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Top News Links: Thursday, Oct. 20

Harbert working on $27.5M expansion to FBI school at Redstone

A Birmingham company is behind a $27.5 million expansion to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Hazardous Devices School at Redstone Arsenal. BL Harbert International said it is overseeing the project, which will allow the FBI to boost its training efforts and provide new bomb technician certification programs at the U.S. Army post. Completion is expected in January 2018. – AL.com

Annual Iowa farm gathering suggests ill wind for growers

An annual gathering of thousands of farmers and the country’s biggest agribusiness starts Tuesday against one of the gloomiest economic backdrops for the U.S. Farm Belt in years. Tractor shipments in North America are down almost a quarter this year from a year earlier, and combines are about 20% lower. – Wall Street Journal

Massive pawn shop raids find stolen goods, piles of cash

The simultaneous raids on 12 Birmingham area pawn shops in Jefferson and Shelby counties last week led to the seizure of more than $600,000 cash and enough stolen goods to fill two 53-foot trailers, authorities said Tuesday. Friday's raids, dubbed Operation Get Fit, targeted a dozen businesses owned by 58-year-old Steve Scott of Pelham, as well as his Shelby County home, and led to the arrests of Scott and 15 of his employees. – AL.com

State Democrats suddenly realize they’re not doing well

The leader of the House Democrats Wednesday called on two key leaders in the Alabama Democratic Party to resign, accusing them of allowing the party to wither in state and missing opportunities to contrast their message with Republicans. Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, wrote in a letter to chairwoman Nancy Worley and Joe Reed accusing them of "neglect and mismanagement" of the Democrats' infrastructure in the state. – The Montgomery Advertiser

Twitter continues to totter on social media brink

A growing list of companies like Disney and Salesforce have said they won't be buying Twitter. That puts the social network in a tight spot. Twitter almost has 350 million active users, but user growth has stalled (and in tech, if you aren't growing, you're dying). Twitter's stock has definitely felt the plunge. – Tylt

Alabama shows big upward swing in high school grad rates

The White House this week released numbers showing graduation rates on the rise across the country, results that show Alabama catapulting past most of the nation. Alabama ranked third in the United States in 2015, behind Iowa and New Jersey. – AL.com

Justice Department says it will have fewer poll watchers

Justice Department officials are warning that they'll be dispatching fewer trained election observers as a result of a Supreme Court opinion that gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The reduction is likely to diminish the department's ability to detect voter intimidation and other potential problems at the polls. – AP/AllGov

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