The Boeing Company
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.
- Read more here.
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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