Good afternoon!

Here's your Weekend Digest for Sunday, August 23.
1. Marco takes aim at Gulf coast, Laura follows in its path
  • Two tropical storms advanced across the Caribbean on Saturday as potentially historic threats to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
  • Marco, now upgraded to a hurricane, is expected to make landfall midday Monday on the Louisiana coast.
  • Tropical Storm Laura is approximately two days behind but taking similar aim at Louisiana's coast according to the lates projections from the National Hurricane Center.
  • However, large uncertainties remain for that time span, and forecasts have varied greatly so far for the two storms.
  • Both storms were expected to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to areas they were passing over or near, threatening widespread flooding across a vast region.
  • “A lot of people are going to be impacted by rainfall and storm surge in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Joel Cline, the tropical program coordinator for the National Weather Service. “Since you simply don’t know, you really need to make precautions.”
  • Read more and see the maps HERE.
2. University of Alabama forbids students gatherings
  • The University of Alabama has issued a prohibition on student gatherings, including off-campus parties and fraternity and sorority events, as the school tries to curb the spread of COVID-19.
  • The university on Friday announced a 14-day moratorium on all in-person student events outside of classroom instruction. Social gatherings are prohibited both on and off campus and the common areas of dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses are closed, according to the new guidelines. Visitors are not being allowed in dormitories and sorority and fraternity houses. 
  • The announcement came less than a week after city and school officials raised alarm about large crowds waiting outside bars.
  • “These behaviors are hindering our ability to continue the in-person experience this fall and the Capstone traditions we cherish,” said Myron Pope, vice president for student life.
  • Read more HERE.
3. Alabama facing shortage of school workers
  • The head of the Alabama State Department of Education says that public schools are facing a shortage of workers that's being made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • State Superintendent Eric Mackey told WBRC-TV that schools can't find enough substitute teachers, bus drivers or nurses. The problem existed last year, he said, and the pandemic has made it worse.
  • Retirees often fill positions including substitute teachers, and many aren't comfortable being in schools right now because of health concerns.
  • “There’s really not much we can do except to continue to recruit, to continue to try and work with them," he said.
  • Trucking companies are hiring many people who might otherwise drive school buses since they have commercial driver licenses, Mackey said. Some bus drivers will have to double up and run two routes if more drivers can't be hired, he said.
  • Read more HERE.
4. House passes bill to reverse changes blamed for mail delays
  • With heated debate over mail delays, the House approved legislation in a rare Saturday session that would reverse recent changes in U.S. Postal Service operations and send $25 billion to shore up the agency ahead of the November election.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi recalled lawmakers to Washington over objections from Republicans dismissing the action as a stunt. President Donald Trump urged a no vote, including in a Saturday tweet, railing against mail-in ballots expected to surge in the COVID-19 crisis. He has said he wants to block extra funds to the Postal Service.
  • “Don’t pay any attention to what the president is saying, because it is all designed to suppress the vote,” Pelosi said at the Capitol. 
  • Pelosi called the Postal Service the nation’s “beautiful thread” connecting Americans and said voters should “ignore” the president’s threats.
  • But Republicans countered that complaints about mail delivery disruptions are overblown, and no emergency funding is needed right now.
  • “It’s a silly, silly bill,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.
  • U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, called it a"new low for political posturing."
  • In a memo to House Republicans, leaders derided the legislation as a postal “conspiracy theory” act. Many GOP lawmakers echoed such sentiments during a lively floor debate. 
  • “I like the post office, I really do,” said Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis. But he said, “We have no crisis here.”
  • More than two dozen Republicans broke with the president and backed the bill, which passed 257-150. Democrats led approval, but the legislation is certain to stall in the GOP-held Senate. The White House said the president would veto it.
  • Nevertheless, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is eyeing a $10 billion postal rescue as part of the next COVID-19 relief package. While Trump has said he wants to block emergency funding for the agency, the White House has said it would be open to more postal funding as part of a broader bill.
  • Full story HERE.
5. Trump's vision of American greatness to be center of convention
  • This week, it's the Republicans' turn to have their convention as the November election is just 72 days out.
  • The GOP will aim to recast the story of Donald Trump's presidency, featuring speakers drawn from everyday life as well as cable news and the White House while drawing a stark contrast with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
  • Trump is looking to shift his campaign away from being a referendum on a presidency ravaged by a pandemic and economic collapse and toward a choice between vastly different visions of America’s future. Reshaping the national conversation around the race has taken on greater urgency for Trump, who trails in public and private surveys as the coronavirus continues to ravage the nation's economy and his reelection chances.
  • The four-day event is themed “Honoring the Great American Story.” The convention will feature prominently a number of well-known Trump supporters, including members of the Trump family, but also those whom the GOP say are members of the “silent majority” of Americans who have been aided by Trump’s policies. Some have been “silenced” by a “cancel culture” pushed by Democrats, the campaign officials said.
  • Read Zeke Miller's full convention preview story HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Storms heading for double blow to Gulf Coast

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - University of Alabama forbids students gatherings

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Alabama facing shortage of school workers during pandemic

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - House passes bill to reverse changes blamed for mail delays

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Trump’s vision of American greatness at center of convention

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Downward trends continue, low infection rate in college population

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - State unemployment up slightly

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Alabama restarts prep football in test of virus precautions

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS - Biden vows to defeat Trump, end US ‘season of darkness’
AL.COM - 11,000 Alabamians filed initial unemployment claims last week
AL.COM - Two storms in the Gulf? At once?
AL.COM - Crumbling expectations: Plummeting tourism means lower lodging revenue for Alabama cities

AL.COM - Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Alabama Senate leader backed We Build the Wall. It’s not his first mistake

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS - Alabama Power crews back home after aiding other states

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS - Woodfin: ‘I encourage you to vote in person’; If you ‘need to vote by mail, vote by mail’
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS - Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin: Joe Biden ‘looking out for us’
TIMES DAILY - State COVID-19 hospitalizations down
ANNISTON STAR - Columnist Phillip Tutor: The malignancy of an Alabama county’s name
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER - As evictions return and homeless shelters fill, groups donate masks
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER - Contributor Mia Raven: Expanded unemployment saves lives. How much is that worth to Tommy Tuberville?
OPELIKA AUBURN NEWS - Bonnie Plants headquarters move to Opelika will bring jobs, partnerships
WASHINGTON POST - Trump administration bars FDA from regulating some laboratory tests, including for coronavirus
WASHINGTON POST - Coronavirus cases rising again in Europe, and crowded events in U.S. raise concerns
WASHINGTON POST - Steve Bannon charged with defrauding donors in private effort to raise money for Trump’s border wall
NEW YORK TIMES - We Just Crossed the Line Debt Hawks Warned Us About for Decades
NEW YORK TIMES - Immigrant ‘Dreamers’ in Search of a Job Are Being Turned Away
NEW YORK TIMES - Unemployment Claims Rise as Rollout of $300 Benefit Lags

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