Fiona Hill is expected to testify that her National Security Council boss, John Bolton, cut short a meeting with visiting Ukrainians at the White House when Sondland started asking them about “investigations.”
  • You can read more about their previous testimony and watch the hearing LIVE for yourself HERE.
  • Of course, it was Sondland himself who provided some fireworks Wednesday, and both sides took his testimony as evidence proving their side of the case.
  • On one hand, Sondland said it was his understanding that Trump was leveraging a White House call and meeting in exchange for the Ukrainian president announcing an investigation into Burisma, an energy firm that gave former Vice President Joe Biden’s son a lucrative spot on its board.
  • “Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland asked. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
  • But later, Sondland testified that Trump never told him military assistance was being withheld for the investigations and said Trump explicitly told him,” I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.”
  • Democrats called Sondland’s testimony a “bombshell” that breaks the inquiry wide open, while Republicans maintained that the evidence to prove high crimes and misdemeanors just isn’t there.
  • “Not only did we win today, it’s over,” Trump said later in the day.
  • Read more HERE.

 

 

2. Benefits sought for National Guard on active duty

  • Legislation pre-filed for the 2020 session would expand survivor and education benefits to Alabama National Guard members serving on state active duty, such as responding to tornadoes or other natural disasters.
  • “Senate Bill 8 seeks to make state active duty benefits consistent with Title 32 benefits,” said a statement from Alabama National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Timothy Alexander.
  • If a guardsman is killed on state active duty now, his or her family is entitled to $10,000 from the state. The legislation increases that amount to $100,000.
  • Bill sponsor Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, said it’s a measure to protect soldiers’ families, “just in case.”
  • “This benefit has never been paid out and I hope it never will be,” Whatley said. Whatley has served in both the Alabama Army National Guard and the United States Army Reserves.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.

 

 

 

 

A message from

The Boeing Company

  • Boeing’s Huntsville-managed Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program received an Aviation Week Laureate Award in the Defense Weapons Platforms category for supporting a historic missile flight test.
  • This third such award was due to Boeing’s GMD program – in partnership with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency – completing a first-of-its-kind flight test earlier this year when two GMD system interceptors were launched to destroy a threat-representative target.
  • The test solidified confidence in the nations’ only system that can intercept an intercontinental ballistic missile and data collected from the test will enhance missile defense for years to come.
  • The success of this flight test is yet another example of Boeing’s commitment to supporting our customers and meeting their mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Police shooting trial continues

  • Prosecutors pressed their case Wednesday against Montgomery police officer Aaron Cody Smith, who is charged will murdering 58-year-old Gregg Gunn in 2016.
  • Jurors heard a tape of the recorded statement Smith made after the incident, in which Smith says he feared Gunn would hit him in the head with a painting pole. That account later changed amid subsequent questioning, when Smith said he was unsure whether Gunn had swung the paint pole at him.
  • Smith shot Gunn five times.
  • Read more HERE.
  • Also read reporting from Ozark via the Advertiser’s Melissa Brown and Kirsten Fiscus HERE and from WSFA’s Jenn Horton HERE.

 

4. Will Whatley on medical marijuana

  • This week in Washington, the House Judiciary Committee approved a proposal to decriminalize and tax marijuana at the federal level. The committee was divided, as 10 Republicans voted against the measure. Ranking Member Doug Collins of Georgia said the bill was rushed through and is “going nowhere.”
  • Still, it’s a significant step for those who have been trying to decriminalize marijuana. And how the federal government classifies the drug is a complicating factor for the medical marijuana debate in states like Alabama.
  • A state commission charged with developing a medical marijuana proposal seems poised to deliver something to the Legislature for the upcoming session. Meanwhile, opposition has just begun to get its footing.
  • ADN’s Will Whatley opines on the medical marijuana debate in a new piece today. He argues that the drug can help certain patients, but any proposal should be done deliberately and ought to take into account the concerns of law enforcement and the business community.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“I used to work for a hospice pharmacy benefits manager when I was in between jobs. I knew about some drugs from my personal medical history and knew enough to realize the potency of the medications that were being prescribed to these dying patients. Oftentimes, the pain medication, usually morphine, would cause patients some kind of gastrointestinal distress and could also cause anxiety. Combine that with the anxiety of impending death and patients end up needing more medications .”
“In dealing with these patients, the only goal was ensuring their comfort as they face their final days. In these instances, when dying patients need comfort, shouldn’t we make all options available to those who need them?”
  • Read Will’s full column HERE.

