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Top News Links: Friday, March 17

New military laser costs a buck a shot

Lockheed Martin said it has finished developing a 60 Kilowatt (kW) laser system and is now getting ready to hand it over to a U.S. Army Command center in Alabama. The aerospace and defense firm claimed in a press release Thursday that in testing earlier this month the laser beam system achieved a 58kW blast, a world record for a laser of this type. A Patriot missile, usually priced at about $3 million was recently used to shoot down a $200 quadcopter drone. In 2015 the Navy estimated that a solid-state laser can be fired for less than one dollar per shot. – CNBC

Alabamians fully embrace St. Patrick’s legacy

St. Patrick’s Day is today and people across the country are joining in the fanfare to celebrate the holiday and the religious leader said to inspire it. After escaping captivity in Ireland, St. Patrick returned to spread the gospel of Christ and is said to have converted much of Ireland to Christianity, which is where he gets Irish claim to notoriety. A survey conducted by Offers.com suggests Alabama is 43rd most likely to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. – Alex City Outlook

Mercedes wants its incentives from county, state

Mercedes-Benz has begun seeking $10 million in payments from Tuscaloosa County governments as part of a delayed reimbursement from a 2009 incentive plan. Project Crimson was an agreement brokered between Mercedes, the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority and Gov. Bob Riley, then in office. The package pledged $100 million in incentives to bring production of the C-Class to the Vance plant, which began there in 2014. – AL.com

Forget about flying to Muscle Shoals under Trump budget

The $54 billion worth of government's cuts proposed by President Donald Trump's administration Thursday could see regional airports across the United States close, including Northwest Alabama Airport in Muscle Shoals. The plan, known as "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again" proposes to cut the Essential Air Service (EAS), a Department of Transport program that guarantees regular flights for isolated communities across the country. – AL.com

Senate approves plan to increase prison capacity

Alabama would build new prisons in an effort to relieve crowding and violence in the state's correctional facilities, under a plan approved Thursday by the state Senate. Senators voted 23-11 for the bill after nearly three hours of debate. It now heads to the House of Representatives. – AP/Macon.com

Legislature wants to tax all internet streaming services

The Alabama Department of Revenue is considering a rule change that would tax all streaming services. That includes Netflix, Hulu, and even music services. You or someone you know likely streams movies or shows. Streaming services have spread like wildfire over the last decade, and now the Alabama Department of Revenue is debating amending regulations to make sure the state gets its cut. – WAFF

Four days of festivities to greet new UM president

Timothy L. Smith will be inaugurated as the fourth president of University of Mobile on Friday, March 24. The ceremony will take place at Cottage Hill Baptist Church beginning at 9 a.m., with a reception following. The formal ceremony is the highlight of four days of festivities celebrating the inauguration of Smith, who was named president on April 11, 2016. – News release

Vulcan’s Ruffner Preserve work honored

Vulcan Materials Company announced Thursday that it has received certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) for its efforts to protect, enhance, and monitor wildlife and habitat restoration projects at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. – News release

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