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Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

“For me, it was just a day of resolve and resolution, and I said ‘sign me up,” says James Stewart

“Well, the first thing I tell them is that I went to jail, and they go ‘Oooh, Grandmama,” and I say well, let me explain…” recalled Eloise Gaffney.

“It was just…you knew God was on your side,” says Washington Booker. “And we knew that it didn’t matter what we were facing. You knew if God was on your side, you’d overcome it.”

Stan Ingold

All year long on Alabama Public Radio we’re looking back on pivotal moments in the fight for civil rights. Many of the landmarks in the battle against segregation can voter discrimination are now tourist attractions. We have already looked at sites in Selma and Montgomery on Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail and now we head to Birmingham.

Alabama lawmakers delayed a vote on a proposed gas tax increase to pay for road and bridge construction after the bill ran into heavy opposition.  

 House Speaker Mac McCutcheon says the bill is likely dead for the session.

Resignations continue to roll into Governor Ivey’s office. Alabama’s Secretary of Law Enforcement Stan Stabler is leaving, after taking over for former Secretary Spencer Collier. Both men were embroiled in allegations that former Governor Robert Bentley had an affair with former top aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Her husband, John Mason, also resigned as head of Bentley’s office of faith based initiatives. Ron Sparks is also leaving as chief of the newly eliminated office of rural development.

The Alabama Senate has voted to allow a church to form its own police force.    Lawmakers on Tuesday voted 24-4 to allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to establish a law enforcement department.  

The church says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has signed a bill ending the state's policy of allowing judges to override juries recommendations in death penalty cases. Alabama was the only state where a judge could sentence someone to death even when a jury recommends life imprisonment. The judicial override issue was part of Alabama Public Radio's series on judicial and prison reform. The measure passed the House last week after a rare showing of bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled legislature.

Alabama’s newest Governor is settling into office. Republican Kay Ivey became Alabama’s second female Governor after Robert Bentley resigned over an alleged sex scandal. His departure marks the end of a trio of legal tangles involving some of the most powerful people in the state. APR’s Pat Duggins has more on the national coverage that went along with it. …

If Alabama has to attract national attention, this probably isn’t what the legislature had in mind…

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is out and Governor Kay Ivey is in. After Bentley announced his resignation ahead of an impeachment hearing, his successor would become the state's second female governor and the first to rise through the political ranks on her own. Kay Ivey is the first Republican woman elected lieutenant governor of Alabama and the first Republican to hold that office for two straight terms. Alabama's first female governor was Lurleen Wallace. She was wife of four-term Governor George C. Wallace.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has resigned after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges of violating state campaign finance law. The attorney general's office announced the resignation with a plea deal. Bentley's voice began choking with emotion as he addressed reporters at the Alabama Capitol. He said he always tried to live up to the high expectations placed on the person who holds the esteemed office. He apologized for mistakes. Click here to listen to Governor Bentley's resignation address...

 Veteran Affairs health benefits have been extended to more than 142,000 veterans living in rural Alabama. 

Al.com reports that the extension of federal program was approved by Congress to allow vets living more than a certain distance from a VA facility to seek private medical care outside of the Department of Veteran Affairs. The program was voted to allow the program to last until the $1 billion within the program is used up.

Congress voted on the program's extension on Wednesday.

wikipedia

Israel's advanced missile defense system is being designed in northern Alabama.   

Al.com reports that the system named David's Sling was partially designed in Huntsville to help Israel's defense against regional enemies such as Iran, Palestine, Turkey, and other countries in the Middle East. The defense system is designed to intercept enemy drones, planes, medium- to long-range rockets, tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The system is named after the David and Goliath Bible story.

Dog Bites

Apr 8, 2017
40Brown (Laurie Moy) [Flickr]

Dog Bite Prevention Week is April 9-15, 2017. Remember that any dog can bite if it is frightened or provoked enough.  Consider ways that you can keep your pet safe from any situation which could harm it or threaten it.  That's the best way to prevent dog bites!

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red flags
John David Mercer / AP / Press-Register

Dangerous surf conditions are causing lots of problems on the Alabama coast during spring break season.

Red flags are flying to warn people about hazardous rip currents that can quickly and easily pull swimmers out to sea. But in Gulf Shores, Ala., lifeguards have still had to rescue at least five people since Saturday. Beach safety director Scott Smothers tells WALA-TV one man had to be resuscitated but is now doing OK.

Lifeguard Jordan Russell says he had to help a 6-year-old boy and the boy's sister after both got pulled away from the beach on Tuesday.

A state ethics panel has ruled that there is probable cause that Governor Robert Bentley violated state ethics and campaign finance law. The decision follows a sex-tinged scandal that has engulfed the Tuscaloosa lawmaker for more than a year. The Alabama Ethics Commission voted to refer the matter to the district attorney's office for possible prosecution. Governor Bentley has struggled to shake off a scandal after recordings surfaced last year of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce.

An Alabama committee has passed a bill allowing death row inmates to be executed with nitrogen gas.    The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the measure 6-3 Wednesday.  

 Montrose Republican Senator Trip Pittman says his bill would make Alabama the second state in country behind Oklahoma to allow a person to be put to death with nitrogen.

