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Top News Links: Thursday, June 4

Jeff County DA alleges Yemen-connected EBT scheme

A task force lead by the Jefferson County District Attorney raided 11 convenience stores in the Birmingham area Wednesday morning, arresting 17 on charges of EBT fraud. Named “Operation T-Bone,” the sting was carried out simultaneously across Jefferson County Wednesday. According to a report by Carol Robinson at AL.com, those arrested were buying EBT, or food stamp, cards at 50 cents on the dollar (in other words, if a card was loaded with $100, the perpetrator would buy it for $50 cash), then use that card to buy food in bulk to be sold at convenience stores in neighborhoods without grocery stores. Jefferson County DA Brandon Falls alleges some of the resulting profits were wired to Yemen. – Yellowhammer

Raytheon wins $149M Navy contract

Raytheon has received a $149 million contract from the U.S. Navy for 74 Standard Missile-6 all-up rounds, spares, containers, and services. Designed to offer over-the-horizon air defense capabilities, the surface-to-air supersonic missile SM-6 defends against land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles. It is also capable of engaging manned and unmanned aerial vehicles. Final assembly of the missile takes place at Raytheon's production facility at Redstone Arsenal. – Naval.Technology.com

Legislature tweaks Alabama Accountability Act

Alabama lawmakers have voted to expand a program that provides scholarships to help some families pay for private school and also lowered income requirements on the scholarships. The Alabama House and Senate on Wednesday approved a conference committee agreement on Alabama Accountability Act changes. The program championed by some GOP lawmakers provides the scholarships by giving income tax credits to program donors. – AP/Education Week

Area Development awards state a Silver Shovel

For the 10th consecutive year Alabama has earned a Shovel Award from Area Development magazine, with 2014 economic development projects attracting a Silver Shovel nod. Specifically, the economic development publication touted the landing of Remington Outdoor Co.'s $110 million facility in Huntsville – beating out more than two dozen other states in the process – as a continuation of Alabama's steady gains in the manufacturing sector. – AL.com

Birmingham’s Ideal building sold for $760,000

Another downtown Birmingham historic building is planned for redevelopment. Atlanta investor Travis Taylor plans to redevelop the Ideal building into retail and residential, said Jack Little, the commercial broker who represented the seller. Joe Zhang sold the building to Ideal Building LLC for $760,000. – AL.com

House panel OKs tax bill

A House committee has approved a tax bill in the closing days of the legislative session, although it’s not considered a solution to the state's budget woes. The House education budget committee on Wednesday approved a Senate bill aimed at getting out-of-state businesses to pay Alabama taxes. The bill would change Alabama's trigger on taxes from one dependent on a physical brick and mortar presence to one that depends on how much business activity is done in the state. – AP/WAFF  

Sales revenue, lodging tax income up in Montgomery

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange has announced another increase in tax revenue for the city. At Tuesday's Montgomery City Council meeting, Strange said sales tax revenue is up about 5 percent compared to this time last year. And the city's lodging tax is up by a whopping 13 percent without a rate adjustment. WSFA

‘Ant Farm’ started by student entrepreneurs

The “Ant Farm” is a place where people can showcase their talents. You won’t find the Ant Farm on a map. But what you do find inside this slick new magazine are creations of words and photographs – the product of University of Mobile students and friends who want to showcase their talents in ways that promote Mobile, the city’s residents and the creative things they do in the Port City. – UMobile.edu

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