 

 

5. News Briefs

Wildlife tourism has $1.1 billion impact on Blackbelt economy

  • Hunters and fishermen visiting the 23 counties in the Alabama Black Belt had an economic impact of $1.1 billion on the region in 2018, according to a study by Southeast Research of Montgomery released at a press conference on Wednesday.
  • That activity supported 24,716 jobs in the region that paid $364 million in salaries and wages. State and local taxes paid by those who spent their dollars in the Black Belt while hunting and fishing amounted to $62 million with $28 million going to the Alabama Education Trust Fund, the report said.
  • Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, Alabama Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton and Retirement Systems of Alabama CEO David Bronner joined the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association to announce the economic impact study and to unveil two new advertising spots that will promote Blackbelt tourism.
  • Read and watch more from WSFA’s Lydia Nussbaum HERE and from AL.com’s Mike Cason HERE.

Inmate found dead in Alabama prison, foul play not suspected

  • BRENT, Ala. (AP) — Prison officials say they don’t suspect foul play in the latest reported death of an Alabama inmate.
  • The Department of Corrections says 26-year-old Dewayne Foxx of Huntsville was found dead in the state prison in Bibb County.
  • The agency says Foxx was found unresponsive in his bed and was pronounced dead minutes later. A statement says the man didn’t have any visible injuries but appeared to have vomited on himself.
  • Officials say they’re awaiting autopsy results to determine a cause of death.
  • Foxx died Nov. 11, but officials didn’t announce it for more than a week. Spokeswoman Linda Mays attributes the delay to “thorough measures” needed before releasing a statement Wednesday.
  • Foxx was serving a 12-year term for being a felon in possession of a firearm in Madison County.

Teachers suspended over offensive group texts

  • DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama school board has suspended multiple teachers accused of sharing inappropriate and offensive text messages in a group chat.
  • News outlets report that as many as six teachers from Ashford High School in southeast Alabama are on paid leave after a student found messages on one of their phones and posted them online.
  • Teachers reportedly commented on students’ sex lives and intelligence in the messages, and some include racial slurs. A transgender student says some of the offensive messages were about him.
  • Houston County Superintendent David Sewell suspended the teachers last week. Sewell indicated Monday the teachers won’t be fired because the school system lacks an adequate policy covering such issues.
  • A spokesman with the Alabama Department of Education says the agency is monitoring the situation.

Charge dropped against former NBA player Jim Farmer

  • DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — A judge in Tennessee has dropped a human trafficking charge against former NBA player Jim Farmer.
  • The Dothan Eagle quotes defense lawyer Worrick G. Robinson IV as saying a court dismissed the charge against the one-time University of Alabama standout on Tuesday.
  • Robinson says the decision came during a preliminary hearing for Farmer.
  • The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says the 55-year-old resident of Franklin, Tennessee, was among 16 men arrested last month on charges of seeking sex from minors. The men were arrested during a two-day sting operation.
  • The 55-year-old Farmer was a leading scorer at Alabama before being picked in the first round of the NBA draft in 1987. He played in the league for six seasons with Denver, Dallas, Utah, Seattle and Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

