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Top News Links: Thursday, June 1

Wal-Mart discusses more of its Alabama initiatives

Walmart is spending millions of dollars in Alabama this year as it revamps seven stores, establishes a 2.5-million-square-foot distribution hub in Mobile and ramps up a solar project in the state. Construction is under way on a $140 million solar project in Lafayette set to be completed this year, complete with renewable energy credits handled through Alabama Power Co. – ANC 

Robots win new mine-clearing jobs aboard LCS

Robots capable of clearing dangerous mines in shallow waters are to be added to the capabilities of the Alabama and Wisconsin-built Littoral Combat Ship in 2018. The announcement will come as a timely piece of good news to the Pentagon-backed LCS program, which recently received funding for a single ship in President Donald Trump's most recent budget. Lawmakers had wanted three. – AL.com

RUAG Space hiring 100 people for new Decatur factory

The Swiss space company RUAG Space said Wednesday it will hire 100 people to open a new Decatur factory to support United Launch Alliance and hire more if its American venture succeeds. RUAG manufactures the enclosures or fairings used to cover satellites as they are launched into space. RUAG showed off a new plant to do that work located next to ULA, the company's main customer. – AL.com

Business in Birmingham? Mind the gap

Transportation officials say a major bridge that runs into downtown Birmingham will be under construction and remain closed for about 13 months. Alabama Department of Transportation spokeswoman Linda Crockett told Al.com that Interstate 59/20 northbound was closed Wednesday night. The ramp will remain closed until July 2018 during the construction. – AP/Sun Herald

Storied Smithsonian ponders boll weevil monument

A statue of a Greek woman stands proud in the center of Enterprise, Alabama. Its white marble arms stretch high above its head. Braced in the beautiful woman’s hands is a round bowl, atop which is perched … an enormous bug. It’s a boll weevil, to be precise—about 50 pounds in statue form, but normally smaller than a pinkie fingernail. – Smithsonian

UA team repeats top finish at NASA robotics contest

For the third consecutive year, a student team at the University of Alabama placed first at a NASA robotics contest. Alabama Astrobotics took the top prize at the NASA Robotic Mining Competition, besting student teams from 45 other institutions in the challenge to build a robot capable of navigating and excavating simulated Martian soil, or regolith. – ANC

Southern peach crop not looking too peachy

You might have to use canned peaches for that cobbler this summer. The peach crop in Georgia, Alabama and neighboring states has been devastated by the weather, including a warmer than normal winter and a late March freeze. – Ledger-Enquirer

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