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Top News Links: Tuesday, Dec. 23

Serving the poor…with lawsuits

More than a century ago, Alabama enshrined a basic protection in the state’s constitution shielding its poorest citizens from being forced to pay debts they couldn’t afford. But a public hospital in Dothan has found a way around the law. Before patients can receive treatment at Southeast Alabama Medical Center, they must sign a form waiving that legal protection, clearing the way for the facility to seize funds from their pay or bank accounts to cover medical debts. – ProPublica

Hearst completes WWVTM purchase

Hearst Corp. on Monday announced it has completed its previously announced acquisitions of Birmingham NBC affiliate WVTM-TV, Channel 13, from Media General, Inc. and Savannah, Ga., ABC affiliate WJCL-TV, from LIN Media LLC. – Yahoo.com

Huntsville company gets FDA grant

A Huntsville-based medical diagnostics company said last week that it had secured another federal grant to further its research on diagnosing strains of E. coli bacteria and other pathogens. Diatherix Laboratories received the award from the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. – News release

BancorpSouth’s ‘neutral’ affirmed by Zacks

BancorpSouth‘s stock had its “neutral” rating reissued by Zacks in a research note issued to investors on Monday. They currently have a $23 target price on the stock. Zacks' target price suggests a potential upside of 2.82 percent from the stock’s previous close. – Legacy.com

Burning urinal question finally addressed

Nowadays, urinals – a somewhat primitive bathroom fixture – come in all different shapes and sizes. For the latest installment in our series “I’ve Always Wondered," we head to the men’s room to tackle one listener’s question. It comes from Mike Dolan, who is in the military, but first and foremost, he’s a guy. “So my I’ve always wondered, why do you never see a urinal in a private home? I have a friend, my college buddy, who has four boys. That’s five males in a house, and they’re constantly flushing toilets and wasting all that water. And it’s like why don’t you just get a urinal?” Dolan asks. Marci Jones, manager of the showroom at GLS Plumbing Supply in Birmingham, has the answer. – Marketplace

N. Korea Internet inexplicably out

North Korea is experiencing widespread Internet outages. One expert says the country's online access is "totally down." It's not immediately clear if the Internet connectivity problems were an act of retribution for a major intrusion at Sony Pictures Entertainment that the FBI last week linked to North Korea. – AP/Decatur Daily

Crestwood Medical ER expansion on track

More emergency room visitors are fueling a massive $5.5 million project at Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville. The hospital's emergency room is undergoing a three-phase expansion that will add 17 new private patient exam rooms, additional triage and waiting room areas, renovation of existing spaces and more privacy at registration by early next spring. – AL.com

Mobile expecting repeat convention business

The Port City's repeat-customer convention business is booming with bookings for four high-profile, national conferences expected to attract more than 18,000 attendees and participants in 2015 and beyond. – AL.com

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