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Top News Links: Tuesday, Dec. 20

Bentley moving toward special session for prisons

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he plans to call a special legislative session for prisons. Bentley says the session will be isolated within the regular legislative session next year as a way to get lawmakers to focus on building new prisons. The governor discussed plans for the session Monday, but he didn’t release details on the package of bills. – AP/The Republic

Why public policy doesn’t sell in swing states

The seven poorest states of the union — Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, and Louisiana — form a sort of broad arc along the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. New Mexico, South Carolina, and Oklahoma round out the bottom 10, and, while not contiguous with the poorest seven, they are also not in the Midwest and not electorally competitive. – Vox

State casts its nine electoral votes for Trump

Alabama’s nine electors to the Electoral College cast their ballots for businessman Donald Trump for president and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for vice president, about six weeks after the state backed the Republican ticket in large numbers. Trump received 1.3 million votes in Alabama, about 62 percent of the vote. – Montgomery Advertiser

Anniston announces new retail development for 2017

The City of Anniston announced a "major" retail development Monday along Quintard Avenue that city officials say involves several regional and nationally recognized restaurant chains and retail stores, to be completed by next November. What's more, officials said residents should stand by for more good news as the development will bring jobs and "improve quality of life for all of our Anniston residents and visitors," Mayor Jack Draper said. – AL.com

More accelerator development comes to Birmingham

Perhaps you've heard of West Coast-based accelerator programs TechStarsY Combinator and even 500 Startups. What you may not yet know is that Birmingham is now home to a Global Accelerator-affiliated accelerator program: Velocity Accelerator. – AL.com

UA archaeologist named a Global Thinker

Alabama’s Sarah Parcak, Ph.D. — an archaeologist and associate professor in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences Department of Anthropology — is among this year’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers selected by Foreign Policy magazine. Every year the magazine recognizes the world’s pre-eminent thought leaders and public intellectuals in its annual issue “100 Leading Global Thinkers.” – Alabama Today

Parent of Hancock and Whitney banks raises $260M

 A Gulf Coast bank says it has raised $260 million by selling new stock to investors. Hancock Holding Co., the based parent company of Hancock and Whitney banks, said Friday that it has sold 6.3 million shares of stock at $41.05 per share. Hancock, of Gulfport, Mississippi, says underwriters are taking their option to buy 825,000 shares. The company says it will use the money to grow internally or buy other banks. – AP/New Orleans City Business

GM temporarily halting production at five U.S. plants

General Motors plans to shut five U.S. auto assembly plants for varying durations in January, primarily to cut oversupply of sedans that have fallen out of favor among consumers. Shut for three weeks will be the Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Michigan and the Fairfax factory in the Kansas. Down for two weeks will be the Lansing Grand River plant in Michigan, and down for a single week each will be the Lordstown plant in Ohio and the Bowling Green factory in Kentucky. – Automotive News

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