City and County schools statewide will be closed to the threat of bad weather on Wednesday. For the most up-to-date information on your child's school, be sure to call your school's front office. Pat Duggins

Monroe County Public Schools--Closed

Conecuh County Schools--Closed

Boaz City Schools - closed

DeKalb County Schools – closed

Fort Payne City Schools - closed

Marshall County Schools – closed

Etowah County Schools

Talladega County Schools

Blount County Schools

Clay County Schools

Walker County Schools

      State lawmakers return from spring break Tuesday to a full plate of issues. State budgets, prison construction and action on the proposed impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley are among the matters set to be decided before the session ends in late May.   

   The State House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to end Alabama's practice that allows a judge to impose a death sentence when a jury has recommended life imprisonment. Alabama is the last state to still allow a judge to override a jury's sentencing recommendation in capital murder cases. 

A bill in the Alabama Legislature would require women seeking abortions to get a sonogram two days ahead of the procedure and hear a detailed description of the embryo or fetus. 

The Senate Health Committee has scheduled a Wednesday public hearing on the bill by Republican Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa. A federal appeals court in 2014 blocked a similar North Carolina ultrasound law.

Hero Dogs and APR

Apr 1, 2017
American Humane Association

Roselle, a guide dog, led her blind owner down almost 1,500 steps to escape Tower One of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  The fact that they both managed to make it out safely was a testament to her intelligence and ability  and to her owner's trust.  For her bravery, Roselle became the first Hero Dog of the Year for 2011, and set a great example for all the Hero Dogs to follow.

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The state of Alabama is trying to fix its infant mortality rate—one cardboard box at a time. The state is giving away sixty thousand so called baby boxes to expectant parents. Each box is filled with supplies like diapers and baby wipes. The empty box is also designed to be a baby bed. There’s also on-line information available to help parents take better care of a newborn. Alabama currently has just over eight infant deaths per one thousand births, which higher than the national average. The death rate for African American babies in Alabama is almost fourteen per thousand births.

A vote on whether lawmakers will impeach Alabama Governor Robert Bentley could come sooner than you think.

The top lawyer in a legislative investigation of Gov. Bentley has indicated that lawmakers are speeding to a decision on whether to impeach him over a sex scandal involving a former aide.

Special counsel Jack Sharman issued a memo to the governor's lawyers describing a tentative schedule that would decide Bentley's fate quickly. Sharman provided that memo to The Associated Press yesterday.

A new judge has been named to a high-profile Montgomery murder trial.

Montgomery police officer Aaron Cody Smith's murder trial will now be overseen by Circuit Judge Roman Shaul.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports Circuit Judge James Anderson recused himself from Smith’s trial last week because the judge’s son works for a law firm defending Smith in a federal civil lawsuit brought by the victim’s family.

The president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of West Alabama has been charged with possession of child pornography.

The Tuscaloosa News reports 52-year-old Anthony Dellon Bush was arrested yesterday.

Authorities say pornographic images were found on the Tuscaloosa man's phone and work computer, but they were not of children who were involved in the Boys' & Girls' Club. Police found the images during an investigation of an incident earlier this month in which Bush was arrested and charged with assault.

dry river bed
weather.com

Those in central Alabama hurt by last year’s drought are running out of time to apply for help from the federal government.

The Small Business Administration says April 25 is the deadline for residents of seven Alabama counties to apply for disaster loans related to the drought. Assistance is available for those in Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, St. Clair, Shelby and Talladega Counties, which saw some of the worst conditions during Alabama’s dry spell.

Tales from one of Alabama’s most beloved storytellers will be brought to life today on a New York City stage.

Birmingham playwright Don Everett Garrett has written an adaptation of a book by legendary Alabama author and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham. Garrett’s “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey: The Musical” will be read at the American Theater of Actors, John Cullum Theater, in New York City, by players from the Actors Equity Union.

Poison Prevention Week

Mar 25, 2017
rarvesen (Ralph Arvesen) [Flickr]

A pet investigates its world by smelling and tasting and picking things up with its mouth.  Safely storing foods and household items that could pose a danger, or putting plants out of reach, helps to make for a healthy pet (and a happy owner)!

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Police in Alabama's two largest beach towns say they've made more than 450 spring break-related arrests so far this year, and that's a big improvement from last year.

Police in both Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are implementing some new tough policies this year to keep young vacationers under control. They say the change has resulted in far fewer problems.

Orange Beach police tell WALA-TV they made 287 arrests so far this spring, which is significantly fewer than last year when more than 750 were arrested.

youtube.com

 A board is seeking an investigation into the election of a new University of Alabama student government president who won with the open backing of a secretive campus society.  

The student government's election board asked for the Office of Student Conduct to review Jared Hunter's election earlier this month.

Hunter won after publicly acknowledging he was backed by a campus group called The Machine which is controlled by historically white fraternities and sororities. Hunter was the first black candidate to gain the group's support.

A lawyer for a white Montgomery police officer charged with murdering a black man is asking a judge to move the officer's trial out of the city.

Officer Aaron Cody Smith's lawyer will try to persuade a Montgomery County judge later today that Smith won't receive a fair trial in Montgomery because of the protests and intense media coverage related to the case.

Attorney Mickey McDermott says Smith has received death threats after last year’s fatal shooting of 58-year-old Greg Gunn. He filed a motion in December to change the location of the proceedings.

Hackers may have stolen the personal information of people who used a job search database in Alabama and nine other states.

The Alabama Department of Labor recently announced the breach of the America's JobLink, a multi-state web-based system linking jobseekers with employers. Alabamians who used the state's free, online jobs database joblink.alabama.gov may have had personal information exposed.

The site is developed and maintained by America's Job Link Alliance - Technical Support.

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