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Top News Links: Thursday, August 24

Former ADEM director to lead EPA’s Southeast office

A business lobbyist and ex-environmental regulator is the new regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection office that oversees eight Southeastern states. Former Alabama Department of Environmental Management director Trey Glenn will oversee EPA’s work in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. – WTOP

Pulitzer-honored author: ‘We have probably never been more godlike’

It's a world where technology is threatening to outpace human adaptability, bestselling author Thomas Friedman said in Birmingham this week. What's going to matter more than ever in the future is the motivation to participate in society, the initiative to keep learning and the moral compass to care about others. "We are entering a world where one person can kill all of us," he told a crowd at the Alabama Theatre. "We collectively have the ability to educate, cure and house probably every person on the planet. We have never been here before. We have probably never been more godlike as a species than we are right now." – AL.com

InnovateAFITC Hackathon begins Monday in Montgomery

Held in conjunction with the Air Force Information Technology and CyberPower Conference Monday through Wednesday, the InnovateAFITC Hackathon is the first collaboration of its nature between the Air Force and the private sector to engage professionals across organizational lines and residents of a local community to innovate solutions to significant cyber challenges and threats. The theme is “The Smart City & Base of the Future,” referencing Montgomery’s comprehensive cyber strategy for economic development. – News release

Click here for website that lets you comparison-shop surgery costs

In Birmingham, a knee MRI can cost from $613 to $3,836, and back surgery (lumbar fusion) can range from $38,654 to $67,709, according to a UnitedHealthcare analysis. That’s in part why the health provider has launched a new public website which enables anyone to access market average prices for nearly 800 common medical services. – News release

UAB football gear returns to Birmingham airport store

In anticipation of the return of UAB football, the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport’s Hudson News store will begin carrying a wide selection of UAB gear. UAB Director of Athletics Mark Ingram and other guests, including part of UAB’s Spirit team and Blaze, will be commemorating the addition by hosting a kickoff event in the airport today at 3 p.m. – News release

Beware scammers, Vestavia Hills sports enthusiasts

A company that has attempted to capitalize on high school sports supporters across the country has made its way into Vestavia Hills. The high school and the city's Chamber of Commerce were made aware Tuesday morning of a company called Touchdown Sports that had been visiting local businesses and claiming to sell advertisements for VHHS sports programs. – Patch.com

Survey: State ranks 29th in middle market company growth

Alabama has an estimated 2,468 middle market companies ($10 million-$1 billion in annual revenues), which make up 1.17% of all firms in the state, according to the latest Middle Market Power Index from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet. The seventh report in the Middle Market Power Index series analyzes the characteristics and economic impact of middle market enterprises. – News release

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