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Top News Links: Wednesday, March 9

Journey to Mars begins right here in Alabama

NASA is making great strides on the journey to send astronauts farther into space than ever before. And in a very real sense, the first leg of the journey to Mars is happening right here in Alabama. That's because America's next great ship – NASA's Space Launch System – is designed, developed and managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. – Montgomery Advertiser

Bezos says primary space mission is about energy

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' vision of "millions of people living and working in space" drives his space company Blue Origin. Space reporters taking the first-ever media tour of Blue Origin's ultra-modern headquarters just south of Seattle heard it multiple times on Monday. But why Bezos thinks that vision is not only good, but necessary, might surprise you. It's about energy. – AL.com

House approves education budget, teacher raises

The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a $6.3 billion education budget and a 4 percent pay raise for most educators. The budget, which provides funding increases for many services, passed on a unanimous 105-0 vote. The pay raise, a separate bill, passed 104-0. Both bills move to the Senate. Neither measure provoked significant debate. The pay raise went through as fast as House officials could call it up and get members to vote. – Montgomery Advertiser

Busche Corp. wins abatements for $26M expansion

The Hartselle City Council approved a second tax abatement in 3½ years Tuesday for Busche Corp., which plans a $26 million expansion projected to create 75 jobs. The City Council approved almost $1.4 million in tax abatements for Busche on Tuesday. Busche will receive a one-time abatement of about $632,500 in sales and use taxes for machinery and other equipment purchases. The company will also receive an estimated $650,333 property tax abatement divided over a 10-year period. – Decatur Daily

Lear says it will fight Renosol Seating lawsuit

Lear Corp. - the parent company of the Selma Hyundai supplier being sued by the federal government - will fight the suit, the company said in a statement. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration filed a lawsuit against Renosol Seating LLC and three of its managers Friday, alleging they retaliated against workers who had voiced concern over health risks of working with toluene diisocyanate, a chemical used to make car seats. – AL.com

Huntsville-built missile successfully destroys ship

Raytheon Company's Standard Missile-6 successfully engaged a surface target -- the decommissioned USS Reuben James -- in a recent flight test. The test was a demonstration of the U.S. Navy's concept of "distributed lethality," employing ships in dispersed formations to increase the offensive might of the surface force. The missile's final assembly takes place at Raytheon's state-of-the-art facility at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. – Yahoo Finance

Judge OKs $350,000 in housing discrimination claims

A federal judge in Alabama has approved a $350,000 settlement involving housing discrimination claims in four Southern states. The agreement announced Tuesday by the Justice Department involves owners and developers of 71 housing complexes in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. – AP/WHNT

Big Communications gets Coca-Cola United account

Birmingham-based Big Communications has been selected by Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Inc. – also headquartered in Birmingham and the third-largest bottler of Coca-Cola products nationwide – as its media agency of record to lead all broadcast, out-of home and digital media purchasing efforts. – News release

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