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Top News Links: Thursday, Dec. 7

National media sees state at center of GOP fault line

The U.S. Senate contest in Alabama is shaping up as a flashpoint in a war among Republicans over the future of the party -- forcing them to consider whether they’re better off electing a candidate accused of sexually assaulting a teenager or a Democrat. – Bloomberg

Tourism at top of industries Roy Moore might sour

Not long after the Washington Post ran its first story on accusations regarding Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, the Retirement Systems of Alabama began getting messages. RSA CEO David Bronner said the pension fund, which runs the state's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, received "a huge number" of emails and some letters from past visitors threatening to never visit the trail again - if Moore is elected Dec. 12. – AL.com

Mobile’s business community has high hopes

Never mind the Congressional slugfests, trade battles, fears of war and a bitterly fought election that has put Alabama in an international spotlight: None of it seems to have made much of a dent on a bubble of optimism in Mobile's business community, to judge from a new survey. – AL.com

Three water officials arrested in Birmingham

Three Alabama officials have been arrested on felony state ethics charges. Sherry Lewis, chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Birmingham Water Works, Mt. Vernon Mayor Terry Williams, who also owns Global Solutions International Inc., and Jerry Jones, a former vice president at Arcadis, each surrendered Wednesday at the Jefferson County Jail after a grand jury handed up indictments against them Tuesday. – AP/KCS

Birmingham gets update on World Games budget

More than half of the funds needed to put on the 2021 World Games in Birmingham will come from corporate sponsors, said the CEO of the games. World Games 2021 CEO DJ Mackovets said the budget for the games is an estimated $50 million, down from the $75 million Birmingham bid to secure the games in 2015. – AL.com

Saved by science: Prof invents Christmas tree light calculator

A University of Mobile mathematics professor has solved one of the frustrations of the Christmas season by developing the Christmas Tree Lights Spacing Calculator that anyone can use. Dr. Troy Henderson, professor of mathematics, developed the online calculator after he and his wife, Greta, were faced once again with figuring out how to evenly space lights on their tree without running out too soon or having too many left over. – News release

Colombia’s coal output down 8.1 percent in Q3

Colombia’s coal output fell 8.1 percent to 21.5 million tons in the third quarter from a year earlier, the national mining agency said on Monday. The Andean nation, the world’s fifth-largest coal exporter, produced 23.4 million tons in the third quarter of 2016, the ministry said in a statement. The biggest player in Colombia’s coal industry is Drummond Co. of Birmingham. – Reuters

Volkswagen exec sentenced to 7 years in prison

Volkswagen AG compliance executive who pleaded guilty in the U.S. for his role in the company’s $30 billion emissions cheating scandal was sentenced to 7 years in prison. Oliver Schmidt, VW’s compliance liaison with American regulators, pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and another of violating the Clean Air Act. – Bloomberg

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