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Top News Links: Monday, July 13

Here’s the skinny on the special session

The Alabama Legislature will convene today for the beginning of a special legislative session addressing the state budget crisis. Gov. Robert Bentley is bringing lawmakers into special session after the regular session ended in a political stalemate and no budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. – The Montgomery Advertiser

Walter Energy drops off New York Stock Exchange

Birmingham coal company Walter Energy (NYSE: WLT) will no longer be traded on the New York Stock Exchange because its prices are too low. The company's common stock has been suspended. The exchange requires that the average closing price per share of a listed company's common stock be at least $1 over a 30 day trading period. In March, Walter announced that it had been notified that it had six months to bring the shares' prices up. – AL.com

BAM going far with new Harper Lee novel

Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" has set a new standard for early sales by Alabama-based Books-A-Million. CEO Terrance Finely tells AL.com his firm has taken more pre-orders for the book, written by one of Alabama's most famous natives, than any other book for adults. "Watchman" still falls short of Harry Potter sales, but Books-A-Million classifies J.K. Rowling's series as a children's work. – AP/SanLuisObispo.com

Is there a third Harper Lee novel out there?

Harper Lee’s lawyer Tonja Carter, the woman at the center of the mysteries surrounding Go Set a Watchman’s publication this week, has broken her silence. In a lengthy piece in the Wall Street Journal, she intimates that there may be a third novel by Lee residing in a safe-deposit box in her home town of Monroeville, Alabama. – The Guardian

Have farm subsidies run their course?

The U.S. government has been protecting farmers against unpredictable hardships such as bad weather since the 1930s, when drought and the Great Depression devastated the nation’s agriculture industry. Today, agricultural subsidies and insurance cost the U.S. taxpayers about $20 billion annually, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. That support has come under great scrutiny in recent years, with opponents complaining that most of the money goes to millionaire farmers and giant agribusinesses, not small family farms seeking to stay afloat. – Wall Street Journal

AM/NS Calvert to invest $88M in facility

While other Alabama steel producers are reeling amid one of the worst downturns in the industry's history, one firm is investing in its Mobile County operations. AM/NS Calvert LLC – which is a combined subset of ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. – will invest $88 million in its north Mobile County facility in an effort to increase its presence in the automotive industry, according to a report from AL.com. Mobile County's Industrial Development Authority on Thursday approved tax abatements totaling $8.5 million during the 20-year impact period. – BizJournals.com

Algae Systems needs to find more investors

A year after announcing the success of its pilot biofuel plant in Daphne, Algae Systems has halted operations on Mobile Bay as it courts more investors. The company's process, developed, in part, by NASA, uses disinfected wastewater as a nutrient for algae that's eventually converted into biofuel through a high-heating, "hydrothermal liquefaction" system. In its Daphne project, the company has been growing algae in large floating bags that take up about a half-acre of bay waters. "Algae Systems, like most other technology companies, needs to raise new funds to expand from demonstration to commercial. And it is an expensive proposition," said Matt Atwood, president and CEO of the Nevada-based start-up. – AL.com

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