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Top News Links: Wednesday, June 15

Compromise allows continued use of Russian rockets

The Pentagon’s premier rocket provider won what appears to be the most important skirmish yet in its long-running battle with Capitol Hill foes demanding rapid phaseout of Russian-built rocket engines to launch U.S. national-security satellites. In a surprise move reversing years of outspoken criticism of United Launch Alliance, which is a Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. joint venture with Alabama connections, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona on Tuesday accepted a bipartisan compromise that effectively permits continued use of RD-180 engines for Pentagon missions for six more years. – Wall Street Journal

Newegg challenging state’s desire for online sales tax

For nearly 25 years, the general standard for whether a state could compel a mail-order or online retailer to collect sales tax from customers was that retailer’s physical presence in that state. More recently, some states have tweaked their laws so that total sales is the determining factor. Online tech store Newegg is the latest retailer to challenge these new rules, taking issue with Alabama’s determination that the company owes the state more than $185,000 in sales tax. (For an update on this issue, check the July edition of Business Alabama.) – Consumerist

Dynetics wins $11.6M contract for new glide bomb

Alabama-based Dynetics has unveiled a design for a 27kg-class guided bomb with a warhead significantly larger than even heavier munitions, such as the 50kg-class Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire. U.S. Special Operations Command has already taken notice of the new product, awarding Dynetics an $11.6 million contract earlier this month to continue development of small glide munition (SGM) ahead of a potential production go-ahead decision next year. – FlightGlobal.com

Sunbelt Forest Products acquires Alabama plant

Sunbelt Forest Products of Bartow, Florida has announced the purchase of a pressure treated wood facility in Athens from Georgia-Pacific. Sunbelt is one of the largest pressure treaters in the Southeast, with plants in Bartow, Florida, Rockledge, Florida, and Louisville, Alabama. The acquisition will increase the company's manufacturing capabilities to over 600 million board feet of pressure treated wood a year. – PRNewsWire

Report: Alabama ranks 9th in bioscience R&D at institutions

The TEConomy/BIO The Value of Bioscience Innovation in Growing Jobs and Improving Quality of Life 2016 Report has ranked Alabama ninth for the bioscience industry's share of research and development expenditures of academic medical institutions. – Bio.org

Test results suggest West Morgan East Lawrence water OK

A release from the West Morgan East Lawrence Water Authority says they've seen test results come back that put their system's water below health advisory levels set by the EPA. However, WHNT News 19 has been told the authority has not yet lifted it's "do not drink" warning. An advisory issued last month said the water contained unsafe levels of PFC compounds PFOA and PFOS. – WHNT

‘Beef Basics’ iBook can boost the bottom line

Cattle are big business in Alabama with a value of $2.5 billion. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s new iBook, “Beef Basics,” will help the state's cattle producers boost their bottom line. An Alabama Extension animal scientist calls “Beef Basics” an exciting new tool for Alabama cattle producers. “The Beef Basics iBook is a great resource that producers, supporters and anyone connected to the cattle industry can use to brush up on their cattle knowledge,” said Kim Mullenix, an Alabama Extension beef specialist. – SoutheastFarmPress.com

Oxford gives tax abatement to NGC for expansion

The Oxford City Council Tuesday evening approved a 10-year tax abatement for NGC Industries, a business that plans to hire 14 new employees over the next four to five years, according to the Director of Plant Operations Neal Stephenson. After 60 years in the Oxford area, NGC, at 4811 U.S. 78, is planning a $26 million expansion to the company's property. The tax abatement should save the company about $300,000. – Anniston Star

Officials confirm UA student positive for Zika

A University of Alabama student who had recently studied abroad has tested positive for the Zika virus, a spokesman for the school confirmed on Monday. The student contracted the virus while studying abroad. Citing the Federal privacy laws, the school stayed mum regarding the status of the student's health. Victims of the virus usually make a full recovery within seven days. – UniversityHerald.com

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