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Headlines

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – WATCH LIVE: Key witnesses will cap intense week in impeachment inquiry
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Sondland: Trump and Giuliani leveraged perks for Ukraine investigation announcement
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would increase survivor benefit, others for National Guard members on state active duty
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Divided US House committee backs pot decriminalization
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Will Whatley: Medical cannabis not a half-baked idea
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Jurors hear officer’s claim about fatal shooting
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Steve Marshall: For violent crime in Alabama, enough is enough
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Roby introduces resolution marking Alabama’s bicentennial
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Daily News Digest – November 19, 2019
AL.COM  – Fishers, hunters contribute $1.1 billion to Black Belt economy
AL.COM  – Alabama teachers who mocked students in leaked group texts to face ‘repercussions’
AL.COM  – Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, native of Alabama, launches new social media platform
AL.COM  – Calhoun Community College receives No. 1 national ranking
AL.COM  – Here’s the income it takes for a family of 4 to be considered poor in Alabama
AL.COM  – Retirement Systems of Alabama acquires luxury theater chain
AL.COM  – Columnist Mike Oliver: Awards for treating brain disorders reflects good works in Birmingham
Montgomery Advertiser – Greg Gunn murder trial 3: Smith’s statements and other takeaways
Montgomery Advertiser – ‘I don’t know what is going on’: Man in Autauga child-sex case appears confused in court
Montgomery Advertiser – Day 3 live updates: AC Smith murder trial
YellowHammer News – Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato facing reelection challenge from City Council President Gene Smith
YellowHammer News – $18.7 million in grants awarded to help Alabama communities
YellowHammer News – Alabamians can show their support for President Trump with this Christmas wrapping paper
Dothan Eagle – 3 Wiregrass inmates denied parole
Dothan Eagle – New workforce development curriculum being rolled out at many area schools
Dothan Eagle – Scope of Dothan Utilities’ customer information breach a bit more defined
Tuscaloosa News – State-awarded grant money to help Tuscaloosa County
Tuscaloosa News – Deontay Wilder calm before Saturday’s heavyweight storm
Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa City Council member sues over BMW prize
Decatur Daily – Man who led Decatur police in Tuesday chase in jail without bond
Decatur Daily – Decatur students get hands-on training while helping disable vet
Decatur Daily – Judge orders DNA testing in Alabama teen’s disappearance
Times Daily – 9 months, $1M later, Decatur Avenue repairs near an end
Times Daily – Parole denied for local sex offender
Times Daily – Elizabeth Smart to speak at chamber event
Gadsden Times – 17 offenders denied parole
Gadsden Times – RSVP hosting gift drive for Etowah County seniors
Gadsden Times – Man jailed for robbery of Gadsden couple
Anniston Star – Anniston man charged in Sunday shooting
Anniston Star – Woman’s body found at vacant Anniston home
Anniston Star – School board discusses allergy policy
Troy Messenger – Troy man found dead; police seeking person of interest, missing vehicle
Troy Messenger – Substance abuse a major impact on Pike County children
Troy Messenger – ‘Histories in Stone’ highlights Union Hill Cemetery
Andalusia Star News – Opp receives $450K for sewer project
Andalusia Star News – Native named president of Tennessee Baptists
Andalusia Star News – Local sets up laundry service in area
Opelika-Auburn News – UPDATE: Ibraheem Yazeed’s case forwarded to grand jury, bond denied
Opelika-Auburn News – Charges dropped for Jim Farmer, Dothan basketball standout accused in sex trafficking sting
Opelika-Auburn News – Teen used remote-controlled car to try to smuggle 55 pounds of meth across border, officials say
Daily Mountain Eagle – Many local areas will get paper census forms
Daily Mountain Eagle – Date set for Oakman Christmas tree lighting, parade
Daily Mountain Eagle – Schools honored for state report card grades
Trussville Tribune – Heightened security at St. Vincent’s East after robbery and attack reported
Trussville Tribune – Alabama teachers suspended after explicit and racist group texts discovered
Trussville Tribune – POLICE: Woman attacked outside St. Vincent’s East, robbed at knifepoint
Athens News Courier – LCSO: Bust puts ‘major’ dent in local drug trade
Athens News Courier – Amnesty says at least 106 killed in Iran protests
Athens News Courier – Commission votes to uphold Ramsey firing in closed meeting
Sand Mountain Reporter – Guntersville Lake HydroFest wins site of the year
Sand Mountain Reporter – Animal Control now offers microchips | Marshall County Commission approves technology to help reunite owners with pets
Sand Mountain Reporter – Ross seeks Marshall County district judge seat
WSFA Montgomery – Troy police searching for person of interest in death investigation
WSFA Montgomery – Noose found in Auburn University residence hall, campus security says
WSFA Montgomery – Tourism industry had $1 billion economic impact on black belt region
Fox 6 Birmingham – 1 officer injured, 3 suspects in custody after shooting at North B’ham apartment complex
Fox 6 Birmingham – German Christmas Pyramid celebrates Cullman’s history
Fox 6 Birmingham – Foundry Ministries Auto Center needs your old cars, trucks, even boats
WAFF Huntsville – Man convicted in 2015 deadly shooting at Limestone County party
WAFF Huntsville – Madison police return stolen memorial statue to veteran
WAFF Huntsville – First students to integrate Huntsville schools meet for the first time
WKRG Mobile – UPDATE: Mobile hazmat crew at scene of sodium hydroxide spill
WKRG Mobile – Fatal motorcycle accident in Escambia County, FL
WKRG Mobile – Trump one-on-one: ‘You have to believe what you hear’ at impeachment inquiry
WTVY Dothan – Ariton heads to Leroy in the 3rd Round of the Playoffs
WTVY Dothan – Gordon 5th grader makes heroic 9-1-1 call during fire
WTVY Dothan – Adult skeletal remains found near downtown Eufaula
WASHINGTON POST  – Sondland’s bombshell testimony leaves Trump’s Republican allies scrambling
WASHINGTON POST  – Beating Trump, rather than beating up on each other, was focus of fifth Democratic debate
NEW YORK TIMES  – Amid Impeachment Drama, Senate Helps Trump Move U.S. Courts to the Right
NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump’s F.D.A. Nominee Sidesteps Questions About Banning Flavored Vaping Products

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