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Top News Links: Tuesday, Nov. 24

Walter Energy looks to drop unions, retiree benefits

Walter Energy is asking for a bankruptcy court's approval to end its employment agreements with its unions and stop paying retiree benefits, according to documents filed Monday. The Birmingham-headquartered coal company announced that senior lenders had entered into an asset purchase agreement earlier this month after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July. – AL.com

Compass economists: Sharing economy transformational

A confluence of technologies has allowed the sharing economy to grow rapidly in many industries, including the banking sector, and is changing consumer behavior in a way that will have far-reaching consequences, BBVA Compass economists say in a new report. – Sys-Con.com

A road to better state roads (and bridges)

DRIVE Alabama is a coalition of community leaders, elected officials, and everyday citizens committed to developing a transportation and infrastructure vision that will meet Alabama’s 21st century mobility needs. The coalition was the brainchild of Alabama’s 67 county engineers who recognized the urgent need to educate the public about the state of Alabama’s county roads and bridges. – News release

Chicken Salad Chick co-founder dies of cancer

One of Alabama's fastest-growing restaurant chains lost its co-founder over the weekend after a two-year battle with cancer. Kevin Brown, who started Chicken Salad Chick with his wife, Stacy, in 2008, died Saturday. The Auburn eatery noted his death this morning on Facebook. – AL.com

U.S. peanut industry facing $2B bailout

A mountain of peanuts is piling up in the South, threatening to hand American taxpayers a near $2-billion bailout bill over the next three years, and leaving the government with a big chunk of the crop on its books. Peanut growers in states including Georgia and Alabama boosted sowing acreage by a fifth this spring and now are wrapping up harvesting their 3.1-million-ton crop, the second-largest ever, even as prices plumb seven-year lows. – Reuters

NASA restarts development of RS-25 engine

NASA has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California, to restart production of the RS-25 engine for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in the world, and deliver a certified engine. SLS will use four RS-25 engines to carry the agency’s Orion spacecraft and launch explorers on deep space missions, including ultimately to Mars. – SatPRNews

FitzMartin marketing firm shifts focus

Sean Doyle and Randal Snook of FitzMartin will be focusing on new opportunities in the coming months. The Birmingham business partners who created their company over 20 years ago are shifting direction by creating two separate entities. “FitzMartin is in the business of working with business leaders to generate new revenue through sales process improvement, marketing consulting and implementation. Frankly, we help executives use the tools of sales and marketing in ways they never thought possible,” said Doyle. – News release

Austal USA launches future USS Omaha

Austal USA has launched the future USS Omaha, a new Independence-class littoral combat ship for the U.S. Navy. The vessel was rolled out of its assembly bay at the Austal shipyard onto a barge in Mobile last week, taken down the Mobile River to a floating BAE Systems drydock and floated off. – UPI

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